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Friday, October 21, 2016

The Danger Of Rushing To Judgment On George Zimmerman

Everybody wants to see justice done in the Trayvon Martin case, and almost everybody acts as if they already know what that is. Never mind the Rev. Al Sharpton, activist and crusading journalist all in one. Nor his MSNBC colleague Lawrence O’Donnell, who recently announced he’d decided to forgo wearing a hoodie on TV to look more like a prosecutor.

Here’s GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on “Face the Nation,” assessing shooter George Zimmerman’s mental health. “Someone has a very sick mind who would pursue someone like this,” Santorum said. “This is clearly a heinous act. You know, there are a lot of people who have a lot of distorted views of reality…And my heart goes out to the parents, too. I can’t imagine what they’re suffering, losing their son in such a horrific way. All I would say is that, whatever the motive is, it was a malicious one.”

As an attorney, you’d think Santorum would know better than to bring a legally charged term like malice into it. Not to mention implied psychosis. Santorum subsequently reverted to form, blaming President Obama—one of a few public figures who’ve spoken with appropriate restraint—for bringing race into the equation. This because Obama, extending condolences to the family, acknowledged that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Indeed, he would. Images of Trayvon’s handsome, boyish face have played no small part in the public response. Obama also took care, in his capacity as chief executive, not to pre-judge the case. He called it “absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together—federal, state and local—to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.”

In short, the president promised an investigation, not a result. Would that his circumspection were followed by more of those who have justifiably turned Trayvon’s death into a national drama, but who could end up provoking even graver and more socially disruptive tragedies if they’re not more careful.

I say this as one who agrees that had George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin’s roles been reversed, the black kid would almost surely have been arrested. Maybe not convicted, but taken into custody? Definitely. Who thinks that “concealed carry” handgun permits should be damn near impossible to get, and that Florida’s NRA-influenced “stand-your-ground” law, and others like it, were certain to have disastrous results. They must be repealed.

I wouldn’t trust me with a pistol in my pocket, much less you. Untrained individuals like Zimmerman have no business packing heat, nor confronting strangers they deem suspicious. Trouble didn’t come to George Zimmerman; he went looking for it. At minimum, he acted like a damn fool.

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  • phantomoftheopera

    it is interesting that zimmerman, the stalker, can claim self-defense and kill, when martin, the one stalked and killed, is seen as ‘bad’ because he tried to defend himself in a non-lethal way. had martin killed zimmerman, with or without a gun, shouldn’t it have been ok? after all, he was being stalked. i would find that threatening.

  • Nicto

    The tragedy is that a young man is no longer alive. It doesn’t matter what color nor the ethnicity he was. Yet people are making much more out of this tragedy. It isn’t about style, color or anything else this is a case that rotates around perception. The truth is that young people today resist conforming, following rules and showing or earning respect. Not all of them but a growing percentage of them. Zimmerman as an adult should have been able to stop Trayvon and Trayvon should have done so. Yet as a Teacher I see every day kids who will blow you off, curse you out, and threaten you with bodily harm in a NY minute. By the way he acted, and as other children act, he set himself up to be involved in a situation he shouldn’t have had to be in. This is not however a reason for Zimmerman to act with such finality as he did. Truthfully both had something too do with this situation. Yet to portray Trayvon as a Saint, and Zimmerman as Lucifer himself is blatantly wrong. I carry a firearm, I have a permit too do so. I am well trained, (a veteran of Vietnam) and have not had to use it. Yet it has come near so many times I lost count. Repealing a law that allows you the right to defend oneself against aggression is down right wrong! In most cases a firearm doesn’t kill a person, a person does that. People need to allow officials to investigate this matter fully, expose all the facts and then form an opinon. Not the other way around. By the same token, Trayvons’ parents need to stop painting a picture that their son was without fault. Trayvon was a human being and had all the frailities of a human.

