Paradise Lost is the first of three documentaries chronicling the story of the West Memphis Three (Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly) and the allegations made against them regarding the mutilations and murders of Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Steven Branch. The film gives an insight into the investigation of the case with a great deal of detail using crime scene footage, court hearings and interviews.
Though it may be argued that the making of this film was wrong, I believe that its creation was ethically right. It is understandable that the graphic nature of the documentary and the explicit content may have been off-putting to some audiences, but filming Paradise Lost allowed important details and inconsistencies - that would have otherwise been overlooked or ignored - to be documented and scrutinized. It was important that the public was made aware of all aspects of the case, instead of taking the police allegations at face value because ...view middle of the document...
The primary reasons that the boys were suspected and convicted of the murders were their style of dress and choice in music and how their small community linked those factors to Satanism and occult rituals. The arrests and imprisonment of the West Memphis Three came when Jessie Misskelly, who was 16 years old at the time with a below average IQ rating of 72 made a false confession after hours of incessant police scrutiny and questioning. The West Memphis Police Department deduced that, based on the evidences which they believed to be true, the boys were guilty. Their argument was flawed because:
1. Townspeople wanted answers in the case of the murders; wanted immediately to positively identify threat or suspected killers
2. West Memphis Three were seen as threatening because of their style of dress/ choice in music and therefore it was almost immediately deduced that they had committed the murders; to convict a person of a crime, the mens rea (guilty mind) and actus reus (guilty act) must be proven
3. Evidence against accused was circumstantial (ie., confession made by Misskelly under circumstances) and invalid; there was no physical evidence linking the West Memphis Three to the crime nor was the intent (mens rea and actus reus) in any of the accused proven
4. Deductive reasoning can only be valid if established with certainty
5. Therefore, according to the philosophy of deductive reasoning, the West Memphis Three could not have been guilty
What is believed to be true, right and good in West Memphis (a community deeply rooted in Christianity) is almost in direct juxtaposition with the alleged Satanic lifestyles of the accused. Popular relativism, by definition, is the idea that the majority in a society or a social group determines perceived moral truths and rights. Because the boys liked a certain style of clothing and music, they were pariahs in their society, and therefore morally incorrect by definition of popular relativism.
Since it is objective (at least to the Western world) that killings, especially of that nature are wrong, the community attributed that with their belief in the wrongness of the way of life of the West Memphis Three.
In conclusion, Paradise Lost was created as an aid to the public in the hopes that