Something around 50 people (round number) are murdered every day in the U.S. I have a great deal of sympathy for the families involved, but this is not a national tragedy and doesn’t deserve the attention it is getting. I do have an opinion on a certain aspect of the case that I will share at the end of this article, but before that I want to say something else about the reaction to it and the attention it is getting.
It must be stated that the people protesting in the street, the parents, the media pundits, bloggers, you, me, and everyone else do not really know what happened during the confrontation and probably never will. Two people were there. One is dead and the one that is alive has a huge motive to lie about it so it is likely we will never really know.
Despite the complete lack of knowledge of the facts, much of the country believes they are in a position to pontificate loudly about what should be done or not done to George Zimmerman. I don’t know what should be done. I don’t know if he broke any laws. What do Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton know about this case and exactly how are they helping?
Since blacks and liberals are protesting and talking about guns and racism, the right is shouting back and now they are both yelling at each other and calling each other names. It’s no longer about Trayvon despite what all these people pretend. It’s an opportunity to claim to be right about the larger issues which they each hold near and dear. The dead boy and the shooter are now just vehicles to further their respective causes. The people who are shouting are far more concerned about winning debating and political points than winning justice in this case.
No matter what the issue is anymore, as soon as somebody lines up on one side somebody else lines up on the other side and it turns into an absurd shouting match with nobody really knowing what they are talking about and with no solution in sight. Ambiguity, uncertainty, complexity, or grayness are no longer allowed in public debate. Everything has to be a binary choice between right and wrong or good and evil. I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m good, you’re evil.
Please name one important issue anywhere were calm rational discourse occurs in a way that really matters. We are either shouting at each other or shooting at each other. (Obama is flying little remote control toy planes all over the world shooting missiles at people he doesn’t like.) The people who aren’t shooting or shouting have mainly withdrawn from public and just go on about their private lives. This is the approach I take most of the time.
I don’t expect people to agree, but I do expect them to be reasonable. This case has reminded me that I’ve pretty much concluded that reasonable people are forever more going to be hopelessly drowned in a sea of shouting, name calling, and fear mongering.
I do have an opinion to share on this case and I’ll try not to shout or call people who disagree with me any names. I don’t know what happened in the confrontation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and I don’t think anyone else does either. However I think we do know what happened earlier, before that confrontation. We all have choices to make and by his own voice on his call to 911, George Zimmerman showed he had a fundamental choice to either mind his own business or to poke his nose into someone else’s. Like many people these days he chose the latter. That is the real problem here. People think they have the right to tell other people what to do.
It is not against the law to walk down the street wearing a hoodie. That’s what ticks me off about the whole thing and is getting lost in the debate about “Standing Your Ground”. Conservatives and Libertarians should not make George Zimmerman their poster boy for the right to defend yourself with guns. (btw I believe people have the right to carry a gun and defend their person or property). George Zimmerman made the choice to confront Trayvon likely knowing full well it could turn into something ugly. I don’t know what happened when he decided to pull the trigger (and nobody else does either), but George Zimmerman’s choice to confront Trayvon instead of staying safely inside his car was the ultimate cause of all of this. For that reason I blame him for what happened whether he committed any crime or not by Florida law.
All the talk of cries for help, cuts on the head or broken noses is after the fact rationalization that are not part of that first decision he made. He may not have committed a crime and he may have, but I believe from his own words that he made made a wrong decision. That is a tragedy. George Zimmerman was not protecting his person or property from a threat when he made the decision to engage Trayvon Martin. So his self-defense claim later rings pretty hollow to me. Maybe Trayvon felt threatened and was defending himself. I don’t know.
I have to let the police handle this. We may not like it, but it’s the only choice we have. That’s called the rule of law and something we should hold dear. They may be biased and have an agenda but so does everyone else. What are we supposed to do, let the mobs in the streets make the decision? Do the people protesting in the street really want to go back to that? I don’t like street justice of either George Zimmerman’s kind or the kind that some people are now calling for. Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson need to go home. I don’t want street protests to decide this case. Everyone else needs to stop shouting and calling each other nasty names because they happen to be on the other side of some political or cultural divide. That not only gets us nowhere, it makes the problems worse.
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