The pitting of people who mistakenly conflate justice with legality (Martin/Zimmerman related)

So we’ve recently had the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the 2nd degree murder of Trayvon Martin. And a lot of people are outraged that he wasn’t convicted because Zimmerman did a lot of actions of questionable merit prior to the actual shooting.

What’s pissing me off is that the majority of the people wailing and gnashing their teeth apparently have NO clue how the legal system works and think that Zimmerman should have been convicted not because he broke Florida law, but because they didn’t like what he did.

Fact: Nothing Zimmerman did prior to the shooting was illegal. Even if he decided that Martin was sketchy because he was black, and ambushed him to confront him, none of that’s illegal. Sketchy? Yes. In poor judgement? Yes. Illegal? No.

Fact: The case entirely hinged upon the notion that the possibility that Zimmerman feared for his life, and that this fear cast reasonable doubt upon the charge that Zimmerman murdered Martin in a non-premeditated way (2nd degree).

So apparently as best I can tell, the whole court case hinged upon whether or not Zimmerman feared for his life during the fight prior to the shooting. We’ll never actually know what happened, but the evidence and testimony apparently put enough questions in the jury’s minds that Zimmerman didn’t just hunt down Martin and shoot him, and that possibly (reasonable doubt) he felt that he was defending himself.

So if people understand that, how the fuck can they be so pissed off about the verdict? They should be pissed at the knuckleheaded prosecutors who overreached with the charges- they would have probably had manslaughter tied up with a nice, neat little bow. They should be pissed at the State of Florida for having idiotically written laws.

But going on and on about what happened prior to the actual shooting is retarded- it has NO bearing on the actual case whether or not Martin stole shit from a house near his school. It doesn’t matter if Zimmerman was a petty knucklehead who called 911 40-some-odd times before that night. It doesn’t matter if Zimmerman was a racist, or if Martin was a violent thug.

What mattered was basically that they got into a fight, Zimmmerman shot Martin, and whether or not Zimmerman felt his life was in danger. It also had no bearing on the case what colors their skin were- again, it was the fight, its outcome and whether or not Zimmerman feared for his life combined with a stupid charge on the part of the prosecution.

Because beliefs are like clothing. They have a functional purpose, but people also adopt them for social reasons. In many circles, it’s very fashionable to believe (against all evidence) that Trayvon Martin was a sweet innocent angel who was slaughtered in cold blood by the evil racist gun-nut George Zimmerman, who deserves to spend the next 30 years in jail.

It happens a lot because of a combination of just-world fallacious thinking, intellectual incuriosity, and tribalistic vigilantism. If it makes you feel any better, it’s part of the human condition and you will never eradicate it. We are social animals by nature, and the desire for revenge, while barbaric, is perfectly understandable. In other words, people go fuckin’ *nuts *when they witness (or hell, even just assume) a violation of the social contract.

Fortunately, the justice system is designed to be relatively immune to such thinking. Except in states with the death penalty, anyway.

Possibly we just think it’s a bit messed up that you can, with impunity, get out of your car and follow an unarmed child, harassing and assaulting him, but if he fights back, you can kill him.

If it had been a blonde white girl, do you think the reaction would have been the same?

Both of those may be true, but in the context of the legal case, NEITHER MATTERS.

That’s what pisses me off so badly- we’re a nation where the rule of law is paramount, except when there’s an element of race or ethnicity is involved, and then it’s totally emotion and calls for blood (or innocence) with no rational thought involved.

Clearly because Zimmerman is a dumbshit, likes guns, and is not black, he is guilty of cold blooded murder and stalking Martin like an animal. And similarly, because Trayvon Martin’s mama loved him, and he was black, he’s clearly innocent of anything and everything, and was a model student and angel who never did a bad thing in his life, despite a lot of stuff showing that he was kind of thuggish.

Neither characterization is wholly true or false, and more importantly, neither has any bearing on the actual case.

Maybe I give people too much credit; I’d have thought people wouldn’t have been quite so idiotic about this kind of thing, but I’ve been terribly let down.

It is messed up, I’ll grant that, but it doesn’t matter in the context of the court case, and that’s what I’m pitting.

Like I said earlier, the issue should be with the laws of Florida and the retard prosecutors who brought an effectively unwinnable charge against Zimmerman, not against the verdict of the jury, who from what I can tell, made the only choice they could realistically make in light of the testimony, evidence and applicable statutes.

It is very disturbing that so many people got this one wrong, and still do.

It was fairly obvious from the beginning that no crime was committed. Even supporters of Martin seemed mostly to think that there must be some hidden or secret evidence that would come out at the trial.

But no. It was a show trial, pure and simple. The prosecutor had to go through the motions, even thought there was no evidence of any kind of actual crime.

That this went on at all is very chilling. But to see so many people still thinking that Zimmerman must be guilty of something, anything just because they really don’t like him is very scary.

It’s also disturbing the level of violence that people seem comfortable with. Many posters here have really downplayed the attack. People genuinely seem to want a society where someone breaking your nose, mounting you on the ground, and wailing on you is just fine in response to you walking up to them and asking them a question.

Well racism is the new witchcraft. Of course not to the point where Racists are burned at the stake, but still.

Apparently the DOJ has set up a tip line so that they can search for any possible evidence that Zimmerman may have said something Racist.

