Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you know by now that a jury recently found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, the young (and incidentally, black) teenager who found himself inside a gated Florida community one night in February of last year. Both parties allegedly perceived a threat from each other and what actually happened next will never be known, since one direct witness (Martin) has unfortunately passed away and the other (Zimmerman) had every reason to frame his actions in the context of self-defense.

At one extreme, this case is essentially race-related and thus is the sole reason why Mr. Zimmerman (a neighborhood watch volunteer) perceived Mr. Martin to look “real suspicious”, confronted him and then proceeded to shoot Trayvon in the chest. The media has done a fantastic job of sensationalizing the issue of race in this case and using Trayvon’s “blackness” to fuel feelings of anger and distrust. Race could very well have played a role but to prejudge and frame this encounter based solely, or even predominantly, on race is a case of jumping to conclusions. By the way, Mr. Zimmerman is half-Hispanic (since his mother is Peruvian).

At the other extreme, this case is completely non race-related and the incident happened as an act of self-defense—a concept in Florida that is defined quite broadly (i.e. standing your ground), even though this case was not about stand your ground. The jury was instructed as follows: “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

If Mr. Zimmerman’s claim is totally accurate, there were no means by which he could retreat and thus the privilege to “stand your ground” did not apply.

After the incident there was a six-week delay in arresting Mr. Zimmerman. If the perpetrator had been black and the victim white, perhaps things would have turned out differently.

The jury, instead of convicting Mr. Zimmerman for murder, could have decided that he was guilty of manslaughter, or that he acted hastily and out of panic in a physical confrontation which he, allegedly, was in the process of losing. A conviction of murder would mean that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of malicious intent.

Mr. Martin was described as being angry because he was being followed, at the time when he then threw the first punch. In the resulting fistfight, Mr. Zimmerman’s holstered gun became visible. Zimmerman said Martin reached for the gun, and he shot Trayvon in the chest in the heat of the moment in order to preserve his own life.

All I can say about this case is I don’t know. I don’t know for sure who is right and who is wrong; I don’t know whether the testimony given during the trial (on both sides) was true and honest;  I don’t know what it was like for the jurors to process all the facts, forensics, expert testimony and then unanimously come to the same conclusion; I don’t know if Trayvon truly did “look suspicious” or if Mr. Zimmerman is a covert racist; I don’t know what “looking suspicious” means, especially for a teenager who was not breaking any laws, was minding his own business and simply was in a gated community based on an invitation from family; I also don’t know if Mr. Zimmerman is a renegade vigilante who woke up that morning in February 2012 and said, “I’m gonna kill me a black kid”; I don’t know why the job description of a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer includes carrying a firearm and then stopping, questioning and confronting (not frisking) those who “look suspicious”; I don’t understand how a civilian (non law enforcement) can follow an unarmed minor, call the cops, continue to follow the minor, get out of the car and be asked by the minor to stop following, confront the still unarmed minor and then subsequently kill him.

What I do know: a young teenager (regardless of race) is now dead and my heart goes out to his parents. Why is he dead? Over a scuffle in a gated community? Does being out of place equate with a loss of life? When Trayvon was confronted by Mr. Zimmerman, how did what should have been a civil conversation turn into the firing of a gun? At what point does a teenager, armed with fists, become a reasonable threat to a grown man armed with a gun? Whatever transpired after George and Trayvon met must have taken an acute, abrupt and precipitous turn toward an ugly situation for things to have unfolded the way they did. The fuel for that explosion could have come from either person.

I’m sorry, human race, but the average person is not rational, civil or as intelligent as they would like to think; you’re prone to emotional responses and have the potential to be pushed to breaking point by everyday, innocuous events—as such, giving this type of individual any false sense of security or lowering the threshold for killing someone is like arming a child with a live grenade.

When I was growing up (in the 1980s) our neighborhood watch members never carried guns because they never intended to shoot anyone in suburban Long Island—maybe I just have a different conception of what a neighborhood watch entitles, since I assume they’ll be doing more watching and less killing.

When the cops did arrive on the scene, what kind of “police work” or “investigation” was performed that led them to decide not to arrest or detain Zimmerman, or, at least, should have got them to start asking some probing questions? After all, a teenager had died—did they just ask Zimmerman what happened, he said “self defense” and the cops said, “Ok then, you’re free to go”?

