Caylee Anthony's Useful Idiots

I've said it before, and I'll say it again — to most people and institutions, the purpose of a criminal justice system is not to test the government's accusations, but to deliver a preordained result that matches our expectations and prejudices.

The acquittal of Casey Anthony has produced a torrent of outrage supporting that proposition. The Mommy Mob's reaction illustrates how high-profile cases can drive people to become the useful idiots of the security state and the unwitting shills of the media.

First, take law enforcement and government. Frequent readers know that one of our favorite topics — captured under the tag Think of the Children! — is the way that politicians and nanny-staters manipulate our anxieties about our children to impose increasing restrictions upon our freedom. You'll see new examples every day. Note, for instance, politicians arguing that the existence of a tiny minority of child pornographers justifies tracking the internet use of hundreds of millions of innocent Americans. It's for the chiiiiildrun, they tell us, reasonably confident that our brain will turn off when they say so.

Casey Anthony's acquittal has produced a surge of exactly the sort of mindset that the government craves. That mindset is captured perfectly by one of the most vocal anti-Casey Anthony think-of-the-children folks on Twitter, who (like many of her ilk) is outraged that some people think that the howls for "Caylee's Law" are misguided. She says this:

How can a law that protects children be WRONG? How can it be questionable?

Bingo. That's exactly what law enforcement and the politicians want you to think: if a law is presented as "for the children," it must be beyond question. if you think that it's restricted by subject matter to the Anthony trial, think again. When Kevin Underhill wrote a perfectly reasonable post suggesting that 14-year-olds shouldn't be branded sex offenders for life for sticking their ass into somebody's face, and that the Caylee's-Law mentality is what allows that sort of thing to happen, the usual suspects pounced:

@loweringthebar you've got 2 STOP publishing articles like this on YAHOO coz I promise u WE WILL #FIGHT4CAYLEE !!!!

You might think that politicians and other state actors hate it when a Casey Anthony gets acquitted. You'd be wrong. The acquittal of someone like Casey Anthony — accused of killing a cute white girl, and worse yet, accused of being a slut and a party girl — is an opportunity for the state to get useful idiots to drive its favorite narratives. Those narratives are "when the government charges you with something, that means you are guilty" and "government witnesses are credible; defense witnesses are not" and "defense lawyers deal in deceit; prosecutors deal in truth" and "a juror's job is to convict the guilty", and so on. Th Mommy Mob is flogging those narratives like crazy. They devote web sites to excoriating the jurors and suggesting that they ought to be prosecuted for some sort of fraud or dereliction of duty. They attack the defense attorneys, suggesting that they ought not be paid and arguing that the State Bar ought to investigate them. They speculate about what citizens might be associated with Casey Anthony and then post contact information for those citizens. They call on their flying monkeys to harass the judiciary. They demand retrial of Casey Anthony based twisted interpretations of the Dual Sovereign Doctrine.

In short, Caylee's ghouls carry the government's water for them. Their messages are clear: jurors, if you fail to convict when the mob thinks you should, you will be identified, reviled, and quite possibly harassed. Judges, if you fail to rule the way the mob wants, the mob will jam your phone lines and deluge you with bizarre emails. Defendants, if your trial ends up in anything but the result the mob demands, expect to be hunted for as long as you occupy the mob's imagination. Defense lawyers, your job is to be hated and to be attacked if you are successful. All of those messages support the security state — the viewpoint that the government knows best and that the government's claims and accusations must be accepted to keep order. The government's labels must be accepted uncritically.

Second, there's the media. The media has made big bucks off of Caylee Anthony's disappearance and death. Nancy Grace and her shouty ilk have discovered a way to monetize the easy outrage of the chronic daytime-TV-watchers and trial-followers, turning frothing hatred of the "tot mom" into advertizing dollars. Though Casey Anthony's acquittal looks, at first blush, like a defeat for those who so smugly proclaimed her guilt on cable, the opposite is true. It's a bonanza. A conviction would have turned off the money-faucet quickly. But an acquittal — that they can milk for months or years, continuing the lucrative circus that was the trial.

