Tag Archives: Bartolemo Vanzetti

Italians Have Twitter, Too

1 Feb

This morning, I stirred up a small storm on Twitter. As everyone surely knows, Amanda Knox was found guilty of murder for the second time. I do not know what happened on that fateful night, but I know that the saga has gone on for way too long.

The return of this story brought to mind a book that I read, and I sent out a tweet that said:

If you want to know how screwed up the Italian justice system is then read The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston.The Monster of Florence

It ended with an Amanda Knox hashtag.

Immediately, I got a couple of responses from, what I assumed to be, people from Italy. They wondered if I had ever heard of Sacco and Vanzetti, a controversial trial from America’s past where two Italian immigrants were convicted of murder and executed.Sacco Vanzetti

I replied but immediately deleted it. There was no point in getting into an argument that I could not win. However, I thought their tweets were interesting.

I have heard of the Sacco/Vanzetti case and teach about it in my survey class. In Massachusetts, a murder took place during a robbery at a shoe factory. The two men, Nicola Sacco and Bartolemo Vanzetti, were arrested and convicted. Later, another man admitted to the crime and stated that they were not involved. Despite the new information, a judge refused to grant a new trial, and the two men were executed. The case has served as an example of anti-immigrant mindset. (Things do not change much do they?)

Debate has raged about their guilt or innocence, but, undoubtedly, their rights were violated when a new trial was not granted. It was a terrible time for the American justice system. However, I do not know what that has to do with my tweet about the book.

I never said the American justice system was a shining example of fair play. Everyday, we see where that is not the case. Despite that, I think that it works better now than it did in the 1920s when Sacco and Vanzetti found themselves in its grip. I understand that the folks who replied to my tweet were standing up for their country by telling me that my country is no better. However, it could also be taken as, “You screwed a couple of Italians in the 1920s. Now, it’s our turn.”

As I said at the beginning, I do not know if Amanda Knox is innocent or guilty. Also, I do not know if Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent or guilty. I know that our system messed up, and it is looking like the Italian system is messing up now. Actually, I do not think they know anymore about her guilt or innocence than those of us watching it on television.

That brings me to The Monster of Florence. Preston was a writer who moved to Florence. Not long after his arrival, he began hearing about a serial killer who terrorized the area many years before and was never caught. Preston became fascinated and decided to research the subject for a book. He found articles, witnesses and other sources to weave his tale. He also found a journalist who reported on the murders and had been studying it for years. Together, they found new evidence and thought that may have a few suspects.

They took this information to the lead investigator. He was very interested in what they had found and began an investigation of his own. In the process, he consulted a psychic; he questioned the writer and the reporter; and chased down suspects. However, they were not the people who the writer and reporter had thought about. As a disagreement grew, the investigator came to the idea that the writer and the journalist took part in the killings. Officials grilled Preston for hours while trying to get him to confess.

Apparently, they did not care that he was not in Italy at the time. I guess he was covering up for the journalist who was in Italy when the murders took place. After all, he wrote the stories.

Why did this book make me think of Amanda Knox? Because that same investigator led the charge to have her arrested.

I apologize. I should not have said that Italy’s justice system was screwed up. That is a blanket statement. However, I think this investigator might be. He has a history of using psychics to pull theories out of the air.

Somebody committed a murder in Italy. Somebody committed a murder in Massachusetts. In both cases, I am not sure the authorities did a very good job. Sacco, Vanzetti and the victim deserved better here. Knox and the victim deserve better there.