Sunday, 1 April 2012

Trayvon Martins

Like all sane people, I'm disgusted about the shooting of Trayvon Martins, and the apparent carte blanche extended to his killer. A young man walking home is shot by a fat necked freak on a power trip, who stalked him and triggered a confrontation.

There was a good piece by Gary Yonge in the Gaurdian on this:
One can only speculate as to Zimmerman's intentions. Efforts to create a crude morality play around this shooting in which Martin is sanctified and Zimmerman is pathologised miss the point. Zimmerman's assumptions on seeing Martin may have been reprehensible but they were not illogical. Black men in America are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted and executed than any other group. With almost one in 10 black men behind bars there are more of them in prison, on probation or on parole today than were enslaved in 1850. To assume that when you see a black man you see a criminal is rooted in the fact that black men have been systematically criminalised. That excuses nothing but explains a great deal.

Add to this lax gun laws, entrenched segregation, deep economic inequalities and a statute that endorses vigilantism, and a murder of this kind is inevitable. Indeed what makes Martin's case noteworthy is not that it happened but that it has sparked such widespread indignation beyond his immediate community. It is not at all uncommon for young black men to leave the world in a shower of bullets followed by deafening silence.

Eight kids under the age of 19 are killed by guns in America every day. While researching the stories of those who fell one November day in 2006 I ran across the story of Brandon Moore. Brandon was 16 when he was shot in the back in the middle of the afternoon by an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard in Detroit. The guard had previously shot a man dead during a neighbourhood fracas, shot his wife (though not fatally) in a domestic dispute and had been involved in a fatal hit-and-run car accident while under the influence of alcohol. Brandon's death was dismissed in the city's two main newspapers in less than 200 words. They never even mentioned his name. Brandon's death was ruled to be justifiable homicide. A year later the guard was still in the police force.

the latest developments include the claim that Zimmerman's taped conversation with 911 has been edited to make him seem more gung-ho, and quicker to identify the suspect as black than was actually the case. Putting aside the merits of the case for the moment, am I the only one dazed by the absurdity of this claim, advanced as it is by the very same band of people who happily swallow and then regurgitate every bit of misrepresentative, misquoted puss Anthony Watts vomits up about climate change? Rich indeed. the same bunch of wingnuts who blithely quoted Rush Limbaugh's severely edited version of Danny Glover's comments about the Haiti earthquake? And, more recently, drank down the warm piss of Watts, alleging Jim Hansen claimed AGW would make the oceans boil? the freaks who won't shut up about 'Climategate'?

Have they actually changed anything he said, or presented anything so drastically out of context as to change its meaning? Or just cut lots of snuffling, muttering and heavy breathing?

"He didn't comment on Martins's skin colour until the responder asked him about it," they wail. Indeed. But it's a bit childish to suggest Zimmerman doesn't notice Martins's skin colour until someone asks him about it, don't you think?

Until you can provide evidence that Martins stalked Zimmerman, confronted him and was killed while trying to beat him to death with a packet of skittles, I think the 'Cruelly Misrepresented by the Liberal Media' card should stay safely up the sleeves, boys.

The other contention is that this isn't about race at all. Treyvon Martins was not killed because he was black, but because of the insanity of letting power hungry neanderthals handle guns and think they have the right to use them on their fellows.

There's some truth in that, but as race and class overlap significantly (when you're black) it's fruitless to try to disentangle them. Would Zimmerman have acted the same if it had been a white male hoodie wearing bearer-of-skittles? We don't know. To some extent, it doesn't matter - if this case was all about the hoodie, the other 99 similar cases were more about the skin tone. But I'm willing to bet the amount of melanin in Martins' skin had at least as much influence on Zimmerman's response as the hoodie, the victim' s sex, and the skittles. A white kid clowning around in the rain would have been more liekly to be dismissed as just that - a white kid clowning in the rain, not some drugged up criminal intent on malfeasance.

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