    • metrognome3830

      People are making more out of this than they should. You are right, so far. But only because we don’t know what really happened. All we have is speculation and no real hard facts.Which leads me to question your assertion that Mr. Zimmerman should have been able to stop Mr. Martin. Why? Even as a neighborhood watch member, he has a limited right as to what he can do. We do know that Mr. Zimmerman continued following Mr. Martin even after being told that he wasn’t needed to do that. So, as the article says, at best he acted like a damn fool. We can’t get Mr. Martin’s story because he is dead. Mr. Zimmerman has told a couple of different versions of the story. You say you carry a firearm, and are well trained. You are trained in warfare, not in domestic police work. You say you have not had to use it. But you also claim that you say that you have come near to using it so many times you have lost count. I find that a bit disturbing. I don’t carry a firearm at all anymore. I never have except a rifle or shotgun for hunting. And in my 73 years I have never felt the need to have a gun to defend myself against aggression. Certainly not against an un-armed person. You trot out the old NRA saw about a gun doesn’t kill people, people do. No, a person with a gun kills people. You are right that officials need to investigate, thoroughly. So far, they have made no progress, and as you mention human frailties, jumping to conclusions is certainly one of them. That includes jumping to the conclusion that Mr. Zimmerman felt that his life was in danger. Or that Mr. Martin posed any kind of threat to Mr. Zimmerman’s life. A punch in the nose does not justify getting shot in the chest. If, of course, that’s happened. Let’s just wait and see, shall we?

      • Nicto

        I agree that we need to have an investigation. You’re right that I am trained in warfare. I also worked for the Government in a capacity that a firearm was a necessity. You find that my comment about being placed into situations that might have required my use of a firearm disturbing. I find that strange because the nightly news is filled with stories about innocent victims who have been the objective of criminal elements. I refuse to be a victim. I have been able to escape using my firearm because of my training. But living within disturbing times requires defensive measures. In one manner you are right, people do use guns to kill other people. Isn’t that a little to liberal for someone of your age? Stupid people use guns to kill other people. One isn’t stupid if you are using that firearm to defend oneself. I have been able to avoid danger largely because I have indicated I am armed and know how to use my weapon. My point was that I should have the right to bear arms, like I do. I should have the right to meet deadly force with deadly force. Obviously you haven’t had too. I salute you. I’m not an NRA member either. I do believe in the COnstitution. Being armed prevents me from becoming a victim. Just like MAD prevented nuclear war.

        • metrognome3830

          You did not say that you worked for the Government in a capacity that a firearm was necessary. That, of course, changes my view. Many of us, though, do not work in such a capacity. In fact, in my job as a transit operator in a large city, I and my fellow bus drivers were expressly forbidden to carry any kind of weapon. Not so much as a stick. We had to defend ourselves physically, if possible, and we had to have a damn good reason to do that. And yes, drivers were assaulted quite regularly. In fact, one fine Sunday afternoon, a driver running my same route one hour ahead of me, was shot to death, not by a kid wearing a hooded sweatshirt, but a well-dressed man in his 30s. Aftere shooting the driver and causing the bus to veer off a bridge, injuring many and killing a passenger, the guy pulled a second gun and shot himself. No chance for justice there. I must admit that I sometimes wished we could be armed. But at the same time, I could see that there could be unwanted, unplanned results. Perhaps I got by without any serious threat because I’m 6’2″ and weighed in at 235. But I also didn’t go looking for a confrontation. We had a Transit Police force that could be contacted by radio and they were usually pretty prompt at replying. My point, here, is that Mr. Zimmerman went looking for a confrontation that didn’t have to happen and an apparently un-armed alleged attacker is dead. In my opinion, that didn’t have to happen. But, I’m perfectly willing to wait for the law to determine what happened before I call for Mr. Zimmerman’s punishment. As for being too liberal for my age, I have always been pretty “liberal”. I’ll accept that apellation if you like. And at 73, I don’t think I will likely change. Right now, it looks as if Mr. Zimmerman has made himself a victim as well as Mr. Martin by not using a little common sense.

          • I disagree: no private citizen has the right to stop anyone for anything that does not put that citizen or another citizen in danger. Your responsibility ends with calling the police if you witness a crime (Zimmerman did not) or if another person(s) is in danger (nobody was.)

            Working for the government confers no special rights unless it is a requirement for the job, but Mr. Nicto said that WORKED for the government in the past.

            You’re entitled to believe that “we live in dangerous times,” but you have to consider what makes these times dangerous. Could it be too many crazies walking around with guns because of poor gun control laws or poor enforcement of the same?

            I don’t buy this “dangerous times” crap. Defend your castle if you must, but keep guns away from vigilantes like Zimmerman.

            Oh, and all you tax-cutkateers, stop depleting law enforcement until there’s no one left to call when someone pulls a gun on you.

