Why this white Christian “leader” was silent about Trayvon Martin

A question that’s lately been raised in the blogosphere (here; here; here) is why more white Christian leaders haven’t spoken out against the death of Trayvon Martin.

Putting aside the question of whether or not I’m a Christian leader (I’m not), when the story broke of young Martin’s death I did receive a number of requests to write about it. As touching and even humbling as those requests were, they also felt about on par with being asked to play a kazoo at a requiem mass. So I declined.

Words are supposed to mean something. They’re supposed to have an Actual Effect. Everyone knows that what happened to Trayvon Martin is well beyond words. We all know that his murder was a horrendous, numbing affront, a ghastly abomination beyond articulation.

We all know that when Trayvon Martin was killed, we all died a little.

What is there to really say about that? That murder is bad? That racism is bad?

Murder is bad. Racism is bad. The fact that in America today it’s easier to buy a gun than a vanity license plate is bad. That George Zimmerman still hasn’t been arrested for the murder of Trayvon Martin is so bad it would outrage Satan himself.

We know all of this.

I was ten years old when Martin Luther King was murdered. Everyone I knew was in deep mourning for weeks if not months.

When Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists at the 1968 Olympics, my heart caught in my chest; I literally couldn’t breathe.

Anyone of any age at all during any phase of the civil rights movement knew that a just and more righteous America was finally emerging from its nightmarishly racist past. That vibrant, sometimes violent but always cleansing energy was everywhere. There was  a riot goin’ on; the revolution was being televised.

It was real. It was happening. A new America was being born.

And forty-five years later here I am, watching yet another senseless racist murder dominate the news for a week or so.

Here I am, knowing there are people out there proud to now be sporting on their car or wheelbarrow this bumper-sticker:


Here I am, playing my kazoo.

(Of course, all this depression aside: how cool is the reason that bumper sticker exists in the first place?)

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  • Donald Rappe

    This says so much about the state of “white christianity” in America. Thanks for the kazoo solo, John. Once there was something called “german christianity” which was very similar, I think. We talk about Jesus, but, we have no interest in following him. We worship the gun. We are proud 0f our ignorance and we regard our ignorance as patriotic. This morning in my church the prayer against violence and degradation mentioned, as it usually does, “especially here on the border and in Mexico”. But clearly, violence and degradation are not confined to our border. It is a bad joke that people confuse our gun culture with being a “christianized nation” Don’t forget to vote.

  • Nita Hardgrove Kellum via Facebook

    Well said. (and thoughtful first and only comment, so far).

  • Kim Janes

    Slight typo, John. Trayvon Martin, not Trayvon Watson. You typed the correct name everywhere else, I think. 6th paragraph.

  • Ric

    I remember that scene playing out at the 68 Olympics. My step-father on the couch with my mom. “Why are they doing that,” I ask. The N-word featured prominently in my step-father’s critique.

  • Lymis

    Sometimes having an answer isn’t the most important thing. Having an answer is wonderful, of course, and people who have answers do have an obligation to speak up.

    But silence sends its own message, too, especially when most of the other voices are spouting some nonsense or idiocy. In this case, remaining silent would be allowing the voices that say everyone should be armed and that guns are safe and that racism doesn’t exist to monopolize the conversation.

    And remaining silent would be sending the message that one more dead young black man isn’t particularly important.

    I don’t have any answers. Partly because it still stuns me that we need to ask the question, just as you say, John. To me it’s so self-evident that it would never even occur to me to hunt down and gun down anyone walking on the sidewalk with a bag of Skittles that I can’t even begin to think about how you keep people from doing that, any more than I have answer to keep gravity from reversing itself or the sun from blinking out. If for some reason, I felt it necessary to own a gun, it would never occur to me to use it that way.

    But yes, like the drunk driving initiatives, and missing child initiatives and other similar things before them, we need to use this to get these kinds of stupid laws off the books in the states that have them, and we need to work as a society to rein in groups like the NRA that essentially have a blank check to do whatever they want regardless of the consequences..

    Even if we don’t have answers, we can talk, we can pray, and we can vote.

  • buckeyebadger

    I too, am playing the kazoo in the face of unspeakable tragedy – far too often. But enough kazoos will make some real noise in the face of injustice, and so play away, John, play away. The hopeless feeling of Christians in the face of our current realities is not that different than what we have been facing for generations. Who is to judge who is a leader vs. just another musician in the band? Each one is equally important and every voice matters. Real change happens when people are willing to work hard for change – no matter what the risk. At my church, sadly, it is not ok to be political, to call out injustices in an active way. We pray and send money. Swell. My role as a political activist has won me few friends because it is so uncomfortable in our white suburban world. Get uncomfortable, folks. Work for change. The laws that impede justice for Trayvon and for many Americans – particularly those of color – has to be changed. We are the ones who must change them. It is easy (and important) to pray about it – but get into the streets, the courthouses and the capitals and work hard for change. Play your kazoos loudly and march for our children’s future. It’s the Christian thing to do. And thanks, John, for playing your part.

  • Amanda McKim

    There should be a lot more Christians speaking out on this. I’m sorry but I feel that the passive aggressive Christian routine is enabling an already defeated Satan. John, even though you do not feel like you have the title of Christian Leader, doesn’t mean that your not. Maybe this is a time of calling for someone to step up. Personaly I can’t take it. All these titles..leaders, white Christian, black Christian, Gay Christian…blah blah blah. We have a family, a community out there morning, grieving, and the difference between this boys death, and MLK it’s that there it’s a man that confessed. We know who killed this boy! We don’t know who killed MLK. MLK knew the risk of what he was doing. This boy was walking with a pack of Skittles. There is a huge huge huge difference. If the Christian community who claims to be Gods Army want to sit on their passive aggressive hands on this matter then who is really defeated??? I’ll tell you this, I’m nit sitting on my hands. I’m not a passive aggressive Christian either though.

  • Gene

    John, I usually agree with your opinions. This time I have a bit of difficulty. I, too, wish to see justice for Trayvon. However, we should not prejudge the case by calling his killing a murder. That will be up to a Jury (hopefully if charges are filed). My second problem is with your making it a racial matter. Up until this point, I have only seen the “conservatives” playing the race card, by their postings of “where’s the outrage when a white person is killed”. I have called them out on it, saying they are the only ones I see playing the race card. Unfortunately, now I have seen yours and can no longer say that.

  • Susan

    The story of Trayvon Martin is distressing on so many levels, and I think people, not just leaders, need to keep talking about it.

  • You do what you can.

    I think that you have a great point about why you might hold back a little on this point.

    The fact that anything you say is going to be more or less part of the chorus is worth noting. That being said, I’m doing what I can as part of the chorus. Which is pretty darned close to nothing, but at least I’m making sure that my right-wing friends come face to face with how they look at the case and how their favorite “news” channel (which I won’t name, but it’s named after a small furry animal known in every fable as the dishonest animal who will steal your stuff when you’re not looking) is turning a blind eye.

    I agree about the bumper sticker. When I first saw it, my heart actually broke. I was born in 1973, and sometimes I really think that I live in a world that’s better than the one into which my parents were born.

    Then I find out that there are people who really want to bring back segregation and repeal the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Rand and Ron Paul, for those who don’t know).

    Anyway … good post, John. Not sure if I had any substance in this comment, except to say that this whole thing breaks my heart. Partly because of the dead young man, but also the fact that I have to look at how the state and some people have reacted and see that Jim Crow is not, in fact, dead.

  • disappointed in your article

  • oh sweet Jesus. Shooting an unharmed person isn’t murder? This isn’t about race? Give me a break.