The loudest Casey-haters, with an abject and ironic lack of reflection, have now thrown themselves behind a boycott movement, vowing to boycott any entity that pays Casey Anthony to write or talk or appear. A boycott is a perfectly valid First Amendment avenue. But it's astounding to see the mob wield it without apparent shame. If Casey Anthony were like 99 out of 100 accused murderers, her story wouldn't be worth a nickel to any media outlets. But she's not — because the boycott crowd accepted the media narrative about her and followed her as the latest "trial of the century." The madding crowd that now cries "boycott" is the very reason that her story is worth money — because angry people follow her obsessively. That's why calls for boycotts often result in a surge of sales for the communication the boycotters are attacking. It's possible, perhaps even likely, that every angry tweet and blog post by the Boycott-Casey crowd will put money in Casey's pocket. Whether it does or not, the media will continue to make money, as the boycott itself becomes the latest chapter in the lucrative Casey Anthony story. The mob is the media's foil.

Imagine, for a moment, if all of that outrage could he harnessed and directed not against the acquittal of one accused defendant, but against the ruinous war on drugs or police misconduct or any number of other causes that don't amount to being government's fluffer. But the mob, by its nature, is conservative. And useful idiots are, by their nature, only useful to the bad guys.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says


    Is that the woman who tried to run over someone she thought was Casey? She sounded crazy-crazy as opposed to mob-crazy.

  2. says

    Three things.

    First, the "Casey-lookalike-attacked" story was debunked.

    Second, here's some nice police action to get outraged at. I should warn that if you are easily outraged, or frightened by people being threatened with blithe execution, this may trip you out.

    Third, I think I'm gonna print out that website that hunts down the Casey Anthony jurors and take it with me any time I have jury duty. "No, your honor, I don't think I could vote against that stupid mob outside."

  3. says

    Unfortunately, you can never make enough laws to keep stupid or bad people from hurting others. You can't legislate human nature. People always think of new ways to surprise us.

  4. Scott Jacobs says

    First, as the friend of on of the kids of one of the NJ judges that ruled that the sex-offender law was properly applied, let me say that if people don't like that decision, they are free to try to get the law changed… Aso, the line that "they just put their butts on his face" is very much not the whole story…


    Amen, brother…

    Also, to Burlyman…

    Don't worry… That feeling will pass… :)

  5. says

    But…But… Think of the … You have been sent to a automated Decision system..please press the number of your needed opinion

    If you are a Media organisation please press 1 for MONEY
    If you are a Politician please press 2 for VOTES
    If you are a Useful Idiot please press 3 for CHILDREN

    If you are none of the above please wait and a van will be sent shortly to send you to the nearest re-education pod.

  6. Christina says

    I think "think of the children" is too narrow a slot for the type of attitude expressed. (And let me say that except for your op/eds on the C.A. debacle I have only caught the occasional online headline since I don't shop at groceries that sell tabloids or watch TV…)

    Truthfully, this is not limited to "think of the children" – it is "make our lives safe and secure". We have become such a sheltered society over the last few decades that now we expect guaranteed government protection across the line: the McDonald's "coffee is hot" case and fans that say "do not stick things into the fan"; playgrounds that bore children to death and parents who won't let their kids play outside; the Patriot Act in its different variations and the currently active lawsuit against United Airlines for not preventing one of the WTC hijackings.

    We are a culture so afraid of death and injury that any regulation is acceptable if its purpose is to protect. We have given over personal responsibility to the machine, and lack only some weird cybernetics to make us Borg. Resistance is NOT futile, however!

    In light of your previous post about a small subset of a group tarnishing the reputation of the group as a whole, I wonder if you might reconsider the term "Mommy Mob"… There are plenty of informed moms out there who rejected the media narrative about C.A. (created to sell media), didn't follow the trial at all, and fight the overprotection of our children. Some of us even let our kids play in the front yard without an adult present :-)

  7. marco73 says

    I'd purposely ignored all the grass roots web sites devoted to flogging this dead horse. Curiousity got the best of me, so I clicked on just one site.
    Just one question: with so few brain cells working together, how do these people even know how to turn a computer on?

