But the pictures used to portray the victim were even more telling in terms of media bias. Most of the pictures show an angelic 12- or 13-year old schoolboy, not the well-developed 17-year-old football player who was several inches taller than his shooter. Photos of Martin displayed on his Twitter account show a husky teenager flashing his gold-capped teeth with the moniker NO LIMIT NIGGA.
According to published police reports from the night of the shooting, Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and back of the head. Moreover, prosecutors declined to bring charges against Zimmerman. Skeptics of Zimmerman's account point to grainy surveillance videos showing him being taken into the police precinct that same evening. The videos do not appear to show severe injuries.
Was Zimmerman acting in self-defense, or was he the aggressor? Witnesses give conflicting accounts. Martin's girlfriend claims Martin was being followed, while a 13-year-old witness told police he saw a man fitting Zimmerman's description lying on the ground moaning and crying for help. Which version of events is accurate?
At this point, it is simply not possible for anyone outside the investigation to know what happened that awful night. There are lots of unanswered questions. Was Trayvon Martin an innocent teen, minding his own business when beset upon by a crazy amateur crime fighter? Was George Zimmerman attacked and beaten while returning to his vehicle? Or were both men caught up in a confrontation that got out of hand?
The truth is, we can't possibly know right now. But the worst we can do is to try to portray this story in black and white. Not every killing involving a black victim and a white perpetrator has to do with racism. The media's role in leading us to believe otherwise is irresponsible.
Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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