By the time you read this column, the jury may have ruled on the highly publicized and racially charged George Zimmerman trial currently under way. Last year, shortly after the events in Sanford, Fla. that took Trayvon Martin’s life, I wrote a column on civility and attempted to point out how current-day attitudes and actions could have played into the events.
Here is a portion of what I wrote in March 2012:
“We’ve heard about the young teen in Sanford, Florida gunned down by a Neighborhood Watch volunteer. More details will be forth coming as to the true events that took place that fateful day, but the events that resulted in the tragic death of the teenager still revolve around the fear of youthful activities and something as common place and innocent as a ‘hoodie’ sweatshirt. Regardless of whether the events were the result of a misunderstanding, an unlawful shooting or an act of self defense they were put into motion by the current affairs of the day. Those types of events are going to become more common place as children show up in schools with guns, act out their frustrations in public and become what they see, hear and are exposed to through our multi-media environment.”
Since that time, we’ve heard a lot of opinions on what happened that night. Nearly all of are based on our predetermined prejudices based on many factors. It’s hard to look at just the facts in a case like this, where only one living person really knows what happened. With limited facts, conjecture and personal prejudices lead to assumptions of what took place. Jurors will be asked to do the near impossible, which is to look strictly at the facts of the case giving no weight to those personal positions on race, attitudes, experiences, and political beliefs.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.