Monday, April 23, 2012

The Trayvon Martin Case is Turning Into a Spectacle

I have decided that, for the most part, I would step back and allow the Justice system to work in the case of Trayvon Martin. There has been too much misinformation and spin from both sides in the case. Luckily I didn't jump to conclusions earlier on.... but waited instead for more information before forming an opinion. Now that more information has come to light... I still believe that Zimmerman was the instigator and has most of the responsibility for the outcome.

I have mixed feelings about Civil Rights Inc.. and its efforts to bring this case to the forefront. On one hand, if not for those efforts, the case may not have received national attention. On the other hand, it has set the Country up for more division and will do little to solve any of the real social and legal issues surrounding the case. I see this case heading for the category of spectacle. Just add a tent and some clowns and you have a huge circus. It's just going to turn into infotainment that the networks will gin up for ratings, playing one part of the citizenry against another. Sadly, no real social issues are likely to be solved as a result of this case. Moreover, in practical terms, the Martin family may not get "justice". The case is just unbelievably flawed.

The initial mishandling of the case by the Sanford Police Department is a poison pill. I don't see any way to recover from that in a criminal trial. Secondly, there is no way that George Zimmerman, with the facts being what they are today, will be convicted for 2nd degree murder. I recognized that from the start, and I was surprised by the higher charges. The jury will likely have an option to go for manslaughter, but a conviction even on manslaughter is a 50/50 toss-up, due to the tainting of the case and the media circus. I hope the Martin's can get some resolution and some peace...but I think justice may have to come by way of civil court. Criminal charges are being brought now as a way to diffuse tensions (people remember L.A. in the early 90's... I recall it like it was yesterday). I think prosecutors and the State of Florida in general would like to pass this off to the court system... hoping that the courts can fix the mess of a lunatic with an arrest record being issued a CCW license, and a police department botching an investigation. They at least would like to be able to say they sent the case to a jury. But in the end I just don't see a conviction.

I have been amazed by all the wrong commentators focusing on all the wrong issues. Examples if misguided commentary: (the examples that annoy me the most).

1. Bill Cosby thinks it's strictly a gun issue....that citizens should not be allowed to have guns. That this case should be the impetus for removing all guns from the population (if he had his way). Wrong. While I am mostly in the Cosby camp when it comes to problems within Black culture/the Black community... Cosby is off the mark on this issue. People on the far left immediately sought to hold this case up as a reason to get rid of CCW laws, to ban guns, and limit self defense. This is about an idiot with an overzealous personality who wanted to play cop. Could the laws be a little stricter... perhaps. Zimmerman, with a record of 3 prior arrests.... (one for a felony) should have never been issued  a CCW permit. So yes, the laws should be tightened a bit in that respect, and rules of engagement in self defense matters should be better defined. But to take away rights is nonsense.

2. The media keeps referring to Zimmerman as a neighborhood watch person. According to reports, he was not part of any organized program for neighborhood watch. It seems like this is an effort to make Zimmerman appear to be some great guy. It also suggests that he was sanctioned by his community and had training that he simply did not have.

3. This is an issue that highlights the relationship between police and black males. Wrong again. Although there are some general comparisons that could be made in terms of profiling.... the two situations are not really the same at all. George Zimmerman was not a Police Officer, or bonafide Security Officer, and therefore Martin had no responsibility whatsoever to stop for him. Yet, I keep hearing this point brought up. Just yesterday, Dr. John McWhorter proclaimed on NPR that the Martin case could help highlight the relationship between Black men and police forces in this Country and could move the debate forward. Again, this framing makes Zimmerman look like such a good guy..... he was just doing police work after all. Give the guy a break. I keep hearing this narrative repeated across the media. Media: Please stop this nonsense.

4. It's all about race. Well, yes and no (mostly no). I think race is playing a part on a more nuanced, institutional level. I don't think race is playing such a big menacing role up front like some have suggested. I am not sold on the theory that Zimmerman sought to go out to kill a Black kid that night.... unless the prosecutors have information that we have not heard/seen yet, this argument won't hold up. But subconsciously... yes, race has probably played some role. I don't think a white kid would have been kept in the morgue for days with no one doing an investigation to locate next of kin. I don't think a case with a white shooting victim and a black shooter would have been handled in the same manner. And the bail... that's part of the circus that I mentioned earlier. All we're missing is a tent. A $150,000 bond seems awfully low for a 2nd degree murder case. I don't recall ever hearing of a bond that low for a murder charge... but i'm sure it has happened somewhere at some point. It just seems odd. Would a bond that low have been allowed in a case where the victim happened to be a white kid? Probably not.

5. The "Stand Your Ground Law" is the main culprit. Wrong. Most States allow for reasonable claims of self defense (with or without this additional law). People who don't know much about the use of force and self defense have been completely spooked by the term...because of this case. However, these laws are generally just fine. Even in my State (Missouri) CCW laws in general are useful to business owners who are transporting money, jewelers moving valuables, and they make it easier for businesses to operate in some of the worst urban areas in the Country (like North St. Louis) where few services are available for citizens. These shield laws or Castle Doctrine laws were not intended to protect someone like a George Zimmerman (the instigator) in a case like this one....although it may end up offering him some cover as an unintended consequence.

I think citizens in these States may need additional training on when to use force....and I think those with a CCW permit should be required to 1). Avoid conflict/trouble at every opportunity. And 2) They should be required to carry intermediate defensive tools.... like pepper spray if they are carrying their weapon. (This should have already been required). Most confrontations that the average person will be involved in will not require deadly force. It is probably on the order of less than 10%. The vast majority of conflicts require avoidance and/or pepper spray. Having a gun with no other intermediate choices can lead people to panic and pull out a firearm when it isn't appropriate....because they had no other tools.

More should also be done in terms of evaluating who should have a weapon. The right to carry or even own a weapon shouldn't be afforded to anyone who shows up at the gun shop or at the permit office. Psych tests can be developed to eliminate those who lack the intelligence and common sense to have a weapon, those who have a personality that seeks confrontation, and those who lack discipline/self control. Zimmerman appears to fail on all of those counts. Add the arrest record...and he was a disaster waiting to happen.

(Not reported in the media) Zimmerman also violated his CCW training that night. Most CCW courses tell you to stay in your vehicle if you are in a car.... and they also teach you to avoid being the aggressor/or instigator.

One likely outcome from this case may be.... no criminal conviction.... but a civil suit where the State of Florida, the permit issuing County Sheriff, the gun store, the Sanford Police department & others may be plaintiffs. The Martins may have a lot more luck in a civil trial. I just hope that any awards or settlements are not so huge that they frighten other States and Sheriffs departments into halting CCW programs or that it  makes gun ownership so difficult that citizens no longer exercise the right of ownership, or makes self defense so difficult to claim that legitimate victims go broke defending themselves in the legal system because the burden of proof will be all on them.

It just seems as if the media lacks the ability to discuss this case accurately and intelligently....and it has led to all sorts of misinformation. If they televise this trial... (and I don't think the networks could resist the ratings opportunity) it will turn into a complete circus. I will be subjected to more stupid commentary (what I mentioned above is just a portion). All of the facts in the case will be disregarded...and it will turn into a stupid Black vs. White event.... because, for one thing, the networks can make more money from ratings if they can feed into that frenzy. It will be a show trial. Nothing will be gained in the end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All the evidence from eye witnesses and police investigation at the scene released to the public points Trayvon as the instigator.

And IMO Zimmerman will not be convicted but will win his immunity hearing. And then he will rightfully start civil litigation agains the media for malicious libel as well as Crump et al.

Crump and the circus end up broken and empty handed. As it should be.