Sunday, July 14, 2013

Florida Mess

It’s really hard to know what to make of the Zimmerman jury verdict. On the one hand, their verdict seems terminally weird. Zimmerman seems to have actively stalked Martin, then maybe was attacked, then shot Martin. He probably did shoot somewhat in self defense. On the other hand, Martin was also within his rights to “stand his ground.”  Had Martin been armed, Zimmerman would almost surely now be dead and Martin would have had to stand trial against a similar charge. Because he is Black and Zimmerman, sort of White, Martin would have had more difficulty sustaining innocence in Florida—kind of like Texas.
The central problem here is the underlying law. Zimmerman and his attorneys played to that law well. Zimmerman had to plead “self-defense”. Maybe he was actually attacked, or maybe not. Only Zimmerman knows and he seems unlikely to have conveyed anything like the full truth about what actually occurred.  The law seems likely to create more such situations. Whether they all include a racial element is possible, perhaps even likely. Black teenagers are now more likely to arm themselves, regardless of Florida’s laws about gun ownership and age. Hopefully, reason will prevail and we will not see a dramatic rise in violence, or mob rule. But Florida has now opened the doors to violence.
I am drawn to thinking about Florida as a “free fire zone”, like we used to see in Vietnam, with more shootings and more claims of “self-defense.” Floridians hopefully will live to regret this law.  Were I considering a vacation, Florida would now be just below Afghanistan on my list of possible places to visit.  I am hoping that Americans heed the potential risks now from a visit to this former vacation spot. America is a vast and beautiful country. Go visit all the other places throughout our fair land. Leave Florida to suffer their own “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
Stand Your Ground America. Go visit someplace safe and sane.
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