Travyon Martin is on now officially on trial.
Yes, I said Travyon Martin is on trial, not Robert Zimmerman. You see, there is a perspective here that we must consider critically, one that is not being discussed widely, and is most certainly the core question of why we are even having a racial discussion entwined with a question of guilt.
The perspective is very clear and demands that we ask, what will be the legacy of Trayvon Martin? He was a young man cut down in the prime of life due to perception, environment, and risk. What we must ask ourselves is will we, as a society, remain divided, and accept that some people are disposable? That the right to take a life is the province of all Americans, and that when the facts are clear that we must still entertain a debate around whether or not a person deserves the support of half the nation when he commits murder.
The value of Travyon Martin’s life is on trial and the man who killed him is a murderer. Should Trayvon Martin have been justifiably killed in this situation and was it a crime? Let us consider this question critically.
If I am an avowed critical thinker how can I arrive at such a conclusion seemingly without room for equivocation? How can I claim, even as the case proceeds, that George Zimmerman is a murderer? The truth is simple and imminently logical. We do not need a great deal of consideration to arrive at this conclusion, just a clarification of a few of the more salient facts.
This is the image of a young man with his father. Clearly, his father loves him dearly. We have been given a look into the life of a teen who was murdered, killed because of perception, profiling, belief, and ignorance heightened with emotion, made deadly with a firearm, and turned into conjecture by a state law that complicates matters with its simplistic stupidity.
George Zimmerman carried a firearm in a state that has passed an irresponsible stand your ground law. I believe each of us should have the right to bear arms. However, certain behaviors with a firearm require a certain level of accountability, and deep responsibility. Police and military shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and train, and train, and train. I believe if a person is going to carry a firearm in a protective capacity they must be trained in its use to the utmost degree. Human life hangs in the balance at the end of the barrel. You must be qualified, in my opinion, to pull that trigger with mental rigor, emotional control, precision, and accuracy. George Zimmerman did not have this control. He was inadequate. He was not trained sufficiently. He was not effective with his firearm and it cost an innocent his life. Hold fast to this point, because it is absolutely essential as we continue to consider the facts.
George Zimmerman was driving in his car and observed Trayvon Martin walking through his neighborhood. I mean this to say Travyon was walking through his own neighborhood, going home, to his father’s house.
There has been a rather loud noise of thunder around the media conflating the debate by portraying Trayvon as some kind of young innocent. Some people tried to rail against this perceived media bias by showing Trayvon Martin to be the young ghetto thug as portrayed here. First, it does not matter whether or not Trayvon Martin was a young teen full of bluster, hip-hop energy, and testosterone fueled chaos. Second, it turns out the young man pictured here is not Trayvon Martin. It matters not one whit whether or not he liked to curse, tweeted all kinds of craziness with bravado and angry bluster. It just doesn’t matter. What matters, is the man on the left, shot and killed a young man who just barely resembles the teen on the right.
Far too many people are complaining about Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They’re calling them media whores. They’re saying the Reverends are creating an issue of racism where none exists. After all, George Zimmerman apparently identifies Hispanic, at least in this instance. I will not vilify or condemn them for going to Florida and raising sound and fury. Why? Simple, George Zimmerman had killed a young man and he was still roaming free.
If you think about their actions without emotion, it makes sense to peacefully consider raising alarms and getting people to stand together in the cause for justice. A young man was shot dead for walking home with a hoodie on his head, and looking like he might be up to no good. He had skittles in his pocket.
There was no question as to who killed him. The fact that the killer was still walking around made absolutely no sense and was a grand travesty of justice reminiscent of the old south, where men and women of color were not second-class citizens, but last-class citizens after all the socioeconomic levels of white people. This could not be allowed to stand, and I for one am glad Reverend Al spent so much time on this, in the cause of justice, a fight that we should not even be engaged in.
