While the head-scratching and the shock and the pageantry of the punditry roll on in the aftermath of the most talked about "not guilty" since O.J., all I can think about is what happens next. In a few weeks, Casey Anthony will strut her stuff out of the jailhouse for good, no doubt under the protection of armed private guards after all of the death threats and the angry mob gathered outside of the courthouse during the trial, as well as the legion of press and pappers who'll camp out in front of her new home. Already, talk of book deals, movie rights, and first interviews with Casey have begun. And discussions of whether or not she will return home to the family her defense attorney characterized as toxic and dysfunctional has led to even more speculation about Casey's future.
I don't think Casey's post-trial life will be all that shocking. I think we're all jaded enough at this point to know the drill - after the first exclusive broadcast interview, Casey will make the rounds with the other news organizations, then it's onto People magazine who'll do a story and photo spread. After these initial top-tier media organizations then it's off for a makeover and a little rest and relaxation (called "healing" in the media/infotainment biz) while Casey and her team (oh, yes, Casey definitely gets a team, hell, she'll insist on one!) read movie treatments, scout homes, watch "Dumb and Dumber" (Casey's favorite movie, according to one of her prison missives!), and the more media speculation as to Casey's next move. While her legal team moves to tie up loose ends, and other private forensic teams volunteer their services to re-examine the prosecutor's evidence, Casey will stay out of sight, and her story will go back to the minor leagues - the tabloids. As one juror in the Casey Anthony trial said, "not guilty does not mean innocent," and that distinction will make Casey a pariah.
I'm more interested, though, in the hundreds of potential Casey Anthony's out there now. From all of the contested bits and pieces of evidence, from video tape of Casey and little Caylee at play, to still photos of Casey drinking and partying, the one thing that can be said of Casey's relationship to her daughter is that it was complicated. I'd always theorized that Casey was an irresponsible young woman who'd gotten pregnant and, like those girls on MTV's "Teen Mom", had been pressured into having and keeping the baby by parents who thought that the maternal instinct would simply kick-in, in time.
But, what this case shows is how much we over-value the maternal instinct and that's why I'm worried. Casey Anthony was a disinterested mother. She didn't betray the maternal instinct, she just didn't have one. She's not the normal abusive parent that the neighbors call Child Services to investigate. She simply had no interest in being a parent to her child, and was either too weak or too arrogant to acknowledge that and to give Caylee up for adoption. The disinterested parent wants their needs met first and last, and look at their children as accessories. They figure that if their child has food, shelter, and clothing, then the parenting job is complete, so don't ask them to do anymore. Underneath that disinterest, though, is a volatile mixture of entitlement and rage. The disinterested parent is a petulant child who doesn't want to share the spotlight, and, as Casey Anthony has proved, they are among the most dangerous of all. So let's do the world a favor and take away the spotlight. The show's over, nothing to see here, I'm just saying.