It was difficult, but I avoided commenting on anything American for the last two weeks. Now I’m back.
In Brussels, Blaine Reininger covered the dubstep song “Knives to a gunfight“, dedicating it to Trayvon Martin. He started by saying “Out of respect to Trayvon, we’re going to call this ‘you brought snacks to a gunfight”. I knew I’d have to write about it.
The President of the United States of America stated “Trayvon could have been me”. Wouldn’t Trayvon have been fortunate. At seventeen, Barry was at the Punahou school, a 17-acre oasis of calm, order and privilege tucked behind a low stone wall topped with cacti in Honolulu Hawaii. In his own words, he used marijuana and cocaine to push the questions of who he was out of his mind. Sounds as if thirty five years ago, Barack Hussein Obama II was more like George Zimmerman (let me spell that out. A liar). Trayvon neither used cocaine nor was he awaiting a scholarship to Occidental College.
I’ve seen some pretty bizarre responses to the Zimmerman verdict, the New Black Panther party offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman, dead or alive. Publicly. Repeatedly. I’m not sure exactly why they feel like they’re “third class citizens”, I doubt very much the Klan ever made public statements that outrageous. Now of course that offer was made more than a year ago, and I don’t recall the Panthers paying the bounty to the state of Florida when they arrested him, but bringing the story to light sure is a great way to fire up racial tensions.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry felt their opinions about justice would be of interest. Something about pots and kettles goes here. In a related (too bizarre to comment) story, Zimmerman’s brother is worried about vigilantes.
Another great story was a collection of twits saying they would go out and shoot a Mexican and call it self defense in response to the “Not Guilty” verdict. Well, at least they’re getting closer. Zimmerman’s mother is from Peru. He actually doesn’t like Mexicans either, so maybe shooting a Mexican would put you on his good side.
As a matter of fact, George Zimmerman is an idiot. It doesn’t matter what his race is, and it really doesn’t matter what Trayvon Martin’s race was, Zimmerman was told to stay in his car by a police dispatcher, and instead confronted a man on the street. None of us will ever know what happened between then and when George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, but for some reason twelve people on a jury thought that “stand your ground” doesn’t mean that it’s actually your ground that you’re standing on.
Another twelve people in Florida thought that Casey Anthony wasn’t responsible for the death of her daughter.
Things were starting to look pretty good for violent offenders in Florida, then a woman went out to her car, got her gun, and came back to fire a “warning shot” at her ex husband, and received twenty years in prison. Apparently she hadn’t realized that in order to get away with a crime, you should not leave witnesses. Particularly witnesses who you’ve shot at.
If these stories were all you knew about Florida, or America, you might think we’re a bunch of idiots. Well, we have done everything we can to encourage idiotic behavior but there are a couple of things to remember.
First, there are about three hundred fourteen million people in America (over nineteen million in Florida alone). Allowing for a lunatic fringe of three percent (although I believe it’s closer to twelve), that would be over ten million lunatics in the United states. They can’t all live in Manhattan.
Second, while some people still believe the news media reports important stories about society, the job of the news media is to sell the advertising space that allows it to exist. News is not a public service, it’s a business. Dog bites man doesn’t make the front page. Man bites dog might make page three. A story has to be unique, not representative, to make the lineup.
Third, a headline is not a story. A headline is supposed to get your attention. This is why the most intriguing story is mentioned over and over, and then broadcast last, so you’ll watch the entire show. Which isn’t a terribly bad thing, many people sit through an entire newscast and might pick up some actual information while waiting to see the squirrel on water skis. The headline is the carnival barker, making the bearded woman sounds interesting enough that you’ll pay to see her.
Rioting in response to an unpopular verdict is not the answer. Using a tragedy for self promotion is a number of things, ranging from pathetic to disgusting.
We cannot fix every broken mind out there, but of those that we can fix, we can only do so with love.