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Jodi Arias and the culture of slandering the victim

Updated on May 9, 2013

"When a man lies, he murders some part of the world." ~ Merlin, Excalibur

On Wednesday the jury returned with a verdict in the trial of the woman accused of murdering Travis Alexander on June 4, 2008. By this jury of her peers Jodi Arias was found guilty of first degree murder. The jury will next determine the appropriate sentence for Arias, which could mean the death penalty.

The trial was a lengthy one that captured the attention of the media, and also prompted strong reactions among the public. Although most of us sympathized with Travis Alexander, there were those who felt conflicted about the case, due to allegations made by Jodi Arias that Alexander abused her.

It is natural to feel sympathy for victims of abuse, and the explicit, sordid account Arias gave was disturbing. But it didn't take long before the most open-minded grew aware that Arias's charges were too impractical to be deserve credence. She alleged to be terrified by this man, yet she was the one that sought him out on the fatal day. She claimed she's a good person, yet she stole a gun to carry out the deed and then went on to change her story to police multiple times. On the witness stand she was confused and foggy when it came to specifics about the shooting, butchery and final, fatal throat-slashing of Alexander; yet she was able to recall with sparkling clarity the intimate details of the alleged abuse. In the end, her memories were too selective and her overall behavior too smug for us to believe her.

Well, most of us.

Arias did and still does have a cheering section that staunchly defends Alexander's killing as the desperate act of a scared and abused woman. This sentiment runs ripe among groups and individuals already known for harboring antagonism toward men, and in particular white, straight men. These defenders are the ones that laud Arias's courage.They likewise praise Arias's altruistic nature, never more clearly demonstrated as in her selling "Survivor" tee shirts at her website, under the claim of promoting awareness about domestic abuse.

Graphic from the Jodi Arias website, and shown for public awareness information purposes only
Graphic from the Jodi Arias website, and shown for public awareness information purposes only
Arias's smirking mugshot
Arias's smirking mugshot

Then there are those who are just enraptured by Jodi Arias. As is often the case with those standing trial for murder, Arias gleaned her share of obsessed admirers. For the type of individuals drawn to criminals, Arias cuts an alluring figure. She's physically attractive and is just as appealing going with the coy brunette librarian look as she was as a bombshell blonde. She makes glaring orange jail attire look fashionable. She giggles a lot. And under self-made circumstances that would leave anyone else red with shame, Arias can manage to bring a carefree, girlish smirk when posing for her mugshot.

With these assets it is no real shock that Arias recruited a small army of obsessed admirers ready and willing to pounce to her defense. Accordingly, some of her fellow jail mates have vouched for her personal integrity and have spoken of her in terms of "hero" and "guiding light". Websites and FB pages were created for the purpose of maintaining her innocence. And being the generous gal she is, Arias has fervently given back to her enthusiastic supporters: from the granting of numerous interviews, to making a video of her jailhouse tapped rendition of "O Holy Night", to posting her lovely artwork on her website...a website that was diligently maintained, even as her in-trial allegations against Alexander grew more convoluted by the day.

As to those allegations of abuse, I have the leeway of weighing them through the eyes of someone who has been there. There was a time in my own life when I was abused by someone I loved. The relationship didn't start out abusive, but grew steadily that way as this individual allowed themselves to love drugs more than me. They hid their addiction, or so they believed, and took their aggression out on me. I can honestly say this person hurt me both physically and emotionally. In fact he terrorized me for some time. But despite all the anguish and fear he caused, in the end I realized I was better off without him. So I got away and never went back.

I was still scared of him for a long time afterward. But you know what? I didn't come out of it mistrusting or hating men, and have no desire to stereotype men or feel hostile to their gender. I never sought to get back at this man; never once contemplated venturing back into his life in order to bring harm or death. This isn't to say that a woman, in order to defend her life from immediate harm, or that of someone else, doesn't have the right to do whatever it takes to protect that life. Because she certainly does have that right. However, some things are just wrong; and entering anyone's home with the specific intent to kill that person is wrong, no matter how much abuse they may have formerly dealt you.

In Arias's case I have no doubt she had plotted out the death of Travis Alexander long before she showed up at his home on that fateful day. I also feel Arias enjoys attention with the same passion as she derives from dealing out revenge. Lastly, I believe her entire story about Alexander's "abuse" is fiction, one that was created for the sole purpose of gaining sympathy.

In finding Arias guilty of first degree murder, the jury obviously saw right through that fiction. Their verdict hopefully brings some measure of justice for Travis Alexander, and comfort for his family. But does the jury's ability to see through the web of lies exonerate the purposeful maligning of Alexander's character that was carried out in the courtroom? I don't think so.

