…obligatory in both the sense that everyone seems to have an opinion, is sharing that opinion, and why should I not throw two cents into the e-fountain?
First, my deepest condolences to not only the Martin family, but the families of all the victims of gun violence. It is easy to be blinded by the media circus and forget that kids are dying at gunpoint every day in staggering numbers. The fact that certain state jurisdictions have made it legal is the subject of this brief personal opinion piece:
When I first heard about the death of Trayvon Martin I was thinking I must have gotten some bad info. Wait? It isn’t until 45 days after the shooting when they charge the shooter? What is the language behind this “Stand Your Ground” law (SYG) in Florida? Did this guy really have 911 on speed dial, as well as the police dispatcher? The shooter had domestic violence priors, yet maintained his carry permit? His daddy is/was a judge? That is pretty fucked up. Cop wannabe’s are everywhere, but they typically refrain from pursuing people based on their gait and wardrobe and starting shit. (Maybe they don’t refrain from that, come to think of it) Well, they might refrain from starting shit unless their daddy is a judge and they had some professional training on SYG from a law enforcement training program. George Zimmerman had both.
…and the details that came out as the public side of the matter unfolded didn’t help me make any sense of it. But I did some reading on the SYG language, and that really freaked me out. It is so broad, and leaves so much latitude in both terms of defining engagement and terms of legal interpretation that I can’t believe that these things aren’t happening several times each week. (it turns out, by one counting, that I am being optimistic) It looked to me like you could basically kill anyone you want, and if you stuck to your story that you felt your life was threatened you would never be held accountable. It STILL looks that way to me. More so.
And not just me… HERE is a recent piece from The Atlantic. Ta-Nehisi Coates sums up what I had been understanding from my own reading on the matter:
Effectively, I can bait you into a fight and if I start losing I can can legally kill you, provided I “believe” myself to be subject to “great bodily harm.” It is then the state’s job to prove — beyond a reasonable doubt — that I either did not actually fear for my life, or my fear was unreasonable.
Proving that the shooter acted one way, or felt another way, is an impossibility. Not only was there no way that George Zimmerman was ever going to be held responsible, there is no way that anyone in Florida will ever be held responsible. Open. Season. Pure and simple as that.
I was near enough to a television on Saturday the 13th to watch some serious gloating and immediate revisionist history by Zimmerman’s defense team. When asked if they thought that the outcome would have been different if the races of the two men were reversed, the answer from attorney Mark O’Mara was “Things would have been different for George Zimmerman if he was black for this reason: he would never have been charged with a crime,” Which means that in the fantasy land that attorney Mark O’Mara lives in, young black men are discharging firearms and causing deaths of unarmed civilians without legal repercussions. That seems to be the whole George Zimmerman strategy: Hire your legal representatives from a parallel universe.
And that is where I believe the racial issue comes in to play. Would Trayvon Martin have been assumed innocent for 45 days by the Sanford PD? Would he have been given the broad benefit of the doubt if he had pulled the trigger? And I don’t belive so. Aside from the delusional (at the least “delusional for pay”) Mark O’Mara, nobody believes that Trayvon would have been given such gracious treatment.
I won’t belabor the point, but I will say that when the easy reader version of Stand Your Ground comes out in Florida, there will be some serious bloodshed. The use of deadly force has been reduced to a “he said, he’s dead” proposition. As a good friend of mine once said about self defense in the home: “Only one of us will be making any statements”
That approach served Zimmerman very well.