A sad Saturday

Within one hour on Saturday evening, two pieces of news shook the nation in very different ways. On one side, the verdict of George Zimmerman sent shockwaves throughout America, inciting racial arguments, protests and demonstrations from people who strongly disagreed with the outcome.

What felt like about fifteen minutes later, the death of Cory Montieth, the star of Glee, began spreading throughout social media.

Basically, to sum it up, these two stories were so big that it finally took Sharknado out of the news.

One of the surprising things to me is how unsurprising it was when Zimmerman was declared innocent. Say what you want about our justice system, but it does one thing, and does it well — keeping innocent people out of jail. If there is any reasonable doubt, any at all, you will be acquitted. Which is obviously a good thing if you are accused of a crime you didn’t commit.

But the problem with that, obviously, is that it allows criminals off the hook too often.

Let’s go back to O.J. Simpson, which has been compared to the Zimmerman trial as far as its racial significance. I was just 8 years old when that trial occurred, but it was a shocking development because it should have been an open-and-shut case. O.J. had the motive to commit the crime, and his white Bronco chase was essentially a confession.

But what did we learn? That if you spend the goods on a top defense team, then enough loopholes can be found in our justice system to get you off the hook. But that didn’t make it any less shocking. Since then, we’ve had similar instances of criminals being acquitted for major crimes — Robert Blake and Casey Anthony come immediately to mind. So after that, I think it has desensitized our country into realizing how difficult it is to convict wrongdoers of crime, and therefore, people have seem to lost a little bit of faith in our justice system. And I think that is a problem.

But George Zimmerman’s case is a little different because he had the fallback of some very questionable state laws which provide plenty of leeway for “self-defense.” Bearing that in mind, there was no chance he was going to be convicted. So that’s the real story here, other than the fact that a 17-year-old kid is dead, of course.

Anybody who thinks this story is going to blow over in a few days is terribly mistaken. It’s quite astonishing how emotional people have become over it, and the case really took a life of its own. A couple of hours after the verdict, I was at my local bar, where I saw a black girl transfixed with the news coverage. I eventually got to talking to her, and she actually said that she “couldn’t handle the verdict,” and had to get out of her house and to a bar. That’s the effect that this has had on people. When that happens, there’s no blowing over. So don’t be surprised if this stays at the forefront of media coverage for the duration of the summer.

And one last thought — it’s really easy to blame the media for sensationalizing a story, and more often than not, they do. However, it’s not the media that incited this racial debate. It was already there. This was about race since Day One. So how can you blame the media for covering it as such? That’s the pertinent issue on people’s minds, and therefore it is their duty to explore that side of it. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s just the way the media works, and more people should probably understand that.

Now for the second news story of Saturday — the death of Cory Monteith. Glee is an extremely easy show to rag on, and has especially been a heavy target by yours truly, but this is just plain sad. People die every day, but it’s not everyday that a lead actor from one of the most popular shows in the country dies at a young age, so this was certainly top news, whether you were a fan of the show or not.

Non-fans of the show were likely more taken aback by the news because we were unaware of Monteith’s history. I knew that he dropped out of high school to pursue an acting career, but I was not aware of his history of substance abuse. Apparently he has been in rehab many times, his earliest stint as a 19-year-old. His troubles were so vast that in one interview he had previously said, “I’m lucky to be alive.”

Naturally a cause of death can’t be confirmed until after an autopsy and toxicology reports, but it’s fairly obvious that everyone will expect it to be a drug overdose. After all, 31-year-olds typically do not drop dead of natural causes.

Something that this made me think about is how freaking hard it is to go and get yourself killed. Apparently Monteith had been doing drugs pretty seriously for 15 years. Very often we are all reminded of our immortality, and this is yet another one of those reminders. But aside from getting hit by a truck or being involved in a fiery plane crash, it’s pretty damn hard to physically stop your heart from beating unless you do something really stupid. Addiction plays a role, obviously, but, you have to voluntarily begin something to become addicted in the first place.

Wise up, people.

It’s a shame that Saturday was such a bummer, because it means I didn’t get to talk much about Sharknado, or about the unbelievably stupid San Francisco local news affiliate that somehow believed they had the accurate names in the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash. The latter of which, because of their stupidity, are now being sued.

Oh well, I guess a Sharknado blog just wasn’t meant to be. But after all of the exorbitant Tweets that were made about it as it aired on Thursday night, I’m sure you’re all okay with that.

I’ll just have to wait for the sequel, I guess.

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