What was Trayvon Martin supposed to do?

Anyone familiar with the meaning of the term “universal” and the debate that has followed the trail and acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, can only be surprised by the “profound distaste” expressed this week by Spectator columnist Jeremy Brier. Brier has called foul in relation to how the “American Left…have reacted to a jury decision with immediate and universal cries of ‘miscarriage of justice‘”.

Perhaps by profiling one’s ideological opponents as a homogeneous group ‘out to get’ its opponents, rather than considering their individual viewpoints rationally and on their merits, one can fire off articles in a faster and more self-soothing, self-affirming manner. But assumptions based on profiling, and the logical conclusions that can follow them, are frequently flat out wrong.

In the case of George Zimmerman, the consequences of profiling and unthinking emotional reactions proved lethal for a teenage boy, Trayvon Martin, who was walking home from a candy store to his father’s neighborhood residence. Lethal but not illegal, at least not in Florida – and therein lies the real source if outrage in this case.

It is not that Zimmerman didn’t get a fair trial and was wrongly acquitted. To the contrary, by receiving a technically fair trail, Zimmerman’s acquittal was entirely unsurprising given the rules of the road in Florida. Now, consider that stinging reality, particularly from the perspective of a Floridian parent of a teenage African American boy.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates captured this sentiment more forcefully than most when he opined:

It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended.

…if you are simply focusing on what happened in the court-room, then you have been head-faked by history and bought into a (sic) idea of fairness which can not (sic) possibly exist… The jury’s performance may be the least disturbing aspect of this entire affair. The injustice was authored by a country which has taken as its policy, for the lionshare of its history, to erect a pariah class. The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is not an error in programming. It is the correct result of forces we set in motion years ago and have done very little to arrest.

On a similar theme, The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson tweeted this tellingly unanswerable question: “What was Travon Martin supposed to do?”

Yet help answer this question the parents of American youths must, particularly if their kids “look suspicious” in states where citizens are not only armed but emboldened by laws like Florida’s far from unique Stand Your Ground legislation. The Guardian’s Gary Younge provides more of the context for the terrifying parenting dilemma confirmed by Zimmerman’s trail.

There is no doubt about who the aggressor was here. It appears that the only reason the two interacted at all, physically or otherwise, is that Zimmerman believed it was his civic duty to apprehend an innocent teenager who caused suspicion by his existence alone.”

Since it was Zimmerman who stalked Martin, the question remains: what ground is a young black man entitled to and on what grounds may he defend himself? What version of events is there for that night in which Martin gets away with his life?

Imagine you are the father of a black teenage boy living in the United States, particularly in states with “Stand Your Ground” laws in addition to citizen vigilantes legally authorized to carry concealed firearms. What would you advise your child to do in the event of realizing they’re being stalked, after dark, by a civilian, possibly a racist, and possibly an armed one at that?

Run away? Surely that would only heighten suspicions.

Perhaps black kids should walk in groups? “Gang!” (Does anyone really think Trayvon Martin would have looked less suspicious to Zimmerman had he been accompanied one or two black friends?)

If eventually confronted, should you advise your kid to fight (back)? Trayvon Martin stood his ground when confronted by Zimmerman and even, it seems, gave him a bit of a pasting. His stalker shot him dead – yet his killer had Florida’s law on his side. As TNC explains:

I can bait you into a fight and if I start losing I can legally kill you, provided I “believe” myself to be subject to “great bodily harm.

Children should be raised to challenge authority that abuses its power, particularly when they are direct witnesses to, or victims of, abuse. Yet Zimmerman’s ability to successfully justify killing an unarmed black youth who was suspicious, it seems, simply because he was a black youth shatters the neatness of such a romantic worldview and that hurts us all.

The only certain conclusion available to the parents of children who look suspicious to George Zimmerman is that following his acquittal the Florida authorities have returned him his gun.

UPDATE:
This video showing a black father discussing the difficulty he faces explaining the death of Trayvon Martin to his teenage sons is bang on target per the discussion above (Hat Tip Natasha N.)

