Race, Justice, and Civility

I’ve been watching all the drama of the Zimmerman case unfold for quite a while, and I have to say I’m beginning to despair of society’s ability to apply critical thought to an issue without clouding their judgement with emotion.
There are three points I’d like to make after giving lots of thought to this case:
1) Race was a factor in the events of that night.
The truth is that Zimmerman was following Martin that night in part because of Martin’s appearance.
Given the fact that there had been burglaries in the area, and that the suspect had been described as a young black male, it stands to reason that Zimmerman would view Martin with some suspicion. Other factors also fed this suspicion, not just race. Zimmerman might have over-reacted to the possible threat, but you have to concede that he was justified in reporting Martin’s presence to police based on the information he was working with.
Now the part where this case gets sticky…
Whether Zimmerman was justified in pursuing Martin or not, I can’t say. Up until this point, Zimmerman had been acting in the interest of the community. I believe he got a little over-zealous, but as with so much of the commentary on this, it’s speculation.
So race played a part in this drama in that Martin fit the description of a burglar, and before I hear any more hysterics over “profiling”, I’d like to ask this: why are black males responsible for such a high percentage of crime? If you want to not be viewed suspectly, then perhaps you should do something about the thug culture, fatherless households, or whatever else it is that leads your young men to behave badly in society.
2) Justice has prevailed.
Most of the furor over the “injustice” of the Zimmerman verdict is based on incorrect perceptions. There is an assumption, which is fed by race hustlers and the media, that Zimmerman shot Martin because he was black. NO. Zimmerman shot Martin because Martin was beating the hell out of him. Based on Zimmerman’s injuries he had a justifiable reason to use deadly force; he feared for his life. The escalation of events which led to this will continue to divide people over this case, but the simple truth is this: Martin could have responded to Zimmerman’s pursuit without violence, but once violence had been initiated the dynamic shifted. This was no longer an annoying and over-zealous neighborhood watchman and a teen on a late night snack run, this was a violent altercation between two men. The media have tried to turn favor toward Martin in this by referring to him as a child. He was a minor, for sure, but he was not a small and defenseless tot. It’s worth pointing out that young men a few months older than Trayvon sacrifice their lives daily in our military. They are young men, not boys.
3) Politicians, celebrities, and the media need to stop inciting incivility.
You may strongly disagree with me on one or both of my previous points, but breaking laws and attacking people is not going to bring about any sort of justice; on the contrary, it only breeds more hate for both sides of the divide. Just as it did the night Martin was shot, violence breeds violence. You cannot perpetuate the same crimes you accuse others of and call it justice: it’s not justice, it’s revenge. REVENGE IS NOT JUSTICE.
The media has been morbidly gleeful over the possibility of riots “for Trayvon.” The vast majority of rioters probably only showed up because the cameras were rolling in anticipation and people will do anything to get on tv nowadays. Celebrities have used their bullhorn of fame to stoke embers of anger in fans who have little knowledge of the case, but are easily swayed by opinion. Most repugnant to me is the way our political “leaders” have declared they want justice for this supposed crime , but have willfully ignored crimes of greater magnitude or with clearer evidence of racial hate. The seeds of division were sown and now they are all carefully tending their gardens of hate at the cost of true justice and civility. It’s maddening. Leadership should not produce such rancid fruit.
The thing to remember in all of this is that you do no service to humanity by continuing to stoke the fires of hate. The Martins have lost a young man dear to them. The Zimmermans have lost their peace of mind. Trayvon will always be missed by his family and friends. George will live with the terrible knowledge that he ended a man’s life, and the Zimmerman family will live in fear of revenge vigilantism. Each person who allows hate to fester will live without real joy.
Destroying property and attacking people will never bring closure. There have been revenge murders against whites and Hispanics for no reason other than revenge for a perceived injustice. Facts, laws, respect, and sanctity of life be damned. Is this how you honor your dead?? If so, you’re worse than barbaric. You’re petty and simple and full of evil.
I dearly hope that we can all stop talking at each other and insulting each other. We need a return of civility. Our country and our communities cannot survive without it.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”


4 thoughts on “Race, Justice, and Civility

  1. Danielle says:

    Very very well said. I wish this country could heal from prejudice and racism but it never will as long as both sides feed it.

  2. zookeeper12 says:

    I just stopped by yesterday to see if you had posted anything. I’m SO glad you are still imparting uncommon common sense to the masses. Amen, sista!!!

  3. rousseau1214 says:

    Ok, let’s forget the rest of the post for a second, because I haven’t followed the Zimmerman Trial, let’s focus on the issue of race here, because I think that is most important. For one, conservatives continually say that race is no longer on issue, which is just wrong.

    Anyway, you assert

    “I’d like to ask this: why are black males responsible for such a high percentage of crime? If you want to not be viewed suspectly, then perhaps you should do something about the thug culture, fatherless households, or whatever else it is that leads your young men to behave badly in society.”

    but that’s all you do is assert and provide no reliable factor of causation. You do mention fatherless households, but you elude to black culture without any real justification (or at least that’s what I read). You elude to “thug culture”, but give no indication of what that is or how it came about.

    In reality, juvenile delinquency is similar among all ethnic groups, despite the large discrepancies in black teen arrests. For example the U.S. Department of Justice has determined that illicit drug use among white teens is 11.1% while among black teens it is about 9%, yet the gap between arrest rates is just astounding. And this relationship holds for many other crimes. Why is this? Well obviously the first thing that comes to mind is “race effects” at various stages of the juvenile justice process. Things like stereotypes and other racial sentiments. And looking at race effects isn’t “race baiting” as some on the right would say, but well documented research.


    So not only do I object your sentence above, which is permeating much of the debate around this case, but I think it’s safe to say that race is still an extremely relevant issue today. Social relationships are difficult to trace, but it’s clear that their are discrepancies between black and white population that can’t just be explained away by “thug culture” and fatherless households. Plus thinking like this implicitly assumes that there are specific factors of causation to delinquency and poverty which is just nonsense if one looks at data from other countries.

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