Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wading In on the Trayvon Martin Case

Six years ago, the country was met with a firestorm.

Three players of the Duke lacrosse team were accused by a black student at North Carolina Central University who worked as as stripper and escort.  She accused them of raping her repeatedly at a party.

All kinds of hell broke loose.  People hit the television screens and the talk radio waves condemning the players who had exercised white privilege and power to abuse this stripper.  They were guilty of a hate crime.  People were demanding that Duke University dole out punishment upon the players and team for this heinous act.

As public pressure mounted by the media increased, the university took action.  At first, the team was suspended for two games.  Then the coach was forced to resign.  Finally, the president of the university canceled the rest of the season for the team.

Before too long, the facts of the case started coming out.  Inconsistencies in the report filed by the woman surfaced.  Further investigation showed, she blatantly lied.  There was no rape.  The accusations were false.

But the damage had already been done by an overzealous media which (in my opinion) purposely tried to whip communities into a frenzy by its selective reporting of the facts.  Unfortunately, the lives of innocent people were damaged by this rush to judgment.

Fast forward to this year.  Tragedy hits in Sanford, Florida.

A young, unarmed black teenager--Trayvon Martin--is killed by a neighborhood watch captain--George Zimmerman--who at first is called white.  The police do not even arrest Zimmerman.

The media grabs hold of the story, selectively doles out information, and once again whips people into a mad frenzy. 

It's a hate crime.

It's an injustice.

Trayvon must be vindicated.

Marches ensue.  Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson rush in.  Even some of my fellow clergy jump on the bandwagon and wear hoodies to church to be in solidarity with those demanding justice.

All this takes place before the facts of the case are even laid out. 

Nothing has gone before the grand jury. 

Little evidence has been produced.

To begin with, none in the media investigated Zimmerman's claim of self-defense.  Only recently did police reports (which were leaked) detail Zimmerman's side of the story.  Sure, he's telling his account of the events, but there is no disputing the officers who detailed the bloody nose he had, the lacerations on the back of his head, and the grass stains on the back of his shirt which corroborated his story of being beaten by Trayvon.

Kind of shed a different light on things.

But, the rush to judgment is taking place once again.  Once again, lives are ruined by a news media which throws selective chum into the water to make the sharks go into a feeding frenzy.  And they don't give a darn about who gets hurt in the process.

Justice will be served.  It will happen when all the facts are brought forward--the witnesses consulted--and characters assessed.  It will happen if Zimmerman is indicted by a Grand Jury who has the facts--or if he is vindicated.  Let the process work.  Stop jumping on the emotional rollercoaster.  That has happened before to the detriment of justice. 

Don't let that happen again.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I hear what you are saying, and I agree that we need to look deeper. It is Lent: Let's look at ourselves. What are our own prejudices that we don't even see? At the risk of "blog hijacking," I would like to draw your attention to something I just read -- Martin Marty's most recent post on Living Lutheran.


Look at the language Marty uses: "Mary with Shudders" -- "Mary with Biceps" -- "handing the child off to Joseph".... Just how offensive is this talk to anyone with a modicum of reverence for Mary??? Maybe I should quit reading Lutheran blogs, but I feel just as offended as any Black who has just heard a put-down.

Ug. I am not perfect -- far from it -- and I am certain that Marty does not mean to be offensive, but true faith is more than just helping drunks and poor people in homeless shelters....