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The George Zimmerman Verdict

July 13, 2013

Two years ago I wrote this piece on the Casey Anthony verdict:

Two years later, not much has changed. Something that is ultimately a non-story for 300+ million people has saturated our FB newsfeeds, our 24/7 media outlets, Twitter, whatever.

What I didn’t think about with the Casey Anthony verdict that crossed my mind this time around is the irony of the timing. Here we are, nine days past celebrating the 4th of July, the day when so many people are posting on their social networks about how awesome “‘Murrica” is and how great of a nation we are and whatever, only now our social networks are all about how the system is unjust, and how clearly this was a prime example of how racist Americans still are. One comment I read amounted to basically claiming that the outcome of the case just means that non-blacks are free to kill blacks, because the judicial system will let them off the hook.

Now, I realize that in a sense, the fact that we can bitch and moan about the injustice (perceived or otherwise) of this verdict is part of the American way. It’s “free speech”. It’s our right. Okay, sure.

Now, I do think the Zimmerman trial tells us a lot about ourselves and the way we perceive each other. I’m sure there are people who think that anyone who could believe Zimmerman was innocent of his charges is clearly racist. I know I’ve read plenty of comments by people who still think Trayvon Martin was a 12 or 13 year old kid, not a 17 year old high schooler. Some of this is because of what we buy in from the media. Some of this is because ultimately we are selective believers. As a whole, people do not want to process information that doesn’t align with their own belief systems (political, religious, whatever). Everything we take in (reading, listening, seeing) goes through that belief filter if you will.

Of course, at the end of the day, I still believe what I wrote about Casey Anthony holds true here. That the only reason we know about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman is because national media outlets decided it would be a good story to run. It boosted ratings and distracted us from our own lives. It was on TV so it was easy to pay attention to. At least one (probably more) media outlet was live streaming the trial.

but, at the end of the day, when someone a few blocks away dies tragically, or is murdered (justly or unjustly), we will look at ourselves and say, “man, I need to get out of this neighborhood”, and a week later we will have moved on with our lives.

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