Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or other such barrier of external information), you’ve probably at least heard of the “George Zimmerman Trial.” A tragic situation has been exploited into a national tragedy of racism (that’s the summation of my view; feel free to forever block my website).
A lot of people have some extremely passionate views on the topic, and I won’t discredit them for that. Unfortunately, time and time again, when such passions go unbridled they turn into an uncontrolled fire. When you have so-called ‘Civil Rights Leaders’ like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson using their clout to stir up racial tensions you are only pouring fuel on the fire. Cue Eric Holder (U.S. Attorney General) and Barack Obama (President, obviously) ranting and raving about a situation they have no jurisdiction over. This only further fans the flame or racism and dropped a tanker full of jet fuel on a raging inferno. We all know how that ends.
Trayvon Didn’t Deserve It
Some in favor of Martin rightly point out that Martin didn’t deserve to die. Others in favor of Zimmerman suggest that Martin did indeed deserve to die. I think such a strong word as “deserve” should be avoided, but it doesn’t mean I believe Zimmerman is a murderer.
In light of the evidence, Zimmerman was acting in self defense (we’ll approach this topic in a minute, for now, bear with me). Martin was behaving suspiciously and as captain of the neighborhood watch Zimmerman had every right to follow Martin. Yes, I know the 911 dispatcher said he shouldn’t pursue, but 911 dispatch is not the same as the police. It was not a police order. It was a suggestion of safety. Zimmerman chose to ignore that warning and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t asked himself every day since then whether it was a bad choice. It was a dangerous move and potentially irresponsible as time would soon tell.
However, regardless of whether or not Zimmerman made a dangerous or irresponsible decision to pursue, Zimmerman did not make the decision Martin made. Martin—by practically all accounts—ran at Zimmerman and slammed his head into the concrete several times. I don’t know about you, but that would not be my plan A, B, C, D, E, F, or… You get the point. Most teenagers would run for help (or heaven forbid, hangup with their friend and call the police.)
I’m not sure about you, but in the midst of having my head pummeled I don’t think I would take the time to ID my assailant and ensure he was of age and of the ‘appropriate’ ethnic group before shooting. If I had a gun and a 6 foot, 2 inch tall man (regardless of his color) who matched the description of vandals in the neighborhood resorted to attacking me I would have shot too.
So where does that leave us? I don’t think Martin deserved to be shot, but he was responsible for his actions that led to him being shot. Zimmerman should have thought more intently before pursuing someone who could have been (and was) dangerous.
Don’t Bring A Gun to a Fist Fight
This is one of the two most often used defenses for Martin. Many bash Zimmerman for using a gun “against an unarmed teenager.” However, as someone has had the unfortunate experience of being attacked by someone with just fists, it doesn’t take a gun to kill someone. Looking back at previous articles of mine about violence and guns, I’ve often quoted the statistic that more people are killed by hammers/clubs/blunt objects than rifles. Granted, a hammer isn’t unarmed, but people can and are injured and killed by unarmed assailants quite often.
Let’s also return to Zimmerman’s head being bashed into concrete.This is after some cleanup. Imagine what it looked like when the police got there.
Last I checked, nobody has x-ray vision or built in metal detectors. Zimmerman had no way of knowing whether this person who was smacking his head into the ground had a knife, gun, or other deadly item. Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to say “Well, he didn’t.” But how was Zimmerman to know this? He couldn’t. He didn’t. He acted accordingly.
Trayvon Was a Kid
Technically, yes. However, had the roles had been reversed and the headline read “17 Year Old Bashes in Skull of Neighborhood Watch Leader” we’d be having a completely different discussion. We would have likely seen prosecutors looking to charge Martin as an adult, not as a cute little child.
The situation is even further exasperated by the medias intentional misleading of the public by using old pictures of Martin to fuel sympathy and outrage.
The media showed the top photos. One of Zimmerman in a mug shot next to an old photo of Martin as a child. If you believe this was an accident, then the media is at the very least guilty of gross incompetence.
As a student of journalism, this is either bias or a complete and utter failure. Everything on television news is carefully planned out and executed. They intentionally refused to show current pictures of Martin while showing unflattering pictures of Zimmerman to fuel controversy.
Rabbit, Not Martial Law
Many Conservatives have suggested that the media is in cohorts with the Obama administration to stir up riots as an excuse for martial law. I’m not too keen on this theory, although as Obama continues to stir the pot and pour fuel on the fire it makes it harder and harder to refute this suggestion.
Personally, I think that Obama is simply using it as a distraction from the rampant scandals that have plagued his administration in recent months. The Obama Administration is well aware of American’s inability to remember anything not bombarded at them daily. Replacing Benghazi, NSA Spying on Americans, Spying on the European Union, IRS Targeting Conservatives, Associated Press Wiretapping (I’m sure I forgot some) with the tragic self-defense shooting of a young man.
The media loves it for several reasons. Primarily, controversy fuels ratings. Riots, protests, and impassioned screams for justice by ‘reverends’ makes far more entertaining television than newscasters talking about press conferences and scandals. Contrary to what ANY news channel wants you to think, their primary concern is revenue generated by higher ratings, not news.
Lynch Mob Is Not Justice
Regardless of the verdict, justice was served. The due process of law played out and a jury of his peers acquitted George Zimmerman of all charges. You don’t have to agree with the decision, but as a member of this free society you are expected to respect it. The mass protests for Zimmerman to be charged again in spite of the Constitutional protection of double jeopardy is absurd. What is worse, are the threats of violence and death to Zimmerman and anyone associated with him.
We live in a civilized society where our justice system (one of the best in the world) decides who is guilty or not. Yes, it can make mistakes. It does make mistakes. I’m not arguing here that the verdict was the truth or not. However, just like Casey Anthony and O. J. Simpson the justice system did it’s job and the jurors who saw evidence day in and day out unanimously decided on a verdict. For people to stand up and argue their opinion is infallible enough to pass a death sentence on a man found not guilty by the actual legal system is terrifying.
Imagine a society where mobs of angry people decide guilt. Imagine a justice system where whoever grabbed the rope first decides the verdict. Mob rule does not sound like a very just system. We can’t sit from our couches and pass judgment. Even worse, we can not withhold safety and peace of mind from someone who was found not guilty. We can’t dish out the verdict whether it be through violence or fear. Violence and fear are products of tyranny, and as a people who has suffered much to resist tyranny, we should not ourselves become the tyrants.
Hatred Does Not Resurrect The Dead
No amount of hatred, anger, fear, threatening, or bullying will bring Trayvon Martin back. The due process of law played out. Justice has been decided. It is unjust to break the law to impose our own lawlessness whenever the verdict is unsatisfactory to our opinion. I support the right of people to protest and express their distress for the decision, but that protest should not be petition for the government to violate the law “just to get him” or to make him suffer.
There is far more I’d like to say on this issue. But for now, I’ll end with this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of
diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, pp. 62–63 (1967).
Look forward to a Part 2 in the near future.