Why the Acquittal of George Zimmerman Was a Good Thing

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Several months have passed since a jury in Florida acquitted George Zimmerman of the charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The decision was sadly unsurprising to many. But to many, including myself, it still filled our hearts with anger. Many of us felt the decision was unjust. After the trial, we were left with nothing but the bitter irony of one’s life undeservedly lost and one’s innocence undeservedly gained. The worst case scenario for Trayvon Martin supporters following the trial was to watch George Zimmerman walk free. Which is exactly what he did.

I have wrestled with my own emotions, repressing the pent-up anger I have towards Zimmerman’s “innocence”. My opinion of the jury’s decision is that it was a systematic failure of due process (They were clearly misled by the jury instructions). Yet, despite my strong feelings, a small part of me is convinced that it was for the best. Here’s why.

Following his acquittal in July, Zimmerman hoped to fade back into society, unnoticed. However, despite his efforts, Zimmerman has been arrested not once, but twice for violent domestic disputes.

In September, at the home of Zimmerman’s parents-in-law, his estranged wife Shellie called 9-1-1 reporting that Zimmerman had smashed her iPad and punched her father in the nose. Zimmerman was not charged following the incident. Allegedly, there was video evidence of the fight on the iPad, which was conveniently destroyed beyond repair. The argument occurred only days after Shellie announced she was divorcing Zimmerman due to his increasingly aggressive behavior and also because she was starting to doubt his innocence in the death of Trayvon Martin (her words, not mine).

Two months later, it happened again. This time, at the residence of Zimmerman’s (now ex) girlfriend–Samantha Scheibe. This time, he was charged with aggravated assault plus one count of misdemeanor battery. Zimmerman allegedly pushed Scheibe out of her home after threatening her with a shotgun and then barricaded himself inside until police arrived. According to the judge, there was an unreported incident ten days earlier wherein Zimmerman choked Scheibe after a similar dispute.

Most people (normally, including myself) look at Zimmerman’s recent behavior and are refueled by anger, as the truth slowly reveals itself; a truth they have known all along. It has become increasingly clear that Zimmerman was likely the aggressor on the night he shot Travon Martin. Subsequently, causing insult to injury months after the trial ended.

I shared this sentiment at first. Even though Zimmerman had finally been charged with a crime, even though the judge banned him from using firearms, it was barely recompense for the life he took away and the lives he changed forever.

It should be known that I’m inherently cynical about almost everyone and everything. But despite my cynicism–in rare form–I am optimistic. Because, if anything, this proves we [supporters of Trayvon Martin] were right. I consider all of those around the country who supported Zimmerman (a lot more than you would think). People who actually searched deep-down within themselves and came to the conclusion that it was justified for a man to pursue and kill an unarmed teen out of suspicion. I consider these simple-minded American folk–in lieu of recent events–and I smile. I think about the jurors–who are sitting at home watching this on the news–and I smile. Because now they must witness how wrong they were. Now they must bare witness to the true character of a man they wrongfully defended.

If Zimmerman had been found guilty for the murder of Trayvon Martin, he would have been locked away for the world to forget. In accordance, he would have ostensibly become a martyr for everyone who defended him. Sure, hypothetically, justice would be served if he spent the rest of his life in prison. But the perceived ambiguity surrounding whether or not Zimmerman was actually the aggressor that evening, would continue to perpetuate the same uncertainty surrounding Trayvon’s death. Instead, Zimmerman’s persona has been revealed: someone who is (undoubtedly) gun-obsessed, irrational, and violent. The prosecutor’s couldn’t have painted a better picture themselves.

A reaffirmation of our beliefs is a small victory in the grand scheme of things (not to mention, self-satisfying). In a way, the recent events are disheartening. Because Zimmerman’s behavior only confirms what many of us have believed for so long. It’s easy to become further enraged about the fact he was acquitted in the first place. But, at the same time, I believe it’s subtle retribution. If the jury couldn’t incriminate him, at least he’s doing it to himself on public display. It’s certainly better than Zimmerman simply fading into obscurity, enjoying his freedom unhindered.

The big problem with a disguise is that, however hard you try, its always a self-portrait. In other words, George Zimmerman can’t stop himself from being George Zimmerman. Perhaps, having to live with himself, is an existential punishment to fit the crime.

To all those who might one-day contemplate the fate of someone like this:

Think hard about your decision. This is what being wrong looks like.

zimmyUPDATE: Zimmerman charges dropped (New York Times)

Obama Skeet Shooting Photo Released By White House

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skeet

The New Republic: “Have you ever fired a gun?”

President Obama: “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.”

