It was a disappointing piece of news to learn that George Zimmerman was acquitted for killing Trayvon Martin. I grieve along with everyone who believes that more should have been done to the man who ignored a police directive and lived out a concealed-carry wet dream.
But I’m also heartened, at least a little bit. When the Martin story first broke last year, no charges were filed against Zimmerman at all. The fact that he was arrested and put on trial means that the public outcry was heeded. It’s cold comfort right now, but it’s better than what originally happened with this case.
Secondly, the ALEC group that got the “Stand Your Ground” legislation passed in Florida suffered a severe blow when their membership rolls were released. They’re still around, but they’ve been greatly diminished by all of the defections they’ve had.
And–perhaps more importantly–the days that ALEC could operate under the radar screen are gone. People know what they’re about now, and any of their initiatives should–and hopefully will–be met with stiff opposition. Those who carry water for this group will hopefully receive more scrutiny than they have before. And that will be a good thing, believe me.
The only parallel case I can think of in my lifetime, with such racial overtones, was the OJ Simpson verdict. I know these cases were nowhere near similar to each other, but the media wants to play these things up for all they can.
On the day that the jury’s acquittal came down in the Simpson case, I was a social studies teacher in a high school in suburban Chicago. A reporter contacted the chair of the department, a man I held in very high esteem, and asked for a quote about the verdict. The department chair said simply “The jury has spoken.” Whether or not he wanted to say anything more than that, that was all he said. And I’m going to adopt a reasonably similar posture here.
The jury has indeed spoken. The fact that there was a jury in a position to speak means something, and I guess we’ll all have to move on from here.
A final word about George Zimmerman. He’ll get offers to cash in and tell his story, but he should refuse them all and just go away for a couple of years. There’s a lot of ill will toward him, and time will diminish it more than a jury verdict will. Trayvon Martin can’t return to his life, but I don’t think George Zimmerman can, either. And if he’s smart, he won’t try to.