George Zimmerman, Stand Your Ground Laws, and a Broken System

Literally almost every website is plastered with posts regarding the George Zimmerman Trial and its subsequent verdict, announced yesterday.

I’ve read a number of interesting articles, a majority of which have not been completely objective in tone. I’ve always believed that news should be as objective as possible, but in a case where issues that inevitably polarize a population have come into play, it is impossible to avoid expressing leanings, either subtly– or argumentatively in opinion pieces. Articles sympathetic towards Zimmerman usually cite the Florida Stand Your Ground Statutes, while the harangues on the President of the Neighborhood Watch talk about the racial component endemic to this case. However, I have not come across a lot of content that puts the spotlight on the broken system.

Yes, there are petitions going around, asking lawmakers to examine the breach of civil rights, but here’s the thing: the trial is over. Zimmerman has been acquitted; the implied value is that what he did was legal. Yes, this is an indicator that we are not, in fact, living in “post-racial America,” but the point is that there is something more profoundly wrong than the perpetuation of racism; it’s that the legal system in place is broken.

None us were there on the night in question, but here is what we do know: we currently have a system that allowed a man to legally disobey directions from authorities, allowed him to legally carry and conceal a firearm, allowed him to stalk and confront someone he deemed “suspicious” by his own definition (bigoted or not), and legally use deadly force against an unarmed teenager.

I think this speaks volumes about our notions of self-defense, delusions on white privilege, ignorance regarding racism, and views on gun control. Those topics could all be explored in depth in separate articles, but I mention them here only briefly as something to consider when reading reactions (negative or positive) to the verdict.

One last fact:

manslaughter, [man-slaw-ter], noun;The unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice. The unlawful killing of a human being without any deliberation, which may be involuntary, in the commission of a lawful act without due caution and circumspection.

But in light of the verdict, the definition is now irrelevant, isn’t it.

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