  • Kevsterino

    I’ll try to simplify it. If the police are asked to be on the lookout for a red Ford, should they also stop blue Fords and white Fords?

  • Ruarai

    You know we’re at the end of the road when the same questions can be answered by cutting and pasting from answers earlier in the thread.

    What role should race have in profiling?

    I”ll repeat some select sentences word for word:

    Kev,

    1. The TNC piece:
    It is very important to understand that no one is asking the NYPD to “ignore race.” If an officer is looking for an specific suspect, no one would ask that the NYPD not include race as part of the description. But “Stop And Frisk” is not concerned with specific suspects, but with a broad class of people who are observed making “furtive movements.”

    2. If people are deemed legitimate targets for scrutiny simply because they share the ethnicity of a bunch of criminals – basically NY Mayor’s Bloomberg’s position – then every black kid in Martin’s position would have drawn Zimmerman’s suspicion (indeed, it looks like they all did judging by his call history) …irrespective of their actions/lack of actions.

    3. Not only should this be wholly unacceptable as it creates a criminally inclined class of “suspicious people” – suspicious due simply to their skin color – it also makes a simple walk to the candy store a potentially lethal danger for this class.

    4. It’s not about ignoring ethnicity, it’s about saying it’s insufficient grounds (for law enforcement) for harassment and pursuit.

    5. There must be some individual activity that actually looks suspicious.

    6. Otherwise, we’re back to our old pal Geraldo above accurately depicting how terrified white women would have every reason to shoot and kill people that look like Travyon Martin much sooner than Zimmerman eventually did.

    7. We cannot operate as a society either practically or fairly when 2 things are considering legitimate: 1. Profiling people as suspicious for no other reason than their ethnicity and 2. Giving Rambos the legal immunity to bait people into confrontations – only to shoot them dead as soon as the confrontations start to go south for them – before framing their actions, in an confrontation they initiated by pursuing them, as “self-defense”.

  • ForkHandles

    Interesting to observe the reasoning of some people who will always try to argue that some kind of minority can never be in the wrong. Its baffling the way a logical evaluation does not seem to come into their way of thinking.

    Still, I look forward to a Chris Donnelly thread on how its all the fault of ‘protestants’ 🙂

  • Kevsterino

    If you are going to claim to answer the question, Ruarai, you will someday have to, er, answer it.

    I take it all Fords should be stopped, then? Some and not others? What criteria should a cop use to decide which ones to stop?

  • Ruarai

    Interesting to observe the reasoning of some people who will always try to argue that some kind of minority can never be in the wrong.

    JudeDude, if that’s a shot at me, why not just say so?

    If it is, you’ve got your work cut out as to how I’ve a history of “always try(ing) to argue that some kind of minority can never be in the wrong”.

    It’s a particularly bizarre claim given that my entire exchange with Kev is based on me arguing against making judgements based on groups rather than individuals.

  • Ruarai

    Kev,

    Zimmerman is not a cop and the dead child was not a car but running with your analogy for a second and then I’m running for my dinner, if a cop – a cop, not a Zimmerman – is told that there are robberies and the suspects are simply “black males” then, no, the cop does not have grounds to stop every black male he sees in the days and weeks ahead.

  • Alias

    Given that 93% of all blacks murdered between 2001 and 2005 were murdered by other blacks, the overwhelming probability for investigating officers where a black is murdered is that the murderer is also black. You can call that racial profiling or you can call it reality. Any police force that ignored facts for the application of political correct imbecility should be disbanded as incompetent.

    Another fact is that blacks account for just 13% of the US population but also account for almost 50% of all homicide victims in the US. You could get the misleading impression from that fact that blacks are victims of whites if you didn’t know that black are mostly victims of other blacks and that figure of almost 50% of all US murders committed by just 13% of the population doesn’t include the murders committed by blacks against other races.

  • Kevsterino

    Nah, Fork, this is America. I like our Protestants more than your Protestants. No parades! They’re the tops!

  • Ruarai

    Alias, all ethnic groups in the US are most in danger of homicide from members…of their own ethnic group.

    The more relevant stat, surely, is that the vast majority of members of all ethnic groups are not criminals.

