Tahlequah Daily Press


July 24, 2013

Look at the facts of the case before making judgment

TAHLEQUAH — Online and Facebook polling in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February killing of Trayvon Martin reveal two clear facts about this tragic case. The first: Even as far removed as Tahlequah is from Florida, local residents are passionately divided on the issue.

They’re not the only ones. Even former Sen. Durrell Peaden, a key author of the controversial “stand your ground” law used by the defense, is surprised by how the situation transpired. Peaden believes that when Zimmerman disregarded a 911 operator’s admonishment against following Martin, he relinquished his protection under the law.

The jury did not agree, but that’s not the end of the story for Floridians, or Cherokee Countians. Perhaps surprisingly, a majority of those involved in discussion on the Press Facebook page (facebook.com/tdpress) seemed to think Zimmerman should have been guilty of some crime, even if not second-degree murder. Many were mothers, who may have been thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Anyone who has a teenager can understand how that child could easily be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and inclined to posture and bluster when challenged. Should that child, these moms wonder, pay with his life for a few moments of stupidity?

A number of people were adamant that Zimmerman did the right thing. Some, basing their opinions on the letter of the law, offered analytical comments, and suggested the law be reworked in the wake of lessons learned in the Zimmerman case. For a few commenters, however, the case seemed radically personal. Though they were quick to blame the media for imbuing the case with a racial tinge, it was obvious that they, themselves, viewed it that way.

Which brings us to the second observation about local opinion on the Zimmerman case: Many local residents aren’t familiar enough about the facts of the case to be rendering judgment on its outcome. A number of comments – both for and against Zimmerman – were based on a one-sided understanding of the details, and these almost always fell along ideological lines. What this suggests is that conservatives turned to extremely conservative sources for their slant on the case, and progressives picked up their threads from liberal outlets.

Several folks on both sides of the “political” spectrum seemed not to realize they were presenting opinion as fact. The scariest part about that is some people can no longer tell the difference.

It’s incumbent upon all of us to first seek an unbiased presentation of the news – something admittedly difficult to find in today’s world of amateur bloggers and politically-motivated websites. Then if we want to, we can look at the opinions media outlets are publishing and posting. But we’d be better informed if we look at opinions from all sides, rather than sticking with the ones with which we agree ourselves.

As for Florida’s “stand your ground” law, perhaps Gov. Rick Scott, instead of steadfastly defending his measure, should look at how other states – like Oklahoma – do business.

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  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014


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