Tuesday, July 16, 2013
We Still Don’t Get IT
The George Zimmerman trial was about everything that the lawyers, judge, and pundits told us it was not about. The prosecution, defense, and the judge agreed that this case was not about race, so the use of the words “racial profiling” was not allowed. This case was certainly about race. The same people told us that this case was not about the “Stand Your Ground” law, but it was.
Even the reporting the day after the verdict was so superficial. The co-host of “Morning Joe," Mika Brzezinski, said she was so horrified by the Twitter remarks coming from the left and right, about the verdict, George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin and others that she had to turn off her phone, as if the comments were going to somehow follow her home. Come on, does she live such as sheltered life, that she doesn’t know that the crazies will take advantage of any tragedy? That’s not news.
I heard one pundit give credence to the juror who spoke to Anderson Cooper last night because she had more evidence in front of her than we did. That’s another one of those clichés that we take for granted because a lot of us saw things that the jury was not allowed to see. That particular juror should have never been allowed to serve because of what she said during voir dire. She does not pay attention to any kind of media and she presumed that there were riots after the Trayvon Martin shootings. Anyway, she did say that 3 of the jurors voted for acquittal in the initial voting, two were for manslaughter and one was for 2nd degree murder.
This case was also about the state of Florida where less than 2% of criminal cases ever go to trial; they’re usually plea bargained. When cases do go to trial, over 70% of the defendants get convicted. As we’ve heard, on one side, an unarmed teenager gets shot to death, and his killer gets set free; while on the other side, a woman fires a warning shot at a man who once abused her, gets 20 years. In east Texas, they call that another Saturday night.
While racial profiling and prior burglaries in the mind of Mr. Zimmerman, had an important role in the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, I still think the law that allows vigilante justice was the initial contributing factor. The “Stand Your Ground” legislation was introduced by a powerful right-wing policy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which started in Florida and in 8 years, has spread to 24 other states.
These laws favor the shoot first and worry about the details later, paranoid people. It not only offers immunity to homeowners but to those who only have to say that they felt that their life was threatened. Stand your ground meant that a person no longer has the need to retreat. It seems to me that retreat would have been appropriate since only one person was armed. The law is what kept the Sanford police from immediately arresting George Zimmerman, instead of 44 days later. It certainly persuaded the jury because who can prove mindset? That’s why I don’t think the DOJ will take the case and considering the verdict. I don’t think a civil case will stand a chance. Guess what? The folks with ALEC knew that all along because it’s all right there in the template those legislators never read, regardless of length.