Marcellus, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, noted that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. He may have been right, but he obviously never checked out Florida where the stink is so offensive it provokes nausea. The recent juxtaposition of two stories coming out of that state are testimony of that condition. On the one hand, George Zimmerman, who shot a 17 years old boy to death on a Florida street because he “looked suspicious” was found not guilty of murder — or even of manslaughter. Apparently the jury was in denial. That is, they denied that a young man had been shot to death. At the very least, this was a clear case of manslaughter. One might have determined that Zimmerman was not guilty of murder, given the insane “stand your ground” law in Florida that allows anyone to shoot anyone else if they suspect possible foul play. But that tells us a great deal about the law and very little about Zimmerman’s culpability.
But wait a minute. Apparently some Floridians can’t shoot anyone they like, or even shoot at them. At least not Marissa Alexander who was sentenced to twenty years for firing warning shots at an abusive husband because he was about to attack her and she feared for her life. She had already gone to the police about the man’s aggressive behavior, but a jury in its wisdom decided that even though she killed no one she should be locked up for our safety. Apparently she was not to be allowed to “stand her ground.”
Now, despite the fact that this is a clear case of a double standard, since we are talking about the same law in the same state we might simply note the hypocrisy and pass on. But when we think of the family of Trayvon Martin who will have to live with the injustice of the verdict, or we think about Marissa Alexander who faces 20 years in prison for defending herself against an abusive husband we must pause and reflect.
The country’s love of guns and violence has been noted often and written about until it no longer registers on those who might actually give a damn. But the new spate of laws around the country — especially in the South — that not only allow but (in a town in Texas) actually require that people carry guns to protect themselves are marginally insane. It is one thing to defend the possession of hand guns and automatic weapons on the grounds of a complete misreading of the Second Amendment, but it is quite another to insist that people must carry guns and when something moves, pull the trigger. But there is a connection, of course. Those who insist that we all have a “right” to carry a gun are scared to death that the wrong people (i.e., people other than themselves) will get a hold of them. So they insist that their legislators pass laws allowing them to defend themselves against the “crazies” who might want to shoot them down in the street. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this leads.
Is it too obvious to point out that the solution to this entire insane scenario is to take the guns away from everyone? That, of course, will never happen. But it is none the less so obvious a three year-old could figure it out. In the meantime, we will have more cases like the George Zimmerman case and more applications of the double standard as in the Marissa Alexander case and we might as well get used to it. The fact that both victims in these cases were black enters the equation, of course, but we now live in an age of terrorism where fear rules, reason is stunted by the passions, and the stink you smell will simply get stronger as people continue to commit stupid acts and juries demonstrate their blindness to simple facts.
Thank you for sharing Marissa Alexander’s story. Now I’m even more incensed by the injustice of it all.
We’ve now legalized vigilantism, and the free use of a gun for any kind of “defense.”
Zimmerman was told not to carry a gun on his rounds, he was told not to leave his car, he was told to leave the gun in the car. But he didn’t. He had at least a 100 pounds on Martin, but claimed he “feared for his life.” If he did, he had to be the biggest coward in the land. And to be found innocent? What was the jury thinking? How incompetent was the prosecutor?
This is a travesty, plain and simple.
But there is a larger issue. We’ve now given up all pretense of being a nation of laws, of a nation run by a constitution, a nation of equality. We are a nation run by zealots and christian fanatics (How are our “fanatics” different than the middle east “fanatics?”) We have secret courts accountable to no one, a non-working government, and a President more than willing to sacrifice citizen rights to pacify his military leaders.
There is no one in this country who should be standing proud over recent events.
I couldn’t agree with you more about the larger issue.
Marissa’s story did not reach this far; you are right – something is rotten, oh so rotten.
Great post. I was unaware of Marissa’s story as well. From what I gathered from the Zimmerman case, without further input, he appears to be guilty of profiling a young man and perhaps manslaughter. When his counsel says he was not racist in his profiling, I find that hard to believe. I also believe that the case that should have been brought against him is manslaughter not Murder II, but again, I am not an attorney nor do I have the benefit of the evidence or testimony. A young man is dead because of actions Zimmerman took after being told not to take them by an 911 operator. I have heard attorneys dismiss that, but Zimmerman made the confrontation happen, in my mind. Thanks, BTG