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Pierce begins: "We have become a nation in which children have become expendable. Trayvon Martin is just the most recent example."

Trayvon Martin. (photo: Family, Trayvon Martin)
Trayvon Martin. (photo: Family, Trayvon Martin)

Trayvon Martin and the End of Excuses

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine

24 March 12


e have become a nation in which children have become expendable. Trayvon Martin is just the most recent example.

We executed children in this country until long after the rest of the world - except Iran - thought that was a good idea. Almost six million children live in poverty in this country. Almost six million of them are without health insurance of any kind, and that's reckoned to be an improvement. None of this is accidental. These children are expendable because the people we elect make policy decisions of which we approve - or, at least, of which we do not disapprove. The Republicans in Congress - behind the "leadership" of zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan - would like to zero out the SCHIP children's health-care program. If they do that, it will not be done by accident. The Florida legislature, behind the leadership of the National Rifle Association, passed the "stand your ground" law, despite the fact that even police and prosecutors were warning that it amounted to a hunting license for anyone who had both a gun, and the ability to concoct a good story. Trayvon Martin is not dead by accident.

But, already, even in the face of widespread outrage, the notion is continuing to circulate through the country, like topical anesthetic working on an open wound, that what happened to Trayvon Martin was, if not entirely accidental, then merely a combination of unfortunate circumstances culminating in an entirely regrettable event. (That's not even to mention the wilder precincts of mouth-breathing public commentary. If you ever needed proof that whatever consulting genius came up with the idea of having a Comments section follow every newspaper story deserves to die a slow and painful death by honey and fire ants, this story is pretty much what you're looking for.) Conservatives caution the president not to "inject race" into the incident any further, because, as we know, we can't tell how much of a factor "race" was, because George Zimmerman was half-Hispanic and because of the backward masking on the Sergeant Pepper album. (I am not kidding.) Geraldo Rivera, looking for relevance in all the wrong places, blames hoodies:

But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was.... Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie.... When you see a black or Latino youngster, particularly on the street, you walk to the other side of the street. You try to avoid that confrontation.

(And every time I see someone convicted of ripping off pension funds, he's wearing a $500 suit. Don't wear $500 suits!)

For his part, the president was calm and measured, because that's the way the president is, and because he is rather circumscribed in what he can say publicly on topics like this because of factors that should be obvious from the Comments section above. Nevertheless, he neatly put Florida's deeply unpopular Republican governor, Rick Scott, on the spot:

"I am glad that not only is the Justice Department looking into this, but the governor of the state of Florida has put together a task force."

Translation: Make it a good one, Rick, because your ass is in this jackpot, too.

Well I certainly don't feel calm and measured, and it's not because my kids "could have been Trayvon." No, they could not have. My kids are white. They lived in the suburbs. They could wear their pants anyway they liked. They could have worn hoodies to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and nobody would have looked askance at them, let alone blown them away with a handgun. (As I recall, I once wore a black hoodie to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.) The worst threat to my children's lives in the big wide world was that some suburban matron who couldn't see over the steering wheel would run them down in the family SUV. They didn't have to worry about running into some trigger-happy, half-mad wannabe on the way home from the convenience store. And that's what keeps me from being calm and measured.

I am sick to death of people who celebrate "the family" making excuses about why other people's children are expendable. I am sick to death of politicians who are more concerned about protecting zygotes than about the teenagers on whom they seek to balance their budgets and advance their careers. (Barney Frank's line about conservatives's believing that life "begins at conception and ends at birth" was not entirely a joke, although it's always been treated as one.) I am sick to death of opportunistic yahoos who can look at this country's unhealthy attachment to firearms and declare that the actions of George Zimmerman, while unfortunate, were pretty much what the Founders had in mind. I am sick to death of the steady drip-drip-drip of all the topical anesthetics we mix up whenever something like this happens. Had Emmett Till been killed in 2012, there'd be at least three people sitting in the CNN Green Room right now - and probably 15 of them sitting offstage at Fox - waiting to explain how unfortunate it was that the lad so transgressed against local custom that circumstances dictated that he be beaten to a pulp and tossed into the river tied to a cotton-gin fan. I am sick to death about how we can argue about anything simply to argue about it, and then move along to the next argument, as though anything at all has been settled.

I think this controversy has some legs to it. What alarms me is not that Zimmerman hasn't yet been arrested, but the awful feeling that the Florida legislature, with the approval of the people of Florida, may have passed a law so idiotic that it prevents local law-enforcement from arresting him at all. (I can't imagine what the good cops in Sanford must be feeling today. The dispatcher told this clown not to pursue Martin, and he did it anyway. They must simply be angry at the world at this point.) And what makes me angry down to my soul is not that my children could have been Trayvon, but that, because of the way we have ordered our politics and our society, only someone like Trayvon could have been Trayvon. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

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It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+115 # humanmancalvin 2012-03-24 15:03
We all share responsibility in the reasonless, senseless murder of this young man. If we sit idly by and not kick up a major storm of protest, then this tragedy will be shamelessly repeated. Red and yellow, black and white, we all bleed the same color blood and must do whatever there is in our power not to allow this tragedy to occur ever again in this country.
+58 # Caballero69 2012-03-24 17:02
In Vietnam, the Cong called us all Americans. When my friend died in my arms, I knew beyond doubt - They were right.

I have never looked upon anyone in this country since as anything other than an American. The flag is red, white, and blue, but citizenry is of every skin hue.
+2 # Pancho 2012-03-24 18:56
Actually, after our invasion, they distinguished between "Americans" and "Black Americans." The latter were referred to as nguoi my den and thought of badly.

They referred to their own indigenous mountain tribespeople as nguoi thuong and held them in contempt in the south.

Like yourself, they were comfortable with using pejoratives such as "Cong."
+11 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 21:59
See you still arenot living well with Nam.

they called us a lot of names, at least Cab came home without hate.
+11 # rabbitze 2012-03-25 07:12
Is Cong pejorative? I thought it was just short for Viet Cong, the Vietnamese nickname for the National Liberation Front.
+8 # Caballero69 2012-03-25 12:49
We did not use it pejoratively unless the name for one's adversary could be considered pejorative.

