Monday, July 15, 2013

What would Elle do?

I hate "soap box topics."

I grew up in a very logical household. I've got a pretty good grasp on ethics and morals; and I consider my knowledge of law and the legal system to be slightly above average for someone who is not in the field.

When a big case comes up, the media twists it two ways: left and right. There is rarely an unbiased presentation of facts. This is EXACTLY why I try to not allow myself to develop an opinion. I know what I know; but I also know I don't know everything.

So the Trayvon Martin case....

Here is the only big opinion I have on the subject: people need to shut up.
It was terrible.
It shouldn't have happened.
I, in no way, side with the offender.
So why does it sound like I think its ok???
The simple answer is: I don't.

There is something called "burden of proof" that the prosecution has to fulfill. They need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person (or persons) on trial are guilty. They need to offer evidence, and the most compelling evidence is physical and eye-witness testimony. What physical evidence was there in this case? No one saw the interchange between Martin and Zimmerman. No one can definitively say what happened that night except for those two men. If the prosecution did not sufficiently prove that Zimmerman acted aggressively, then the jury cannot deliver a guilty verdict (murder). I'm a little fuzzy on specifications the judge set fourth to the jury about manslaughter in this case, but I know that they had to go back an clarify with the judge.

In my limited knowledge of the case, manslaughter seems like it would've been the "most appropriate" (ok, so I guess I do have more than one opinion on the case). Manslaughter would have been a hard verdict to appeal.

But really, what would convicting Zimmerman do?
That ship has obviously sailed. The prosecution screwed up, and he can't ever be retried on those charges because of the double jeopardy laws. That man will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. In jail he would likely be under some kind of protective watch, due to the presumed racial motivations of his actions. He's out and will likely himself become a victim of vigilante justice.

Its not that he didn't do it. We know he did. He admitted it. Its a matter of the prosecution not being able to compel the jury to believe (beyond a reasonable doubt) that he acted with a certain intent.
Don't be mad at the jury, the judge, or the prosecution. Be mad at the situation. Be mad that Zimmerman felt afraid. Be mad at the social norms that make that fear so prevalent. Be mad at the gangs who recruit with a racial bias, therefore instilling fear of whole racial groups. Be mad that progress in racial equality isn't happening fast enough. And remember, "not guilty" and "innocent" hold two completely separate meanings.

It's not fair of people to say things like "I'm disgusted with all of humanity right now." A lot of factors went into the verdict, and thought I might not agree with the ruling, there are certain requirements that need to be met in order to put someone in jail. In this case, that didn't happen. That does not necessarily mean that justice will not eventually be served. Unfortunately, I feel like "an eye for an eye" will be end result here.

I think the case made people ask a lot of really important questions about why Zimmerman felt the way he did. Why was he afraid? What needs to change so that this never happens again?
This is a very insightful article that really makes you think about the underlying issues here.

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