Sunday, July 14, 2013


First and foremost, my thoughts go out to both the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.  The events that took place that led to the death of Trayvon and the subsequent trial of George, were unfortunate and have led to not only two lives being affected, but an entire nation.

Reactions to this tragedy, in most cases, have been centered on the appearance of a hate crime.  We can not know for certain what Mr. Zimmerman's thoughts were, when he chose to leave his vehicle that night.  We can not know for certain the mindset, either, of Mr. Martin.  But, a jury has reviewed the evidence and come to the conclusion that Mr. Zimmerman should not be held criminally liable for the death of Mr. Martin.

Our country was founded on the rule of law and the idea that all people deserve to be free from tyranny and oppression.  Our country is at its best when we work together, not against each other, to find the truth and advance the ideals of our founding fathers.

Unfortunately, we are all human and not divine, therefore we are all flawed and bring our experiences with us into any situation or debate.  This will lead to us often following our emotions and most basic fears, instead of thinking rationally about the situation and coming to a conclusion that is reasoned and in line with what others would decide if they were to do the same.  This applies across the board, no matter the situation, but is most apparent in situations where an appearance of discrimination or bias is present.  When individuals of different races interact, each side brings with them their own personal experience, but also those views that have been expressed to them by others within their own race.

The unfortunate part of this part of human nature, is that the collective mindset of a group of people (based on race, religion, creed, or other unifying idea) is often skewed by a relatively small number of incidents or a series of incidents.  This is not to say that the views are entirely wrong, or are based on incomplete information, but that as one incident leads to the next, and the next, a compiling of the insults and injuries tends to blind the participants to the underlying need to follow the rule of law.

Being outraged at an incident is natural and is even expected.  The public, as a whole, should be outraged at every murder, rape, arson, etc., that takes place.  This is because the human race understands that crimes against others are a violation of the basic tenets that are enshrined in our very own Declaration of Independence and Constitution, that we are all endowed with certain rights from the Creator.  The framers of our country understood this, though, because of the social circumstances at the time, these rights were not recognized in society as a whole for all individuals.

Our society has advanced over time and we have recognized that we were marginalizing or ignoring some of the very people the Constitution is designed to protect.  This led to the Civil Rights Movement, the abolition of slavery, and many other advances in our understanding and treatment of individuals and the rule of law being established to protect these individuals that had been previously marginalized.

The problem today is not that we don't recognize the rights of these individuals, but that we have come to the point of tipping the scales the opposite direction.  Now we have a situation where the majority has overstepped the line of balance and is providing more rights to certain individuals than others, while ignoring their own rights.

This is most apparent when a situation arises that, on its face, appears to have any form bias against one of the individuals involved in the situation.  This isn't just applicable to race, it also comes into play in gender, religious, sexual orientation, and life issues.  The Martin/Zimmerman situation is one of many situations that have a large impact on the psyche of a group.  Others include the same-sex marriage issues in this country right now, as well as the recent abortion law issues in Texas.  These situations, when they arise, have a tendency to lower the thoughts and actions of those within the group to the lowest common denominator.  Reason often gets set aside and the members of the group will strike out, either verbally or sometimes physically, against those that they feel they are being oppressed by.

We, as a people, have to understand and realize that in a Republic, as our country is, it is not about who can make the most noise, it should be about what we can do as a society for each other.  We are all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as guaranteed to us by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but we also have to take into consideration that these liberties are intended for individuals.  Groups of people have come to be classed together and when one individual in that group has a problem, the others rise up in defense of that person.  This is perfectly acceptable, but at the same time, saying that all the persons in another group are to blame is not right, nor acceptable.  Our country should believe in personal responsibility and individuals should take personal responsibility for their actions and not blame entire groups for what is perceived as injustice.

The President of the United States is charged with executing the laws of the country.  The Constitution makes it clear that the President has a duty to faithfully follow the law.  The President should not be weighing in with personal opinions about a situation, especially when those opinions tend to favor one side or the other.  The President, to properly be faithful to his duty to execute the laws, should seem to be like the Lady of Justice statutes, holding the scales and looking for the balance of justice against the rights of the individual.  Unfortunately, the Presidency has devolved into a celebrity status symbol, in many respect, and instead of being impartial and collecting the facts before making a determination, unsubstantiated opinion is taken by the media and spread as gospel.

The President weighing in on an issue that is a matter of the state to make a determination on, even prior to a jury being selected, is tantamount to jury tampering.  When the President speaks, the country tends to listen.  In addition, the Federal government is charged with upholding Federal law and not states laws.  When a matter occurs within a single state, our system is set up in such a way, that the State has first jurisdiction over the matter.  The State makes the determination of guilt or innocence.  If we allow the Federal government to decide at some point that they will prosecute someone at the level of the case here, then the States rights are going to be abolished and we will be under one government, not of the people, but of the power structure that underlies politics in Washington DC.

There have been cries of issues on both sides of this matter.  The defenders of Mr. Zimmerman claiming prosecutorial misconduct, the proponents of Mr. Martin of civil rights violations.  Either of these is a matter for the State to decide and not the federal government.  This is a matter that should never have been in the national spotlight to begin with.  This was a local matter and should have been handled as such.

But, with the explosion of technology and the desire of people to see and hear about everything that is going on anywhere, the general population that encourages and wants this becomes complicit in any issues that arise around the cases involved.  With our ready access to entertainment that provides a thrill in movies, amusement parks, books, etc., one of the things that most people have found boring and tedious, a trial for a crime, has to be livened up and made grist for the publicity mills.  If the media doesn't make the trial "relevant" to enough people, then people won't watch and the media outlets won't make money.  They sensationalize and repeat the information so many times, they impact the psyche of the people watching.  The media should be there to provide the information, but not to sensationalize it or make it more "tantalizing" to their audience.  The all mighty buck and getting those ratings has overtaken any idea that our media can be objective and just report the facts as they come out.  Now they have to analyze everything ad nauseum to the point where it all depends on who you watch what your opinion is.  They tend to take the decision making process out of the hands of the individual and put it in their own hands.

The calls for a civil rights case against Mr. Zimmerman are, in my personal opinion, inappropriate and an injustice to the rule of law.  Our Constitution, and the laws created from it, provide a particular protection that ensures that government does not persecute an individual.  This is the concept of double jeopardy.  When someone has already been tried in a criminal case for their actions, and found not guilty for whatever reason the jury decides, they are not supposed to be tried again for that same crime. That is exactly what the people calling for a civil rights action are calling for, a second bite at the apple. The idea that because the Federal government is separate doesn't fly in this case.  The Constitution binds the Federal government in several areas, and this is one of them.  Allowing the Federal government the right to try someone a second time for a crime they have already been cleared of is morally repugnant to me.  The State has used the process established by the founding fathers in our legal system, and has found that Mr. Zimmerman was not to be held responsible for Mr. Martin's death. Why should the Federal government get a chance to do the same thing?  This violates the protection from double jeopardy that every one of us expects from the States.

The moral of this whole story is that we as a society have gotten to the point where we allow matters that, in reality, should be local and personal to become national and group based.  We need to return to the idea where each of us is responsible for our own actions and not allow ourselves to be swayed by what everyone else thinks.  This leads to a mob mentality that is dangerous, not for any one individual but for all individuals.

The Amendment Guy
Twitter @amendment_guy

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