Docsplainin' -- it's what I do

Docsplainin'--it's what I do.
After all, I'm a doc, aren't I?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Poor Trayvon

Well, the George Zimmerman verdict is out, and I suppose every Blogger worth her salt will have to have something to say about it today.

I'm not a lawyer, so I don't have an opinion about the evidence or the jury, or the conduct of either the prosecution or the defense, or even about the Stand Your Ground law. Well, yeah, I do have something to say about that, but it's not a legal opinion, strictly speaking.

These kinds of laws spring from a state of mind peculiar to regions that historically were made up of scattered, rural, generally agricultural or herding societies who did have to protect their own land/livestock/homes/families because there was no law close enough around to do it. Pro-actively, the successful men in these societies projected an ├╝ber-male, physically over-bearing persona in order to cause potential criminals to steer off for other parts where presumably they might find easier pickings. It was a matter of honor to be able to protect your boundaries, to be able to project that sort of image, and by extension if somebody messed with you or your stuff, well, then, your honor was at stake until you could even up the score. 

I can't say anything psychological specifically about George Zimmerman because I have not evaluated him, and I don't have access to anybody else's evaluation of him. Heck, I haven't even watched the non-stop coverage of the trial. But I can say, as a disinterested citizen observer, that George appears to the naked eye to be a bit like the fence-rider of old, ever on the lookout for rustlers who, if you will remember your US history, along with horse thieves back in the day could be hung on sight by whoever caught them in the act. This is, I suspect, partly why it looked so much like it was Trayvon rather than George who was on trial this past week. Indeed, I could not help but notice, some commentators persisted in referring to it as "the Trayvon Martin trial". The mentality is still that pervasive.

We don't need those kinds of laws any more, but they and the personalities they serve persevere. As does the gun violence that goes with them. 

If you see yourself as a victim, which, weirdly, an increasing number of white males in this country do, or if you merely fantasize yourself engaging in various make-my-day type heroics, you may find like-minded folk in the gun and prepper communities (there's a lot of overlap between the two). Stand-your-ground laws were written for you. And so you may end up going about your daily business locked and loaded, spoiling for a fight. You don't even have to be part of a neighborhood watch or other, similar, organization. You can self-appoint. Your real-world perceptions are filtered through the movies running through your head, which in turn are heavily influenced by the paranoid poppycock you read on prepper and gun websites and in their magazines and newsletters, to the detriment of your grip on reality. You would be what the American Rifle Association calls an Armed Citizen. They even have a monthly column called "The Armed Citizen" in which they congratulate each other for shooting alleged criminals. 

But I digress. 

Anyway, one day you find yourself in a situation which seems to you to call for a violent response. Instead of the dozen other things you could do, or not do, in this situation, you draw your weapon. You're not reluctant. You're not saddened by it. You are justified. This is, after all, the fulfillment of a long-cherished fantasy. You genuinely don't 'get' why anybody else would be horrified at what you've done.

This would happen even if there were no stand-your-ground laws, but at least then there might be some justice for your victim afterwards.

But I am not a lawyer, so no, my only real opinion is from my point of view as a mother, and that is that justice was not done here. It seems to me that part of the whole point of the USA is that a person -- most especially a child -- should be able to walk the streets of his or her community in peace and safety. And anyone who violates that is in violation of some law. Be it written or ethical or moral, he is in violation. He has violated the peace of the community, and the safety of all of its citizens. He has violated the faith and trust that we have in our neighbors.  

I don't see how Trayvon's parents can have any peace at all until we as a nation stand up and say this.