Here is George Zimmerman, the killer of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, yukking it up in court today during testimony about what constitutes a legal use of deadly force:
U.S. Army Capt. Alexis Francisco Carter Jr. told a Florida court that Zimmerman had been "one of the better students" in a Criminal Litigation course he taught that included the state's "stand your ground" self-defense law.Rage. Seethe. Boil.
Defense attorney Don West asked Carter to explain how the self defense claim worked in Florida.
..."It's imminent injury," Carter explained. "Or imminent fear. So the fact alone that there isn't an injury doesn't necessarily mean that the person did not have a real apprehension of fear. The fact that there were injuries have a tendency to show or support that that person had a reasonable apprehension of fear."
"You don't have to wait until you're almost dead until you can defend yourself?" West asked.
"No, I would advise you probably don't do that," Carter replied.
That response prompted several seconds of laughter from the usually-emotionless Zimmerman before he was able to look downward to regain his composure.
Or maybe, in some cases, "the fact that there were injuries have a tendency to show or support" that a person being stalked and harassed by some vigilante racist asshole was himself reasonably fearful and decided to stand his ground and defend himself.
If the presence of injuries supposedly speaks to reasonable fearfulness, what does being fucking dead speak to?
It is a profound injustice that the jury at this trial is even allowed to entertain the idea that Zimmerman could have perceived himself to be in imminent danger, when at any point, he could have driven away in his vehicle, as was the recommendation of police, leaving the proximity of the unarmed teenager who he provoked and later killed.
WHAT ABOUT TRAYVON MARTIN'S RIGHT TO SAFETY?
Again, I will note that people have a right to be safe, but lots of people who actually are safe nonetheless do not feel safe. Lots of people imagine that they are going to be hurt by someone not like them, some terrorist, some gang member, some random teenage boy walking down the sidewalk with iced tea and Skittles in his hands.
Feeling safe—or not feeling safe—is at the very center of this case: George Zimmerman did not feel safe, even though he was, entirely so.
On the other hand, Trayvon Martin certainly did not feel safe—and he wasn't.
We continually privilege the feelings of safety of people whose privilege tends to insulate them from legitimate fear.
The most pointed problem with "Stand Your Ground" and other self-defense laws is that people who feel unsafe, irrespective of whether they have a legitimate reason to feel unsafe, implicitly have their fears justified. The laws intrinsically convey people are trying to hurt you and there's something scary out there and you should feel afraid, always afraid. So, ironically, these laws do not in any way encourage feelings of safety and security in fearful people. They entrench fear.
And that makes the world a very dangerous place for the people they're afraid of. People like Trayvon Martin.
Which is a goddamned punchline to George Zimmerman.