Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beyond Reasonable Doubt?

The internet has overflowed with news and comment on the trial and jury's verdict on George Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin. I guess, though I haven't seen or heard any other media on the topic, that TV and radio will have overflowed too.

I haven't felt qualified to comment, let alone to judge, so haven't mentioned the matter before now. From what I read at the time of the incident, it appeared there would be great difficulty at the trial in deciding exactly what had happened, what were the the attitudes and motives of both individuals involved, one of them being dead, so unable to present his own evidence. How could any jury come to a certain conclusion "beyond reasonable doubt" in a case such as this?

The best piece I've read this week is written by Arthur Silber at the blog Once Upon a Time: Stop Doing the Vicious Work of the Ruling Class. Mr Silber minces no words, ever, on any topic. If, until now a passing reader has come to their own conclusion on the Zimmerman verdict, Silber's piece might supplement and modify their views way or t'other. His final paragraphs :

The Zimmerman case is yet another in an endless series of distractions. It is another bauble to be tossed around by the ever-busy writers and "activists" of this country's political factions. It is a means of fragmenting and splitting the people's political power, which would be far more meaningful -- and far more powerful -- if the warring factions could only be motivated to form strategic alliances. All those energies are safely directed into a non-threatening pathway -- while the ruling class continues to consolidate and expand its power over every one of us. To the extent the right and left play their parts with such enthusiasm, they do the ruling class's bidding. Most of those on the right and the left have enthusiastically placed themselves in service to the State, and the majority of them have no understanding whatsoever of their grievous failing.

At this point, I almost feel it's beside the point to blame the ruling class for this kind of thing. (Note: I continue to blame and condemn the ruling class without mercy.) What appalls me is how easy it is to distract the American public with incidents like this. Most Americans have been trained very thoroughly. The bell is rung, and they eagerly run to their designated positions. While they are entirely consumed with playing their meaningless roles in the affair of the moment, they pay no heed to the hell that is rising around them.

They'll finally recognize that hell soon enough, but only when it is far too late to do anything to stop it. From that perspective, I can certainly agree that the Trayvon Martin case is a terrible tragedy. But it not only the tragedy of one life ended far too soon. It is the ongoing tragedy of this nation, as it plummets into the nightmare from which there is no awakening.

HBO quite often is on the ball, ready at the drop of a hat to present old movies relevant to current events. On Monday evening they showed American History X. This 1998 film had an award winning performance by Edward Norton. It is the story of a young neo-Nazi, and his...erm... re-education. The film's storyline reminded me a little of another movie I've mentioned here in the past, Steel Toes , the post's title was Hatred: "the madness of the heart." Steel Toes (2006) was, for me, a much classier movie than American History X; it co-starred David Strathairn one of my favourite actors. Dialogue in both films, at times, made my skin crawl with the horror of such intense hatred carried by what appeared to have been otherwise intelligent individuals. I guess it's necessary to have one's nose rubbed into such horror to fully appreciate just how evil such hatred can be. I wish everyone could see these two movies - once a year perhaps - as dire reminders.

Whether some lesser, dilute, or modified version of the kind of intense hatred described in those two films was present in George Zimmerman must not have been clear to the jury members during his trial. In truth, only Zimmerman himself knows the answer.

I don't know how much of the neo-Nazi mindset is still around in the USA, whether it has, perhaps, morphed to a slightly different guise with different targets. I suspect a version of it remains in pockets of certain areas. Discussing this with my husband, he made the point that it's a different type of racism from that known only too well in The Deep South. It does seem that way to me too.....(sigh) though we need two varieties of this rotten disease of mankind.


mike said...

The "little stuff" tends to erupt in a volcanic fashion more readily, much like many little rain drops that eventually flood the banks of a river...or the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. Religious and racial fervor are typically the source of the greatest aggravation, perhaps due to centuries of irritation.

An African-American's mother issued a reprimand to her intoxicated son that had just been stopped by the CA Highway Patrol. The mother was shoved and then attacked a policeman. This started the infamous Watts Riots of 1965 that brutally escalated across America.

The incidental video-taping of Rodney King's arrest and beating re-ignited a maelstrom of hatred. The resulting police acquittals led to the destructive 1992 LA riots.

1969, New York City gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn had enough police intimidation and rebelled enough to force the police to retreat from their raid of the and mayhem ensued for days as the riot gained attention and support.

Wiki has an entertaining "List of Riots"...most are pedestrian in the sense of each incident's ranking of importance with greater events of the time. My favorite is the "Nylon Riots" of 1945-46:

"The first riot occurred in September when a small post-war shipment of stockings went on limited sale around the country. Stores were flooded with mobs of women, clamoring to get their hands on a pair of nylons. The riots then grew in severity. In November, 30,000 women reportedly lined up in New York; 40,000 women in Pittsburgh queued up for a mere 13,000 pairs. A headline in Augusta, Georgia read “Women Risk Life and Limb in Bitter Battle for Nylons” and went on to detail how crowds clamored into the store, knocking down shelves and displays along the way.

