Final word on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.
The only reason anyone outside the immediate circle of those affected directly by the shooting of Trayvon Martin even knows about it, is because it got picked up by the mainstream media and turned into a pop culture circus where the race war flames were intentionally and calculatingly fanned from both sides in a perverse competition for ratings. This is my contribution.
Edited to add 07-28-13:
After thinking about it for a while, my above refusal to throw in my two pennies in the aftermath of the trial is atypical of me, and I can’t have opinions that remain untold.
The country is mostly (but not entirely) split along racial lines with regards to the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman. Whites think for the most part it was a just verdict, blacks not so much.
I myself was raging mad a year-and-a-half ago when this case made the news. Not so much because a black kid was killed by a white/Latino guy. Kids get shot all the time in America. No, I was pissed because Georgie was let go, not charged, not even investigated after the shooting. Gross incompetence by the Sanford police dept. and the local DA. Once the case gained national notoriety and charges were filed, I was happy to let the “system” do its thing. I still am. I’m also, if not happy, confident that a just verdict, all things considered, was reached.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t hold George Zimmerman blameless. Far from it. Getting out of his car and following Trayvon Martin after he’d called 911 was stupid and irresponsible beyond belief. But not criminally so. I also don’t think he would have done so had he not had a gun. Being armed made him over-confident, and, like so many have said, if your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like nails. I don’t totally disagree with that notion.
Given the known facts of the case and how they were presented in court (I followed the case relatively closely), I don’t see how the jury could have reached any other verdict. That being said, I do believe that had the races been reversed, I feel fairly confident in saying that the outcome might have been different, and that’s just plain wrong.
African Americans and other minorities have a valid grievance when it comes to how they receive different treatment by the legal system than whites in America. Slavery and Jim Crow may be technically dead, but their ghosts are lingering and we’re still suffering the after-effects. Those who say that I as a white man can’t possibly understand fully what it’s like to grow up as black male in America are right. We need desperately to have that “national conversation” president Obama called for. In what form it should take place to make the Union more perfect is above my pay grade.
That being said, all criminal trials should be judged by the specific merits of each case, not by the rantings of professional race hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson (or Shawn Hannity and Rush Limbaugh for that matter) and no matter how stupid you think George Zimmerman was that night (and I don’t believe he acted out of racial hatred for blacks; it was more of a cowboy mentality than anything else), there was enough reasonable doubt after closing arguments for another two or three trials.