05/02/2012 03:58 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2012

The Multiple Faces of the George Zimmerman Trial

The Three Faces of Eve is a 1957 American film classic, which Joanne Woodward won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

It was based on the true story of Chris Costner Sizemore (also known as Eve White), a woman who suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.

The trial of George Zimmerman, who is accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., may prove to be a loose reenactment of The Three Faces of Eve within the public square.

By my count, the court of public opinion is holding at minimum four trials. In addition to Zimmerman, there is the trial of racism, particular against black males; there is the trial on the "stand your ground" law; and for some there is an O.J. Simpson redux involved.

The court of law, however, is only concerned with whether it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman is guilty of the crime of which he is accused. In the court of public opinion, Zimmerman's guilt or innocence has been largely determined it is only the outcome of the other trials that's in doubt.

So sure of Zimmerman's guilt before an investigation was concluded or arrest made, filmmaker Spike Lee re-tweeted to his 240,000 Twitter followers, which was believed to be Zimmerman's address that included the words "Reach out & touch [Zimmerman.]"

The alleged address actually belonged to David McClain, 72, and his 70-year-old wife Elaine. The couple received threats as a result of information widely disseminated via Lee, forcing them to flee their home.

Though Lee has subsequently apologized and compensated McClain, can moral superiority be so entrenched on one side that it can freely participate in immoral acts? Assuming it was in fact Zimmerman's address, what did Lee hope to achieve by re-tweeting it?

Race as a critical issue has remained just below the surface since America's inception. In the post-civil rights era, it has managed to lie dormant until pricked by episodes of absurdity like the shooting death of Martin.

In this context, conversations of race are diminished by the reactionary manner that invariably ensues. What's often missing from such discussions is any knowledge or understanding about the other person's story.

America is unique because we are a nation of stories; and knowing our own story is merely the beginning. The substantive work occurs when we possess the courage to learn the stories of those who differ from us.

It's too easy and counterproductive to conflate this latest tragedy into the emotional embodiment of other issues our choosing.

As a result, Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acts of absurdity will remain euphemisms for conversations that we are not prepared undertake in a judicious manner. This is the luxury that the court of public opinion enjoys.

But Zimmerman is not on trial in court of public opinion. His fate rests on what can be proved. The ancillary issues that stand proxy in the court of public opinion may lead to frustration if the desired outcome is not reached, but in the court of law are largely irrelevant.

For as tempting as it may be to reach a definitive conclusion based on the information that has been leaked, what happened between Zimmerman's 911 call and Martin's death remains a mystery.

We do know had Zimmerman not pursued Martin based on what turned out to be an erroneous assumption, had he not been carrying a weapon, or simply stayed in his car, Martin would be alive today.

I'm not sure if that alone is enough to secure a second-degree murder conviction, but that's why we have juries -- assuming this case gets that far.