Sunday 14 July 2013

Thoughts on Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman debacle

The United States of America has done a good job of branding itself as the standard bearers for modern progressive governance and society. It has gone all over the world spearheading wars and instigating revolutions against supposedly immoral and backward leaders that they accuse of oppressing sections of their society. All of this in the name of making the world a better and more equal place but one look at America itself shows that it is in as much need of a revolution.

The death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer George Zimmerman has opened up the age old gash of racial discrimination in America. Not only has it highlighted the insanity of many laws, it has brought to light a discussion long held in African-American circles but not so seriously considered in the mainstream – the argument that the sort of justice you experience is heavily dependent on the colour of your skin.

Apart from the Trayvon Martin case, there is the story of Marissa Alexander, a black lady, also from the state of Florida that was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a ‘warning shot’ into a wall after an altercation with her husband. Alexander’s husband had been arrested twice before for on misdemeanour and battery charges against other women. In this case, the judge rejected the Stand Your Ground defence. In the same state of Florida, Ralph Ward, a white man, who killed his wife’s lover in his home after firing three shots into his head and back was acquitted of all charges on account of his Stand Your Ground defence. See the trend?

It is disgraceful enough that the Stand Your Ground law that basically allows one man to take another’s life simply because he can and because the law allows him to. It is even more disgraceful that in “progressive” America, there are glaring inconsistencies in its application. If Trayvon Martin had killed George Zimmerman, would he be a free man now?

To fully acquit a man who killed a 17 year old boy, who turned out to have been a harmless passer-by, only carrying a bottle of ice tea and a packet of Skittles, and for the defence to boldly say “the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful” is an indictment on American society. It is a slap in the face of everyone that craves justice.

The state of Florida and the United States of America as a whole should hang their collective heads in shame that the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws that allowed George Zimmerman to walk out of court a free man is alive and well within its borders. 

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