The Trayvon Martin Tragedy: Sad Fact, Terrible Vigilantes

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The Trayvon Martin tragedy is an awful, horrible thing, and we as a society need to hold justice to the guilty and find out exactly what transpired that fateful night. Many of my friends have taken up the banner of the hoodie and have spread the word among those who need (and want) to be informed. However, there is a HUGE difference between protesting any perceived miscarriage of justice in order to rectify a wrongdoing and simply using the death of a young man (who happens to be a minority) as an excuse to force your opinions on others- and the obnoxious trappings that come along with that kind of behavior.

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George Zimmerman, while constantly vilified, has not been brought to trial and given a verdict for his actions while serving on his neighborhood watch. Posting “ARRGH FUCK ZIMMERMAN HE OUGHT TO BE KILLED”, creating banners with crosshairs over his face, claiming that this single incident is reason enough to ask thousands of people to avoid work/school/taxes based on a shared racial bond or otherwise using his killing as a soapbox for your own agenda is not only self-serving, inefficient and close-minded but a slap to the face of American social equality and an outright bastardization of basic morals. Advocating the assault/murder/intimidation of George Zimmerman makes one just as evil, if not more so, than Zimmerman himself, and on par with the Ku Klux Klan. Race politics are race politics, and the moment someone says that Trayvon/Zimmerman deserve to be hurt the entire movement is discredited by the knee-jerk response of those who don’t know better than to respond to violence with more violence.

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It’s sickening to see someone with 30+ posts a day about the latest nitty-gritty news dirt on their Facebook while they themselves have no job, aren’t enrolled in any kind of schooling and live 100% on public assistance (which is fine, but lazy when one doesn’t try to find gainful employment) and yet choose to make immediate enemies of anyone who differs in opinion, all too often backing themselves up with ”well you’re not black/poor/a ’real’ activist, so you’ll never understand” or the classic cop-out ”you’re a racist”. That’s the backwards, bandwagon-hopping blind ferocity so prevalent in the Tea Party crowd and it’s one of the reasons the public don’t like discussing it. After all, who wants to get yelled at, ostracized and labeled with filthy names by some self-righteous ”activist” looking to run a ”you’re with us or against us” campaign? Not me, and no one with any sense of dignity.

I want Trayvon’s death to be brought to justice as much as any compassionate human being should, and I sincerely hope that this doesn’t devolve into a pissing contest between all sorts of demographics and holier-than-thou zealots with a love of agitation. Dissidence is the basis of democracy, absolutely, but there’s a fine line between fighting for equality and justice and garnering attention just to be a dick.

If you want to be taken seriously, act as a productive member of society and advocate equal rights. If you want this whole debacle to disintegrate into the same old black-versus-white bickering, keep on with the death threats and ill-conceived tactics. But please, do it in private: you’re making us all look bad, and you’re only drawing people away from the cause of justice for this young man shot down in his prime.

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*** Update! ***

Facebook Reply from Dan (no name, sorry trolls 😦 )

The notion that we should wait for a fair judgment before taking up the banner of justice for Trayvon contains a serious fallacy. The problem is that the investigation now going on is only taking place BECAUSE so many people took up the banner for Trayvon.

Calling for George Zimmerman to be killed is unnecessary, etc., etc. But it is also nowhere near as bad as actually KILLING Trayvon.

I do not see any construction of this in which George Zimmerman comes out anything remotely like innocent. There is nothing to suggest that Trayvon Martin was doing ANYTHING that night he should not have been doing. And yet George Zimmerman hunted him down, gun in hand. Even if, at some point in the ensuing confrontation, Trayvon Martin got in a good short or two — and frankly I doubt this very much — it’s still not self defense. If I hunt you down and accost you at gun point, and you resist me, and then I kill you, I’m a murderer.

My Response

Did I say we should twiddle our thumbs while we wait for his court date? No. Please don’t put words in my mouth, and read a bit more thoroughly. I totally advocate activism regarding his murder, but I find it troubling the ways that some have used his death as motivation to further divide society along racial lines as well as to instigate conflict based solely on different viewpoints for the sake of conflict, not progress. That’s a step backwards any way you look at it, just as the loonies that call for a ban on gay marriage due only to their own love of argument and attention,

Regarding your second paragraph, exactly what position are you in to say something like that? Calling for murder is calling for murder any way you slice it, and by advocating (or at least validating) those sentiments for homicide you’re adding fuel to the fire, not to mention bringing yourself and your platform to the level Zimmerman is widely presumed to be on: a reactionary, self-appointed killer ready to murder someone- someone from the news, someone from whom you’ve never heard his whole story before. The U.S. isn’t big on summary execution (not inside the borders, at least).

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Thirdly: though I said nothing even close to a vindication or celebration of his disgusting actions, by the circumstances you described, yes, that would be murder. It seems to be that Zimmerman was overzealous (if not racist/classist/elitist/etc.) in his actions and thus acted in a truly terrible way. However, that is no reason to propagate the idea of killing him in the streets and outside a legal proceeding because you and a profile of the public think he’s guilty. If he’s not given due process and punished appropriately, how are we any better than him?

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Stating that one murder is not as bad as another without full disclosure of the events preceding it is sick, and I hope you don’t really believe that breaching the legal system in place because there’s news coverage on a crime you’re following is acceptable. Is that not the definition of hypocrisy, or at the very least jumping to a conclusion?

Thanks again for your deep, innovative thoughts, Facebook!

Ten “Likes” and a lot of conversation/support. What’s your take? Shoot (pun!) me an email (ryanjarcy@gmail.com) and let’s get ready to rock this blog.

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Posted on May 3, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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