By whatever name, they were worthy opponents who fought for something they believed in as did we.
+12 # Caballero69 2012-03-25 07:29
Those trying to kill me did not bother with the distinction you state.

As to Cong being a pejorative, it is simply a shortening of the designation Vietcong. It was also what we used to refer to our principal foe during the time of my service.
0 # Pancho 2012-03-25 12:13
I'm afraid its was used as a pejorative by the U.S.-imposed government's supporters or those who had to pretend to be in the interests of self preservation. The name of the indigenous opposition was the National Liberation Front.

After losing so many soldiers during the 1968 Tet offensive and the second countrywide offensive that May, the NLF found itself displaced in numbers by NVA regulars, whom you probably also referred to as "Cong."

As a former G.I., I'm sure you're aware that many if not most G.I.s referred to all Vietnamese as "slopes," or "slopeheads," or worse.

I also assume that you, as part of the invasion force, were trying to kill them, who were making that distinction, though you should have had no dog in the fight.

Maybe I'm wrong. Did you become a member of the VVAW?
+9 # Caballero69 2012-03-25 12:47
I was aware that the official name of those we called the Vietcong was the National Liberation Front. This nomenclature was commonly used by people waging what were called "wars of national liberation." At that time in history, the so-called cold war was often fought by proxy forces.

I am aware of terms you cite and while in country actively and vocally discouraged such terminology as did my dying friend.

You term myself and the other American's as the invasion force and you are welcome to do so, but we did not see ourselves that way. See cold war reference.

Upon returning home, I took part in anti-war actions because I believed our deployment had been based on a series of lies.

That damn war is over and we have new battles to fight. Such as those against the killing of children here in the nominal land of the free.
+19 # Dick Huopana 2012-03-25 07:05
Unfortunately, it seems destined that "this tragedy will be shamelessly repeated." Why? Because our gun-saturated America has become the "land of the kill."
+36 # Obwon 2012-03-25 07:14
Well, as far as "neighborhood watch" goes, the 911 dispatcher took that away when told Zimmerman not to follow. After all, those are the rules right? Neighborhood watchers agree not to be vigilantees and the way that they do this is by avering that they will obey the rules.

Zimmerman violated the rules, everything that springs from that violation is his own responsibility. If he was in trouble, he was responsible for that trouble! Since he had violated Treyvon's rights, not the other way around. He had absolutely no right to approach, talk to or otherwise get involved with Martin. So, as a criminal who has invaded someones right to privacy, he can't claim self defense. Anymore than a thief can come into your home, shoot you, and then claim self defense because you tried to shoot him.

Zimmerman was ordered to stand down and he disobeyed that order, that made him into a vigilante unlawful! Against whom Martin had every right to defend himself!
+19 # Capn Canard 2012-03-25 10:21
Obwon, agreed... Zimmerman was judge jury and executioner when there was no crime. Treyvon did nothing and yet died WWB. I am gobsmacked when there are those who try to defend actions of a killer like George Zimmerman. I presume that fearful people, like George Zimmerman, will step into a steaming pile of stupidity when they allow their fear to overpower their good sense.
+19 # NanFan 2012-03-25 11:51
That is the best argument for arresting and prosecuting Zimmerman I've ever heard: he ignored the order from the police to do nothing, and he committed murder.

If he was bruised and cut by Trayvon...and I stress the "if" since we don't know for sure (no arrest or pictures taken of him)...then, it was Trayvon who was acting in self-defense. This guy had a gun! Would you not try to run or fight back when someone had a gun in your face?

But in reality, we don't KNOW anything but the fact that Zimmerman admitted shooting Trayvon, who according to authorities, had nothing but skittles and an iced tea in his hands, and a hoodie on his head.

This Florida law reeks of America's greatest woe: we've been taught that it's okay to kill and believe that that is the ONLY way to protect ourselves.

Thanks, Obwon, for your insights into this situation.

0 # cynnibunny 2012-03-27 15:58
[quote name="humanmanc alvin"]We all share responsibility in the reasonless, senseless murder of this young man./quote]

NO! I do not share responsibility for Trayvon's murder! Nor do I share responsibility for "Stand Your Ground" legislation!

When I here this 'group consciousness' crap, I recoil. I am not responsible for the oil spill when I drive my car. I am not responsible for someone's killing when I live in the same country. I am not responsible for China's inhumane treatment of it's workers because sometime way back when I bought an Apple product (because I believed they were an aware company).

Once we become aware of something, then we can do something about it. Not before! And just because I did not say something about it, doesn't mean that I agree with the status quo.

That 'group consciousness' claptrap has been used by BP guilt propagandists, Richard Nixon to claim support from 'silent majoiry', Nazi apologists to blaim all Germans, and so on.

What killed Trayvon was an absurd law, the absurdly uncontrolled access to guns, and an individual's 'transparent' yet overstepping understanding of his mandate.
+34 # Kasandra 2012-03-24 15:10
It's obvious that this problem came up not so much because of certain individuals, but because of the System. This is really the core problem. Football and all those "spectator sports" are really quite barbaric throwbacks of the Roman Days, when competition, killing, torture and maiming were supposed to be something we cheer about! Excuse me? When is humanity going to grow up and BE WELL!? Guess we'll have to consume this planet like we did the other empty ones in the sky that are mirroring our gross dysfunction as a species!
+11 # Progressive Patriot 2012-03-25 00:19
It angers me that the Barbarian sports fans ridicule academic competitions, because the academics aren't "jocks".
+4 # Capn Canard 2012-03-25 10:30
Progressive Patriot, I think the ridicule comes from fear of not being smart enough to compete in academic competition. BTW, academic competition can alienate even those who can easily compete in that environment for many reasons. The athletic competitions in school should be eliminated. Sports organizations should run sports not schools.
0 # XXMD48 2012-03-25 22:51
Quoting Progressive Patriot:
It angers me that the Barbarian sports fans ridicule academic competitions, because the academics aren't "jocks".

Sports do not cary the message of sportsmanship anymore. In 2012 sports represent - and make - big money. Those who earn millions - be it the players or coaches are with few exceptions not the most educated. The fans identify themselves with players who are making millions. This crusade against education and people who are highly educated makes the fans feel better about themselves. Those less educated may have deep down complex of inferiority or worse an outright hatry. When the ability to bring up intelligent discussion ceases, then use of the gun gives sense of power and accomplishment. At that point the issue for the murderer is not taking away human life, but the primitive sense of empowerment. Kasandra you are right, our humanity is suffering. And the observation of Progressive Patriot is correct also.
+1 # Obwon 2012-03-26 12:39
I paid particular attention to what was said about the 911 call, there wasn't much, except to say that he conveyed what he believed the situation was to them, and based on that they told him to do nothing further. I also noted that they have received many calls from Zimmerman over some time, so they may very well have known him well. My guess is as a cop wannabe he'd make it appoint of attending police/communit y events. Perhaps even posturing there, to appear as much a policeman as he could get away with, without being overt. Patches, pack clips on the belt etc., shirts with epaulets and such. Every police dept., has groupies. Some of these groupies are merely racists who are looking for some authority to push their agenda behind.

At least in NYC., where we have these auxillary units, the department keeps these guys on a very short leash, and even then they've caused a few problems for the force. So that now, as a general rule, these aux units are usually police academy recruits. Very few civilians and they are often paired with police recruits who have to worry that improper actions might harm their chances at a career in police work.
+138 # Barbara K 2012-03-24 15:10
This nice young man is dead because that piece of white trash wanted to kill him. He never should have had a gun, and he just plain stalked the child and murdered him. Tried to bruise himself to make it look like it was self-defense. Well we all heard the child yelling for help and sobbing right as the gunshot was heard. He wasn't beating or hitting that big lug, he was too small and skinny to do any damage to that coward. Gun laws need to be changed and there are too many guns out there. Bring down the NRA, and those who promote guns, they are just as responsible as the killers out there. Carrying guns is not necessary unless you plan to shoot someone.
+18 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:02
Amen. neighborhood watch started as bullies feeding on fears of elderly, ill, single parents. It has not changed the mentality.
Another reason for mentality test for those passing the law as well as those brandishing a gun.
Pa lawmaker who put a law in similar brandished a weapon at people who passed him on Rte 22...he got away with it. He should have lost his job...but then it is Pa a Red State for all the lives they want to kill Thanks GOP
+27 # Progressive Patriot 2012-03-25 00:36
In spite of the NRA's claims, and the recent decision by the Supreme Court (the first case they have actually heard that concerned individual gun ownership), the Second Amendment to the Constitution is NOT about individual gun ownership. It is about the right of The People, collectively, to bear arms. It says nothing about individuals owning guns, or keeping them in their homes.

Several states refused to ratify the Constitution, unless there was a clause that protected the right of the individual states to form their own militia, to protect their citizens against an overly powerful Federal government. (Remember, they had just come out of a war with Britain, who had posted troops throughout the Colonies, to enforce the King's edicts.
Our National Guard is the states' militia, fulfilling the states' rights under the Second Amendment. There are three specific purposes for which _the_Congress_ (not George W. Bush or any other president) is allowed to call up the states' militia to national service, none of which is the unilateral invasion of a nation halfway around the world. The National Guard has been used unconstitutiona lly in both Afghanistan and Iraq. (Read Article I, Section 8 ... the Powers of Congress.)
+15 # Patriot 2012-03-25 06:55
+11 # Dick Huopana 2012-03-25 12:50
The Second Amendment reads:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Question: Are Zimmerman and the millions of other American gun owners members of "a well regulated Militia?"
+3 # Capn Canard 2012-03-25 20:52
Dick Huopana, agreed, I feel that 2nd Amendment clearly sounds like a call for states to arm a militia and not individuals. But when left to lawyers and politicians thousands of people will die.
+19 # Obwon 2012-03-25 07:54
Yes Barbara K. Zimmerman ceased to be a legal neighborhood watcher when he disobeyed the 911 order to stand down and not follow the child. If Zimmerman had any suspicions at all at that point, he became an illegal vigilante, because he refused to follow the orders the watch captain was given.

As a criminal, he proceeded to unlawfully invade the privacy of Martin without the benefit of any lawful reason, and against the cities own advice, nay, orders! The 911 does not "advise" people obligated to follow it's instructions, it orders them to follow those instructions, under pain of acting alone!

In the eyes of the law Zimmerman became a criminal vigilante who shot a child to death for no good reason!
+88 # dyannne 2012-03-24 15:13
(And every time I see someone convicted of ripping off pension funds, he's wearing a $500 suit. Don't wear $500 suits!)

Touche! Indeed.

While walking in my neighborhood the other night, I actually thought, "maybe I better not put my hood up on my raincoat. Somebody might shoot me." That's a thought I can honestly say I never considered before Zimmerman shot Trayvon. And before Geraldo ever said such a dumb thing.

I truly hope that you will be proven wrong about the law preventing Zimmerman from being arrested. He needs to go on trial. But if he doesn't, I take some pleasure in knowing that he will never feel completely at ease ever again throughout his life. He's a marked man and I hope he feels scared every minute of it that someone, somewhere, is following him ready to pounce like he did on Trayvon.
+11 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:04
He will get mental then why did he have a gun or allowed to carry it?

