The (Florida) Law, Sir, Is an Ass

First Central Florida, then the South 48 and finally the World According To Facebook, have all been agog over the past month with the ongoing Trial of George Zimmerman, or the triumph of Law over Justice. Or, as one Congresswoman put it the unacknowledged and silent trial of Trayvon Martin

As the trial date approached, instead of borrowing an orange bus from one of the old-folks’ conclaves that dot the Sunshine State, and sending it to Arkansas or Kansas to collect an impartial group of yokels who knew nothing about George Zimmerman (or Central Florida, for that matter), two weeks were devoted to selecting six white women jurors from some 40 screened candidates, all of whom had been saturated for two years with the case, headlined almost daily, but professed that they never heard of it.

Trayvon Martin, the dead teen-ager, and therefore absent from the proceedings, was black. George Zimmerman, the survivor and accused, whose Daddy is a retired judge, was the star of the show, acceptably Americanly obese, clean-shaven and combed, and resplendent in a fresh Armani suit every day. Dollied in on by Cameron One during about 70% of the proceedings.

The libretto is now a sagging worldwide news cycle: Martin was going home one night and, about two hundred yards from his door in a housing complex in Sanford, Florida (a dreary suburb of even drearier Orlando), he was confronted by Zimmerman, who politely asked him what a black guy like him was doing out after dark — and wearing an uppity hooded sweat shirt at that.

Whereupon the black, hooded, obviously unemployed kid punched him in the nose. Whereupon, Zimmerman — fearful for his life and cognizant of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law” — shot the kid through the heart. There are lots of embellishments (45 witnesses, depositions, coroners’ reports, 14 intolerably boringly repetitious days of testimony, and even an animated cartoon, telling it like George said it was, but that’s the nuts and bolts of it.

In Florida, the law is quite clear that in self-defense if somebody enters your space or attacks you (not counting the Government), you’re free to blaze away at him like Wild Bill Hickock. So there you go. Perfectly legal. The suit walks.

The legal world cheers. Except that, according to Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio, the unspoken trial failed to note that the black kid was also self-defending HIS turf and standing HIS ground. (Doesn’t count because he wasn’t packing heat.)

But back to our central theme. The Law is a contrivance of mankind, designed to create and maintain some reasonable order in society, whereas Justice is the universal quality of what is right. In a similar fashion, religion is a man-made system and structure explaining and engaging some chosen deism or theological belief, whereas the concept of God or a Creator is simply that of a higher power, which is universal and infinite. The law bears the same relationship to justice as religion bears to a supreme being. In our society, religion wins hands down. So does the law. God and Justice? Not so much.

“The law says,” everybody chants in unison, “that one is innocent until proven guilty.” (Sometimes. On the other hand, sometimes, as in church or canon law, “We are all guilty until the church proves us innocent.”)

We live in a legal society, in a legal world. Our life is defined by lawyers, we are regulated by lawyers, our politicians are lawyers, and our religions are supported and sanctified by lawyers, whether the robes are black or gold.

Some laws are really doozies.

(1) Under Canadian Law, in at least two Provinces since 1929 and 1931 respectively and never repealed or even amended, native men and women may be sterilized at the whim of any medical doctor, Indian agent or doctor of divinity.

(2) Under British Law, the monarch — currently an octogenarian Queen — can be ruler of only one country, England (possibly throwing in Wales), and yet under the British North America Act, symbolically at least, every front foot, acre or hectare of that red blob on Mercator’s Projection known as Canada can only be carved up or real estated “at the pleasure of the Crown.” The legal system and the Parliamentary system are subservient to the Crown.

(3) Under American Law — as tossed off by the U.S. Supreme Court — as recently as 1973 and 1990, the ancient Doctrine of Discovery delimits native rights to prosecute any individuals on their lands, and in 2005, certain tribes were denied sovereignty. According to Professor Robert Miller of the Lewis & Clark Law School, “it was ‘clear’ that God wanted Indians to get out of the way of American progress.”

In other words, a significant part of American political practice blindly follows the Doctrine of Discovery, that ancient definition of political intervention by the Roman church we all accept whether we want to or not. And speaking of which:

(4) Under Canon Law, specifically Crimem Sollicitationis, a decree by (guess who?) a Cardinal named Joe Ratzinger, and approved in 1962 by none other than Pope John XXIII, currently waiting in the wings and shortlisted for sainthood, any Bishop, Monsignor or other church authority who does not cover up any instance of priestly hanky panky with an altar boy, will be excommunicated, i.e. denied forever the pearly gates.

And the Vatican does have the legal power of an independent state. Benito Mussolini said so in 1929.

So you see, Florida’s laws are not so creepy after all.

(5) In fact the Brits are probably the lawingest people on earth, especially, with British Colonial Law, which includes some real dandies, such as, for example, circa 1646, that a bunch of the King’s periwigged cronies should with one proclamation own everything from Montreal to the Yukon.

(6) In Florida, it’s the Law that if enough old geriatric geezers and other redneck incompetents spoil their ballots during a Presidential election, such as in 2000, requiring complicated recounts, the U.S. Supreme Court — at the suggestion of the State Attorney General, in this case also a Republican, like the majority on the Supreme Court — may declare that the Republican candidate shall henceforth be considered the President.

Parenthetically, an additional Florida Law states that

(7a) if a mother leaves a child in a closed car in typical Florida heat, she may be arrested, tried and given a jail sentence in excess of that of

(7b) a mother who kills her child, whether with malice aforethought, or simply as a convenience so that the said mother can go out dancing, provided that the aforesaid sociopathic mother lies, cheats, hides, submerges and covers up the details expertly enough so that the State prosecutor is unable to PROVE the murder or accidental death of her child.

Don’t you just love Florida Law?

So much for that sacrosanct holy grail of all lawyers, judges, law professors and heroic jurypersons, not to mention most politicians, who are mostly lawyers anyway. The Law states that anybody and everybody, as Gilbert and Sullivan put it, whether a somebody or a nobody, is innocent until proven guilty. And so The Law succeeds, in triumph over that poor, second-rate principle known as Justice.

Billy Wharton, a dissident voice writing in Dissident Voice, makes the case that Trayvon Martin, like Martin Luther King, was a victim of traditional southern lynch law. He and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge are right, that ol’ Dixie is still today, albeit beneath the surface, forever marinated in the historical nigger suppression of good old white Law that is made up of the continuing triumvirate of police, court and church.

And yet the nonsense of George Zimmerman’s deliverance — like some junior grade St. John XXIII — goes much further. It’s the triumph of man-made law over god-given Justice.

“Not guilty,” pronounced the six white (one possibly hispanic) female jurors, two of whom were married to lawyers and a third was the mother of a lawyer. (We might have guessed.) They might just as logically have declared George Zimmerman the best-dressed dude in the courtroom.

“Justice is mine,” saith the Lord.

Nobody was listening — least of all the media, who know a headline when they hear one.

Bill Annett writes four newsletters: The Canadian Shield, American Logo, Beating the Street, and The Oyster World. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Bill.