Fanning the Flames

Yesterday, the verdict was announced on the Zimmerman case.

It annoys me I need only mention the name without explaining who Zimmerman is, and what the case is.  How did this one event balloon to such importance?

I don’t want to rehash the literal tsunami of opinions put forth in the past year. What I do want, is to comment on the reaction from people.  People who are no more informed than I am.  People who seem to have an agenda steeped in self-importance, if not outright self-promotion.

Pundits, politicians, celebrities, actors, bloggers . . . even the President.

The President!  Think about this . . . before facts were introduced, before a report could be written, before reasoned decision could be made, the President weighed in on a case of two guys who got into a scuffle, and one ended up dead.

The media got involved, then various groups, then other groups, then pundits, and then everyone had opinions.  What few people had, were facts.

So, we patiently wait for a trial . . . in Florida.  I live in Colorado.  Why again do I care about this trial in Florida?  Why do I care about this accused and this defendant?

Apparently, because the person who died was black, and the person who killed him was a “white hispanic”, whatever that means.  The guy looked regular hispanic to me, but I’m not a good judge of racial purity.  

Oh, yeah . . . also, because a gun was involved.

Why is this different from literally hundreds, if not thousand of other cases?

Early on, I held some interest in the case.  But then politics and pundits got involved.  Any hope in getting actual information was dashed, stomped, wrapped in a newspaper,lit on fire, and buried in some back yard.

I hear rumors, and then rumors fueled by racism, reverse racism, political racism . . . you get the idea.

Zimmerman was a vigilante monster, gunning down in cold blood a poor black kid, Martin, who was a saint.

Zimmerman was the victim, a fine member of his community, barely escaping with his life following a brutal attack by this young black hoodlum, Martin.

First the cops did not arrest Zimmerman, then pressure mounted, a police chief was fired, and then he was arrested.  Then he was charged with murder.  Serious stuff.

Second Degree Murder, defined as: 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable “heat of passion”; or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender’s obvious lack of concern for human life.

For a year, I heard people put forth various theories, all based on speculations, preconceived notions, and often deliberate lies.

I recently went through a jury selection process.  The Judge went to great pains to ensure none of us looked up anything about the case.  Her specific instructions went something along these lines . . .

You, the jury, will hear and see evidence with this case.  Evidence the media does not have, politicians do not have, your friends do not have, your family does not have.  What all those people have, are opinions based on personal prejudices.  If you listen to them, you too will be prejudiced.

Wow . . . powerful words.  

Eventually, the Zimmerman trial came about. And it was televised. I thought about watching it, but knew that, unlike the jury, I would be bombarded by panels of experts. Experts that would give opinions about everything said and done in the courtroom, and that those opinions would be heavily influenced by their own prejudices and agendas.

So I decided to let the jury do their duty.  I did follow a little, concentrating on the requirement of “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

The problem is, no matter the evidence, people had already made up their mind about this case.  There really was no scenario I could see that people would be happy with the outcome.

What did surprise me was the public statements from some luminaries of the “skeptical movement”.  Everyone who chose to comment after the verdict was adamant a gross misjustice had been perpetrated on not only the victim, but we, the American people.

Unfortunately, all failed to provide any evidence for those statements.  They appear to be opinions without facts.   Odd that, for a bunch of skeptics who make a living off of data and logic.

They were no better than celebrities who “reacted to the verdict” with shock and sadness. Again, no evidence of any kind, or even a logical argument was presented by any celebrity.

Olivia Wilde was sick, and John Legend’s head hurt. Rihanna thought this was the saddest news ever . . . she must not get out much.

Thing is, the “skeptics” fared no better . . . I would quote some of their stuff, but I already unsubscribed from their feeds (not that they care).  The only one I remember was PZ Myers saying “he knew it would happen”.  I smell a claim to the Million Dollar Challenge.

Oh, and Wil Wheaton, who wished Zimmerman some serious harm.  Nice.    Although, truthfully, Will probably spoke more for the geeks than the skeptics. 

So, it seems to be almost over, except it’s not, is it?

What’s the point of all this post? I think that under the guise of “fighting” racism, these people mean to fan its flames. From the President, down to Nicki MinaJ (I picked that name at random from the list of celebrities quotes . . . I have no idea who she is), people are saying the trial means nothing.

Think about that. The cornerstone of the American justice system, the jury trial, means nothing.

I can only assume they want it replaced by opinion. Specifically, their opinion.

And what is your opinion?” you ask?

I don’t have one. I did not follow the trial other than in a peripheral way. If pressed I would have to say Zimmerman was wrong to follow and engage Martin, but Martin appeared to have initiated the physical attack.

I saw the police photos of the injuries Zimmerman sustained, and I would have liked to see what injuries Martin sustained (besides the gunshot).

That would help me decide on the whole self defense claim (note to some of the pundits and others screaming to revamp SYG laws – this was not a case involving the Stand Your Ground). Even then, I don’t know that I could make a judgment, based on what I currently know, as to what the proper charge should be, or if there should be a criminal charge.  

Obviously, the jury had reasonable doubt, and returned a “not guilty” verdict on the charge of Second Degree Murder.  At this point, that is the only sure fact we know.

Would they have convicted on a lesser charge?  Was it some other form of homicide? Will we ever see all the evidence that was presented?

The question is moot.

Many people have decided Zimmerman is guilty and Martin is an innocent victim, and many others think Zimmerman is innocent and Martin was ultimately to blame for his own fate. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as it always is.

But I will say this . . . this case was a bonanza for anyone (on either side, and any race) wanting to fan the flames of racism.

. . . white hispanic . . . I’ll have to look for that check-box on the next government form I fill out.

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