NRA should be the ones in the hoodies perhaps that will change some thoughts, eh?
+79 # kathiemm 2012-03-24 15:42
Thank you for this great essay.
We are killing and jailing too many of our young people.
and our people of color.
it is a national disgrace.
Thank you for telling it like it is.
kathie mm
+14 # Progressive Patriot 2012-03-25 00:39
The NRA needs to be the ones in court, defending their fanatical pro-gun agenda.
+83 # Barebonesart 2012-03-24 15:43
I'm almost afraid to comment after the comment about comments. Just want to say you are so right, Charley Pierce, and there are millions of us who stand with you. Thank you for speaking for us.
+18 # Progressive Patriot 2012-03-25 00:42
The United States needs to stop privatizing prisons, making it profitable for big corporations to keep them full. Unknown to the citizens, who were brainwashed by fear into voting in favor of them, many of our mandatory sentencing laws, which take away judicial discretion, were backed by the private prison companies.
+82 # Elroys 2012-03-24 15:55
The problem is we are still a nation with a real segment of the citizenry that hates anyone who looks, thinks, prays and lives differently than they do. They are racist, homophobic, and many believe that killing for religion or skin color is a good thing. They see the world differently than most and are truly dangerous. They carry loaded guns with them regularly and are simply ignorant, fearful and filled with enough hatred to pull the trigger - like George Zimmerman did. We do not want to become and armed and hateful society so somehow we need to either fence these folks in to their own enclave or invest in educating everyone that hate, fear and guns are not an answer for the living. Elliot Hoffman
+24 # peterjkraus 2012-03-24 16:43
Elliot, we ARE an armed and unfeeling society. Those of us who still care for their fellow person´s well-being are in the minority, prey to those who settle arguments with violence and glorify that violence. It´s a true shame, but failing to acknowledge the true state of our society will only serve to give the bastards cover.
+7 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:07
Glad to be minority, I was raised the Jesus always took care of people no matter what, who they were.
He even said in a gospel that no one should look down at another who is poor, diseased. He said it could be him we treat inhumanly. Guess people weren't versed on this.
I never treat anyone cruel who has less. I would rather give them food, blanket than perhaps know they died on the way side. Jesus is in all of us, too bad so many choose to be Satan.
+14 # Progressive Patriot 2012-03-25 01:01
It is far too easy for any individual, regardless of mental stability or prejudices, to obtain a gun. Many of the people who own them, do not respect the gun's power. They falsely believe that they are "safer" with it, don't get proper training in the use of it, and are just as likely to lose it to the person they confront.

In training classes for an unarmed security force, 20+ years ago, we were taught, by a former state trooper, and judo expert, how to disarm a person with a gun ... something I never want to have to try ... I'm not as young as I was then. (The trainer claimed that in 25 years as a state trooper, he had _never_ drawn his gun.) I'm sure it's not just "the good guys" who know how to disarm someone.

Guns are a far too simple, and final, "solution" to conflict. I have to commend the Portland Police for a recent incident in which they were able to talk an armed person out of a house without any gunfire. Negotiation is how it should _always_ be done. Guns should be the last resort, not the solution.
+12 # Progressive Patriot 2012-03-25 00:44
"Cage" the gun toters, not the Occupiers, and other protesters.
+55 # Vardoz 2012-03-24 16:15
I don't know what it will take for Americans feel that things overall have gone too far and that we have been assaulted from all sides but perhaps this event will be the match that ignites the American people? It is a symbol of the broken, corrupt, lawless, vigilante and immoral nation we have become
+102 # lcarrier 2012-03-24 16:16
Unlike you, I am alarmed that Zimmerman hasn't been arrested, crummy law not withstanding. After all, he killed a kid who did not have a weapon; besides, Zimmerman had a history of violence and was a powder keg ready to explode.

Suckers like Zimmerman need to be stopped and put where they can't hurt anyone. But they are empowered by vicious little rats like Paul Ryan, who is lauded by the crazies who have spiked up the number of hate organizations to over 1,000 in this country.

I blame the Republican leadership for this, starting with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. They have set the stage for the hate crimes and the nasty racialism they encourage by not speaking out against rotten scum like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Yet they are only doing the bidding of the heads of large corporations who fear that they will be made to pay fair taxes for their obscene profits, people like the insidious Koch brothers, who contribute to Republicans who then use any means to get elected so they can continue to serve their wealthy masters. Because these minions of dysfunction and spite comprise only about 30% of the population, they will use any dirty trick in their repertoire to get their way--one of them being the racialism that got Trayvon Martin killed.

J'acuse you GOP rotters, J'acuse.
+31 # walthe310 2012-03-24 16:58
Hate must go somewhere. You can't stir it up and not expect the unexpected and then walk away saying it's not my fault.
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:10
Hate can go someplace, it takes can turn into good works, understanding. I am still working at it everyday. I am imperfect but I must learn to accept everyone as my brother even the Nazi GOP. I can forgive ruler, greed takes over, power devours...but I am not going to stop giving, hoping that we will all share enough that we all see changes. We have, they are small but here we are and we are going to make a difference for this Kid. No more Killing,.
Rebuild Our Hearts, Take Back America
+52 # walthe310 2012-03-24 16:59
If the shooting of a white, female Congresswoman won't stop the shooting, how can you expect the shooting of a black, male teenager to have any effect?
+7 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:12
She is alive and goin to make changes soon with all of us supporting her. Others have already started....Pray ers for full recovery and her back at our sides.
+1 # NanFan 2012-03-25 13:42
Quoting walthe310:
If the shooting of a white, female Congresswoman won't stop the shooting, how can you expect the shooting of a black, male teenager to have any effect?

Why would you even mention color? This is the problem...color should not matter...but, unfortunately, in America, it is what is seen first. And the shooting will never stop, regardless of the color of one's skin (which has NOTHING to do with who we become in our world, unless we LET it have something to do with it), and THAT is the most unfortunate thing of all.
+59 # jack406 2012-03-24 17:27
Don't forget Jeb Bush who signed the law allowing it, and the NRA who paid him and other politicians to enact similar laws.
+16 # lcarrier 2012-03-24 19:49
Je suis désolé, I meant to say, "J'accuse." But in English or misspelled French, it is an accusation aimed at poisonous Republican rhetoric.
+37 # dick 2012-03-24 16:26
NRA likes SYG for the same reason they like anything: sells more guns at higher prices. Now you need an overpriced gun to defend yourself from trigger happy SYG incompetents. However, since NO ONE on Earth thinks Zimmerman felt a death threat from Skittles, or suffocation by hoodie, the ONLY reason for not arresting him at the CRIME scene was criminal COVER-UP. #1: Prosecute the aiding & abetting cop(s). #2. Indict Z for murder. These steps, in such a high "profile" case, could influence other behavior. Do NOT conduct any business in or with Florida (Disney, etc.) until the relatively rare bad cop & pathetic Zimmerman are criminally indicted. Pressure Florida to modify the law to clarify when & how it applies. No more, "I didn't like the way the kid was looking at me so I killed him. I'm a hero, right?" Don't let Florida let this blow over. BOYCOTT until it's fixed, even if it takes years.
+7 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:13
NRA are Terrorists, Mercenaries, Bullies
Money is their more memberships let get proof to get them shut down once and for all.

