Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Zimmerman vs. the World

Scenario 1:

It’s a dark night and it’s raining. A neighborhood watchman sits in his car and sees a young man walking by. For various reasons, he finds the behavior of the young man to be suspicious. He calls 911 and is told to wait for police. Worrying the young man, who fits the description of other young men who had recently robbed several houses in the neighborhood and not been caught, may get out of view and do who knows what, he decides to follow him and see where he goes. The young man notices a man is following behind him. He turns around and confronts the watchman, initiating a fight, wherein he winds up on top of the watchman, throwing punches at the man’s face, breaking his nose and causing his head to be repeatedly thrown back onto a hard sidewalk. Fearing for his life, the watchman—even more scared now about this young man than he was to begin with—begins screaming for help and trying to reach for his gun. The young man sees the gun and also begins reaching for it. But the watchman gets it first and shoots the young man who is on top of him. The young man falls to the side and the watchman restrains him. Fellow neighbors begin showing up to the scene, and the police arrive. The young man dies, and the neighborhood watchmen claims self defense. He is initially free of any charges being brought against him, but is eventually arrested, murder 2 and manslaughter charges are brought up against him, and he is tried in a court of his peers who agree he was defending himself, having no ill intent in the matter. He is found, rightfully, not guilty of any crime.

Scenario 2:

It’s a dark night and it’s raining. A young kid is walking back to his home. He is minding his own business and doing nothing wrong. Nearby, a neighborhood watchman is on guard. He is mad about all the black hoodlums who have recently robbed his neighborhood and gotten away with it. He sees this kid walking by. The kid fits the description. He’s black and young. Furthermore, he’s wearing a hoodie over his head. The neighborhood watchman believes the kid must be up to no good. He calls 911 and is told to stay in his car. He decides he’ll follow the kid instead, because he just can’t stand the thought of another one of these “fucking niggers” getting away with it. He menacingly follows behind the kid. The kid sees him and becomes scared for his life. The kid turns around and confronts this man following him. Then the neighborhood watchman pulls out his gun. The kid begins fighting the watchman, defending himself. He screams for help, but no one comes. The watchman is able to shoot the kid and he dies as others show up at the scene. The neighborhood watchman has just committed a brutal hate crime, but he is able to get away with it simply because he is white and the kid was black. However, after much strength in outrage, charges are brought against the watchman and he is tried in a court of his peers. For some unknown, outrageous reason though, the jury of that court finds him not guilty. The racist, gun happy, wannabe cop is wrongfully allowed to go free.

This case has honestly frustrated the hell out of me. To begin with, I am saddened that a young seventeen year old was shot and killed. And it probably wouldn’t have happened had George Zimmerman simply stayed put after calling 911. However, had Zimmerman stayed put, and had Trayvon Martin actually been up to no good as he believed, then Martin could have committed a crime and gotten away with it. Furthermore, it’s not a crime to walk behind someone. So, I can’t completely say that I think Zimmerman was wrong by following Martin, regardless of his reasons for doing so.

I’m also frustrated by the way so many have responded to this case. A lot of assumptions have been made, and the media itself has even outright lied about some of the facts surrounding it. Certain pieces of evidence or information were purposefully withheld from the defense. The Black Panthers offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of Zimmerman. Several black leaders and politicians tried interjecting themselves into the case, and even in some regards stirred up emotions against Zimmerman. I’m bothered by most of this because it stirs up a mob mentality, jeopardizes our legal system, enrages people unnecessarily, and skews the truth.

It also frustrates me that the facts of this case do more to back scenario 1 than they do scenario 2, and yet so many people have wanted to completely ignore so many of the facts in order to promote their own agendas, or perhaps their own biases.

I’ve heard many people say, “Well, why was he (Zimmerman) following this kid/child?” My response is to first clarify what a kid and/or child is. A seventeen year old, over six feet tall, former football player is not exactly a child or kid in my mind. The notion that Martin was a kid was fueled first and foremost by the media who showed only a photo of Martin when he was 12, rather than 17 at the time of the shooting. He was a teenager, or a young adult male. He was taller and by all accounts even stronger than Zimmerman. Secondly, I would respond, “Since when is it a crime to follow, or to walk behind, another person?” It doesn’t really matter why Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin. I say that because Zimmerman following Martin does not give Martin the right to turn around and start beating Zimmerman up. That is, unless Zimmerman pulled a gun on Martin first. However, we have no proof of that happening, and should not start reaching conclusions based on unfounded assumptions. And, lastly, could it be that perhaps Zimmerman only followed Martin because he wanted to keep tabs on him? Could it not be as simple as that? Could it not be that Zimmerman thought Martin was acting suspiciously (whether warranted or not), that he knew it would probably take the police ten to fifteen more minutes to respond, and that he just wanted to keep a watch on what this young man was doing and where he was going? How different is that from anything a regular cop would do?

