I did not watch the entirety of this trial, but I did watch most of the closing arguments. There was a tone to the prosecution’s summation to the jury that left me with the impression that the core of George Zimmerman’s offense was that he was not a police officer. While giving lip-service to the propriety – even the desirability – of “neighborhood watch” practices, the state’s prosecutors saw a conflict between ordinary people and “official” police officers doing what Zimmerman did. Toward the end of the state’s summation, it was said that if a person wanted to do what George Zimmerman did “you’d better have one of these” (whereupon a photo of a policeman’s badge was projected onto the screen).
What the state was implicitly acknowledging – whether such was its intent or not – was the real-world dual standard that operates on the streets of virtually every city in every state: a police officer will almost never be held to account, criminally, for wrongs committed against innocent victims. Take the identical facts in the Zimmerman case and change just one: have George Zimmerman be a city-appointed police officer. Is there anyone so naïve as to believe that his actions would have turned him into a criminal defendant? Would the event have even made it into the media – apart, perhaps, from a blurb news report on page 23 of the local newspaper? Because the state is defined as a system enjoying a monopoly on the use of violence, its practitioners must be shielded from the consequences of their violent acts.
I shall not hold my breath awaiting the media babblers addressing this issue. The institutionalized keepers-of-the-questions-to-be-asked would never be so foolish or careless as to allow such a thought to surface.
12:02 pm on July 14, 2013 Email Butler Shaffer