Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quote of the day

"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." - attributed to Mark Twain

This line came to mind as I was reading a news report about the ongoing investigation of the murder of Annie Le, the Yale graduate student whose body was found stuffed into the wall of a campus lab building, and the comments section that accompanied it. The police are being very tight-lipped about the details of the case, and rightfully so it seems to me - there's no reason to make evidence or other aspects of the investigation public until a suspect is formally charged - but that hasn't stopped an array of amateur detectives, psychoanalysts, and forensic investigators from the across the internets from engaging in all sorts of overheated speculation. Among the wilder theories that have been posited are that Ray Clark, the lab technician who is being interrogated as a person of interest in the case, had an unrequited obsessive crush on Le and couldn't bare the thought of her marrying another man, that Le was secretly cheating on her fiance with Clark and Clark became enraged when she tried to break it off, and that Le threatened to expose some professional foul up of Clark's and he killed her to keep her quiet. These theories have two things in common - they are 1.)sensationalistic and slanderous of the people involved, and 2.)outlandish and more than likely untrue. If there is one thing I've learned from reading accounts of real crimes, it's that they're rarely as lurid or spectacular as a typical episode of "CSI" or "Law and Order". And if there's one thing I've learned from reading things on the internet, it's that people will jump to all sorts of conclusions about the character, mindset, and motivations of people they have never met, or even spoken to. As someone who's suffered through a missing persons case - one that didn't have a happy ending, either - I recall that one of the most painful parts of the experience was having to listen to people who didn't know the missing person offer unflattering psychological theories about him. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Le's family, fiance, and friends to hear her impugned as they mourn her death.

Turn off the TV set and put away the thriller DVDs, people. This is real life. Le doesn't deserve to have her name dragged through the mud by anonymous assholes on the internet, her loved ones don't deserve to have their suffering amplified, and Ray Clark, if he's not the one who killed her, doesn't deserve to be tarred as a psychopath. Wait until the facts are known to form an opinion.

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