[Note: this is an update of a post I wrote and published briefly before the verdict came out. Respect for the rule of law made me take down that post, as I thought it implausible that a not guilty verdict would be reached.]
“Do I have to fear for my life if I come visit you in America?”
That’s a question a friend of mine from Germany actually asked, in reference to the Treyvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. In Germany, it’s rare that you shoot someone and then walk away as if nothing happened. That a trial could end in acquittal seemed worse than strange to her. It seemed like something was completely wrong with the judicial or legal system.
First, for all my foreign readers, it appears that the verdict was correctly interpreting the law of the State of Florida. It is also true that the law in the matter, Stand Your Ground, is not unique to this state, but is similarly enacted in a number of states. This does not include the Golden State of California, where I live. So if you want to come and visit me, anyone that shoots you will probably be landing in jail. So please do come and visit.
Second, as far as I am concerned, I feel I would have been much more Treyvon Martin than George Zimmerman under the circumstances. When going through the events of that night, I just think of everything that Zimmerman did wrong – for instance, never identifying himself as armed. If I were walking home alone at night in an unfamiliar neighborhood, I would be unarmed and I would potentially end up dead because some guy thinks I am creepy. So, I will refrain from visiting Florida until they sort out this thing.