    Partly for that reason, though there are plenty others (some discussed on this thread), being suspicious of an individual because they share the ethnic identity of a criminal is perverse – and very damaging to society.

    Racial profiling, as I said earlier, destroys any sense that the relationship between state and citizen is one based on individual rights and the presumption of innocence.

  • Kevsterino

    Ruarai, is it unreasonable for a neighborhood watch captain, aware of the 3 reported burglaries in the last month, all of which the perpetrators were described by the victims as young black males, to keep an eye out for a young black male acting suspiciously near the scene of the burglaries and report him to the police?

  • pauluk

    ‘It could have been me!’

    For goodness sake, why does Obama insist on making everything about himself?

    Anyway, it doesn’t fit here. If it had been him, it would have been a white Hispanic (as parts of the liberal media have referred to Zimmerman) killing a white African American. Not quite the same straightforward racism as a white killing a black.

  • Ruarai

    If by keep an eye out you mean literally just that: keeping one’s eye open as an observer, then fine; I think observing what’s what in one’s neighborhood is fair enough, a duty even. Observations should be passed onto the police.

    However, 2 pushbacks:

    1. The observations should be of people who fit the profile: the profile should include behavior, not just existence. Otherwise a 17 year old simply walking home from the candy store could look “suspicious”

    2. Observer status and vigilance is quite different from vigilantism.

    There’s no way a 17 year old could not have felt threatened when pursued by an ‘armed and ready’ – “these punks always get away” Zimmerman character.

    By placing a 17 year old who had done nothing wrong in that position of insecurity, one is risking a violent confrontation wholly unnecessarily.

    Zimmerman took that risk and we all know what happened next.

    More worryingly, as Geraldo said (my main point, as you know), others may be even more rash than Zimmerman and “act in self-defense” long before a 17 year old even has a chance to get stuck in.

    Fair?

  • Kevsterino

    Geraldo is an idiot and I’ve never forgiven him for Al Capone’s Vault (what a gyp)

    A physical description of a suspect is a very important tool in a criminal investigation. When one sees a stranger to the area, who fits the description furnished by victims, a neighborhood watchman should immediately report it to the police and help them as much as he can giving last known location and direction. It was a mistake for Zimmerman to follow on foot. It was dark and during a thunderstorm. A solo cop would have had difficulty, let alone an untrained guy like Zimmerman. We’ll never know the what outcome would have been if he had stayed in his vehicle.

    I believe, as the jury did, that Zimmerman was attacked heading back to his vehicle. In my opinion, that is when Martin made his mistake. Then Martin got shot after inflicting significant damage to Zimmerman’s head.

    Instant tragedy. From there, the number of people making a killing off this killing became a disgrace. Politicians, state’s attorneys, prosecutors, defense attorneys, media bigwigs, preachers, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers! All grubbing for their pound of flesh. All trying to shoehorn this tragic turn of events into their tight little boxes of what it all means.

    I’ve enjoyed our little discourse today, Ruarai. I may have learned a thing or two. Not sure yet.

  • Ruarai

    Likewise Kevsterion, on all fronts.

    I’ve stolen a few of your points and taken them into offline conversations I’ve been having about the same topic(s). The difference with this exchange has been the temperance and the ability (at least by us) to avoid ad hominem stuff. Which is why I’ve stuck around. (I’ll pay for it on Saturday by catching up on Friday’s work – but worth it.) Over and out.

  • There has been a great and useful debate on this thread, free of man playing etc. I wish all threads would be the same.

  • Harry Flashman

    Ruarai, you consistently say that Zimmerman targeted Martin because he was black, you then slightly alter that and say Zimmerman targeted Martin because he looked suspicious – because he was black. Thus making precisely the same point that Martin was targeted for his skin colour rather than his suspicious bahaviour.

    Now neither you nor I were there that night but I’ll tell you who was, Zimmerman, and a lot of what he said was recorded, furthermore all of what he has said so far has turned out to be truthful.

    Zimmerman said Martin was acting suspiciously, now take a deep breath, take your finger off the “RACIST!!” trigger and answer me this, is it possible, maybe, perhaps, that Martin was actually behaving, you know, suspiciously?

