by Evan Zenobia
Among the many controversies that erupted over the last few weeks, two really stand out to me because, together, they really say a lot about the state of American justice.
The first is about the acquittal of child-killer George Zimmerman. A Florida jury stacked with gated-community white women found that Zimmerman, who went after the 17 year-old Trayvon Martin with a loaded gun against police instructions was cleared of all charges. And even though a 911 call recording shows that Martin screamed in distress for 30 seconds before Zimmerman pulled the trigger, the media is still busy painting him as a tragic hero, cheering for his acquittal, slandering Martin, and insisting that he was merely a noble and principled neighbourhood watcher who, at worst made a mistake and at best was a victim in his virtuous cause.
The second controversy surrounds the appearance of suspected Boston bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s sexy headshot on the cover of Rolling Stone. All sorts of public personalities lashed out in indignant outrage, calling the cover insensitive and offensive and whining that the magazine inappropriately glorified.
Despite the outcry, the Rolling Stone story, as Scott’s Written Words illustrates concisely, amounts to little more than outright character assassination. Rolling Stone isn’t alone in this attitude. Many icons on the American left such as Bill Maher and Lawrence O’Donnell have joined in assuming Tsarnaev’s guilt.
And here’s what’s wrong with this picture.
We KNOW that Zimmerman killed Martin. We know he decided to stalk Martin, and we know he shot him. Of course, they didn’t shut down an entire city to hunt Zimmerman down and put him in a coma. But the right-wing media won’t stop lionizing him, going so far as to float out a story about some post-trial heroics on his part.
But in Tsarnaev’s case, the evidence is much more threadbare. He is an accused terrorist. He has pleaded not guilty. Now, there’s this whole principle called innocent until proven guilty, and it’s only served as a cornerstone of Western civilization. Yet the media doesn’t care. They’ve decided he’s guilty. Judge, jury and executioner, and they’re not even pretending he has the right, nevermind the chance, to make his case.
Good job America. Good fucking job. Killing Black kids is fine, and immigrants get character assassination in lieu of basic legal rights. Way to go.
But hey, maybe Tsarnaev could just use the stand your ground defense.