Crying Wolf

The acquittal this week of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin has been divisive to say the least. It has re-opened old wounds with respect to race and justice in this country. Although these wounds had long since scared over, the self-flagellation of the professional racism-baiters has managed to incite conflict where none existed. Like the boy who cried wolf, warnings against racism are weakened when applied to every event involving hetero-race conflict. Trayvon’s death was a tragedy, but not because he was black and Zimmerman was not. It was tragic because the death of anyone is so, and that label is particularly apt when applied to a child (no matter the age). The self-appointed “leaders” of the black community would have us believe his death was entirely the result of “white” racism on the part of Zimmerman and that it is entirely impossible that Zimmerman was simply an overly paranoid idiot. As an aside it is odd that Zimmerman is labeled a “white Hispanic” because he has one parent from each “race” while Obama is not labeled as a “white black” even though his parentage is similarly divergent – apparently such labels are selectively applied when it is convenient toward advancing one’s biased narrative.

The narrative in this case is that if Person A suggests that non-white Person B acts or appears suspicious then clearly Person A must be racist. No further evidence is needed. For some reason it has been overlooked that not only was Trayvon black, he was also young, and he was a male. If you can “profile” someone for one characteristic, then why would that exclude them being profiled for all other characteristics? Oh, that’s right, if he were profiled as a “young male” then that would have not have been sufficient to turn this case into a media circus. Isn’t it just as possible Zimmerman saw a suspicious male teenager, who, to quote George Carlin “just happened to be black”? There is nothing else in Zimmerman’s background (beyond blogosphere innuendo) to suggest he holds racist views. Had there been you can be sure such information would have come to light at trial. Such information was conspicuous in its absence. My point is not to exonerate Zimmerman, but merely to demonstrate that the deliberate injection of a racial component to this tragedy does a grave injustice to Trayvon’s memory. He will not be remembered for who he was, but rather merely as a hollow symbol. A symbol that the “leaders” in the black community would like to co-opt for their own purposes. They have capitalized on Trayvon’s death solely to bolster their own reputations and bona fides as “leaders”. Perhaps I’m too harsh. Perhaps their actions betray a positive light. If the only racial issues are ones they must manufacture then perhaps we are finally hearing the death rattle of racism in this country.

So, if this case is not about race, what was it about? I was not there, nor were any of you dear readers, so what I will discuss is what we do know: Zimmerman had a gun and that gun was used to kill Trayvon. Although I count myself among those that believe the government has no right to restrict gun ownership, I think it would be intellectually dishonest to ignore the fact that although increasing gun ownership will tend to lower rates of crime, there will be a concomitant increase in accidental harm. This is one of those situations. How can we prevent similar accidents of escalation stupidity? I do not know. Nobody knows. The problem is that in theory we would like to find the exact perfect equilibrium point of gun ownership where both crime and accidents are minimized, but there is no non-arbitrary method by which one can divine that point. Laws will never solve this. Only incentives and technology will move us in the right direction. Those opposed to gun ownership should devote their resources not toward futile “whack-o-mole” efforts toward 20-20 hindsight prevention but rather toward developing the ideal non-lethal defensive weapon (Star Trek phasers anyone?). All things being equal, if one can repel an attack by lethal or non-lethal methods the vast majority of people would opt to do so non-lethally. If such an alternative were available on the market, then that alternative would come to dominate, making such senseless gun deaths like Trayvon’s a distant memory. We can all agree on that goal.