More than two years ago, I gave a sermon called Memories Are Made of This, and four months ago I posted it here. It’s about how faulty memory can be, using a particular sexual assault case to demonstrate how wrong the well-meaning victim was in her identification of a suspect, Steven Avery, who served 18 years before it became clear he was not the perpetrator.
The sermon gives considerable detail about that case and its aftermath and goes on to discuss the science of memory and how so many of our religious stories are based on memory, which is mutable. So it makes no sense to take literally scriptural stories that were not recorded for hundreds of years after they took place.
As happens with most of my posts, it got read for a week or so and then took its place in Melting-Pot Dharma archives, to get a read every once in a while when someone stumbles on it or does a search that turns it up. But then on December 18 people started reading it again, and it has been read 84 times in less than four weeks since then. Obviously, something happened that led people to it.
This morning, I read an article in The New York Times about Making a Murderer, a 10-part Netflix documentary that was released December 18. It’s about the same case and its aftermath, which involves a murder, but I won’t say more to avoid being a spoiler. I had written from the perspective of the sexual assault victim, and the documentary seems to be — based on my watching just the first episode — from the perspective of Steve Avery and his close-knit family.
Either way, it’s a story with breathtaking twists and turns. What’s beginning to trouble me is my suspicion that the documentary, made over 10 years, is going to expose my own class-ism and able-ism because in the ultimate conclusions I drew about the aftermath of the sexual-assault case. I know that’s confusing to those who don’t know the story so, without giving away any details let me just say: Watch the documentary, and just for fun consider reading my sermon first. But watch the documentary. You will learn about what passes for justice for those in the under-class, and you may learn about your own biases.
But if you’re a binge-watcher, don’t spoil the rest for me. I’ve watched only the first episode so far.
I never intended to do reviews in Melting-Pot Dharma, but while I’m on the subject of the justice (or in-justice) system, I just finished the book Met Her on the Mountain, by Mark I. Pinsky. On one hand, it’s a true-crime murder mystery about the brutal unsolved 1970 rape and killing of young antipoverty worker Nancy Morgan in rural North Carolina. But on the other hand, it’s about how small-town justice can be skewed against outsiders.
If you read the book and watch the documentary, you’ll get a glimpse into how the criminal-justice system in the United States often doesn’t look like the version we see on TV dramas and in films.
— Mel Pine (Fearless Lotus)
NOTE: After I wrote this, my wife informed me that everyone already knows all about the Steven Avery case and has been talking about it for a week or so. If that’s correct, cut me some slack. I was observing the Noble Silence last week and missed it all.
Copyright 2016 © Mel Harkrader Pine