Remember that time, recently, when someone said to you, “Hey, I wonder what Dinesh D’Souza thinks about [whatever]”?
I wonder why.
“George Zimmerman got away with murder,” Maddy, who declined to give her last name, said in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” “but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with.”
Oh, well, that’s cool, then.
Seriously, though, a few things:
1. Zimmerman didn’t get away with murder; he was found not guilty of murder … by you. This means he was judged not to have murdered Trayvon Martin. He did, of course, kill him. So, really, he got away with killing him.
2. This juror is right about one thing:
"As much as we were trying to find this man guilty … they give you a booklet that basically tells you the truth, and the truth is that there was nothing that we could do about it," she said. "I feel the verdict was already told."
Given the laws in Florida, Zimmerman could shoot another kid to death tomorrow and be found not guilty all over again … so long as he felt that, when he opened fire, his life was in danger (while he was carrying a gun and stalking the kid).
3. God isn’t going to sort this out. See #2, above, and then work on changing the laws.
Meanwhile on Facebook, more than half a dozen white people are still arguing with me that the real culprit in the Trayvon Martin shooting is Trayvon Martin and that race isn’t a problem in the U.S. today (or, if it is, it’s a problem that only exists because of leaders in the African-American community).
George Zimmerman, who has been in hiding since he was acquitted of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, emerged to help rescue a family who was trapped in an overturned vehicle, police said today.
Zimmerman was one of two men who came to the aid of a family of four — two parents and two children — trapped inside a blue Ford Explorer SUV that had rolled over after traveling off the highway in Sanford, Fla. at approximately 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
I think this is going to bother a lot of people, or it’ll seem surprising or even suspicious. But not to me.
When you run around involving yourself in things you happen to see, sometimes you’re going to be a hero and sometimes you’re going to be a villain. Zimmerman’s actions here demonstrate that he’s going to be right back out there on patrol, trying to be a hero.
That he’ll occasionally help people — just as he’ll occasionally hurt people — is part of the bargain that he wants the public to embrace, as he assumes and wants everyone to assume that he’ll help more than he’ll harm and that he’ll be thoughtful about when and where he involves himself. This is the bargain that any vigilante wants to strike.
But as long as the rules of the game don’t change in Florida — as long as there’s no real cost to charging in and waving your gun around whenever you see someone who you deem suspicious for no other reason than your own perceptions — there’s no real reason for us to believe we’ll see more motorist rescue or crime-fighting and less racial profiling or shooting innocent kids.
The long and short of the matter is this: Heroism is something that is thrust upon those who take decisive action in a situation that demands it. Heroism isn’t about casting about for, or manufacturing, a situation into which a person can heroically interpose himself.
I don’t think for a moment that Zimmerman suddenly understands this point, but that doesn’t mean he’ll never act heroically. Consistently putting himself in these situations makes it likely, in fact, that he will act heroically sometimes … but also that he’ll sometimes act villainously too.
These comments popped up on Facebook in response to a recent post about how President Obama isn’t trying to tear that country apart and how his comments about Trayvon Martin weren’t reprehensible.
I’m getting awfully tired of having to explain to white guys like me that a) your own personal experiences are not the same as everyone else’s personal experiences; b) it’s pretty hard to empathize with someone who’s different from you if you’ve never spent any time talking with them about their experiences; or c) not everything is always all about you.
My favorite young anonymous GOP Tumblr troll provides today’s Comment of the Day, in response to my most recent post about wingnut Fox commentator Todd Starnes:
I like your lack of argument against any of his statements.
Those statements that I neglected to argue against included the following gems:
"Obama’s comments today justify what I said on Hannity earlier this week. He truly is trying to tear our country apart."
"His remarks today on the Trayvon Martin tragedy are beyond reprehensible."
"President Obama is now our Race-Baiter in Chief."
It is truly amazing that I didn’t make arguments against such cogent statements!
Here’s the problem with the wingnut who wrote these inane things in the first place and with the wingnut who thinks I need to make arguments about why President Obama isn’t “trying to tear our country apart” or “reprehensible” or “our Race-Baiter in Chief”:
President Obama says that we have something of a problem in this country having to do with race. He says, I understand the pain felt by black families in America today.
Then white people say, “We’re pretty sure we don’t have a problem with race today; in fact, we think you’re creating any race problem we have.”
President Obama says, “Well, how about the fact that a young black kid gets stalked in his own neighborhood because some other guy thinks he looks suspicious, then he gets shot to death by that guy and there’s no penalty for that homicide because the guy was defending himself in a situation that he himelf created by following the kid who wasn’t doing anything to arouse suspicion apart from being a black kid walking around in the neighborhood?”
Then white people say, “You can’t bring up those kinds of examples. That’s race-baiting! You’re creating the race problem by talking about this case or any other case in which black people are treated differently from white people. We should all just say we’re equal in every way because then we will be.”
