Trayvon Martin should make us question what kind of society we live in

A short excerpt written by me, September 11, 2011

What does Safety Mean?

…To the people of South Park- it means going out on patrol to make sure their homes and garages don’t get busted into.

via What does “safety” mean?.

I was George Zimmerman. After repeated break-ins, I would don a bright green vest, take a large Maglight flashlight and strap a 9mm pistol on my side and go for evening walks in my neighborhood. We don’t have “gates” to “keep the undesirables out”- but we’ve had a lot more security systems and cameras installed in our neighborhood.

One neighbor has managed to video record two criminal acts (the theft of packages from a porch and an attempted break-in to the vacant house next to them) neither of which has led to an arrest.

We’re not living in a perpetual state of fear, but, we’ve come to accept the idea that whatever isn’t chained down, locked, alarmed or monitored has become fair game for others to steal, damage or destroy.

This isn’t the America of  Mayberry R.F.D. and it’s not quite “Escape from New York” either- but the geography of “safety” seems much smaller today than it was when I came into this world in 1962, despite the Cuban Missile Crisis and the killing of our President than today, when a “neighborhood watch captain” is able to get out of his vehicle and then shoot an unarmed teen because he “looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something.”

The illusion of safety, the illusion of order, the illusion of a civil society is slipping away from us and while people are being galvanized one day to seek out Joseph Kony, the next we’re focused on Trayvon Martin and all the while the crimes that make all this possible are continuing merrily along.

Our country has become a mockery of a free society. Our beloved “democracy” is a farce. Our righteous proclamations to other countries of what is fair and proper come not from a morally protected high ground built on a foundation of “doing the right thing” but from having bigger bombs and being the only ones to actually use them. America has lost the right to call itself the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Our elections are anything but free- estimated to cost $10 billion this cycle. Our prison system is overflowing with minorities and under-educated, ill-prepared second-class citizens while Wall Street has created a new class of robber barons, of whom virtually none  have gone to prison. Our country is deep in debt, our states, counties and cities are unable to fund the systems we’ve put in place and record numbers of Americans have lost their jobs, their pensions, their homes and their dignity.

I am not going to go into guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman, it’s almost as futile as discussing the thought of Sarah Palin as a viable vice president. What we have is nothing more than a gross caricature of a country that used to be considered a shining example of all that could be right in a nation. A country that was founded with these most powerful words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

There is a famous child’s fable about “The emperor’s new clothes”- are we willing to admit our country is now ruled by a different standard? That the self-evident truths are entirely fictional? Why do we pledge allegiance to a flag of a country that’s as far from united as we’ve become, which stands for nothing other than the power of the almighty dollar (which in itself has become a fraud thanks to the huge gap between rich and poor). Our ideals were nice, our execution of them of late has become criminal.

The future of our country was wearing a hoodie. He’s dead now. The guy who shot him is still walking free. What happened to those “certain unalienable rights” – I miss them. You should too.

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27 Responses

  1. jstults March 25, 2012 / 3:58 pm
    The Sanford police department has a page with the details (initial police reports, 911 audio, etc.).

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  2. Gary March 25, 2012 / 5:26 pm
    If Trayvon did in fact “attack” Mr. Zimmerman at his vehicle while he waited on the police, the article did not state that Trayvon had a weapon, just a hood on, lol.  Zim looks to be a pretty big dude, but could not fight off a 17 year old, please, without shooting him in cold blood!
    Zim at least needs to put in a mental institution for testing, just as was reason for the soldier killing 17 Afghani civilians; which were all compensated by the US in figures of $50,000 each, and then some to the injured.
    Where else dear David, what other country can be so nice as the good ol’ US of A?  Shit, we pay for babies being born, Barack pays for our food, Barack gives us more heath care as we speak … Please don’t say America is falling apart or going nuts, it’s a great country!  LOL.

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  3. John Ise March 26, 2012 / 9:40 am
    A good, slightly unsettling, revealing of how hard-wired out internal racial/social/economic (etc.) biases are can be demonstrated on an on-line survey test at Harvard University’s “Project Implicit”.  Whether you are white or black, see what positive/negative words you automatically and instinctually associate with images of light/dark skin tone faces.  It can explain why Zimmerman would shoot a black kid while giving a white kid in the same circumstance a pass.  Take the 10 minute test at:
    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/Study?tid=-1 

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  4. truddick March 26, 2012 / 11:44 am
    Well, David, here’s the other side of your essay.  Thanks to the oft-repeated insistence that all government is “the problem”, we have entered an era of do-it-yourself public service.

