Commentary by Bill Buchanan
You know, you would think that as much practice with killing as we have had in this country, we would be able to get it right. I am speaking of the Trayvon Martin fiasco that has dominated the news lately. There is so much incompetence, hyperbole and deception in this case, it is hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the police. Florida, like many other states has a “stand your ground” law, which allows a person to use deadly force when faced with the threat of serious injury or death from another person or persons. That sounds reasonable. If someone attacked me or a loved one, I would be justified in using whatever force necessary to repel the attack. While I don’t mean to convict George Zimmerman, as so many have already done, the early reports do not seem to indicate that Zimmerman was directly threatened by Trayvon Martin. Rather, 911 tape transcripts indicate that Zimmerman followed Martin, even after he was instructed not to do so by the 911 operator. If this is accurate, Zimmerman was not exactly “standing his ground.” It sounds as if he was stalking and perhaps confronting Martin rather than the other way around. If so, how could the police possibly justify not placing Zimmerman under arrest? Years before, Zimmerman was charged with “resisting an officer with violence” and “battery of a law enforcement officer.” Zimmerman’s ex-fiancée also filed a restraining order against him, alleging domestic violence. This does not convict him, but he doesn’t appear to be Gandhi either. Given his record, how could the police simply allow him to go free? Then, adding fuel to the fire, factor in Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Spike Lee. These men, and others like them, have called for protests, rallies and demonstrations. Spike Lee gave out Zimmerman’s address so he could be hounded by the public. Unfortunately, he gave out the wrong address. Consequently, an innocent elderly couple was continually berated and threatened. I hope they have a good attorney. As for Al and Jesse, the main goal here is not to address injustice or racial bias. The main concern seems to be “exactly how much publicity can we get out of this?” I would feel much safer coming between a suicide bomber and his target than coming between Jesse or Al and a TV camera. At least with the bomber, you have a chance. These are the same guys who have been virtually silent about young black men being murdered by other young black men, a problem of epidemic proportions in our country. Where is their outrage and anger on that issue? Why are they not holding rallies to try to stem that violence? Additionally, let’s not forget our old pal, the national media. Just when you think the national media has slashed its standards as much as it can, it digs the hole a little deeper. First, there were the comments by that editorial embarrassment, Geraldo Rivera. Rivera claimed that the “hoodie” worn by Martin was as responsible for his death as the shooter himself. He later issued a weak apology for his inane remarks. Finally, there are the photos. The national media has almost unlimited resources. But rather than obtain current photos of the two men involved, both photos which were initially released of both men were several years old. In Trayvon Martin’s case, it makes him appear much younger, and more vulnerable. In George Zimmerman’s case, he is shown in an old 2005 booking photo. He is overweight, unshaven, and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. They might as well put a big “I am guilty” label across it. The photo is in stark contrast to more recent photos that have surfaced. It is an intentionally manipulative attempt by the media to sway public opinion and try the case before it gets into the court system. It is pitiful and insulting to the American public. There are many issues in this case that deserve serious consideration and discussion. But instead of using this tragic event to have constructive discourse about legal, racial and criminal issues that confront our country, it has disintegrated into a media circus. That is sad. You would think that with as many senseless killings as we have in this country, we would know what to do. Unfortunately, we can be assured of getting a lot more practice.