The Tragedy of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

The death of teenager Trayvon Martin was a tragedy.

The resulting media and federal government fueled circus was a travesty.

“I’m thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty,” noted Zimmerman defense attorney Don West. Mr. West may have received the verdict he fought for with the acquittal of Mr. Zimmerman, but the case had already become a travesty as a result of the media coverage and federal intervention.

Nearly half a century after the Kerner Commission release its report finding that “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal,” we have yet to reach a point where we can hold rational discussions on the topic of race relations.

While it is important to continue such discussions as a society, it is equally important for news outlets to report on such topics with a modicum of restraint. There was almost a feeling of letdown among major media outlets as the almost openly lusted for riots as a result of Mr. Zimmerman’s acquittal did not occur. At what point did this become the norm and responsible journalism start toeing this line? How dare our reporters create conjecture and speculation for the — in my opinion — sole purpose of generating higher ratings?

Aside from the spectacle that our national media outlets have made, there has been an equally disturbing interference by the federal government. President Obama kicked off federal mingling by initially commenting, “You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.

Scores of U.S. citizens pass away each day as victims of violence, yet our President feels the need to comment on this isolated, albeit incredibly tragic, death, for what we may very well come to retrospectively see as the foundation for a stronger push for stricter gun control. In any case, the idea of the federal government seeking involvement after Mr. Zimmerman has been acquitted by an ostensibly fair Seminole County Court (with empirical evidence to date actually showing potential misconduct of the prosecutor) is unsettling.

Mr. Zimmerman is not the boogeyman. He has been found innocent and he will have to live haunted by his actions. This case was indeed a tragedy and there are clearly emotions involved across the board, but we should be challenging the appropriateness of the media coverage of the events as well as the federal government’s involvement in and use of this tragedy to increase the scope of its power.

Let us continue these difficult discussions of race relations as a nation. But let us do this in a well-reasoned, rational manner, without the media’s sensationalism or the President’s interference.

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