gang activity, drug dealing, burglary, whatever. You find a Facebook page of a man named Trayvon Martin, and he's depicted striking what you believe to be a gangster pose? That can only mean that every black man named Trayvon Martin is a ganster. You see a picture of Trayvon Martin where he doesn't look dark-skinned? That can only mean that the biased media is trying to make him look less scary because, well, no logic there, just prejudice. And of course, despite your own obsession with race, it's tragic that everybody who is critical of the shooting of a 17-year-old who was doing nothing more menacing than walking is turning this into a racial issue. What sounds like a muttered racial slur by Zimmerman, perhaps a completely innocent reference to "bleah" people, right?
From what we've heard so far, it sounds like the police also drew conclusions based upon confirmation bias, failing to adequately challenge the dubious elements of Zimmerman's story and accepting Zimmerman's belief that nobody who looked like Martin belonged in that neighborhood or could be present for anything but nefarious purposes. The fact that they leaked information about Martin's background - facts irrelevant to the shooting incident - suggest that the person behind the leak believes that Martin somehow got what was coming to him, and believes that the fact that he apparently used marijuana supports that position.
On the other hand, you have a documented police officer wannabe with a history of violent confrontations, who likes to tour around his neighborhood playing captain of the neighborhood watch. (That's all documented.) It is pretty easy to go from there to seeing Zimmerman as a guy who wanted to be Dirty Harry - savior of the neighborhood - looking for a "Make my my day, punk" moment until he finally found one. That is, until he made one. The evidence is more sympathetic to this interpretation, given that there's no evidence that Trayvon Martin did anything wrong before being stalked and confronted by Zimmerman, but there is a possibility that Zimmerman has an innocent explanation for what sounds like a racial slur during his 911 call, and that he actually did stop accosting Martin and start to return to his car before a renewed altercation leading up to the shooting.
Let me emphasize, there is a material difference between inferring the worst about Zimmerman and the worst about Martin. With Zimmerman, we're talking about the guy who is still alive and is free to make his case. At any time he chooses he can make a public statement explaining what he really muttered during the 911 call, and provide a plausible explanation of why he would pursue Martin with such vigor, in total disregard of the instruction he was given by the police, then suddenly decide to let him go. He may be entitled to a presumption of innocence if he's prosecuted for a crime, but he is not owed any such presumption in the court of public opinion.
With Martin, on the other hand, there's no evidence that he did anything wrong or suspicious before being accosted by Zimmerman. Even in Zimmerman's own words, Martin's big offenses were walking through Zimmerman's neighborhood, wearing a hoodie on a rainy day, and keeping his hands in his pockets, presumably to keep them warm. Everything else is projection or, in the case of people like Michelle Malkin, opportunistic race-baiting. I don't see any measure by which Zimmerman's actions were reasonable, particularly after being told by the police that they did not need him to follow Martin, and it seems difficult to avoid seeing that his perceptions of race colored his actions, but there's room for a factual explanation that makes him something less than a poster child for a Dirty Harry wannabe who was eager to shoot a "punk".
I'm not going to argue that the public at large should give Zimmerman every benefit of the doubt, or cut him some slack. Given his documented actions, I'm not sympathetic to him. I do think this incident reflects the foolish nature of "stand your ground" laws that transform this type of incident from an "imperfect self defense" - "The fight I started wasn't intended to escalate to this level so I should only be convicted of manslaughter" - to actual self-defense. If the attention that this incident generates causes Florida to restore at least that level of sanity to its statute, that's worth something. Centuries of sound public policy lie behind the idea that you should avoid escalating a conflict to involve deadly force whenever possible, even if that means retreating, and it's a shame that legislators and lobbying groups have played up to the fears and prejudices of... well, people like Zimmerman... and have extended the concept of self-defense to the point of foolishness.