Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dead Doesn't Heal

Ever since the news hit the airwaves of George Zimmerman killing Trayvon Martin, the same questions have reverberated through my mind. A lot of speculation has been bandied about as fact though little of it has been proven. I can attribute any words I want to either one of them and without a recording or a written record no one will know if they're true. Even eye witnesses hear things differently. Hell, two people in an argument hear things differently. Recordings prove unreliable. Writing can be forged.  I can scour the Internet for photos and assign them to those involved. I can play games to manipulate the public sentiment. And all this has been done repeatedly and without shame, mostly to malign a teenage boy being a teenager.

Trayvon's actions earlier that day or the week before or the month before or the year before have no bearing on this event or how we should view it because Zimmerman didn't know any of that when he shot Trayvon. Based on the events of the evening, what we know is Zimmerman followed, chased, and confronted Martin even after the 911 operator (and therefore the police) suggested he not. The two exchanged words, likely unpleasant ones. Zimmerman ended up with superficial injuries. Martin ended up dead. Injuries heal. Dead doesn't.

As coverage continued and people weighed in, my thoughts kept returning to Jake Brigance's closing argument in A Time Kill by John Grisham. I won't quote it as that would be a spoiler for those who haven't read the book or seen the movie. I will however mention that he provides an argument that shatters the lens through which the jury sees the crime. That closing argument, that book, forced me to examine the way I saw events around me and continues to influence me today as I think about whether or not my reaction would be different if the victim or the perpetrator looks more or less like me in any given situation.


Before you defend George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, I implore you to ask yourself a couple of questions.

Would you feel the same way if it had been your child walking home from a convenience store carrying an iced tea, a bag of Skittles (or whatever his/her snack of choice is), talking on the phone and wearing a hoodie? This is an incredibly likely scenario, so think about it. Really think about it.

When you jump to Zimmerman’s defense, you are saying it is okay for a grown man to shoot a teenage boy (or girl) based on suspicion, period. And that could very well be your child.

If you are tempted to point out that Trayvon defended himself against Zimmerman's confrontation, would you feel your child had no right to defend him/herself under the same circumstances… followed, chased, stopped, and confronted by a strange adult man on a street he/she had every right to be on?

 A grown man shot a teenage boy for walking on a street in the neighborhood where the boy lived.

Of course no one wants to believe it could happen to their child, which adds to the temptation to make Trayvon somehow different from every other child on Earth; however, unless you never allow your child or teenager to step outside your home by him/herself, it could happen to your child. My guess is your child even wears a hoodie on occasion. You probably do, too. I know I do. I think I own at least ten, and I wear them regularly when the weather is cool.

Of course it’s possible you don’t have a child… In that case, ask yourself if it would be okay if it was your nephew or niece or family friend. Or for those of you with grandchildren, your grandchild.

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