On another matter, I want to address this whole issue of race being some motivator to Zimmerman supposedly going after Martin. For starters, Zimmerman is not fully white. He is only half white. His other half is Hispanic. So, being of mixed race, I do find it incredible that Zimmerman would be racist. More than likely he had himself been made fun of or ridiculed at some point in his life for having parents of mixed race. That’s in the first place. Secondly, he had many black friends who came forward early on saying there wasn’t a racist bone in his body. He’d taken a black girl to his prom, he had grown up with black kids in his house, and he’d even mentored black kids as an adult. All those things bring some serious doubt to my mind that Zimmerman is a racist. Furthermore, it occurs to me that a great many people in the media lied about Zimmerman’s past statements in order to make him appear racist. He was reported as saying, “These fucking niggers always get away with it”, when in fact he said, “These fucking punks always get away with it.” Now, we may be splitting hairs here to some people’s minds, but there is a difference between the words nigger and punk. Nigger is used as an expletive of sorts against blacks. Punk, however, could be used to characterize anyone of any race, and infers to them being a ruffian of sorts. There is a big difference between the two I think. The first would indeed make Zimmerman out to be racist. The second, however, makes him a concerned citizen. The media chose to lie about what he said in order to make him out to be a racist. I find this completely negligent and disgusting on the part of the media. It is their fault, in part, for fueling flames and riling people up in anger unnecessarily.

At best, perhaps Zimmerman did follow Martin and find him to be a suspicious character because he was black, but not because Zimmerman didn’t like blacks, rather because it had been young black men who had recently broken in to a few homes in the area and Trayvon Martin simply matched their description. There is absolutely nothing about this case which would lead me to believe that Zimmerman was some horrible racist out to take down a young black man. I dare anyone screaming that that’s the case to actually produce any real evidence of it. So far, I’ve heard nothing but speculation and assumption.

Let me speak my mind now, and hate me if you will…

Not every bad thing that happens to a black person happens to them because they are black. Just as not every bad thing that happens to me happens because I am gay. Had Zimmerman been black, or had Martin been white, we would never have heard of this case at all. George Zimmerman never would have even been arrested and tried if either of those things were true. There just wasn’t any evidence to warrant an arrest. But because Zimmerman wasn’t black and Martin was, and underage at that, so many black leaders saw this as an incident to exploit and they did just that. And why would they do such a thing? Because it gives them a job, a voice, and political power. America is not in the 1950s anymore, nor is the south still full of institutionalized racism. Yet, so many black leaders obviously have felt that they cannot admit this. Naturally, if they did, they’d be out of a job, have less of a voice, and even less political power. That is why this case has become what it has. That is why racial tensions have been strained by this case. And I personally think that that has been an atrocity.

I am not a racist. I have had black friends in my life. Hell, my favorite childhood toy was a black rag doll. I have never been put off about being around blacks. But what does put me off is when I and others are accused of being racists whenever we don’t like something a black person has done. I don’t like President Obama, for example. Not because he’s black, but because I think his policies have been horrible for this country. On most issues, I think President Obama couldn’t be much more wrong than he’s been. But that does not make me a racist.

And it doesn’t matter to those who accuse George Zimmerman of racism that his background doesn’t support their claim, or that Martin beating the crap out of him is why Zimmerman actually shot him, or that it was Martin who actually undeniably brought racism into the altercation by calling Zimmerman a white cracker. No, none of that seems to matter. Nor does it matter that Martin had been suspended three times from school for fighting and that he had marijuana in his system at the time of the altercation. No, in their minds, he was simply an innocent twelve year old boy who was shot only because he was black. But I tell you, there was no proof whatsoever to assert this. It is a fiction.

In my opinion, justice has been done. The evidence provided just did not prove any racism or ill intent on the part of Zimmerman, nor that Trayvon Martin was just some innocent victim. What the evidence proved was that Zimmerman had to defend himself against Martin. That’s why he shot him. But for all those who simply refuse to see this, I ask you this: what would you think if Zimmerman had not shot Martin and Martin had continued beating him to death? What would you think of Zimmerman had he had no gun? What if Zimmerman had not been able to defend himself and Martin had gotten in just another blow or two? Had Trayvon Martin killed Zimmerman, would you still feel the same? Had George Zimmerman been black and Trayvon Martin been white would you still feel the same?

Having seen the complete nonsense surrounding this case, I feel so completely ashamed of so many of my fellow Americans. But I am glad that we have the justice system we have. Had Jesus been tried in America, the Pharisees would never have been able to pressure a conviction against him. He would have had his day in court and he would have been found not guilty. Now, I’m not trying to compare George Zimmerman to Jesus. Far from it.  For all I know, Zimmerman may have been guilty. But what I do know is that like Jesus, George Zimmerman has had many people outright lying, ignoring the facts, and inciting rage against him in order to pressure the powers that be to crucify him. Again I ask them though to provide their proof. Local authorities initially found none to bring charges against him, and after all the evidence was presented in court, except for a few more pieces which were excluded and which more than likely would have favored the defense, a jury of six people determined that George Zimmerman was not guilty.

As far as I’m concerned, justice has been done, and all those just trying to stir things up ought to just shut up and accept that for once in their lives they just might be wrong about something.

Having said all this, I am sympathetic to the fact that minorities have had to endure a great amount of injustice throughout the years under the law. But with the facts that have been presented, I simply do not believe that this was one of those cases, and that by trying to make it into one, they discredit themselves and weaken their own cases in other instances which truly are injustices worth fighting.

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