    You have no qualms about dragging up Zimmerman’s past form, that being the case it is time to drag up Martin’s past form. Martin was in trouble at school for suspected criminal behaviour. He was suspended for drug use but much more damningly and extremely pertinent to this case he was also suspected on extremely good grounds of burglary. Yes, burglary, you know the very thing that Zimmerman was on the look out for on the night in question.

    Police records are publicly available on the internet, but utterly ignored by the mainstream media who insist on showing a sweet, wee, innocent, 12-year old boy, that state that police officers found jewelry and a wide-bladed screwdriver in his schoolbag, none of which he could account for. Suspicious behaviour, wouldn’t you agree?

    Zimmerman has been vindicated on all charges, he was in other words found to have been telling the truth, could we accept that he was also telling the truth about Martin’s behaviour on the fateful night.

    P.S. The only person to have had ad hominem slights thrown at him in this debate so far is me, and just for the record, you Ruarai are one of the main offenders. You have been the man-player so far in this thread.

    Just thought I’d point that out as you consistently ignore my points and resort instead to deriding me personally.

  • Correction:

    Generally free of man playing.

  • Ruarai

    Harry, I apologize for suggesting you sounded like a rightwing radio jock. (Everyone can read for themselves what I said and said again and again. I’ve said my piece.)

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry, I thought it was exploring your idea that the troubles might not have happened or might have been less severe if the citizenry had legal access to firearms.

    Firstly I’d say if you tot up the numbers you’ll find that nearly half of the deaths in the troubles were people who were armed, and in many cases professionally trained to use those arms (not a precondition you chose to mention) at the time they died. In some cases the victims possessed fully automatic assault weapons.

    Secondly, I’m not sure what kind of armoury you have in mind but a lot of the civilians who died in the troubles were not shot dead at point blank range. They were blown up in a restaurant or pub; or ambushed and shot in the back of the head. It’s straightforward for someone to send a 12 year old to pour petrol through your letterbox and set your house on fire in the dead of night. What good is a firearm when you wake up and smell the fumes ?

    Even the hardened firearms advocates in the US will tell you quite happily that it is a waste of time having a firearm if you do not get yourself properly trained to use it. Psychologically, if you possess a gun for its intended purpose you must be prepared to shoot to kill and to make that decision in an instant. If you hesitate you run the risk that your assailant will snatch the gun off you and turn it on you. Can you imagine how that would work out on the streets around here ? Who is going to shoot dead the children the paramilitaries use to do their dirty work ? How would the public react to dead 12 year olds ?

    Turning to the USA, generally I avoid gun debates (and this Zimmerman/Martin case is nothing to do with the right to bear arms, or race – it’s to do with the legal details of when lethal force is mandated by law) but the facts do speak for themselves. It may feel better to be in possession of a gun but it doesn’t make the USA a safer place. Violent crime rates in the USA are substantially higher than in NI or most places in Europe, and the prison incarceration rate is significantly higher as well. People can argue about the rights and wrongs of gun ownership, but the evidence contradicts the idea that it makes for a safer society.

  • Kevsterino

    Harry, you did call me ‘traditional’. I’ve avoided all things traditional since Sunny Jim named his party. I chose not to take offense at that slight. ;o)

    We apparently agree on gun rights. I’ll have to find a way to live with that.

  • Kevsterino

    Comrade, I actually agree with you regarding firearms training and psychological preparation. As I said earlier, I’ve only pointed a gun at one person in my life and it turned out well. I was entirely prepared to fire and he knew it. All is well that ends well. I did manage to safeguard my family.

    People who go on about gun rights over here need to spend a little more effort to emphasize the commensurate responsibilities of gun ownership. They are manifest and I would advocate criminal penalties for those who neglect those responsibilities.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevsterino, yeah. There’s not a lot to find fault with when talking about gun ownership where the people involved are responsible, calm and have their head screwed on.

    Ideally gun ownership, like car ownership (or more accurate, the right to drive a car on a public road), would be restricted to those who have demonstrated the necessary competency and intelligence. Hell, let the NRA supervise the tests – I am sure some of their smarter members would leap at the chance.

