About the Verdict

So as a blogger, I should chime in, I guess, on the Zimmerman verdict. My views on this are almost exactly the same as that of Andrew Sullivan:

I wish I could have some sharp response to the Martin verdict except profound sadness. I can see two things clearly: when there are no witnesses but the two individuals involved in a fight, and the victim is dead, and you live in a state that provides “stand your ground” immunity for self-defense, then proving a murder beyond a reasonable doubt is hard. I’m not going to second-guess the jurors, except to say the obvious: if that were a jury of Trayvon’s peers, then I’m a heterosexual.

Well, ok, except that they aren’t supposed to be a jury of the victim’s peers, but rather those of the accused. It’s also worth nothing that Zimmerman was not found innocent, as Sully and other commentators claim. He was found “not guilty”, and that’s the real thing to remember here.

The jury did not, at any point, say that Zimmerman was innocent of any crime. What they said, what juries can only say with a verdict like this, is that the state did not prove their case beyond any reasonable doubt. I paid scant attention to the trial, aside from five hours of it blaring in the background at work on Friday, but even I thought there seemed to be reasonable doubt. Yes, Zimmerman clearly set in motion the events of that night, however he was on his back, with his head being slammed on the ground, at the time that he shoot Martin, who was straddling his waist. I could buy that Zimmerman had a reason to fear for his safety, if not for his life. The fact that he put himself into that situation, while relevant on a moral level, is irrelevant legally.

Realistically, the prosecution should have gone for a manslaughter charge. That would have probably given them a conviction, though not necessarily. Ultimately, they should probably not have brought charges in the first place, as under Florida’s insanely stupid laws, it looked as though Zimmerman was always in the clear.

I’d like to think the real lesson we will take away from this is not one about race, not one about a “broken” legal system or even one about the stupidity of a “stand your ground” law. The real lesson here is that having amateurs carry guns, especially those who have failed to qualify to be police officers, is always, always going to lead to tragic events like this. Had Zimmerman been carrying pepper spray, I can guarantee we wouldn’t have heard one word about this case, and that’s as it should be.

On the plus side, at least now the news can go back to covering actual important news events. Well, at least until the next “sexy” trial comes along.


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