Not so with the Zimmerman case. Everybody knows exactly what the rights and wrongs of the situation are -- evidence be damned, circumstances be damned, disputes and uncertainties about the details of what happened be damned.
On the right wing, this is to be expected, and the reactions have been predictable. Martin was black and Zimmerman used a gun, therefore the former must have been at fault and the latter must be defended, details to be filled in later with whatever comes up. If Zimmerman had been convicted, it would have been a miscarriage of justice to be invested with faux profundity about anti-gun hysteria and political correctness run amuck, not a sign that maybe the jurors who heard all the evidence and were able to consider it away from the partisan media shitstorm had good reasons for coming to a different conclusion.
That's disturbing, but what what I frankly find more disturbing is the reaction on our own side. Martin was black and Zimmerman used a gun, therefore the former must have been a victim of racism and the latter must be a trigger-happy yahoo who could not possibly have had a valid reason for doing what he did. Zimmerman's acquittal is a miscarriage of justice to be invested with faux profundity about racism and gun culture, not a sign that maybe the jurors who heard all the evidence and were able to consider it away from the partisan media shitstorm had good reasons for coming to a different conclusion.
Zimmerman probably shouldn't have followed Martin, especially after the police advised against it, but he may have felt it appropriate given his work with the local neighborhood watch program; it's an easy mistake to make in such a situation. A critical point -- who started the fight that led to the shooting -- is in dispute and seems undeterminable. Pictures taken at the time of Zimmerman's arrest show blood on his face and the back of his head, but it's disputed how serious the injuries were; another critical point -- whether he reasonably felt in danger of death or severe injury -- is unknowable. To convict, the legal system requires that guilt be proven beyond reasonable doubt. It would have been very surprising if the jurors had considered that standard to be met in a case like this.
But never mind all that -- the case pushed the correct symbolic buttons, and everyone is out of the starting gate and running along the predetermined tracks laid out by their own world-view. Beyond bloggers, Zimmerman's life has been threatened, and while the riots eagerly anticipated by the right-wingers did not materialize, some of the protests have been marked by vicious and violent behavior. Some right-wingers, denied a verdict they could protest, are now going after the special prosecutor for "railroading" Zimmerman.
Is Zimmerman racist? The fact that he's a registered Democrat and once had a black business partner somewhat argues against it, though we all know how little the "Some of my best friends are....." defense often counts for. Still, racism is a serious accusation and not one to make lightly.
A somewhat amusing side story has been the dispute about whether Zimmerman should be considered white or Hispanic (his mother was from Peru). I've long said that the perceived boundaries between the categories "white" and "Hispanic" will soon increasingly blur as Hispanics in the US become ever more assimilated. In practice, each writer seems to classify him according to which option creates the least cognitive dissonance for the writer's own preferred narrative.
I neither exonerate nor condemn Zimmerman. I don't have enough hard information to do so. Neither do you.