Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Editorial: Surprise! The whiter guy wins!

The editor's headline sets the properly comic tone, perhaps unintended, for his unsurprising expression of confidence in the law as the guy who killed the unarmed teen walks. This caps off the Trial of the Summer, an annual media event designed to keep viewers engaged with their teevees during the rerun/baseball season.

I have to think that he meant to put a comma in the head, i.e. "Legal system worked, as always," setting up his confident, ain't-we-the-greatest-country-in-the-world column. But he left it out, and for those of us with enough hashmarks to recall exactly how the legal system has historically worked for black folk in this country, it speaks more truth than the editor knows.

There's another angle to it, though, another blind irony, in that the law certainly worked as the Florida legislature intended when it passed its ALEC-dictated "stand your ground" law. They designed it to make it very hard to convict anyone who uses a gun to "defend" anything, anywhere, anytime from anyone they consider a threat. The person at the wrong end of the gun doesn't have to actually be a threat, of course. Now it's all so much simpler than the traditional lynching party.

Everyone seems to agree that both parties did stupid things, granted. But only one died, and only one had the tool for killing, and that is enough to put the killer in jail long-term in most of the developed world. Not in Florida, though, where juries must receive explicit instructions that if the guy with the gun is afraid, it's okay for him to kill.

True to form, the editor doesn't even think through the elements of the story as he writes them. Like the rest of white America, he's only looking for comfort. Justice? Not so much.

I'm sure it would utterly surprise him to learn that in most similar cases under similar laws where the person with the gun was black, the legal system still "works as always."

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