Monday, April 30, 2012

Trayvon and George

I read an article in this past Sunday's Inquirer concerning the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and subsequent arrest of George Zimmerman.  This particular column was a direct poke at those "reverse racists" of our age, and those who are anti-gun ownership, and anti laws such as the "Stand Your Ground Law" that exists in Florida.

In the column, the writer cites various bits of information that might lead one to conclude that Mr. Zimmerman acted in self defense and should not have been arrested.  Of course, like all bits of information, it is common for someone wishing to make his/her point to only choose to emphasize that info that agrees with their position, or interpret the info available in a biased way.  So, in the case of the author's claim that Mr. Zimmerman had head wounds as a result of his confrontation with Mr. Martin, the author assumes that Mr. Zimmerman HAD to defend himself as he was losing the fight.  The possibility that Mr. Martin may have attacked Mr. Zimmerman because he was afraid for his safety, or that Mr. Zimmerman may have started the fight specifically because he knew he was armed and was then more likely to be the victor, or simply that Mr. Zimmerman may have inflicted just as many wounds on Mr. Martin before shooting him, all evade the author.  What is really sad is that the author is a former state and federal prosecutor who seems to have unilaterally declared Mr. Zimmerman innocent before all the facts have been disclosed.  The very thing that upsets him the most, that Mr. Zimmerman has been painted as a hater, guilty of murder by those who see the facts in the light of their biases, drives the author to conclude the exact opposite.  His behavior mirrors those whom he disparages for their knee jerk reaction. 

Sadly, while both sides choose to defame the other, no one wants to discuss the very real problem of our national belief that might makes right.  In our personal relationships, we assume that "victims" will always use their guns responsibly.  In our international relationships, we assume that our killing is justified even when those that are dying are innocent of the crimes of their government. 

When killing the bad guy is our yardstick, then we first must paint the newly dead as "bad".  Trayvon Martin must have been guilty of something or he wouldn't have been killed in self defense.  The fact that, perhaps, neither person involved in this tragedy was "bad", seems beside the point.  We need to paint someone as the bad guy so we can justify our love affair with violence as the solution to our problems.

Since the Inquirer, when they publish letters, do so only when the letter is short, I condensed my thoughts into the following response.

To the Editor:

I would like to add a few more questions for George Parry to consider after reading his latest column. What prompted Mr. Zimmerman to consider Mr. Martin a suspicious character worthy of following? Did Mr. Martin act in self defense (his side of the stand your ground mentality) in response to being followed by Mr. Zimmerman? Did Mr. Martin know Mr. Zimmerman was armed? Did Mr. Zimmerman's injuries come as a result of his aggression towards Mr. Martin?

Mr. Parry is correct in suggesting that much evidence remains to be disclosed. Only two people really know what happened that night, but unfortunately, one side of the conversation will never be heard. The arrest of Mr. Zimmerman seems to be the logical result of a tragic death with so many unanswered questions. As a former state and federal prosecutor one would expect Mr. Parry to see the difference between "racist hysteria" and a desire for justice and truth in regard to this awful situation. The truly sad aspect of this story is that it appears that two law abiding citizens were placed in a difficult situation because of Florida's Stand Your Ground Law which encourages its citizens to use violence first, logic, restraint, and compassion second.

1 comment:

  1. Good sensible statement, Joe. Another example of how our 'national conversations' avoid the basic issues and causes.