Less widespread was the report that Zimmerman was arrested in November for a domestic abuse charge, after his live-in girlfriend called police claiming he destroyed her property and threatened her with a gun (she dropped the charges and refused to testify in early December). And neither was it widely publicized that Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for “resisting an officer with violence;” or later that year when a fiancée filed a restraining order against him due to domestic violence.
Put aside the contentious verdict and focus on the fallout: The case was a clear example of the court of public opinion echoing louder than the legal decision. There isn’t a ton of doubt left about Zimmerman’s character, and his history of violence has left many in America grasping to find the logic that can exonerate an adult male after shooting an unarmed youth in the heart. US Attorney General Eric Holder said recently that Zimmerman could face federal charges for the crime, a development which Verene Shepherd from a United Nations human-rights agency is calling for the Obama administration to decide on soon, stating the existing laws “could have discriminatory impact on African Americans.” Guilty or no, America’s criminal justice system is remarkably flawed, and George Zimmerman provided its many injustices with a face.
LePage’s Romney moment
Forget for a moment that his policies and principles have real repercussions on the lives of Mainers, and the theater that is Paul LePage would make incredibly rich entertainment. Not only did he fail to learn from the political gaffe Mitt Romney made in his campaign’s lowest moment —explaining to a crowd of Republican donors that “47 percent of the population believe they are victims” who “demand entitlements” and “don’t pay income taxes” — LePage doubled down on it, declaring at a conservative fundraiser in October that “47 percent of able-bodied Mainers don’t work.”
What’s particularly incredible about this remark — besides the rancor and cynicism behind it — is that it LePage may have chosen it for aesthetic reasons alone. Maine’s unemployment rate sits at 7 percent, below average for the US. And according to Maine Department of Labor, 65 percent of Mainers over the age of 16 (excluding those in prison or the military) are either actively working or trying to find employment, and the 35 percent that aren’t include retirees and the disabled. That means either a) someone in the governor’s office made a serious mathematical error, b) LePage is rhetorically implying that children under the age of 16 should be counted among the workforce, or c) that 47 percent is some sort of magical figure for anti-welfare stump speeches, and conservatives are really, really intent on impressing it as reality.
Online journalism and terror-entertainment
This year, thanks to social media, Americans for the first time in history had the surreal distinction of being able to follow a terrorist attack in their own country in real time.
The Boston Marathon bombings of April 15 were assiduously covered by major media outlets — perhaps too much so, as the New York Post, in a breathless rush to be the first to break the story, reported that twelve people had been killed (the death toll was actually three) and printed a cover image erroneously identifying 16-year-old Salaheddin Barhoum and 24-year-old Yassine Zaimi, as suspects, just hours before the FBI released images of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.