  • Harry Flashman

    In the Northern Ireland context CS, I think of how so many of the initial stages in the Troubles, and how each stage escalated the next stage, could have been prevented if the people committing the aggression had known that their victims were not unarmed defenceless civilians but in fact contained dozens, if not hundreds, of men and women who could fight back.

    Could the RUC have invaded the Bogside with impunity in January 1969 and later when they beat Sammy Devenney to death if the Bogsiders had been armed and ready to fight back? Well the answer to that is proven when the citizens of the Bogsiders did organize themselves and armed themselves albeit not with firearms as such but whatever they could. The RUC got the shite beat out of them, no matter that they had armoured cars and CS gas.

    In Belfast subsequently the Catholic population were completely unarmed, we know what happened next.

    I have said before that the history of Northern Ireland would have turned out a hell of a lot differently and frankly for the better had January 30th 1972 ended with a dozen British paratroopers lying dead and dying in the gutters of Rossville Street and West End Park rather than the thirteen unarmed civilians massacred by the murderers in uniform.

    I am taking no sides here in the conflict. There are two sides to every issue, we in Europe believe people must submit to the authority of the government, hopefully a benign government but whether benign or not the citizen must not be permitted to have the means to resist the government’s authority. That has not ended very well in the history of Europe I think you’ll agree.

    In America they have a different philosophy, they believe power and legitimate authority belong in the hands of the citizen, not handed down from on high. It is for the citizen to defend himself first and foremost, if the government can help all well and good but if not the citizen has the right to protect himself.

    I simply belong to the camp that admires more the self-sufficiency and admirable courage of free-born citizens standing up for themselves rather than the statist approach where citizens are merely wards of the state to be told how and why they may lead their lives.

    Like I say it’s a philosophical thing.

  • Kevsterino

    Harry, we may agree on more than gun rights.

    Now I’m really getting confused…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry, let’s come back to reality. How does your thesis explain Kent State ? The students there might have been armed, according to your version of things the soldiers should not have opened fire for fear of reprisal.

    And aren’t you aware of the numerous incidents in the USA where armed people got together in the manner you prescribe for the residents of Rossville Flats and attempted to take on the armed agents of the state ? None of them ended well. I mean, as if the British government are going to respond to 14 dead paras with “what ho chaps, those beastly Irish have killed a few of our boys, the rotters. Quick, let’s come up with a peace plan”.

    The idea that everyone should be armed to protect themselves is grand provided that everyone is rational and fair. Which, when you think about it, is the same premise that would allow communism to work.

  • Comrade,

    I don’t think that everyone should be armed and neither does Harry as he has said on the occasions when he and I discussed gun ownership. There does need to be strict regulation of those not entitled to have a gun for a number of reasons and robust enforcement of the regulations. I don’t own a gun of any sort but I think that if I lived in certain areas of the USA, I would keep one in my home, secured of course.

    Ruarai,

    When I said that we have to live with things the way they are, I did not preclude the desire, indeed necessity, of trying to change things for the better..

  • Comrade Stalin

    Joe,

    Harry seemed to be saying that if everyone was armed, their would-be murderers or muggers/robbers/etc would think twice.

  • Harry Flashman

    CS I am making a broad philosophical point rather than a narrow statement that no one would ever be a victim of crime if everyone had the right to bear arms, that would be an absurd position.

    Although before I get there I will take issue with a few of your points, the nervous, badly trained and woefully equipped National Guardsmen probably had a fair idea that a bunch of anti-war students were not armed. Had they been going to an NRA convention to break it up they might have had second thoughts.

    Indeed there would be no USA today (or for that matter Republic of Ireland, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Israel etc, etc) had not a bunch of farmboys and hunters armed with their own guns shot and killed hundreds of well-armed, superbly trained, professional troops, so the idea that it’s impossible is simply wrong.

    But specifics is not my particular point.

