The Media Trial of George Zimmerman Shows That We Don’t Need Courts

March 24th, 2012

By Dan Miller

During Alice’s visit to Wonderland, she attended a trial.  The queen demanded, “sentence first, trial later.”  We can do even better!

George ZimmermanTrayvon MartinAs just about everyone not comatose for the past several days now knows, twenty-eight year old George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot and killed seventeen year old Trayvon Martin almost a month ago.  Beyond that, we don’t know much about what happened.  However, that has not slowed our intrepid mass media.

[B]y climbing over one another to get the story, mainstream media journalists appear to be adding more confusion, than clarity, to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Mr. Zimmerman’s mother is Hispanic, his father is Caucasian and apparently not Hispanic. According to Mr. Zimmerman’s father, as reported in this article,

George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. One black neighbor recently interviewed said she knew everything in the media was untrue and that she would trust George with her life. Another black neighbor said that George was the only one, black or white, who came and welcomed her to the community, offering any assistance he could provide. Recently, I met two black children George invited to a social event. I asked where they met George. They responded that he was their mentor. They said George visited them routinely, took them places, helped them, and taught them things and that they really loved George. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.

Mr. Martin was Black.

Mr. Zimmerman was not arrested by the police following the incident evidently because, based on his statement, the statement of an eyewitness and 911 phone recordings, his actions were compliant with Florida’s stand your ground laws.  According to this article,

Our sister station, FOX 35 in Orlando, has spoken to that witness.

What Sanford Police investigators have in the folder, they put together on the killing of Trayvon Martin few know about.

The file now sits in the hands of the state attorney. Now that file is just weeks away from being opened to a grand jury.

It shows more now about why police believed that night that George Zimmerman shouldn’t have gone to jail.

Zimmerman called 911 and told dispatchers he was following a teen. The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to.

And from that moment to the shooting, details are few.

But one man’s testimony could be key for the police.

“The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: ‘help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,” he said.

Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red.

The witness only wanted to be identified as “John,” and didn’t not want to be shown on camera.

His statements to police were instrumental, because police backed up Zimmerman’s claims, saying those screams on the 911 call are those of Zimmerman.

“When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point,” John said.

Zimmerman says the shooting was self defense. According to information released on the Sanford city website, Zimmerman said he was going back to his SUV when he was attacked by the teen.

Sanford police say Zimmerman was bloody in his face and head, and the back of his shirt was wet and had grass stains, indicating a struggle took place before the shooting.

There has been lots of speculation, a bit of it apparently well grounded but most of it not. Since the shooting,  Mr. Zimmerman has been quite reclusive, probably with good reason. The media initially judged him a “White” racist killer.  The Reverend Mr.  Sharpton led a rally of

thousands of people in a rally yesterday in the Florida town where Trayvon Martin was shot. “We cannot allow a precedent when a man can just kill one of us and then walk out with the murder weapon,” Sharpton said, flanked by the slain teen’s parents. “We don’t want good enough. We want George Zimmerman in court with handcuffs behind his back.” Sharpton was speaking just hours after the death of his mother, the AP reports. “This is where she would want me to be,” he said. (Emphasis added)

Wanted Dead or AliveThe Reverend Mr. Jackson said “Blacks are under attack.”  This “Wanted Dead or Alive” poster appeared at a New Black Panther rally. President Obama, while careful “to voice no opinion on the conduct of the shooter, George Zimmerman, or any legal aspect of the case beyond a call for a thorough investigation,” declared that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Let’s just abolish criminal courts and let the media take over.

In the United States, people reasonably thought to have committed crimes are tried in courts of law.  That seems no longer necessary or even desirable. Last year, Casey Anthony was tried for the murder of her daughter and, horror of horrors, was acquitted. Silly things like a need to prove what crime if any may have been committed and to prove — beyond a reasonable doubt no less — that the defendant committed the crime are troublesome. Even worse, sometimes the results of such trials are inconsistent with the results of trials previously conducted by the media. I suggested here, in jest, that we should do away with the criminal court system and instead rely exclusively on the mass media.  Our very respect for the law is at stake.  What can we think of laws and courts — where there are rules of evidence and even a presumption of innocence, when the media have already — with speculation in place of evidence and with no rules at all, reached a different conclusion? We aren’t there yet in the Zimmerman trial, because it hasn’t been held and he hasn’t even been charged yet.  Still, why bother? Why not just have a big party and lynch him?  It should be easy because the mob has already assembled. Mr. Zimmerman must be guilty (of something) because the media have found him so.

It seems unnecessary to list the many Black on Black and Black on White murders that have lately occurred, because they could not have been racially motivated or even hate crimes.  Nor do they result in mass hysteria. White on Black crimes must be the fault of (conservative) talk radio. Yes, of course, just as were other notorious attacks in the past, such as the (White on White) shooting of Representative Giffords (along with several others) said to be due to

the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country, much of it centered in Arizona.

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” he said. “And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

The recent shooting of Jews in France was earlier attributed to far right sentiments flaring during the political campaign there.  In any event, we must outlaw all (conservative) talk radio; freedom and democracy demand it.  Off with the heads of all conservative talk radio hosts!  Right wing politicians too.  But let’s encourage the media to do what they do best, helping us to make up our minds as we should.

Despite all of this, it is very comforting that President Obama has, as all had hoped, brought all of us together in post-racial, post-partisan harmony.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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2 Responses to “The Media Trial of George Zimmerman Shows That We Don’t Need Courts”

  1. Tom Carter |

    One thing that’s certain is that probably only a few policemen and prosecutors know enough facts to understand what likely happened. This could turn out to be another Duke lacrosse case, where the media took the case and ran with politically correct assumptions that later proved to be wrong. Or, it could turn out that Zimmerman was justified in shooting Martin. It would be nice, for once, if all the usual suspects, including professional race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson, would just shut up until all the facts are available. Unfortunately, there’s no chance of that happening.

    On a larger point, I do have some concern about the so-called “stand your ground” laws that Florida and about half the other states have in one form or another. They seem to go too far, potentially encouraging shoot-outs in public when one or both parties could have simply walked away. As I understand it, in Florida at least it’s more than an affirmative defense, where the defendant must prove his point. It amounts to virtual immunity, where once police and prosecutors believe that a shooter was operating under “stand your ground” conditions, he isn’t charged or even arrested.

  2. Dan Miller |

    Tom, I agree that there may be grounds for concerns about the “stand your ground” laws or at least some of them. Those concerns, however, do not warrant the mass media hysteria reactions to whatever Mr. Zimmerman did or did not do. Nor should do those concerns justify the demagogic responses of “professional race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson” or the favorable responses of much of the mass media to them.

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