“Serial”: My Verdict

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Serial is a podcast about the murder of Hae Min Lee 

Sarah Koenig of the podcast “Serial” has spent over a year trying to determine Hae Min Lee. By the last episode she still has no concrete evidence against anyone but if anything has come out of the podcast it is that she believes the evidence against Adnan Syed, the convicted murderer, is too weak for him to be guilty. Frankly, I agree that Adnan was innocent and should be released from prison. The main reason I agree is that suspects are innocent until proven guilty, and the evidence is not enough to prove Adnan guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Evidence

The main evidence that the state used in the case against Adnan is Jay’s testimony,  his relationship with Hae, he asked Hae for a ride on the day she disappeared, Adnan’s cell records(Koenig).

Jay’s Testimony

 

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Jay said he knew he could get charged if he didn’t ‘come clean’

 

The testimony of Adnan’s friend, Jay, was probably the most important piece that was used to ‘prove’ Adnan’s guilt and one of the reasons I think Adnan is innocent.  I have one major problem with the testimony, why would Jay assist Adnan in a murder and have weeks pass by before he had a change of heart to confess. Additionally, Jay remembers a lot of details about that day, a lot of what he said conflicts with other evidence, such as the phone records, and his story changes a lot from interview to interview (Koenig). It seems to me that Jay said whatever he was told to so that he could avoid being convicted himself, he even recognized the fact that the police told him he could be charged if he did not cooperate (Simpson), and instead by cooperating he was able to make himself a deal and at the end he did not even get jail time (Episode 8).

Adnan’s Relationship With Hae

 

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Adnan and Hae had recently split

Adnan’s relationship with Hae was the reason he was a suspect in the first place, Hae and Adnan had just recently broken up. Sure, I suppose that gives Adnan a motive for murdering Hae, but his relationship also could be considered for why he is not a suspect, Adnan cared for Hae for a long time before their break up and after even met her new boyfriend. So, while his past with Hae could be a motive, it definitely does not prove his guilt in any way.

 

He Asked For a Ride That Day

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Hae’s car

 

Another piece of evidence is that Adnan asked Hae for a ride that day, Adnan gave his car to Jay that day, Adnan admitted that he asked her and many other people said they saw it happen. The reason this is important is that in his second interview Jay said, “No, but he tell me that ah, he’s gonna do it in her car.” (Episode 12) So, Jay said that Adnan told him he would kill Hae in her car and he admitted that he asked her for a ride, the problem with this is that nobody saw Adnan in her car actually, there were people who saw Hae leaving without Adnan in the car. Also, why would Adnan admit to asking for a ride to the police if he really killed her in the car, before admitting to this all they had was some students who thought they heard or saw him ask, nothing concrete until he admits to doing it. So, if this was really an important and incriminating piece of evidence, why would Adnan admit to asking?

The Cell Records

 

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Jay claims he was at Jenn’s house without Adnan until about 4 but he also claims Adnan was there for the Nisha call, which happened at 3:30 (before he says he met Adnan)

Other than Jay’s testimony records from Adnan’s phone was the most important piece. First is the Nisha call, a call from Adnan’s phone to a girl that only he knows and happens in the middle of the day so it helps to prove Jay’s story (Koenig), but “Serial” proves that it may have been a butt dial. This means that a pillar of the case against Adnan is doubtable without even considering that Jay could have called Nisha because she was on speed dial on Adnan’s phone and he was snooping around. Additionally, Jay claims to remember the call but gets almost every detail about it wrong, he claims it happened about a half hour before he said, he says it was about ten minutes instead of the two it actually was, and he claims it happened in a spot that it couldn’t have because it was from a different cell tower (Simpson). So, one of the biggest pieces of evidence that tie Adnan to the murder is a phone call where we have no solid proof that it was not a butt dial or that he was even present for since the only potential witness, Jay, remembers nothing about the call accurately.