Well to those people, the worst possible crime is Racism. So of course Zimmerman deserves to get beaten to a pulp if he dares to disrespect the Sacred African American.

It doesn’t help when idiots like yourself continue to make up your own story and facts to suit your outrage. Your account of what happened is a LIE, not supported by any evidence presented in the trial.

If the blonde white girl assaulted Zimmerman without provocation, broke his nose and began slamming his head against the sidewalk while pinning him down, my reaction would be the same.

I didn’t watch the trial closely, but what is the evidence that Martin began an unprovoked attack on Zimmerman?

He did break the law by committing murder. His argument of self-defense is not valid because, as you say, it hinges on the question of whether he was in legitimate fear of his life. From all of the evidence, it is clear that he was not in legitimate fear of his life at the time he initiated the fight. The fact that he might have become in fear of his life during the fight is irrelevant, because he wasn’t at the time he started it.

I agree, but I would go further – people like Little Plastic Ninja are worse than idiots – they are plain evil. Why? Because they (subconsciously) choose to adopt a destructive belief simply so they can feel and show others a false sense of moral superiority.

Mine too, at least in terms of my opinion as to Zimmerman’s guilt. But if the attacker had been a blond white girl, there would not have been a trial. Because in reality, Zimmerman was being tried for Racism.

The only hard evidence we have is a shaky sequence of pre-confrontation events based on cell phone conversations and physical evidence that Zimmerman got his ass beat.

What that means is the only evidence that exists really at all about how the confrontation actually began and how it ended is the police interview Zimmerman gave. Is that proof that Martin began an unprovoked attack? Absolutely not.

But is it, taken with the physical evidence, enough that Zimmerman’s self defense claim is one reasonable possible reality? Absolutely. What that means is there is a reasonable doubt as to whether Zimmerman was guilty of any crime, and the jury correctly saw that reasonable doubt. The juror that gave the interview said she (and her fellow jurors) ultimately believed Zimmerman’s story.

That’s the job of a jury, to hear a story sometimes where you just have to make a gut level judgment call. But they have to be informed by law, and key to that is Zimmerman’s story was consistent enough with the only real evidence we had that you couldn’t say for sure that Zimmerman’s story wasn’t true. Which means you can’t say for sure that the prosecution’s story, beyond reasonable doubt, was true. In that scenario acquittal is the absolute only proper legal outcome.

Or if the person astride Zimmerman was a quadriplegic? What about then, huh? HUH? :smiley:

Let me ask a flip side question.

How would you feel about living in a State where a man can lose his liberty and be convicted of manslaughter or murder if

[li]There is no witness testimony establishing what actually happened in the confrontatoin[/li][li]There is no physical evidence actually establishing what happened in the confrontation[/li][li]There is no evidence establishing who started the confrontation[/li][li]There is no evidence the defendant committed any crimes leading up to the confrontation[/li][li]There is no point at which the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant is guilty of any crime charged[/li][/ul]

Take away all the narrative here and boil it down to those points, and if you’re still comfortable with someone being convicted in such a scenario then I can only say I’m extremely happy you didn’t create our system of criminal justice.

First of all, your first sentence is incorrect. “Murder” is not the same as “klil”. Second, there is no evidence that Zimmerman initiated the fight. Aside from that, true, he was not in fear for his life when the two came into contact—or for the purposes of making a pint to you, when he “initiated the fight”. And you know what, he didn’t shoot Trayvon then, did he. Nope. It was only after he had his nose broken and the person who broke it was on top of him banging his head against the concrete that he pulled out his gun and shot Trayvon.

I found this article quite interesting. If focuses on the instructions that were given to the jurors before deliberations. In essence, Florida’s “stand your ground” law can’t be used to justify self-defense by someone who was the initial aggressor in a conflict, but the jurors were not informed of that. If that’s all true, then I think Zimmerman’s actions before the shooting are entirely relevant, to decide if he meets the definition of “initial aggressor”.

Good God, can you just shut up? Everyone like you, do the same. I think the reason your post here has gotten under my skin is as someone who doesn’t know a great deal (on anything more than a basic level) about science I’ve always had a great deal of respect for your posts in GQ on scientific matters. But this post here tells me that your entire knowledge of this case must have come from opinion pieces or opinionated screeds posted on the internet. Nothing in your post is compatible with the evidence presented at trial or known outside of the trial.

There is no evidence he initiated the fight. There is no evidence he committed murder (that is legally speaking no longer really a matter of opinion but of fact.) You’re asserting your opinion here as if it is honest truth, and as someone who seems to respect the scientific method so much I’m a bit saddened to see you just randomly spout off misinformation on this issue with no caveats or exceptions to your words.

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but where you should have stopped reading that article is right when she wrote this:

That is where I stopped. Why? Because she’s using that to say the jury instructions were “wrong.” She’s literally saying, “it’s wrong that the jury was told if they had reasonable doubt about who started the fight, to acquit Zimmerman.” The fact that she finds a problem with acquitting someone over reasonable doubt existing means she is retarded and should probably never be read again.

Ok, let’s say Zimmerman initiated the fight by talking to Martin, and wasn’t in fear of his life at that time.

Florida law still says he can use deadly force if he becomes in fear of his life and has no avenue of escape.

So even granting your idea of what happened, Flrida law excuses Zimmerman.