So, I came on here all excited to share my 4th of July fireworks pictures with you. My new camera has a setting specific for bulb mode (which allows you to control how long the shutter is open) instead of having to finagle a bunch of settings and make it happen, and on the 4th of July I put it to the test with sparklers and fireworks. The pictures turned out so cool.
But I really have some things weighing on my mind and need to get them off my chest.
For almost 24 hours now, my brow has been in a permanent furrow. Last night the jury in the George Zimmerman case found him not guilty. I support this decision 100%. And what's got me all furrowed is that apparently my opinion is in the minority. And apparently this makes me a racist. Because somehow, this was a case about racism.
None of that could be further from the truth. Me - prejudiced - yes. I'll concede that I'm prejudiced. We all are, and you're lying if you say you're not. You're not looking deep enough into yourself. But I have never applied blanket judgments to any race or creed or orientation or denomination or anything. When this case first came into the news over a year ago, I believed what the media wanted me to believe. That a white guy gunned down an innocent black kid. A kid. As a mother, the loss of a child's life will never be lost on me. And to lose a child in such a violent way - suffice it to say I could not imagine. I could not imagine the internal breaking that my body would have to endure. I just couldn't.
But the trial was a public trial. It was broadcasted on TV and via live stream on the internet. When Aaron and I were in Baltimore a few weeks ago, it was the first week of the trial. Our routine in Baltimore had been to get up early and go out for breakfast and walk around and do a bunch of stuff and go back to the hotel room in the early afternoon, exhausted by the heat, and flip on the TV and relax. The first day we landed on a channel covering the Zimmerman trial. I hadn't even known that the trial was starting, and I love watching trials and things like Dateline and 48 Hours so I was immediately absorbed. It was the first week of the trial.
By the third day of me watching the trial - which, may I remind you, was the beginning, so it was the prosecution putting on its case - Aaron and I were saying to each other, gee, you know, it actually DOES sound like self-defense. Neither of us had believed self-defense at first. At all. But when the prosecution puts people on the stand that supports the defense - and not just one person, but witness after witness called by the prosecution gave statements that supported the defense - well it just had to make one wonder.
Back at work the following week, I listened to the trial live stream. Every second I was at my desk, I had the headphones on, listening intently. I didn't get much work done. I was continually appalled at how bad the prosecution's case was. I actually felt embarrassed for them.
The only thing I can concede that George Zimmerman was guilty of was getting out of his car. Yes, maybe he should have stayed in his car. If you believe it the way he tells it, he was getting an address for the dispatcher he was talking to, so they could send a patrol car to the area to handle the situation. He was heading back to his car when he was confronted by Trayvon Martin. This is when everything changes.
This is when, the fact that he got out of his car doesn't matter. He had every right to get out of his car. Just as Trayvon had every right to be on that bike path, Zimmerman had every right to get out of his car. Nothing illegal about either. Public property. A 911 dispatcher doesn't have any authority over anyone. Yes, he said "We don't need you to follow him, sir", and Zimmerman's response: "OK". So he turns around to go back to his car.
This is where it turns from "Zimmerman was pursuing an innocent kid", to the act that Zimmerman was prosecuted for.
Zimmerman was on his way back to his car when confronted from behind by Trayvon. Trayvon attacks him. Wrestles him to the ground on his back. Straddles his midsection. Beats Zimmerman about the face for 40 seconds straight (do you know how LONG that is?), slams his head into the pavement, while Zimmerman screamed for help and nobody came.
That all happened, people. There are facts and there is evidence to prove it. An assault happened.
Zimmerman's back was wet and covered in grass. Trayvon Martin's knees were wet and had grass stains. There is a 911 call that documents Zimmerman's cries for help.
Zimmerman pulls a gun and shoots Trayvon. Trayvon dies.
This is a tragedy. No matter how you cut it. A child dies.
But I have to ask.
What if it were me? What if I were Zimmerman? What if a 17 year old kid attacked me like that? Wrestled me to the ground and beat my face, broke my nose, slammed my skull into the pavement? If I was trained in gun handling well enough and could get to it, I'd have pulled my gun on him and shot him too. What am I supposed to do, stick around and wait for it to get worse?
