The Worst Thing About the George Zimmerman Trial
There is something that is very disheartening about the George Zimmerman trial, and it has nothing to do with the particular verdict that six jurors arrived at late Saturday night. Instead, it stems from the utter hysteria that has surrounded this trial from day one as swaths of American jumped to conclusions about Zimmerman's guilt without any thorough consideration of the evidence at hand. If we do indeed live in a free society based on the rule of law and the simple concept that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, many of our fellow countrymen have clearly failed to demonstrate a level of maturity in addressing the George Zimmerman trial that reflects America's founding values.
Perhaps the most startling personification of this immaturity is the situation that has reemerged every day for the past few weeks outside the Seminole County courthouse, where protesters who cared deeply about the trial spent their time orally demanding the verdict they desired before both the defense and the prosecution had finished presenting their arguments. Instead of walking inside the courthouse — which they had already taken the time to visit — and simply listening to Zimmerman's trial, these protesters cast the judicial process aside and simply decided that he be found either innocent or guilty without thorough knowledge of the events that occurred on the night of Trayvon Martin's death.
This disheartening image repeatedly emerged on a broader scale across the United States as well. Because cameras are allowed in Florida courtrooms, every second of Zimmerman's trial was broadcast on the internet and a wide variety of cable news networks. As a result, all Americans had the ability to watch this trial from beginning to end if they chose to do so, but few took advantage of this opportunity. Instead, sensational newscasts unwilling to wait for the deliberative process to occur hired pundits to push their own biased opinions of Zimmerman's guilt onto every second of the trial. When the courtroom fell silent, and the live feed returned to displaying the state seal of Florida, these pundits would launch into vast and intricate analyses that examined the lawyers' tactics as if the trial was a game rather than a legal instrument intended to utilize statements of fact to provide a set of unbiased jurors with the ability to produce a guilty or innocent verdict.
In short, most Americans, just like those protesters outside the courthouse, shirked their ability to participate in the trail as observers and build their own opinions of Zimmerman's guilt. Instead, they relied on sensational media coverage of the trial, internal emotional triggers, and personal conceptions of the appropriate social and political — rather than legal — manners of addressing America's racial issues in order to cast their expectations for the trial's verdict.