by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
As goes the sad and happy masks of theatre, the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case made for high drama and entertainment; sadly.
I did not pay much attention, though, early on, I listened to reasonable men and women opine and familiarized myself with Florida law. Not an attorney, my common sense conclusion was there was no crime. Yes, a young man, Trayvon Martin, was dead but there was overwhelming circumstances of extenuation and mitigation to explain why - self-defense.
Mr. Zimmerman should not have been charged with anything - much less gone to trial.
I rarely read anything about the case nor did I watch any of the televised courtroom proceedings.
I was aware the seated jury of six were all women.
And that is about the extent of my knowledge as to situational awareness.
Last Saturday evening, before the verdict was announced and in turn the public informed, I received an email from a friend who offered it was not looking good for Mr. Zimmerman; the deliberations were taking too long.
I sent a short note in reply along the lines of, 'Relax. They are six women. Women do not think like men. And they certainly do not think like Marines. Perhaps they spent five minutes electing a foreman; five minutes discussing the case and reaching a verdict; and 15 hours and 50 minutes exchanging recipes, sewing and knitting patterns, and showing off photographs of children, grandchildren, and pets. And they gave an occasional teaser question to the bailiff to pass to the judge - just to keep everyone guessing. They will reach the right decision. I predict Mr. Zimmerman walks.'
My aim was not to be flippant but stress that only jurors know what goes on in the jury room. We now know deliberations were intense and the jury initially split. Their story forthcoming.
It was not an hour later, if that, the 'Not Guilty' verdict aired.
The jury spoke. Justice was served.
It did not take long for the discourse of disagreement to begin. And that was inevitable. Some civilized. And some not at all civilized.
Some on Facebook posted with emotion - their sentiments clear. They wanted to first see Mr. Zimmerman hanged and then his corpse wheeled into the courtroom for a fair trial. Ridiculous!
Anytime there are opposing views and there is occasion that one side will formally lose, in this case in a court of law, some people will be happy and some people sad. So goes the theatre of life.
The Trayvon Martin family and attorneys were sad but accepting of the verdict. They were calm and called for calm. Reasonable. And hats off to them.
Detestable is that some supporters of Travyon Martin, across the country, those who did not know him nor his family, turned to civil disobedience in the streets and making vile threats of retribution on the Internet - Tweets were particularly sickening.
The past few days I have been reading and listening to the thoughts of objective scholars. Without exception, they say the trial should never have been - Florida law did not support charges against Mr. Zimmerman.
So who I am to offer another word? Thus, I had decided not to address the case in Commentary. For what would be the point?
Then early this morning I received a text from a longtime Marine friend. His question, "What do you think would have happened if Zimmerman had walked over to Trayvon's parents after the verdict and with tears in his eyes reached out to them?"
Our back and forth as follows...
In reply, "It would have been a brilliant gesture - why did his attorneys not recommend such?! Whatever reaction from Martin's family, Zimmerman, and the country, would have been winners."
His return, "It would have diffused everything. End of story. It would have brought the Nation together."
Or, perhaps, caught off guard, the Martin family and their attorneys would have showed America another side - a deeper side hidden when before cameras. But I, deep down, don't think so as their public persona seems genuine.
That was George Zimmerman's - and America's - missed opportunity.
It's gone. Forever. Sadly.
For Attorney General Eric Holder...
Let it go! Pause for a moment to consider the thought of a man of character, tennis champion Mr. Jim Courier - "Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can't tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way."
The jury spoke. It's over, Sir. Take the moral high ground. Lead by following Mr. Courier's lead. Be a man, a guy, of integrity, of character - a champion of the court. And carry yourself with pride. To date, your office has appeared a racket. But you can change that. Will you?
Remember, President Barack Obama refers to instances such as this as "teachable moments". Thus it should be. Will it be?
Time to rest is upon us.
It's time to heal.
Having recently served as a juror, elected foreman, for a serious criminal trial, though our system of justice is not perfect - nothing of human design is - it's fair. What is unfair is anyone, especially media, "trying" the case before trial. And, for others, especially media, "trying" the case post trial.