Lessons Learned From The Trayvon Martin Case
Blind Lady Justice Is A Wise Woman
As time has elapsed between the breaking of this story, I have found myself stepping back and contemplating what ( if any ) lessons can be gleaned from this incident. Ironically, what keeps revolving around in my mind has nothing to do with race, politics, gun laws, or other such hot-button topics. What has occupied my thoughts lately involves one of the most powerful influences today on American thought and behavior. It is a force that can be used for good or for evil. It can promote and ensure the freedoms we enjoy in this country, or be one of the most corrupt and degrading influences on earth.
The force of which I speak is none other than the Media. We live in an age in which honest journalism had been substituted for reality tv-like drama and/or a political agenda. The Media strives to shape a narrative that is more akin to a bad novel, rather than dealing in the realities of human nature and of life.
For a case study in media madness, look no further than the Trayvon Martin case. From the moment of the incident, the Media portrayed Trayvon Martin as a young boy who was as pure as the driven snow. His only mistake, according to the Media, was bringing candy home from the drugstore to a young family member. The Media even went so far as to use three and four year old photos of Trayvon Martin in order to corroborate this narrative. They played on the parental instincts of all Americans to such an extent that it is no small wonder that the initial reaction was one of outrage.
Naturally, the media storyline needed a villain and the powers-that-be decided to cast Mr. Zimmerman in that role, without waiting until the facts of the case were known. An old mug shot was broadcast over every airwave and the stage was set. A few media outlets even stooped to falsely doctoring video and audio tapes to prop up the storyline they wanted presented.
But in this age of the new media, their storyline was interrupted by the truth. It turned out that Trayvon Martin was not the “innocent” young man portrayed by many in the media. Unfortunately, he had made poor choices in school, used drugs, and appeared to be going down the wrong path. Because he had been set up so high by the media, his fall from grace was further.
Some who tended to support Mr. Zimmerman took this as a sign that Trayvon Martin must be in the wrong. After all, if Trayvon Martin was not the pure innocent the media portrayed him to be, then he must be guilty! This line of false reasoning is as misguided as those (and I point the finger at myself) who assumed Trayvon Martin was entirely innocent in the altercation when the Media first began to weave their web of untruths.
Mr. Zimmerman’s character met a similar fate in the Media. First he was a stalker-like vigilante who ruthlessly murdered a young boy. Then when the good he did in the community came to light and the image of Trayvon Martin the media had created crumbled, some wanted to prop Mr. Zimmerman up as a model citizen who surely could not be guilty.
So back and forth the Media see-saw went, trying to dig up past indiscretions in either Mr. Zimmerman’s or Trayvon Martin’s lives. The Media wanted their good guy/bad guy storyline, with little regard for the facts of the case. They ignored the reality that most people are made up of both good and evil parts and our lives reflect a series of both good and bad choices.
The truth is that in the eyes of the law, it matters little what poor decisions Trayvon Martin made in his life prior to that evening or whether Mr. Zimmerman helped underpriviliged children in his neighborhood. Lady Justice is thankfully blind, and she is only concerned with the facts of the case and the truth.
My only prayer is that the jurors in this case will follow her example and not be swayed by the good guy/bad guy drama the Media has tried to create. The laws of this nation demand that justice be served. Humanity pleads it for the sake of the families on both sides. This can only occur if the jurors let blind Lady Justice lead the way and we follow close behind.