Jurors in Lancaster, PA in trouble for posting to Facebook while serving on the jury. The murder case was heavily reported on in the news, and apparentely the jury wanted to capitalize on their 15 minutes of fame, which is not a new concept, the post trial interviews have been popular for years. Two jurors might have ruined the entire verdict. They posted messages during the trial about the trial; they also communicated through Facebook about the trial. Anyone who has served on a jury or watched TV/movie involving a jury knows the first rule is ‘no talking about the trial’. They are not allowed to talk to each other, to the world, or even listen or read what other people are saying about the case.
In the Read/Write Web there is a lot of people talking about the news. For years people have been able to speak their mind for topics they might not have any real insight or background. The news sites allow readers to leave comments, which is an informal discussion forum. Anytime there is a semi-controversial issue or event in the news, the comments flow in. A great example is in today’s news – witht the possible passing of the state budget. The photo of Gov. Ed Rendell got almost as many comments as the news article. People are frustrated by the government’s handling of money in the tough economic times, and this is very visible in the comments. Some of the comments are thoughtful, some are funny, but it is a good representation of what people think.
The radio hosts yesterday morning talked about the jurors who talked. They made a legitimate point. When were people desentitized to the horror of murder or the finality of the situation. People not feel the weight of their obligation as jurors, and they were posting their thoughts on a social network site. Is there a concept of “privacy” anymore? Or does social networking destroy privacy. By being connected to our friends and the Internet almost all the time – do we sacrifice in other way?
This is ties back to an article I read in March – ‘Rigor on Trial.’ I think the idea of being college-ready is only partially attainable, and that is not for all students. The article pointed out that the skills and knowledge that are required to get into college are often not the skills and knowledge required to stay in college. As teachers, we should be preparing kids for the real world that exists for them after high school. This might not be ‘college ready’. A better goal would be ‘citizen ready.’ Would they be able to serve on a jury or vote in an election? The article addressed this as well, and they said it better than I could.
Imagine, for a moment, that you were accused of a serious crime you did not commit and were on trial for your life. How confident would you be of getting a fair trial if the members of your jury had merely met the intellectual standards of our college-prep courses as they exist today? Certainly they would know how to memorize information and perform on multiple-choice and short-answer tests. But would your jurors know how to analyze an argument, weigh evidence, recognize bias (their own and others’), distinguish fact from opinion, and be able to balance the sometimes competing principles of justice and mercy? Could they listen with both a critical mind and a compassionate heart and communicate clearly what they understand? Would they know how to work with others to seek the truth?
I think the posting on Facebook shows that the school system is failing at producing ‘jury ready’ individuals. Students are so focused on learning for the test – as proven by the popular question “is this going to be on the test?” – that they might not be able to see beyond the test. Whether Roseboro is guilty or innocent might not matter, the question right now is, did he get a fair trial? Obviously the jurors were not able to follow the rules in place for them. Where they at least able to think for themselves and/or think critically? How can I get my students to think more critically? In the age of google, can they think things through or do they just search and accept the first answer they see?