March 26, 2012 | 1 Comment
A friend of mine recently shared an observation about the tragic death of Trayvon Martin in Florida that revealed a much deeper truth about American justice.
This friend, who has travelled for business in the United States for years and lives on the Ontario-Michigan border, is a keen observer of American culture, to put it simply. This is what my friend said:
If George Zimmerman, the man who gunned down Martin, truly believed he was in imminent danger, why would he not simply brandish his firearm and scare off this supposedly suspicious teen?
As my friend said, that gun would stop him in his tracks immediately. The question is why did Zimmerman follow through and shoot this teenager, whose only possessions other than his clothes, were a cell phone, a bottle of iced tea and a bag of Skittles?
Of course, I’m assuming something here. Taking out a gun would resolve a dangerous situation only if the person with the gun was certain that his or her would-be attacker was unarmed. The sad reality is that no one knows for sure in the U.S.
The news coverage has portrayed this event in simple terms. Most stories and reports suggested that 17-year-old Trayvon was clearly not armed or suspicious. Today, an African-American friend of Zimmerman came forward defending him by saying there is more to the story and that his friend did not target the teen because of his race.
If there is another side, why are we not hearing it?
Also, it should be noted that a group calling itself The New Black Panther Party has placed a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman’s head.
The deeper truth here is that the right to bear arms has nurtured a culture of fear in the U.S., which has in turn strengthened the case for the right to bear arms. The consequences of this right and related laws, such as the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, are almost always deadly. If you assume that everyone is always armed, you tend to be more amenable to owning a gun yourself for protection.
The coverage of this tragedy is reflective of this sense of paranoia.
It’s hard to imagine what is more tragic – the senseless death of a 17-year-old teen or the inevitability that it will surely happen again and again.