Now that George Zimmerman will face prosecution for the death of Trayvon Martin, will it become the next “trial of the century?” With Mike Tyson finally sharing his thoughts, I declare the hype machine alive and running at full throttle.
The temperature of the controversy with its racial component naturally leads to a comparison with the Trial of the last Century: the O.J. Simpson case.
(In anticipating the hype, am I adding to it? On the other hand, choosing not to comment won’t stop the avalanche of coverage, so this thought was hardly worth the digression.)
I could see the angry right adopting Zimmerman as their O.J. An inter-racial killing and a gun rights issue should have them fired up. The money will be coming in to pay for Zimmerman’s lawyer. He’ll probably get enough defense cash to hire an all-star team, but the best-of-the-best is not likely to sign on for this kind of publicity. As we know from the O.J. Simpson trial, a lot of money on the defense side makes it easier to build that reasonable doubt.
Another similarity will be the presence of cameras in the courtroom. Florida has Sunshine laws (how fitting for the Sunshine State) so the trial will be televised for the pleasure of obsessed viewers. We will be treated to a new batch of legal stars and the return of old ones. How many days will it be before we get a Judge Ito interview?
As far as outcome goes, not knowing all the facts myself (people need to use more disclaimers like this), I think we face another instance where moral justice and legal justice diverge. The story seems just uncertain enough for a reasonably talented lawyer to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the legal result is “not guilty.”
Verdict day will also resemble the O.J. Simpson case, and the media will be ready for it. TV cameras will be in place wherever there is a large gathering of people watching the verdict together. Unlike the trial of the 20th Century, this verdict will also be covered by thousands of smartphone cameras. Expect several stunning viral videos of reaction to the verdict. If there is an acquittal, we’ll see some gun-waving (if not shooting) celebrations that would make Yosemite Sam proud.
Of course, some idiots will find this a good excuse to do some rioting. However, you can bet on fewer looting-related back injuries, because today’s LCD TVs are much lighter than similarly sized TVs that were liberated in the name of justice last century. Consequently, those idiots will give the police the excuse to be too eager to taser and/or pepper spray the peaceful protesters reacting to the verdict.
Could the Zimmerman trial hype machine rival the Simpson trial?
- O.J. had some name recognition and celebrity status. Zimmerman is at best an unknown Batman wannabe. Advantage: O.J.
- Simpson trial had two victims and an inter-racial domestic violence issue. Zimmerman trial has one victim and racial profiling, liberal self-defense law, and gun control issues. Advantage: Even.
- Simpson case took place in Los Angeles. Zimmerman case took place in Sanford, Florida. Advantage: O.J.
- Pre-trial antics: O.J. had the white Bronco chase. Zimmerman awaited the action of an uncertain prosecutor. Advantage (so far): O.J.
In the end, George Zimmerman will not escape some justice, as cameras will follow him for years as he attempts to begin a life of obscurity in Wyoming, Idaho, or Montana. Until then, get your popcorn ready and prepare to be distracted from the issues that really matter. Anyone else wonder what al Qaeda was up to during the O.J. Simpson trial?