 

 

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Adnan is serving a life sentence

 

Verdict

In Adnan’s case, I have to agree with Sarah Koenig, although I am not completely convinced that Adnan was not involved in the murder, if I was on a jury I would find Adnan to be innocent. The case just doesn’t have strong enough evidence to prove that Adnan is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, too much of the evidence is questionable and that makes me feel that he may not have done it and should be found innocent if he gets a retrial.

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Works Cited

Koenig, Sarah. “Serial.” Audio blog post. Serial. This American Life, n.d. Web.    <https://serialpodcast.org/season-one>.

Simpson, Susan. “Serial: An Examination of the Prosecution’s Evidence Against Adnan Syed.” The View From LL2. N.p., 04 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 July 2017. <https://viewfromll2.com/2014/12/08/serial-an-examination-of-the-prosecutions-evidence-against-adnan-syed/>.

Serial: An Investigative Podcast

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Serial is a podcast about the murder of Hae Min Lee (Google)

I enjoyed episode one of Serial (“The Alibi”), it is an interesting and mysterious story and tells it in a unique way. I found that, apart from an ad, the entire podcast provided information regarding the case and had very little filler content, this made the podcast more enjoyable because of all of the information Sarah Koenig, the narrator, gives you is new and is useful for making your own verdict on the case. Also, I found it enjoyable because it is easy to relate to, the kids are around my age and are also in high school, that makes it even more interesting since it could be people I know, or me that this happened to.

I think that Serial presents their content in a very interesting and impactful way. Serial was, if not the first, one of the first podcasts about investigative journalism, before Serial most podcasts were more like spoken blogs and interviews such as the podcast IT ConversationsSerial found a great way to present investigations because the media form of a podcast is so accessible to consumers. Being a podcast opens Serial up to a much larger audience than any other media type, and gets the message across just as well. By only being audio unlike books or television more people are likely to give the show a chance since they can listen to it anywhere, additionally the visual aspect of television doesn’t really add anything to an investigative story, most of the time the image is just the people talking which doesn’t help the viewer understand the case better. And, while a book may add some extra information, an investigative journalism book would never gain the huge following the podcast has and trigger so much discussion about the events, so I think that the producers chose correctly when choosing a media type.

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Woodlawn High School is where most of the people in the case went. (Google)

I feel like one negative point of Serial is that it must be very hard for Hae Min Lee’s family after the case ended and Adnan was sent to jail it must have given them closure and allowed them to continue on with their lives to have people digging everything back up and re-investigating their family member’s death. Although it must be hard for them I think Serial also has a chance of redeeming itself if it turns out Adnan is innocent, I think that the family would feel really guilty and angry if they found out the wrong man was locked up and Hae’s killer is still out there. But, since this has not happened yet I feel like it must be terrible for the family since now there is a huge group of people who think Adnan is innocent and they are trying to free him. Recently, when Adnan was announced to be given a retrial, they actually made a statement that proves the way I feel, “We do not speak as often or as loudly as those who support Adnan Syed, but we care just as much about this case. We continue to grieve, we continue to believe justice was done when Mr. Syed was convicted of killing Hae.”(Fenton)

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Adnan could not remember what he did that day.(Google)

The case in the podcast pretty much comes down to a he said she said argument about a day about six weeks earlier (at least according to the first episode), Koenig suggests that Adnan may have been sent to jail because he could not remember details of the day about a month and a half ago while Jay claims he remembers a lot. This is scary for me because, especially without my phone, I would have no clue what happened a few days ago, so trying to remember a day six weeks ago if I had to for a court case would be a huge struggle for me and frankly that is kind of scary. Although if I ever had to actually remember I would be able to access my phone, it is still scary to think a man could be sent to jail for so long just because of a story one of his friends told the police, even though there was not a lot of physical evidence.

