In the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial we see outrage and protest among those who think Zimmerman is guilty of something or other, even if the criminal justice system couldn’t quite put its finger on it.

“He racially profiled Trayvon”—although there’s no evidence whatsoever of racial motivations in Zimmerman’s report of Martin’s suspicious behavior, or of racial bias in Zimmerman’s previous life. “He followed Trayvon”—although the evidence is that Zimmerman only did so in the very beginning, and stopped when the dispatcher suggested it. Besides, following someone is no crime. “Zimmerman confronted him”—again, no credible evidence of it, and at any rate no crime if verbal, which is all that seems possible given the evidence. “He’s a wannabe cop,” as though, even if that were true, it would be some sort of actionable offense.

From whence comes this sense of Zimmerman’s guilt? Those race hustlers whose specialty it is to heighten racial animus and perceptions of victimization, and a media which willingly cooperates in distorting the record towards the same aim, have played no small part. But what is the motivation behind those who are more well-intentioned? What do they mean by “Justice for Trayvon”?

In thinking about the answer, one would do well to look at the words of Thomas Sowell, in his 1999 book The Quest for Cosmic Justice. Sowell wrote:

Cosmic justice is not just a higher degree of traditional justice, it is a fundamentally different concept. Traditionally, justice or injustice is a characteristic of process. A defendant in a criminal case would be said to have received justice if the trial were conducted as it should be, under fair rules and with the judge and jury being impartial. After such a trial, it could be said that “justice was done”—regardless of whether the outcome was an acquittal or an execution…In short, traditional justice is about impartial processes rather than either results or prospects…

But this is not what is meant by those people who speak of “social justice.” In fact, rules and standards equally applicable to all are often deliberately set aside in pursuit of “social justice.” Nor are such exceptions aberrations. The two concepts [traditional and “social” justice] are mutually incompatible.

What “social justice” seeks to do is to eliminate undeserved disadvantages for selected groups…[T]his is often done in disregard of the costs of this to other individuals or groups—or even to the requirements of society as a whole.

Don’t like the result of a trial? Call it unjust, even if the process of the law has been applied with scrupulous fairness—or even if, as in the Zimmerman trial, what bias there is seems to favor your side (for example, Angela Corey’s affidavit, which even Alan Dershowitz pointed out was biased—against Zimmerman). The remedy of the anti-Zimmerman “social justice” forces is to advocate applying the law unevenly in order to encourage the outcome they would have preferred, or to change the law in the way they think might end up benefiting their side in future cases. But those who do that need to watch out for another law—that of unintended consequences—because it can come back some day to bite them.

Thus, the unwarranted demonizing of George Zimmerman, and the apologia and justification for Trayvon’s Martin’s own violence during the incident, continue apace, unaffected by a legal process that, if it was skewed at all, was twisted in favor of Zimmerman’s conviction rather than his exoneration.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]