March 30th, 2012
It’s not just about Trayvon or the “Stand Your Ground” law. It’s about much, much more.“They always get away.” – George Zimmerman on 911 call
“Catch these guys will you? Cause, I ain’t going to let them go” – Joe Horn, who shot dead two men burglarizing his neighbor’s house in Texas
Joe Horn and George Zimmerman both “stood their ground”
As they with their guns were running around,
Chasing those they deemed guilty of crimes,
Incensed that “they” had gotten away so many times.
Both were told by 911 not to get involved,
But did and were later of all guilt absolved.
With Horn, that happened at his grand jury hearing;
With Zimmerman, as a result of the police chief’s interfering.
The difference was what Diego Ortiz, Hernando Torres, and Trayvon Martin were doing
When Horn and Zimmerman started their targets pursuing.
Ortiz and Torres were robbing the house next door
While Trayvon was just walking back from the store.
That’s why Zimmerman’s defenders demonize Trayvon as a gangster hood
Who with his fellow miscreants was robbing Zimmerman’s neighborhood.
(It’s OK to summarily execute black gangster thugs
Who wear hoodies, rob houses, and sell illegal drugs.)
If demonizers convince people of that, it’s an open-and-shut case:
Apathy and disdain will quickly public sympathy replace.
Trayvon will be seen as justifiably executed for being in someone else’s space,
Not to mention allegedly hitting an armed white man in the face.
Trayvon may still get justice, but it would have been nice
If that justice could have been bought at a much lower price.
So yes, this is about Trayvon, and about Stand Your Ground,
But also all those who guilty or not are now buried in the ground.
And it’s about what kind of a country we’ll become
If we continue to our lesser angels to succumb.
It’s both informative and troubling to compare the Trayvon case to the shooting in 2007 in Texas
Notice that the Texas case had some of the exact same features as Trayvon’s. Joe Horn witnessed two men robbing his neighbor’s house and called 911. Horn was told (both forcefully and repeatedly) not to leave his house. He did, and then immediately gunned down the two burglars (Diego Ortiz and Hernando Torres) as they were trying to escape. Horn claimed that he “feared for his life,” though his discussion with the 911 operator showed no such fear, either before or after the shooting. In fact, Horn seems to take perverse pleasure in acting as judge, jury, and executioner. Even more egregious was Horn’s smug taunting of the 911 operator, specifically referring to the Stand Your Ground law that had passed a few months before in Texas and suggesting that that law gave him the right to act as a vigilante in direct conflict with specific police instructions. Unfortunately, a grand jury agreed with Horn.
The biggest difference between the two cases: the two men killed in the Texas case were (according to Horn) in the act of committing a crime, while Trayvon was just walking down the street with Skittles and iced tea. But it’s no accident that one of the first things that Zimmerman’s defenders have done is to demonize Trayvon as a drug-dealing ganger thug, even suggesting that he and his gangster thug buddies were the ones behind the recent burglaries that Zimmerman had heroically set out to thwart (read Meet The Real Trayvon Martin, Part II: Trayvon Suspended From School For Possessing Stolen Jewelry And “Burglary Tool” for more about that, and note specifically the references to jewelry, watches, and a “burglary tool” that were supposedly found in Trayvon’s backpack prior to his school suspension).
But should it matter that Ortiz and Torres (Horn’s victims) were burglarizing a house when shot to death? Does it matter if Trayvon and his friends were in fact the ones burglarizing Zimmerman’s neighborhood? That obviously affects public opinion (hence Trayvon’s demonization), but should it affect how and if the wheels of justice turn when determining whether the shooters had the right to shoot and kill Ortiz, Torres, and Trayvon?
It should not, but it obviously has, and that’s because “Stand Your Ground” has been applied to mean that if you see someone committing a crime, or even suspect that they might be thinking about it, you have the right to shoot them to death, especially if they’re minorities. Is that really what America wants?
Those of us who oppose the right-wing’s philosophy to dramatically shrink government by eliminating or privatizing most of its functions often use the justice system and police force as go-to examples to prove government’s worth: government-haters don’t want to eliminate, privatize, or dramatically cut back those, do they?
Now we have our answer, and it’s yes. What’s worse, the extreme right perceives the result as a win-win. Not only do they get rid of more of those pesky (and often unionized) government workers and all the spending that goes with it; they also reach other important social and political goals. “Stand Your Ground” is the perfect storm: a growing number of guns in the hands of private, unpaid vigilantes who are suspicious of (if not overtly hostile to) minorities, and are empowered to shoot them to death based on those suspicions, rather than going to all the trouble and expense of arresting obvious criminals, trying them, putting them in prison, attempting to rehabilitate them, and them releasing them to continue their lives of criminality, as the White Right is sure they will. After all, it’s in their nature.
If not for the public pressure, Zimmerman’s case would have had the exact same ending as Horn’s, only without all the fuss and bother of even a grand jury, since Zimmerman would never even have been charged. And Trayvon’s case may still have the same outcome if a grand jury lets Zimmerman off the hook like the grand jury let Mr. Horn off.
Yes, this is about Trayvon. It’s about Stand Your Ground. But it’s also about much, much more.
Here’s Hardball’s3/30/12 comparison of the Horn and Zimmerman cases, along with some of the audio from the Horn 911 call.
Tags: Courts, Crime, FL, George Zimmerman, Government, guns, hatred, Incitement, Latinos, Petitions, Racism, Stand Your Ground, Tea Party, Trayvon Martin, TX
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