We would hope and demand that those with courage enough to pick up a gun have the intestinal fortitude to be responsible with a firearm, to be accountable for the actions they take with a deadly weapon. However, this is simply what we aspire to. Humans invariable fall well below this level of accountability. And many of us often look for excuses when we encounter such tragedies, especially when they occur along the deep lines of ethnicity and fueled racism.
George Zimmerman says that at this point Trayvon challenged him, attacked him, smashed his head into the concrete. George says he feared for his life. George says he is innocent, and under Florida’s law he was simply standing his ground. He raised his firearm, and killed a boy with skittles in his pocket.
If I consider this critically and think about the foundational facts of the case, the situation lends itself to a very logical conclusion. However, our emotions and the arguments of racism cloud our judgment. And just so we’re clear, we cannot dismiss ethnicity as a factor, for most sincerely if Trayvon Martin was not black and instead was white and named Greg Brady the case may have still made national news, but their would be no argument around the guilt. It would be simple. George shot a kid. He must be punished. In fact, given the way he looks and what he claims as his heritage, he might be the one dealing with racism in such a situation. We cannot discount the cloying rot at the root of our nation that persists centuries later, a rot that we must still grapple with, the challenge of racism and how it persists in our culture.
If we apply a critical thinking approach devoid of emotion what does the Travyon Martin tragedy tell us? It simply tells us that a man took the law into his own hands, and he lacked the training to use his firearm in a manner that would have preserved life. The majority of us would have panicked in such a situation and killed Trayvon just like George did. Yes, I said it. Be honest and consider it. Most of us lack the requisite training to manage a life or death situation. We panic. We would have killed Trayvon.
With this understanding about the nature of ourselves and how the majority of us don’t shoot firearms consistently or challenge ourselves to manage deadly situations we can look at what happened to George and Trayvon. We can look at it dispassionately and arrive at a very straightforward conclusion.
George Zimmerman thought he was a hero, maybe even a super one, and reached for nobility. He would defend his neighborhood from hooded scum. Trayvon Martin had just left the corner store. He had candy. He was headed home. George disobeyed the instructions of the dispatcher and followed Trayvon. What happened next is truly immaterial. The end result and the facts that led to George getting out of his car are all that should be critical, are all that truly matter, despite the inanity of a disproportionately applied Florida law steeped in legislative stupidity. George accidentally murdered Trayvon Martin, a tragedy to be sure, that eventually swept the nation.
George Zimmerman could have shown his firearm and discharged it in the air. George could have controlled his emotions and maimed Trayvon, injuring him, but leaving him alive. Alas, George is not a member of Seal Team Six. George is not a member of SWAT. George is not a beat cop. A man trained to be any of these would be hard pressed to accomplish such a task in the midst of hand to hand combat. George wasn’t even a security guard. For him, the task was impossible. And as such, he killed a young man.
A man of courage and accountability would take responsibility for his actions. This is where George Zimmerman fails, and stands on the shoulders of the racists, the reactionaries, the extremists and FOX news. He stands on their shoulders and cries about his bloody head, and how he was so afraid. He was not qualified to have that gun. A real man would simply take his punishment. And logic leads us to a logical conclusion.
If you kill someone, no matter if it was an accident, the circumstances must be clarified and due punishment provided. The circumstances between George and Trayvon have been clarified. He took a life when he had several options at his disposal that would have preserved life. He failed to take these options and the result was Trayvon’s death. George Zimmerman was guilty before this trial even started.
It is a continuation of the tragedy that we are even debating his guilt in the court of public opinion. If you kill a man without cause you have committed a crime. George Zimmerman committed the ultimate crime, and if the court finds him anything other than guilty then our culture and society will once again falter and fall, discounting justice and maligning some for the sake of others.
It is almost elegant in its final simplicity. He killed a young man. The man was proven to be innocent of any wrongdoing. Whether he punched George, kicked him, or pounded his head into the concrete, George should not have been there in that moment. He is not a hero. He lacks courage. He had no business carrying a firearm. He was not trained. He must be punished for his crime.
Consider this critically.