  • Allie

    I’ve tried three times to write a post and there’s just nothing to say that’s good enough. I live in Memphis. I was born the year MLK was killed, and my mother sat at home pregnant with me wondering if the riots would come into her neighborhood. Not too long ago my husband was in a convenience store and a black man asked him for directions. He didn’t know the street and apologized. I’m the navigator of our family and I was outside in the car. The white store clerk said she didn’t know either, then when the man left she turned to my husband and smirked, and said, “I never help THOSE people.” My husband chased the man down and went and got me and we got the man where he needed to go. He said the lady assuming he was a racist like her made him sick inside.

    We have a black friend who is a veterinarian, beautiful, intelligent, hard-working, gifted in every way. He visited us and went for a walk in the neighborhood where we walk every night and are greeted with smiles and waves by the security guard. The security guard chased him down with gun drawn and frisked him. He took it in stride. He grew up in Orange Mound, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Memphis. When he was here he visited his grandmother in his old neighborhood and of the eleven boys he grew up with, he is the only one who is not either dead or in prison.

    I wear hoodies sometimes, because they are comfortable. No one has ever accused me of dressing like a thug.

    My grandma met Dr. King. She was never quite brave enough to march with him, but she sat on stage with him at a revival once. She and her friend were invited on stage because the organizers were terrified of the bad publicity should anything happen to two little old white ladies in the jostling crowd.

    When Obama was elected, it was as if an evil black bird spread its wings and flew away. You could feel it, feel a darkness lift. I went outside for a breath of that air and my neighbors across the way who are black were outside too. “WOOHOO!” they yelled, and I yelled “WOOOOO!”, and we pumped our fists in the air.

    Things do get better. They do. Twenty years ago my grandmother was stopped by the police when driving her gardener home because the policewoman couldn’t imagine why a young black man would be in the front seat next to an old white lady. Today my mom’s best friend is a black doctor who has a white maid. Things don’t get better evenly, more like bread cooked in a bad old oven, burnt in some places and underdone in others. But some things are better.

    I’ve been thinking what to do about this mess, what I can do. And it seems to me that I will start by going to the church of the folks who came to my door Saturday and invited me. They were surprised to see a white face in this neighborhood – I’m sure they don’t expect me to show up. But they were very nice and it seems to me that for the church to be segregated is a bad thing.

  • Allie

    Editing for dates…. it’s been nearer thirty years, not twenty, since my grandma was pulled over in that incident. Shoot, now I feel old.

  • alt

    Ken, i’m a moderate – and the last person to defend Fox news, but i just had to call you out on this comment. My husband left Fox on in the background the other day while he worked, and every SINGLE show talked about this tragedy ALL DAY – so much that hardly anything else was discussed. And trust me, it was pro-justice for Trayvon. It was analyzed from every angle and I eventually I asked my husband to change the channel because it was such a depressing drum in our house. In fact, just the other night I couldn’t sleep and some judge had lawyers on talking about what should happen to Zimmerman. I mean, blind eye? Why would you say something like that?

    I’m only bringing this up to beg you to please, please please – don’t make this tragedy about politics or a way to single out republicans … this was an act by a paranoid man, (and by known evidence) driven by racial stereotypes. It’s horrific – and taking this opportunity to knock the opposing political party – is well – hurtful. At least to me, a loving Christian woman, fiscally conservative and fairly socially liberal – who may not always vote the way you do. Please don’t.

  • Pennie

    You can watch interviews with his parents to see examples of people who definitely believe its a race thing. The whole situation paints itself that way because it’s what happened! George Zimmerman followed this poor kid who had skittles and tea, and when Trayvon tried to get away, he kept following him and shot him in the chest. Self defense? From what? A teenage kid that he was hassling, who (if anything) was only trying to get rid of this strange guy who was following him? Trayvon is dead and Zimmerman is free and that is the biggest disservice this country has done to its people in a long time.

  • Paula


    I’m a 140 lb, 50 year old white woman. All you gotta ask is whether I’d be shot if I were walking through that neighborhood wearing a hoodie. And then I believe you’d have your answer about race. Would the guy have left his car if it had been me?

    That said, the most cautious voices stop short of saying there should be an arrest. What they say is that there should be an investigation, and that the first and most outrageous part of this story was the slipshod investigation the day it happened.

    Now ask yourself if a 50 year old white woman was lying there dead, would they have tested me, or the shooter for drugs/alcohol (standard procedure) and would they have checked my cell phone to see who I might have been talking to and when? Would they have more carefully checked the record of the shooter?

    John, this is why we need to attempt words. I feel the same way about Good Friday, just feeling sad, or even angry about something isn’t enough. The meaning isn’t as self-evident as we think it is.

  • Words create our world. We talk about about how actions speak louder, but we define and interpret those actions by our language. Inaction says one thing, and not saying anything sends many more messages out, all freely interpreted by others. Maybe you think we all know racism is bad, murder is bad, but in a world where people have those bumper stickers, and especially where some live without ever acknowledging their racial privlidge (that might have been a way to write this post) we must keep denouncing racism. Where murder and violence are forms of entertainment, or a way of life, or an ugly truth we no longer question, we have to speak out against it. In MLKs day, Vietnam had people like William Stringfellow writing about the moral and ethical wrongness of the war. Afghanistan has gone on a bit longer at this point. My point is, people who are silent condone injustice though their inability to articulate personal truth in the situation.

  • Lastly, for the spiritually mature, the opposite of injustice is not justice, but compassion. Compassion for those in the situation and it’s implications would have at least called for a reflection on the prejudice and discrimination people like Trayvon face, or the lack of therapeutic help for messed up people like Zimmerman, or the general fascination with guns and lust for violence that defines much of our national character.

  • DR

    Good Lord, do you hear the rhetoric out there? The only people who are protesting this being an issue are those who are running for Republican office, trying to make this about President Obama, trying to say that we need to “wait and see all of the facts” when black men are arrested 4x faster to absolutely no “let’s wait for the facts” at all. Life is political. This is in part, political because our laws still allow us to put bumper stickers up like that.

  • DR

    This comment makes me deeply sad and actually sick to my stomach.

    Gene, black men get pulled over by the police on average, 15x more than white men do, This little boy was walking home from the store with iced tea and candy in his pocket. And he was shot for “being suspicious while walking”. Are you actually telling us that you don’t think for a moment – given the facts about black men being pulled over that are well-documented (you can Google that) – that we don’t know if race was an issue?

    If this boy was white, George wouldn’t have even noticed him in the first place. Open your eyes. I know it’s hard. It’s time for you to actually open your eyes because you subtly judging people like John for “playing the race card” are a huge part of the reason why George Zimmerman noticed this young man in the first place as being “suspicious” and started following him. The lack of conviction behind the realities of race do that. You need to pick a lane, it’s time.

  • DR

    I totally agree.

  • DR

    Compassion is essential. It’s when people of color see the majority of us getting as angry as they are about this is when things will start changing. It’s when we see their kids as our kids when all of this will change. They deserve our anger (it’s about time we got angry on their behalf).

  • Mindy

    What do you want him to say, Eugene? How *should* he have written it, in your opinion?

  • Melody

    And that’s all, no critique, you just disagree with him, so therefore it’s bad? You’ve got a lot to learn.

  • HJ

    All you may able to do is play your kazoo, and state the obvious. But one of my favorite quotes is “Silence is the voice of complicity”. Better to say something and just make noise, than to sit by and and have someone think you’re heart isn’t aching by the story. Many kazoos can be pretty loud, and can garner attention.

  • Good Lord, Gene, how long have you been living under a rock?

