(Article changed on July 20, 2013 at 08:30)
Who's Next? -- Zimmerman's acquittal places a seemingly unstable individual with an apparent hero complex back on the streets -- with his gun.
"If the law supposes that, the law is an ass -- an idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience--by experience." -- Charles Dickens, from Oliver Twist
America's much ballyhooed legal system sent a man named Michael Vick to prison for killing innocent dogs.
Yet, another man named George Zimmerman guns down an innocent human child like a dog and this same legal system sends him home to his family and gives him back his gun.
It seems the America's legal system -- touted ad nauseum by some as the "greatest legal system in the history of the world" -- has undergone yet another bad stretch. Surely no system is perfect, but any legal system with a record that includes incongruities like the outcomes of the Vick and Zimmerman cases seems to offer in and of itself prima fascie evidence that an overhaul is in order.
As it now appears, perhaps only if "Trayvon" had been the name of Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton's family dog would the current system have found the legal justification for sending Zimmerman off for a bid in some Florida prison's Michael Vick suite. But, if again, race was factored into the legal equation even that prediction would have to be considered a stretch.
But let's take race out of it and look at it in a different light.
Regardless of color, any young man's fear stemming from the sudden realization that he's being stalked by an adult, particularly one who's armed, seems to me no different from the fear that might be produced in a young girl who felt she was being stalked by a potential rapist.
Let's say that the young girl in question is a martial-arts expert and confronts her would-be assailant. If that young girl gained the upper hand in a physical struggle, would the fear she engenders in her assailant legally cancel out the young girl's fear of being raped to the point at which now, because she has the upper hand, the alleged rapist has earned the right to shoot to kill?
Based on the Zimmerman jury's verdict, that seems to be a scenario that would work in the suspected rapist's favor. A Zimmerman-type jury seems likely to hold the fear of being raped to a lesser degree of seriousness than the fear of being beaten to death or merely into submission thus forming the basis of its rationale for letting the suspected rapist to walk, and for returning to him his "rape kit."
The Zimmerman jury's not-guilty verdict was seen by many within America's black communities as a heartbreaking decision not just bereft of compassion for the victim, but also as an indication that no exercise in basic common sense was part of that jury's deliberation process. The lack of a violent response to the decision came as no surprise to me. People's shock and sadness seemed to override anger -- at least initially. I thought about how Trayvon's parents probably felt. It must have been as if they were literally experiencing the lyrics of an old song by Syl Johnson, "Is It Because I'm Black" in which Johnson plaintively sings:
"The dark brown shades of my skin, only add color to my tears. That splash against my hollow bones, and rocks my soul."