It’s no surprise that the story surrounding America’s most infamous second degree murder defendant George Zimmerman is endlessly fascinating to me, thanks in part to multiple levels of drama:
- accusations of racial profiling by the shooter, George Zimmerman
- accusations that the racial profiling angle was manufactured by the Martin family’s attorney and their PR team, and then exploited by racial demagogues in the Democratic Party (President Barack “If I had a son…” Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus), the racial grievance industry (NAACP, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, etc), and the mainstream media.
- deceptive editing/selection/description of photos, audio, and video related to the shooting in the media.
- selective federal law enforcement by a racially biased Department of Justice.
- apparent fabrications and false charges by the Martin family attorney (claiming police closed circuit video disproved Zimmerman’s claim of injuries, allegations of collusion among Sanford law enforcement).
- and of course, the social media war that has been a key component driving this story since it first became a nation phenomena.
Facts be damned, George Zimmerman has been declared guilty in the court of public opinion of being white, large, menacing, racist, Republican, aggressive, and a cold-blooded murderer. The facts that he has the blood of at least three ethnicities flowing through his veins, was inches shorter than Trayvon Martin and only slightly heavier, worked across racial boundaries his entire life, is generally regarded as out-going and sensitive, is a registered Democrat and claims he only fired his gun when a younger, strong man was smashing his head on the pavement is apparently irrelevant. He has been lynched, quite successfully, via social media.
So it isn’t that shocking that his attorney, Mark O’Mara, has shut down Zimmerman’s awkward online presence and established official social media presence for his legal defense.
O’Mara lists his reasons for establishing an online presence:
- discrediting and eliminating fraudulent websites and social profiles
- disputing misinformation
- discouraging speculation
- acknowledging the larger significance of the case
- providing a forum for communication with the law firm
- providing a voice for Mr. Zimmerman
- raising funds
Predictably, those that have chosen to lynch Mr. Zimmerman online are outraged that O’Mara seems comfortable confronting them on their media of choice. They also (quite reasonably) seems scared that he is going to puncture much of the rumor that they report as fact, and undermine their dubious credibility.
O’Mara is taking a step into the unknown here, and no one can be sure how this will play out. I can assure you, however, that hi-powered defense attorneys and prosecutors around the country will be watching the social media aspects of O’Mara’s defense of Zimmerman as much as the criminal case, and ultimately, it may have a much deeper impact on how criminal cases are tried from now on.