Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stranger Than Fiction - RIP Trayvon Martin

After the night Trayvon Martin died at the hands of George Zimmerman, various pieces of information emerged that are indisputable facts. This is largely due to research by those other than the police department assigned to the case. They seem for some reason to have done the bare minimum, if that. George Zimmerman is the only living person who can reveal the entire truth of what happened. Perhaps he will eventually be pressed to give full disclosure. That is my hope. In an ideal world, or at least a fair one, those details would be revealed before a judge and jury.

As a writer of fiction I am interested not only in the usefulness of facts, but also in the power of imagination. Until Lady Justice puts that blindfold back on that never should have been removed in the first place, allowing George Zimmerman to improbably be free from custody, we are left to connect the dots for ourselves.

When writing a story I often start with the conclusion, then jump to the beginning and try to figure out how to get back to the end. I do not write the stuff of fantasy, so the progression of events I concoct needs to be logical. No matter how fantastic the tale may be, my goal is to make it realistic, plausible.

Knowing what I do about the tragic end of Trayvon Martin’s life, this is my best guess as to how it came about. George Zimmerman is a zealot, looking for trouble and happiest when it’s found. He saw a young black man that he did not recognize. Seeing himself as a sort of Wild West sheriff on account of his involvement in a loosely organized neighborhood watch program, he decided to take matters into his own hands. This was against the instructions of a 911 operator who advised him to stay put. George saw himself as someone who gives orders, not takes them. When you’re carrying a concealed weapon it’s particularly easy to assume the role of bully.

Like many kids, Trayvon saw himself as more or less immortal, invincible. The Hispanic/White looking guy who stalked him perhaps made him nervous, but even more so, really pissed him off. What was this guy’s problem? Who did he think he was? Unable to restrain himself, George directly confronts Trayvon who at most had been willing to pick up his pace but for damn sure was not about to run from this clown. “Who are you? What are you doing here?” I’m guessing George did not ask very politely. Trayvon could have explained that he was visiting the home of his father’s girlfriend, given her name and address, proven that he was precisely where he belonged. But he didn’t know that George was carrying a concealed weapon, or that he was mentally unstable, which is my personal diagnosis. Trayvon only knew that some jerk was bothering him, making ignorant racist assumptions about him, refusing to mind his own business. An insult no doubt was hurled by one of them, followed by return verbal fire. No major harm in that. But Trayvon was exasperated by having to defend himself when all he was doing was walking down a street with snack food. He didn’t have time for this fool. Possibly he feared that Zimmerman was not actually suspicious of him, but rather, that the large man was going to try to molest or even kidnap him. Perhaps George grabbed at him first or maybe the highly irritated Trayvon just thought to himself “F this nonsense” and got the physical contact started with a quick punch. Sure the guy was bigger and probably stronger than him, but young people are impetuous. They also know that the first punch to land is often the one that finishes matters. Not in this case though. No matter how well Trayvon started off in the tussle he was destined to lose it so long as George was able to get to his gun. Perhaps George honestly feels that he was merely defending himself when he pulled the trigger, especially if he spent a fair portion of the battle on the losing end, ignoring the fact that the fight was needlessly caused by his own provocation.

That’s how I figure it went down, but I’m just a second hand storyteller who was nowhere near the scene of the crime. If things eventually work out the way they are supposed to in the land of the free and home of the brave, George Zimmerman will need to answer for his actions on that fateful night. In the meantime, Trayvon’s family and loved ones along with those of us on the outside are left longing for justice. Many are angry, which is difficult to find blameworthy. I won’t get preachy and advise people not to make blanket accusations, not to blame many for the behavior of just a few. Too early for that. It’s natural to immediately lash out when you’re hurt.

George Zimmerman has some explaining to do, so does the police department, and I’d also toss in those who passed a law that gives people freedom to act out their darkest fantasies and then use a handy get-out-of-jail-free self defense claim. Of course this is infuriating to anyone who has ever been profiled, ever had assumptions made about them on account of their melanin count. This will be the case even if your guess at how that night played out is different than my hypothesis, or your views about race relations or gun control are a far cry from my own.

I trust we can all agree at the very least that the right to walk down a street minding your own business is not one that anyone in the United States of America should ever have to fight for, much less die for. I’ve strolled down my fair share of dark streets alone with my thoughts. So far I’ve lived to tell the tale, but as the saying goes – There, but for the grace of God, go I.

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Since I wrote the hypothesis above, the picture has come into much clearer focus. Some of the assumptions made by myself and others were right, some were wrong.

Those who felt that the initial evidence overwhelmingly pointed to George Zimmerman needing to be arrested were right.

Those who felt that the color of Trayvon Martin’s skin played a major part in his death were in all probability right.

Did his hoodie play a part as well? You’d have to ask George Zimmerman. But I think the brown face beneath the hood is what mattered most.

Yet if you felt this was a simple case of blatant racism at work, you were somewhat off base because this case is anything but simple.

For one, Trayvon Martin was black but George Zimmerman is no more white than President Obama, that is, half.

But even if his family tree was 100% white, that’s not why George received preferential treatment, why a cover up took place.

This was not a matter of “since the killer is white & the victim is black, let the killer go”. Some suggested as much but that’s too simple a take.

Zimmerman had connections that resulted in him being protected. I suspected he might be an informant. Turns out his dad’s a former judge.

Orders came down from lead prosecutor to chief of police to officers on the case. Accept Zimmerman’s story. Don’t poke around for confirmation.

It never made sense that the cops felt they lacked sufficient evidence to hold Zimmerman, even if you accepted lies told to us as gospel.

Once again I state my battle cry of ARREST ZIMMERMAN. But at this point I would not be surprised if George is Gone Baby Gone.

If you're one of those who felt Zimmerman remained free because he most likely was innocent, I'd say that you were seeing what you wanted to see, refusing to accept that racism played a major part.

But not just race. This is a story about CORRUPTION. And about a life needlessly lost. And about a fight for justice that Trayvon's parents have bravely fought.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wishful Thinking

Can anything replace Linmania, particularly in New York City, as the biggest story in the history of sports (until the next one comes along, that is)? Certainly. I wouldn't be shocked if Jeremy Lin isn't even the Knicks starting point guard a month from now (minimal regression is allowable with teams now having a full scouting report on him, otherwise Baron Davis may still ascend to the throne as originally planned), but if Lin continues to excel he'd still need to compete for headlines if a certain Manning brother decided to sign with a certain New York football team. Can I picture both Mannings playing their home games in the same stadium? Intellectually I cannot. There are just too many impediments. The Jets can't afford Peyton and Peyton possibly cannot afford to take another big hit. As intrigued as I am by the idea of one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks being under center for my team (just as I was the last time), this time around I think the Jets may be better off sticking with the cards in hand. Mark Sanchez had a rough junior year campaign but that doesn't mean he can't and won't rebound as a senior and go on to have a great career. New York is an impatient place as the Manning brother with the most amount of Super Bowl rings can attest, so there's temptation for the team with less championship banners to make it Peyton's Place. But sometimes the game plan of the tortoise is superior to that of the hare. Regardless of whether this is one of those times or not, medical reports and Peyton's wishlist will probably be the determining factors rather than any sales pitch the Jets make. So I won't spend much time envisioning what the elder Manning brother would look like in a Jets uniform, especially since thanks to photoshop I don't even need to waste any imagination.

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