Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Zimmerman trial gives us all a chance to reflect on society

So our latest Trial of the Moment begins, one that will say something about where we are in the world at the moment.

The neighborhood watch volunteer who thought a black teenager in a hoodie looked suspicious stands charged with second-degree murder in the case that has taken the Florida town of Sanford worldwide. And as anyone who has been watching knows — who hasn't? — this is a case complicated by George Zimmerman's claim that even if he followed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin that night, what happened in those last moments between them was self-defense.

Essentially, that he is the victim here.

But it's complicated more by questions of race and how race may be the reason this happened at all.

This has become an American tradition, trials that become larger than the people in the sad tragedy within them. O.J. Simpson wasn't just about an enraged ex-husband and two murdered victims — it was also about race and the justice system. Back then, a whole lot of people were shocked at how far apart we were in our reactions to his acquittal. Maybe it made us think.

In Tampa, a 28-year-old man is looking at life in prison in a most unusual federal murder case.

John Andrew Welden stands accused of tricking his pregnant ex-girlfriend into taking abortion pills by telling her they were antibiotics and faking the label, causing her to lose the 6-week-old baby.

Already, we're learning about the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which says if he was committing a federal crime — in this case, product tampering — he can also be charged with murder.

While the fetus would not have been considered viable under state law, the federal law says "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb" is a "child in utero," an unborn child.

That debate sound familiar?

Because besides the question of whether a man should go to prison, this case for some will also be about abortion and abortion rights — when life begins, or why it's legal to get an abortion but a crime if someone else does it, as the argument will undoubtedly go.

Already, they are talking about a state Remee Lee Law to be named for the woman at the center of this case. Already, she has been questioned in a court proceeding about whether she had ever had an abortion.

Me, I'd say this is definitely a case about choice — if the allegations prove true, how hers was taken away from her.

In the trial playing out in Sanford, I keep thinking about the infamous hoodie Martin wore walking home from the store with his Skittles and his fruit drink, talking to a girl on the phone.

Zimmerman would tell a police dispatcher about a guy looking "like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something." He would lament how "they always get away." Thug wear, the hoodie was later pronounced, except a pretty good portion of the population owns one, like me and maybe you too.

But get ready, because probably the only uncontested fact in this trial will be that it was raining that night.

Was Zimmerman a victim or a vigilante? A jury will decide.

And then we get to figure out what it says about the rest of us

Zimmerman trial gives us all a chance to reflect on society 06/14/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 14, 2013 10:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  2. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin


    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    Minnesota Twins pitching coach Neil Allen jogs back to the dugout after paying starting pitcher Tyler Duffey a visit on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  4. Swan sculpture deputies say was stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond


    A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk County sheriff's deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

    A swan sculpture that was stolen in Lakeland on May 19 was recovered by the Polk Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally