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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Debate Worth Having

Earlier this week, George Zimmerman was acquitted for murdering Trayvon Martin in Florida.  In the time between then and now I've run the gamut of emotional responses, starting with anger and outrage, and coming to a point of depression and disappointment.  I realized that I could not be a reporter in this case, as the very personal nature of it would color my writing.  So a week's gone by and now I'm in a clearer head space.  While it may not be as newsworthy as it was a week ago, it's time to weigh in on this subject.

The question, however, is which take is the right way to go?

I could rant on (and on and on) about the fact every argument in the American judicial system is based on precedent, and the fact that Mr. Zimmerman decided to profile an unarmed Black kid, initiate a confrontation, pick a fight, lose the fight and shoot the kid makes that sequence of events okay legally.  When this happens again (and make no mistake, as Americans we are nothing if not repetitive of our mistakes), defense can now point to this as legal precedent.  There has been somewhat paranoid talk of it being open season on young Black males, but with this legal precedent the argument seems a bit less irrational.  This is concerning to me because, well, I'm told I'm huge and there seems to be an overabundance of dark alleyways in this country.

But that's not the tack I'm taking.

I can comment on how unevenly the "Stand Your Ground" law has been applied in Florida as a Black woman fending off her abusive husband and didn't hurt or kill anyone in the act has been sentenced to 20 years in prison while Mr. Zimmerman goes free.  The best case scenario in any personal defense legislation is that the conflict is defused with minimal injury and no loss of life, and yet Marissa Thompson is going to spend the next 20 years in prison.  George Zimmerman will not see another day behind bars.

But I'm not going there either.

In the week since the Trayvon Martin verdict, protests and rallies have sparked bot pro and anti George Zimmerman.  The thing I'm going to say is that George Zimmerman is not a cause.  Neither is Trayvon Martin.  They are people.  One a terribly misguided individual who felt empowered by a stupid law, another a terribly unfortunate young man who died for what amounted to a questionable wardrobe choice in a strange neighborhood.  They are not causes.  They are not to be supported or decried.  They are the obvious representation of a very broken system in which we categorize and classify based solely on preconceived notions on what a criminal looks like.  The real debate worth having is about the concept of a fair and impartial jury, especially when jury for a big case has been inundated with media information by the time they are called that they have opinions already formed.  The debate worth having is  in how we grant the 15 minutes of fame on someone who has to remain anonymous for talking about why she made a decision on the value of one man's life over another.

But like you, I'm tired.  This whole thing has been exhausting.  And all I want to do is turn the page, change the channel and get some rest.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Better Things To Do.

We've all been there before, when we're faced with that daunting difficult, sometimes unpleasant task that has to be done.  It's staring you in the face and waiting to be tackled.  The sheer enormity of the thing is enough to keep you busy for an entire weekend, or leave you sore for a couple of days.

And then you just remembered that load of laundry that needed to be done, because there's no way you can do this without your favorite green boxers.

So you do six loads of laundry, your green boxers are among the last to be cleaned and dried.  You take a shower so that you can be clean when you change into your boxers and when you're done your bathroom routine, your task is still there, waiting for you, demanding its due.

Oh crud, is that the time?  I gotta get to the Post Office before it closes!

You hop in your car, take the freeway the one exit to the Post Office, wait in line for twenty minutes to get to the counter and ask for a book of stamps.  Because, you know, the stamp dispenser won't take your debit card.  You get your stamps, drive back the way you came, park your car and get ready to do your task.  You roll up your sleeves and as you're about to jump in, you realize that you forgot to stop at Walmart to get Peanut Butter M &M's.  It's essential; not having Peanut Butter M & M's damns this task to failure, and the notion that you were about to get started without them is sheer lunacy in and of itself.

So you get in your car, drive to Walmart and grab a bag of Peanut Butter M &M's, and while you're at it, some tortilla chips and salsa.  You stop at the electronics section and stare mindlessly at the Hi-def TV's that are infinitely better than the brand new one you got last Friday.  You drag yourself away from the continually running loop of Finding Nemo and head toward the register, picking up a box of Raisin Bran on the way.

You pull into your driveway, get inside and put your stuff away, leaving out the delectable sweets you went out specifically to purchase.  As you nosh on the smooth peanut butter and chocolate candy and prepare to finally begin that arduous task, your cell phone rings.  It's your buddy, dying to recount the details of the date he went on with that buxom, triple-jointed hot-dog vendor girl he met while drunk three Saturdays ago.  You listen intently, absorbing every sordid detail and making the appropriate insensitive commentary about his new object of affection, and congratulating him on meeting the future mother of his children.

You hang up and no sooner do you head toward the vicinity of this daunting task, your phone rings again.  It's your girlfriend, offering an evening of... well you don't know what because you're in the car again before she has a chance to finish.  And as you drive to your uncertain fate, you debate whether or not you tell this story to the people this task would have mattered to.

Or.

Do you say "I'm sorry I haven't written in my blog lately. I've been busy.   I promise, I'll make time to write in it more. "