In a time where just about everything that hits the news can be the focus of intense media scrutiny, justice can be a tricky thing to achieve.
Take the case that currently dominates the nation’s attention, the death of Trayvon Martin, where a man named George Zimmerman, acting as a neighborhood watchman, is accused of pursuing, and shooting this unarmed teenager near the teen’s home.
The facts we know are these:
- On a dark, rainy February 26th, Trayvon Martin is walking inside the walled and gated community he lives in in Sanford, Florida, north of Orlando.
- Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who is armed and licensed to carry a concealed firearm, calls 911 to report what he sees as a suspicious person.
- The 911 operator asks for a description and asks what the caller thinks his skin color is. Zimmerman answers, “black”.
- At some point, Zimmerman says that the person is running from him and the 911 Operator asks if Zimmerman is pursuing him.
- Zimmerman says he is, and the 911 Operator says, “we don’t need you to do that.”
- One hears on the 911 tape a scuffle, a cry for “Help!” a loud bang, later determined to be a gunshot.
When Sanford Police arrive, they find Zimmerman bleeding from his nose, and Trayvon Martin lying on the ground dead. No arrest is made, no crime scene is processed and Zimmerman goes home.
Reportedly, there are eyewitnesses, but that night none were interviewed. The call I heard had the 911 Operator asking about the race of the suspicious person, but Zimmerman did not appear to offer it first.
“We don’t need you to do that”, as the operator stated in the call is far short of “STOP FOLLOWING HIM!”, and does not carry the force of law behind it. Just an opinion, but if a 911 Operator told me to stop, I would stop. We really aren’t in a position to characterize Zimmerman’s interpretation of what he heard in the heat of the moment.
After nearly two weeks, and no follow-up by Sanford Police or prosecutors, who would be waiting on a case to be presented, a ground-swell of outrage begins to build: The family of the deceased teen starts pursuing it more intensely, and various media start getting involved. I first heard about the story on a Tampa-area talk radio station on March 15th, including the 911 tape.
Within a few days after I first heard about the story, I start hearing about how Reverend Al Sharpton will be leading protests and a “Rally for Justice”, along with the usual marches, protests, and the kinds of things he is known for in these situations.
Yesterday, President Obama chimes in for what it was worth saying, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon”. He went on to say, sensibly or not:
“Well, I’m the head of the executive branch and the Attorney General reports to me so I have to be careful about my statements to make sure that we’re not impairing any investigation that’s taking place right now. But obviously, this is a tragedy.
“I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together- federal, state, and local- to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.
“So, I’m glad not only is the Justice Department looking into it, I understand now that the Governor of the state of Florida has formed a task force to investigate what’s taking place. I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened as well as the specifics of the incident. “
Here are some important questions:
- Can people like Barack Obama and Al Sharpton do anything legitimately to insure that justice is done?
- Did their statements do anything to promote justice, or did they just further prejudice what might have become a sound case against George Zimmerman?
- Media scrutiny having shown the public outrage, can Zimmerman be guaranteed a fair trial, if it gets that far?
I don’t know that mankind is capable of a great deal of true justice on his own. I don’t think men like Al Sharpton and Barack Obama really care about much beyond their own narcissistic interests. I think the media has a lot to do with that. The media can accomplish pretty much what it sets out to do and always takes on a life of its own.
Two scriptures come to mind in this awful tragedy:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15
The first I identify with the media, and those who use it for their own ends, like Barack Obama and Al Sharpton do.
The second is what was accomplished by my Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, having won the victory for all who call upon His name in faith. He took on the ultimate injustice of man and man’s sin so that we could trust in Him to do so for us.
I pray for the family of Trayvon and for the family of George Zimmerman. This is the world we live in. It is often a dark, tragic place. My belief is that Jesus will return soon and re-establish true justice under God and make, again, a public spectacle of those who pursue their own ends by unjust means.
God bless you all.