(alternately titled: Why Race IS Still A Big Issue, Whether Smug Caucasians Will Own It Or Not)
I’m about to let the legal cat out of the bag: not guilty is not synonymous with innocent.
Everyone say that again. Not guilty is not the same thing as innocent.
That’s how you have Casey Anthonys and OJ Simpsons. I don’t think anyone would argue that either of them were completely innocent of the crimes with with they were charged, but they still went free. Why? Because we have an amazing legal system in this country that says you are innocent until you are proven guilty. Not just proven a little bit. Proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
That was the problem with Zimmerman and Casey Anthony and OJ. While they appeared to be guilty as sin, the state couldn’t meet their burden. They simply could not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to twelve (or six) jurors that the person sitting at the table across the room was guilty of each and every element of their crime.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather live in a country that allows a few guilty folks to go free than one that allows one innocent person to be incarcerated. That is a chance I’m willing to take, and to be honest, it’s one that everyone should be willing to take. I’d much rather err on the side of innocence.
Aristotle (and Elle Woods, if memory serves) once said that the law is reason, free from passion. Therein lies the problem of the modern legal system. Not that seemingly guilty defendants go free, but that the media arbitrarily sensationalizes certain cases that they deem worthy of the ratings. The media plays a large part in the formation of armchair lawyers- those that feel they know everything about the law from watching a few minutes of Jane Velez-Mitchell.
(one. armchair lawyers make me stabby. two. Jane Velez-Mitchell makes me stabby. in a very Nancy Grace sort of way)
As a whole, we are very, very bad about leaving emotion out of the courtroom. It’s human nature to internalize the things we see, and the media plays on that. They play us for their gain. It’s something to keep in mind the next go-around (and you know there will be a next time): that our feelings toward a particular outcome don’t amount to a hill of beans unless we’re one of the twelve people sitting in the courtroom. The media will spin you in a fury of emotions, but your emotions shouldn’t play into the facts.
All that should matter are facts.
And now the mighty elephant in the George Zimmerman room: race.
I saw a meme on Facebook yesterday that made my face flush. It was a picture of OJ Simpson, and the meme read Remember how white people rioted at OJ’s acquittal? ME NEITHER.
There are very few things in this big wide world that will make me angrier than a white dude who complains about the woes and backlash of discrimination based on the color of skin. To me, it’s analogous to a man who proclaims he’s pro-life. Of course he is. He has the luxury of never having to be pro-choice. It’s easy to cling to one camp when you’ll never be forced to need the other. For me, anyway, it’s forehead-thumping stupid that white folks will say that racism is now favoring anyone but the white folks.
I mean … really.
Am I being punked?
How about this, white folks? Be happy we don’t have a Miss White America. Black pride has never sprung from a need to celebrate being black, but merely from wanting to co-exist with everyone without fear of small-minded persecution based on the color of their skin. Instead of asking idiotic, smirk-filled rhetorical questions and making a caucasian victim where, quite honestly, there are none, perhaps we should be thankful that we don’t have the need for a White Pride movement.