    Permitting a citizen to bear arms indeed enshrining in the constitution the right to resist over-mighty government by force is a very noble ideal. It is a statement that those citizens are free-born, self-reliant, resourceful men and women who have the power to make their own destiny and protect what is rightfully theirs. It may often be the case that the citizens fail to live up to that ideal, that is usually the way with ideals.

    However I much prefer and admire that philosophy than that which we in Europe, we so much wiser, more mature people of Europe (of the Holocaust and the gulags) seem to adhere to. We Europeans who are used to tipping our caps and tugging our forelocks to our betters, be they kings, caudillos, emperors, fuehrers, dukes, duces, or just “comrades”, have imbibed with our mother’s milk the idea that we are not free citizens but wards of the state.

    We hope, believe that our government is wise and benign and we abhor the idea that a man should be free to look down the barrel of his hunting rifle at some heel-clicking, uniformed agent of the state demanding to look at our papers. We are shocked at such barbarism, we pride ourselves on our much greater sophistication, we call such men “cowboys”, we sneer at their hick simplicity, Americans look at such men and call them “citizens with inalienable rights”.

    It’s a philosophical thing and I just happen to admire the American philosophy more, for all its faults.

  • Kevsterino

    Comrade, if the possibility of my being armed should deter some wandering predator, so much the better. But crime isn’t a problem where I live now, as opposed my old place in the city.

    I still have my guns. These guns have never hurt anyone, are securely stored and properly maintained. I know how to shoot every one of them, well. I have never in my adult life been without the right to have them. Any politician that speaks without regard for my right to have them is going to have a hard time earning my trust.

    I believe a man with a right to arm himself is a citizen. Take away that right, and he is a subject, with no means to resist arbitrary authority. To many Americans, it is the teeth of the Constitution.

    It might be as hard for you to get your head around it as British arms regulations are to an average American. It is a different way to look at it, that’s for sure.

  • Delphin

    You guys must be fervent fans of the UVF. Especially just before WW1. Arming themselves and standing up to the State. That one turned out well.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevsterino, I’m actually not arguing against gun rights and I avoid getting into gun debates with Americans on the issue. I certainly do not talk to my American friends and tell them that the second amendment is wrong. It would be stupid and arrogant of me to do so. I learned that lesson some time ago; most of my American friends are affirmed liberals, but several of them keep a firearm and some even practice at regular intervals.

    There really can be no argument against the idea that rational and responsible people should have access to firearms. My opinions on the matter are essentially restricted to the view that a little more regulation would not hurt, in terms of ensuring that it is difficult for arms to fall into the wrong hands; and that there are necessary restrictions to the right to bear arms – nobody advocates that citizens should have access to nuclear weapons or attack helicopters for example.

    Where the argument crosses a line is when people start suggesting things like the idea that an armed citizenry makes the place safer. As I said, there is no evidence at all that the USA is a safer place for many people are a result of widespread gun ownership – it isn’t.

    I understand the libertarian view – Harry – that people should look after themselves without relying on the state. Where possible this should be the default, but in large societies that have big cities, the values of the old West cannot work. An obvious example of the deleterious effects of this is the aggressive stance taken by the police in large US cities. They have to be aggressive as they have to assume the person they just pulled over has a firearm in their car and they can’t be sure they won’t use it.

    BTW Gandhi overthrew the British empire without a shot being fired.

  • Kevsterino

    Comrade, I think I understand where you’re coming from on this. I don’t often discuss guns with foreigners for similar reasons. Most of the ones I’ve corresponded with regarding American guns seem flabbergasted at the sheer number of guns held in private hands on this side of the pond.

    I have not found the police to be aggressive with me. If they run my plates before approaching me they realize full well I may have a gun in my car. They ask me, “Kevin, do you have a gun in your vehicle?” I give them the truth, quick and plain. “Yes, officer, there’s a magnum in the trunk (boot) and the ammunition is in the glove compartment.” I’m a middle aged white guy with a clean slate. To be blunt, I’m not the droid they are looking for. Call it racial profiling or whatever you want, but cops know I’m no threat to them
    when I get pulled over. And that is in one of the most violent cities in the world.

