Saturday, July 18, 2015

Podcatching: Serial Season 1

serial podcast

Juries are supposed to carefully weigh evidence and the case presented and make a decision based on whether the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But what is reasonable when the case presented may not be, and hardly ever could be, the same as the truth? Unless there's video of the crime clearly showing the defendant perpetrating it, it's all just he said/she said in the end. It's all one big puzzle that depends on which side can best put it together, but neither side is going to really give you a complete picture. That's the biggest take away I have from Serial's first season because whether or not Adnan Syed really murdered Hae Min Lee, there are many reasonable doubts, and it's not just because he says he didn't do it.

What is justice then? Can we focus on actually punishing guilty people when guilt itself is so contingent on a process that relies on storytelling? It all comes across as subjective. These aren't big revelations at all, but when you listen to a story unfold, after the fact, without the context of one side trying to hide things from the other like you do on Serial, it really drives it home that even with objectivity, things still aren't clear. What does that say about our justice system? And this is before we even consider things like race, prejudice and any other form of corruption that might muddy the waters further. 

beyond a reasonable doubt
Is this even possible in most cases? 
I consider myself a pretty good judge of character. I've been burned enough to be able to say that at this point and mean it. I'm very careful about who I believe and why about everything. But it's a hard thing. At the end of the day, unless you're a completely cynical bastard (which I'm really not) your first instinct when speaking with a human being is likely to take them at face value. I'm not talking about just naively accepting everything they say, but the middle ground is not thinking everyone is lying about everything or even having to verify every little thing they say. And the more you learn about a person's humanity, the more likely you are going to be believe their story. So I believe every person on every side of the story on Serial. I also don't believe any of them because they contradict each other, themselves and known facts so often that it's a literal mess. Like life. 

I don't know how they will top themselves, but Serial's second season should start sometime this Fall. It's going to be interesting listening week to week, as intended (hence the name) rather than binging like I did. I have no idea what the new story will be, but I can't wait. This is great stuff. Go listen damn it. 

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