Am I supposed to worry about what people are going to say because I'm white and he's black? Am I supposed to NOT defend myself because of the possibility of being called a racist?
No. I will choose to defend myself.
And if I went to trial and got off, would people pull the race card and say this was a case about racism? It's not racist that a man with black skin attacked me. It's a fact. A man with black skin attacked me. I can't change that fact. It's not racist that a jury exonerated me for shooting someone in self-defense. I saved my life. I was in fear for MY LIFE. It was self-defense.
How is it any different for George Zimmerman? Is it because he's a guy? Do people feel that he should have been able to free himself because he was older and possibly stronger than Trayvon? Yeah? Then you're sexist.
People will say that because I'm a white woman, I would never see a jail cell or go to trial. But if that's their stance, then it's a hypothetical one. And therefore their claims of racism are hypothetical. Nobody can claim to know for certain what would happen if races were reversed, if roles were reversed, etc. You're in hypothetical territory, and your racism is now hypothetical. "Well if it were the other way around -- " oh, so you can predict the future huh? You can predict exactly what would happen if it were me that was attacked? Wait I forgot, I'm a racist. Of course I would be exonerated. (Note sarcasm.)
But while we're all on a hypothetical tear here, let's discuss the hypotheticals more pertinent to the case. Maybe Trayvon should have just ran home. Maybe, if Trayvon really felt like he was being followed and was scared like he told his friend on his cell phone moments before the confrontation that ended his life, maybe he should have hung up with her and called 911 to report a man following him. Instead of putting his phone down and confronting his supposed pursuer, who was walking away from him. Maybe if Trayvon had looked like he was going from point A to point B - store to home - like he was going somewhere in the rain instead of milling about, instead of "lurking" around a neighborhood that had been the target of a recent crime wave, maybe neighborhood watch patrol wouldn't have thought he looked suspicious.
Maybe Zimmerman should have stayed in his car.
Maybe Trayvon should have made a beeline for his house.
If either of them had been smarter, none of this would have happened. But sadly neither of them saw what was coming. So what happened was, this "innocent" kid assaulted a man. Zimmerman did not chase this kid down and gun him down. The prosecution couldn't even contend that that's what happened, like the media wants us to believe. When this case first came out, nobody even knew where the bullet entry wound was, so the media was free to make these claims and mislead the American public. Forensic testing proved that the bullet entered at an angle consistent with Trayvon being on top of Zimmerman. Because Zimmerman was being assaulted, and feared for his life, so he pulled out his gun.
The jury got the case. The jury weighed all the evidence against their instructions on the law. And they found correctly in self-defense. Their decision should be respected.
I would urge people to avoid forming their own opinion on this case until they've read the court transcripts. If all you know is what the media has been reporting from day one - that a white guy killed a black kid - which isn't even 100% right because Zimmerman isn't even WHITE - then you are too ignorant to form an opinion on this, to call for Zimmerman's head on a platter, to say there was no justice for Trayvon. Justice was served here. Know your facts.
I'm so disgusted, disappointed, and angered at the fallout from this verdict. I have to say I didn't really expect it. First of all, I definitely did NOT expect him to be found not guilty - even though I believed he was. I'm glad he was exonerated, given the facts in the case, it's what he deserved. Second of all, apparently I am finding out who my true friends are via this verdict. This verdict has ignited passions in many people, but I respect those who have a different opinion than me - as long as it's well-informed. Personally, I don't know how anyone could have listened to the trial as I did and come away thinking Trayvon Martin was an "innocent kid". If you did - fine - that's you're well-formed, well-educated opinion. But if you only know the 5-second mini version that the media wants you to know, then keep your misinformed opinions to yourself. I've already lost one friend who couldn't tolerate my opinion. Which is extremely sad. Extremely sad, given that I would never consider casting a friend aside based on any opinion they might have about anything.
That really hurts.
On a different note, I have never been happier to not have a Facebook. Twitter has been ridiculous - ridiculous enough I'm considering abstaining from that too. Social media in general is becoming more and more toxic to me. It's suppressing. The misinformation out there is sickening. And the misinformed opinions are even worse. It's depressing. Suppressing and depressing.
To my original subject - happy independence day, George Zimmerman. I hope you and your family find peace.