It has been a while since I posted here. Reading the intellectual offal from many of my colleagues on Facebook has been disheartening. To see the extents to which they will cite inapplicable and often fabricated statistics to cover up a complete lack of insight in order to see the world as all bad or all good based purely on party affiliation is at once sad, laughable, and reprehensible since i know many of them use their positions of authority to press their skewed points of view on their students.
But few things seem to have excited them recently as much as the mere thought that the jury might find George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Treyvon Martin is cold blood in an act of rampant and naked racism hearkening back to the horrific days of lynchings. It was clear that they believed no person in whose heart beat the sense of sympathy and outrage proper to this situation could even conceive of the defendant being anything other than guilty and of far more than the simple and inadequate charge of murder. Anyone who had the temerity or the political insensitivity to even suggest otherwise was instantly accused of being openly racist simply because they might suggest the prosecution didn’t make the case. The prosecution and the law be damned, regardless of such inconvenient things as the law, the jury had to — HAD TO — find him guilty, guilty, guilty or they too were clearly racist.
Well, the verdict is in, George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges. Already the weeping and gnashing of teeth has started among the liberal race-baiting crowds rending their clothing, shaking their posters, and indulging in intellectual self flagellation that what is to them such an obviously bigoted result could have let this wanton killer of an innocent black youth free to walk the streets.
How, they ask, could we skeptics not see that this innocent youth was gunned down purposefully and unmercifully by this self-styled vigilante harboring his deep-seated desire for racial cleansing of all non-whites? How, uness we shared the same level of heinous bigotry and racist thinking, could it not be abundantly clear to us that this was just another example of the overt racist acid eating away at the belly of hypocritical America, much less failing to see that the only proper outcome was to send this evil gunman to the chair for a gruesome and public execution to stand as an object lesson that it was time we all threw off the Klan robes all those who questoined this case must secretly have in the closet?
Actually, in my case at least, it is pretty easy. It is about the law. In this case, the law of self-defense in which anyone reasonably in fear for their life or serious bodily harm may use deadly force to defend themselves. The entire case turns on a single, simple question: did the defendant, who admits to shooting the victim, do so as a wanton and racist act of murder, or during a time when he was in fear for his life or of serious bodily harm? The police investigators did not want to press charges, the original DA did not want to press charges at this point and for the same reason… they understood that they did not have the hard evidence to form a successful case.
But this quickly became a political cause celebre because it perfectly played into the libeal agendas based on the view that although a continuous litany of black on black crime and murder in places like Chicago is unworthy of comment, any single incident where an evil “white” guy can be played as a typically hateful bigot snuffing out the life of a poor black person, is to be exploited with all energy available.
The law, or any concern with the law, got lost in the political fog. That this case deals with a tragedy is beyond debate. But a trial is not about justice or fairness or karma or any warm fuzzy feel-good elements: it is supposed to be and should be about one simple thing… the law and whether or not it can be proved that someone broke it.
Zimmerman himself was not white; his mother is Peruvian. Serious racists and white supremicists of the type Zimmerman is accused of being would see him as contaminated by that non-white blood if there was so much as a drop of it in his system. And besides, as we all know, straight from the spoken gospel of that paragon of interracial ethics, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, only white people can be racist and bigoted. A worse blow for this view of him is that, according to unchallenged testimony, being Hispanic in southern Florida he was raised in a mixed race environment and even dated a black girl. It is really hard to make a case for vicious unrestrained bigotry out of that history. Yet the press and the prosecution tried to do so even resorting to implications of other misconduct that in restrospect appeared to have been fabricated. and by withholding evidence, especially of his own wounds from the struggle that tended to indicate he might actually be telling the truth. THe TV stations even edited a phone call to make it appear that he was after this kid only because he was black which, when you hear the enitre conversation, is not at all what he expressed or implied. That idiocy does not inspire confidence in the prosecutor by any juror who, unlike trial followers hearing selected reports through their own political filters, got to hear all of the witness testimonies and see everything brought into evidence.
Unsubstantiated allegations have been raised saying he is a closet bigot, but even if he were an open bigot, the trial was not about that; it was about murder. He is free to think whatever he does, but he is not free to act on it in such a way as to use deadly force outside of very defined circumstances, none of which includes his ill will toward a group to which the victim belongs. The press tried to make him into a bigot with the clear implication that if you would believe him to be bigoted then he must therefore have murdered the young black kid as a natural and inherent result of the bigotry. The press thought so little of your intelligence they assumed they could force you into that conclusion with some very selective documentation and misleading information. And one of the tragedies of this case is that they seemed to have been right.
But from a legal standpoint, even the darling of the left, Attorney Alan Dershowitz, long standing champion of civil rights and the ACLU, told an interviewer that if ever there was a case for reasonable doubt, this was it and that the prosecution should have been disbarred for unethical overreach in their charges, and for trying to alter charges in mid stream when they realized they had made a hash of their main plan.
“What reasonable doubt can there be?” the liberal crowd exclaims as they salivate all over themselves seeing this as the equivalent of a modern lynching over which they can get worked up in righteous indignation to castigate their favorite whipping boys. The outcome is important for them because if it turns out not to be true then they would have to face the concept that other closely held beliefs about the evil U.S. might also have some flaws in them and need to be re-examned. For them, therefore, no explanation other than rampant racism will ever explain any result other than a guilty verdict.
