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martinZimm

The man on trial. Note, he is not a black teenager.

When I discuss with my friends about how one can run a business, I say that there are two ways: like a family or like a machine. The latter is easy in that there are set rules that, if they are broken, have outlined consequences. The disadvantage to it is that one has to enforce those rules consistently and mercilessly, else they become meaningless. The family style is much more forgiving, but much messier.

We want the United States to run like a family, but it doesn’t. It runs like a machine. Justice is blind, they say, and as long as the rules are adhered to, she spares or condemns without regard to public opinion. Never has that blindness been more acute than in the case of George Zimmerman.

When the case went to trial, there were a large number of people who acted as if it was a referendum on “stand your ground” laws or even the right to defend yourself. It was dealt with as such by the court of public opinion, certainly, but the case itself didn’t even involve “stand your ground”; the defense did not invoke that statute as part of its case.

What that case was about was if George Zimmerman was criminally culpable in the death of Trayvon Martin, a death he freely admitted to causing. We can argue about who these men were, their racial tolerances, their pasts and many other minutiae that may or may not have played into creating the moment when Zimmerman pulled the trigger and Martin fell dead. Lady Justice and her six sisters in the jury box found those to be irrelevant, however, and could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that Trayvon Martin’s actions lead to his death more than George Zimmerman’s.

I, like many others, found this an unsatisfying conclusion. The laws of Florida are generous when it comes to allowing one to defend one’s self; while much has been said about the recent case in which a woman was convicted for firing a shotgun, let us not forget a man who chased another down in the street with a knife, stabbed him and was able to invoke SYG. The wisdom of those laws is questionable, their implementation more so. I personally am in favor of not requiring someone to retreat before they defend themselves, which is all SYG changes from other statutes about self defense, even if it’s application in Florida seems dangerous at best.

But where the law has pardoned Zimmerman, I feel that the people are right in still laying the blame at his feet. The legal culpability in this case essentially came down to who threw the first punch, a fact that we only have one surviving witness to confirm, one whose best interests lie with him being the victim. We will never know what happened when Trayvon met George, for certain. What we do know is that a man, part of the neighborhood watch, saw a man who was doing nothing criminal at the time, followed him in his car and possibly on foot, then eventually shot him. We know that this watchman was frustrated with others getting away and may have been more than zealous in his guardianship.

Regardless of his legal burden in the matter, the fact that George Zimmerman created the situation that required him to turn a Kel-Tec 9mm on a seventeen year old kid is without question, save to those who are as blind as Justice to the matter and arguing more for their own rights than for the series of mistakes that ZImmerman did not have to make before he took the shot that he was legally allowed when he was in danger of death or injury, a series of mistakes that if avoided would have only resulted in one more black teen being questioned by the cops for doing nothing more sinister than walking down the sidewalk.

The law is not Justice, as much as I’ve used them interchangeably in this article. The law is written by men. Justice is a concept that exists independently of any man’s opinion. But I do think she is blind, which this week may be for the best, as it keeps her from seeing how badly she has not been served by this verdict.

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