Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Zimmerman verdict and America

It was heartening that George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. As the trial made clear, there was never much question about Zimmerman defending himself at the time of the shooting (although both men made mistakes leading up to the confrontation). The charges were filed for political purposes after reports got out that a white man was able to kill a black boy then get off because of Florida's Stand Your Ground laws.

What is disheartening is the reaction to the verdict. Stand Your Ground was never an issue because Martin surprised him, knocked him to the ground, then began pummeling him. That hasn't stopped a national call for repealing the law. Stevie Wonder announced that he will boycott Florida and any other state with similar laws.

President Obama managed to slip in a mention about stopping gun violence in his reaction speech. Presumably he would be happy if Martin had beaten Zimmerman to death.

Many can't get past their initial impression. Eugene Robinson insists that Martin was no threat to Zimmerman.

And we know that a skinny boy armed only with candy, no matter how big and bad he tries to seem, does not pose a mortal threat to a healthy adult man who outweighs him by 50 pounds and has had martial arts training (even if the lessons were mostly a waste of money). We know that the boy may well have threatened the man's pride but likely not his life. How many murders-by-sidewalk have you heard of recently? Or ever?

While it is true that Zimmerman outweighed Martin, it must be kept in mind that Martin was a shade under 6 feet, ideal weight and a football player. Zimmerman was three inches shorter and overweight. Martin had no trouble breaking Zimmerman's nose and pinning him to the ground. Having your head pounded against the pavement goes beyond having your pride threatened. (And that discounts Zimmerman's testimony that Martin was trying to get his gun.)

The worst reactions are from people who just want an excuse to protest. The Occupy movement manged to include an anti-capitalism message in their protest. Protestors in Oakland robbed stores.

None of these protestors care what happened. They don't even want to know. They want an excuse to protest or simply wreck havoc.

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