America....tear Down the Terrorists in America
+30 # BLBreck 2012-03-24 16:31
Thank you, Mr. Pierce, for so eloquently expressing my feelings.
+19 # R Miller 2012-03-24 16:48
There are thousands of gun-happy rednecks who would have taken the same actions as Zimmerman, regardless of the stated reasons. Nothing will change; if anything there will be more "stand yer ground" laws popping up in the usual suspect (red) states. What concerns me is this: at some point the targets of the gun-totin' far right will stop protesting and conclude that they are losing the class war on every front--and that new, and possibly brutal tactics will be necessary. So they'll go underground for awhile. And when they emerge--all hell will break loose. Not a good prospect, but I fear it is inevitable.
-3 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:17
We the intelligent, peace loving, christian and others who love their creator are banning together. Neighborhoods, friends, family, strangers are join. We will have the stronger mind set. We believe in ourselves amd promote belief in others,

Rebuild your life....Take Back America.
+59 # fredboy 2012-03-24 16:54
As a Florida resident, I am appalled by the ongoing racial hatred here. From the Rosewood slaughter to the "vanishing" of young black and Hispanic men in Collier County in recent years to the theft of more than 90,000 African American votes in 2000, Florida has long dismissed the value--and thus the safety and well being--of its minority residents.

Rising crime led to a truly dangerous, socially degenerative law allowing anyone who senses a threat from another to kill them. And, as in this case, if there are no witnesses the survivor can claim self-defense and go free.

Consider the potential impact: I would bet every person of color here is exposed to threatening behavior each week. Should they then declare open season, using this law to justify their response?

The answer is "no" for two reasons. First, they cannot expect equal justice in the Sunshine State. But the more accurate reason is most have learned to rise above these daily doses of hatred--they have character. And courage. And know the law is wrong.

Florida best elect real leaders who can unite us. And close this Pandora's Box before absolute hell erupts here.
+22 # colvictoria 2012-03-24 22:27
Your last statement is so true. If Zimmerman walks away free and never serves any time for murder there will be riots in Florida. It's Rodney King all over again.
+9 # Caballero69 2012-03-25 07:16
"I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened." JFK, June 1963

JFK was the first president to stipulate civil rights is a moral issue. Let us all stop and examine our consciences about this and other incidents.

For those who often tout their piety, whatever happened to "Do unto others as you would be done unto"? Or "Judge not that ye be not judged"?

Deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome someday. I just hope that day comes soon.
+2 # charsjcca 2012-03-25 11:51
The problem with civil rights is that it is a lower standard than human responsibility. Had Mr. Zimmerman been instructed in what human responsibility entails he would not have acted so rashly. In the end he was trying to finesse the social conundrum of lawlessness versus law abiding. Lack of clarity in his thought pattern was the source of his demise.
+2 # Pancho 2012-03-25 12:59
By that logic, if only someone had sat down patiently to explain things with Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao, or Lt. Calley, or George Bush, for that matter, they never would have done what they did, right?
+26 # walthe310 2012-03-24 16:56
The problem is too many guns in the wrong hands, and the lack of feeling for our fellow citizens. The people who profit from guns live behind walls and in gated communities guarded by armed guards. They themselves are probably armed to the teeth and live in fear that someone else with a gun may invade their space.
+14 # Progressive Patriot 2012-03-25 01:16
This _was_ a gated community. I don't know if there were armed guards, but Zimmerman wasn't a hired guard. He's a vigilante, a "self-appointed neighborhood watch captain", and as such, should be locked up and put on trial for murder.
+42 # Caballero69 2012-03-24 16:57
One thing is clear in the sad case of Trayvon Martin: A Child Is Dead.

"Breathes there a one with soul so dead

As never to oneself have said

No matter what excuses may be pled

A child is dead!

In a seemingly prosperous Florida town

A young black boy was wantonly gunned down

The police were summoned and quickly came

But the lad lay dead all the same.

Must we not all wonder why?

A happy, friendly child had to die.

He went to the store and was coming back

Then was slain for the crime of “walking while black”

For too long this has been the case

People hating people based on race.

Fathers mourn and mothers weep

Are our consciences asleep?

Before there is an irrepressible outcry

How many innocents must wrongfully die?

All citizens of good will must take a stand

And drive this viciousness from the land.

Now we all must raise our voice

See the options and make a choice

This is too much; we’ll take no more

We must act now and end this dreadful horror.

Let this recent murder be the last

Banish it to a terrible past

Let it never again be said

A child is dead!"
-32 # corals33 2012-03-24 21:17
great poem, great statement but if you are "american" try emigrating great one,you don't belong.
+25 # Caballero69 2012-03-25 07:10
As a veteran, not merely of the military, but of an actual war, I find it extremely presumptuous of you to suggest I emigrate.

As a person who held his dying best friend in his arms on a battlefield, I truly and completely abhor your implication that calling for an end to racially driven child murder suggest I don't belong in the country I was born in and fought for.
-39 # MendoChuck 2012-03-24 17:10
Well everyone is certainly intitled to their opinion.

But some where I think that it says everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Now bear in mind I am in no way saying that Zimmerman is not guilty. What I am saying is that as Americans we live by the rule of law. I stress that while this investigation is on going we should hold our personal opinions of what we THINK happened and hope our laws find out what really is a fault here.

The lynch mob mentality that is being expressed here has no place in what we all hope and want is a civil American Society.
Unless of course those of you would like to become vigilantes??

