In a rather interesting example of just how pervasive social media has become in our modern society, the legal defense team for George Zimmerman has started a weblog and Twitter account. Being the distinctly not-a-lawyer as I am, my initial, knee-jerk reaction to that information is to immediately decry it as a Very Bad Idea (TM) and run screaming for the hills.
However, the folks in charge of this particular webpage are, in fact, lawyers, and Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers to boot, and they make a pretty compelling case for why they decided to do what they did:
First, we contend that social media in this day and age cannot be ignored. It is now a critical part of presidential politics, it has been part of revolutions in the Middle East, and it is going to be an unavoidable part of high-profile legal cases, just as traditional media has been and continues to be. We feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation, and we feel equally as strong about establishing a professional, responsible, and ethical approach to new media.
Per the same post, their goals appear to be:
- Discrediting and eliminating fraudulent websites and social profiles
- Disputing misinformation
- Discouraging speculation
- Acknowledging the larger significance of the case
- Providing a forum for communication with the law firm
- Providing a voice for Mr. Zimmerman
- Raising funds
…And I dare say they are doing a fairly decent job of meeting those goals while abiding by their all-too-understandable self-imposed limitations.
One important thing to remember as we sit here marveling at the reality that Mr. Zimmerman – who has not yet been convicted of any crimes – is not only living in fear for his life, but unable to safely express himself in public without a lawyer’s "filter" between him and the rest of the world, is that his situation could become any of our situations. Oh, sure, I like to think that most of us would not have done what Mr. Zimmerman apparently did that fateful night, but do you really think the case – and, more importantly, the public’s reaction to it – would be appreciably different if it was a 100% cut-and-dried example of lawful self-defense? The lynch mob screaming for Zimmerman’s head does not give a damn about the laws, or the facts, or the reality, or even what the court will eventually decide – they only care about satisfying their own personal blood-lust over the perceived murder of a black "kid" at the hands of a (not-so-) white "aggressor".
‘Course, when the narrative is flipped on its head, that same lynch mob is strangely silent, which only goes to show who the true "racists" are in this particular scenario.
I sincerely hope that none of my readership (myself included) ever have cause to employ their firearms to defend their life or limb, but should you have to do so, and should you be successful, Mr. Zimmerman’s situation indicates that your trials and tribulations will only be starting, and only some of them – arguably the minority – will take place within an actual court room. It is unquestionably unfortunate that our society has allowed race-baiters and violent rabble-rousers to run rough-shod over it, but this is the world we live in today, so we might as well plan accordingly.