Consider the Implications if Zimmerman Had Been Convicted

Consider the Implications if Zimmerman Had Been Convicted

The punditocracy is bursting with outrage from those who allege that George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin means that future killers have license to “profile” young black men and kill them. That absurd claim not only distorts what is known about Trayvon Martin’s death, but fans the flames of hatred–and ignores the bad, and far more real, consequences had Zimmerman been convicted.

Zimmerman was only charged with a crime because of irrational hatred fanned by the mainstream media, by career race hustlers like Al Sharpton, and by the habitual political opportunism of President Barack Obama. Police had initially declined to charge him–not because they are racist, but because he had a credible claim of self-defense that would make prosecution under Florida law a very difficult prospect. They were right.

But then the Associated Press mistakenly referred to Zimmerman as “white.” And then Al Sharpton, acting in a tripartite role–informal White House adviser, MSNBC host, and community organizer–made a cause out of Martin’s death. CNN, NBC, NPR, ABC and the New York Times–to name just a few–omitted and/or fabricated facts in the case. The President weighed in, saying his hypothetical son would look like Trayon.

Once the prosecution decided to pursue the case, it did so with a vengeance–omitting exculpatory evidence when it filed exaggerated charges of second-degree murder, and later failing to provide the defense with a report about text messages and images found on Martin’s cell phone. The judge refused to admit that evidence in a testy exchange with the defense, creating a basis for appeal if Zimmerman had been convicted.

The precedent that Zimmerman’s conviction would have created would have been that if biased journalists, career demagogues, and politicians decide a defendant is guilty, that defendant is not entitled to enjoy the presumption of innocence or the basic rights of a fair trial. If Martin had been white, arguably, the groups arrayed against Zimmerman would almost certainly have come to his defense in this malicious prosecution.

Yet they chose to foment hatred and anguish. They demanded a guilty verdict, the law be damned–and many otherwise reasonable, learned legal experts joined in, not arguing the facts of the case, but allowing their emotions and agendas to carry them away. The consequence of Zimmerman’s conviction would have been that all of us, black and white, would be living in a society not governed by the rule of law, but by the mob.