…because I'm not fully informed on the subject. What subject? This whole thing with George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
I've purposely stayed uninformed on the subject, for multiple reasons. For one, it's quickly escalated from a campfire to an out of control, Santa Ana-driven conflagration; and two, the facts have been lost in the media flurry with everyone from the lawyers to the politicians to the race-baiters getting into the spotlight.
The most unbiased, cut-to-the-chase reporting I could find was via Wikipedia. (Yeah, I know.) So taking that with the proverbial pinch of kosher salt (larger flakes/better flavor), I get that Zimmerman thought he was Matt Dillon (the character, not the actor), took on more than he could chew or was advised to bite into, and when the kid fought back (or fought him off, depending on the source you choose to believe), Marshal Dillon shot and killed the kid. Add to that the bumbled handling of this case by the relevant law enforcement agencies (the real ones) and you have a community up in arms.
In the end, a kid is dead and a guy with a hero complex (and a history of domestic … er … issues) is being browbeaten from all sides (including having a bounty on his head from the New Black Panthers). The cops seem to have mishandled it from the start, and only now under intense pressure from all sides are they truly mounting a more in-depth investigation.
In my state, regardless of how clear-cut the situation is, or how many dozens of eye-witnesses were present, if I discharged my weapon and claimed self-defense in killing someone else, I would be arrested. I would be taken into custody, have to call a lawyer, and potentially post bond. It would be up to the Commonwealth's Attorney to determine whether or not charges should be dismissed, not for the individual police officer to say "aw, gettowtahere."
I don't know what Florida law is. According to Wiki (again), the police don't arrest unless they determine at the time that the use of force in self-defense was unlawful. The police in this case made a judgement call at the time, and so it's pretty much case closed. So he's (for now) off scot-free and people are pissed about it. And I think they're justified in their indignation. If it were my kid and I was essentially told "too bad, so sad" by the cops, you bet your bippie I'd be all over the media about it.
And because the kid was black and Zimmerman is white, we have the added element of (gasp) racism involved. Whether or not that was the case, that's all the media needs to get its grip into this story and sure as bob's your uncle we have the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the Panthers and all that involved. Rallies nationwide. Add in the anti-gun lobbyists and the fact that this is threatening to become a Department of Justice case as a "hate crime" – despite any real evidence to indicate the necessity – and this is playing right into politics as we know it.
So I would personally like to thank George Zimmerman for
- making the rest of us law-abiding gun owners look like paranoid zealots waiting for a chance to play hero
- giving the anti-gun lobby a poster boy for their cause
- giving the race-baiters more press.
What does irk me more than anything else though, is the DOJ playing for the spotlight here. This isn't a "hate crime." The only reason I can think of for their involvement is to give them some traction for their boss in a crucial election cycle.
You want to know what a real hate-crime looks like? Tell me why this report out of Kansas City hasn't gotten more attention, then. It happened at the end of February, according to KMBC, and yet I get very few hits about it, and no national attention via the … traditional… media sources.
But because it happened to a white kid who was attacked by black kids… naw. That couldn't be the case.
The Daily Mail article had a commenter who very succinctly made an important point:
As far as the victim is concerned, what is the difference between a "racially-motivated" physical assault and a "normal, violence-motivated" one, and why on earth does the justice system make a distinction? An injured or dead victim is just as injured or dead, whatever the motivation. The law should punish the act, not the thought behind it.
Well said, I think. The law should punish the act. So too should the investigation focus on the act, not the supposed motivation.
But there's no spotlight to be found in that, I suppose.