Thanks to the media, the case of George Zimmerman has turned into one of the most politicized issues in recent memory. The social justice movement has latched onto Trayvon Martin as their martyr. In their eyes he was a child gunned down by the vilest of white men simple because he was black. Not to be outdone, the political right has latched onto Zimmerman as a paragon of community protection. To them Zimmerman was the victim of a vicious, and entirely unprovoked, attack while he patrolled his neighborhood to keep everybody safe.
As with most highly politicized issues, the truth lies somewhere in the middle:
Trayvon Martin is dead, George Zimmerman has been acquitted, and millions of people are outraged. Some politicians are demanding a second prosecution of Zimmerman, this time for hate crimes. Others are blaming the tragedy on “Stand Your Ground” laws, which they insist must be repealed. Many who saw the case as proof of racism in the criminal justice system see the verdict as further confirmation. Everywhere you look, people feel vindicated in their bitter assumptions. They want action.
But that’s how Martin ended up dead. It’s how Zimmerman ended up with a bulletproof vest he might have to wear for the rest of his life. It’s how activists and the media embarrassed themselves with bogus reports. The problem at the core of this case wasn’t race or guns. The problem was assumption, misperception, and overreaction. And that cycle hasn’t ended with the verdict. It has escalated.
Or, to quote Uncle, “Two idiots tried to out idiot each other. One was successful.”
Both sides have clung to their hero as a perfect person that was made a victim through no fault of his own. Truthfully, bad decisions were made by both individuals. It’s unfortunate but eventually enough bad decisions will accumulate to create a situation where one or more people die. While I don’t believe Zimmerman was guilty of murder or manslaughter I do believe he made some very poor choices that night, but none of them had anything to do with guns or racism.