This has got to be my most ironic post (especially following my previous one), my most controversial post, or perhaps my most naive post.
As I posted in my Favorite Quotes blog, I’m not too impressed with the human race these days. Frankly, I’m concerned. And watching the news doesn’t help.
Lately the news has been full of a bunch of political nonsense peppered with stories about this Trayvon Martin shooting case (<- link to the Wikipedia page in case you live under a rock and want to get spun up).
Frankly, I am not very well versed in all of the facts surrounding this case (I haven’t even read the Wikipedia article I linked to), nor do I claim to be. Obviously it’s still an open case, so nobody can truly claim to know all of the facts, but here is what has been bothering me.
Not long ago I saw that one of the people I follow on Twitter retweeted this thing that supposedly Will Ferrell said, about how we live in a world where Kim Kardashian gets flour bombed and the perpetrator gets arrested on the spot, but Trayvon Martin is murdered but the killer goes free.
I don’t know, something like that.
First, Will Ferrell doesn’t have a Twitter account, so that was obviously a fake account trying to get more followers by tweeting about a current event. Also, the girl who flour bombed Kim Kardashian was only detained (not arrested) and she was released pretty quickly since Kim (who I generally don’t like, but have gained a little respect for because of the flour bombing incident) didn’t want to press charges. Finally, it turns out that a fake Will Smith account used the same tactic to get followers, and the juxtaposition of the two cases is an Internet meme.
But what really bothered me was that anyone was even a little upset about that. I mean, to me, this represents a perfect example of one of the few things about our justice system that still works right.
We are innocent until proven guilty.
The Kardashian flour bombing happened in front of tons of news cameras, fans, celebrities, and anyone else you can think of. The Kardashians rarely go anywhere without an entourage, and if you do anything that could be taken as a hostile act toward someone around that many witnesses, you’re going to be grabbed by the police. There is plenty of evidence that you are guilty. That lady was obviously guilty, and there wasn’t even a hint of a chance she might have been innocent of the crime.
Sure, her crime was minor, but what if it had been an attack? There could have been anthrax in that bag of flour. The story itself has a happy ending, but it could have gone very differently.
Now enter George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. As far as I know, there are no eye witnesses. If any have come forward, that’s wonderful. But in view of the lack of hard evidence surrounding the case, I’d say it’s going to be pretty tough to claim that Mr. Zimmerman is guilty.
I’m not defending him, but here’s what I know: He admitted to killing the boy, he handed his weapon to cops immediately, he has studied criminal justice, he has a clean record, and he has been completely cooperative during the investigation.
If I’m wrong about any of that, feel free to let me know. But either way, he has not yet been proven guilty. Therefore, under our awesome justice system, he is free for now.
Before you go ranting about anything, let me remind you that I’m not defending him, nor am I saying he’s innocent. I’m saying he must be treated as an innocent person until he can be proven guilty.
Yes, there is racism. Yes, there is an unfortunate stigma surrounding hoodies. Yes, Florida’s self defense law
probably needs to be rewritten. All of these things need to be fixed. But the fact that George Zimmerman is free right now is awesome.
Imagine living in a society where you could be considered guilty until proven innocent.
Can you really come up with a good alibi for why you weren’t involved in the murder of the lady who was killed a few blocks away from you while you were home alone watching a movie? If that was our law, and the police officer simply didn’t like you, then there would be nothing you could do to avoid being harassed by law enforcement. You would have no rights in a situation like this.
Being considered guilty until proven innocent means that the police can grab you, lock you up, and treat you like a criminal, all while you are completely innocent.
I’m not saying this doesn’t happen in the United States, I’m saying it would happen a lot more if it weren’t for that one simple rule.
What really bothers me is that people are demonstrating and clamoring for justice, but they have already decided what “justice” they want – they want George Zimmerman behind bars.
The case may appear simple to them, but lucky for them and all of us, our justice system is designed in such a way that these sorts of crimes must be investigated. If we take everything at face value, it’s easy to make someone look guilty and get them arrested (my favorite Stephen King book, The Eyes of the Dragon, deals with just such a framing). That’s why, in the face of a lack of condemning evidence, the police should not immediately arrest Mr. Zimmerman.
The entire case against Mr. Zimmerman is, from what I understand, based on the idea that Trayvon is completely, 100% innocent and he was shot simply for wearing a hoodie (looking suspicious) and being of a particular race. But the only witness of sorts was a girl on a cell phone whose contribution to the case ends when the line went dead after someone shoved someone. That’s all we know. Perhaps Trayvon did start the quarrel. We don’t know. Most of us don’t know Trayvon, and we don’t know George. We don’t know what kinds of people these are, what motivated their actions that night, or what it would have felt like to be either one of them.
Now if George, in his knowledge of the law, knowingly took advantage of the self defense laws in Florida in order to carry out a hate crime against someone whose skin color he didn’t like, then shame on him and I hope the justice system exposes evidence supporting those charges.
But if George truly felt that he was in a danger that was serious enough to use deadly force, then I wonder how all of these protesters and angry people would feel if they were in George’s position – an innocent man being assumed guilty by millions of people judging in haste.
Isn’t hasty, angry judgement what these people are accusing George of? Isn’t that, in a way, prejudice?
- Trayvon Martin’s Killer Should be Punished, Right? (mschuettblahblahblah.com)
- Justice and Comparisons (morgankhyde.wordpress.com)
- Mob Rule: The End of a Republic (bukcarmichael.com)