          • Nicto

            Bassicdave, God almighty fella don’t you listen to the news? We do live in dangerous times. Crime rates are up, including armed assualt and batteries. My weapon was a requirement. Thankfully after my service in Vietnam I only had to use it a couple of times. Each time it was necessary. My latest incident was just a couple of weeks ago, while simply driving out of my apartment complex. A nice looking young man stepped out in front of my auto gave me a finger and stood there for a moment. I asked the young man if he was crazy to step out in front of a moving auto because you could get hurt. That youngster reached under his shirt and pulled a .25 caliber auto from his pants. I saw that, reacted by pulling mine but didn’t let him see it. A second or to later he put his away, I laid mine on the passenger seat and drove off. I could have shot that kid dead but I wasn’t seeking a conflict. Was he? Don’t know, still don’t. I called the Police and reported it but ninety minutes later no one had showed up. My point was that there are times when one has to defend oneself. I hope you never face that situation.

          • I think that the young man carried and pulled a gun on you because this society teaches it’s young that carrying a gun makes you a big man.

          • Nicto

            I didn’t mean that “liberal” in a negative manner Metro. Please don’t take it that way. I too think that Zimmerman was wrong to persue his course of action especially when law enforcement told him not to.

          • metrognome3830

            It’s okay, I’m used to being called liberal. I didn’t really take it negatively. Actually, I think we agree on some things.

        • Once again I find myself somewhat opposed to part of your statement, to begin with it’s a known fact that most criminals do not carry firearms. A lot of your so called innocent victims are found to be engaging in illicit activities in unsafe areas, that is not to say that there aren’t cases of real innocent victims but not nearly as many as you would like us to believe. I am responsible for the security of the firm I work for and have worked here several years. I carry a firearm as part of my job but I have never had to draw it or even threaten to draw it. It’s mere presence is enough to quell most disturbances. The average American citizen has no need to offer deadly force tit for tat because they will never face it. I submit, that all this talk of the dire need for the American people to defend themselves is a FEAR TACTIC designed to spread fear of a certain unpopular segment of the American population.

    • phantomoftheopera

      no no no. any adult cannot stop any youth on whim!

    • bellagram08

      The thing that people are most upset about is that Mr. Zimmerman was not charged with anything – and for all practical purposes the incident was not even investigated until MSM got ahold of the story. I am not saying Mr. Zimmerman should be convicted of anything – but with the 911 tapes, he should have at least been charged with something. There is a video tape released tonight , of Mr. Zimmerman being brought in to the police station after the shooting, in which Mr. Zimmerman shows no signs of injury. Maybe he changed his clothes or something, but there is no visible blood on his shirt and if not from his reported bloody nose, one would think there would be Trayvon’s blood on him from shooting him at such close range as he said he did when Trayvon had him on the ground.

    • I too carry a firearm ( by permit ), I am also Vietnam Vet but have seldom been in situations where there was a need for it. Primarily because I use my head first. I avoid putting myself in dangerous positions or places. I too am against repealing any law that would help a person defend themselves but, I don’t consider the stand your own ground laws to be in that category. In fact I think it does just the opposite. To me, it makes more sense to flee from danger (if possible) than to stand your own ground and possibly get hurt. Also I have little or no RESPECT for a person who follows me around and confronts me with suspicions of wrong doing based solely on the color of my skin.

  • We have heard about the injuries to George am wondering what injuries to Trayvon?

  • You know, I thought this was an excellent piece calling for rational and logical investigation until you just had to launch into the inflammatory anti-gun rhetoric. It really doesn’t matter that *you* aren’t comfortable with the millions of private, law-abiding firearms owners in this country; it matters that the U.S. Constitution *is* comfortable with us owning weapons for self defense. As a 5’5″ female who travels extensively, you better bet I took the concealed carry course/test in my state. And no, I’ve never shot at anyone . . . justifiably or otherwise. I hope that justice prevails for Trayvon, but he was killed by the actions of another human being, not those of an inanimate object.

    • Nicto

      Absolutely right. You go girl.

    • phantomoftheopera

      the problem with that is all too many people, given a gun, feel obligated and empowered to use it. statistics show that it is more likely to be used against you than against your attacker. do we really want a society where we can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys any more?

    • Sorry, I’m with Chuck, above. I suspect the gun in Zimmerman’s pocket filled him with false bravado, pulling him into a confrontation he should have avoided. Living the the country, I own guns of several kinds. I once took a concealed carry class as a journalistic assignment. The instructor, an Army combat veteran, told his students he thought carrying a pistol around after the kind of inadequate training offered in classes like his was a dangerous practice–both because of the false bravado issue, and the likelihood that ordinary civilians were more apt to be killed with their own weapon than anything else. I suspect the good news is that most women in particular who get these permits quit carrying, because guns are damned inconvenient things to have around most of the time.

