The news of George Zimmerman's acquittal came to me tonight as my parents and I returned to our hotel room from my cousin's wedding. Hitting me like a brick from the lobby's silent flatscreen were two words: NOT GUILTY. As we stepped into the elevator, a young black man walked into the lobby and said, "What? No." Were I a few feet behind, I would have shared my own, similar thoughts.
The verdict really upset me. It upset me because Zimmerman skated in large part due to flaws in the prosecution. It upset me because apparently only certain people are entitled to Stand Their Ground. It upset me because, for whatever racial motivations the defendant may or may not have had, race definitely affected multiple aspects of the case. It upset me because even if race played no part, the verdict validated aggressive vigilantes everywhere. Most of all, it upset me because there are some people who are actively cheering this as a win for the justice system.
To cheer this particular verdict is to assign to it a very ugly subtext. Letting an admitted killer go over legal nuances may be technically sound, but it's hardly the stuff of flag-waving. At best, it was a technical victory for Zimmerman — a decision for which its advocates should be quietly grateful with little fanfare and perhaps a little reflection.
I don't necessarily agree with the analyses of everyone who shares my despair over the outcome. But I'm uniformly disgusted at those who hail it. Such celebration only reinforces my view that the verdict was wrong.
Whatever aspects of the system allowed it to be right, are also wrong.