The case of the missing three-year-old Caylee Anthony has managed to obscure local media coverage of almost everything else in Central Florida. Each of the local television channels has "Special Team Coverage" on the case and everyday there is yet another "shocking" revelation for the media outlets to exploit. If there was ever a ratings grabber for the local news, this is it.
The coverage, however, far from helping has instead inspired the type of mob mentality only last seen during Florida's old days of lynchings and public hangings. Everyday a group of "protesters" stands in front of the Anthony home, calling names and demanding that the Anthony family answer their questions. The situation has at times become violent and even when it is relatively peaceful, it is certainly hostile.
The local news media has in turn taken the demonstrators as another added bonus to their coverage of the events. For the media, this is the opportunity to run the inevitable film of the local village idiot explaining how much they want to "see justice done", with that implied message that if the District Attorney and the police do not ensure justice, they will.
The public expression of beliefs is always positive, I've always said, but the truth is that the underlying principles behind these people's actions in front of the Anthony home has nothing to do with justice.
These are not protesters, this is a mob, bent on their own brand of justice free from the trappings of evidence and due process.
The difference between a "mob" and a protest group is actually quite simple. As an avid protester, and veteran of large and small protests around the country, I can tell you that there is a clear distinction to be drawn between what I and others do and what these local yokels think they are doing.
Protesting is about speaking truth to power. It is about garnering the support of the masses to confront the injustice of the state, the corruption of politicians, and the greed of corporations. Protesting is about garnering enough Davids to topple the Goliaths and shout down the power of Babylon.
But these people standing and screaming in front of the Anthony home are a mob, an unruly group of bully sharks who smell blood in the water and have gathered around to pounce upon their prey. The Anthony's are a recently retired couple, which other than having taken to support their daughter in this mess, have done nothing wrong. The mob in their front yard is nevertheless ready to storm the house with pitchforks and torches in hand all in the name of "justice".
To the credit of the police, they have managed an even handed approach of ensuring the safety of both the Anthony's and their bullies, but things may not remain quite so simple.
Already this case has brought out the freaks of society from disparate search teams driven by God, to bounty hunters looking for fame and fortune, oh and the lawyers. But last night while watching the local NBC affiliate (WESH) the news coverage turned to a woman, who is so convinced that little Caylee is buried in the Anthony's backyard, that she flew down from her home in West Virginia to stand and yell at the Anthony's front door. A trip that cost her $575 according to the interview.
These people are not right in the head. But that's the mob.
Fueled by their belief in their own righteousness and the spectacle of a 'Jerry Springer' atmosphere, they are schoolyard bullies who's highest priority is to make themselves feel good. The fact that the local media treats them like they matter to the outcome of the Caylee Anthony disappearance merely fuels their fire, threatens civil society, and endangers us all.