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Zimmerman Destined for a Hung Jury?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

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An editor I used to work for had a favorite saying: “Predicting the future is usually as easy as stating the obvious.” In the upcoming trial of George Zimmerman, the “obvious” is this: there’s little, if any, chance to avoid not only a mistrial, but a series of them if the state continues to reindict him, which it has the right to do and no doubt will, but with the same result over and over again.

At some point in the future, after endless retrials, it will seem as if this case—like the racial discord that will cause it to hang around our nation’s collective neck like an albatross—has always been a part of American life, like Mount Rushmore, the Liberty Bell, or the Washington Monument.

The problem for the Florida legal system is that at this juncture, the case really isn’t about points of guilt or innocence that a jury can make reasoned decisions on. The case has become a referendum on the Stand Your Ground law and, more importantly, a referendum on the thorny issue of race in America. How to bridge the chasm that divides the races in America (which, amazingly, seems to both widen and narrow at the same instant in this country) is not only a question we don’t have the answer to, it’s a question we don’t even like to ask.

However, the case at hand is forcing our hand—it quite simply won’t allow us to duck the issue of race, at least for a while. Whether this is a good or bad thing is yet to be seen. Will this forced confrontation of racial attitudes help to solve our national problem, or will it only be made worse?

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