Just some food for thought.
+31 # propsguy 2012-03-24 21:39
sorry, but it was mr. zimmerman who had the lynch mob mentality
-5 # colvictoria 2012-03-24 22:17
I also thought that we in the US lived by the rule of law. Our president doesn't seem to think so. He acts like he's living in the Wild West going around killing willy nilly with drones and Navy Seal operatives.
What message is he sending to our youth when he boasts on national tv about killing Bin Laden? about using drones to kill US citizens because it's self defense? it's for protecting the homeland? Sounds to me like that law in Sanford Fl is the same being used by our President!
I also know that there is an ICC. Why is it that Bin Laden, Qaddafi, Al Alawiki and others weren't tried by this criminal court and put to justice? Killing isn't the answer in any case.
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:18
Beautiful, thanks Amen
+13 # Caballero69 2012-03-25 07:07
Before one can be tried,one has to be arrested, arraigned, charged and tried. The outrage is largely about none of these things happening to Mr. Zimmerman. There is a 99.99% probability that if the racial characteristics had been reversed, the black shooter would have been arrested [and possibly under threat of lynching].

Every news report strongly suggests there was/is probable cause for an arrest. Even the Martin family is not presuming conviction. They have time and again called for the sequence to start and have not presumed its conclusion.
-59 # 2012-03-24 17:21
As usual, you blame everyone but those who have too many kids and do little to participate in their own communities. I can recall as the only Jewish kid in a neighborhood who did not like such people. No one cared then about the situation either. Instead of all this commentary about this tragedy, how many of the writers are doing a damned thing in t heir own communities?
+43 # elmont 2012-03-24 18:42
As usual, you blame everyone but those who have too many kids and do little to participate in their own communities. I can recall as the only Jewish kid in a neighborhood who did not like such people. No one cared then about the situation either. Instead of all this commentary about this tragedy, how many of the writers are doing a damned thing in t heir own communities?

Huh?? WTF? Too many kids?? What has that got to do with any part of this issue?
+14 # propsguy 2012-03-24 21:42
what is your point here? do you know how many children there were in the martin family? or in the zimmerman family for that matter?
i'm not quite sure what your point is, unless you mean to say that if mr martin and mr zimmerman had never been born, one would not have been around to kill the other?
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-24 22:20
Most wait for everyone else to....that is why we must get more awareness, [people's belief, Start meetingsm talk, work how to prevent this mentality in your area.
+31 # lesmcf 2012-03-24 18:27
This is not the first such murder in Florida. A few years bvack an oriental youth went to a house to find directions
to a party in the neighborhood and was killed in the middle of the afternoon. Another recent case involved a teen who knocked on a door during halloween and was shot in the back as he ran away. That's rednecks for you, cowards packing arms because they are "afraid".
+29 # ckosuda 2012-03-24 18:29
$500.00 suits? more like $5000.00 - but otherwise, we are in complete agreement!

I for one don't trust anyone who stalks me in a van with a gun, either - but, hey, I'm sensitive.
+16 # elmont 2012-03-24 18:44
Nice piece, Mr. Pierce. I agree.
-66 # switch 2012-03-24 18:53
Wait a minute before you go lynch Zimmerman.

There was a witness and he said Trayvon had Zimmerman on the ground and was beating him. Zimmerman was calling for help. (Trayvon's dad has listened to the 911 tape and said it is NOT Trayvon calling for help.
Trayvon was 6'2" football player, bigger than Zimmerman.
It would not make any sense to arrest Zimmerman now. Why not wait and see what the Grand Jury does.
It's pretty clear that more guns, more concealed handgun licensing does NOT lead to more deaths. In fact, just the opposite, when states adopt CHL laws, crime drops.
You might think carrying a gun would cause you to become violent (I don't know, maybe you would react that way.) Most people recognize the seriousness. I had a friend tell me that carrying a gun caused him to become less confrontational . He realizes what he would have to go through if he just pulled his gun, much less shot someone. He is less likely to argue of whose got the right of way. Less likely to flip someone off.
+39 # Barbara K 2012-03-24 19:44
Wow, are you ever misinformed. Zimmerman outweighed the kid by over 200#. He was a little skinny kid. There were no witnesses who said that Trayvon had Z on the ground beating him. However, there are police dispatch tapes where we can hear the boy crying "help me help me" and sobbing when the gunshot was fired. It was cold-blooded murder, no matter how you try to spin it. Z made up some wounds to himself so he could plead self defense. That kid wasn't big enough or heavy enough to take on that piece of white trash, he was running away from him. Watch something besides FAKE NOOZ and you might learn the truth.
+10 # Kit 2012-03-24 19:48
It's pretty clear that more guns, more concealed handgun licensing does NOT lead to more deaths. In fact, just the opposite, when states adopt CHL laws, crime drops.

Switch, I'd like to see documentation to support the above statement.
+10 # dogdanz 2012-03-24 20:11
wrong, 'Switch'; the evidence regarding the effects of concealed carry laws is inconclusive, though there is somewhat more support for the opposite of your conclusion:,_Less_Crime

posted as a convenient way to find more information
+20 # vitobonespur 2012-03-24 21:43
No, switch, YOU wait a minute. Other posters are disputing the details as you have posted them, but let's, just for the sake of argument, call your information correct.

If, in fact, Trayvon Martin was so much bigger than George Zimmerman, then why in the hell was Zimmerman chasing him unless it was to do him some great bodily harm? I know I wouldn't chase a 6'2" youngster, white, black, or green, unless I understood, deep down inside, that if he gives me any lip, I can pop a cap in his ass.

Zimmerman was advised by the 911 operator to stand down and not give chase. In ignoring that, he essentially disobeyed authority.

I will forever think that Zimmerman felt he could be a hero, and if push came to shove, he always had his handgun to fall back on.
+4 # Obwon 2012-03-26 13:19
First off, the police department, who run the 911 call center, listened to Zimmermans report and as a result of their understanding of it, told him specifically to do nothing further, do not approach and go away, leave the kid alone! Zimmerman decided to become a lone vigilante and ignore the orders that made him a "neighborhood watch commander".

Thus he was not only no longer a watch commander, but he was a lone vigilante, seeking to illegally invade the childs privacy, for absolutely no legal reason.

Zimmerman should have gone home, or talked again with 911, to see if more information might have changed their minds. In which case they would have sent a full fledged peace officer to investigate the complaint. Zimmerman had no authority to do anything but observe and report, that's all a "neighborhood watcher" is legally empowered to do, not put themselves in harms way by approaching anyone for any reason!

