I have always been bothered by public outrage, no matter what the issue, because it seems to me to be almost always based on emotions rather than the facts of the incident. Here are some random observations that occur to me about the current controversy, the way it was/is being handled in the press, the activities of "the activists", and the decision by the President to insert himself, and members of his administration in the issue.
That Trayvon Martin was killed is certainly tragic. But that his death was the result of him being stalked and murdered, as the prosecution claimed, is an argument that the jury found not to be compelling. Moreover, that Martin was targeted and stalked because of his race as some (The Rev. Al Sharpton, et al) have suggested, also seems to have been refuted by the FBI investigation into Zimmerman's background and the results of the trial itself. But the Al Sharptons of the world are not the only people who refused to accept the results of the trial. After the verdict was announced, I watched a news conference conducted by the state's prosecution team in which they stated several times that they respected the jury's verdict and then they, like petulent teenagers, whined and complained that the verdict was not correct. I expected one guy in particular to stamp his foot and say, "That jury was SO unfair..." and then threaten to hold his breath until he turned blue. In my view, these guys had no cause to denigrate the jury. After all, these were the lawyers who lost their case---maybe if they had done a better job they would have gotten a verdict more to their liking, But then again, maybe, as I believe, their case was so weak that they never should have gone for the charge of murder two in the first place when another charge (like aggravated assault) might have given them a better shot at a conviction. Indeed, I think they recognized the weakness of their own case--and the proof of that assertion is their motion, agreed to by the judge, that the jury be instructed to also consider the lesser included offense of manslaughter during their deliberations. They even tried to get the judge to instruct the jury to consider a charge of child abuse because the deceased was 17 years old! That, my friends, is a team of prosecutors grasping at straws. The fact is that, under Florida law (that is, the so called "Stand Your Ground Law"), as it exists and existed at the time of the incident, Geoge Zimmerman could legally use deadly force to protect himself if he believed himself to be in mortal danger. That is the law that the jury was charged to apply when considering their verdict. You may not like that law. And you may believe it should be struck down. That's fine and, if you feel strongly about it, you should do whatever you can to encourage its repeal and the repeal of similar laws in other states. But you cannot disregard it for purposes of this case just because the person killed was a teenager and black.
I don't know how this will all shake out in the end, but I suspect that Trayvon Martin's family will file a wrongful death suit against Mr. Zimmerman. They have a perfect right to do that, but, in addition, the Reverend Al and his outraged followers are pressing for a Federal Civil Rights indictment to be brought against Geoge Zimmerman. I hope that effort falls on its face and, given the results of the FBI investigation cited above, I don't think the DOJ can make the case. But, while we're on the subject of Reverend Sharpton, his love of street protests, demonstrations, and his often repeated mantra that the deck is stacked against a black man in the US Judicial System, I wonder where he was during the O.J. Simpson trial. As I recall it, "The Juice" was acquitted and black people were both literally and figuratively dancing in the streets. They clearly felt, as one woman who heard the verdict while she was in the audience of the Oprah Winfrey Show put it, "I think justice was done." Apparently some of us only think the justice system is fair when we get the verdict we want.
That leads me to the comments on this case by national level leaders including the President and the Attorney General. Early on in the case, President Obama made the statement that if he had a son, that child would look like Trayvon Martin! I can't think of anything more inappropriate for the "Leader of the Free World" to say especially before any investigations had been completed and charges brought, let alone before the trial was convened. The President's remark alone, made Trayvon Martin the more sympathetic character in this drama and, by implication, said that whoever killed him was guilty of a crime. Now, I will not suggest that Mr. Obama, himself, sees the world through racist glasses, but this is the second time that he has made premature and very definative public statements about a black person being wronged before all the facts were in. The first instance was when he accused Boston police of acting "stupidly" in an incident involving a pugnacious Harvard professor. That little dust-up resulted in the famous "beer summit" once the Chief Executive found out his assumptions were all wrong. Better to have kept silent in the first place---at least until he could be sure of what happened.
Then we have the post-trial comments by both the President and his Attorney General. The remarks that I heard them make were couched in terms of being able to identify with black men who have experienced being "followed through department stores" or "hearing car doors lock as they approach" or having to have "be careful how you dress and behave" talks with their sons. I'm sure this state of affairs is intimidating to those young black people who have been subjected to it, but blacks are not the only people who get intimidated in inter-racial situations. The behavior of the New Black Panthers at various polling places during the last election leaps to mind as an example. There is racisim in our country to be sure, but make no mistake, it exists on both sides. There was the much publicized uproar recently over Paula Deen's admitted use of the "N-word" and that admission cost her a lucrative career. But how about slurs like "cracker", "honky", "whitey" and "redneck" when applied to white people by blacks? Are they not racist? Or are we saying that only whites can be racists? I'm just not sure how much good it does for the President and his Attorney General to address the issue of race in a ways that makes them seem, by their words and demeanor, to favor one side over the other. As black men and political leaders, they are in a unique position to be able to help the country make real progress on the devisive issue of race and to avoid the pitfalls to that progress represented by continued sensational press coverage from both the left and the right wings and race baiting by the Al Sharptons of the world.