Today’s STFU: George Zimmerman’s father and the court of public opinion

I’m trying hard not to be a one-note blogger, folks, and I know I’ve posted several times now about the Trayvon Martin case, including one just last night. I wasn’t actually planning to revisit that subject again so soon (I swear, I had a harmless little post about recipes in mind when I woke up this morning). Unfortunately, while scanning the headlines today, I happened upon this.

A Central Florida news team – part of the Fox News family, surprisingly enough – aired an interview with the father of George Zimmerman last night which was absolutely incredible. Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, was speaking out to defend his son, and to lambaste the media and the public for the way in which  he feels they have handled the discussion of the Trayvon Martin shooting. He reiterated the story that his son gave to police that night, in which Zimmerman was threatened and beaten by Martin, causing Zimmerman to fear for his life. And, just as Zimmerman’s friend Joe Oliver has been doing, he stated these accounts as fact, even though there has been nobody, other than George Zimmerman himself, to back the details of those stories up or to put forth evidence that his account is true.

But for Robert Zimmerman, it’s the public and the press that need to get their story straight, not his son. Those who are calling for Zimmerman’s arrest “are just making things up that are not true about George.” In particular, he denied that there was any racial motive to the shooting, and was very specific in his criticism of those who he feels are getting it wrong:

“I never foresaw so much hate coming from the president, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP – every organization imaginable is trying to get notoriety or profit from this in some way. But there’s so much hate…I’ve never been involved in hate, and George hasn’t, and it’s really unbelievable.”

Anyone else notice the beauty of this statement? Robert Zimmerman is upset about the “hate” being directed toward his son, and the only individuals and groups he singles out are our (black) president, the Congressional Black Caucus (black folks), and the NAACP (more black folks). And he’s trying to make the point that he and his son don’t have a racist bone in their bodies. Just let that sink in for a minute, if you will.

Now, this interview was done before the video of George Zimmerman walking into the Sanford police station, seemingly uninjured and unruffled, had been widely circulated. It begs the question, could Robert Zimmerman have sat before the cameras and said all this, with a straight face, after this footage had been seen by more people? Could he have stuck to this story of the beating his son suffered, and the broken nose he had as a result of a punch from Trayvon Martin, after the world had seen George Zimmerman walking into that police station with no swelling, no bleeding, no apparent pain, not so much as a Band-Aid on him, and his shirt still neatly tucked into his jeans, for God’s sake?

The reporter did, in fact, ask Zimmerman’s father about this video, only to find out that he hadn’t seen it. When she informed him that the video shows “no obvious injuries” and asked him what he thinks about that information, he sounds somewhat stumped. “I have no idea what the video showed…I know his nose was broken; his scalp was cut in two different places…I don’t know. He wasn’t given any medical attention (emphasis mine), but they may have cleaned him up there at the scene. I have no idea.”

I was astounded by this interview on many levels, and if you haven’t seen it, I really suggest that you take the time to do so. The local Fox affiliate that spoke to Robert Zimmerman has posted the full video from the interview online. I won’t go into all the details that are discussed or how very off base it all sounds to me. You can be the judge of that for yourself.

But on the subject of judging, the thing that kills me about all this is this fact that George Zimmerman’s father and friends are talking out of both sides of their mouths. Those who support him are concerned about what they consider to be a lynch mob mentality in the reporting of this case, and complaining that George Zimmerman is being unfairly tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. They repeatedly state that, when the dust settles and the “facts” come out, people will see just how wrong they were about what happened.

As far as I can tell, the only way to get the facts out is to bring George Zimmerman to trial. And this, it seems, is the one thing that Zimmerman’s father, friends and other supporters are not interested in doing. They are happy enough to do these interviews and peddle their versions of events. But they haven’t done it in a court of law, under oath. They have not addressed any evidence, including the recordings of the 911 calls and the police department video, which appears to run counter to their stories. And George Zimmerman himself has yet to come forward and stand up in his own defense. Even his lawyer has avoided confrontation, choosing to run away from a scheduled interview with Lawrence O’Donnell which might have been more pointed and difficult to handle than he was ready for. If this thing does go to trial, I wonder how this guy’s going to deal with being challenged.