  • gmknobl

    The biggest danger we should all learn about from the Trayvon case is the link that ALEC had in writing the law that allowed such a prejudice looney to get away with murder for so long. ALEC & the NRA are now pushing that law in statehouses across the U.S. and the Republican party is quite happy to pass it.

    You want a definition of fascism? It is government of, by and for corporations (and the 1%). That is what we have now.

    So, ALEC and fascism are at the root of Trayvon’s murder. And more of them will now be coming to a local near you.

  • Amy

    I haven’t known what to say either. I wish we really had evolved beyond racism. But it’s everywhere. We live in the 7th largest school district in our state, and it’s very ethnically diverse. My son’s school has a rule that hoodies are not allowed to be worn at any time. Gee, wonder what that’s all about. At our last church, an African couple visiting the states wanted to worship at a church of their denomination. They came to our church and asked where to go for the service. An elder directed them to “the black church” meeting in the basement prayer chapel. These folks were Presbyterians, “the black church” was Pentecostal. The visitors were very confused and left without worshiping with us. Our church has a special service each year with several other local churches, followed by a picnic. The other churches are multi-ethnic, including two predominantly African American churches, a multi-lingual church, and some Jews for Jesus. A woman at our church said she was disappointed that no one brought “cultural” food to the picnic because she wanted to know what black people and Jews ate. This same woman recently tried to argue with me that being a “slave” to sin and being an actual slave were the same thing, and that being a slave is “just a state of mind because in Jesus our souls are free.” At this point, nothing surprises me anymore. It only disappoints me.

  • Gary

    Nonsense…the self defense law had nothing to do with this man getting away with murder. The police totally blew it and chose to ignore their responsibilities to properly investigate the case…probably because of their own racism. The right to defend oneself with force if a person feels physically threatened did not give this racist vigilante with a track record of aggressive behavior the right to confront an unarmed, man who was in no bothering him or threatening him, and then shoot him claiming a silly act of self defense.

    The law is not to blame here…it was the law officers who were clearly derelict in their duties.

    The biggest danger gmknobl, most certainly is not my right to defend myself if I feel threatened…it is racism. You trying to suggest otherwise and turn it into a political statement is disgusting.

  • Brena

    When Barack Obama was elected I was working at a detention/treatment center for male youth who primarily were there because they had been convicted of various crimes. The moring after election results there was such a joy and peace in those boys. It became easier for a day or two for them to dream of a grandson who might become President. It was a joy for me to say to any of them who was acting badly, “Now, you know you will never become President if you act like that.” Their tempers would fade and smiles would shine.

    The event that caused those depressing bumper stickers is so cool. We need to start seeing the Treyvon’s of this world as potential world leaders and stop seeing them just as criminals in the making. The work is not finished but we are not tired. We will keep hammering away at hatred and fear.

  • mike

    Unfortunately, Gary, I’m afraid that both you and Gmknobl are equally, though not entirely, correct. The law is poorly written, and law enforcement failed to do their jobs.

  • As far as I’m concerned, if anyone actually uses such a bumper sticker, the key-marks on their car/truck/suv and the slash tires are their own fault. (In that I would need help to restrain myself from doing that if I saw a car in a parkinglot sporting that).

    And don’t knock people who use wheelbarrows. While more appropriate to slap on something one carts manure in, some of us who pitch manure to buy our food have too much in the ways of brains and class.

    As for the rest of it… I may not have had the appropriate outrage just because I’ve had too much of the appropriate depression.

  • Furthermore… to bring this into theology talk…

    THIS is the reason why I want to believe in things like God and Heaven. You get into online argument with some people, and some folks declare that it’s “selfish” to want anything more than this one life that we know we have now and that it’s silly to want there to be “more to the world” when our world is full of amazing natural wonders.

    I understand that, but… stuff like this happens.

    No matter what we do to in the ways of bringing killers to justice and stamping out the social ills that allow horrible things to happen in the first place – it’s not going to bring this kid back, or a kid who comitted suicide because they were bullied, or someone who painfully starved to death because they were born in the wrong country, etc. etc.

    We ain’t ever been able to create Utopia and if we did, it wouldn’t help the already dead.

    So maybe it’s silly or even repugnant for me to hope for “something more” – but I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

  • Gary

    It may be a poorly written law in Florida, I don’t know. But I support such laws in principle and I am glad we have one we have in Indiana. But however the law in Florida is written…it clearly is not meant to allow a racist vigilante to provoke a fight with an unarmed man (after being told by 911 to stay in his car and not to confront him) and then claim self defense. And to try lay to this murder at the feet of such laws and then attack a political party is ridiculous.

  • mike

    John, I’m glad you wrote about this.

    Your words have an Actual Effect in two important ways: you add one more voice to a loud and growing national chorus that will eventually force our lawmakers to rethink, and, hopefully, rewrite such laws. Your words also remind us that racism is alive and well amongst Jesus followers, as demonstrated in the comments section here, and we need to know that.

    My family’s roots are in the South – a lovely group of ancestors which include witch hangers, Indian killers, slave owners, KKK members, and, in my time, families with memberships in “restricted” country clubs. (For the older generations, one might love the Jewish cardiologist who saved one’s life, but that doesn’t mean he should be allowed to tee-off next to you on the course.)

    As recently as 2 years ago, the youngish middle-aged CEO of a national bank (you watch their ads on TV,) while giving me directions to his home, warned me to be careful at certain intersection, as a wrong turn would put me in the “dark side of town.” I was stunned and later told him so, and his shameless response was, “boy, you’ve been living in blue states too long.”

    My young Mom moved us to California in the 60’s in order to raise a family away from the racist influences of her community and her extended family (her parents, my grandparents, were not racist.) It worked. Unlike my cousins, my brother and I didn’t learn racism from our elders and cousins and friends over Sunday dinners (after church, of course.)

    After MLK’s assassination, my Mom’s sister and my Uncle and two cousins arrived, from Memphis, at our home for a last minute vacation. Over dinner that evening, my well-bred, prep-schooled, blue-blazered, country club-going, cousins explained to the whole table that they had to “get out of town because the niggers are rioting.” My Aunt and Uncle thought it was funny, and my Mom had them all checked into a hotel before the dessert course (no joke.)

    Today, those cousins’ children have married spouses who are Chinese, Mexican, and, horror of horrors, Democrats. I don’t know why it’s taking so long, but our world continues to evolve, and your words, John, are powering that change. Thank you for that.

  • Kim Janes

    In our school, kids aren’t allowed to wear hoodies because it’s easy to pretend you’re working or reading when you’re really sleeping.

    I don’t have a problem with anything else you’ve said, and I truly think that a white kid walking in a hoodie wouldn’t have been shot in this situation. I think Trayvon Martin was shot and killed because of stereotypes against young black men in hoodies. However, schools don’t have rules against hoodies because of that stereotype.

  • Gary

    You found racism in the comments section here?

    This is a pretty extreme statement that I think you either need to back up or retract.

    This shooting most likely was racially motivated and it was definitely a tragedy. But I don’t recall any of these comments being racist in nature.

  • Gary

    OH and BTW – The Florida law does not protect vigilantism or racially motivated violence. I have no right to attack someone and claim self defense just like I have no right to yell fire in a theater and then claim freedom of speech. The law cited by the police should not have applied here and had they done their jobs properly it would not even be part of the discussion.

  • mike

    you write, “however the law in Florida is written … it clearly is not meant to …”

    Gary, in a court of law, judges do not rely on what “is clearly not meant.” Judges rely on the language of the law. If George Zimmerman is not arrested and convicted, the fault lies squarely at the feet of Florida’s law and its language.

