Pick a headline
A 6’3 black male shot while attacking a security patrolman, Sunday night.
Police: 28yr old white man ‘Free to go.’ after gunning down unarmed black child.
Which headline would you click on?
Make no mistake. I believe what happened February 26th to be a tragedy. George Zimmerman or anyone who kills an unarmed person should be held in custody a minimum of 72 hours while a thorough police investigation is held. Hopefully something like that will be made a law in the wake of this horrific incident.
But lets be clear, the media isn’t really interested in the truth or justice. Its interested in making money and getting ratings. They want to make you click on the headline. The more horrific, dramatic, sexy or crazy they can make that headline, the better.
In the killing of Trayvon Martin there is a real tragic story, but the initial story and reports I read all had that picture of a cute smiling young man and the glowering mug shot of George Zimmerman. I along with everyone else was outraged. But all the initial stories I read never mentioned that young Trayvon was a 6’3 football player who was visiting his father because he was suspended from school. They just told me he was a good kid who just ran out to get some candy during the halftime of a basketball game he was watching with his little brother.
The media told me George Zimmerman was a big white paranoid wannabe cop who was suspicious of black people and a racist. They didn’t say he was bleeding from the back of his head and face and on the ground with Trayvon Martin on top of him when the fatal gunshot was fired. Or that the person screaming for help in the 911 call was him and not Trayvon. Who knows if any of its true, but its the ‘official’ police report.
People aren’t usually interested in complicated stories where there is no clear good guy or bad guy. We want it clean and simple. We all know that racism still exists in all it horrific forms. We needn’t look further than the statistics. For instance, 1 in 4 black men will be charged with a felony in their lifetime. This startling fact along with many others may let you know that America is still not the land of the free. The game is still rigged. We hear old white politicians whisper and sometimes shout about our president and we all know its mostly racism. So when some creative copy editors trim and dangle specific words in front of us we charge. Yes! Here is the proof. These racist white cops are at it again. This time there will be justice… but maybe… oh but perhaps its just the usual incompetence we all run into. An overworked under trained ineffectual government entity. Maybe there is no real villain here beyond George Martin being an idiot by packing a gun he obviously was illequipt to carry. Maybe just a tragic chain of mistakes unable to be clearly sorted out by an underfunded police force. I know this is really unsatisfying and unpopular. And when faced with unspeakable chaos we all like a little something to lean on so we can be secure in our nice and tidy reality.
But maybe something good can come of this tragedy. Maybe we can modify Florida’s wild west gun laws and have some more oversight and thorough investigation into any homicide, especially those that involve an unarmed victim.
I don’t really have anything to say other than that. I’d like to be able to tie it all up and leave you with a feeling either of peace or outrage, that somehow justice will be served, but the whole thing just makes my heart hurt and my head swim. This is what tragedy is I guess, painful and senseless.