I’ve been thinking of the term "Echo Chamber" a lot as Deliberations Season 1 has been airing.
The point seemingly most undisputed on this season is that Carl’s a dick. At first I loved and embraced the sentiment. Listeners cared enough to hate! Yay! I even printed stickers, but as time wore on I grew slightly uncomfortable.
For those who don’t recognize the name, Carl is the most conservative juror. He is born again and outspoken regarding his religious beliefs (as well as the way those beliefs impact his perception of the defendant).
I’ve been meaning to discuss the controversy that is Carl. It was never my intention to create a dynamic in the jury pool that allowed for one hero, Mandy, and one villain, Carl. You’ve heard me reach out to listeners who were sympathetic to the character of Carl. I’d like to share with you a few excerpts from their emails. While you may not agree with Carl’s arguments, I’m curious if the following has any impact on the way you view him and his viewpoints.
From a Chicago nurse and listener of Deliberations:
The law leaves much room for interpretation and Carl interprets it through the lens in which he sees the world. The reason we have juries of more than one person is so that the melting pot of people from all walks of life can make a decision after weighing all options. Having people like Carl and Mandy in the same jury brings balance and equality to the decision making process.
From a listener named Lisa:
A jury should be a cross section of our community. If we are in the Bible Belt, there will be a heavy biblical influence in the juries decision. If a jury is seated in San Fransisco the jury will be influenced by very liberal beliefs. The reason for this is that no matter what our beliefs are we must live with and learn to interact with the majority of folks that live in our community, so we will be judged by their consciences.
And finally from a listener named Michael:
In describing Carl as close-minded or biased, I think people are usually just naming his very specific worldview. In other words, he has a specific Christian understanding of the world, which I relate to. Something to keep in mind is that Christianity has a pretty clear set of morals and ethics (even if different groups of Christians might define those a little differently). While it's true that morality and legality are not the same thing, they're always inextricable. Our laws regarding murder include a lot of vague references to "ill will" and even "evil". Therefore, when Carl's faith suggests that being a member of the BDSM community is evil, it's easy for him to connect the dots to this case, and infer that the defendant is guilty. It would also be unfair to tell Carl to discount his faith for the sake of this case, because he happens to represent what I assume is a fair cross-section of Samantha's peers.
This case is complicated. Could Carl do a better job of considering multiple points of view? Yes. Could Mandy? Yes. Could I? Yes. Could you?
Let me know your thoughts and whether these excerpts have in any way altered your opinion of Carl. I’m excited for everyone to hear the conclusion to this season’s deliberations this Wednesday. Thanks to everyone for reading this and joining in debate over the controversial and frustrating case of Samantha Hall.