hoodies_500_372Political cartoons can often capture a moment with pitiless irony… the truism that one picture is worth a thousand words. This one is brilliantly provocative.  Was justice served in the verdict of the Zimmerman trial?

According to the premise implicit in the cartoon, Trayvon was a shy innocent young boy on his way to the local candy store for a treat.  Lady Justice, slim and elegant in her classical draped gown, is not blindfolded.  She is wearing a hood that reminds us by its height of the KuKluxKlan, and she can see perfectly well.

We know there is a lot more behind this story. We know that Trayvon was no angel, that the skittles were being purchased as part of a hallucinogenic cocktail, and that Zimmerman was badly beaten on the face and head. We also know that the jury, based on the evidence, found Zimmerman not guilty. That should be the end of it. The tragedy should not be exploited to provoke racial animosity and unrest.

This commentary from the National Post adds another interesting question: the issue of Florida’s “hold your ground” legislation.  Matt Gurney argues that the verdict was “bizarre” because it could be argued under this law that both men were exercising a legal right to self-defence. The implication seems to be that if Zimmerman had died, Trayvon also would have been acquitted! How can this be?

And that’s where the jurisprudence on this matter gets bizarre: Both men could have legitimately claimed self-defence. Zimmerman thought he was pursuing, and grappling with, a criminal. Martin, we can safely presume, thought he was being followed in the dark by a stranger. Once the altercation began, both men were defending themselves against someone they had some grounds to believe was a criminal.

Read this and think about the law that arms ordinary citizens against potential criminal intrusions in their lives.  There is more at stake here than the race issue.  I hope I never have to live under such “protection”.


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