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Sunday Morning Notes: Sorrow and Surprise

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 14, 2013

As I was getting ready to go to bed last night, I saw a news alert that a Zimmerman verdict was coming. I waited for it, and saw that he was found not guilty. It was a terrible, disappointing decision, one brought about by a horrible Stand Your Ground law, which allows for vigiliante justice -- selectively, of course, as this other case indicates.Anger and argument have greeted the decision, including on Facebook, where I've seen some nasty debates. My younger son, Conor, spoke eloquently about that:

This is the only thing I will post about the Zimmerman verdict then I am done. Whether or not you believe justice was served or a wrong committed, there is no excuse for some of the most hateful and obscene things I have ever read to be said on Facebook. Thankfully none of my friends have said these things, but just browsing around various groups to see what others have to say about it has sickened me. I will be the first to admit that I use obscenities frequently and make off colored jokes but will never use a trial verdict to flood the internet with post that can only be classified as hate speech. I never like playing the "veteran card" but all I can say is I served this country for nine months to defend the rights of all Americans, justified war aside or not, and will continue to defend them to my death. Just think about what you use your right to free speech to say before you say it because I am sickened by what I see and I weep for this country if this is what we are truly made of.

All this being done, and my hope remaining that Zimmerman's days in court are not done (whether under civil suit or federal prosecution), can any of us say the verdict was a surprise? The grim possibility of not-guilty has stood over this case from the beginning; the Florida law alone made it very possible.

And we are living in a world where we get regular updates on law and government's indifference to the consequences of their actions -- witness the Texas abortion law. Even bright spots like the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage come with dark clouds like the Supreme Court's ruling on voting rights. So, no surprise in the Zimmerman verdict. I shook my head, and went to bed.

I woke up this morning to news that was surprising, and sad, and -- while not on the legal or cultural scale of Trayvon Martin -- involved the unfortunate death of a young man. It was that Corey Monteith of "Glee" had died.

I don't suppose that we should be surprised any time a performer with a difficult history has died -- would anyone have been shocked to wake up to news that Lindsay Lohan had passed? -- and Monteith had acknowledged struggles with substance abuse. But there is still this disconnect that happens when the public image -- in Monteith's case of Finn Hudson, a character of integrity, vigor and redemptive singing moments -- runs into what was a more troubled off-camera life. So it was a surprise, and a sad one. But not nearly as sad as the Zimmerman verdict, however little that surprised.

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