May 19th, 2012 § 1 Comment
Every time I hear something about the Trayvon Martin case, I feel sick to my stomach. There is no case, ever, in which it's okay that a 17 year old dies of a gunshot wound.
Part of what angers me is the case itself. George Zimmerman may very well have felt his life was in danger when he fired that gun. Trayvon Martin may very well have broken Zimmerman's nose and banged his head on the ground. But Zimmerman was following this boy, with a gun. He was told to stay put and he followed a boy, who as a young black man probably felt threatened in ways a young white man (or middle aged white woman) can understand.
Zimmerman was told to stay put and had a habit of calling the police when he saw young black men around the neighborhood. He may not think of himself as racist, and I doubt he's akin to an avowed white supremacist. But there seems to be a pattern of behavior that smells of racial profiling.
But my strongest objections lately have been the way the press has played up the fact that Trayvon Martin had apparently smoked marijuana the night he was killed. According to a study in the April 2012 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, four-fifths of teenagers try illicit drugs before they turn 18. And black kids? They're the least likely of all to use them. Casting him as a drug abusing thug of a black kid -- to even imply it -- is a leap too far. Are the drugs in his system valid? I suppose in a legal sense. But put it in context. Are these drugs that might change his behavior and make him more volatile or violent? Doubtful. There are tons of kids out there who use drugs who aren't bad kids, thugs, or trouble makers. That he had an occasional doobie tells you nothing about him other than that he's like the some 40 percent of other 17 year olds in this country.
This case is an easy one to jump to conclusions about, and it's one where many many people have jumped to conclusions. Stop it and stop feeding it. It's a tragedy on all sides, and one that didn't have to happen.