    Personally, I’d institute laws regarding the safe-keeping of firearms. In a nation of 300+ millions, we have our share of idiots who are not thoughtful when it comes to keeping their guns out of the wrong hands. Even something as simple as a gun lock in the box with the gun when you buy it would help.

    Gandhi! One of my favorite all time people. Maybe we could use a few more Hindu’s here.

    Delphin, that is quite a false equivalence you’ve set up there. The UVF was not a group of guys bringing their guns to the table, you know. You only got your gun if you agreed with them. Not really an American concept.

  • michael-mcivor

    The BBC are reporting that Zimmerman pulled four people from a crashed car in florida-he is being put out as a hero-

  • pauluk

    Hypocrisy and cynicism in the Age of Obama – voted for Stand Your Ground, before he was against it.

  • Harry Flashman

    @CS

    “Violent crime rates in the USA are substantially higher than in NI or most places in Europe, and the prison incarceration rate is significantly higher as well. People can argue about the rights and wrongs of gun ownership, but the evidence contradicts the idea that it makes for a safer society.”

    I should probably don an asbestos suit for the flaming I am about to receive but if we are going to debate an issue we need to address the facts and not pretend we can’t see what is actually in front of our two eyes.

    Anyone who has been to the US, especially from the UK and Ireland, will note that far from being some crazy, wild, lawless urban jungle the vast majority of the US is remarkably peaceful and crime free. In normal areas there is little or no graffiti or the casual, mindless vandalism that we are accustomed to. Nor is there the wanton drunkenness and aggression that is ever present back home.

    So what lies behind the statistics of high levels of violence? Well of course this crime and violence is pretty much restricted to specific urban areas and among certain community groups.

    If one examined crime levels among Asian Americans you would find them pretty similar to Asian nations. Or the Jewish community, again similar crime rates would prevail in Israel or comparable communities in Europe. The white community also would have crime levels similar to if a bit higher than similar communities in Europe or Australia, but given the number of firearms in the possession of that community not astronomically so. Equally crime levels among hispanics would be similar to cities in Central and South America.

    And, well let me don the asbestos helmet at this point, crime levels among black Americans might well be in line with crime levels in many large African cities.

    The constitutional right to bear arms is not the reason behind the high levels of violent crime in the US. To state the bleeding obvious it’s not law-abiding, gun-owning citizens who are responsible for the high levels of crime. Other more difficult and sensitive issues are involved. This is not the elephant in the corner, it’s the elephant doing the fandango on the table and swinging from the light fittings that we all decorously pretend not to see.

    It’s intellectually dishonest but much easier simply to lay the blame on the stumped-tooth crackers and hill-billies of the NRA and attempt to deny them their fundamental constitutional rights than address the real problem staring everyone in the face.

    OK lads, get the flamethrowers out.

  • RDornan

    michael-mcivor,

    Zimmerman already had a few points of recommendation on his character record. He supported a black homeless guy (Sherman Ware) against alleged mistreatment by a white cop. He’s reported to have voted for Obama and even mentored the occasional black kid at one point. Not things he’ll be doing again perhaps! The media generally focused on the incident where he “shoved” a police officer and when he and his wife took out restraining orders against each other to make him into a Mr. Angry who was out looking for trouble, as opposed to the followed and frightened and not-unduly-aggressive-at-all Trayvon Martin.

    BTW The US authorities have been investigating Zimmerman for any evidence of racial animus that could be used in a civil suit, and have now become so desperate to come up with anything at all that they’re relying on anonymous tips via email from the public, so take that for what you will. You would think they’d at least be able to find somebody who remembered that one time Zimmerman said black people were criminals or something.

  • Kevsterino

    I’m sure Zimmerman is a disappointment to those who tried to make this case something other than what it is. Those who wanted to portray this as a hate crime are growing more frustrated with each successive failure to prove Zimmerman was a white racist, the man, the klan, the ‘creepy ass cracker’ etc. The DoJ wouldn’t allow him to get back his 9mm. A local gunshop offered him a replacement for free.

    Those who use this case to foster division in an increasingly divided society are being irresponsible in the extreme. If the DoJ won’t leave him alone, I would support him to sue the Feds to get his life back.