I recognize the vagaries of our criminal justice system. As often as not, it is about legal wording, the lawyers, and semantics as it is about justice. Could George Zimmerman have really feared for his life, even as he was being punched in the face, knowing he carried a gun? At what point in our culture did fist fights become life or death scenarios?
What kind of world would we be living in, if Mr. Zimmerman had seen the teenage Trayvon walking on a misty night, and offered him a ride home, instead of stalking him, believing Trayvon was some nefarious criminal? Or at worst, had just left well enough alone? That is the kind of world I would prefer to live in, instead of the one that we find ourselves in now.
Think on that situation for a bit. How might Trayvon have acted if Mr. Zimmerman had approached him and asked if he needed a ride? Do you think Trayvon would have acted ticked off, or felt threatened or singled out enough to react in a belligerent way? I think not. At worst he might have returned the offer with, “Hell no. Leave me alone.” Which, after all, is probably all he wanted, to be left alone.
Instead, George Zimmerman empowered himself to believe he had the right to spot, track, and confront. He got smacked in the face for it. He should have. Should Trayvon have been killed for what most of us would consider an expected reaction? It seems heavy handed to me. But to make it worse, Zimmerman is let free, to receive no real punishment for having taken a human life. Worse, he is liable to become some sort of hero to the “stand your ground” advocates. Most of his court fees were paid for with money donated to him. And I suspect that, for a while at least, that money will continue to come in, and he will be asked to speak to the news and at seminars, and will begin to feel a bit bloated about himself, because he shot an unarmed teenager.
I recognize that no system is perfect. I recognize that we cannot know every detail of what happened that night, as there were only two witnesses, and one of those is dead. But I am disheartened to know that our system cannot draw a distinction between two people, one walking, and one stalking while carrying a gun.