I avoided Trayvon Martin’s fate.
On Wednesday evening, I left my department meeting at 6:55pm. Our church holds choir practice on Wednesday evenings at 7pm. Fortunately, my church is right across the street from our department office and so the third Wednesday of the month affords me the opportunity to enjoy a pleasant walk from the medical campus to the church campus. However, this means that, instead of entering our church campus from the parking lot (as most people do), I walk across the lawn – approaching from he opposite direction. Perhaps this is what made me appear suspicious. It’s true, I was wearing my motorcycle jacket. On the flip side, I am white and was professionally dressed. I also believe that I tend to walk in a purposeful and decidedly nonsuspicion arousing manner. Despite these things, I was approached by a man in some sort of uniform. Not a police uniform. Perhaps he was a security guard, perhaps he was a fire marshall. Perhaps he was just a creepy guy carrying a concealed weapon.
“Where are you going?” asked the tall creepy man as he stepped into my path, blocking my way to the welcome center.
“Choir practice,” I said, sporting the winningest smile I could muster.
“Oh, ok,” tall creepy man said, stepping aside. It’s right in there.
“Thanks,” I replied. “Have a nice evening!”
Now, this conversation could have gone a very different way. Rather than replying to his man’s inquiry with an explanation and a smile, I could have responded by punching him in the face and slamming his head on the pavement. Had I done that, he may have shot me…and he would have been perfectly justified in doing so. I don’t belive that there are any self defense laws in the country which require you to wait until you’ve actually been killed, or raped or suffered grave bodily injury before using deadly force. That you feel threatened is enough. And, based on the only account of the Trayvon Martin shooting that we have (George Zimmerman’s account), he had pretty good reason to feel threatened. Does that mean his account is exactly the way it really went down? No, of course not. But, it’s the only account we have and, in the absence of any contradictory evidence, it’s the one we should believe. Or, even for those who choose not to believe Zimmerman’s story, there is still a troubling lack of evidence to support a murder conviction.
I simply don’t understand the logical contortions everyone seems to be going through in order to defend Trayvon Martin. Is it that people are so afraid of being labeled a racist they are more willing to believe made up, hypothetical accounts of an event than they are willing to believe the entirely plausible account given by someone who was there? I’ve heard Mr. Zimmerman interviewed. He appears to be of borderline intelligence. Does anyone this he is sophisticated enough to make this story up? Like he thought to himself, “Hmmm…I’m going to go kill this black kid. But I have to make it look like self defense…maybe I can go provoke him into throwing a couple of good punches.” And even if this were what was going on in his mind, Travyon Martin still threw those punches! He was not forced to do this.
My point is that either party could have walked away from this conflict. But neither one did and, predictably, the fight was won by the person with the gun. Similar situations play out in this country thousands of time each year. I’m not defending George Zimmerman here. Both parties were in the wrong. But either one had the opportunity to prevent a violent confrontation, neither one took advantage of that opportunity and now we have one more victim of senseless gun violence. But, please people, defending the verdict doesn’t mean you have to defend Zimmerman. And expressing your justifiable moral outrage at the actions of George Zimmerman, doesn’t mean you have to defend Trayvon Martin. Some stories have only villains and no heroes.