  • Gary

    Really? Because in your mind it could not have anything to do with the police officers failing to process the crime scene properly or make any effort to collect the vital information that might be necessary to bring a conviction?

    If there is no conviction…it likely will not have anything at all to do with this law…but rather the lack of evidence.

  • Gary

    It’s time to stop using our right to bear arms and defend ourselves as a scapegoat for criminal behavior.

    If this was about racism (which it appears likely that it was) then let’s stop clouding the real issue with these special interest claims.

    Racism is ugly. It hurts, it maims, it kills, it destroys lives and cultures.

    THAT is the fight we should be fighting.

  • Lymis

    Sadly, though, it does allow you to “stand your ground” when you feel threatened and feel that deadly force is required. And if your deadly force was successful, then with no other surviving witnesses, then yes, as a matter of practical application, it does allow you to hunt someone down and murder them – especially if they realize you are going to do that and try to attack you to defend yourself.

    The fact that a case as transparent as this – the man is on tape with the police as being perfectly safe until he himself, against police orders, followed the young man and got out of the car to confront him, regardless of what the victim did or did not do once a stranger with a gun was in his face.

    So, yes, the law does protect vigilantism and racially motivated violence, as long as you successfully kill your victim without witnesses. That may not have been the intent, but this is not the first case where this has happened, and there will be more.

  • Gary

    Sorry Lymis…but I am compelled to disagree with you on this one. (Didn’t think that would happen…lol)

    Even in the Florida law there is a very clear provision that…

    “Importantly, a person cannot invoke this provision if he is “engaged in unlawful activity” or “initially provokes the use of force against himself.”

    So clearly this man is not protected by this law after he was, as you say “on tape with the police as being perfectly safe until he himself, against police orders, followed the young man and got out of the car to confront him,…”.

    The law does not protect him here…period. Will the law be applied properly? We can only hope so. (We carry the same hope for all laws though do we not?)

    The stand your ground law will not protect the shooter unless it is NOT followed correctly.

  • Lymis

    If there was no 911 call, possibly there would be room for “we don’t have all the facts.”

    But we have that call. Trayvon belonged in the neighborhood. The man who killed him reported to the police that he was doing nothing more suspicious than walking home from the store in the rain in a hoodie and looking around him at the other homes in his father’s neighborhood.

    And he was followed, hunted down, confronted and shot. After the police told his killer that they were on the way and that he should stay in his car and stay out of it.

    What does it take to make it murder in your mind? Maniacal cackling?

  • Gary

    Again the real issue here is the racism that may have motivated this action. It is NOT the law that the shooter is wrongly claiming as his defense.

  • mike

    to my “extreme statement” about the comments section: among others’ comments, Amy’s and Allie’ comments both relate disturbing instances of racism.

    And I feel Gene’s comment reveals a semi-benign form of racism: the kind of racism that comes not from prejudice or maliciousness, but from a lack of knowledge, insight, and empathy in regards to the everyday life people of color.

    Let me be quick to add that I have been, and probably will be again, guilty of this form of racism. I was unaware of people getting pulled-over for “DWB” and “DWM” (Driving While Black, Driving While Mexican) until I experienced it first hand.

    To this same point, I have 13 nieces and nephews. Only in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death have each one of these kids now been instructed about making no sudden movements and not challenging law enforcement officers, and about pulling their hoodies back from their face if an officer addresses them or if they’re pulled over. And now I learn from black and latin friends that they were taught these things growing up and have been teaching their kids these same precautions for years … turns out, we’ve been living in the same neighborhood and in two different worlds, for years.

  • Sharla

    The event that caused that depressing bumper sticker is, I’m afraid, what also has unleashed the latest rash of racist acts, both personal and official (in the form of new anti-immigrant and voter-suppression laws). I pray it’s the final death throes of an evil that knows it has been defeated.

    I think looking at everything that’s happening in our nation through a family-systems-theory lens can be instructive. Our President is doing a very good job of being a non-anxious presence in the midst of the chaos that has erupted with this loss of equilibrium. We would do well to do the same–that doesn’t mean not calling out evil when it shows its face, but it does mean that we don’t respond to expressions of fear and anxiety around us with equal-intensity anxiety of our own.

  • Donald Rappe

    I’m not. I see you’re a lawyer, so I can understand your distress at hearing the truth plainly spoken. It doesn’t go that way in the courts, does it?

  • Steve


    I agree with the wondering why this has not happened from Christian (well all religious) leaders (i am not one). However, I HOPE (thought not realistically) that people are waiting for the details to come out. The whole story seems so illogical that you almost are waiting to hear details that will make it sound more logical. The only analogy that I can think of is the Duke Lacrosse case. It seemed such a logical shut case, but over the months we saw how illogical it had become. That those who came out and decried the white players had to retract when the whole story come out. again I HOPE this is why and not racist tendency.

  • Gary

    My apologies Mike if you were referring to examples of racism cited by posters rather than accusing posters of racism themselves. And I completely agree with you that there is clearly much racism present among Jesus followers. But as for your thoughts on Gene’s comments…I get what you are saying but still feel it inappropriate to accuse him of racism simply because you don’t perceive he has enough empathy to the plight of minorities. I may not understand all the hurts a minority group suffers…but unless I believe they are either deserving of them or somehow inferior to me I am not guilty of racism. Now…if I deliberately turn a blind eye to racism then I may be guilty of promoting it and thereby sharing in the blame.

  • the revolution is no longer televised…. not the real one…

  • Diana A.

    This is how I feel too. I fully believe that one day, balance will come. One day, all the wrongs will be righted. One day, restitution will be made.

    “With people, it is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.” A loose quotation of Matthew 19:26.

  • Diana A.

    Yes we will!

  • Michelle Schott via Facebook

    nope… it’s blogged.

  • Diana A.

    “However, schools don’t have rules against hoodies because of that stereotype.” I wouldn’t assume that. I imagine that your explanation is valid as well, but who’s to say that both motivations aren’t at work?

  • Donald Rappe

    The misuse of the second amendment is responsible for this death as are those, like yourself, who support this misuse. There was no danger to our free state involved in this incident and absolutely no reason for Mr. Martins assailant to be bearing arms. Both self appointed vigilantes like Mr. Zimmerman and every street corner drug dealer are kept overarmed by our current laws. It’s unlikely Mr. Zimmerman would have assaulted a person larger than himself for no reason, if he had not been over armed. i know nothing about Mr. Zimmerman’s mental state or abilities, or whether or not it was safe to have him on the street armed. He may also be a victim of our gun law. I believe it would be an excellent exercise of our current 2’d amendment rights to take all the legislators who voted for the Florida law out and shoot them. This would do something to make us free to walk the streets.

  • mike

    it’s tricky form of racism, which is why I used the term “semi-benign” and admit to having been guilty of it myself.

    Still, I stand behind it as a form of racism. Gene says we shouldn’t pre-judge this as murder. When a child is stalked and shot to death by a stranger, that’s murder.

    And Gene’s reference to the “race card” reveals, I believe, incredible naiveté in regards to dynamic between race and law enforcement. I, personally, have no doubt whatsoever that had Trayvon been white and Zimmerman a black man, Zimmerman would be behind bars right now.

  • Donald Rappe

    I’m old and white and since I’m bald, I like to wear a hoodie when it’s cold or raining.

  • Donald Rappe

    If I had a hammer, I’d hammer out justice. That’s just how f*king old I am. Where have all the flowers gone?

  • Soulmentor

    I don’t know what to think about it. There does seem to be more to the story than what initially has caused all the fuss. New info is emerging. If it’s fact, it will change perceptions. In light of this, I think we need to wait for the full facts to come out.


  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    Hey John–Thank you for writing on this topic. I totally understand how you might have felt like being asked to write about this topic was “on par with being asked to play a kazoo at a requiem mass.” I also understand why you were finally moved to “play your kazoo” anyway. God bless you, John Shore!

  • Donald Rappe

    Since individuals bearing arms outside of active military duty no longer plays any role in the security of this free state, weapons may be regulated to protect the safety of the people by the United States and by the States.

    Here is a constitutional amendment I can get behind. Join me in voting only for people who will support it!

  • Donald Rappe

    When my son was the age of Trayvon, he did not like anyone, much less strangers, trying to detain him, and would have defended himself physically as Trayvon did.

    According to Florida law, Trayvon had the right to stand his ground against Mr. Zimmerman. Since he had no gun to kill him with, he may have only broken his nose and knocked him down. He may not have realized the extent to which Mr. Zimmerman was demented.

  • Donald Rappe

    That great black bird that flew into the air when Obama was elected has not flown away. It is still hovering overhead! Don’t forget to vote.

  • Serena

    And in schools, we really hope it is neither cold nor raining.

  • Brian W

    Zimmerman needs to be tried and convicted in a court of law not on the internet. This is a very hot topic for the police and DA and there is nothing more that they want than to arrest and convict the man, but there are procedures they must follow to secure an arrest and conviction. Let the justice system work as it should.

  • Melody

    Well what’s wrong with discussing it? If he has a criminal history, it’s not too far a stretch to assume he’s guilty.

  • Diana A.

    “Zimmerman told police Martin looked suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie, and when he confronted him the two fought — ultimately resulting in a single bullet in Martin’s chest.” From the above link.

    1) Did George Zimmerman follow Trayvon Martin?

    2) Did George Zimmerman get out of his car to confront Trayvon Martin?

    If he did those things, Zimmerman brought trouble upon himself and is to blame for the shooting. It sounds to me like the kid was minding his own business, walking through the neighborhood and that Zimmerman was seeking trouble.

    I do not feel sorry for George Zimmerman. He should have stayed in his car. He should not have followed Trayvon Martin.

  • Diana A.

    If Zimmerman had followed me and confronted me, I would have felt threatened. Being that I am a 4’10” woman, I might not have felt compelled to fight back, but I would have been terrified. I can see Trayvon Martin being terrified and being moved to fight as a result of that terror. I repeat, George Zimmerman had no business following or confronting Trayvon Martin. He should have stayed in his car. He should not have followed Trayvon Martin.

  • Diana A.

    Love this! “Where have all the flowers gone?” indeed! (I’m a little younger than you, but we used to sing those songs in my elementary school sing-a-longs.

  • Diana A.

    I do believe that citizens should have the right to bear arms. At the same time, I do believe that the NRA and other gun-rights activists are often overly enthusiastic about gun-laws that seem quite reasonable to me.

    I remember back in the eighties (or was it the early nineties?) when gun-rights activists in Virginia got themselves all in a froth because Virginia was making a law that a person could not purchase more than one gun a month. Really? I mean this seems to me like a marketing opportunity. Gun shops could have “Gun-of-the-Month” clubs. Every gun owner in Virginia would be crazy to own the latest, hottest, “Gun-of-the-Month.” What’s not to like about that?

    And really, does the average citizen need more than one gun a month? Honestly, it seems to me that a person could even manage to get by on one gun a year. Okay, I admit it. I’m no gun enthusiast. So maybe all this is just a little over my head.

  • Amy

    In elementary school? And hoodies are banned entirely, all over campus. That means no wearing hoodies outside of class, either. So I get why older kids can’t have them IN class, but the rest of the ban has alway struck me as racially motivated. No reason a kid shouldn’t be allowed to wear one to school and then take it off and leave it in a locker.

  • LSS

    Are you sure the police want to? Why didn’t they at first, then? and why did they treat the innocent corpse more as a criminal than they treated the shooter?

  • LSS

    Do you think that our culture is ready for that? I live in SC and there are many people for whom guns are a big part of their culture. They mostly focus on safety and don’t actually kill people. I don’t like it but i can appreciate it as a very foreign culture to me, which i nonetheless respect. (i come from a family that if we had had guns, there would be even less of us)

  • LSS

    Didn’t he even tell the police that he did those things? I may have misunderstood but i think so.

  • LSS

    I wish the president would be a little calmer about immigrants and not have deported more People than anybody else ever. But i know he’s trying to not seem soft… It just makes me sad because i know some of them.

  • LSS

    [having sudden urge to hug an old hippie] i hope that’s not inappropriate. My family were hippies before they went psycho-calvinist and i think deep down i stayed one, it just came out again as i became older.

  • LSS

    The guys that made that law condemned how it was misused in this case. I read that in a news over the weekend.

  • LSS


    Yesterday we were having a coffee and there was a youngish Black family there, they had 2 kids with them, an older girl and a small boy (i’m bad at children’s ages but he was the size that you still carry him easily and he slobbers on your shirt, so what is that, like 1yr old?)

    And i was wondering, when that kid is in High School, will things be different? And how can we make sure that they will be?

  • LSS

    I’m not sure hate speech should be illegal. I want to know who they are.

  • LSS

    Between yours and Mr. Rappe’s comment above, my mind is now playing civil rights songs on a kazoo. Oh dear, the earworms i shall have!!

    But seriously i think a big thing we can do is not forget and not let people forget, because how many (Black/Latino) kids this just happened to and nobody cared?! At least finally the world has a symbol, and maybe we can make enough noise…

  • LSS

    Yes, ex-hippies with anger-management issues.

  • DR

    I think Brian raises a good point. Innocent until proven guilty, etc. (though that is VERY DIFFICULT).

  • Nina E.

    The outrage is not over just that this happened; it’s over that it happened and no one was arrested. The outrage is over a law that seems to make murder legal in Florida, provided that you say the other person started it. The outrage is over the fact that the police did not do tox screen on the shooter, or take him in for questioning, or process him at all so that when they take the case before a grand jury (which will happen) they can give an idea of what happened.

    This is America. People get shot here all the time. There are generally procedures that happen and rules that are followed to determine if justice needs to be served, and the public perception is that this did not happen in this case. Hence, the outrage and the protests and the hoodie photos all over the internet; it appears to people that there is a law so horribly flawed on the books in the state of Florida that it makes it easy to kill a kid walking down the street minding his own business, and to not have to answer for it at all.

    Had Zimmerman been arrested at the scene, this would have never made it outside of the local news in Dade county. It would have been just another senseless shooting of an innocent kid – they happen every day in the United States. But as it stands, it appears that this senseless killing may go unpunished even though everyone knows damned well who committed it – Zimmerman is being tried in the public imagination outside of courts because it appears he was acquitted without ever seeing a courtroom. That is what has people all up in arms.

  • Diana A.

    Good summary!

  • Gary

    How dare you accuse me of being responsible for this person’s death because I support the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms for their own protection? The fact is far more lives have been saved by responsible gun owners than have been lost by thugs like this vigilante legally owning a gun is a statistical fact. But your unabashed personal attack on me is totally inexcusable.

    I don’t know who the hell you think you are…but if you cannot address me without making such a despicable personal attack against me then I request that you don’t ever address me or respond to one of my posts again.

  • Gary

    I agree with you Diana. I support legislation against assault weapons. I of course support denying gun permits to convicted felons. I support restricting how guns can be used and carried and support state rights to govern themselves as they see fit in the handling of gun permits. I support background checks prior to granting the purchase of guns or receiving a permit to carry a gun.

