Tuesday, April 24, 2012

REAL Justice for Trayvon, George, Matthew, and Everyone Else

 I’ve followed the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman drama for a little while now, but haven’t said much. After all, I reasoned, Florida was a long way away, not all the facts are known yet, and this seems to be a relatively isolated incident. To be sure, it’s horrible that a man was shot, but I’m willing to wait and see how things develop before jumping into the fray of public opinion. My hope has been to see this all be sorted out in court and blow over in short order.
Then I wake up and see this:

(Realizing that The Blaze isn't totally objective, I checked the sources too...)


To sum up, a white man, Matthew Owens, was beaten half to death by a largely black mob after exchanging words with some kids playing basketball in the middle of the street where he lives. The kids left and a group of adults returned. Apparently racial slurs were hurled by both sides, and the group beat Matthew Owens with bricks, belts and pipes, among other things, and left him lying in a pool of blood in his own driveway. (Owens, at present, lies in critical condition in the hospital.) An anonymous witness heard Owens begging for the attack to stop and yelling that he was sorry. As the mob left, Owen’s sister overheard one saying to another, “Now THAT’s justice for Trayvon.” 

“Justice for Trayvon.” It’s a phrase that seems to have caught on among certain segments of the population that seem to need to justify unprovoked violence against the unarmed, the weak, the outnumbered, and, dare I say it… the white. Not long ago an elderly man was beaten in Toledo, Ohio by a gang of six young black men, just for being white. The attackers voiced a similar sentiment, that somehow this was revenge for the killing of a black man over a thousand miles away. 

I have several things to say about this, but I’ll limit my comments to the actors directly involved, even though they will likely never read or be aware of them.

First, to Matthew Owens. I am sorry. Whatever you were accused of doing or saying, you did not deserve to be attacked like this. NO ONE deserves to be on the receiving end of such wanton and unprovoked violence. My heart goes out to you, and I wish you a speedy and full recovery. 

To those willing to beat fellow human beings to death in the name of avenging imagined wrongs: I said “fellow human beings”, implying (perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly) that you have some humanity left. I hope you find that part of your humanity again and capitalize on it. Repent, change, and make something of yourselves, and BE human beings. Barring such a change, you are nothing more than brutes; animals who care for nothing, who build nothing, and exist only to hate and destroy. Then again, that may still give you too much credit, for animals, by and large, hunt and kill only in self-defense, or to eat. By attacking an unarmed man you debase yourselves and make yourselves still lower than the animals.

Furthermore, by invoking the name of Trayvon Martin while savagely beating an unarmed, outnumbered man, you serve to undermine the idea of justice. Let justice take its course, and apply it equally. Admit that it's morally reprehensible to kill someone who is not attacking you, be they black, white, hispanic, asian, or anything else. Your appropriation of Martin as a symbol seems to me to serve as only a shallow disguise for a pre-existing bloodlust. It serves as a hollow excuse for your violent acts, and thinking people see through it. If, and I emphasize the IF, Zimmerman was not justified in killing Martin, your violent actions serve only to drag the name of an innocent man through the mud by associating him with further bloodshed. If, on the other hand, Martin’s killing was justified, you wasted time, energy, and the innocent lives of others in support of a violent thug who has already had justice meted out to him as the result of his own violent acts. In either scenario, from a moral standpoint, you lose by committing acts of mayhem in his name.

To the anonymous neighbor who witnessed the beating. I do not know you, nor anyone else involved in this nasty affair, yet you catch my attention the most. You hid behind your door as your neighbor was beaten by a brutal, animalistic gang, but what else did you do? I know, it’s really not fair of me to judge. I wasn’t there, after all, and I don’t know your situation. I do, however, firmly believe the statement often attributed to Edmund Burke- “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Why did you not defend the man you describe as your friend when he was being beaten outside your door? Surely there was something you could have done. Will you be forever haunted by those scenes, and the taunting thought that you might have done something to help? I pick on you, but I wonder where Owens’ other neighbors were during this attack. What did they do to help? If they did nothing, Matthew Owens may want to find a more neighborly neighborhood after he recovers.

And to my neighbors, both present and future, I say this: if I hear you being beaten in your front yard, I will not be hiding behind the door, wringing my hands. I will not spend my life wondering what I could have done to prevent you from being murdered. I will be ordering your attackers off the property with my shotgun, while someone inside my house calls 911 to get the cops and ambulance on the way. I say this, not because I want to feel macho, nor because I relish the thought of armed confrontation, but because it’s the right thing to do. I may not know you, we may not agree on things, we may not even like each other, but in the end, none of that matters. What matters is that you’re my neighbor. 

I hope, were our roles reversed, that you’d be willing to do the same for me.

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