Well, the problem for them is, as Dershowitz pointed out, all of the evidence presented in the trial demonstrated clearly that no one, NO ONE but the defendant and the victim actually knew what happened because they were the only ones on the scene. He (Dershowitz) wasn’t there, the prosecutor wasn’t there, the reporters weren’t there, the President wasn’t there, I wasn’t there, the jurors weren’t there, and most importantly neither were any of you who claim to have some pipeline to truth about it because your political blinders force you to see such actions through very specific and very ugly filters. Thank God the legal system demands more proof for major crimes than that.
The burden of proof is on the state. Defendants (except when dealing with the IRS) do not have to prove their innocence; the state, rather, has to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. With no more evidence than the prosecution brought to bear in this case, if that level of proof were truly sufficient for convictions there are few of us who could not be found guilty of a wide assortment of crimes despite our actual innocence.
It could scarcely have been more muddled. There were conflicting witnesses about whose voice was on the tape calling for help – even the boy’s father wasn’t sure it was him — however the answer is possibly irrelevant anyway since the time between the call for help and the actual shooting was enough for the flow of the fight to have turned. If you have never been in a fight where you reasonably (or even unreasonably) thought your life was in danger, you need to shut up now and keep your terminal ignorance to yourself. In such struggles the tide of battle can turn back and forth almost instantaneously. It is more than likely that during the fight BOTH participants had moments when they feared for their lives. And when you are fighting for your life you no longer are fighting to kill the other person, regardless of the initial intent, you are fighting to keep the other person from killing you and you will do any and everything you can to accomplish that.
There was, lacking witnesses other than the defendant, conflicting forensic evidence as to who was prevailing in the ground fight although the wounds on the back of the defendant’s head sure seemed to look like those of someone having his head slammed into the concrete. How would I know that? Because I’ve been there and bore the scabs and scars from it for quite some time. The forensic testimony about the gunshot wound declared that it was consistent with a shot from below and at an angle. The prosecution claimed, nevertheless, that the defendant ran the victim down and shot him down in cold blood. The only thing certain was it was at close range. Well duh…
Bottom line, there was not a shred of incontrovertible hard evidence, much less an eye witness, to corroborate either Zimmerman’s version, the only surviving participant, or the story concocted by the prosecution, or even the story they had to modify that first version to when facts proved them wrong, or even their third version as more facts surfaced. So as a juror, if you have the honesty and integrity to follow the law, whether or not you like the outcome, you had no choice but to vote that the State had not met their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Beyond a reasonable doubt” does not mean he might have done it, or that you think he probably did it, or even that you are, say, 70-80% convinced he did it based on emotion, and political agendas. That you want non-blacks to always be the bad guys does not mean they always are any more than real bigots seeing them as always thugs means they always are. That you want members of a specifically sympathetic group in your view to always be the victims does not mean that they always are. No group is all bad or all good; truthfully it is almost safe to say that for the most part no individual is always bad or always good. We are complex individuals and we create even more complex groupings. People who see groups as monolithic in any way, from issues of political philosophy to issues of ethical behavior, are simply delusional and usually are following some particular political agenda. Guilt by association is as inane as innocence by association.
What happened was a tragedy, a death that need not have happened. Either party might have stopped the processes early on and derailed that final fateful moment. But legal decisions are not supposed to turn on the stupidity or immaturity or a lack of wisdom of the parties, but on the legally defined consequences for provable actions. Zimmerman may have been mistaken or been stupid, or he actually may have done any of the various versions the prosecutor claimed, but they failed to make a case for any of it beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.
Perhaps if they had not been forced by political meddling to act so soon, the needed evidence might have been uncovered but that potential was not allowed to play out. In some ways, Zimmerman was acquited by the people who hate him the most because they forced the charges before anyone was ready. There is no statute of limitations on murder so the police and DA could wait for further investigation if they believed an issue existed. God knows the press would have every investigative reporter out digging, in ways not kosher for real investigators, for precisely such evidence since they now had a vested interest in his conviction. But no, they stupidly forced a trial before any hard evidence surfaced.
The jury had no option but to acquit. When even Mr. Dershowitz agrees with that, it is very hard to argue it on any grounds other than purely emotional or political. Unless you can demonstrate that in fact you were physically there and witnessed the whole thing start to finish, or unless you can produce a tape or photo or ANY hard evidence demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant simply chased down an innocent kid and shot him, for ANY reason, then it is time to let it go.
I know, I know, now there is now a call for civil suits to be brought where the standard of proof is reduced to “the preponderance of the evidence.” Well, good luck with that. Unless more evidence is uncovered before THAT trial starts, the results will be the same because there is currently NO hard, incontrovertible evidence to support even an evidentiary balancing act.
It is always handy when some event reinforces our heartfelt political beliefs, and tragedies are the best sort because they have the deeply emotional aspect to them. But sometimes, tragedies, even gut wrenching tragedies involving unfortunate and wasteful loss of life, simply do not play into the hands of those agenda.