If you think race has absolutely nothing to do with this case whatsoever and Florida law is totally race-blind, consider this: Marissa Alexander, who had never been arrested before, fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. No person was hurt. Just last week, a northeast Florida judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison. Mrs. Alexander is a 31-year-old mother of a toddler and 11-year-old twins. She had claimed self-defense, tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law but a jury found her guilty as charged: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Because she fired a gun while committing a felony, Florida’s mandatory-minimum gun law dictated the 20-year sentence. Mrs. Alexander is black. Justice or not? If a man kills an unarmed minor after pursuing the minor, in the eyes of Florida, that’s OK. If a woman tries to preserve life and just scare her husband off with a warning shot and not kill or harm anybody, she gets 20 years in prison. Fair or biased?

State Attorney Angela Corey (who also oversaw the prosecution of George Zimmerman) stands by the handling of Mrs. Alexander’s case claiming that, “Alexander aimed the gun at the man and his two sons, and the bullet she fired could have ricocheted and hit any of them.” I also could have knocked over a bicyclist while driving in Manhattan, but that doesn’t make me guilty of anything. Einstein isn’t remembered because he could do amazing work, nor is his potential celebrated; he is honored because of things he did.

I know that I am intelligent enough not to allow the media to carry out their own trial and then tell me what to think. I also know that life is precious and that society is taking a step in the wrong direction when normal, rational and legal barriers that are supposed to preserve life are taken away and left in the hand of someone whose other hand is brandishing a gun. As always, I remain pro-liberty, anti-death, and pro-peace. God bless the Martin family.


Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal

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  1. LN says:

    Some libertarians (who often live in a stuffy, isolated realm of theory and intellectualism) view the world (and often forcibly so) in a race-blind manner where everyone is “equal” and no one is pre-judged. As we all know, theory and reality and starkly different and the unfortunate case of Trayvon Martin highlights the fact that despite monumentous progress Americans (and the whole world) still live in a society that is biased, unfair, prejudiced and suffers from many “-isms”. Zimmerman probably will never live a normal existence unless he moves to the other side of the world, but if he was totally innocent and the facts didn’t speak for themselves, then this would not be the case. The simplest way to view the Martin debacle is to realize one fact: prior to Zimmerman getting out of the car, no person was breaking the law, and a confrontation was only made possible by Mr. Zimmerman leaving his vehicle. I’m not a police officer, and have never been at gunpoint or in a life-or-death situation; I probably would panic and literally jump-to-the-gun if pressed in a tense scenario, but that’s what separates me from a trained professional. If all it took to execute proper law enforcement and civil order was a heightened sense of individual responsibility, they all you’d need for certification like a fake title, a fake badge, or an online certificate. Case in point, while writing this comment I obtained a PhD from Harvard in quantum mechanics. Bow down and call me doctor.

  2. Pro Liberate says:

    Zimmerman may be guilty, but there’s little proof of that. That sucks, if he’s really guilty of murder or manslaughter, but that’s an intentional consequence of our system, and it only arises here because of a fairly unusual course of events. If there were a shooting with no evidence of unreasonable force being used by Martin, Zimmerman likely gets convicted of something.

    Let’s say Zimmerman, for whatever reason, went after Martin for damages for civil battery. So, from the facts that were presented in the criminal trial, he has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Martin started a fight and used unreasonable force against Zimmerman. I think Zimmerman, given the evidence we know about, might well win such a case.

    The evidence is that bad. Remember, some of the best evidence for Zimmerman was presented by prosecution witnesses. That’s one of the reasons this case is so sickening. As it was, not only did that happen, but the prosecution appears to have unethically sat on further exculpatory evidence.

    Zimmerman may, in fact, be guilty. But no one can possibly even rationally speculate to that given the evidence on hand. It favors his version of events too well. That maybe a terrible twisting of the truth, but that’s what we have and nothing more.

  3. Jim Kellog says:

    Here’s another side of the story: The Zimmerman case has exposed the media (again) as the wholesale liars they are. In this case, they served the left’s domestic twin agendas of inflaming racial tensions and demonizing guns. The right wing commentariat have correctly called out the shameful manipulation by NBC, CNN, ABC, and others. Maybe this will wake up the right wing hoi polloi to the wholesale lying that takes place in the foreign policy arena, where facts are selectively withheld or distorted, images are mis-attributed, and translations are slanted to serve the regime’s agenda and narrative of intervention.

  4. TheGrouch says:

    In the end, despite all the hype and sensationalism, I am a father of two young girls and empathize with Trayvon’s father. You can use whatever formula you like, but if we have laws that legally permit a grown man to kill an unarmed child, even though following the code of law leads to Zimmerman’s innocence, the law is flawed. I am the last person to deny anyone’s rights to liberty and guns, but this is a disgusting perversion of the law and facts to serve an immoral end. I hope Zimmerman one day has children, and they meet the same fate as Trayvon.

