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Blog

What Good Stories Compel Us Toward

Ross Gale

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom It’s true that America’s favorite podcast is over—of course I mean Serial and its twelve episodes exploring the nature of truth and reasonable doubt—but the story is still happening. It’s actually just begun, thanks to Sarah Koenig’s investigative reporting and scrupulous storytelling. The case for Adnan Syed’s innocence is … well, pending. If nothing else the State of Maryland’s case against Mr. Syed was shown as fragile at best and ludicrous at worst. DNA evidence was never tested, other witness testimony ignored, and, while never explicitly mentioned, the whole justice system stinks of corruption. (Why is it the only people who adamantly stand by the case are all white men involved in the prosecution? We’re looking at you, Kevin Urick.)

This is what Serial has done. One friend of mine posted on Facebook after episode ten asking if anyone would meet him at a coffee ship to talk about the episode. I even begged my friends and family to catch up so we could swap theories and tell each other, honestly, what we thought about Adnan’s innocence. One Reddit user even uncovered a possible lead for Adnan’s case, another possible suspect not on anyone’s radar. This is in addition to the other serial rapist and murderer whom the Innocence Project is testing the DNA evidence against.

Twelve episodes have done this, galvanized listeners and lawyers alike. Just by laying out the story, presenting facts, poking holes in weak arguments, getting up close and personal with a convicted murderer, wading through murky waters of truth and lies and opposing narratives and timelines, and judging human character.

It’s rare when a story is so compelling that friends need someone, anyone, to discuss it with them in person, over coffee. Yet here we are, fascinated and flummoxed, crying out for what good stories compel us toward: justice.