  8. Tim S says


    Your conclusion is spot on, and the most depressing part of the whole mess. If the mob occasionally got worked up FOR justice, mob actions against justice might almost be tolerable.

  9. says

    Good points Christina. I quite agree.

    And the "Mommy Mob" comment is, perhaps, a bit mean. But I don't use it to refer to all mommies; rather, I use it to refer to that segment of mommies who respond to such messages and whose self-image of motherhood is tied up in hating people like Casey Anthony.

    Plus, you've known me for a quarter-century now. You know better than to expect manners.

  10. C. S. P. Schofield says

    If you don't already know the book THE RABBLE ROUSERS by Eric Frank Russell, you owe it to yourself to find a copy. That can be a little hard, because it was only published once, but it is well worth the effort and money. Maybe Interlibrary Loan could help. If I could find my own copy I could be more precise, but at one point in the book Russell says of The Mob something like "….it acts only by reflex and speaks only through its anus. It's cry is for Barabbas."

  11. freebob says

    Schofield: I can't remember where I got the recommendation from, but I recently checked out Rabble Rousers, and I loved it. If you've recommended the book on this site recently it may have been you, if that's the case, thank you.

    Christina: You should check out a new HBO documentary "Hot Coffee" it may change your perception about the case.

  12. C. S. P. Schofield says


    I don't care who recommended it, what's important is that you read it. If I had the money I would track down whoever owns the rights to that book and try to arrange a reprint.

    The rest of Russell's work is worth reading too, although I don't know of any more non-fiction. My favorite, if only because it's the first work of Russell's that I read, is MEN, MARTIANS, AND MACHINES. You have to love a book that includes the line "Jepson fell 25 feet at the incredible rate of two vulgar adjectives per foot."

  13. Rich Rostrom says

    Is this better or worse than the murderous and destructive rioting which followed the acquittal of the arresting officers in the Rodney King case?

  14. Titus says

    I don't know that the mob is necessarily conservative: most mobs destroy things, which isn't a conservative thing to do. The mob is, on the other hand, reactionary, which is different.

    And your gripe about "for the children," while quite insightful, isn't new.

  15. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Rick Rostrom,

    About even, would be my guess. My understanding (and I'm not a Lawyer, nor do I follow the Law) is that the King episode was one of the incidents behind the 'try them locally and if we don't like the verdict try them on the Federal level. THAT isn't REALLY double jeopardy *wink*wink*' trend.

  16. kmc says

    You know, as a human being (and now a little more as a mom-to-be), I feel so cut off from the people I know who are these useful idiot types. I don't mean that I should feel close to them, but–well, what the hell do you do? Perfect example: a coworker of mine was looking for a daycare for her new baby, and she found one in-home caretaker who she liked except she was worried that the woman was Chinese and that the husband worked from home. Confused about the Chinese part? She thought all the toys would be covered with lead. Also, obviously a husband who's at home with his daycare-worker wife is just molesting them all day! I finally decided that the husband objection was the more outrageous, while the Chinese objection was the most blitheringly idiotic. But now I'm going to have a baby, and I'm just going to end up stuck in conversations with these people more and more, and I can't help but feel as though they're too crazy to even converse with. Does anyone out there have any more optimism than I'm able to muster?

  17. says

    But now I’m going to have a baby, and I’m just going to end up stuck in conversations with these people more and more, and I can’t help but feel as though they’re too crazy to even converse with. Does anyone out there have any more optimism than I’m able to muster?

    Sorry, no. Children are the inspiration of more fuckwittery than religion, politics, team sports, and browser choice combined.

  18. says

    @kmc: Contra Ken, I'll suggest simply not engaging in idiotic conversations. If you find yourself surrounded by idiots, walk away. Okay, maybe that will offend some. That's the price of integrity and keeping your sanity. It's not a big price, but the relief is worth every penny of it.

    Who knows, you may find new friends among those who are also avoiding the idiots.

