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The Real Side | Commentary by Joe Messina
| Monday, Jul 15, 2013

joemessinamugIs anyone really surprised at the outcome? I don’t mean that from the cynical viewpoint of “what the white man did to the black man.” I mean it from an honest, level-headed attempt to apply the actual law – not justice as you perceive it to be.

The plain, simple fact is that the prosecution failed to convince the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that George Zimmerman set out and planned to kill Trayvon Martin. Period.

The prosecution also failed to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman put himself in a position where he could “take out” this teenager and use Florida’s “stand your ground” law to get away with it. Again, period.

Is this case about the letter of the law or social justice? Let me start by saying: I do not believe George Zimmerman had been salivating, fantasizing and hoping to be able to kill a black person. I just don’t buy it. His life showed no shred of evidence of hatred toward blacks.

Some have bought into the hype that Zimmerman willingly told the 9-1-1 operator that the boy was black, and it was one of his main descriptors. That’s not true. In fact, the NBC “Morning Show” doctored up the video to make it look like that. Zimmerman actually said initially that he didn’t know what color Martin was, but he was asked a few more times by the 9-1-1 operator trying to get more information.

Too many onlookers are victims of sound bites. This racist, black-hating, Hispanic, self-proclaimed protector of his universe actually had a black girlfriend in high school and took her to the prom. It was documented that he tutored kids in reading, among them many black children. He helped organize and raise money for a black family whose child was in need of medical care. Is this racist backwards day? Maybe.

Let’s be honest about this. I don’t know the man. I don’t know if he came from or worked in a neighborhood where violence runs rampant, or the violence is perpetrated by young black men or young Asian men or young white men. None of us know.

Is it really racism to be afraid of someone in a hoodie, walking toward you late at night, with his or her head down? No.

What if you read that in your neighborhood, there had recently been several violent acts carried out at night by people in hoodies? And someone fitting that description approached you? Would you have been afraid?

What if someone in my area wearing a hoodie beat the tar out of me, took my wallet and car keys, and left me for dead? Now, when I walk down the street, I’m afraid and ready to defend myself, especially if someone approaching me is wearing a hoodie. So am I now a racist?

If you’ve answered “yes,” thinking that any of these scenarios smell of racism, it just goes to show how misused the word has become.

What is racism? It is usually defined as “views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races, and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior.”

I call those who commit violent crimes “thugs,” regardless of whether they wear hoodies. They are not part of a biological group. They are just people who’ve decided they will get what they want through whatever illegal means necessary, and too bad for you.

Trayvon Martin didn’t deserve to die for simply being in the wrong place while wearing a hoodie. He didn’t deserve to die for being a young black man in a strange neighborhood. He didn’t deserve to die for the way he may have spoken to Zimmerman. He didn’t deserve to die for the actions of that night.

It was a horrible tragedy. But there are two tragedies that took place: the death of a young man for what might have been all the wrong reasons, and the prosecution of another man because of political pressure.

The Justice Department looked at this last year and took no action, meaning it saw no basis for a case. The sheriff looked at the case and found nothing. The courts have now looked at this and found nothing.

The legal system, like it or not, worked. But it seems like the Jessie Jacksons and Al Sharptons aren’t going to give up until they get their own special brand of justice. Both reverends have forgotten what the book they follow says: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority,” and “vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” And then there’s “Do not repay evil with evil.”

If a real wrong has been done here, reverends, don’t you think your Lord can hand out a better, more just outcome than you can? Isn’t calling for any kind of violence in any way against your good book?

At the end of the day, all we have managed to do is stir up anger on all sides of the issue.

We need to revisit these kinds of laws and make sure they are written properly, so when actions are taken in these situations, they can be handled fairly and quickly.

My heart goes out to both families. Each has a lot to deal with.

The worst thing that could happen is more violence and more deaths. That will do nothing to heal us and will only make things worse.

 

Joe Messina is host of The Real Side (TheRealSide.com), a nationally syndicated talk show that runs on AM-1220 KHTS radio and SCVTV [here]. He is also an elected member of the Hart School Board. His commentary normally publishes Mondays.

 

 

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