Which brings me back to the matter of hostility toward men. Discrimination of any form -whether racism, sexism, religious intolerance, agism or any other- is wrong. The problem here is that we have a culture, or at least a dedicated sub-culture, that has no problem slandering men at every opportunity. On the other hand, dead men can't fight for justice. Alexander couldn't reach from the grave and beg the criminal justice system to treat him equitably. Arias's defense team pulled out all the stops to make the jury believe he was just another example of the abusive white, straight male, and oh yes, don't let us forget, an abusive white, straight male of the Mormon faith. The team wanted the jury to hate Alexander so much that they could never, in good conscience, find Arias guilty.

Now I am not a male and neither am I straight (I'm bi-sexual) or a member of the Mormon religion. And speaking with the experience of a domestic abuse survivor, I am sickened by people who pull out the abuse card to justify criminal behavior. The perpetuation of stereotypes to exonerate crime only pisses me off. Because of this I find Arias a particularly repulsive criminal. All the same, she isn't the first defendant to play the victim card and she won't be the last. But the worst part about it all is that there is more of a likelihood Jodi Arias will some day walk out of prison a free woman than there is a chance the world of criminal defense will suddenly develop an overwhelming desire to treat murder victims with common decency.

If anything positive has come out of Travis Alexander's brutal murder it can only be that the maligning of his name has opened public awareness to the extent of abuse toward the dead as practiced inside courtrooms. I know many people gave Arias the benefit of the doubt when her trial started. But her attempts to manipulate quickly helped them see the absurdity of her allegations. And in course, it made her defense team look, most rightfully, as insensitive twisters of the truth.

The argument of "best defense possible" is not a license to malign the dead. And Arias herself would have fared better if she'd simply owned her deed and thrown herself on the mercy of the court. No one benefits from manipulation and lies in the courtrooms. Who knows, if and when the public as a whole demands an end to the slandering of murder victims, just maybe defense attorneys will follow suit .

We can hope anyway.

Travis Alexander July 28, 1977 - June 4, 2008
Travis Alexander July 28, 1977 - June 4, 2008

This hub ©May 9, 2013 by Beth Perry


Submit a Comment

  • Madelline profile image

    madelline MSW 3 years ago from Vancouver, BC

    Yes, I agree with your article too, and wonder how it is possible in this case, also in the Casey Anthony trial to essentially libel a person without needing any evidence or corroboration. Doesn't that violate the witnesses human rights or civil rights somehow? Also, in the two cases, there became a trial within a trial, and I thought did not serve the cause of justice one way or the other. The more I think about the Arias case the more I think she has a psychotic illness, maybe as part of her borderline diagnoses, but possibly a separate, concurrent diagnosis. I also wonder why psychopathy was not addressed / assessed and/or ruled out in the psychological testing.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

    Thank you, fpherj48. Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of capital punishment, and with any hope Arias will spend the rest of her sorry days behind bars.

    Thanks much for dropping by to read and the support!

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    beth....First of all....You did a TRULY magnificent job! Your superior writing skills/talents scream loudly!

    I couldn't agree more.....and surely couldn't explain myself any better than you have done for all of us who feel as you do.

    My husband (rest his soul) was a Defense Attorney for many years. We would have long, LOUD and emotional discussions whenever a high profile case was aired for public scrutiny. Needless to say, given my attitude & beliefs....and his Career experience....well...can you imagine the fun we had?

    However, in a real court room with real lives at stake, there's no fun involved. I am extremely grateful the jury saw thru all the crap and legal at least find her guilty.

    Being anti-Capital hope for her sentence is Life w/o the possibility of parole. We shall see what happens.

    Again....BRAVO, beth.....fabulous hub!...UP+++

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 4 years ago from Tennesee

    Great talking with you, too, cmoneyspinner1tf.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 4 years ago from Tennesee

    Great talking with you, too, cmoneyspinner1tf.

  • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

    Treathyl FOX 4 years ago from Austin, Texas

    The case of Jodi Arias is about murder. Plain and simple. Who decides if evidence or testimony is admissible and relevant to prove the innocence or guilt of the accused? The lawyers? The judge? The jury?

    Here's the bottom line: I'm the one standing accused. The victim ain't coming back no matter what I say or do. If I'm innocent, I need to prove it!!! Am I a cold-blooded killer deserving of just punishment OR ____ ? When the trial is over, the dead stay buried, the lawyer, judge and jury gets to go home, no matter what! I'm the one with my neck in the noose, relying on an attorney to defend me. If I'm innocent and I got an attorney that sucks, am I'm screwed because they used unsavory distasteful offense strategy or tactics?

    All I'm saying is - the victim is dead FOR A REASON. The person on trial is being accused FOR A REASON. Whatever happened needs to be sorted out so the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth can be made known. On a good day, that's a simple process. Cut and dry. But on most days, it's ugly!!! Because it's murder!!!

    It's great talking to you, bethperry. :)

    All of us are human beings. We're not perfect so our justice system won't be perfect either. But we gotta work with it!

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 4 years ago from Tennesee

    cmoneyspinner1tf, I said the attorneys believed the tales would gain sympathy from at least one easily-duped juror. It was not the case; the jurors saw right through the b.s.

