Much is being assumed of this case, when not everything is yet known, and some are flinging about rumors, and half-truths very easily. Justice for Trayvon Martin must be rooted in truth, or it can never be just. The reading I’ve done around the web these last few hours makes me worry if truth is going to be one of those stretchable things, if the case is permitted to be politicized.
Neighborhood watches can be good things — everyone wants to feel like they are secure in their houses — but I also think it’s possible that some people involved in them can fall into a trap of becoming too suspicious, too quickly. I have no idea if this is true in Zimmerman’s case; I’m not sure anyone else knows it with absolute certainty, at this point, either.
The other day in First Things, I asked whether assumptions of “good faith” are things Americans are willing to make, anymore. Is that what is at the root of this story — the inability of people to give the benefit of a doubt to each other? Was Zimmerman unable to make a good faith assumption that a “hoody-wearing” Trayvon was just hanging out?
If so, why not? Was he too gung-ho, too willing to believe the worst, incapable of assuming good faith?
Now, as this tragedy becomes more widely known and Zimmerman’s family attempts to defend him, is it impossible to give them the benefit of a doubt, at least until a thorough investigation is concluded?
These are serious questions. If society has devolved to the point where we can no longer extend an assumption of good faith to each other, to someone walking home from a convenience store, or knocking on our door; to our neighbors, or our police, or our civic leadership and so forth, then our entire society will inevitably and wholly break down. Indeed, I worry that this story may well be a micro-illustration of the macro-misery toward which our society — and our nation — is headed, if we cannot find a way to pull back from our growing (and sadly, often justified) instinct to distrust, and our unwillingness to extend to each other the benefits-of-a-doubt we all require, sometimes.
I am not sure we can do it; it may be too late — all too far gone. That’s a very disturbing thought.
It is a most disturbing thought and yet too many are adding fuel to the fires already burning.
Caution is being laid aside, a fever pitch is being reached all in pursuit of what many are calling justice.
But is mob justice… justice?