    But this Donald Rappe fellow’s insane rhetoric is offensive to the extreme. Take the legislators out and shoot them? What an inflammatory thing to say…ranking right up there with the insanity of accusing law abiding citizens like myself (who happen to believe in the 2nd amendment) of being in any way responsible for murder like this is beyond offensive. It is reprehensible.

  • Gary

    Naive? Absolutely. Racist? To deem it such cheapens the true meaning of the word racism.

  • DR

    Yes. Wow.

  • Donald Rappe

    So do I.

  • Leslie Marbach

    I also live in an area where people love their guns. Target practice is common (even I’ve done it). Many kids get their first gun when they turn 12 or so. I personally limited my kids’ guns to paintball guns, but I know when they go to their dad’s in Montana they shoot rifles, semi-automatic handguns, and who knows what else.

    You can imagine what kind of response I get when I suggest gun control similar to that in Canada would be good. I don’t think we have to take away all weapons. But they need to be licensed, locked, and secured in a locked box that only the licences owner has access to. That would at least be a start.

  • What we know is that this kid was roaming through a neighborhood that had seen several recent burglaries…What we know is that the shooter pursued the kid…Which was stupid and unnecessary. What we know is that a scuffle ensued, and Treyvon ended up getting killed. According to police reports the shooter had blood coming from his face and the back of his head. According to police reports the shooter has said that Treyvon pushed him down, and repeatedly bashed his head on the pavement…According to police reports, Treyvon attempted to take the shooters gun. According to an eye-witness there was a man, matching the description of the shooter lying on the ground moaning and crying out for help, just before hearing a gunshot.

    What I am saying is that the issue is not as cut and dry as people have wanted to make it. Who started the scuffle we don’t know. Maybe Treyvon was fighting for his life…we don’t know. Discretion could have been exercised on the part of the shooter, and Treyvon would probably still be alive. But, to demonize the man, accuse him of being a racist…which when analyzed with the mans history doesn’t match up…is simply unfair and ignoring facts. To assume racism on the part of the police department and to demonize them as well…again, is unfair.

    The issue is not as cut and dry, black and white as people have made it. We should continue to watch and learn all of the facts, and then see where that trail leads us…as opposed to assuming the worst in people and letting our emotions make up our minds.

  • Donald Rappe

    Bullets don’t die, people do. Those who love their firearms more than they love their children and elect nutjob legislators are indeed responsible for the thousands of innocent children killed by firearms in our country. If my exercise of my 1’st amendment freedom calls your attention to your blood stained hands you need not take it personally. You are far from alone. There is a reason our American society is known world wide as a gun culture. You are clearly part of that culture. Trayvon is dead because of that culture you so patriotically defend. As are thousands of other innocents. I have responded to you. Will you shoot me now for pointing out the obvious bloodthirstiness of this culture? Before you can have statistics, you have to have data. Killings in the U.S. are hundreds of times more per capita than in countries which avoid this culture. How many lives do you think can have been saved?

  • Donald Rappe

    I’m trying to visualize a tall skinny 140 lb kid whaling away at the 250 lb man who attacked him from his SUV, but, I’m having trouble with it. I’m seeing the kid try to defend himself, getting in one quick punch to break a nose and knockdown and them wannabe cop is drawing his all-american weapon and blowing the victim he stopped by personal assault away. Take away the uncalled for weapon and one less innocent child is dead. Take away the SUV and Zimmerman can’t catch him in a foot race. What we have is an unnecessarily armed man roaming around in a neighborhood looking for trouble and a young man returning to his place of residence with a bag of skittles. We live in a country where wannabe cops can get their guns first and badges later. Whether the motivation for the unprovoked assault was race or some other form of ignorance seems entirely beside the point to me.

  • Allie

    Donald, I know I’m in a small minority, but I have actually been in the position of using a weapon to hold off someone who broke into my house. It turned out the guy was a mentally ill homeless person and I’m glad I didn’t shoot him. But I’m not glad I had the option, rather than being raped or killed. The house where I grew up is a 45 minute drive from the nearest police department. I was on my own.

  • Allie

    Diana, my father is a rifle collector. He owns among other things a rifle of the same type that was used at Rourke’s Drift (if you’ve ever seen the movie Zulu.) He’s a fairly casual collector but every one of those rifles has a fascinating history and many are quite beautiful. Now imagine a serious collector, attending a gun show which might be in his town twice a year, and being told he could only take home one thing. There are reasons to own guns other than shooting things.

    And even when it comes to shooting things – say you were training your teenage daughter to shoot target pistols, AND you needed a gun for yourself for defense.

  • Diana A.

    Yeah, I can kind of see your point.

  • Diana A.

    Okay, I can see your point, Allie. What can I tell you? Not being a gun or rifle collector (not really being a collector in any sense), I admit that argument didn’t occur to me.

  • Diana A.

    Me too!

  • Allie

    Yeah, I’m not understanding why these details about the shooter’s injuries are just now coming out. Why didn’t the police make this plain when the story first went viral?

    Regardless, it would not have happened if Zimmerman had not been shadowing this boy and harassing him. By his own admission, the boy tried to run from him and he chased him down. If someone chased me down, I might just beat his head against the pavement too.

  • Gary

    My blood stained hands???

    You know what [expletive deleted by Ever-Vigilant John Shore]? If you refuse to address me without such inflammatory rhetoric then [ditto]!!!

  • This is really horrifyingly sad. And the number of people who miss the point, or justify Zimmerman’s actions, amazes and saddens me. If you follow someone, after the 911 dispatcher tells you not to, for the supposed crime of “looking suspicious” (which translates to “being black in your neighborhood”), and you confront them and a fight starts, regardless of who threw the first blow, *you* started the fight. Stalking someone at night is aggressive all by itself. There’s no “self-defense” when you’re the aggressor. Especially when it’s obvious from your racist slurs, that got recorded on the 911 tape, that you’re targeting them because they’re black. Nor should you be believed that the kid “jumped you from behind” when you’ve had a month to sit back and work on your story.

    I do believe in a right to self defense. I think that you can’t have a meaningful right to life, liberty, property, or the pursuit of happiness if you can’t defend yourself. But starting fights is not defending yourself. Shooting an unarmed person is not defending yourself. And there’s no reason to not arrest someone who has shot and killed another person (well, except racism and the assumption that the black kid was the bad guy).

  • We don’t have to “assume” racism. Zimmerman used a racist slur in his 911 call. He has a history of following people he deems suspicious, usually young black men.

    Over the years, his scores of calls to police showed he pursued shoplifters and errant drivers with zeal, reporting pit bulls, potholes, children playing in the street, open garage doors and “suspicious” youths — usually black males — loitering in the street.

    He peppered his calls with jargon familiar to police. In one case, he chased a reckless driver while calling 911 — the driver later told police he was terrified that Zimmerman was going to attack him. In another case, Zimmerman tailed a supermarket shoplifter until a police officer successfully arrested the thief.


  • Gary

    Thanks John for leaving the comment. I completely understand your editing out my angry profanity.

    My anger at his personal attack remains unsubsided. His point could just as easily have been made without personally accusing me. The debate over gun ownership is a good one to have. But that is not served by his type of inflammatory rhetoric.

  • I think it’s reasonable to regulate guns with the caveat that people have a right to self-defense. I’m fine with taking guns away from people who’ve been convicted of violent crimes. I’m fine with licensing so that the owner of the gun can be tracked if it’s used in a crime. And I really, really think that having taken a basic gun safety course and proving that you can hit a target should be a prerequisite for owning a gun. (Familiarity with the rules and ability to operate the thing safely is a requirement for driving a car–guns should be held to at least the same standard.)

