Monday, July 15, 2013

Eugene Robinson on Zimmerman/Martin



hank_F_M said...


I followed the case.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in criminal cases I thought the defendant was presumed innocent until the presumption is rebutted beyond a reasonable doubt.

There was an altercation on rainy night. At the end of it Mr Martin was dead and Mr. Zimmerman had bodily injuries. But what actually happened?

Other than Mr. Martin was dead every element of the charge was contested by witness' of approximately equal credibility from both sides. Physical evidence was consistent with both sides.

What happened? Basically we do not know since the evidence before the court was inconclusive. "We do not know" is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

The attempts by people from people of all perspectives to hijack the case for some agenda or another is irresponsible and stupid.

The only general conclusion that can or should be drawn is that when two idiot's get in altercation on a rainy night little good will come from it. But we already knew that.

LFC said...

I didn't follow the trial closely so I don't esp. want to debate the verdict itself.

However, I do think the case raises larger issues. It was not simply a case of two people having an altercation. Martin was an unarmed 17-yr-old; Zimmerman was an armed adult acting as a self-appointed neighborhood watchman who followed Martin even after the police told him not to.

Martin's race is relevant because a substantial part of society views young black men as inherently threatening; many people engage in a kind of racial profiling, but they usually don't act on it the way Zimmerman did.

As Eugene Robinson said in the linked column:

"Our society considers young black men to be dangerous, interchangeable, expendable, guilty until proven innocent. This is the conversation about race that we desperately need to have — but probably, as in the past, will try our best to avoid."

Robinson points out that the police had to be prodded to do a minimally thorough investigation, and by the time they did and Zimmerman was eventually charged, the chances of determining exactly what happened had probably evaporated.

Also, while Fla's so-called stand-your-ground law was not explicitly at issue, it did figure in the background, as this post by A. Gilbert suggests:
I don't endorse Gilbert's specific language -- "hunted as prey," "attacked and murdered" may well go beyond the facts that are known -- but I do think the basic point about the imbalance in positions is right. On one side an armed adult; on the other an unarmed teenager, and not a particularly big or strong teenager, from what I understand. The notion that Zimmerman, who outweighed Martin by 50 lbs (or so I've read), feared for his life as a result of their encounter and felt he had no choice but to shoot in order to save himself from severe injury (or worse) stretches credulity. If Martin hit him, he should have hit back, not shot him.

Now, did the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of manslaughter or second-degree murder? Obvs. not according to the jury. But that doesn't mean that the larger issues the case raises should be brushed aside.

LFC said...

See also: