Noah Millman has bravely taken up the cause of . . . defending the mainstream media in it’s handling of the Zimmerman case. His bravery appears, however, to know no bounds – he’s also courageous to criticize Pat Buchanan’s views of the case. I hope he has bodyguards following him around.
Do they give Pulitzer Prizes for blog posts? They may have to start.
Anyway, let’s take a look at his argument:
The reason we have a criminal justice system is precisely to remove the felt need for private justice – for revenge, personal and collective. Where individuals or distinct groups become convinced that the justice system does not provide adequate recourse, the desire for private vengeance increases. In some cases, that desire boils over into violent action. Such action is unjustified, but that doesn’t mean it is incomprehensible, or that it won’t happen.
That doesn’t mean it will, though, either. It behooves the authorities not to presume too much – or too little. The right answer to perceptions of unfairness is conspicuous fairness, not retribution. If the standard of “justice” is conviction of acquittal, we’ve already lost; there is no chance for peace. A fair trial is the answer, regardless of the verdict – and the government, at the highest levels, should say so, and well in advance of a verdict. That communications campaign is as important as any preparation that local police departments might make.
And here’s the thing. To be able to conduct that communications campaign effectively, the government has to sound credible. Which means understanding why so many people were upset that Zimmerman wasn’t taken in in the first place.
In doing that job, Buchanan’s attempt – and he isn’t alone – to turn Zimmerman into a folk hero has been completely counter-productive. Assuming the goal is to increase confidence in the integrity of the trial, acquitting Zimmerman in the media is just as bad as convicting him. And if that isn’t the goal, then Buchanan has no business criticizing people who fanned the flames.
What happened in this case, is that the authorities looked into matter and decided not to arrest Zimmerman. There is no reason to believe that this earlier, unbiased conclusion was not the just conclusion.
Following racial agitation, from the race hustling lobby, the authorities charged Zimmerman with second degree murder. The point is that absent the need for a "communications campaign" (i.e. propaganda) a fair conclusion was reached by the authorities. No evidence has ever been presented to call this fact into question. Some people didn’t like the result, but that is always the case with a just outcome.
Millman claims that a "fair trial is the answer," but there’s absolutely no evidence that Zimmerman committed second degree murder – the charge on which a trial (though not a fair one) will be conducted. I think there’s an argument to be made – following Millman’s logic – that a fair trial on manslaughter could be valuable. But that’s not in the cards.
Instead, we’re seeing a politically motivated show trial.
If a member of the press isn’t right to criticize that, what is the press for?