Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman has claimed its second victim: in his attempt to rationalize his odd (but fashionable!) sense of justice, Atlantic senior editor Robert Wright has lost his mind.
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the facts of the case are basically as Zimmerman's defenders claim: Zimmerman killed Martin because Martin was beating him up and Zimmerman felt his life was in danger. Even so, it seems to me that Zimmerman should do jail time for killing Martin.
Here are some things we know about the case:
1) A man with a gun pursued an unarmed teenager who had done nothing wrong.
I am going to clean up this post and re-present it, but the gist is, Zimmerman's initial and final locations are near the Retreat at Twin Lakes clubhouse; the location consistent with his verbal directions to his parked car was near the final shooting. So what kind of "pursuit" are we talking about if Zimmerman scarcely moved?
2) The man with the gun initiated a confrontation with the teenager. I realize that we don't know exactly how any fight between Zimmerman and Martin started. And we never will, because only Zimmerman knows the details, and he's not exactly unbiased. But by my lights, if you pursue an innocent, law-abiding citizen, thereby giving him or her reason to believe that you mean them harm -- and reason to conclude that their self-defense may require fighting--you have initiated a confrontation. Zimmerman will presumably depict his role in the encounter as passive. That testimony should count for roughly nothing, but in any event I'd say that even if it's true, he still initiated a confrontation just by pursuing a guy in the dark until he caught up with him.
So Zimmerman initiated the confrontation by walking in the same neighborhod as Trayvon Martin. There is no serious dispute that Zimmerman had the legal right to an evening stroll in his own neighborhood - the suggestion from the police dispatcher that he not pursue Martin was not some sort of a lawful order he must obey, and in any case, Zimmerman claims to have complied (an assertion backed by the map.)
But enough about Zimmerman; let's talk about me. I regularly walk in my neighborhood - it is great exercise, and I have the old BP to worry about. From time to time I find myself (due no doubt to my vigor) overtaking other pedestrians.
I am not a physically daunting specimen but I do give off a certain Eastwood-esque vibe of mystery and danger. OK, some say it is more of a Sean Connery thing, but Clint works for me, and I digress. Per the new Wright rules of engagement, if I am overtaking some ardent feminist well versed in the theories of male violence, I have every reason to expect a face full of mace as I approach her, yes? This is America, I have threatened her by overtaking her, and what should I expect?
In a different world, I might hope that she would address her fears by running into the street to flag down a car, or calling for help, or dialling 911, or running to a nearby house and pleading for assistance against my imagined depredations but in WrightWorld a face full of mace is her logical response.
Wow. If you feel threatened, punch back hard! Is this what Democrats are teaching in diversity training these days?
More, my emphasis:
Still, do we want to live in a society where somebody with a gun can chase down an unarmed, law-abiding citizen, presumably scaring them to death, then kill them after a fight unsurprisingly breaks out--and still get off scot-free? Do you want every wannabe cop in America reading that this sort of thing is legal? Do you think America's actual cops want to live in a world like that?
Tough questions. Do we want to live in a world where every pedestrian is maced or shot every time a woman unsurprisingly feels threatened? Do we want to live in a world where young men are encouraged to beat down anyone that worries them rather than - just thinking out loud here - use their cell phone to call 911, or call their dad and ask him to step out on the porch, or just hoof it in the opposite direction; all these strategies were open to Trayvon Martin and, scared to death though he may have been, he wasn't scared enough to use his cell phone or to stay away from Zimmerman.
And I am only talking about pedestrians; what sort of dystopia would WrightWorld create for joggers? Is that young guy coming up behind me just getting a bit of cardio, or is launching himself for an assault? Better hose him down with mace pre-emptively, and deliver a little bootwork to make sure! Bob Wright can lead the protests on my behalf.
Well - normally Mr. Wright is a sensible if unrelenting lefty. Perhaps after a moment's reflection he will get over his goal of reenacting the Hunger Games on the mean streets of every city in America and come home to common sense. And here in CommonSenseville, when a person feels threatened by a stranger fights are still surprising Why? Because there are many intermediate steps available to people who feel threatened that are appropriate and even more effective at preventing violence than punching the threat in the face, jumping on top of them and beating their head against the sidewalk.
I am planting my flag on the previously uncontroversial ground that says I can walk my neighborhood and even exchange words with strangers without expecting violence.
CLASSIC SNEER FROM A STATIST: Yes, I noticed this:
[Zimmerman] knew he was violating the rules of the Neighborhood Watch game...
Yeah, there had been thirteen police incidents in January and February (eight burglaries, two bike thefts and three simple assaults); it would be much less of a game if the elderly Mrs. Wright lived there, but the young Mr. Wright feels safe in a world where, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. Because he will punch out the lights of anyone who threatens him. Unsurprisingly.
The Neighborhood Watch game - are we having fun yet?
COULD YOU REPEAT THE QUESTION? What that? Did I ever think I'd see the day when liberals would be rationalizing this sort of street thuggery? Well, it's not thuggery if the cause is just, which is why the Occupy violence is rarely reported. Still, when Mr. Wright discovers that, per his voter registration, George Zimmerman is a Democrat and self-identified Hispanic, I don't want to be his chiropractor (hmm, the risk is whiplash, not spine-stiffening... my Pesci-esque air of mystery is taking over.)