In a recent interview with The New Republic, President Obama made brief remarks on his history of gun use. As the above transcript suggests, the President admitted to firing a weapon “all the time” at Camp David. Accordingly, the public sphere–fueled by the emphatic mainstream media–dissected this particular quote as a lie. Because “all the time” would suggest Obama is pro-gun, which in turn, would suggest he ISN’T actually a warlock who can disassemble an assault rifle simply by using black magic. If the President had only redacted the words “all the time” perhaps there wouldn’t have been an impending controversy. Alas, this is American politics. Taking things wildly out-of-context is the name of the game.

The fact that the White House thought it was strategically necessary to release this photo is demoralizing. It’s the same pandering that the White House obliged “birthers” with, when they released Obama’s long-form birth certificate. Will the Democrats ever learn that there is no satisfying their accusers? More importantly, will they ever learn to stop allowing radical ideologues from taking U.S. politics for ransom?

Strategically, the release of the photo coincides with a wave of fervent accusations that President Obama is strictly anti-gun, amidst talk in D.C. of expanding regulations on firearms in the U.S. Pro-gun supporters are convinced Obama is hell-bent on diminishing their 2nd amendment right–the right to bear arms. The truth is, they couldn’t be more off-base. But that’s besides the point. The fact is, the White House perceived this zeitgeist as posing a threat to the administration. Releasing this photo is essentially the equivalent of a surrender. Sure, they proved Obama actually fired a weapon before, but the White House was coaxed into the release. They were coaxed, not by a majority of rationally concerned citizens, but instead, by bigots and imbeciles. Not to mention, the White House has already released a photo of Obama carrying a gun during 2011, at his daughter Sasha’s birthday party:

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If it can’t kill someone, it doesn’t count. Duh.

The ostensible figurehead of the pro-gun rallying cry is Wayne LaPierre. The executive V.P. of the NRA (National Rifle Association) is an advocate for 2nd amendment rights as well as a staunch opponent of the Obama administration (the NRA donated $15 million to Republican candidates in an effort to oust President Obama from office in 2012). LaPierre and his cohorts suggests that limiting the rights of citizens is an overreach of executive power. They would be correct, if that’s what the Obama administration was planning. However, in contrast to what the far-right believes, the anti-gun measurements would basically accomplish only two things: 1.) a stricter assault weapons ban (including high-capacity magazines), and 2.) universal background checks.

The purpose of universal background checks is to help restrict citizens with a history of mental health issues from purchasing a firearm. A reasonable statute, considering most perpetrators of mass shootings have a history of mental health issues in one form or another. However, the NRA has argued against this, stating the mental health lobby and federal laws have prevented the names of people with potentially dangerous mental health problems from being put into a federal database. A reasonable argument. The nature of the Hippocratic oath deems the possibility of a national database impractical. The argument is certainly justified.

What isn’t justified is the resistance to the assault weapons ban. Let’s break this down. First, list as many rationale purposes you can think of for owning a firearm in the U.S.: hunting, protection, law enforcement/military. Personally, I cannot rationalize any other purpose. Next, list as many purposes you can think of for owning an assault weapon: law enforcement/military. I think that’s it. I’m not convinced you need an automatic weapon for protection since there exists a plethora of semiautomatic weapons on the market that will do just that (protect you). And I’m certainly not convinced, in the United States, that one would ever require an automatic weapon to hunt for sport (unless it’s Bigfoot).

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“Let’s kill some fuckin deer!”

Some Americans have trouble understanding the definition of freedom in the context of their guaranteed civil liberties. They don’t understand that freedom requires rules to realistically function in society. Freedom without limitation is anarchy. Yet, some remain feeling entitled to believe that “freedom” in this country is black and white: all or nothing. These same people will try and convince you that the exaggerated melodrama they propose is the hard truth. They will have you believe that a president, acting responsibly in the face of an epidemic in America, is a fascist. When in reality, the far-right pro-gun advocates are simply using the relevance of a national tragedy to advertise their polarized political viewpoints. It reveals an uncompromising selfishness in the administration’s opponents–that speaks volumes of their character.

The United States accounts for more annual firearm deaths than any other country in the entire world. There has never been a more appropriate time to realize that “freedom” in America is not boundless and requires concrete, longstanding limitations. Regulation cannot be nonexistent. It is a necessity in a democratic society–not a causation of our government devolving into a dictatorship, as some would like to believe:

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Ted Nugent: pioneer of American freedom

In the end, it doesn’t matter what is or isn’t justified. There is no amount of justification the Obama administration can muster that will appease their opponents. The administration enacted federal regulations in response to Sandy Hook, so the far-right called them anti-gun. Obama claimed he shoots skeet, so the far-right demanded photographic proof. The administration offers proof, so the far-right alleges the photo is fake because there doesn’t appear to be any ‘kick-back’ when the shot was fired, nor was there any eyewitness account (true story).

There is no winning this game. The functionality of our government is structured by a symbiosis of partisan bullshit. Still, we wonder why American politics rarely accomplishes anything besides incompetence anymore. Allow this to offer insight.