Rage, and that Zimmerman verdict

Any woman who’s ever had PMS knows what it feels like to want to shoot people in the face. Any man who’s ever had his ego threatened during some sort of testosterone overload (I’m convinced men get these hormone imbalances, just less reliably than women do) also knows this moment.

Anyone who knows me knows that my fatal flaw is my very hot temper.

RAGE! Found this while scouting a location for my thesis film. It's in an old juvenile detention center, so I thought oh, and invented this "rage room" where they put kids they couldn't handle, to calm down.

RAGE! Found this while scouting a location for my thesis film. It’s in an old juvenile detention center, so I thought oh, and invented this “rage room” where they put kids they couldn’t handle, to calm down.

The problem with rage is how you just can’t see clearly through its red haze. Although the initial reason for it may be somewhat justified, the next mental step takes you to crazy land. Crazy land is the land of assumptions, self justification, and sometimes violence (usually the worst I do is punch a mirror. Occasionally I go so far as to post something ill advised on facebook, twitter or by email. I haven’t hit anyone since I was a kid…)

All got me thinking: How many degrees of separation are there between the average person (of any race) and say, George Zimmerman? I also know there are plenty of ordinarily peaceful people out there, people who believe in non-violence, who are anti the death penalty, who might lose it with him were they to run into him in a dark alleyway. And the trial verdict has definitely raised the anger levels of ordinary people on the street.

IMG_8637

OHHHH…. STORage. I wonder, is this a sign is telling that sometimes, maybe usually, it’s a good idea to keep it all in until you know a little bit more about what’s really going on?

I do know I’ve seen people react two ways to the trial verdict, which I wrote about in my column for News24 this week. Most black / African-Americans have had their whole lives to consider the issues and were very quick to post. Most (but not all) people of other ethnicities were confused and silent. Not because they agreed with the verdict, but because they had no idea how to make any sense of it. Ignorances is not always bliss. Sometimes it just blindsides you. Let’s hope that if anything comes of this horrible injustice, it’s that people stop pretending racism isn’t real.

Someone – a colleague in film here – posted on Facebook about it.

I was really hurt and offended at first. Had she not read my comment?

I was really hurt and offended at first and irritated by the nonsensical “all or none”. Which is it? Had she not read my comment earlier that day?

No, she hadn’t read my comment, or many others. But, in gross generalization terms, she was right. What she later highlighted in response to some level headed comments from another friend, is more true. She has to deal with this every day. I don’t – even as a third generation foreigner I’m questioned less about my country of origin than President Obama is about his. I’ve resisted this truth at times. But it seems pointless to in the light of what just happened.

Finally, this is depressing… Advertising kinda sucks too.

Why am I being offered info about crime? This happened all the time on Facebook while I was dating a black guy.

Check out the advertising: Why am I being offered info about crime? This happened all the time on Facebook while I was dating a black guy.

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One Response to “Rage, and that Zimmerman verdict”

  1. Jim Fath Says:

    Hi Jean,
    Interesting article. I too noticed a shift in peoples reaction to this case on Facebook. I am one of those white people who didn’t say that much when the verdict came out. Outside of gripping that so many of my liberal and conservative friends were overnight lawyers on facebook, I tried to sort of ignore the whole thing because the case was, in my view, weak and the verdict didn’t surprise me that much. I’m not saying I’m happy about the verdict or the situation. I’m just saying I was not shocked when it was announced. The prosecution had little to work with. Their very own witnesses ended up helping Zimmerman’s case.

    The bottom line, for me, was that two dudes got in a fight, one killed the other with a gun that Florida said he was legally allowed to carry. He claimed self-defense and, with the evidence presented, it was impossible to to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, who initiated the assault that ultimately lead to the gun being used.

    Getting out of your car to follow someone was not considered assault nor characterized as provocation of assault. That’s why I believe he was acquitted and why I wasn’t surprised that 2nd degree murder was waived off. I thought that he MIGHT get manslaughter but SYG really makes that case difficult if you can’t prove who started the assault.

    So then what? The confrontation? Since Zimmerman followed him couldn’t the confrontation be be considered him starting the assult? If confrontation were assault, Westboro Baptist church would continuously be in jail. Following someone on a public street is also not assault. So, without a clear witness, we’re left with that argument?

    However racially motivated Zimmerman may or may not have been to follow Treyvon Martin. The act alone is not assault and this was argued early on in the trial. You are free to follow who ever you like on a public street. You are free to say whatever you want. And, in Florida, you are free to carry a gun. I’m not advocating the laws, just trying to see how a jury saw it based on what was said in court, that’s all.

    So the whole Zimmerman is a racist thing.

    I understand the implication racial profiling had in this case but the question remains “How do you prove Zimmerman got out of his car because he was racist?” I’m not saying he isn’t, I’m saying how do you prove in court that’s what motivated his decision to get out of his car?

    He very well could be a racist and said to himself “Hey, there’s a black guy, better follow him.”. In fact he said on the phone with dispatchers “…These punks always get away” (I’m paraphrasing) But how do you prove what he was thinking when he said that? Or when he got out of his car?

    Did he mean all black people are punks and thugs? Was he talking in the past of others How do you prove what he was thinking. And do really we want a criminal justice system to convict someone solely on what we THINK they were motivated by regardless if we can prove it? Because that’s really all the prosecution had after the witness testimony fell apart and painted a confusing account of what actually happened.

    “He got out of his car and he followed him because he was black.” Ok… that’s racist and reprehensible but technically not illegal. I’m not defending the behavior. I’m just saying it’s not illegal. Who started the fight. Who threw the first punch?

    Nobody knows. Well… George Zimmerman knows.

    Because they could not prove who started the fight, the case and all of the coverage was pinned to the very idea that racial profiling is tantamount to assault ergo George Zimmerman assaulted Travon Martin the moment he got out of his car to follow him. To me that’s the dangerous part about this case and the horrid coverage it’s been receiving. The assumptions attached to the outcome.

    The character assassinations from the left and right are emblematic of a nation skewed by a minority of loud naysayers more interested in pushing agendas rather than actually looking at the specific details in this case and dealing with it rationally.

    All my liberal friends tee’d off with outrage immediately following the verdict. Painting Zimmerman as a gun toting bigot who hunts black people. Then, all my conservative friends painted Trayvon as this drug addled malcontent who was out looking for trouble as if the world was a Charles Bronson movie. The media played just as many stupid emotional games as any of my friends on facebook. From using pictures of Trevon as an 11 year old kid to showing him as a typical teen looking more aggressive in an attempt to shock people. No one ever treated these two people as actual people. Instead we got a once sided rubber stamp of who they are. And, really who are you or who we think you are shouldn’t be on trial. It’s what you did and what we can prove you did or did not do that should be on trial.

    Again, the bottom line, to me, is two people got in a fight and one of them had a gun that Florida says he was legally allowed to use to defend himself and it was impossible to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, who initiated the assault that resulted in that gun being used.

    However racially motivated Zimmerman may may or may not have been to get out of his car, I don’t think I could convict him on what I perceived his thoughts to be. And in the absence of all other clear evidence I wasn’t surprised at the outcome.

    I’m not saying racism didn’t have anything to do with this case. I’m not saying Florida has awesome gun laws. I’m saying, in this case, a conviction could not be achieved given the evidence.

    So, what am I missing here? I think I’ve laid out what my perceptions are. I’m trying to look at this as pragmatically as I think I can.

    Genuinely curious.

    Hope you are well…

    ~Jim

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