Monday, July 15, 2013

The Trial

It wasn't just the media's "All Trial, All of the Time" style of coverage that turned me off about the  Zimmerman Trial. It was also the persistent emphasis on which side scored the most points each day that made me want to watch almost anything else instead. Of course, a criminal trial is set up as an adversarial process - as are elections. But both are meant to be about more than that. At times, it seemed to me that much of the trial coverage was replicating the way we increasingly cover politics - all inside "who's up, who's down" stuff, with much less attention to actual substance or (in the case of politics) policy. That's the world we live in - the culture we have created for ourselves.
But now that the trial is over and the verdict is in, we would do well to be asking ourselves some other questions - not about the particulars of the case, which rightly or wrongly have now been legally settled - but about the kind of society we are and what kind of society we really want to be.

Do we want to be a society in which an unarmed black teen cannot safely go shopping and walk home without being stalked and shot?

Do we want to be a society in which an ordinary citizen is free to play policeman - not just harmlessly in his imagination or in video games, but in real life on the public streets with real world consequences?

And do we really want to be a society in which the plague of private gun ownership continues unabated?

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