Seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was gunned down in the street on his way from a convenience store several weeks ago. Pundits and other talking heads have taken the opportunity of the young man’s death to publicly decry the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law.
Others such as Geraldo Rivera have chosen to use the killing of Mr. Martin as evidence of ongoing racial profiling of black Americans and Latinos by authority figures. Geraldo asserts that Trayvon was targeted by Zimmerman for wearing a hoodie while being a young ethnic minority. Never mind that Zimmerman wasn’t exactly a real authority figure, or that Zimmerman was himself, actually Latino.
Either way, the salient point is being missed. A kid is dead. And that kid was killed while walking down the street, armed only with a soft drink and a bag of skittles while the man who took his life walks free.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have little appreciation for youngsters who traipse through town looking as though the only business that will take their money is the Big and Tall store. Still, if poor fashion sense were a crime, both Hollywood and WalMart would be ghost towns.
Which brings us to the real problem in this case. Regardless of whether Zimmerman was prompted by deeply seated racial animus or simply by a fear of kids carrying junk food and wearing one of the most styleless, yet timeless, garbs ever to grace a department store rack, Zimmerman was inside the safety of his own car when he first caught sight of Martin. He therefore, could not possibly have needed to “Stand his Ground” with Martin because the child was, quite obviously, not on Zimmerman’s ground.
Furthermore, Zimmerman left the confines of his vehicle, his “ground”, and pursued Martin for…being there. Meaning of course, that whatever transpired, Zimmerman was provocateur, not victim or defender. Given the circumstances, i.e. that Zimmerman initiated both the contact and the ensuing conflict, it should be obvious to even the most dedicated vigilante that it was Martin who was likely placed in the position of standing his ground when stalked and assailed by Zimmerman.
In all scenarios, including the one presented by Zimmerman, there can be no doubt that had he simply left Trayvon alone, the two individuals would merely have passed like two ships in the night, neither altering the other’s course nor destiny in any way. As it turns out, for whatever reasons – reasons that probably don’t warrant much in the way of examination — Zimmerman couldn’t bring himself to do that. He opted instead to set off a chain of events that culminated with him killing a kid.
Today Zimmerman is in hiding, apparently fearful that someone who is actually armed and dangerous will do him harm. His flight provides insight into how he reacts in the face of danger, confirming that he really does know the difference between real threats (Black Panthers looking for a cause) and those of the imaginary variety (skinny kids with candy).
Still, I would not join in calling for any proverbial form of “Biblical Justice” to be dispensed upon Zimmerman . We must refrain from becoming that which we deplore. One “Zimmerman” in any society is too many.
It would be dishonest of me to say, however, that I do not derive some satisfaction from the knowledge that even though he does not lay his head down in a six-by-six cell each night, that this child killer does in fact live within the confines of a prison of a different kind. It is all the more poetic that said prison is of the man’s own making.
None if which, of course, serves to breathe life and vigor back into the body of a child whose days were cut far too short by a man who could rationalize – and to this day still does — bullying and harassing a child. To death.