We educators are familiar with something called “the null curriculum.” That turn of phrase is used to indicate the issues and topics that don’t come up in class as points of instruction. Perhaps some of my readers have been wondering why the Trayvon Martin case hasn’t made it into this blog yet. Well, your can stop wondering. I’ve avoided the topic intentionally while police investigators do their work.
It seems to me that there are several tragedies revolving around this unfortunate case from Sanford, Florida. First, a young American citizen has been shot dead, ostensibly for nothing more than returning from a local market where he purchased a package of Skittles. Just the possibility that this could happen should shake every parent to the core. Second, a citizen on patrol in his neighborhood, a neighborhood affected by crime, has been beaten and bloodied. Anyone who walks outside at night should be concerned about this; it is not a pleasant thing to cower inside one’s home for fear of being on the street. The third tragedy is that Americans all over the country, often led by overzealous leaders who seem to need attention to justify their evaluation of themselves, are rushing to judgment.
We should all be concerned. We should all demand a full and complete investigation. And we should all remember that Lady Justice wears a blindfold. The facts of this case must be effectively gathered and then they will have to be weighed objectively in a court of law. The gathering storm of political and social pressure on all sides of this case will do nothing to further the interests of those who want a fair judgment. I refuse to add my voice to the partisan screeching taking place about the case.
We must seek justice, but this can only be done if reasonable laws are enforced and if the investigation by police is allowed to proceed unhampered and without bias for any party. This is the only way to protect every party.
There have been unkind moments in American history when Lady Justice raised her blindfold to ask who sought her counsel and then she denied her wisdom. There were times when she was forced by those who spoke for her to note that the plaintiff or the wronged party was “just a woman,” or “just a slave,” or “just a person of this or that ethnic group.” There have been unfortunate moments when she was made to say, “no justice for you.” Such past wrongs must be guarded against, not repeated. Two wrongs don’t make anything right, nor do three, or four, or twenty, or a hundred wrongs.
Our motto must be that we refuse to rush to judgment. We will watch and we will wait. And we will demand fairness and objectivity for every party involved. Then we will insist on a cold, factual description of events. It will be painful, and through her blindfold we will be unable to see that Lady Justice weeps. If she removes that cover over her eyes, however, we must all weep, for none of us can be assured of her protection.