Monday, July 15, 2013


From the Washington Post editorial page:

Whatever preceded the fight between the two men, the central question, as a matter of criminal law, was precisely what occurred in the immediate moments before Zimmerman fired the fatal shot. Zimmerman instigated the tragic chain of events, but legally that was not relevant. To convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, prosecutors had to prove that he did something that he knew was “reasonably certain” to kill or seriously injure and acted with “ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent.” Even for the lesser charge of manslaughter, they had to rebut his claim of self-defense, showing that he could not “reasonably believe” shooting Martin was “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.”

Justice takes the longer time frame. Zimmerman may not be legally responsible for Martin’s death but he remains morally culpable.

More here.

Overall, the linked essay ends up being incredibly frustrating.  The writer goes through the ins and outs of the larger issues in the Zimmerman trial, and comes up with some pretty damning stuff, but then concludes, like the self-congratulating pro-establishment "moderate" that most big time journalists are, that society must accept outcomes like this because...well...I'm not sure why we're supposed to accept it, but there was some sense of "yay America" about it all.  But that's okay.  I'm not endorsing the essay, just the excerpt, which is poignant enough.

That is, I have no problem accepting the notion that everything in the trial was on the up and up legally speaking, if that is, in fact, the case.  What boggles my mind is that the law makes no consideration of Zimmerman's actions leading up to the moment he shot Martin.

Thought experiment:  A guys says, "I hate ni$$ers" or something to that effect, "and I'm sick about how those assholes always get away."  So he gets a gun and hits the streets saying, "If I find one of those ni$$ers ripping off my neighborhood, I'm going to get him."  During his "patrol" he encounters a black guy walking down the street and then follows him for several blocks.  He gets out of his car and then instigates a confrontation.  In the confrontation, the black guy gets the upper hand, so our vigilante shoots him.

How is this self-defense?  Sure, I'm exaggerating, but that's essentially what happened.  Zimmerman was out hunting black people in order to "protect" his community.  He might not have wanted to kill anybody outright, but he was ready to, or he wouldn't have brought the gun.  He provoked a confrontation.  And in that confrontation, which he provoked, he feared for his life.  And I'm to understand that, legally, the only thing that matters is the moment Zimmerman feared for his life?

Okay, that may very well be how the law works.  But it's also insane.  And racist.  And now a black kid is dead simply because he was walking down the street, and the killer is free, not guilty of any crime at all.  There is no way to justify this.  It's wrong.  And to our great shame.