    Want public safety?  Hire your own–as is done in the wealthiest enclaves–or buy into a gated community with no guards and patrol-it-yourself like Zimmerman–or arm yourself and put up a lot of security cameras like an Esrati.  Oh, and if you’re a single parent who works 2 or 3 minimum wage jobs, thus meaning that you have neither the cash to buy guards or cameras, nor the time to patrol the neighborhood yourself, than you get minimum protection from the understaffed police force.  Meanwhile, the rest of us better hope that the amateur with the 9 mm Glock doesn’t suspect us of criminal activity.

    In the same sense, let’s slash the fire department–if you want those services, maybe you can hire an independent contractor.  Or, as Dayton’s urban renewal program seems to specify, your house can burn down and your former neighbor can have a bigger yard.

    Education?  Go on and do it yourself.  A parent who’s dropped out of high school is presumed in every case to know what education the child needs, far more so than people with graduate degrees in education.  And BTW, education isn’t undertaken for the public good–it’s a private commodity, and you should think of it like you think of your TV.

    In the earlier years of my life, public servants talked about the public good, communities tried to provide a solid education for all children and public safety for all citizens.  Oh, it wasn’t perfect, and racial minorities were regularly excluded–but when it was possible, for example, to erase the scourge of polio through free public vaccination programs, nobody screamed “socialized medicine!” and filibustered to prevent it.

    We improve out own security and increase our freedom if we recapture the idea of the common good being served by professionals, rather than selfish isolationism relegated to amateurism. 

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  5. Dad March 26, 2012 / 12:50 pm
    Mr. Ruddick has said exactly the right thing. There really should be no need for people to patrol their own neighborhood, put out their own fires, or home-school their kids inadequately. (I say this because I believe that kids learn how to be civilized human beings even at recess, simply by being with other children while the home-schooled forgo such interaction.)
    My wife and I were once waiting in line to enter Monticello. The woman in front of us in the queue told us her kids were being home schooled and this trip to Thomas Jefferson’s home was part of her curriculum. But those children were incapable of standing in line with their mother.

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  6. David Esrati March 26, 2012 / 3:06 pm

    @Truddick – essentially- that’s what I sat down to write originally- but apparently, I got sidetracked. In my attempt to make it brief, I missed part of the point I was attempting to make.

    One of the points I was trying to make when I got arrested for the mask- was why do citizens have to do the trash collectors jobs in Dayton- with our alley sweeps, where citizens picked up the trash our highly paid trash collectors missed. That point got lost as well.

    Thanks for re-focusing my thoughts.

    It’s true- we shouldn’t need security cameras, or private vigilantes to keep us safe.

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  7. jstults March 26, 2012 / 5:47 pm
    I think this is a great example (on several levels) of how folks can see/hear the same set of facts and come to widely different conclusions.
     
    After hearing the 911 calls, it struck me that all these people were so terribly dependant on far away authority, and that the police would only be able to get there to clean up the mess.  Wouldn’t it have been great if someone had known both men well enough to jump in and say, “hey, break it up fellas!”, when those two were hollering and  wrestling around in the backyard?  It would have been a “boys will be boys” situation instead of escalating into tragedy.  Someone was yelling “HELP ME!”, but all people could be bothered to do was call 911 instead of rendering aid to their neighbor in an emergency.  I hate to sound like Kunstler because he’s so wrong about most things, but wouldn’t it have been great if we lived in communities that weren’t so isolated by technology and dependence on disembodied voices over the cell phone sending the uniformed professionals just a little too late? If folks were sitting out on their porches waving to Martin and Zimmerman as they went for an evening stroll, or headed back from a candy run to the quick stop, then they might just be seen as the neighbour kid with a bag of skittles instead of a lurking threat to social order, or a busy-body neighbour instead of a paranoid racist.
     
    Don’t bother to think about this one.  There’s plenty to find in this inkblot to flatter your prejudices.  Just sit tight and wait for the professionals to take care of you…

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  8. David Esrati March 26, 2012 / 6:19 pm

    @Jstults- excellent comment. And, for the most part- this happens in South Park- although we know who we need to call the police about- and who we can go out and talk with. The reality in South Park is that if there is a member of our security patrol outside- at least a few people on every block know who they are- and would jump in to help.
    When I hear help me- I run outside. When I hear “I’m going to beat your mo-fracking @$$” is when I call police first- and then come out and ask “Really? Can I sell tickets and can we place some bets on who is going to win first?”
    I’ll also be taping with my cell phone camera…. just for “Americas funniest home videos” or “Rednecks on parade”

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  9. Diane March 27, 2012 / 8:40 am
    “With a single punch,” the Orlando Sentinel, citing police sources, reported Monday, “Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer … climbed on top of [him] and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, leaving him bloody and battered.”
    “That is the account Zimmerman gave police,” the paper said, “and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say.”
    Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner, says that Zimmerman acted in self-defense and is not a racist as some have portrayed him.
    “I think we need to let the investigation come forward and let all the facts in this case come out,” Sonner said on the “Today” show. “I think it’s going to tell a different story than the way it’s been related and portrayed in the media.”

