NYT Suggests Morals Have No Place in Zimmerman Court
I was one sentence in to The New York Times’ news analysis piece on Sunday, when it read:
As one top Florida defense lawyer, Michael Band, said on Sunday, ‘Trials, for better or worse, are not morality plays.’
The title of the piece — “In Zimmerman Case, Self Defense Was Hard to Topple” — sums the analysis up pretty quickly: in the rule of law, George Zimmerman’s innocence made sense.
From the start, prosecutors faced a difficult case — weak on evidence and long on outrage. Mr. Zimmerman had the power of self-defense laws on his side, and was helped by a spotty police investigation and prosecutorial missteps. The initial investigation foundered when the local prosecutor balked at bringing charges, convinced that overcoming the self-defense claims would prove impossible.
The Times nor have any media outlets I’ve encountered have written anything about how perhaps morality should play a role in trials. After all, shouldn’t justice be decided by society’s morals? Shouldn’t our ethics also be on trial in the courtroom? Why is our justice system set on decrees written by white men that must be used objectively? (Even though we know that trying to use objectivity in a racist, sexist and classist society doesn’t work very well).
The media is supposed to provoke, criticize and truly analyze our society. Instead of getting into the technicalities of self-defense laws, perhaps the media should be asking what causes fear, or what role guns, or any deadly weapon, play in getting the ‘last word’ in self defense (as Trayvon Martin’s fear of Zimmerman didn’t matter because Zimmerman defended himself lastly and lethally).
The justice system obviously isn’t working. When our morals and the law don’t match up, we know that something is wrong. And guess what? I don’t think it’s our sense of justice that is off.
The Timessurely influenced hundreds of thousands of people that read its news Sunday that Zimmerman’s case had sticky self-defense issues, and so there’s nothing we can do about it. We have to shake off our sense of injustice and wash that bad taste from our mouths, because it’s just the way trials work.
Fortunately, thousands of people took to the streets nationwide this weekend because that bad taste lingered. And they know that now is the time to discuss revolutionizing our justice system.
But those conversations will obviously have to happen without the mainstream media.