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Could you remember what you did six weeks ago? (Google)

Honestly, I find it kind of suspicious and questionable that Jay remembers so many details of the night. Some might say that he remembers a lot of the details because being an accomplice to murder would be a big event and be quite memorable but then I wonder why he would not have told the police earlier. Most people who are being consumed by guilt would have either told the police earlier or would try to forget by doing drugs by the time he caved, this makes me think that Jay may have been making up the story, either because he wanted to get rid of Adnan or because he was scared of the police and just told them what they wanted to hear. This makes me question whether Adnan really did it, combining this with the fact Asia says she saw Adnan makes me think that Adnan was probably innocent.

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Adnan is currently in maximum security prison. (Google)

 

Works Cited

Koenig, Sarah. “The Alibi”. Audio Blog Post. Serial Podcast. This American Life. 2014. July  21 2017

Fenton, Justin. “Family of victim from “Serial” case reacts to new trial ruling.” Baltimoresun.com. N.p., 02 July 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Archetypes Effect on “The Last Crossing”

cover“The Last Crossing” by Guy Vanderhaeghe is an award-winning book set in the second half of the nineteenth century, in the American and Canadian West and in Victorian England.  It has two major story arcs, one about two English brothers searching for their other brother lost on the Canadian Prairies, the second involves an American woman and a wounded Civil War veteran with a few others as they search for two ranch hands that may have murdered the woman’s young sister. Both groups eventually meet up and are guided by a half-Scottish, half-Aboriginal scout.

By reading the books from an archetypal view it becomes clear that  Vanderhaeghe used a lot of common archetypes for the foundations of his characters and so far has used an archetypal layout for the story overall.

First is that many of the characters are archetypal heroes. Many of the characters start off just as normal people with no special talents and are sent off on a journey where they encounter many obstacles on their ways to the final goal. An example of the is Charles and Addington Gaunt, Charles starts out as a mediocre portrait painter as he, “was never anyone’s first choice” (Vanderhaeghe 1) and by his father’s own admission, “never had any push, any go to him” (Vanderhaeghe 14). While Addington also had his fair share of bad traits as even his own dad thought that he looked upon his task as, “an opportunity to add to his trophies” (Vanderhaeghe 14)  But, despite their mediocrity, they set off to find their brother in the Canadian Midwest and starting their journey.

Another archetypal character format used is the mentor, someone whose vast knowledge helps out the hero, or in this case heroes, and leads them along on their journey (Scribendi). In this case, the ‘leading them along’ is taken quite literally because the mentor is Jerry Potts, their guide. Apart from literally guiding them on the journey and being, “the sensitive antennae of the caravan” (Vanderhaeghe 127) he also occasionally provides the heroes with his wisdom and advice. One example of this is when Addington wants to make camp for the night early, but Potts suggests that they, “use the final hours of light” and, “search for Reverend Witherspoon’s grave” (Vanderhaeghe 136) which leads to the group finding the grave beside a nearby ravine. One aspect that makes this an even better example of an archetypal mentor is that he seemingly knew the grave was there without any way of knowing it was there, causing the group to blame this on his, “Native clairvoyance” (Vanderhaeghe 137) which is a lot like the magic typically used by mentors. Without Potts, the mentor, it is easy to see how the heroes would have lost their way, either literally of figuratively, and probably failed their missions.

 

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caravan Travelling caravan commonly used in the old midwest

The book quite obviously, at least so far, has followed the hero’s journey template. According to Dan Bronzinite the first step of a hero’s journey is the character living in a normal world, having normal talents. All of our hero type characters start off living normally and none are specifically talented. Second in the hero’s journey is a call to action, an example of this in “The Last Crossing” is Charles and Addington being recruited by their father to find their lost brother. Next is the refusal of the call, although not many of the characters actually refuse the call many of them show anxiety over the journey they are about to begin, Addington goes as far as stalling and taking a long time to buy materials for the trip while in England. After the refusal of call the hero is supposed to meet the mentor, for Addington and Charles this comes in the right order but for some of the others such as Lucy met the mentor a little later on in the next step. Crossing the threshold is next and the threshold here is the Midwest, it is the area unfamiliar to the heroes where the journey takes place. Lastly is the part we are on now, step 6, tests, this is the stage that our heroes have started and where the majority of the tests will come, many of the tests so far in a story with so many hero characters traveling together is internal strife. Most of the problems have been triggered by events while traveling but are mostly about the differences within the group such as opinions on the Natives. 

