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Thursday, March 29, 2012

THE LESSONS OF TRAYVON

"Who killed his life, though?"

You may have noticed that the hot topic of earlier this week (Zimmerman and Martin) has basically disappeared. You wouldn't be alone. As early as Tuesday someone wrote about how the New York Times only had one small story on the front page about this topic.

Why did it fade away like this? Well it wasn't what the race-baiters hoped for. Zimmerman inconveniently turned out to be hispanic, and a Democrat to boot. Trayvon Martin turned out to be not such a likeable kid and the pushback on his pictures actually made a difference. And as the facts have come out, its not such a cut and dried case of bigotry and injustice as the left kept screaming.

Now that the hype has died down and people aren't yelling at each other any more, maybe we can come away with this having learned a few lessons.

Such as this one: every right-leaning blog I saw posted line after line about how Trayvon Martin jumped on Zimmerman and beat him up, how he was dressed like a thug, how his tweets were rude and crude and thuggish. Well yeah they are but they don't seem any more so than your average white suburbanite teen. His writing is largely illiterate and stupid, but not uniquely or even remarkably so given his age of 17. He doesn't seem like some kind of OG thug, he just seems like the all-too-common teenager who likes to smoke weed, get laid, and talk smack.

So the lesson from that is that the right was too willing to try to show this guy off as a horrible person to lessen how bad his shooting was, and that's just terrible not just to the kid but his mom. Yes, his mother either has bad judgment or is being advised by some really terrible people, but she's going through greif and you do stupid, painful stuff when that happens. She lost her son. Give her some respect and space okay?

The second lesson was from the left, who leapt on this with both feet screaming racism and trying to turn it into some vast statement on America and leverage for political power. This whole episode was one of the most hideous displays of crass manipulation and exploitation I've seen in a long time. As Ann Coulter said,
Like Captain Ahab searching for the Great White Whale, the media is constantly on the hunt for proof of America as “Mississippi Burning.”
Now, she's mixing her metaphors a bit, but the point is valid. This was such a transparent, cringe-inducingly obvious attempt to fill a narrative and promote a political agenda even the left seemed embarrassed by trotting it out. And that doesn't show any respect or sympathy for the boy and his mom either.

Next time, step back a bit before you start screaming bigotry and injustice. Maybe keep that machine from rolling before you have much information, huh? Tell Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to keep the muzzle on until they have the facts. Tell President Obama not to jump on the issue and try to exploit it out of respect for the family, how about? White hispanic? Are you serious? The guy looks like Nancy Pelosi's gardener.

The third lesson is that we're all casualties of the internet news culture. Nobody had but a tiny shred of the facts, and yet so many were pontificating, preaching, and shouting as if they had it all figured out. People were declaring police injustice because of a black kid's death for not charging Zimmerman and hauling him in. People were declaring Zimmerman's actions completely justified without even having a clue what happened. People were calling Trayvon a thug and a gangbanger without knowing a thing about him. People were calling Trayvon an innocent kid, a victim of racism without having a clue about his life.

I understand that for many blogs and all news outlets getting the story first is a major priority. And while the internet is wonderful for getting bits of information as they happen, its also bad for giving us incorrect bits (the picture of Trayvon I posted, for example) or incomplete bits which people then run with despite having so little. The truth, they say, is the first casualty of war, but its also one of the first casualties of haste and ignorance. Next time, go with what you know and no further. Bad enough the news media is desperately trying to force this into some huge racial war without everyone else piling on.

The problem is that now its almost impossible for justice to be done in this environment. What happened here is just shameful. Its one thing to speculate - for instance I suspect Zimmerman used excessive force in self defense, but not to the point of murder. I think he probably was in fear for his life and used force to protect himself in the heat of the moment, but went too far.

But I don't know and the facts may prove he was just a brutal power hungry thug who shot some poor kid defending himself, or that he was genuinely in serious danger for his life and the shoot was totally reasonable. It may prove someone else shot Trayvon from around a corner like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for all we know.

So next time: no more race war crap from the left, no more disrespect for human life and the grieving family from the right, no more trying to "win" another cultural war, and lets all just back off and learn the facts before going on okay? No more tweeting addresses (good luck with that lawsuit and the Twitter account violation, Spike Lee), no more bounties on people, no more "here's what a horrible person the victim was" posts until we get the facts. Is that fine with everyone?

3 Comments:

Blogger Tina said...

This is the best, most decent post I have seen about this matter. Sympathy for grieving people doesn't require having an opinion. Thanks for pointing out that a rush to judgment is bad behavior, no matter who is doing the rushing or judging.

8:18 PM, March 29, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coming home last night. They were talking about this on three different radio stations. This story has not faded away.

8:56 AM, March 30, 2012  
Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

Not entirely, yet. But its on the way out as is obvious from an examination of any news aggregator.

8:59 AM, March 30, 2012  

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