My Great Excuse

Hello, dear readers.  I’ve had a lot on my mind the past couple of weeks, and unfortunately for those of you who come to this blog for it’s original purpose, relationship advice wasn’t part of my thoughts.  For the next paragraphs, please forgive my soapboxing and frustration; I’m just really appalled by all of this.  I have a lot of feelings about all of this, and I’m telling you right now that this isn’t going to be a funny post.

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the Trayvon Martin case.  Quick recap, for those who don’t know: 17-year-old Martin went to get snacks one night in Sanford, Florida, got followed by a neighborhood watchman, and ended up being shot to death by said neighborhood watchman.

It’s kind of a big mess now.  I think that’s putting it really mildly.  There has been a lot that’s come to light, including the 911 calls made by George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin.  I don’t know what your personal feelings are, but if I hear a police dispatcher say that I don’t need to be following someone, then I’m going to listen to that person because they’re probably pretty sure of what they’re doing.  The other extremely disturbing part is that you can plainly hear Mr. Zimmerman use a racial epithet, which was censored on many major news outlets.  If you want to listen for yourself, a couple of minutes into it you can hear Zimmerman say “f***ing c**ns”, which is a not-so-nice way to refer to African-Americans.

As if the direction from a police dispatcher to leave the kid alone wasn’t reason enough to be upset, the neighborhood watch rules also explicitly state that watchmen are not to carry firearms.  But we’re not paying attention to any of that.

What’s great is that there has been no sign of Mr. Zimmerman in the last month (Martin was killed on February 26), but friends of his have come forward.  An African-American man named Joe Oliver has been interviewed in several places and pretty much keeps saying Zimmerman isn’t racist because well, obviously Mr. Oliver is his friend.  It’s a very classic “I’m not racist because I have a friend who is a person of color” excuse.  And that’s what it is.  It’s a crappy excuse that is only making a crappy situation worse, and that’s really frustrating.  For some reason in the United States, it’s seemingly not racist unless you’re a blatant, explicit white supremacist.  That’s such BS.

There has been a lot of talk about Florida’s firearms legislation, including what “stand your ground” and “castle” laws mean.  A castle law comes from the old term that “a man’s house is his castle” and thus he has a right to defend it.  So for a castle law, you can use force on any intruder (Indiana has included cops as intruders in a recently passed piece of legislation!)  With the “stand your ground” law, essentially, if you feel threatened in a public place in the state of Florida (literally anywhere), you can use deadly force, so long as you assert you felt threatened.  And then you can walk away.

There’s also a smear campaign happening against this dead boy.  I really can’t think of anything more disgusting than pointing out he was suspended from school for having marijuana.  He’s dead.  He got shot to death by someone.  Isn’t that enough?  I’m disgusted that people are choosing to pick on a dead child, when relevant authorities are refusing to investigate the case.  It’s horrible.

The other horrible part is how incredibly racist we’re all being about this.  George Zimmerman has family of Hispanic or Latino descent, so there are talking heads on television who are now asserting that white people have done nothing wrong and do nothing wrong.  It’s basically being made into Trayvon Martin’s fault because he went outside wearing a hoodie when it was cold at night.  He was probably really weirded out by a strange man following him for awhile.  He was probably REALLY concerned when that same man got out of his car and approached him, or when they approached each other.

Instead of being concerned with the dead teenager who was probably scared shitless in the last minutes of his life, we have people like Geraldo Rivera saying not to let Latino or African-American males walk around wearing hoodies.  He quite literally said, “the hoodie is as much to blame for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman.”  REALLY?!  Ugh.

I realize as a white American woman I have a bit of privilege behind me, I don’t deny it and I try to be aware of it.  However I think a lot of people are missing the point – regardless of who felt threatened, why don’t we let this come out in a court of law?  If Mr. Zimmerman and his friends and family are going to protest on behalf of his innocence, do it where it really will matter.  Get the acquittal and then get help for that itchy trigger finger.

I’m really mad about this, and I think it’s an important conversation we need to have.  I’m not against responsible gun ownership, I’m not out to infringe on one’s right to own or carry or use a gun.  I think, though, if you shoot someone, and especially if it’s a mortal wound and they die, you should go to court.  If you’re innocent, let the evidence show it.

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