 

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So, overall archetypes have a big impact on the way “The Last Crossing” has been written and, sadly, so far I think it has taken away from the story. Many of the outcomes of the events have been a little predictable but hopefully, that can change in the second half, because this book has many intriguing characters with interesting personalities and it would be disappointing to see them be wasted on a good, but very predictable and familiar story.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Scribendi. “5 Common Character Archetypes in Literature.” Scribendi Editing and Proofreading. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017.
<https://www.scribendi.com/advice/character_archetypes_in_literature.en.html&gt;.
Vanderhaeghe, Guy. The Last Crossing. Toronto: Emblem, 2012. Print.
http://Www.nuvotech.co.uk, Nuvotech Limited. “The Hero’s Journey – Mythic Structure of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth.” Movie Outline – Screenwriting Software. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017. <http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-hero-journey-mythic-structure-of-joseph-campbell-monomyth.html&gt;.

Should Grade 12 English be Required For University

While most, if not all, university programs require applicants to take Grade 12 University English some people would argue that it should not be required and I would say those people are wrong. This is because I believe that the ENG4U course provides many useful skills to any student going into a university program.

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Writing is an essential skill for students

The first skill that it helps students develop is their writing. In every university program, from music to physics, students will be required to write, even if they don’t need to write essays they still will need to do labs or other write-ups. If these write-ups have any grammar or punctuation mistakes in them then the student would be losing easy marks. Even if by the end of Grade 11 English students know all their grammar and punctuation, in Grade 12 you still get to do more practice for these and work on furthering all of your writing skills such as diction and revising work.

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Another skill, that many students have trouble with, is oral communication skill. In classes such as math and science students are forced to be quiet and do most of the learning on their own so, without English class, many of the oral communication skills are below where they need to be for university classes where there is a lot more group work. In ENG4U student develop strategies for successful communication including active listening,  listening comprehension, presentations, and speaking. So, without learning these strategies and practicing them, students would be at a distinct disadvantage in any industry.

One last skill worked on in ENG4U is media skills. We live in the ‘information age’ and, while this means we have better access to information than ever, it also means that there is much more fake information out there. Grade 12 English helps students to learn how to analyze and critic articles, and students learn to identify authors’ biases so they can better interpret the piece and separate fact from opinion. Just imagine what would happen if everyone believed all of the fake news out there.

Lastly Grade 12 English serves as a bridge from high school English in Grade 11 and any English classes in first year programs. I know that, at least for me, sitting out a year of English would ruin all of the skills I have developed, because I would forget all of them and that could wreck many of my marks for courses that require reading or writing (all of them).

So, I believe that ENG4U should be mandatory for any university programs because it helps develop important skills that are applicable in any industry and in everyday life, all while keeping students English skills ready for first year courses.

 

Work Cited

“Improve Your English.” Improve Your English | Student Services. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2017. <https://students.ubc.ca/academic-success/better-grades/improve-english&gt;.

Ministry of Education. “The Ontario Curriculum Grades 11 and 12- English.” He Ontario Curriculum Grades 11 and 12- English. Ontario Ministry of Education, 2007. Web. 05 July 2017. <http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/english1112currb.pdf&gt;.

“The University of British Columbia.” General Studies – Bachelor of Music – The School of Music – Faculties, Colleges, and Schools – Vancouver Academic Calendar 2017/18 – UBC Student Services. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2017. <http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=12%2C210%2C381%2C366&gt;.