Sunday, July 14, 2013

A license to kill

I expected this verdict but nonetheless it still rankled when I woke up to find George Zimmerman was acquitted. And no, despite the old saw, Zimmerman was not found innocent. Neither was he exonerated of the crime. The fact that he killed an unarmed teenager with a gun was never in dispute. He was acquitted on the charge of murder. There's a difference.

Neither can it be said that the court delivered justice for Trayvon. That would have required a guilty verdict, which just wasn't going to happen under Florida laws. Our legal system is imperfect. The guilty often go free while the innocent are sometimes convicted. And yes, the outcomes are often based on class status and race. It's not been unnoticed that a black woman in the same state, under the same laws, was given a 20 year sentence for merely shooting a gun into the air.

This is what happens when a "jury of peers" are the judges and the judge merely conducts the proceedings. It also happens when a single justice decides a case. It's a myth they don't bring their own prejudices into the courtroom. But it's useful to remember at such times, when the anger at injustice boils the blood, that judges and juries are constrained by laws written by politicians. The system is imperfect because is it an invention of humans who are also imperfect beings.

Much will be said today and in the days to follow about this case. Many will try to make sense of the outcome where none can be made. In the end all we can do is accept that sometimes the system really sucks and do our best to write better laws that deliver justice more perfectly. Probably an impossible task when politicians have the final say.

As for the instant case, the best summation I've seen is this: "The real danger of this acquittal is not riots in the streets. It's more George Zimmermans." A subject Charlie Pierce covered so eloquently already that there's nothing left to say.

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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Best assessment of the situation I've read yet. It's a court of law. The court of justice is elsewhere.

It's telling that a nearly simultaneous Florida case in which a woman fired a shot into a wall to scare away a wife beating husband against who she had a restraining order. He was unharmed. She got 20 years. She has a small daughter. He was not prosecuted. Where is the canned outrage, the organized protests? Some judge decided that Stand Your Ground didn't apply to her and shazaam - two innocent lives needlessly ruined thanks to draconian gun laws written by idiots who refuse to admit that we have gun laws in the first place.

Is this being ignored because it doesn't fit the paleo-liberal agenda of killing any right to self defense? Al Sharpton insists that although Stand Your Ground played no part in the Zimmerman case, we should get rid of it anyway.

Every dull axe in the world is being ground on this sad case and I'm ashamed to call myself a liberal any more.

9:42:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

As Charlie often said, no good was ever going to come of this case.

12:18:00 PM  

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