  19. Duncan20903 says

    When I was a wee lad I don't recall getting a single message from a politician. But I most certainly remember getting a long list of messages from my parents. Heck, the only political facts I was aware of was that Kennedys get shot dead and George Wallace was a bad, bad man and I really didn't grasp what dead meant.

    The first message I recall getting from a politician was in 1980 shortly after registering to vote for the first time. That message was "vote for me and send me money". As a matter of fact that's the only message I recall ever receiving from a politician and they send me that message frequently.

    Are today's children different? Do they watch C-Span reruns on Saturday mornings instead of cartoons, and anxiously await the latest issue of "The Congressional Record" in the mail? Is Mad Magazine really out of business because children are intently studying their messages from politicians?

    Well I've got to admit my parents sent me one bad message. They told me that certain things were for adults only, and that they're not for little children. Now I'm a fully grown man and I find out that there are some things just aren't for children, so adults can't do them either.

  20. C. S. P. Schofield says


    That's because humans are designedly incapable of assessing children rationally … that being evolution's (or God's) way of preventing us from drowning the little orcs.

  21. Pat Lynch says

    Did the "Mommy Mob" bring the charges against Casey Anthony? Did Nancey Grace? No, a profesional prosecuter did. There was a whole lot of people that followed the trial that think this woman is guilty. Spare us the "all rednecks don't understand the law" BS.

  22. says

    I would like to Thank You for composing an article linked to my blog. Because of it, more people have viewed our cause and have gained more followers and supporters.

    I also would like to let your followers know I never said anything negative about you, insulted you, judged you, or attacked anything personal about you. But this is the land of the free, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I respect yours.

  23. says

    Did the “Mommy Mob” bring the charges against Casey Anthony? Did Nancey Grace? No, a profesional prosecuter did.

    True. And the prosecutor, true to his professionalism, is not clamoring for jurors to be sued or defense attorneys to be hounded. That separates him from the mob.

  24. says

    Outrage, huh.

    Great moments in OUTRAGE history: Crack baby on the cover of time magazine!

    SWIFT RESPONSE: Mandatory Minimums!

    Actual Result: Pushing our already absurdly high incarceration rates into the stratosphere. Prisons stuffed to bursting; many are basically post-Mad Max living environments. Minorities – primarily African-Americans – receive the bulk of the crackdown. Even though Crack and Cocaine are fundamentally the same thing. All thanks to your seven year itch!

    Great Moments in OUTRAGE History: Satanists are infiltrating America! Oh nos!

    SWIFT RESPONSE: we cooped an entire junk field of therapy. One that never provided any real results.

    Actual Result: we started throwing people in jail for sex crimes that were NEVER COMMITTED.

    Every time The Ignorant & The Outraged rear their heads we lose. A little piece of our souls is sliced off and discarded. Meanwhile the real problems go untreated, fester, and get worse. You know, problems like our swelling prisons and absurd incarceration rates. Problems like Steven Hayne, who probably send hundreds of innocent people – if not more – to jail while bilking the tax payers of hundreds of thousands of dollars when serving as Mississippi's Super Star Forensics Expert(tm). Problems like the erosion of rights being effected by both major political parties.

    But no big deal. A little girl died. That's something important for TITO to pay attention to.

  25. says

    True. And the prosecutor, true to his professionalism, is not clamoring for jurors to be sued or defense attorneys to be hounded. That separates him from the mob.

    IN fact, they have been very respectful, and made it clear that while they disagree with it, they accept the jury's verdict…

  26. says

    "Children are the inspiration of more fuckwittery than religion, politics, team sports, and browser choice combined."

    I will link to that comment several dozen times in the next few years: as a non-breeder it makes my skin crawl when I see the mewling and fawning that accompanies modern motherhood (especially among folks who want to be considered 'middle class'). It's as if the placenta is sending near-fatal doses of Xanax and Prozac into their brains (although if anything they get worse after the birth: how else do you explain the existence of 'The View'?).