    Whatever happened to INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty? The guy had a broken nose and a gash to the back of his head after all, but CNN took a public opinion poll to see how many readers want Zimmerman arrested now!?!? That’s ridiculous. Let’s let the police do their jobs, and the truth will come out. Stop letting the media tell you what you are supposed to think and do. 

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  10. Gary March 27, 2012 / 11:01 am
    Tray was not the agressor at first, Zim was hazing him, and took the law into his own hands after the law told him to back off.  So Tray went out fighting … And David is correct to blame society, too, with all the violent music, games and dead beat parents.

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  11. Joe March 27, 2012 / 6:29 pm
    Diane, had the police done their job by testing Zimmerman for drugs/alcohol after a SHOOTING….. sure let them do their job and the “truth will come out”. Clearly they are incompetent and negligent.

    I wonder if Zimmerman was uniformed or had any sort of identification as neighborhood watch. Did he have any legal authority to detain or attempt to detain the teenager? Beyond citizen’s arrest? For what exactly? If I see a badge I’m going to stop, but if it’s just some guy walking around trying to detain me or follow me – then that probably would put me on edge. David said he wears a green vest and I think there is some sort of South park security shirt? I doubt he will be arrested or prosecuted because of the state law FL.

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  12. Gary March 28, 2012 / 4:53 pm
    Zimmerman is guilty b/c the police told him not to pursue Tray, period!

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  13. jstults March 28, 2012 / 6:38 pm
    So Gary, would you say he should be sentenced by a jury of his peers too?

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  14. Diane March 28, 2012 / 8:22 pm
    Maybe we should throw out the entire judicial process altogether and just let CNN run another public opinion poll?

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  15. Gary March 28, 2012 / 8:51 pm
    @ jstults, heck yes!  And to all those giving me bozo marks, you are all just as guilty!  Again, DE is correct in that society is going to pot, rather, crack!  Just look at the AOL headlines today: more child molesters, mostly priests, deviant behavior of all kinds, queers, teachers molesting students … etc.

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  16. jstults March 28, 2012 / 9:13 pm
    Gary, if you are “sentenced” by a “jury”, then it’s probably more accurately described as being “lynched” by a “mob”.  IANAL, but I think we usually prefer to have judges do the sentencing after juries have rendered verdicts which customarily happens after some proceedings in a courtroom.

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  17. Gary March 29, 2012 / 11:54 am
    I do see your point; but, we are not in the cowboys days anymore.  A jury of his peers can find him guilty, but the judge can give him a lighter sentence.  Now the video showing him after his arrest shows no blood, bruises or whatever.  I think he’s guilty!  He acted remorse right after he killed him.  Scared.  Shocked!
    Again, all those who marked me bozos are ignorant to the law.  The dude was probably a racist and vigilante, too!
    What a dummy, has a wife and kids, too.  I guess we all make mistakes.  But think how Tray’s parents feel right now!

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  18. Joe March 29, 2012 / 12:50 pm
    Saw a video of him at the police station, he did not appear to have blood/cuts on his head – but probably recieved medical attention on site, so hard to say. He was a walking in the police station as well. Do the severity of his injuries merit or justify a self defense of shooting Martin?

    His clothes look like normal street clothes, didnt see any identification of neighborhood watch or security on him. His car should have had a vinyl or magnet stating “neigborhood watch”. We will probably never know who engaged who first. He should have had some identification as neighborhood watch, and never should have approached Martin. I’d like to know if there was a proper neighborhood watch organization or it was just Zimmerman patrolling himself. What would the legal definition of assault be? Did Zimmerman haze or harass Martin first? Probablu will never know, because we will only hear Zimmerman’s take.

    I’d really like to know the legal aspects of the citizen patrol or neighborhood watch, interesting stuff.

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  19. Diane March 29, 2012 / 2:49 pm
    Joe,

    Here’s the national Neighborhood Watch website: http://www.usaonwatch.org/ They have been around for over 40 years.

    If Zimmerman is a member of this group, they are very well organized. They are not a bunch of vigilantes. Volunteers partner with and are trained by their local police departments or sheriffs office.

    Here’s a link to the 2-day sample training agenda: http://www.usaonwatch.org/assets/sample_docs/samplewebagenda.pdf

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  20. truth March 29, 2012 / 8:47 pm
    Minority on minority crime and we have drama across the nation because the victim was black.  Why in the hell don’t these protesters get a little pissed at the black on black crime we have?  Or even the white on white?  How about we deal with ignorant people as ignorant people, without bringing race into it.  Where were the protests and rage here: http://www.fox19.com/Global/story.asp?S=4653826 .  Same tragic situation…a kid died.
     
