WE CAN BREAK FREE OF RACE GRIEVANCE TREACHERY
PART 1 OF 4: COURAGE WHEN FEELINGS AND FACTS REFUSE TO COALESCE
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”- John Adams
The deaths of Oscar Grant and Trevon Martin were heartbreaking for their families and emotionally dismembering for the nation. Grant, a former convicted drug dealer who’d recently been fired from his job, encountered transit police to include officer Johannes Mehserle, after disembarking from public transportation. Martin, a high school student living of late in a new community with his father, encountered George Zimmerman upon returning from a local 7-Eleven store.
The tragic deaths of these young men were precipitated by wholly unnecessary violent confrontations. The circumstances and documentary evidence overwhelmingly establish the deadly malfeasance of officer Johannes Mehserle. Whether one accepts officer Mehserle’s account that he mistakenly drew his Service Revolver rather than his Taser as intended, he was found guilty of involuntary-manslaughter; the transit operator also conceded to its financially liability.
The circumstances and documentary evidence proved considerably less convincing with regard to George Zimmerman’s actions during his encounter with teenager Trevon Martin. Nevertheless, Trevon’s death call laws that allow a person carrying a concealed weapon to effectively execute an unarmed and likely unsuspecting adversary into question. Laws that don’t compel more than a modicum of responsibility to mitigate the use of deadly force are certifiably more barbaric than enlightened.
The Facts didn’t rise to Humane Standards justifying Deadly Force
Media pundits have always expertly sliced and diced (“spin”) the facts until they comport with the passions of the moment or predilections of the season. As always, facts that fail to support specific positions, are first excoriated and then recast, or dismissed as unthinking and out of touch with authentic-reality. Media pundits demand that disagreeable facts, to include eyewitness testimony and incontrovertible forensic evidence, comport by any means necessary with their vision of authentic-reality.
We should all learn from the painful but heroic example set by Zimmerman juror B29 (the only juror of color) during deliberations, who stated, “in our hearts we felt he was guilty…but we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence”. We should also be concerned by the since of inerrancy we feel when tempted to disregard cogent but inconvenient facts. We should all pray for juror B29’s peace of mind.
It takes Courage to embrace Fact and Law over Intuition and Passion
Media pundits are well capable of fomenting righteous indignation, especially when calamity is borne on the wings of ethnic, gender, political, or economic grievance (e.g. Simpson, Peterson, Lewinsky, and Madoff). Media punditry is not dependent on the quality of laws on the books, nor judicial outcome, one way or the other. This is especially true where both racial animus (they’re still accosting members of our group) and indignation (they’re still refusing to exact justice on the assailants) can be brought to bear. In America, animus and indignation arising from conflicts between white people and people of color are perfect storms, summoning legacy issues and agendas on deck.
Some purported facts put forward by media pundits and repeated by many preceding the Zimmerman trial, gave rise to a hurricane of “community” inspired passion (athletes and politicians don hoodies); critical elements were contradicted by trial testimony, both for and against Zimmerman. The flash point of the charges and subsequent case: George Zimmerman was presented by national news organizations making overtly racist statements on a 911 audiotape. This very same audiotape was subsequently confirmed by Newsbusters to have been altered and first aired by NBC.
While NBC fired three people involved in altering the 911 audiotape, it apparently didn’t feel sufficient regret to acknowledge the travesty on air; a lawsuit filed against NBC has yet to be heard in court. State Attorney Prosecutors also withheld incriminating evidence (emails, text, and photos) form the Zimmerman defense team and fired their IT manager who disclosed the redaction; they subsequently faced sanctions in U.S. District Court. Contemporary media pundit culture requires everything to be red or blue, black or white, and facts to be for or against, no matter that facts by their nature are void of allegiance. No matter, the story stopped leading when it stopped bleeding.
Facts must either comport with pundit supposition or face the spin cycle