Without a doubt, the story of the week has been the Travon Martin story, which concluded with the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Well, I probably shouldn't say, “concluded,” because I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of it. Even if the Justice Department doesn't bring its own charges, I’m betting the family takes a page from the OJ playbook and files charges in a civil suit, where there is a lower standard for proving guilt.
I don’t pretend to have any actual insight into the case. In fact, I think we, as a people, vastly over-estimate our capacity to form relevant opinions in cases like this. We think because we see some TV coverage of the trial or listen to semi-informed gargoyles of grief like Nancy Grace, that we become experts ourselves. Just ask any Monday Morning Quarterback calling into a radio show… Or read the comments after a news story on the Internet… any news story.
So here’s what I think, with the full disclaimer that I don’t know jack. I think it shouldn't be legal for someone to follow, harass and confront a person, for whatever reason, escalate it into a fight, and then claim self-defense. Where was Trayvon’s right to “stand his ground” when stalked by some idiot with a gun? I don’t care who started the physical contact; the entire encounter was orchestrated by Zimmerman, against the orders of the 911 operator. He went after the kid, the kid fought back, so he shot him, for not having the decency to cower appropriately.
That said, I don’t think the case should be retried. Prosecutors made the case, the defense defended, and the jury decided. You win some, you lose some.
What should happen now is a revisitation of the Stand Your Ground laws across the country, to tighten the circumstances in which one can use lethal force. Someone’s in your home? Absolutely. Someone’s attacking you in the street? No question. But following someone down the street because they don’t look like you’d prefer them to look, provoking a fight and then shooting him in “self-defense?” That’s just not right.
All that does is make every pistol-packing dipshit in the country into judge, jury and executioner.
Dr Hook is Unavailable for Comment*
I can’t believe this is even a controversy. People are losing their shit because the younger of the Boston Marathon bombers is featured on the cover of the upcoming Rolling Stone. Consequently, people are flinging themselves about in protest, to the point that CVS and other retailers are refusing to stock the issue.
What gets me is that Rolling Stone is in no way condoning his actions. In fact, the subheading on the cover says, “How a promising, popular student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”
So here’s the problem: the cover makes him look like a normal kid, or like any other teenage rock star. In America, we prefer our villains to look the part, like Osama bin Laden, Hitler, or Dr. Evil. The last thing we want to see is a terrorist that looks just like any other guy you might see walking down the street. Even George Zimmerman wouldn't have looked twice at this kid.
I just don’t see what the big deal is. If the story was about the rescue effort or how they caught the bombers, the EMTs or police would be on the cover. If it was about the victims and their recovery, they’d be on the cover. But the story is about the bomber, so he’s on the cover. I think we’re taking this ‘getting offended’ thing waaaaay to seriously.
If anyone should be getting mad at that cover, it’s me! How dare Rolling Stone taunt me with a cover picture of the guy who made the hockey game I was going to attend, get rescheduled so I couldn't go? Fucker cost me $300.
As far as I’m concerned, he upset the mojo for the Penguins’ entire playoff run. To me, the only acceptable picture would have been him with a hockey stick stuck through his head, with the caption: “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Cost Pittsburgh the Stanley Cup! And he needs to thin some of the consonants out of his name!”
Yvonne Abraham from the Boston Globe has a good op-ed piece on this silly brouhaha; it’s well worth the quick read.
*To the snot-nosed kids out there, and you know who you are, Dr. Hook is a rock group famous for the song “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone.”
In other news, President Obama’s picks for various departmental positions are now being confirmed, thanks to a Senate deal in brokered by John McCain and Chuck Schumer. The deal to bring the nominees up for a vote was made in order to avoid Harry Reid’s consequential action to alter the Senate’s filibuster rules.
I’m not too sure what to make of all that. Obviously, the Republicans are using the filibuster (threat) like they’re ordering a sandwich. They've used this once rare maneuver over 400 times since 2009, both to tie up bills and obstruct cabinet and judicial nominations. The plan: run out the clock for eight years, especially on cabinet positions whose prescribed actions might cost money for big business. If they can keep a department like the Consumer Protection Agency leaderless, it will be that much less effective in representing the public against the banking industry.
To me, it comes down to the same old problem… what goes around, comes around. The Democrats can’t count on holding the Senate indefinitely, and should they end up in the minority, they’ll need the filibuster option as well.
What worries me is that I don’t think the Republicans will be nearly as hesitant as Reid was, to execute the “Nuclear Option,” and hamstring the filibuster once they’re in power. They’ll think, “We can’t let the Democrats do to us what we did to them, so Ka-boom, we change the rules right now.” I bet they do it within their first session in power.