Adnan Syed and the systemic dismissal of real violence against women

I have written a number of articles about the troubling phenomenon of how Adnan Syed, a guy rightfully convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, became a poster child for the wrongfully convicted. I’m especially disquieted by how Syed supporters wave away and dismiss all the warning signs of intimate partner violence.

In light of his upcoming post-conviction relief hearing on February 4 and 5 and the attention being showered on Adnan apologists, I wanted to put the key links in one place:

Adnan Syed I'm going to kill note

Adnan Syed wrote “I’m going to kill” on the back of the note, which his supporters variously dismiss as a “stray thing” and so much teenage drama

1) Serial podcast rehabilitated a schoolgirl’s murderer, so where’s the feminist outrage?

There has not been one serious feminist critique of Serial in the mainstream US media. Yes, a couple of Brit pundits expressed shock, but that was before Christmas (2014) and they were pretty much ignored and then forgotten. Just like race beat out gender two decades ago at the OJ trial, allowing a wife killer to be transformed into a symbol of justice for African Americans, so, today, can Adnan can be hailed as a representative of the wrongfully convicted despite the plentiful evidence against him and the transcripts that show he had a fair trial. Koenig’s “I nurse doubt” cri de coeur is V.2014 of “if the glove don’t fit you must acquit.” Read complete article

2) Adnan advocate-in-chief Rabia Chaudry responds to my feminist critique of Serial, and I respond back to her

Your crowd, Rabia, has shown no qualms about smearing innocent people including, among many others — Stephanie, Don, Don’s mother, Detectives Ritz and MacGillivary, and, most favourite of all, Jay. In short, pretty much anyone who’s not Adnan. Here’s your own brother suggesting, with zero evidence, that Stephanie might have done it:

Rabia's brother Saad suggests in his Reddit AMA that maybe Stephanie killed Hae

Rabia’s brother Saad suggests in his Reddit AMA that maybe Stephanie killed Hae

Accusations of murder are thrown around like they’re nothing, which is pretty ironic given that the goal of all this is to get a guy out of jail who’s ostensibly been wrongly convicted of murder. Read complete article

3) ‘Injustice porn’ like Making a Murder and Serial celebrates men who kill and abuse women

Injustice porn history is repeating itself with Making a Murderer. The directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos leave out key evidence about Avery’s possible guilt and history of violence against women. They also portray Avery’s parents as kindly homespun hillbillies, showing his father tending to his garden and his mother spending years fighting to get her son out of jail. They skip over the fact that Avery looks like he might have fetal alcohol syndrome and don’t bother to mention that all three of Avery brothers have criminal records including multiple charges for assaulting women.

As a result of these omissions — apparently no big deal in injustice porn land — the abusive and dysfunctional Avery family has developed quite the internet fan following. In contrast, family and friends of the victim have been subject to internet abuse based on their treatment in Making a Murderer. “Mike Halbach seems awfully creepy,” tweets Kinsey Schofield, a tv personality and journalist  to her 286,000 Twitter followers. Read complete article

One thought on “Adnan Syed and the systemic dismissal of real violence against women

  1. I heard Adnan was back in Court and Googled to see what was happening and ran across your articles. I am an attorney and agree with you on your assessment that Rabia and her cohorts tended to take whatever someone says as fact when it helped Adnan. For example, someone says they saw him at a time when he was supposedly killing Hae, so that is true. Why are THEY accurate but others aren’t? Just like the letter with comment about killing Hae. I seem to remember a witness testifying that when they were writing back and forth, that comment about “kill” was not on it. Why is that not damaging?

    I also find it funny when, in one of the first episodes of Undisclosed, Rabia says that Adnan remembered where he was. I had to go back and listen to the first episode or so of Serial to see if I lost my mind because I clearly remember Adnan saying he didn’t. I think he said “I wish I could tell you.” Another example of them making statements and assumptions “facts” without anything to corroborate. Or when they find it incredulous that two teenagers would go behind a Best Buy to have sex in a car. Um, kids don’t think logically, and they could have thought that where they parked would not be in plain view because no one would come back there, even though it was still in public.

    And, frankly, when I read the Asia letters, it is a little too certain on the facts and it doesn’t sound like something written by a high school kid. I mean, if Adnan cannot remember with certainty what he was doing, how is this girl so certain? Why wasn’t she running around telling everyone at school when he was arrested? I only hope that someone asks her in this round of litigation when she wrote the letter, if anyone helped her, if anyone pressured her, etc., to show real motivation. I do hope the Court forces the crimestoppers to release the identity of the person who called in he tip. I wonder what the pro-Adnan people will say if

    I think his attorney was not really the best, despite her reputation, but we can’t know what she did or didn’t do. Maybe she checked the e-mail account from Adnan. Maybe there were things that would hurt him so she deleted the contents or the account. Maybe there were no notes on certain things because they could be damaging to him and she wanted to make sure there was nothing written. I find it funny that these two attorneys make a big deal of the fact there may be no written notes about a witness. I do insurance defense and can’t tell you how many times I call an employer’s potential witness and find out there is nothing. I may have my pad ready with the date and the name, and when the person says I know nothing, I just rip the page off and throw it away. I remember I talked to the person and found nothing, and will report to my client. I don’t keep a paper that says “nothing.” I just felt that listening to them it seemed they lived in the world of academia, not real-life.

    I also read some articles about lividity and it did not seem so open and shut. I also wondered if possibly she was not fully dead when she was in the trunk and they just couldn’t tell? Is there a way that even a very faint heartbeat would have stopped or delayed lividity? I also wonder if some of the facts or Jay’s memory is sketchy on details because he was high all day or most days? That doesn’t mean he would not remember the most important facts: that he saw a dead girl in a trunk and Adnan told him he did it.

    Finally, I always felt that SK got sucked into Adnan’s “charm” and lost some objectivity. I also felt that he demonstrated a controlling personality. I remember the one episode where she was talking to him about the allegations of him stealing, etc. Up to this point they had a great rapport, were talking, etc., but when the subject came up of possible information that cast a bad light on him, Adnan suddenly became very offended. And what did SK do? She backs down and instead of saying, Well, Adnan, this is what we were told and pushing him when he tried to downplay stealing, she basically apologized and backed down. It’s like she was hurt by his response and reaction – not because she did not want to lose a source, but the tone of her voice and the way she reacted, it was more like she didn’t want to lose her “boyfriend.”

    I also remember another time she said something to Adnan that was actually positive about him, and he made a statement about how she could say that, she didn’t know him really. Not sure why he did that, but I remember her saying something to the effect it hurt her feelings. Again, she seemed faced with a rejection by Adnan and she reacted like a school girl who doesn’t want to lose her boyfriend.

    Overall, I think he came across as a manipulative person. I also am not persuaded by the people who say the Adnan they knew would not kill someone. I am sure there are tons of stories where people would probably say they are surprised by a criminal’s behavior and not consistent with the person they knew.

    However, while I think he probably did it, I was disturbed by how he could get convicted of this serious crime based basically on circumstantial evidence and the word of a drug dealer only. I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable convicting him on what they had. Maybe someday we will know the truth. It may take years, but we may know. I wonder if he gets out if he is the type of individual who is so pompous that he will eventually brag to someone that he got away with murder…..

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