President Obama: If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon

By Frederick Sparks

Finally breaking his silence on the Trayvon Martin killing, President Obama personalized the issue while introducing Dartmouth president Jim Kim as his nominee to lead the World Bank (video link here).  The president asserted his reluctance to impair an ongoing investigation but highlighted that federal, state and local authorities were working together in the investigation. And in an apparent reference to the “stand your ground” law offered as justification for the handling of the case, the president said “I think all of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen.  And that means we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.”

Meanwhile Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger removed himself from the case, stating “In the interest of the public safety of the citizens of Seminole County and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, I would respectfully request the executive assignment of another state attorney for the investigation and any prosecution arising from the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon B. Martin…This request is being made in light of the public good with the intent of toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of this investigation.”  Because of course the most important thing here is toning down rhetoric.

President Obama: If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon

12 thoughts on “President Obama: If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon

  1. 3

    Ignorance and bigotry killed this promising young man. The gun was incidental. Zimmerman would’ve killed him with a pencil if that was all he had.

    With that said, my “gun was incidental” comment should be understood to my reasoning that because Zimmerman is a licensed, well-trained and legal gun owner, the epidemic of illegal weapons and their availability to all young people – not just minorities – does not come into play here.

    The problem in general speaks loudly to the flaws in our laws. In this case, Florida’s laws. Specifically, that when you combine the fact that our judicial system operates on an “innocent, until proven guilty” premise with the “stand your ground” law, there is absolutely no getting around the rather unpleasant fact that Mr. Zimmerman is presumed innocent, and that in he was within his legal right to shoot that child.

    This is why he has not been arrested. Not because the police chief is white. Not because the victim was black. Not because the assailant was white or Mexican. Not because it is morally wrong to take another human life. Not because it is repugnant that another black youth’s life ended due to bigotry. He is not being arrested because the law will not allow it, and it is highly likely that Mr. Zimmerman will never even be indicted, and enjoy the ability to walk free – albeit with an enhanced awareness of his surroundings.

    There needs to be action taken on a grand scale when a problem that is systemic within our penal code allows for the legality of what happened to that young man, and does not provide for the rights of the victim in any way, shape or form.

    My thoughts and condolences to the family…

    1. 3.1

      Given the white supremacist history of this country vis-a-vis black victims and perps, there is no way in a million different hells that a black man who murdered an unarmed white child in cold blood in a suburban gated community would still be walking around free and clear and claiming self-defense — stand your ground, hold your ground or whatever shit the NRA fascists want to call it it wouldn’t happen period. After a lengthy investigation into every scintilla of evidence the assailant would either be in prison or, barring an investigation, lynched.

      1. Yes indeed, and anyone considering themselves a skeptic or rationalist should reside in the real world and recognize that real world reality, and excuse my French but fuck any other relativist or “all things being equal” bullshit.

  2. 4

    Is there any reason why anyone in Florida who shoots anyone else would not use this same justification now?

    “I felt threatened, so I shot them”

    This is disgusting.

  3. 6

    The gun was incidental. Zimmerman would’ve killed him with a pencil if that was all he had.

    What a stupid thing to say. Without the gun, this guy would almost certainly not have confronted someone he felt was “suspicious” and (according to his racist worldview) potentially dangerous. The gun undoubtedly enhanced his feeling of entitlement and sense of authority and privilege.

    Just doing a bit of research about homicide rates in countries with gun control will show you that accessibility to firearms should not be considered incidental in cases like this.

    I’ll leave the tearing apart of your other assertions to others.

    1. 6.1

      What a stupid thing to say. Without the gun, this guy would almost certainly not have confronted someone he felt was “suspicious” and (according to his racist worldview) potentially dangerous

      Did you read the next sentence that referred to the gun comment? At all?