If anyone should know about the value of a fair trial, it is Robert Zimmerman, who is a retired magistrate from Virginia. Some have even suggested that it is his connections or influence within the judicial system that have kept his son from being charged in this case, or that he may have helped him when charges of resisting arrest and battery of a law enforcement officer, stemming from a 2005 arrest, were thrown out. If any such thing did occur, there has been no evidence to substantiate it.

But it is certain that Robert Zimmerman seems happy enough to allow his son to be tried in the court of public opinion, so long as he and other supporters can continue saying whatever nonsense they want to say without fear of legal rebuttals or cross-examination. If they truly want the facts to come out, and if George Zimmerman is as free of blame as they say he is, then they need to stop hiding, stop running, and stop using the media to spread opinions that have no legal merit and serve no purpose other than as propaganda. If they have nothing to be afraid of, the arrest and trial of George Zimmerman will be just as much a welcome ending to this episode for them as it will be to Trayvon Martin’s family, and to the people around the country who want to be sure that nobody is getting away with murder. Until this happens, however, Robert Zimmerman has no right to take up airtime on news shows to bash the media, the president, and the public for picking on his son. He can give any relevant testimony on his son’s behalf in court when the time comes, but for now, he needs to STFU.


7 thoughts on “Today’s STFU: George Zimmerman’s father and the court of public opinion

  1. I give leeway to parents protecting their kids. It’s kind of human nature. But Fox should also know any words from Zimmerman’s dad’s mouth are not going to be unbiased. Same with the Martin family. Of course I am sympathetic to their plight but don’t expect 100% accuracy from their camp either. The last people to listen to for honest, unbiased insight into the people involved in this tragedy are family members.

    • I agree that the families are bound to be biased toward their own. I think the difference might be that, if you take away all the peripheral stuff, all the cute family pictures and the Skittles and iced tea, the bare essence of Trayvon’s family’s message is: our son is dead. We know who killed him. All the evidence thus far has cast doubt on the “self-defense” argument. We know the police haven’t handled this well, and we want to know why there hasn’t been an arrest. I think those are valid sentiments that most reasonable people would agree with, Skittles or no Skittles.

      And when you take away all the glowing character references that Zimmerman’s family and friends are offering, you get…nothing. They have no valid points to make, no solid evidence to point to, no factual foundation on which to build their PR case. That, for me, is the difference.

      Even if you take the family’s biases into account, once you strip all that away, this thing is painfully one-sided based on the information that’s out there so far. It’s much harder for me to listen to Zimmerman’s dad or Joe Oliver than it is for me to listen to Trayvon’s parents, because at this point I feel they have a certain amount of justified anger on their side, regardless of all the other hoopla, and I don’t have the same sympathy for anyone who complains that George Zimmerman isn’t being treated fairly. I’m just not seeing it.

  2. It has been said that one should believe nothing of what they hear, and only half of what they see. I’m good with that, but I’d like to see the bloody broken nose and bloody cuts half of Zimmerman’s head. I’ve only seen police video of the other half. Just sayin’…

    • Exactly! I guess the part of the video with all those injuries must’ve ended up on the cutting room floor or something…or maybe the video was doctored by the NAACP or the president, so they could get that notoriety and profit they were after…I smell a conspiracy!

      Whoops, sorry. I was channeling Glenn Beck there for a second…*shudder*

  3. Not that I really believed Zimmerman to begin with, but after watching the footage of him at the police station, he was not beat up. Not to the extent and circumstances he claims. Sure, Trayvon may have defended himself. But if Zimmerman was beaten like he said, it would have been easily visible on his head. His jacket and clothes would be unkempt, possible torn. Etc. Zimmerman looked like he was ready to go to the story or out to dinner in that footage.

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