Thanks for the comments to the last post. One of the points I made there was that '[p]eople learned just enough about the case to satisfy their preconceptions' without bothering to learn the whole story.
Lo and behold, some of the comments prove my point. Camus wrote '[T]here was no evidence that Martin in any way challenged, or threatened Zimmerman.' This is wrong: Martin physically confronted Zimmerman, pushed him to the ground, punched him repeatedly in the face, and hit the back of his head against a concrete sidewalk, resulting in superficial but no doubt painful injuries:
You can argue that the Martin was justified in beating up a guy who was following him, or that the injuries weren't sufficient to merit a response with deadly force, but you can't deny Martin injured Zimmerman.
Here's another misconception: Berliner wrote that 'What made the Zimmerman case special was the possible applicability of the "stand-your-ground" law, which goes much further than the right to self-defense provided by the German law.'
First, Zimmerman never invoked the stand your ground law at trial. His lawyers repeatedly stated that they didn't need that doctrine, because Zimmerman's actions were justified under traditional self-defense law. The law played a minor role in the trial, but there is absolutely no evidence the law determine the outcome of the case. Zimmerman would have had exactly the same chance of being acquitted if there were no stand your ground law at all.
Second, George Zimmerman would quite likely have been acquitted in Germany as well. Germany actually has a stand-your-ground law, and people in Germany have been acquitted for killing other people in situations similar to George Zimmerman's. Apparently most Germans are ignorant of the fact that their legal system works very similar to America's in this situation -- including having a version of stand your ground. The only difference is that in America, citizens can get a license to carry a concealed gun much more easily than in Germany.
I explained both of these points in a former post, so if you're not convinced, I invite you to read it.
The fact that smart Germans (i.e. my commenters) still believe these cancards about the Zimmerman case is a sad indicator of the laziness either of the German media or German news consumers.
Several commenters made a final point that the reason for the skewed coverage in the German media was probably the disproportionate coverage in the American media. That's a good point. However, I still think German biases played a subordinate role here. Many American media outlets presented a one-sided version of the case, and German coverage generally went right along with this. But that's not a complete excuse. Journalists should actively seek out information that directly undermines their preconceived notion of events, to make sure they're delivering a full and accurate picture.