      The gun was incidental because the man using it had the mindset that it was OK to kill this person. You say that without the gun he wouldn’t have confronted the young man. However, if you have studied violent hate crimes you would realize that the gun was only a venue to achieving this task – just as if a knife were used, a bat, an axe handle or even bare fists. If Zimmerman felt able to carry out this killing, he would do it with anything handy. This happens in prisons with frequent regularity.

      Yes, there would have been less of a chance Zimmerman would have killed Treyvon, but given the fact that Zimmerman was just about an entire person heavier than Treyvon and has had significant training, it would not have taken much effort for him to find another means to do so.

      And of course the gun enhanced his feeling of entitlement and sense of authority and privilege. I had never suggested that it did not, and quite frankly did not even see the need to explain the obviousness in that. But this is not case of a thug killing someone with an ill-gotten, illegal handgun.

      The fact is that this was perpetrated by an individual that was trained and licensed to carry a gun and the gun he was carrying was obtained legally. This should give everyone pause, as well, because even if Florida had stricter laws regarding the ownership and concealment of firearms, Zimmerman would have been still been given his permits, and he would still have been able to purchase and carry his weapon.

      You write like I somehow and trying to justify or stick up for Zimmerman, when this could not be further from the truth. What happened was an unnecessary and uncalled for act of violence.

      You have no quarrel with me. I am a civil rights activist. We both, however, should have a quarrel with laws that, when used in combination, allow something like this to happen. I am horrified at the death of Trayvon, and as a parent I cannot even fathom what this family is going through.

      What you might not be taking into consideration was that the entire purpose of my comment was to address the question of why Zimmerman has not been arrested, not should be arrested. Of course he should be arrested, but that does not change the fact that I answered the question of why with accuracy.

      He was not arrested because the laws as they are give nothing for law enforcement to charge him with. His gun was legal, and the “stand your ground” law was invoked.

      Bigotry cannot be removed from a person by anyone other than themselves and their own enlightenment about the immorality of taking another life, or the immoral practice of discrimination. It can, however, be affected by not giving legal license for one human being killing another for what is certainly not “self defense,” but a personalized version of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strike.

      The only way future incidents like this can be deterred is with the threat of penalty of criminal law. This needs to be addressed on the legislative level, and the “stand your ground” law needs to be repealed or the next person who thinks that they are justified for killing someone because they have a feeling that maybe, perhaps, their life could possibly, may be, sort of in danger from someone who they have already judged as a potential threat.

      We are on the same side…

  4. Art

    At the very least the stand-your-ground law needs to have requirements much like police use of force is supposed to have.

    Fear, in and of itself, is not enough. It has to be reasonable fear rooted in the facts of the situation. A heavy set guy armed with a loaded handgun has little or nothing to fear from a slightly built kid armed with Skittles.

    The use of force must be proportional to the threat. Shooting someone who whacked you with a box of Skittles is clearly disproportional and excessive.

    Every claim of resort to the stand-your-ground law needs to go to a grand jury to determine if both the fear and the force used were justified and reasonable. In this case Zimmerman’s drinking, actively following and approaching the victim, his self appointed status as watcher, and his history of alarmist reporting to police paints him as fearful, aggressive, alarmist, unable to make rational decisions. Also potentially prone to violence. That, and the clearly disproportional and excessive use of force make it clear this was not self defense. This is murder.

    The right to defend yourself has to be balanced with the fear being justified and the force being proportional to the danger. You don’t get to shoot people and then justify it with your irrational fear of Skittle carrying black people wearing hoodies.

    Given my experience with guns and alcohol, and seeing how many shootings have alcohol involved, I propose a Carrying Under the Influence(CUI) law. Pattern it after DUI. If you are in an altercation and found to have above the legal limit of alcohol you are presumed to be at fault. Same with just carrying while drunk. Either one could mean they yank your carry permit and, after a couple of iterations, will see your license to own a gun removed.

    Driving while drunk is not acceptable. Carrying a gun while drunk, much less firing it, should not be acceptable. If you are drinking you leave the iron at home. This is, IMHO, common sense.

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