So, his report to the police warranted no further action! He was told to leave it alone, he did not and an unarmed child was killed, simply because Zimmerman did not follow police instructions and leave! Case Closed!!!
+28 # dick 2012-03-24 19:30
Florida is working on becoming the new Mississippi burning. For too long the big money makers, & generators, like Disney, have stood by & let radical right wing elements take over their state. Things cooled after the horrendous Miami riots in '60s & '80, but Orlando may be the next hot spot. Blocking blacks from voting & serial killings of African Americans is throwing gasoline on the flames. People should contact DisneyWorld & tell them to have their Mickey Mouse contact the mickey mouse in Tallahassee and tell him if he won't clean up the mess, "Hell no, we won't go" to Florida for anything but protests. The racists assume this murder too will blow over & the KKK & supportive cops & politicians can resume intimidation. But Florida depends on our $$. We control their purse. Act now. Start by canceling all Florida reservations. Prepare to converge on Orlando OUTSIDE the park. Talk to them in a language they can understand: $$$.
+26 # peggym 2012-03-24 19:56
Thank you Charlie Pierce. Thank you to all who contributed to this conversation. We cannot be complacent. We must be incensed by this. How ironic is it that this incident happened just prior to the release of The Hunger Games? It is poised to be a box office hit. Why are we so fascinated with some future distopia when segments of our society currently live in a distopic society now?
+30 # dick 2012-03-24 20:38
ALL THOSE previous 9-11 calls! Zimmerman had an uncanny ability to see danger where others did not. Then, after being told not to, he chased after the 140lb. kid, "Slim" Martin. The more than full grown man, Zimmerman, sought a confrontation. Even if Trayvon popped Z in the nose, & we don't know if or who MAY have bloodied his nose, the much bigger Z KNEW police would be there in seconds. He COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE FEARED FOR HIS LIFE (Skittle assault?). Looks like cold blooded murder then ensued. Then cover-up.
+14 # vitobonespur 2012-03-24 21:45
Now wait just a sec...have you ever been struck with a well-aimed Skittle? And a guy could drown in one of those cans of iced tea.
+12 # DocJM 2012-03-24 21:00
Patriarchy for 3 millennia has been the “father-god” of murderous misogyny,
racism, and the concept of “might makes right,” supported and reinforced by
weapons. Those who kill animals for sport (or murder young black men carrying
candy and skittles ) are despicable, cowardly, spiritually bereft beings. It is bla04nDecp9vio us that men obsessed with guns feel sexually inferior, needing to shore up their inadequate penile power with gun-power, often concealed in their pocket right next to their inept sexual organs.
+28 # Richard1908 2012-03-24 21:01
The rest of the world looks on at America these days in a state of bewilderment, fear and increasing dislike, though it seems most Americans don't see it - or don't care.
+5 # corals33 2012-03-24 21:09
Florida??? isn't that the state the Mafia have been given?? and is it the only one??? Oh, and whatever became of the Native population or wasn't there one?? Killing is an important component of progress and we have all learned to accept it.
+11 # amye 2012-03-24 21:10
Bottom line is that if we don't do something to stop this then they will come for you and I next!! It won't matter to them who it is. You will be killed just like this young man! Think of what the Nazis did to the Jews! If we had not stopped them, then what would have happened? They would have killed anyone who got in their way!! Think about that...
+24 # cvwilson 2012-03-24 22:24
From what I have learned, this "Stand Your Ground" law was not passed because the people of Florida called for it, but from the machinations of ALEC and the NRA. Organizations concerned with promoting the commercial interests of gun manufacturers and gun sellers regardless of how many lives it costs.

Unfortunately, this is typical for our politics these days. Think about how many times the last few years polls indicated the public supported one position, but our legislatures voted the other way. Examples, would be the "public option" and all the war on women stuff coming up right now.

We need to get money out of our politics. We need real democracy.
+12 # Richard Raznikov 2012-03-25 01:26
Missing from the comments insisting that Zimmerman be given a fair trial is the fact that it is not possible. Due to the unprofessional behavior of the cops, no conviction can be expected. These idiots with badges gave the killer back his gun, thus corrupting the chain of evidence. They should be summarily fired for being too stupid to be police officers.

I share the thanks of many for Charles Pierce's article, but if this country's going to get any better we ALL have to take responsibility for demanding it. Posting comments is a start but it's not enough.
+4 # wullen 2012-03-25 06:54
I think the 30+K ppl at the Sanford protest & the many sympathy protests across the country (particularly PA!) are a good start. Once ppl get out & get involved it gets much easier to stay involved & make the effort.
-4 # switch 2012-03-25 09:12
Quoting Richard Raznikov:
Missing from the comments insisting that Zimmerman be given a fair trial is the fact that it is not possible. Due to the unprofessional behavior of the cops, no conviction can be expected. These idiots with badges gave the killer back his gun, thus corrupting the chain of evidence.

What difference will that make? Z is not claiming he did not shoot T, he's not claiming that is not his gun. The issue will be 'was he in fear of his life' and did he have a right to be there.
+5 # Pancho 2012-03-25 12:00
You're absolutely right. He's quite right about the cops being "stupid" though, in this case.

If he was a cop, he would have had to surrender his weapon in most urban situations, pending administrative review of the "officer involved killing."
+3 # Obwon 2012-03-26 12:19
Quoting switch:
Quoting Richard Raznikov:
Missing from the comments insisting that Zimmerman be given a fair trial is the fact that it is not possible. Due to the unprofessional behavior of the cops, no conviction can be expected. These idiots with badges gave the killer back his gun, thus corrupting the chain of evidence.

What difference will that make? Z is not claiming he did not shoot T, he's not claiming that is not his gun. The issue will be 'was he in fear of his life' and did he have a right to be there.

Agreed, and I take issue with his claimed "right to be there". As the line between "neighborhood watch" and "illegal vigilante" is a fine one, Zimmerman climbs over that wall when he refuses to follow the direction of his superiors.

