My Quick Take on The Martin-Zimmerman Incident
This is mostly a “clearing the deck” post. I realized earlier today that I have not participated in most of the discussions regarding what happened in Sanford, and so here it is:
- I firmly believe this to be a racial issue. Attempts to deflect race because Zimmerman is Hispanic or the possibility that Martin cast the first blow ring hollow. I believe this to have been an incident of Zimmerman’s making. Zimmerman apparently had a particular caution about black people and was, thus, suspicious of Martin due to his race. There is considerably more reason to believe that Zimmerman was looking for a confrontation and that Martin was looking for some Skittles than that Zimmerman was any sort of innocent bystander.
- That being said, I do not know what I would do if I were on a jury. I have not heard all of the evidence yet and have heard numerous contradictory things as to what the law says and how it pertains to the incident and the various scenarios we have heard. At the very least, I’d need judge’s instructions.
- The racial nature of this is far more, to me, about the initial shooting than the investigation (or lack thereof) that occurred afterwards. It does appear to me that something broke down in the process, but I have followed incidents where this has occurred with white victims as well. Without an assured conviction, I believe there to be an institutional motivation to call things not-criminal-homicide when you can, such as this case.
- What makes it so racial, to me, goes back to the fact that incidents like this lead African-Americans to believe that they are being targeted. This is not because of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, but rather because a young black man was targeted. Most benignly, he was targeted for a closer look. But that closer look appears to have ended in his death. This is not a small thing and it absolutely does not take racial paranoia to be outraged.
- Despite my uncertainty regarding the investigation and the racial implications of it, the belief that it was not investigated is not an unreasonable or irrational one on the part of the black community. This, too, was not of Sharpton’s or Jackson’s making. This response on their part did not occur in a vacuum.
- The main reason I did not comment sooner was that during the highest pitch of the outrage, I had already read about some of the things that had later come to light. The witness that says that Martin was on top of Zimmerman was not a “new” witness, but rather one that had been there from the get-go and made that statement to the police initially. Make of this what you will, but I did not want to be the guy coming out and saying “This situation might be more complicated than it appears.”
- Nothing I have heard since makes me believe that Zimmerman is anything less than guilty of something immoral. My current leaning is that if this was legal, and if Zimmerman is legally acquitted or rightfully never tried, this points to a serious problem in the law. As a juror, though, it would be my obligation to try to put this aside and look at the law, Zimmerman’s actions (how the evidence weighs the likelihood of his version of events with a prosecutor’s), and how they square with one another.
- I have no opinion of Barack Obama speaking out on the matter. If he’s part of a “lynch mob”, then so is Jeb Bush.
I have teaching assignments tomorrow and Friday (which includes a 1-hour commute, to and from), so my responses will be delayed.