News of the riots was all over the papers and magazines. It was declared that no other commodity had ever received as much free advertising in the history of the newspaper industry. The press reported outrageous instances of hair-pulling, hysterical women fighting tooth and nail for a pair of the prized stockings. The shortage persisted into 1946 but by March, Du Pont was finally able to ramp up production and began churning out 30 million pairs of stockings a month. Widespread availability of the stockings ended the period of ‘Nylon Riots’."

“All he knew was that you couldn't hope to try for the big stuff, like world peace and happiness, but you might just about be able to achieve some tiny deed that'd make the world, in a small way, a better place. Like shooting someone.” Terry Pratchett

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

we have a judicial system and we use it even when it isnt needed, many times to imprison the innocent or with a high powered enough lawyer to let go free the guilty..

there was a sherrif with 27 years of experience beginning as a beat cop and working his way up in charge that night who saw all the evidence within 45 minutes of the act committed.. the media played with this case from moment one for their own greed- they've made millions~! we've spent millions on the trail in many ways the " normal folks" dont understand.

where are the protests, the riots, the media covered demands
for the original sheriff and 3 of his deputies== who got it right from night one by the way- to be immediately reinstated to their former positions- and compensated back pay while off the job as well as fees for their humilation and loss of their" up till then" stellar reputation on the job?

of course that isnt going to happen cause they have no group to fight for them- to gather in the streets and make demands. They are just your everyday working joe's who keep this country running and can easily be replaced in favor of whoever the media deems correct.

this is the sort of episode that always reminds me-- they are shining a mighty light on this one act so we wont notice all thats going on in the shadows.. keeping this going means big money in only a few pockets and as usual the american public is too stupid and easily led like sheep to slaughter to notice..

Twilight said...

mike ~ I'm sure you're right - centuries of irritation and the strong lead given by media, no doubt led themselves by Powers That Be.

Interesting list of riots - thanks.
They erupted without the aid of Twitter, Facebook etc. too!

Nylons! I remember them! I recall during World War 2 in Britain American forces stationed in England would procure supplies of nylons for the girls they met, as a come-on. We tiny kiddiwinks got chewing gum - slung from the back of their troop trucks as they passed by. Older kids would call out "Got any gum chum?" :-)

Good ol' Pratchett - such a cynic, but so brilliant!

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ I'd have hated to have been a member of the jury at the trial.

This has been a veritable media circus. I wonder, had the incident occurred at some other point in time, if it's have received more than a single article locally and a paragraph or two nationally? There has been so much other stuff going on which, in my view warranted far more media attention....the death of journalist Michael Hastings in a very peculiar car crash for example.

Your last paragraph hits the nail on the head, Sonny!

Twilight said...

not "if it's have"

I meant to type

"would it have"

Diane said...

CBS' "60 Minutes" reported last Sunday that the Zimmerman Defense Fund was created by ABC who also funded the defense's expert testimonies, 37 in all. Allegedly, the attorneys were paid nothing as of yet, will collect when the movie and book deals go through. Distraction, indeed.

mike (again) said...

@Diane: I can't find any online reference to substantiate your comment that ABC helped fund Zimmerman's defense. Nothing about this on 60 Minutes site, either. There are implications that ABC MAY HAVE paid for the "Zimmerman's bloodied head" photos taken the night of the shooting.

I can't argue that if you saw this on 60 Minutes, then you saw this on 60 Minutes, but could you provide more info or reference? Thanks.

R J Adams said...

Interestingly, in my opinion, the guilty one was neither Zimmerman, nor Martin. The true culprit was the gun strapped round Zimmerman's hips. Armed with that weapon, Zimmerman felt sufficiently powerful to ignore the police request and follow Martin. He was secure in the knowledge that gun would ultimately protect him. Had he been unarmed, I don't believe he would have followed Martin. Instead, he would have waited in his vehicle for the police to arrive. By this time, Martin would have been safely home in his father's fiancee's house, so the police would have left and Zimmerman would have returned to his own home. The whole tragic event would never have occurred.

Anonymous said...

RJ: If Zimmerman hadn't been armed he'd probably be dead or in a coma. Did you not see the photos of the bleeding wounds on the back of his head and his broken bleeding nose? The other tragedy is that the black community is still not doing anything to address their subculture of gangsta glorification, school and work failure, teen pregnancy and fatherlessness, and out of control youth. There's a simple rule that worked well in first grade and still does-keep your hands to yourself.

mike (again) said...

@Anonymous: Here's another simple rule that works well in life...don't stalk another person or you're likely to end-up with a bleeding nose and a cut to the back of your head. Another simple rule is to not stereotype race, or you might end-up a stalker.

Twilight said...

Diane ~ As time passes I have less and less respect for the media, all of it -other than for some independent bloggers around the net.

Twilight said...

mike ~ It's not surprising that things have become blurry and impossible to keep track of who said what and when. Whether ABC paid for...whatever...or not I find it easy to believe that they could have done this - making the whole trial into even more of a pay-for view circus.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Quite right, RJ. But what else would we expect in this gun-hungry, kill-hungry nation? Guns have one purpose only - to kill....whether human or animal.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ What mike said - plus if Zimmerman had followed orders he would not have been in a position to be injured or to use his weapon.

So, yet another simple rule: if you put yourself in a self-designated position of authority you must be prepared to take orders from those with superior experience and authority.