One of the most important traits of a proper criminal profiler is objectivity; to view the evidence without subjectivity or without allowing emotions or personal gain to cloud one's determinations. These are also the most important traits of a detective, a judge and a jury, the media and for anyone analyzing any issue. In reality, often these traits are limited or missing, both in professionals and layperson. And, because this is true, things don't always work out in life in a just and honorable manner. Let's see how this plays out in the McCann case.
Let's start with citizens, those people who make up a town or a state or a country. The first problem with citizens addressing any issue is ignorance. If you asked a good portion of people about the McCann case, they either wouldn't know a thing about it or they would say something like, "Isn't that the little girl Scotland Yard is looking for?" or maybe, "Isn't that the little girl that got kidnapped because the parents were out drinking?" Most people don't even pay much attention to the news and those that do, go with what the media is telling them and no further. They aren't spending hours delving into the matter via Facebook and Twitter and blogs.
The second issue is apathy. If the citizen deems the issue to be of little importance to his life, he may simply ignore it. I can guarantee you that the majority of citizens in the US, the UK, and even Portugal really could give a damn about the McCann case. Likely, the strongest interest lies with the citizens of Praia da Luz who just don't like the bad name town got concerning crime because that affects their business. I am sure some citizens of the UK are pissed that taxpayer money is being spent on what seems a fruitless endeavor by Scotland Yard, but I wouldn't be surprised that quite a few will simply say that the money is well spent if they can find Maddie and bring closure to those poor suffering parents. It is probably a small portion of citizens who find the matter important enough to get bent out of shape about.
The media has about zero objectivity any more because if "it bleeds, it leads." It's about the money, as much as can be gotten through ratings and readership. There are exceptions to this rule, but then we see agendas, on the left and on the right, and for special interest groups. Sometimes the truth comes out, especially in smaller media outlets, but these have difficulty fighting for visibility against the big guys. Sometimes when a questionable story comes out, I have to google to the 20th or 30th page to hit upon true facts about the matter and how many people do you think google that far down? Hence, the importance of getting high on the search engines and that costs money. Right now the media, for either reasons of money or politics, is squarely in the McCann camp.
Citizens can make a difference, I am not saying that they can't. I am just saying that it takes one hell of an issue to cause such an uprising that it gets traction and the protest has to gain incredible legs to threaten the people that wield tremendous power and control. And, sometimes, even then, what is perceived to be a victory is really one power faction getting behind a particular group to take down the other power faction. Sometimes even bad people do good things for society when it benefits them to do so. I was hoping maybe this was the case when Scotland Yard first got hold of this case, that maybe the political winds had changed and now the McCanns would be useful pawns for some new political power holders. Sadly, I do not see any evidence of this. But, still, we never know when one of us or a group of us influences someone out there who just might be the key to turning things around. I think that is why we still bother to try because we just never know. Besides, it is still the right thing to do and that alone is a good enough reason.
Detectives are people, too. Most of them really want to catch the bad guys and bring justice to victims and their families. Sometimes they do a fabulous job; sometimes they don't. When they don't, it isn't always because they don't care. They simply may be overworked or poorly trained or their department doesn't support them doing the right (and politically detrimental thing). Sometimes their subjectivity gets in the way or their ego or they get bamboozled by wealthy or well-heeled people who they don't recognize as possibly being criminals. Sometimes, a detective is just not that bright. Sometimes the detectives and the department do everything right, but get screwed by the prosecutor. So, while we want to believe all detectives and police agencies will do a stellar job all of the time, this is simply not reality.
Now, to the courts. Do you know why we have a jury system here in the US? Because we don't trust judges. We realize that they can be bribed, they can be swayed by personal issues, they can allow their egos or emotions get the better of them when they make decisions. There is a reason we have appeal courts and that is to fix the "mistakes" of lower judges (we do this for juries too). Of course, who is to say the lower court judge isn't right and the higher court wrong? Why do you think even the Supreme Court judges can overturn laws made by previous Supreme Court judges? Because all law is just a matter of opinion made by certain judges during certain periods of time. Once it was okay to have slaves and who do you think made those laws? Oh, yeah, infallible judges. All law is a matter of opinion and interpretation. The earlier decision of a lower court judge in the Amaral case had his book taken off the market. Now, some claim he was "inexperienced." No, he just made a determination based on his interpretation of the law (or his biases or his self-interests) and then a higher court judge overturned it based on his interpretation of the law (or his biases or his self-interests).
Monday, the McCanns will show up in court to testify. The present judge will hear their arguments and then, at some point in the probably ridiculous distant future, we will get a judgment. It will not be the judgment of a jury of untrained citizens who have hardly been screened to sit in court and try to understand complicated matters that are completely beyond a good number of them (who each individually might have emotional or other subjective responses to the matter and come to a conclusion that is far from objective). No, it will be the judgment of one person - one - one person who may have been bribed, who may have been swayed by politics, who may have been swayed by the fact one of the best law enforcement agencies in the world, Scotland Yard, appears to be in complete opposition to Gonçalo Amaral - just a lone policeman who went on a tear against a couple of parents of a missing child - a judge who might be swayed by like or dislike for one of the parties, who might simply interpret the law in such a way that people will then say the judge has been bought (by one side or the other). The judge may be perfectly professional and honorable or quite the opposite.
There is simply no way to predict the outcome in Portugal of the civil case of the McCanns and Amaral. I have seen far too many civil cases come to ridiculous conclusions and horrible wrongs perpetuated against individuals who came into court believing that the facts alone would determine the outcome.
In reality, the only ones who usually win hands down in a civil court are the attorneys (of which the judge is one). The two or more attorneys make a hell of a lot of money (and the judge a fine living) and no matter how it all turns out, they may just get together the following weekend on the golf course and have a few rounds of beer afterwards; after all, it is just another workday for them and a well-paid one at that.
In the court of law and the court of life, we can only do what we can in our respective positions as citizens or police detectives or profilers. If we do what is right, regardless of the outcome, we have added some good to the world and, maybe, just maybe, this is what is needed to give the human race the wherewithal to keep on going.
God bless, Gonçalo Amaral, and all of you who have stood for truth. Regardless of the outcome of both the criminal case and the civil case, the simple fact that some human beings will stand up for justice warms the heart and reminds us that there is still good in the world, even though sometimes it doesn't always triumph in the courts.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
June 15, 2014
Published: July 27, 2011
By Pat Brown
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What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007? Was she abducted as the Gerry and Kate have claimed or did something happen to Madeleine on May 3 in the vacation apartment and the incident covered up? Criminal Profiler Pat Brown analyzes the evidence and takes the readers through the steps of profiling, developing a theory that is intriguing and controversial.