CHICAGO, Il., March 30, 2012 — One of the most tragic things in life is the death of an innocent person; in this case Trayvon Martin. Immediately following this kind of tragedy, the proceeding hysteria can develop in the same way.
The first reaction is grief. It rips apart a family, the surrounding community cries in outrage, and it tugs the heartstrings of perfect strangers. The second response is justice; seeking justice for heartbreaking loss. Emotional pleas made in front of cameras and to authorities demand that the sorrow be comforted by the apprehension of whomever they think is responsible.
The media festers with protests, witness accounts, celebrity outlooks, and redundant pictures. Everyone has an expert opinion regarding the situation, and they call for the punishment of the accused—all happening in a matter of hours after the story breaks—before the alleged perpetrator has even had a chance to hear their Miranda Rights.
At this point, any authority trying to manage this situation has lost all control. Overnight, people have created support groups, petitions, T-shirts, foundations, and blogs. There are people in the streets with signs, flooding their local government officials with phone calls and emails, and skipping responsibilities to attend rallies. The public becomes so sure of their verdict that they are ready to convict a person they don’t know from a situation they did not witness.
The evening news is congested with every facet of this growing crisis with inflammatory predictions, attitudes, and judgments. Communities form their conclusions about the situation that the sense of reason and logic, the fine line between right and wrong, becomes a blurry grey area.
Mob mentality is a hungry flame, growing at the mere presence of any catalyst. It spreads so fast that any solution doesn’t stand a chance at containing the destruction. Crowds of people form modern day lynch mobs and make attempts to drag the uncharged party into the public eye to openly chastise them for the crime they are accused of.
We’ve seen this throughout history: the Salem Witch Trials, the back and forth of racism during and after slavery, the segregation of Japanese Americans and immigrants during World War II, our nation going to war in the Middle East believed so justified because a group of Middle Eastern men attacked one of our cities. These occurrences have one thing in common: they are all misguided unfortunate situations fueled by ignorant citizenry and misguided fools.
In the contemporary world, if people aren’t in the vicinity to string up the accused, they pass the infection of the mob by repeatedly exploiting the situation on the internet. There are claims of personal anguish because infantile imaginations put themselves in the situation, and then they demand the death of the accused criminal. They make pictures of the believed criminal with targets on their foreheads.
People unknown to Trayvon Martin valiantly claim that they would kill the person responsible if given the chance—and other retorts of equal or greater stupidity. If you are lucky enough to escape this irrational state of mind, then you too can see that it is not our place to take the law into our own hands.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is the foundation of our nation’s justice system.
Unfortunately when there is a catastrophe, we dust off the skeletons in our nation’s closet and ask them to dance. Lynch mobs and unnecessary and untimely deaths—wounds from long ago—dot our past too frequently; something that we are definitely not proud of in the United States of America.
However, there are many things that make this country the greatest one on the planet, and one of those things is the guarantee of a fair trial. As citizens, we have the right to face a jury of our peers where facts, testimonies, and accounts have to be documented and heard. Then, and only then, can judgment be passed.
When does it become okay to bypass the law and seek our own justice? Even after authorities demand that we cease and desist, we continue to chase this accused criminal until we derive an immediate solution we are happy with. We bear arms, we pursue; we shoot now and ask questions later. Does that sound familiar? A man accused of doing this very thing shot and killed Trayvon Martin, and is now the target of a mob of angry and foolish people.
Instead of seeking justice, they continue the same repetitive damning circle of racism and savagery. We cannot evolve until we put a stop to the same rhythmic mistakes we’ve been making throughout our nation’s existence. Until this mob is diffused, we will not know real justice.
My sympathies go out to Trayvon Martin’s family. I cannot imagine being affected by such a calamity—and hope I never do. The situation is most unfortunate and my good thoughts are with them during this tumultuous time. I hope George Zimmerman gets a fair trial, untainted by the mass hysteria that has ensued around this tragedy. If I was in his situation, that is all that I would want.
Read more on Trayvon Martin at the Communities
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