  • Gary

    Excellent comment Kelly. The right to defend oneself should not even be part of the discussion. Mr. Zimmerman acted as a racist thug and killed an unarmed boy. The police were completely derelict in their duty to properly investigate the shooting and it is hard to imagine any other reason the prejudice on their part.

  • Assuming that the Zimmerman apologists are right and that Zimmerman was attacked by an unarmed child, that still doesn’t absolve him.

    Zimmerman was stalking Martin, and Martin stood his ground. If Martin attacked Zimmerman in any way, then it was certainly less than what Zimmerman did. If “stand your ground” entitles you to shoot a child to death, it surely entitles you to confront a pursuer.

    In a neighborhood that had had recent burglaries.

    Why the black guy has to bear all responsibility and the non-black guy gets all of the benefit of the doubt speaks VOLUMES about what is wrong with this case.

  • Actually, I did a survey of news web sites in the couple days after the shooting made big news. Fox wasn’t on it.

    They were days behind the curve. Here’s an illustration:


    I moved to politics when talking about the “Re-Nig” bumper sticker.

    But you know what? Politics is part of culture. That’s the way it is. The fact that Rand Paul can state that he would not have supported the 1964 CRA and might support its repeal, and yet still win election and be hailed by people outside his district speaks to a problem that isn’t just voting.

    Elections are of more interest to me as a social indicator, really, than much of anything else. And what I see is that racism is still okay in our country.

  • Allie

    I wouldn’t have thought to put it that way but your post makes a lot of sense. Martin stood his ground. He didn’t have to shuffle off to someplace where dark faces are more welcome. He had, according to Florida law, a right to SHOOT Zimmerman, not just beat him.

  • Gary

    I’m having a hard time following your meaning. Are you saying that the fault of the law being misused belongs to those who wrote it?

    If so I still have to disagree. The law, as written, makes a clear distinction for cases in which a person actually provokes the incident that lead the feeling threatened. As written…the law clearly has no application in this instance whatsoever.

  • Gary

    Is this meant to be a racist remark?

  • Few things are as ugly as an internet angry mob.

  • Gary

    And yet few things are as effective at changing public opinion for the better as an internet angry coalition.

  • DR

    It’s always ‘so complex’ when a white man shoots an unarmed black teenager and that makes the press as people start asking questions. And I’m fascinated by your suggestion that we’re “letting emotion make up our minds” when we know without a doubt that African-American boys are over 10x likely to get pulled over while walking in a neighborhood by the police than a white kid. That is what is cut and cry. There’s no “emotion” in that.

    What isn’t complex is Zimmerman would not have chased him if he were white. That is cut and dry and “the facts’ that you claim are missing are now arguments that Zimmerman’s attormey will put out that of course is his job as a defender and I hope he does a great job. But I’m fascinated as to how so many of you ignore the “facts” of the history of white and black relations in the US, both historic and current that tell us African-American teenagers are way more likely to be pulled over by the police as they are walking down the street. That’s cut and dry. That’s a fact. And it’s part of this scenario. It’s not “assuming the worst in people” and “letting emotion make up our minds.”

  • Public opinion seems to be pretty set on this one…Zimmerman has already been found guilty of being an angry racist murderer in the eyes of the public. Though I hardly think this is the complete picture. Zimmerman was stupid, and had he exercised some discretion this entire situation could have been avoided, and a young man would still be alive today…this being said…demonizing him as a heinous murderer of the worst sorts is hardly the best tact to take…especially when it is becoming increasingly obvious that all of the facts have yet to come out in the media.

  • Gary

    I don’t disagree with you.

    And yet your characterization of the nature of the discussion here seems to me to be the same kind of single view rush to judgment you denounce.

    Angry mobs tend to take justice into their own hands. Using a public forum to discuss the anger many of us feel over this killing represents a healthy outlet for expressing this outrage. Where an angry mob brings additional senseless violence…a healthy public debate often brings needed change.

  • gmknobl

    Sorry if the truth is disgusting to you.

    The law was written for and by ALEC to further their ends. It is being used as an excuse to allow the person who did this prejudiced injustice to get away with it, furthered by the prejudiced people in power who are looking the other way. This is a situation easily imaginable by the people who were in power and allowed a group of corporations to write their law for them, shirking their responsibility to the public and making a nice bit of change for their campaign in the process.

    You think I am wrong for making this political but the truth is that this is BOTH political AND prejudice in origin. I stated as much. To suggest it is one or the other and not both is a false dichotomy. You’ve been fooled by an old trick, Gary. And your disgust should rather be shame at yourself for not recognizing it.

    My guess is that in Florida, as in most if not all of the country, the right to defend oneself in one’s own home was not under attack and, therefore, the ALEC written law was not needed. A straw man argument was set up so it could be knocked down, in the process benefiting some pretty rich people and big corporations. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

    For further reading on the subject, I suggest you look up this editorial by Dr. Krugman: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/26/opinion/krugman-lobbyists-guns-and-money.html

  • It seems to me, reading the comments that I have, peoples minds have already been made up. People have already judged Zimmerman and expressed their outrage towards him. No one actually wants to change the system, they simply want justice they feel has not been exercised. But, we can’t exercise this justice separate of all the facts…that is all I’m trying to say. People are expressing outrage and rushing to judgement over a partial set of facts…That is unhealthy and perpetuating injustice, and not eliminating it.

  • Gary

    The facts we do know are enough to justify anger. The police did not even investigate the killing. And this after the dispatcher told Zimmerman not to get out of the car or confront the boy.

    Anger is a part of the process of change when injustices like this are revealed. Of course irrational responses are part of emotional discourse. And in an online forum even they may do some good. Prejudice is often exposed. Irrational hysteria is usually met with reasoned challenges helping to change views and provide opportunity for more intelligent and productive dialogue.

    “Perpetuating injustice”? Nah.

    Simply steps in the difficult process of change.

  • Gary

    No shame here, I support the law. The fact that you seem to think it has anything to do with this case tells me you (like so many others) have not properly read it.

    And though I don’t have any blanket endorsement for ALEC as I often disagree with their positions, neither do I demonize them the way you seem to. Some of what they promote I completely agree with.

    I sand by my statement. It disgusts me when racism like this is used for political advantage. Believe it or not there are good and moral people in all political parties. Racism exists in them all as well.

  • ‘Police did not even investigate the killing’ is a false statement, and says much about the ‘discussion’ that is being had. Not simply here, but in the broader discussion across the country. Dialogue is not productive if people already have their minds made up irregardless of facts.

    Zimmerman was stupid…I will completely agree. He may even be deserving of criminal charges. But, why can’t we reserve judgement and stop demonizing him as a racist murderer, as well as stop telling half truths/untruths about the police department and their supposed conspiracy against this young man.

  • Gary

    Feb. 26: Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Florida high school student, is found shot and killed, in Sanford, Fla., a community north of Orlando.

    Several eyewitnesses report to police that they heard a scuffle, then a cry for help, and then a gunshot.

    According to the Sanford police report, George Zimmerman, 28, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, is found armed with a handgun, standing over Martin. He has a bloody nose and a wound in the back of his head.

    Martin is unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. He has no weapons on him, only a pack of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea.

    Zimmerman tells police he killed Martin in self defense. Taking him at his word, police do not arrest him, nor administer a drug or alcohol test. They also did not run a background check.

    Source ~ ABC News

    Exactly what kind of an investigation do you believe was done??