    The problem is juries are made up of human beings. And although not in all cases, somewhere down the line there has been and will be a jury with at least one gullible human sitting in its midst. I have no doubt the gullible are completely capable of determining justice when all evidence is genuine. But once pure fantasy is injected into a case then the case is compromised, because neither defending attorney, prosecutor or even judge knows who among the jury may be one of those gullible human beings. When you say the LIVING accused person should be able to present whatever they have for their defense, I say yes, as long as that WHATEVER is truthful and NOT pure fantasy, and especially if that fantasy is used to target and injure the victim a second time. In Arias's case this was exactly what transpired. And to answer your question, if I were an innocent person accused of a crime, I would take my chances by clinging to the truth and only the truth; otherwise I couldn't very well call myself innocent at all.

  • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

    Treathyl FOX 4 years ago from Austin, Texas

    bethperry - I get all that. But I believe in the American jury and once served as a jurist in a civil case. I remember after we came back with our decision, the judge said something to the effect: "This confirms my faith that ordinary people without formal legal education or background can listen to the facts and evidence and reach a sound and just conclusion." So a lawyer duping a jury member? In the everyday world, con artists dupe people all the time. But we're talking about a court case where guilt has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The victim won't ever get their life back. But the LIVING accused person should be able to present whatever they have for their defense. Let them give it their best shot! Is that fair? Of course it is. If you were an innocent person accused of a crime, would you rather NOT be able to present as much information, etc. to a jury? It's intricate. I personally don't even think criminal court cases should be televised. I think it's unfair.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 4 years ago from Tennesee

    cmoneyspinner1tf, I agree with your comments about it being easy to beat up on the dead.

    I think most Americans agree that lawyers are obligated to present the best defense strategy for their client. But there is a difference between presenting the best provable facts to a jury and in knowingly presenting outrageous lies in the hope one or more jury members will swallow the lie. I believe in this case the defense attorneys believed Jodi Arias's lies about her victim would gain sympathy from at least one easily-duped jury member. But there was no proof whatsoever to back up her claims about her victim, and these particular fictions came only after she had already been caught in lies to authorities. In presenting her fairytale accusations to the jury, her attorneys crossed the line between best defense and savage offense.

  • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

    Treathyl FOX 4 years ago from Austin, Texas

    All what you've said may be true. But the lawyers are legally, ethically and morally obligated to choose the best defense strategy for their client. (In America. I don't know about other countries.) Some may say it's really easy to beat up on dead people. They can't talk or fight back. I say victims can speak from their graves. THEY SPEAK LOUDLY AND CLEARLY!!

    - Cain, what have you done? "the voice of your brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground." [ ]

    Crime victims always cry out. But not everybody listens.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 4 years ago from Tennesee

    ladydeonne, thanks and yes, I believe it was cruelness. And the jury did what they should have done.

    As to your question, I have no idea what race her male fans are. Personally, I see them as simply pathetic.

    Thanks for dropping by to read and for commenting!

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 4 years ago from Tennesee

    Patriot Quest, I'll be working on that one soon. Gotta get a few irons finished in the fire first. But thanks much for reading and commenting!

  • ladydeonne profile image

    Deonne Anderson 4 years ago from Florence, SC

    Your article is right on target. Jodi's defense team did everything in their power to discredit Travis. Their disregard for the victim and his family was cold hearted and cruel. I am thankful that the jury was not fooled and that she has been convicted of first degree murder. I believe that most women in the US did not buy Jodi's story. Am I wrong in thinking that many White men fell for Jodi's story?

  • Patriot Quest profile image

    Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

    Excellent hub, do one on the White House and the IRS, Benghazi lies and scandals!

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

    slightlyjaded, thank you for reading and also for sharing. I know it can be difficult to admit these things do happen, but you are a stronger woman for doing so and for leaving. And it is a shame on people who profess to advocate women's rights when they diss the strong by making excuses for manipulators.

    You have my respect!

  • slightlyjaded profile image

    slightlyjaded 5 years ago from Arkansas

    Great article and I agree 100% with you. I was also in an abusive marriage, he was a drug addict and I would never take his life or even plan to. I'm not a manipulator and I don't seek attention. I left, took the children with me. I know some women aren't as fortunate but if I had to fight for my life, I would with every ounce of my being.

    She had left, kept stalking him and wouldn't leave him alone. She planned and plotted to kill him. I hope she gets what she deserves.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

    femmeflashpoint, thanks much :)

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

    Will, so sorry to hear about the incident. I hope he's ok now!

  • profile image

    femmeflashpoint 5 years ago

    Excellent article Beth.



  • WillStarr profile image

    WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    She's a superb manipulator, and someone very close to me was completely taken in by another superb female manipulator who fooled us all. (Manipulators come in both sexes of course.)

    However, manipulators cannot fool people forever, and when their victims tire of it and try to get away, the manipulators often explode. That's what happened to my loved one, and all of us were stunned when this seemingly gentle female suddenly assaulted him viciously.

    He was lucky, but Travis was not.


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