Inspired by the Zimmerman case I was writing a piece on hope and technology, when, ironically, my computer died in mid-stroke. I write this brief oops post on a borrowed one and will finish my intended piece in days or a week.
My post will not be done before the verdict, as the acquittal has come in yesterday. I am happy, relieved for him, sad that there is talk of a civil rights action and, of course, there will be a civil suit with a lot lower standard of proof for the plaintiffs.
In short, this is my opinion:
There was no evidence of malice or that Zimmerman was looking for a fight at all. There is no evidence of racism on Zimmerman's part. There was some evidence of racism on Martin's part (though I did not find his friend, who testified to it, the least bit credible and think she might have been trying to help her dead friend/boyfriend and blundered).
There is evidence that he was a dedicated watch captain and a good neighbor, that he followed the law (his gun was licensed), that the development over which he assisted the neighborhood and police had been subject to much crime, and yes, overwhelmingly or all by young black men.
That the district attorney and police did not see good reason to prosecute, that it he was eventually prosecuted to assuage the accusations of Al Sharpton (and, yes, against him I am biased) and others.
He likely told the truth for the most part. I reserve that he may have exaggerated some of the conversation between the two of them (I have trouble believing Martin said "You are going to die tonight" and am not so sure that Martin went for his gun).
The attorneys behaved with dignity as did the judge, although I think she should have thrown out the murder charge (there was just no evidence supporting malice) and I thought, while doing their job within the bounds we seem okay with (not really me), the prosecution exaggerated a bit and tried to convict him on the flimsiest of facts.
The jury listened and should be proud of their decision.
Some people, whites and blacks, will continue to see this as some sort of white privilege/whitewash. Violence has been minimal, but I think that is because though some believe guilt was proved, it is hard to justify that an acquittal was not called for.
Had my daughter been Martin, I would have expected her to hightail it home even if confronted by Zimmerman as he is accused, or to start screaming, defending herself if physically attacked. If my daughter had been Zimmerman, I would expect her to know better how to defend herself and to carry Mace and a nightstick as well as a gun.
Did Zimmerman have any other options? I don't know for sure. I think though that there was no ground for conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
There is still plenty of racism in this country, but it is a drop compared to what it was a half century ago when I was growing up, and reverse racism against the majority has not only overtaken it, but has the force of law behind it (the rationale being, with some justification, that it was so slanted for so long in the other direction that it needed to be done just to get things to a level playing field); it is time we stop judging by race at all in the law (here I agree with Justice Thomas more than any of the other Supreme Court Justices).
For now, I am going to the beach where even, and I'm happy about this, my cell doesn't work.
Returning to this because I have been really bothered by what I am hearing and seeing in public and in private conversations.
I spoke yesterday with a very rational guy I know about ten years. He is fairly moderate on a number of issues but I have always thought left on race - by that I mean he seemed to easily see racism where I saw none. We discussed the Zimmerman case and he was offended by the No Retreat defense (Stand Your Ground) - a defense that was waived at the beginning of the case - because Zimmerman had nowhere to retreat - his back was on the ground - and because it would have clouded other issues. His source of course was the media.
Over and over again on television and the radio I am hearing about No Retreat, illegal gun (it was legal), no justice (what would have been justice? - if Z did not have a gun and was beaten to death?) This morning I heard a Fox host, Eric Bolling (how he managed to morph his career as a commodities trader who had a business show about on CNBC, then Fox, to a political commentator on the Fox show prime time show The Five, is hard to understand). He is hardly a favorite of mine, but his opponent, Eliot Spitzer, I revile as a politician (and not because of his scandal but because he is cutthroat), even if he is trying to be soft-spoken and radiate warmth now, is much less of one. Spitzer took positions that were not only wrong, but dangerous - he stated that even if the legal conclusion was correct - self defense is a valid defense - justice had not been done because a child was killed.
First of all - child? In Florida, it was legal for him to have sex (with someone under 24) since he was 16. At the same time as this phenomena of justice, Kiera Wilmot, age 16, a good kid according to her principal - is BEING TRIED AS AN ADULT BECAUSE HER UNASSIGNED SCIENCE PROJECT BLEW UP! She thought it would make smoke. I kid you not. Martin was big enough to break Z's nose and pummel him. The evidence of that is fairly overwhelming - other than the embarrassment of the prosecutors and Martin's family claiming that it was he who was crying for help.
People are acting as if Martin was a baby or a little boy, not the kid who was suspended from school, who asked a friend if he had a gun he could get, whose mother through him out of the house and referred to himself as a gangsta (these are from Martin's own texts [.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/24/us/zimmermans-lawyers-release-text-messages-of-trayvon-martin.html?_r=0]). They are acting as if and saying that he was innocent - that is, not committing a crime by attacking Z. Maybe I am repeating myself, but then I say again - even if there were any proof whatsoever that Z was racially profiling, Martin can't attack him.
Does it matter to these people that prosecution witness, the lead detective, stated that he believed Z? Does it matter to them that Florida was not going to prosecute for lack of evidence and was politically forced to get an outside prosecutor solely for the purposes of bringing charges against him? That the federal government actually our spent money sending advisors to the protesters so that Z would be arrested?
I say again, my vast and diverse audience (Don is a Martian) that this is yet one more example of the perils of partisanship, this idiotic, symbiotic, fratricidal, co-dependant psychosis we pretend is just politics. And, just when I thought of all the dumb things that liberals and conservatives believe, that the conservative argument that marriage is the one word in the English language (or any language) that cannot change, was possibly the dumbest argument anyone could come up with, liberals are out in force arguing that Z, who suffered through the worst year of his life and has to live with the fact that if nothing else, had he been able to defend himself, most of this probably would not have happened (other than possibly Martin being arrested for breaking his nose), should be tried on federal civil rights grounds. For what? Are neighborhood watch not allowed to call in the police if the person they are suspicious of is black? Are they not allowed to answer the question asked by the dispatcher - what color is he?
I can't think what this is about but people arguing that a supposed white man (though some would say he was not white, or at least bi-racial - I don't know what he considers himself) may not shoot and kill a black man in self defense without justice requiring that the white man at least go to jail. And that's crazy.
And no, I wouldn't care if Z was from Kenya and Martin from Iceland. It would be the same. Color should have nothing to do with this.
Martin's lawyer had it right when he said to the jury - even if you think maybe Z acted in self defense, you must acquit. That's the law, not just in Florida, but everywhere. I wouldn't argue so vociferously if I had not watched much of the trial and so much commentary, and if the media was bothering to be even remotely fair, in general.