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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Opinion Sampler: After the Zimmerman verdict ...

I have covered only a few jury trials in my time. But I came away with one firm conviction. Never second-guess a jury. They were there, in the courtoom, the whole time. They heard all the evidence. They looked the witnesses, and the accused, in the eye. They had the responsibility on their shoulders.

So this round-up of punditry on the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, acquited in Florida of criminal charges in the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin, leads with this take from an old white guy from the Pacific Northwest ...

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Trust the jury, repeal the law — Lance Dickie | The Seattle Times

For all of the visceral passion surrounding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the jury is not a worthy target of anger.

As the rest of the world flitted in and out of the proceedings, as commentators on MSNBC and Fox News had nightly hissy fits of speculation, the six-member jury was in the courtroom every day. They saw it all, they heard it all. They were not convinced. Do not blame them.

Indeed, one cannot know the frustration of the jurors. A verdict of not guilty, is certainly not the same as proclaiming Zimmerman innocent. Jurors might have longed for a third option available in Scottish courts, "not proven." Jurors might well have concluded the prosecution did not make its case against the armed, self-anointed peacekeeper...

... The single best memorial to Trayvon Martin – Justice for Trayvon – is repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. The 2005 license to kill provides armed-arbiters of law and justice with the legal veneer to shoot someone. Tombstone in Florida. ...

... Our society considers young black men to be dangerous, interchangeable, expendable, guilty until proven innocent. This is the conversation about race that we desperately need to have -- but probably, as in the past, will try our best to avoid. ...

... But the answer to the moral questions that killing raises is not mysterious to some of us. We know how America is. We know, for instance, that it regards black men as inherently criminal, jails them disproportionately because of that belief, then points to the fact that they are disproportionately jailed as proof of that belief. We know, in other words, that where people who look like Trayvon are concerned, America is a little nuts. ...

... The case was not only about race, it was also about the threat of black masculinity in American society. Historically, from Emmett Till to Rodney King and beyond, the life of the young black male in American society seems to be valueless. We cannot deconstruct the Zimmerman case without looking at it in the broader context. Zimmerman profiled Trayvon as a threat because America has stereotyped the young black male as a threat. ...

... The system failed him in those moments just after he was shot when he was surely aware that he was about to die, but before life’s light fully passed from his body — and no one came to comfort him or try to save him. ...

... open minds and fair-minded attitudes have not been the hallmarks of the Trayvon Martin phenomenon since it burst into the national consciousness last year. Politicians, activists and commentators of both left and right have exploited the incident to make extravagant claims regarding, on the one hand, the American justice system and, on the other, civil rights ideology in the age of political correctness. And that discourse for the most part has been an ongoing disgrace. ...

Seek justice for Trayvon Martin through violence prevention — Kansas City Star Editorial

America’s rule of law is not an exact science. And it makes no promises to heal. ...

Zimmerman trial struck chord with deep resonance — San Jose Mercury News Editorial

The peaceful protests this weekend in the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal should not dissolve into complacency. They should inspire renewed activism to change gun laws and societal attitudes so that armed confrontations are not encouraged, as they are today in places like Florida, and so that people who end up shooting and killing unarmed individuals have some responsibility if their own actions brought on the confrontation. ...

Zimmerman verdict enshrines fear of fear itself — St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial

... Make no mistake: At its basic level, Florida v. Zimmerman was about race and it was about guns. It was about the color of Trayvon Martin’s skin. It was about the fact that someone of George Zimmerman’s temperament was allowed to carry a gun — and use it recklessly if he got nervous. He makes an unlikely Second Amendment hero. ...

An acquittal in Florida — Washington Post Editorial/sltrib.com

... Mr. Zimmerman could have done what police told him to do and stayed in his vehicle. No one would have heard about him — and Trayvon Martin could have been able to get home on that rainy Sunday evening.


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