The result of the case is a travesty of justice. It should be a crime, beyond any reasonable doubt, for a man to take a loaded gun, act in contravention of the advice of an emergency dispatcher, stalk an innocent teenager in the neighborhood, and kill him after a confrontation that, regardless of who swung first or who swung at all, was the result of the killer's aggressive and reckless behavior. It should be. And every protest, every utterance of abhorrent disbelief, every political press release decrying this miscarriage of justice, every howl of execration from all corners of our country and perhaps even the world, every tear shed for a life that should never have been lost—these are all more than justified.
The rationale for the outcome itself, however, is less simple, and there is adequate reason to agree with the verdict returned, even for those who find it distasteful. The legal system that governed this case had failed Trayvon Martin long before George Zimmerman picked up his gun and decided that he would not be one to get away. It's possible that without the existence of so called "stand your ground" laws in Florida—which apparently allow someone who feels threatened to use deadly force, no matter who initiated an altercation—Zimmerman would have borne some culpability for the spiteful and prejudicial horror he wrought. But should one believe that given the specifics of the laws governing the case and the instructions given the jury, that the correct verdict was handed down, it would seem common sense that there be no celebrating the final outcome of this tragedy.
If only. More below the fold.
For some of the most popular figures on the right, the fact that Trayvon Martin was killed by a stalker for simply walking down a sidewalk is an unacceptable narrative: instead, they feel the need to demonize his life. Here's Ted Nugent:
But George Zimmerman and his entire family, innocent of any wrongdoing, have lost everything and will be in debt for a long, long time for having to fight the trumped-up charges that he "profiled" and/or set out to murder the poor, helpless, dope-smoking, dope-peddling, gangsta wannabe, Skittles hoodie boy.Rush Limbaugh felt the need to compare Trayvon Martin and Boston Bomber suspect Dzokhar Tzarnaev. The ever-so-moral Pat Robertson declared that Trayvon was basically at fault because he jumped on someone whom he "thought was a quasi-policeman," as if to imply that the victim had a lack of respect for law enforcement and presumably deserved to die for the offense. But as bad as they are, they are far from alone. Right-wing media figures have conducted a relentless smear campaign against the victim, suggesting with no evidence that he was a "wannabe gangster" and a drug dealer with a history of violence. Zimmerman's guilt or innocence had absolutely nothing to do with Trayvon Martin's past, but rather on the singular events that took place that fateful evening. And yet, the right wing continues to feel this twisted compulsion to insult his death by tarnishing his life. Why?
Because as horrific as it is, the fantasy about killing aggressive urban minorities in self-defense is a prevalent, deeply held narrative among certain sections of the American right. It's not a hidden fantasy, a secret and dark desire that dare not speak its name. No, this strain states its intentions and its desires loudly and proudly. Take, for instance, shock jock Neal Boortz, who had this to say about crime in Atlanta:
This town is starting to look like a garbage heap. And we got too damn many urban thugs, yo, ruining the quality of life for everybody. And I'll tell you what it's gonna take. You people, you are - you need to have a gun. You need to have training. You need to know how to use that gun. You need to get a permit to carry that gun. And you do in fact need to carry that gun and we need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta. We need to see the next guy that tries to carjack you shot dead right where he stands. We need more dead thugs in this city. And let their -- let their mommas -- let their mommas say, "He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd." And then lock her ass up.This isn't an isolated phenomenon. On far-right message board Free Republic, there have been threads where posters openly fantasize about killing black people who "invade" their communities subsequent to rioting or social unrest. In the minds of this strain of the American right, best represented by Rush Limbaugh and Ted Nugent, Trayvon Martin must have been violent, must have been a gangster, must have been a drug dealer or drug addict. Because were this not the case—were he simply, as he was, a teenager carrying a can of iced tea and a pack of Skittles minding his own business and on his way home—it would suggest that perhaps the vigilante fantasy that so pervades the conservative camp might be mistaken; that perhaps standing one's ground for so-called Second Amendment remedies could result in the death of an innocent teenager, rather than justified self-defense against one of Boortz' so-called "urban thugs."
Trayvon Martin is dead. But some among the right feel the need to kill his soul as well, all so a disturbing vigilante fantasy can live on without hindrance.