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Trayvon Verdict At Last

I didn’t post on the Trayvon Martin verdict this weekend, because I find the whole thing to be terribly sad, a victory for no one, and I don’t think there’s anything really left to say. The jury delivered a just verdict, given the facts in the case, and I am chagrined, but not surprised, to see so many people who are unhappy with the verdict complaining that … something should be done about this! Florida juries are bad, Florida laws are bad, this is all the fault of racism (even if, given the law and the facts, the jury was correct to acquit), etc. My favorite tweet from all this was from the person who said something like, “A Hispanic man shot a black man and was acquitted by a female jury, and somehow it’s all the white man’s fault.”

And now the Justice Department is thinking of trying Zimmerman on federal civil rights charges, which would be an entirely political trial. What would the message of that trial be? Better not go near a strange black man walking through your neighborhood, because if he starts to beat you up, and you, fearing for your life, shoot him, and even if a jury determines you broke no law, your federal government may still come after you on an Orwellian charge. From a news story about hurdles to a federal civil rights charge:

The separate federal hate-crimes law applies to both law enforcement and civilians. But it’s not clear how the Justice Department could prove racial bias.

Serino, the Sanford detective, told FBI agents last year that after examining the case, it appeared Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin because of his “attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community.”

Serino told the FBI that there had been several burglaries in the area, and that gang members in the community “typically dressed in black and wore hoodies.”

“When Zimmerman saw Martin in a hoody, Zimmerman took it upon himself to view Martin as acting suspicious,” Serino said, while describing Zimmerman as “overzealous.” The FBI document was posted on the Smoking Gun website.

McClatchy also has reported on another set of documents that show FBI agents interviewed a dozens of people in the course of probing possible racial bias but nobody would say Zimmerman showed such bias before the shooting.

Still, the Justice Department agreed to requests from NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and several lawmakers to keep investigating the defendant.

Like I said, a political show trial. I hope it doesn’t go there.

The whole thing is a tragedy. If Zimmerman, whose neighborhood had been plagued by criminals who looked and dressed like Martin, hadn’t confronted Martin, none of this would have happened. If Martin hadn’t overreacted and beaten Zimmerman, none of this would have happened. Now, one man’s life is gone, and another man’s life is ruined. No good can come from this.

I like Steve Sailer’s comment on the options open to President Obama now:

Constitutionally speaking, wouldn’t it just be simpler for Obama to order a drone strike on Zimmerman’s condo?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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