Was the Zimmerman Verdict Racist? A (Twitter) Debate.

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 16 2013 4:47 PM

Debating the Zimmerman Verdict: Gawker's Tom Scocca vs Slate's Will Saletan

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Lariece Jackson, 2, holds a sign during a protests against the George Zimmerman verdict on the city's South Side July 15, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois

Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

In the red corner we have Gawker's Tom Scocca, who argues that regardless of the not-guilty verdict reached by a Florida jury this past weekend, George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin. To believe otherwise, he wrote shortly before the trial ended, more or less makes you a racist:

"This is what the real dispute is: do you believe that a 17-year-old black person counts the same as any other human being? The local cops did not, which is why the case turned into a national scandal to begin with. George Zimmerman did not. Trayvon Martin was walking along, heading home from the store, and that was not enough. Turn the case around: a black teenager goes out carrying a gun, gets in a fight with a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, and shoots him, claiming self-defense. We would not even be discussing the case."
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In the blue corner we have Slate's own Will Saletan, who concludes that the problem at the core of the case wasn't race or even guns. "The problem was assumption, misperception, and overreaction," Saletan wrote in a piece that was published last night. "And that cycle hasn’t ended with the verdict. It has escalated." He continued:

"I almost joined the frenzy. Yesterday I was going to write that Zimmerman pursued Martin against police instructions and illustrated the perils of racial profiling. But I hadn’t followed the case in detail. So I sat down and watched the closing arguments: nearly seven hours of video in which the prosecution and defense went point by point through the evidence as it had been hashed out at the trial. Based on what I learned from the videos, I did some further reading. It turned out I had been wrong about many things."

Gentleman, touch gloves and come out swinging—or, I suppose, jabbing in short 140-character-or-less posts: (Your wish is my command, @JackShafer.)

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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