    This isn’t about race.  It is only about race when those ignorant to the situation or the system want “justice” for apparent “injustices”.  What about this case:
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders_of_Channon_Christian_and_Christopher_Newsom
     
    Let the facts come out.  If it can be proven that there was a “hate crime”, prosecute it as such.  Until then, we all, on both sides, are ignorant to actually went on, we speculate and fuel the fire that drives hate across this nation.
     
    We create more problems in this country because of ideas and not fact.  If the juvenile was shot because he attacked an adult, so be it.  If the adult shot the juvenile without just cause, prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.  The hate that stems from these incidents is clearly why our county will always have issues regarding to race.
     
    The squeaky wheel gets the grease and we spend way too much time catering to the squeaky wheels.

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  21. Bubba Jones March 30, 2012 / 12:01 am
    >>> Again, all those who marked me bozos are ignorant to the law.  <<< – Gary

    I marked you as “Bozo” on all of your posts in this thread, Gary.  Apparently you are now a legal scholar so would you mind enlightening me (and the others) as to the finer points of applicable law in this matter?  I am eagerly awaiting your explanation.

    Of course, you obviously had a close, personal relationship with the person who was shot since you constantly refer to him as “Tray”.  I haven’t heard anyone involved in this case, including his parents, refer to him using that name. 

    >>> Do the severity of his injuries merit or justify a self defense of shooting Martin? <<< – Joe 

    That’s an interesting comment, Joe.  Without speaking directly to this case, at what point during an ass-kicking should the person who’s getting his ass kicked allowed to use his firearm?

    I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV, but based on what I’ve read and what I’ve been told in classes/seminars that I’ve attended, here’s how Ohio works….  As far as I know, Ohio does not have the “Stand Your Ground” law that Florida has, although Ohio does recognize the “Castle Doctrine”.  In a nutshell, that’s the old “A man’s home is his castle… and he’s allowed to defend it” idea.  In Ohio, the Castle Doctrine also includes your car.  Ohio also has something called “Duty To Retreat” (if the terminology is not exact, it’s close) which says that if you feel threatened, you have a duty to leave the threatening situation, IF POSSIBLE, before you use deadly force to defend yourself.  The duty to retreat does not include your “castle” (ie – your home or your car).  So, If I’m walking down the street and I see a gang of thugs approaching me, I should do what I can to avoid the situation –  turn around, cross the street, etc.  If I do that and I find myself being pursued by the gang of thugs, AND I FEEL THAT MY LIFE IS IN DANGER, I am allowed to use deadly force to defend myself.  Again, the duty to retreat does not apply to your home or your car.  If I’m in my car, stopped at an intersection and all of the sudden someone opens my car door and tries to get in and I feel that my life could be in danger, I can use deadly force to stop that person, even if they haven’t laid a hand on me.  The same goes for my home. 

    I can also use deadly force to aid someone whose life is in danger, but I don’t have a duty or an obligation to do so.  In other words, if I am in a convenience store and someone comes in to the store with a gun and is in the process of holding up the clerk at gunpoint, I may use my weapon to come to the aid of that clerk – but I am under no obligation to do so.

    But, what do I know?  Apparently I’m just a guy living in cowboy times who would rather be judged by 12 men then carried by 6.  I will be relying on the esrati.com legal expert, Mr. Gary, to fully explain the law to me. 

    >>> I think he’s guilty! <<< – Gary
    Well, that’s good enough for me!! 

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  22. Hall March 30, 2012 / 4:25 pm
    @Joe, the video of him at the police station is just the latest controversy to muddy the waters. You mention he could have been treated at the scene, but according to his (Zimmerman) version, besides being punched in the nose, Trayvon “slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, leaving him bloody and battered”. I think if that occurred, the EMS folks would insist on him going to the hospital.

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  23. Hall March 30, 2012 / 4:27 pm
    @Bubba: My analogy of this, specifically the self-defense claim is: If I pick a fight with you, get some punches in, then you start whipping my ass soundly and definitively, I have no right to pull out a gun, shoot you, and then claim “self-defense”.

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  24. truth March 30, 2012 / 4:34 pm
    Hall…any victim with injuries can refuse medical treatment unless implied consent occurs.  In this case, he was conscious and speaking, therefore he can refuse treatment no matter how bad his condition.

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  25. Gary March 31, 2012 / 4:33 pm
    I concede my position on this one, to God, Reverend Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson … The man might get away with murder; and a 17 year old kid is gone.  Go ahead and bozo me all u want.

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  26. Gary April 26, 2012 / 8:20 pm
    Here comes the judge!

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