The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of Anglo-American jurisprudence, so surely well-educated British citizen Martin Bashir knows better than to declare in his closing "Clear the Air" commentary on his April 11 MSNBC program that with charges pending against Sanford, Florida resident "George Zimmerman will have to justify his actions in a court of law." "From the very outset, virtually every aspect of this case has raised serious questions about Mr. Zimmerman's actions and the story that followed," Bashir added, before rattling off the as-yet-unproven but widely reported notion that Zimmerman continued to pursue Trayvon Martin on foot after the 911 dispatcher counseled him not to.
But wait, there's more, as Bashir used the opportunity to not only convict Zimmerman but virtually finger gun rights groups that have lobbied for Stand Your Ground laws as unindicted co-conspirators:
BASHIR: Whatever the charges announced this evening, this won't just be a trial of Mr. Zimmerman's actions, it will also be an opportunity to assess the sense and validity of so-called Stand Your Ground Laws.
Just an hour ago, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg scoffed at the idea those laws are simply about self defense.
BLOOMBERG: These shoot-first laws have nothing to do with that or with the exercise of Second Amendment rights. Instead they justify civilian gunplay and invite vigilante justice and retribution with disastrous results.
BASHIR: Nothing will bring back the life of Trayvon Martin, but there remains an opportunity to do everything in our powers to prevent this from every happening again.
While Bashir didn't explicitly blame the NRA, Mayor Bloomberg did. What's more, Bashir and his producers can't have not known that, as the network carried Bloomberg's comments live two hours earlier (video here and embedded below):
...Since then the NRA managed to spread this law to 24 other states telling legislators that this would make their communities safer. Well, it didn't turn out that way, and we now have the data to prove it.
In reality, the NRA's leaders weren't interested in public safety, they were interested in promoting a culture where people take the law into their own hands and face no consequences for it. Let's call that by its real name, vigilantism..