Firstly he has more responsibilitie s than a mere bystanding civilian would have, by nature of his being a "N.W." to not be a vigilante, he needs to follow the guide of his superiors, which is why he called 911. When they instructed him to break off, cease and not follow, they also ended his right to "be there". They took away any reason he had to approach at all. So, what he did, he did as a vigilante acting alone, and illegally, because he'd been told by the police dept., not to engage! Thus any need to kill anyone was caused by his own actions!
+3 # Obwon 2012-03-26 13:36
Police chief’s statement

Police Chief Bill Lee said there was not enough evidence to arrest George Zimmerman, who followed Martin in his SUV and ended up confronting the teen before shots were fired.

BD, on March 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm said:

Zimmerman was driving a car, he had a weapon and he was not 100 lbs heavier than this kid Trevon but at least 200 lbs. Trevon was walking, talking on a cell phone and had a bag of candy. We know that George was following him in his car, George got out of his car and confronted Trevon, Trevon was shot and murdered.
+10 # wullen 2012-03-25 05:47
If the Floridians are responsible for this law then it is probably more out of apathy & laziness & ignorance than being supportive of it. You would have had to read something abt this law coming BEFORE it passed to even know to object to it. Our Legislature here does their best to keep bills from coming to Public attention & our inept media seems happy to oblige them in that endfeavor.
+8 # rhgreen 2012-03-25 07:05
This is not only correct but also incredibly well said. The other day I posted a response to another article on Trayvon Martin's killing, and I said pretty much the same thing as this article says. But this article says it so well that everyone reading this shouldn't just agree with it, or just post an agreement with it => Please take a few minutes to forward the link to everyone you know with emphasis on people you know who might rationalize what happened s just "circumstances" . I am going to. Come on, it's the least we can do! (Plus voting in November for people who also abhor this sort of thing, maybe going out and working in their campaigns)
+4 # futhark 2012-03-25 12:43
George Zimmerman went out looking for trouble against sound advice, the law, common sense, and ethical standards. It is incumbent upon society to make sure that he finds Trouble with a capital "T".
+1 # jazzman633 2012-03-25 13:37
Please, let us chill out and try to find out, to the extent possible, exactly what actually happened. If it turns out that this is Emmett Till all over again, that racial murder is still possible in this country, then the govt. has to punish Z harshly - and still deal with the Black anger that has been reignited. But getting the truth out would help clarify the situation.
+3 # budpilcher 2012-03-25 16:21
Black anger reignited? It has never had a chance to cool, because racism, particularly against black men, has never stopped. Let's recognize that as the fact that it is. FACT: if this were a white teen that was shot it wouldn't be national news, because Zimmerman would have gone to jail THAT NIGHT.
+2 # lilpat126 2012-03-25 15:27
I have been in Florida twice once in 1952 and again in 2002. I have plans to never show my face there again. Even as a kid I got bad vibes down there. The last time 3 days was all I could tolerate and headed for the Georgia line. I can not see any reason for the average person to carry a gun.The"we must be afraid" mentality is what has to be investigated. Do not let yourself be intimidated. You are equal to everyone else even if they try to convince you otherwise.
+3 # budpilcher 2012-03-25 16:17
Help hit the policy makers in the walTlet SIGN THE PETITION AND BOYCOTT FLORIDA
I know my family WILL NOT be returning to Florida until a lot of things have changed. Florida needs to know that black folks, and people concerned with justice spend a lot of money on vacations too.
0 # NYer 2012-03-25 20:26
Although I am white my kids, a boy and a girl, both teens who wear hoodies, are black. And this stuff scares the shit out of me. When my son is out late at night, and as he's 18 he goes out without me, my heart is in my throat all the time. Oh, and one comments about the article'ssatiri cal mention that the Founders woulda wanted us to all have guns. The 2nd amendment is just that : an AMENDMENT. It amended the Constitution written by the Founders. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 of 'em, were in response to what the Founders wrote. They didn;t come up with it. That includes the 1st amendment. People were outraged that these things were left out & demanded the amendments. Not defending the 2nd, jus' sayin'.
0 # carioca 2012-03-26 05:24
You wanna get a good taste of what sort of culture they got in Florida? Read Miles From Nowwhere by Barbara Savage, and start with the chapter Dive or Die.
0 # XXMD48 2012-03-26 17:09
Quoting corals33:
great poem, great statement but if you are "american" try emigrating great one, you don't belong.

To: Corals33
Where from your ancestors immigrated to the US? Unless you are native American you are descendant of immigrants. The only NATIVE Americans either assimilated or are living in reservations.
0 # abaconw48026 2012-03-27 16:07
I think in a case like this there does have so be someone independent looking into this case because if in fact Zimmerman did kill the kid without justification, fine, arrest him but if as some reports say, the kid was the aggressor, lets find that out. There may be many cases where kids are killed for the wrong reasons by authorities but this may not be one of them and we won't know until more evidence is shown. As it stands now, this reminds me of the Sam Shephard case where public opinion had a lot to do with his arrest and conviction and it took years to present proof that he was innocent. People are condemning Zimmerman along racial lines and not necessarily interested in waiting to find out the whole story and whether this was another one of those kids who put themselves in harms way and suffer for that.
+1 # cypress72 2012-03-27 16:49
Trayvon had his hoodie over his head because it was RAINING !!!!! I guess that was suspicious to George Zimmerman. For the life of me, I can't see why Zimmerman hasn't been at the very least, charged with assualt with a deadly weapon.
Afterall he got out of his truck/car/whate ver and was in hot pursuit. Trayvon defended himself against the assualt and in the ensuing fight, Zimmerman shot Trayvon dead.
That's the way I piece together all the stories I've read in the last 2 weeks. Zimmerman should be in jail having been charged with assualt with a deadly weapon and possibly involuntary manslaughter or out on bail awaiting the findings of the Grand Jury.
0 # Obwon 2012-04-04 10:06
Stand your ground is still immature law. As it matures, when more people have a chance to understand what it can do for their agendas, there will be even more trouble. Only this time for the rich whose heirs will find it useful as a way to prevent being left out of the will or get the money early.
That's when the brown stuff will really hit the fan.

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