    There is just cause for anger. And the anger is bringing another necessary case to light. This promotes change within the culture. A lot more good than harm will likely come from the anger being vented at present.

    We will have to agree to disagree.

  • I’m saying the news report is incomplete. There are many facts that have come out since this report that changes how the case could be perceived…including eyewitness accounts. The crying for help for instance, seems to be Zimmerman not Martin, which would certainly change how people perceive the case…From reading your above report, this is not the first thing that would come to mind. Again, Treyvon may have been fighting for his life…we simply don’t have all the facts, therefore we don’t have all the answers.

    Again, I don’t have the answers either…nor am I trying to say Zimmerman is the good guy, Martin was the bad guy. I am simply saying the case isn’t cut and dry, black and white, as we’ve tried to paint it.

    You, and many others have their minds made up. We are talking past each other, so it best to no longer continue the discussion. Again, dialogue has little benefit if we are simply trying to win an argument as opposed to honestly listening and paying attention to all the facts, and possible nuances of a situation.

  • Gary

    Oh yeah the facts are coming out now…thanks to the angry public outcry. The facts of Mr. Zimmerman’s admitted actions that night (following and confronting the boy), his clear violation of neighborhood watch rules, and his history of such past behavior, is not opinion…it is factual evidence that somehow did not lead the police to believe a full investigation was necessary UNTIL an angry public outcry demanded it.

    Whatever charges are brought against Zimmerman…the police have already been held accountable for their mishandling of this case. Justice is already being done.

  • LSS

    guns stored safely are nearly useless for self-defense in the case that you do have a home invasion suddenly. of course that case is hopefully rare.

    a woman i used to know was injured for life because a kid was able to access a gun not stored safely and was playing with it and shot the young woman.

    i don’t know statistics about what happens more: misuse of firearms or people actually being able to protect their family due to being armed. i know what my guess is… but i would want to know statistics to back that up.

  • LSS

    sorry perhaps my english wasn’t working when i wrote that. i meant this:


    “Even the Florida lawmakers who sponsored the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law now say that it does not apply in the shooting death Trayvon Martin because the shooter followed the boy.”

  • LSS

    he was responding to a previous comment way down the page, where a person said that when Obama was elected, something terrible, like a great black bird, lifted off of the country and flew away. He’s saying that we *aren’t* post-racism yet in this country and we still have a lot to work on. which is true.

    i think you guys are both cool people and you are having a misunderstanding, you both have points about guns but accidentally it got personal. or maybe with good reason on both sides it got personal. but i wish you could both retreat a little and not be so mad because mostly you are on the same side, of treating all people decently.


  • Gary

    Ah yes. Good clarification. This is one point I hope gets clarified in the media as well.

  • Gary

    Thanks for clearing this up LSS. I am very relieved. Though I have strongly objected to his making his case a personal affront…it still seemed very much out of character for him.

  • John- if you can you should check out this clip on youtube…

  • Donald Rappe

    I agree completely with you.

  • DR

    Really? I think racism so deeply integrated into our legal, justice and educational system that it renders people of privilege totally unconscious of its effect on us is a lot more terrifying than an internet lynch mob.

    Those of you who are so focused on making sure that George Zimmerman gets his day in court have all come out of the woodwork. Pardon those of us who’ve been waiting for your outrage about the massive majority of African-American males in our prison system right now and the fact that a lot of them got picked up from the police that you pay for with your property taxes for doing just what this little boy was doing. Walking While Black.

  • DR

    Chris, let me ask you a simple question – have you gone to blogs like this one to express your outrage about the massive amount of African-American men in our prison system right now? Have you expressed the same “concern for justice” as it relates to young Black and Hispanic men who are picked up by the police for absolutely no reason?

    If not, then consider your outrage fairly muted. Saying how badly all of that makes you feel is one thing – if it’s never actually *moved you to action* like this issue has – meaning, if you’ve never gone to an internet blog and wrote about your convictions where all of that is being discussed? Then all you’re doing is defending your privilege here, that’s all it’s doing.

  • DR

    PS – what a manipulative thing to call this an “angry internet mob”. I won’t allow that rhetoric to stand. The only reason people use such objectifying language is to distance themselves from what others are saying and doing. It’s quite possible that your actions – upon self-awareness, Chris – may reveal some things within you that you’re not facing.

  • DR

    People like Chris give themselves an out to leave the discussion when they don’t get to control it. You countering him is what he defines as “talking past one another” or “winning an argument” when in fact, that is exactly what he’s trying to do here, Chris came onto the blog as a teacher – not a student. It’s so weird to see that projection but I suspect Chris is pretty unconscious of a lot of things. I hope he takes up the challenge and takes a second look at why he’s defending this so much.

  • Donald Rappe

    Good to hear this voice. I suppose he reminds me of the source of my anger. I was 21 when I was teaching high school and about 2/3 of my students were what is now called black. I was a new member of the NAACP. The news came that 4 girls about the same age as my students had been blown up in church bombing in Birmingham. I didn’t believe in God then, but, I was learning there was a devil. I took this damnable action personally and a very hard spot formed in my heart for the people who did this. And it spread to those who encourage or facilitate it. And to those who look aside. I hesitate to say that a white person such as myself can feel “black rage”; I haven’t absorbed all those blows to the head, heart and belly that every American black has, and which are necessary for full empathy, but, I can get pretty angry about this sort of thing. The words of Malcolm, that you have linked to here, speak to my heart as well.

  • Our talking about it on a blog isn’t going to prevent the justice system from working as it should. Any Florida readers who are up for jury duty any time soon may not want to read, but other than that, there’s no harm done by talking about it. And there is harm done by silence, and by justifying. When people say “Let’s wait for all the facts to come out…let’s not jump to any conclusions” about the shooting death of a black kid, but there’s no similar reserve and hesitation to condemn a black person, that speaks volumes. When the shooter is on tape using a racist slur that I didn’t think people under the age of 60 even had in their vocabulary, and people still do mental gymnastics to say race wasn’t a factor, that sends a very clear message. We’re not on the jury; we’re not obligated by “innocent until proven guilty.” We’re just people who give a damn, talking and trying to process something horrible. And there’s no reason we shouldn’t.

  • It’s bothered me from the beginning. Martin had the right to be where he was, so he had the same “stand your ground” right as Zimmerman’s apologists keep using.

    Apparently some friend of Zimmerman’s is saying that Martin wasn’t respectful and didn’t answer Z’s questions about why he was there. Who the hell gave Z the right to make those demands?

  • Donald Rappe

    Why is it that one says regulate, people hear take them away? We regulate pharmacies, automobiles and the contents of tomato soup for the safety and welfare of the people, why not deadly weapons? Is this “all or nothing” propaganda spread by bullet manufacturers? I trained in the use of an M1 rifle and learned how to use it responsibly. My mother ate almost no meat besides venison and prairie chicken before she began high school. But why should a person untrained in police work be out on patrol armed with a deadly weapon? Why should every corner drug dealer be protected by under aged armed guards? I don’t know why so many people ardently support these things. They seem like fools to me. Don’t let them take my medicine away, don’t let them take my car away, don’t let them take my tomato soup away. Shouldn’t we have powerful lobbies in Washington protecting us from this?

  • LSS

    Actually our tomato soup needs more regulation.


  • Donald Rappe

    I need all the hugs I can get.

  • Jacob Wadsworth

    It can’t be helped that some people still stick to the idea of being racist. Perhaps it has troubled their families so much that they cannot just simply let it go. America is changing but it is not perfect. Those people who are stuck in the era of racism must learn to let go and think of a brighter future for the best of the country. – http://www.songear.com/