Saturday, July 13, 2013

Justice In An Unjust World

As the jury deliberates on the fate of George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, let us face facts. From testimony offered throughout the trial, the prosecution attempted to paint Zimmerman as a paranoid creeper wannabe as the defense mounted an attack against the second-degree murder charge on the legal basis of self-defense in performance of his neighborhood watch duties. On the other hand, Martin came across as an archetypical pot-smoking teenager – who may or may not have been a “f*ckin’ punk” with attitude – but someone who did not deserve to be senselessly killed simply for appearing suspicious and/or racially profiled. Some observers have looked to male gender roles in present-day society as a catalyst for the behavior of both perpetrator and victim – in a case that neither description is necessarily clear as to whom it fits. Whatever the root cause or your stance on the case – whether Martin deserves justice for his needless alleged murder or if Zimmerman deserves vindication for his critical, if questionable, actions in the face of an alleged hostile threat – no one will be satisfied with the verdict. Undoubtedly, riots will ensue from a Zimmerman acquittal.

And therein lies the rub; rioting because one disagrees with a verdict is not civil justice, but rather just uncivil.

Let us face another fact too:  any rioting will be erroneously racially motivated. Another crime wrongfully committed in the name of social justice because a so-called “white Hispanic” was acquitted for the wrongful death of a black teen. To be clear, as someone who is part Hispanic, George Zimmerman is not a “white Hispanic”; he is simply Hispanic, a growing minority of the U.S. population and one increasingly coveted by politicians in recent years. When the media began portraying Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic,” the stage was set for escalating “black vs. white” racial tensions that never should have been developed, or better yet exploited, in the first place. The case and subsequent trial always should have been about a man, who happens to be Hispanic, who shot and killed a teen, who happened to be black. End of that part of the story. Yet, the media from the beginning played up and sensationalized the racial aspects of the case, because without it there apparently is nothing noteworthy about minority-on-minority violence in the greater national debate.

How can there be any justice when bias – from the media, from the judge, even from viewers – takes away the supreme guarantee of “innocent until proven guilty” and convicts a person for their alleged crime before any verdict is reached? The world and our legal systems can be an unjust one, where criminals go free on a technicality and innocent citizens go to jail for months, years or even decades. We should not be so carefree on either outcome in this case as well, because it is not as black and white as most would make it. What matters is that justice is served – for either Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman – by the blind collective rule of law and not by a biased collective social conscious.

©2013 Steve Sagarra