Since the 15th century Lady Justice has been portrayed as a Greek goddess with scales in one hand, a sword in the other, and her eyes covered with a blindfold. The scales represent the balance between truth and fairness. Her double-edged sword represents Reason and Justice, which may be wielded either for or against either party in a legal dispute. The blindfold represents objectivity that refuses to take into consideration the race, social standing, wealth, poverty, or power of the person being adjudicated.
These are admirable traits of justice that must be defended in a society that reveres truth and respects the rule of law. But there is another trait that must be added to lady justice if justice is to be served in the Trayvon Martin case. She will have to be stone deaf so she can ignore the din of posturing, grandstanding, and outright deceit that has erupted in the case’s wake.
Here are just a few examples of what the combination of a 24-hour news cycle and unprincipled leaders can produce. The Rev. Jesse Jackson told a church in Eatonville that Trayvon Martin is a “martyr” and that his death could be compared to the shooting of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Not to be outdone in the inflammatory rhetoric department, Rev. Al Sharpton called for “an escalation in civil disobedience” if George Zimmerman is not arrested. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee joined the outrageous march to judgment by suggesting that George Zimmerman somehow broke his own nose in an attempt to mislead the police.
But the Nobel Prize for rhetoric above and beyond the call of insanity goes to the New Black Panthers, who have now offered a one million dollar bounty for George Zimmerman to be captured and delivered into their custody. Finally, in a speech that was supposed to ease the racial tensions in Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson said, “Trayvon was hunted down like a rabid dog, shot in the street and racially profiled.” One can only imagine what Rep. Wilson would have said if she was trying to ramp up rather than tamp down racial tension.
In addition to over-the-top and under reported racially charged rhetoric from political and civil rights leaders you have outright deception flowing from the mainstream media. The Today Show on NBC edited the 911 call made by Zimmerman to make it appear he made a racially motivated remark about Martin. The NBC edited version of the 911 call between Zimmerman and the dispatcher went like this:
Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black.”
A transcript of the complete 911 call shows the actual exchange with the dispatcher reveals quite a different story.
Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”
Dispatcher: “OK, and this guy – is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: “He looks black.”
NBC announced they have “launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story.” To say the least, it will be interesting to hear what the investigation reveals.
These are just a few of the examples of rushing to judgment for the purpose of political and personal gain in a high profile case that in the end will make the truth much harder to discern. No one denies that on the night of February 26 a tragic event took place in the town of Sanford, Florida. A black teenager was shot to death by a person the New York Times has called “a white Hispanic.” Either the shooter was justified because he acted in self-defense or he is guilty of a crime. The state of Florida has appointed a special prosecutor to sort through the evidence to see if charges should be brought against Zimmerman.
I hope the Lady Justice can ignore the context long enough for her scales of truth and fairness to be rightly balanced.