    • Larry says:

      Trayvon was taller and heavier than Mr Zimmerman. Mr Zimmerman actually lived in the neighborhood. Trayvon was on suspension from school for having burglary tools and stolen jewelry in his possession. Trayvon was under the influence of THC at the time and was acting suspiciously in Mr Zimmerman’s opinion. All of this information concerning Trayvon was withheld from the jury by order of the judge. Where was the justice for Mr Zimmerman during his trial? Prejudiced media tried to convict Mr Zimmerman even before the arrest was made to placate the media! The jury found the correct verdict and did the right thing, set him free. However he will never regain the same life that was taken from him by the biased media for defending his own life.

      • CHE Sadaphal says:

        I agree and disagree: the media made up its mind long ago about Zimmerman’s guilt and attempted to nudge society toward his presumed guilt. Clearly a blatant violation of sound moral and fair conduct. However, did the very fact that Zimmerman possessed a gun persuade him or give him enough “swagger” to confront another stranger who was “taller and heavier” and maybe acting aggressively because he was “under the influence of THC”? Perhaps. It’s also very hard to claim an injustice was done by the person who walked away from an encounter while the other person is dead.

  5. Antoinette says:

    I like many Americans was outraged at the Zimmerman trial outcome.
    But if one carefully examines the “facts” of the case as presented by the Florida prosecution, the conclusion the jurors reached does not seem so far fetched. As a soon-to-be mother of a black son, I only hope that we as a nation can harness our frustrations, passions, and even our disagreements into a meaningful dialogue that fosters real change. We have come far as a country but we have far to go as it relates to race relations. My hope is that parents of every race/ethnicity/creed use the case of Trayvon as a teaching moment with their children so that something like this does not happen again.

    • CHE Sadaphal says:

      And the valuable take home lesson is that society is in fact not equitable, and there are particular codes of conduct certain groups must adhere to in order to obtain peaceful outcomes. Certain sects have different expectations ascribed to them and this will either raise or lower the threshold of what is “tolerated”. Would an ideal society be race-blind? Indeed. Is it? Far from it. Is talking about the ramifications of race in life a bad thing? Absolutely not. Dealing with the world we live in involves facing the horrors of reality and the often uncomfortable predicaments that other people (who differ from us) get into on a daily basis.

  6. Mike on the Bus says:

    Same sad story, different horrific day. America, listen up: unless you have walked one day in the shoes of a minority and experienced what they experience each and every day, you will never understand. You’ll never learn, because you are the example of true ‘entitlement’ mentality: you think only you or others just like you have the right to everything, and in this case, it was the “right” to shoot a teenager with no weapon only after he was confronted for “looking suspicious”.

  7. BCHCrowley says:

    I’m glad how upset some people seem to be getting after the Obama speech on the Martin aftermath. Now they all know how we felt during the Bush years, just not nearly as insane.

  8. Nelly says:

    All this President has done is expose those who hate. People who have experienced or know of people who have experienced racism understand what he was talking about.

  9. OrrAcrossThePond says:

    Even though equal civil rights for black Americans are still so relatively new, the US just can’t see what the rest of the world sees: inequality embedded in the history of a country doesn’t disappear in matter of decades; on the contrary, the baleful fruits of generations of inequality can be used to justify the very prejudice that promoted the inequality in the first place.

    We (the Brits) don’t have room to be too superior, but we are also reluctant to admit that the casual, widespread racism of the past has far-reaching consequences that give succour to those who wish to be racists still. Google Stephen Lawrence to see what I mean.

  10. Neil says:

    Can’t we all just get along? Seriously though, can’t we all not shoot each other while on WATCH in GATED communities in Florida? Sounds like the wild west not 21st century “civilized” society.

  11. DannyBoy says:

    Here’s what I don’t know: why anyone is surprised things turned out the way they did. Even though common sense and the media declared George guilty last year, the law is not based on common sense, and often is not based on public opinion. I’m torn on many levels-on the one hand an injustice has not been resolved but will Obama now take matters into his own executive hands through the DOJ to convict Zimmerman on civil charges? I hate to see a wrong unpunished but I also don’t like unilateral abuse of authority. This whole scenario is a mess and unfortunately can never be made clean again.

  12. FreeEverything says:

    that Alexander case is mind-boggling. i guess it didn’t get much coverage since Zimmerman’s case took all the press time. what’s next: penalizing children for resisting evil grown ups by putting them in juvenile detention until they’re of age? if the law is flawed, then YOU are even more flawed for obeying it.

  13. Fran says:

    Not guilty, but I think george is having a harder time being free than incarcerated.

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