  27. says

    Thank you! Thank you! The only thing left for us to do is call the media out on the carpet for the money they are making on Caylee's death. Maybe it is about high time that some detectives actually look into the way this case developed in the Media from the start. Nancy Grace had the last high profile MOTHER OF A MISSING TODDLER on her show. Her name was MELINDA DUCKETT and her son was TRENTON DUCKETT. Melinda committed suicide the very day of the show. Did she admit to murder in her suicide note? NO! So if Caylee had been killed by a man, wouldn't people question Nancy Grace's treatment of Melinda? Wouldn't it be better for HLN if another mother did the crime? Doesn't anyone see how odd it is that Caylee was perhaps the most photographed child in Florida and she ended up dead and then the Media used her pictures for profit. They had record viewers for the month of June! Cindy said in an interview with Greta Van Sestren that Casey worked as an INDEPENDANT CONTRACTOR PHOTOGRAPHER FOR UNIVERSAL. All we heard from law enforcement is that she lied about her employment there. But we do know that she did work for them at one time. Do you think it is just a coincidence that the most photographed and cutest child in Florida ends up dead still under mysterious circumstances. The prosecution was goaded by Nancy Grace's pitchfork crew into coming up with a case that the more you look at it the more BOGUS it appears! The vigilantee mentality almost led to the execution of a woman the state had no case against. The cops didn't even want to find the body; like it was a mob hit and they didn't want to be involved. Everything about this case is fishy and smells of a conspiracy. While the state of Florida may have lost bundles on the case, the Media has made bundles off this little girl's death. Please try to convince all Nancy Sheeples! Casey Anthony can't work a regular job now because her life is in danger because of Nancy Grace's venom. Now, if you will go back and look at HER HISTORY and revisit it for yourself. Please keep studying this case. My personal opinion is that once George saw the opportunity to make Casey look like a killer it sealed his security: He will not go to jail for child rape now. The prosecution asked who's life is better now that Caylee is gone. Well, honestly it is not better for someone who has become the nation's most hated person: Casey Anthony, Antone as Nostradamus called her. He has quite a good track record. Read his quatrain. He like me still believes in her innocence. And in doing so, I look forward to the confession the man makes who is the monster Nostradamus wrote about when he foresaw the trial of this century! Note: No woman in the US has ever killed a child with duct-tape.

  28. says

    And let me add that MELINDA DUCKETT and her toddler son also lived in FLORIDA. Florida is the state that let Laura Caballero a fake nun and kidnapper work as a guardian ad-litem. The feds have let her get away with kidnapping a SC child and taking her to Argentina (luckily she was returned). "Jurisdictional problems." Can you believe it. Now, years ago little Rilya Wilson's grandmother in Florida reported that a foriegn woman with an accent showed up to take Rilya to the doctor and did not return her. Did the cops show her a picture of Caballero. Also her associates have been known to become violent. How many children have gone missing in Florida's foster care system. Caylee's law apparently won't mean that the government has to follow the same laws as parents. Have they found the missing foster care children that they didn't even know were missing until they were told about it. Remember it became Jeb's problem. But we all know that his brother Neal went missing when his brother was running for president. They hid him like Richie Cunningham's baketball playing brother who no one ever heard from after the first season of Happy Days. Neal, the one who was crazy so he couldn't be prosecuted for his role in the Savings and Loan Scandal. That is when the Democrats should have asked if Mental Illness ran in their family and not let George or Jeb win another election in this country. Our soldiers would have been saved! They started out digging up Geronimo in some sick Skull and Bones meeting and are now selling WATER back to the world.

  29. says

    They devote web sites to excoriating the jurors and suggesting that they ought and blog post by the Boycott-Casey crowd will put money in Casey's pocket. Whether it does or not, the media will continue to make money, ..


  1. […] In your world, dear Caring Person, police officers are honest and upright, stalwarts protecting the huddled sheep against shadowy and terrifying figures.  Prosecutors are steely-eyed and sharp-minded, selecting their cases with rapierlike precision and a deep appreciation for the community's safety.  Judges — O judges! — are strict but scrupulously fair, drawing their judgements from both an abyssally deep understanding of criminal law and unimpeachable moral virtue.  (You're probably butthurt that Casey Anthony didn't get the death penalty.) […]