As the Trayvon Martin case gets underway in Florida, social media has given Americans a new way to discuss and dissect big legal events, as well as make a case ourselves for individuals involved -- including both Martin and George Zimmerman.
Like many before it, the George Zimmerman trial is polarized, bizarrely, across several lines. Some feel the case is one hinging largely on race, others worry a conviction (right or wrong) will weaken Florida's clearly lax gun laws, and many have formed intense opinions on the case's players despite a lack of anything but speculation in much of the character development.
Watching the Zimmerman trial play out though, seems to at least make one thing clear -- a lot of people have forgotten precisely who is on trial here and for what.
With this in mind, we've worked up a quick list for those who may be confused, pointing out some not necessarily legal, but compelling nonetheless aspects of the people involved in the Martin case. Here is a handy reference guide as to who is not on trial as Zimmerman's fate is decided.
Trayvon MartinMartin was killed on the night of February 26 in Sanford as he walked back to his father's house after buying Skittles and iced tea, but the person Trayvon was did not seem to stop evolving with his death.
After he was shot, Martin was said to be a "thug," a "wannabe gangster," accused of carrying burglary weapons, accused of casing homes.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing parents Trayvon Martin and Sybrina Fulton, says background checks and drug testing were done on Martin's body the night he was killed, with no such consideration given to his admitted killer. Martin's father was not informed until he filed a missing persons report that his son, a minor carrying a cell phone, had been murdered.
Exhaustive attempts were made to submit "evidence" that Martin, 17, was of questionable character by the defense team -- expected, but wholly irrelevant to the circumstances of the evening.
We know who the teen was and what he was doing without question. What we don't know is why Zimmerman shot him.
Trayvon Martin is not on trial.
Separated, Martin and Fulton have been blamed as well for co-parenting, an overwhelmingly common situation in much of the Western world. They've been called negligent and disinterested, despite the fact it was only just after 7 PM when the teen was shot (hardly out roaming the streets), and the part where they quietly and relentlessly push for a trial. For the man that killed their son.
Martin and Fulton do not need to defend or explain their relationship or history, nor do they need to address questions about why they are no longer together. None of that is relevant to their son's death.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton are not on trial.
HoodiesA strange initial narrative that emerged from a conservative media bizarrely trying to pin responsibility for the death of Trayvon Martin on Trayvon Martin (reason unclear) suggested the hoodie worn by the teen -- and half of America all the time -- was a factor in his death.
That he looked thuggish, the story went. Somewhat like the unabomber, but scarier because he was black. Like a black unabomber.
Given the ubiquity of hoodies, and their prevalence among Americans aged 2 to 100, I think we can safely say that hoodies are not on trial.
Honest, sassy, and present under duress, Jeantel has captivated social media with her reluctance and frustration through questioning.
Jeantel was 18 and horrified when she learned she was the last person to speak to Martin before he was shot dead, knowledge that haunts her to this day. It emerged she lied and said she'd been hospitalized to avoid having to face his grieving parents with this knowledge, and out of fear that she would be forced to view her friend's dead body.
For that and many other things, Jeantel has been lambasted as she is thrown, kicking and screaming, into a limelight she clearly never wanted.
Rachel Jeantel is not on trial.
Other witnessesWhether they later joined a page to support Martin or feel strongly that they witnessed a murder and not a self-defense shooting, the scant number of neighbors that were able to overhear the fatal confrontation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
Other witnesses are not on trial.
George Zimmerman is on trial in the Trayvon Martin case.