    • So what would you do if a strange man followed and confronted you?

  • You know, what people (well, rational people) are soooo upset about is the LACK of investigation. This guy killed someone after being told to not follow, to leave it to the police. Any yet, he was not arrested, detained, tested, NOTHING. The dead boy was tested. That is blatantly ridiculous. There is NO compelling evidence that the boy attacked anyone, while there IS some that the vigilante did. Is it in dispute that Zimmerman stalked the boy in his SUV, w/a pistol? I believe he TOLD the police he did so.
    I believe Florida might have opened up a season on Zimmerman. I know that if I lived there & saw him on the street, especially at night, I’d feel threatened. I guess if I had a gun, I could shoot HIM w/impunity….

    • phantomoftheopera

      does florida do anything to police when they kill someone? i know here, in washington, an officer is immediately placed on leave and an investigation begun. this law seems to encourage killing. under it, if you’re upset with someone, all you need to do is get him/her to ‘attack’ you, then kill them with your handy dandy gun, and claim self-defense.

  • howa4x

    It’s not so much about Zimmerman as the law that empowered him to act and not wait for the police as he was instructed to do by the dispatcher. The NRA wants everyone to own a gun and use it if threatened. Where does that put the police as mere wartchers of the coming carnage? Or maybe doing the body count. Will gangs have this right when meeting other gangs? Can they use the same defense?Or in domestic disputes? This law opens a pandoras box of issues. This is only the first one tragically.

  • chuck

    Years ago, while living in a moderately edgy part of Los Angeles, I began carrying a handgun for protection. I didn’t have a carry permit, but I figured it was better to risk arrest than get caught unarmed if confronted by a threat.

    After a few months I realized that simply having a concealed weapon was giving me a false sense of security, and that I was being less careful about where and when I was walking or driving.

    Oncer that realization hit me, I sold the gun, and have never carried one again.

    That being said, I can’t help but wonder if Zimmerman would have followed and approached Martin if he didn’t have that handgun to bolster his resolve.

    Is anyone else having visions of the DeNiro character in “Taxidriver”?

  • kronik1697

    It is troubling that a 141 lb man (Martin) can be accused of attacking a 230 lb man (Zimmerman) carrying a gun without any commentary about such an incomprehensible concept.

  • Jon

    What this incident tells me is that hatred and separation is not limited to our political preferences toward each other, hell.. We can hate, accuse and call each other vile name over any subject.. Divide and conquer.. We’ve already lost our way and because were so split, soon our country.

  • Anita Daye

    This is not a rush of judgement, arresting an individual is not the judgement phase. The trial is the stage where judgement is made. The demand that Zimmerman be arrested is justified. I have not known a case except down south in the killing of blacks, that a man admitting that he killed an individual, a child, is not confined immediately. The stand your ground defense is not for the police to determine that it is applicable. That determination must be made by a judge and jury. it is for his lawyer to prove!

  • I agree that everyone deserves a chance and that the media often gets it wrong; I do not agree that a person who clearly was making a habit of following what he considered suspicious people and carrying a gun should be allowed to continue walking the street after he has shot someone and killed him. This is about more about the police not doing their job to protect the public and bad laws put there by special interest groups.

  • metrognome3830

    I don’t understand what you are disagreeing with, Basicdave. We absolutely agree that Mr. Zimmerman had no right to do what he did. I agree that he is most likely a person who should not be toting a gun. He fits the profile of somebody very likely to use it inappropriately. As for Mr. Nicto, I believe he said he was required to carry a gun in his job with the government. He doesn’t sound like one of your crazies and he agrees Mr. Zimmerman was wrong in what he did. I personally believe that it is too easy for some people to get a gun, but I don’t know how it can be curtailed when they can get them legally and illegally. Too often, the law only comes into effect after tha fact. After someone is killed or injured. And, sadly, in Zimmerman’s case, not even after someone was killed. I don’t know if the times we live in are any more dangerous than they always were. I live in Arizona where one is looked on as some kind of loon if you don’t carry a gun. Here it is even legal to carry concealed weapons into a bar. And there was an attempt to pass a law allowing guns on college campuses. That one got shot down, so to speak. So here, I feel that we don’t live so much in dangerous times as we in stupid times.

  • carneadesofga

    Anyway, Zimmerman should not be a watchman as he has no clue on what to do! He calls the police about non- police matters. Yes, Teleri!