The George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin situation in Florida.
I’ve written numerous articles voicing my thoughts on the situation, but I’ve published none of them because nothing quite captured how I felt. But writing them, talking about the situation with some close friends, and watching everything unfold over the past some days, and I’ve begun to congeal my response to the situation.
My understanding of the situation at the time of this writing is there are few indisputable facts. Zimmerman was head of a neighborhood watch. Zimmerman has a CHL and had his gun on him. Zimmerman was patrolling the neighborhood and saw what he believed to be a suspicious person, Martin, behaving in a manner he considered suspicious. Zimmerman called 911 to report the situation, then began to follow Martin. Martin called his girlfriend. Both parties communicated with their respective callers. Eventually the two people came face to face, something happened, Martin is dead.
And as far as I know, that’s about all the true concrete information we have.
Sure there’s lots more information, but it’s all disputed. Lots of “he said she said”, lots of things that have nothing directly to do with the case but muddies the water (Geraldo), and lots of uncertainty. But, lots of new information comes out every day.
Bottom line to me: we just don’t have enough information.
My (perceived) bias
It’s possible that some will perceive me to defend Zimmerman. I have a CHL. I believe “stand your ground” laws are reasonable (I also believe many of those presently talking about such topics have demonstrated they don’t know what they are talking about). I believe it is OK to use deadly force if you are truly in fear of your life and it’s the last resort answer towards the preservation of your life or the life of someone you love.
But I’m not defending Zimmerman.
I can’t defend his actions.
I don’t have enough information to defend him nor persecute him.
Based upon what little information I do have, I do think Zimmerman failed the “beer and tv maxim“. I think his choice of tactics was unwise, because, at least as far as I can see, he pursued something he didn’t have to. Was he in fear of his life? Was there a loved one in danger? Yes, legally you can use force to defend property (well, here in Texas; I don’t know Florida law but roll with me here), but that doesn’t mean you always should. I wrote about this very topic just a few weeks ago. If I see someone in my neighborhood doing suspicious things, I might look a little harder to determine if it’s really a problem or nothing to worry about, but I don’t want to put myself in danger nor invite trouble into my world. I may have my gun on me, because I know shit happens and can unfold in an instant, but if my family or myself wasn’t in imminent danger, I’d call the police and let them deal with it. Beer and TV maxim.
But then, that’s me. I don’t know what Zimmerman considered important. I read some interviews with neighbors saying how the neighborhood had been the target of a lot of crime, a lot of burglaries, in recent months. I figure that will give someone a different perspective. Perhaps Zimmerman thought pursuing Martin was worth dying over. Or perhaps, Zimmerman wasn’t thinking at all.
I don’t know.
I don’t know what was going through Zimmerman’s head, and I’m not going to pretend nor assume to know.
I also don’t know what was going on in Martin’s head. And unfortunately, we’ll never know. Thus, lacking information, I can’t defend nor persecute him either.
But the bottom line is: I don’t know.
Where’s the Truth?
I admit I don’t know.
Alas, I don’t see that going on in the popular media, nor around the world. I see the news reports. I see postings on Facebook and Twitter. I see all sorts of things that make me wonder… how do these people know? They’re all speaking with such confidence. They know that Zimmerman is a murderer. They know he was motivated purely out of racial hatred. They know he needs to be brought to justice. They know that Martin is totally innocent. That Martin was doing nothing wrong. That Martin never did anything wrong in his life, just an innocent black kid whose life was snuffed out too quickly by this white (latino) man. They know what’s going on, and they are all capable of passing perfect judgment… and Zimmerman should be drawn and quartered for what he did.
How do these people know?
Must be some news network that I haven’t heard of or am not tuning in to. Or maybe the facts are floating around the Twitterverse now and I just missed the tweet.
Is no one interested in finding Truth?
I do know they want to make Zimmerman “pay” for things, regardless of facts, regardless of Truth. When you have the New Black Panther Party offering $10,000 for Zimmerman. When you have Spike Lee retweeting Zimmerman’s address (which apparently was incorrect, and the innocent elderly couple that lives there are in fear of their lives due to the death threats they’ve been receiving). Gee… I thought lynching was frowned upon? But that’s what is happening to Zimmerman. Look at how people are talking about him. Look at how the media portrays the situation, be it their choice of photos or creative editing of the 911 calls. And because of this severe anger, people are afraid to speak, even as more facts come to light.
Is this right?
Is this Truth?
Is this Justice?
I guess I’m only a person of half-color… maybe even less, because mixing white and yellow just winds up some odd shade of pale. I’ve felt the sting of racism and discrimination because I’m Korean, I’ve felt it because I’m white, I’ve felt it because I’m a half-breed, I’ve felt it because I have long hair, I’ve felt it for numerous other reasons because someone judged me based upon shallow perceptions. I know it exists and have dealt with being the victim of racism and discrimination throughout my life.
And that’s where it comes from: shallow perceptions. People unwilling to get the whole truth. They get the tidbit that they want, then that’s good enough for them. They pass judgement, they execute, and they are satisfied to leave it at that. George Carlin lamented about the “sound bite” and how it dominates modern news media… and how it’s “just a bite. No chewing, no digestion, no nourishment. Malnutrition.”
That’s the greater tragedy I see happening in this Martin/Zimmerman case, and countless other stories reported every day (regardless of the race issue). There’s only a morsel of information, but people pick from that what they want, especially if it lends support to their cause and their righteousness. Calling for justice in this and every criminal case is warranted, but by saying “bringing this man to justice” you have already convicted him based upon what scant solid facts and evidence there is out there. Is that just?
If we want justice, if we want Truth, then we must seek it. That means we must gather information before we reach a conclusion. That we must question, but not seek to harvest only data that supports our desired conclusion. We must not and must not tolerate twisting and misrepresentation of fact, since that only leads away from Truth. Truth may be ugly. Truth may offend our sensibilities. Truth may totally up-end everything we know and hold to, it may shake us to our core. We may be wrong about what we thought was Truth, and we must be willing to give up what we clung to if we realize it is false. But it is Truth, and hopefully what we’re seeking. Anything less doesn’t do anyone, nor society in general, any justice.