I’m appalled. Nothing new there I suppose, but this time I’m appalled at myself and practically everybody else in this country. I’m talking about the Trayvon Martin controversy.
When I first heard the story, I, like everyone else, was horrified that a kid was killed by a ruthless racist vigilante. Then I started seeing the ugliness around me. The race bating politicos scurried from under the woodwork and started using the tragedy as a means to their end. And why not? The reported facts show that a young boy was just minding his own business, while a horrible vigilante chased him down and killed him merely for being in his presence. The pictures the media gave us showed a nice young man in Trayvon, and a rather unseemly looking Hispanic man, Zimmerman, as the characters in this story. The narrative was set, and everyone was saddened and angry.
But then I turned my skepticism on, as I try to do with all things. One should not just accept things automatically, but consider all the possibilities. I started wondering about the media portrayal, what I’ve grown to think of as a biased media, and saw some very one sided reporting. As an example, just look at the way the names are generally reported. Trayvon and Zimmerman… using a first name is more personal, while using the last name is less so… if you don’t think the media is manipulating you, even accidentally, I don’t think you’re paying attention. During this time I started to see all the blind calls for “justice”, and saw the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton put themselves as the center of attention. That’s not right, and when I see things like that happen, it makes me angry and very sad. Surely this young man should not have died, and if it is found that the shooter should be tired and convicted, I have faith that will happen
I started hearing reports of leaked facts that conflicted with the initial narrative: Trayvon was suspended from school… that Zimmerman had injuries from an obvious fight. These facts started to indicate a different set of events than the assumptions everyone first made. I of course tried to view these facts in the skeptics light as well. I just saw a headline saying “Zimmerman is a registered Democrat”. So what? That shows you just how political everyone is making things. I saw new pictures, more recent ones as it turns out, that shows Zimmerman looking like a nice respectable person, and Trayvon as a teen with very little respectability. OK, fine, both sides want to control the way you see these people, but there is no context to these pictures. Was Trayvon, with his shirt off, pants half way down his legs with his skivvies showing, and flipping off the photographer with both hands, just having fun, or is he a sinister teen? It’s frightening how easy it is to manipulate a story with just a few pictures.
What really irritates me was how the media and those with a single political view jumped on this and definitely tried to set the narrative by manipulating us with pictures and partial stories, on both sides! What’s worse: a media jumping on a story because it’s good press, or because it has political purpose? I’m not sure, but both happened here. Get this straight: regardless of the facts, the use of this event to profit, or further a cause is slimy.
Friends and acquaintances are now talking about rallies for Trayvon… also fine, in fact, great, celebrate the life of Trayvon that was tragically cut short. But the last thing we need to do is fuel hatred and racism with accusations that are not clear. I get it, many of us don’t trust our law enforcement to do the right thing, but there we go with assumptions. What evidence is there that the police and prosecutors involved are doing anything but their due diligence? Should they automatically charge a man with what *you* think they should without gathering all of the evidence to make a solid case? Good lord no… that would be irresponsible. If the man is truly guilty, then you submit an air-tight case, not some half-assed indictment based on what the “public” wants.
So there it is, a skeptic/conservative viewpoint of a situation. I don’t know what happened, but I do care. I hope that the truth is presented, and everyone accepts it, regardless of the outcome… but I know better. Everyone digs in and gets political. I suspect those who don’t like my skeptic point of view may dismiss me as a racist. Surely if I can’t be incensed by the obvious racism of Zimmerman, I must be one myself. But no, I prefer to look at everything without the blinders of skin color, class, or even politics, and look at everything logically with reason. Seriously, all I can do is read about it, and hope that everyone is giving me the straight facts… what fools we are if we think by merely reading a story or two we have the right to judge and convict. The culture in this country is ruined if that happens.