What good does the media do for justice when its goal is to incite emotion?
I have tried to keep my mind away from the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case. My hapless hope was that the media would follow suit, and in doing so justice would serve its course. But naturally this has turned into a racial debacle and it’s never fair when race interferes with justice. Only truth should have the right to do that, but it’s too late.
No matter what Zimmerman’s verdict is, this case of self defense has turned into a racial game and it exposes a very real problem in our court system: The media’s influence on justice.
When the news broke that Zimmerman shot Martin, the overall perception from the blogosphere was: “White man shoots innocent Black teenager. White man claims self defense.” And then most of us reacted accordingly by saying, “Self defense?! He didn’t need to shoot an unarmed boy to defend himself!”
Admittedly, from the news that was put before me early on, I felt extreme sorrow for Martin. Especially after Zimmerman claimed that his head and face were beaten into the ground and he was scared for his life, but thereafter there were no signs of blood on the entirety of his face or head. When it looked obvious that Zimmerman had no serious injuries to the head, the general theory was that Zimmerman was a profiling, racist white man who saw a Black person in a hoodie and got trigger happy.
At this point, the media created a racial divide among American viewers. Based on the evidence – or lack thereof – presented by the media, if you thought Zimmerman was acting in self-defense, then you could be considered a racist. And if you sided with Martin, then you were rooting for justice.
It wasn’t until about half a year later when photos of Zimmerman’s bloodied face were revealed to the public. This suggested Zimmerman’s story that he was beaten by Martin – which at first seemed ridiculous – may have been true. Personally, that evidence did not change my initial feelings of sorrow for Martin, but it does imply a slightly different story than the media depicted at first. When once Zimmerman was labeled a liar, months later his original story held some truth.
I’m definitely not saying Zimmerman was innocent. I’m only siding with justice here. But what we have to ask is: Why did it take so long for the media to publish those photos?… The answer is because the police had yet to release them, but the question is rhetorical. Even after those photos were released, the American public had already made up their mind. To most, Zimmerman was a racist murderer. And even if it was self-defense, most would have agreed that he went too far by shooting him.
We don’t know what actually happened the night Martin was killed. And because the media at first created a monster out of Zimmerman – with skeptical and delayed evidence – the public will not accept self-defense as the claim. So, even if Zimmerman was innocent, the public will never forgive or forget him.
We need to ban the media from courtrooms. Or, more importantly, from disclosing evidence from ongoing investigations. The public is too misinformed and emotional to contemplate justice from the little knowledge they are given. Whether Zimmerman is guilty or innocent, I no longer care. The saddest part of this story will never change: A teenager was killed and justice at this point is too difficult to find with the thousands of uneducated opinions that are being boasted across mainstream websites and television.