An American Embarrassment Is “Concluded” Too

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Please pardon a very serious post, but I wish to address this in one “summation” and be done with it.

You may know by now that one Amanda Knox of Seattle, Washington, has had a successful appeal in Italy’s highest court. Her murder conviction has been quashed. As no further appeal by the prosecution is permitted, the case is now concluded.

Screen capture of the BBC web site, March 28, 2015.
Screen capture of the BBC web site, March 28, 2015.

So it no longer matters whether she did what Italian investigators claim. The BBC has reported the court has promised to release its reasoning for the decision within 90 days. Given the circus that has prevailed around this, and the roller coaster “justice” the victim’s family has endured, many of us out here are indeed very interested in reading it.

As a former university instructor and administrator, and one who has also dealt with numerous extremely bright, dedicated, decent, U.S. study abroad students, my view of Knox has been rooted in my experience. She is not a celebrity and has been forced into the public eye since the autumn of 2007 only because of the murder. Her admitted behavior in Europe prior to it was the epitome of stereotypical American study abroad student undergraduate juvenile, and a complete embarrassment to the many thousands of other U.S. study abroads who do their studies in an adult manner and take their time abroad seriously. I wrote last year:

Having worked in a London university in the early 2000s, my initial reaction to Ms. Knox’s charged involvement in the murder was a shrug: she was unremarkable. Learning over time about her “studies” in Italy merely reinforced my opinion. I recalled how, in British universities, U.S. study abroad students are among administrators’ biggest foreign student headaches: some enroll and rarely or never appear, leaving the universities with no idea what they are up to.

An Admissions officer once told me, “You know who our biggest problems are, Robert? It’s [———-] and Americans.” That’s no shocker. Too many U.S. study abroads are a weird melding of childishness, self-absorption, arrogance and insouciance. They arrive in Europe imagining it’s a decadent playground, and, often away from parental oversight for the first time, they lose their minds.

That she has now become the most “famous” American study abroad student ever is utterly depressing. Had she never been arrested, none of us likely would have ever heard of her. (Although that BBC piece does, I will not couple the name of the murder victim to her in this post.) In now having gotten “her life back,” which she has repeatedly stated is all she wants, we can but hope she disappears into the public oblivion she deserves.

Some of you I am sure disagree with me, and I do respect that.

I will not mention her name on my site here again without “very good reason.” Nor will I allow comments on this post. There is nothing more to be said about her because, frankly, given the murder case against her has been declared concluded the only reason for her entire public persona has therefore been “concluded” as well.

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UPDATE: I have “republished” this post to add that “Having worked in a London university….” two paragraphs, which had appeared in an earlier post and I felt merited re-citing here.