Trayvon Martin Updates

[Content Note: Violence; racism; victim-blaming.]

1. Joy-Ann Reid at TheGrio: Miami-Dade fire captain on Zimmerman charges: Blame 'shitbag' parents of 'our urban youth'.
The Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue Department is investigating a Facebook post by one of its captains... The entry was posted on the personal Facebook page of Miami-Dade fire captain Brian Beckmann. The Facebook page bears the same profile picture as the entry, which appears to have been deleted, but which was captured in a screengrab sent to theGrio.

The page's profile entry lists Metro-Dade Firefighters Local 1403.

The entry appears to have been created on Wednesday, the night State Attorney Angela Corey announced she would file second degree murder charges against George Zimmerman over Martin's shooting death.

"Listening to Prosecutor Corey blow herself and her staff for five minutes before pre-passing judgment on George Zimmerman," it read.

"The state seeks reelection again, truth aside. I and my coworkers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, shitbag, ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents, but like Mrs. Corey, we speak only the truth. They're just misunderstood little church going angels and the ghetto hoodie look doesn't have anything to do with why people wonder if they're about to get jacked by a thug."

Beckmann responded to questions about the page in a Facebook message, saying, "I am a private citizen and have the same right to freely express an opinion on any subject that anyone else does."
Yep, that's true—although most private citizens are not paid by the state to save lives, so whether they engage in victim-blaming and the public auditing of which people are deserving of safety isn't really relevant. It is, however, relevant to a community when someone tasked with community rescue and support expresses views that suggests he considers some lives more valuable than others.

2. Steven Yaccino in the New York Times: After Florida Shooting, NRA Crowd Sticks to What It Knows.
Inside the seven-acre showroom at the National Rifle Association's annual convention [in St. Louis] during the weekend, firearm enthusiasts filtered in and out of the sea of booths displaying handguns and the holsters designed to hide them.

Eager to explain the benefits of carrying a concealed weapon, hikers discussed how they feared bandits more than bears on the trail. Aging men rattled off hypothetical situations requiring self-defense; the details varied, but all involved some version of a younger, more muscular aggressor.

Yet with the gun lobby gathering just days after George Zimmerman was arrested in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager in Florida, there was a new potency to such contingencies as many gun owners wait for more evidence about the killing to emerge.

"People here are definitely thinking and talking about it," said Terrence Mayfield, 61, who has a permit to carry a concealed firearm in Florida. "This whole thing rests on who threw the first punch. Either the gun saved Zimmerman's life or we had a cowboy, someone who thought because he had a gun things could escalate."
There's a lot more dangerous paranoia at the link, if you're interested.

I am deeply contemptuous of the idea that there only two possible options—A. Zimmerman's a cowboy; or B. Zimmerman's gun saved his life—which elides the possibility that even if Zimmerman was attacked (and I don't believe that he was), shooting his attacker was an overreaction.

These Stand Your Ground laws are advocated by people who believe that other people want to kill them or do them serious bodily harm, and that it's reasonable to kill a person who intends to do either. The deeply pessimistic view of (certain parts of) humankind is problematic enough on its own, but if you probe these arguments for what's actually an acceptable use of preemptive self-defense, it becomes clear pretty quickly that Stand Your Ground supporters are, exactly as I've described, fearful, privileged people whose bigotry makes them extremely dangerous to marginalized people—because none of them would support the preemptive shooting of police officers by young black men, despite the many, many, many, many, many, many reasons they have to believe their safety or very lives could be in danger, and none of them would support 1 in every 6 women shooting the men who rape them, or 1 in every 4 women shooting the male partner who subjects them to domestic abuse, etc.

Endemic violence against oppressed people is just The Way Things Are.

And, of course, oppressed people who try to or do defend themselves against privileged people often end up being arrested and jailed themselves, even in Stand Your Ground states.

Stand Your Ground laws aren't for those of us with identities and lives that mark us for greater risk of violence. We are just meant to survive. (And so most of us do, without ever having to kill anyone with a gun to do it.) Stand Your Ground laws aren't for survivors; they're for the people who create survivors, who fear being treated like they treat everyone else.

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