In other words, some white people are absolutely positive that the only race problems in this country are being created by black people … even as they express this opinion while calling those black people every imaginable racial slur.
Or, here’s a slightly less charitable way to put my response:
Anyone who actively believes that the President of the United States is a race-baiter who is trying to tear this country apart and whose personal comments on the Trayvon Martin killing were beyond reprehensible, and anyone who believes that this nonsense needs to be disproved, is either desperately fearful of anyone challenging his own extreme privilege as a white man in this country or is a moron of the absolute highest order.
This is an absolute refusal to see the world from anyone else’s perspective or to try to empathize in any way with someone who isn’t just like you.
I can’t think of a nicer way to say this. And I’ve actually been trying.
In case you were feeling good about the state of affairs in this country, keep in mind that a) this man is paid by a major “news” entity to speak about politics for a living and b) his racially charged fear-mongering and conspiracy theorizing is very popular.
If you’re not following Adam Weinstein on Twitter, you’re missing a truly masterful performance as he retweets some of the best of the racist, conspiracy-theorist wingnuttery from around the interwebs in the wake of President Obama’s comments on Trayvon Martin’s death and the George Zimmerman trial.
As the father of a young son, I’ve been particularly struck over the past few days by my own privileged position in our society, as I was last year when George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
I never have to advise my son to avoid wearing some article of clothing because he might look suspicious to a vigilante. I never have to tell him that our neighborhood might be dangerous place for him to walk around. I don’t have to warn him that some people might not like him simply based on the way he looks.
My son — purely by virtue of his white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes — will never have to deal with issues such as these. And I, as his father, won’t have these concerns about him and his well-being.
Given the myriad worries and fears associated with raising a child, I’m incredibly fortunate not to have to deal with these issues too. And I’m very mindful of the fact that it’s a mark of my privileged position in our society that I won’t have to try explaining these things to my son.
Today in not-so-casual racism …
A number of people have spent the day today pointing out that George Zimmerman’s defense did not hinge on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law but instead on a standard argument of self-defense.
This is certainly true.
But it’s also missing what I take to be a critically important point about the chain of events that led to the death of Trayvon Martin, namely that George Zimmerman’s actions that night — and the confrontation that led to the shooting — were precipitated by Florida’s peculiar Stand Your Ground law. That’s why I’ve been talking about Florida’s distinctly terrible laws.
To be specific, a law like the one in place in Florida leads inexorably to vigilantes like Zimmerman, who ride around their neighborhoods in the hopes of finding someone who looks suspicious enough to confront. The law tells Zimmerman that he can stalk Martin at night, he can put himself in a situation that might lead to a confrontation, and that — if such a confrontation should ensure — he can pull his gun and take a shot without having to do a whole lot of explaining. He can act as an aggressor and still be entirely within his rights when he shoots someone he deems also to be an aggressor or when he finds himself on the losing end of a confrontation that he initiates.
In other words, Zimmerman’s defense team didn’t have to appeal to the Stand Your Ground law in order to clear him of the murder charge — mostly because the other key witness to the events had been shot to death. The innocent guy, at the end of the night, is the guy who had more firepower, had no compunction about using it, and therefore didn’t end up dead.
But make no mistake that a confrontation occured that night in Florida — and Martin was shot and killed — because Zimmerman knew his rights under that Stand Your Ground law and thereby felt empowered to cruise around like a vigilante, looking for a bad guy and an excuse to wave his gun around.
For your reading pleasure, here’s a Tumblr blogger — who went out of his to defend George Zimmerman and the Florida Stand Your Ground law — absolutely losing his mind in just three quick messages.
There’s also one final message from this fellow, in which he writes, “you are the scum of the earth, you are what I would love to see eradicated from this planet, why I would LOVE to see a nuclear war erase your existence.”
I’ve been getting these sorts of messags for the past twelve hours. The logic in each one is obviously unassailable … insofar as it’s written by people who appear to be completely unhinged.
My most popular tweet ever.
But, seriously, all of the comments about how the judicial system and the rule of law are functioning properly and all the discussion of how it’s right and proper for Zimmerman to have been acquitted based on the laws in Florida? Yes, we get it.
My problem is not with the outcome of the case. My problem is that the laws that led us to this place are absolutely terrible. Let’s talk about that.
Four lessons to take away from last night’s verdict in the Zimmerman trial:
1. Always carry a gun. Guns keep you safe and there’s always going to be a situation that calls for pulling them out and waving them around, even if you have to manufacture such a situation yourself.
2. If someone suspicious is following you, don’t punch him; that’s called “being a thug” and is punishable by death. Shoot the guy to death instead; that’s called “standing your ground” and is entirely justifiable.
3. The above lessons don’t apply to people of color.
4. We live in a very, very sick country.