George Zimmerman's legal team shared an Orlando Sentinel guest column
this morning that defends Zimmerman on a level a step above the others: It's not just that he deserves his fair day in court and people are jumping to conclusions. We should be looking up
to Zimmerman. Lots of other people haven't done so well in the face of bullying, hatred, and threats.
It's a curious thesis, with curious evidence. The martyrs mentioned: two bullied teenagers and a guy who murdered his children.
"What is happening to Zimmerman, on every level, is a national disgrace
," writes the improbably named Modesty Avian, from Tucson. "It takes people of a high caliber and moral courage to survive death threats, terrorism, hatred and harassment. People like the Zimmermans deserve our empathy."
It does not appear caliber was an intended pun.
"Bullying suicides are everywhere, from Tyler Clementi to Abraham Biggs, among many others who have taken their own lives when maligned," she continues. "Consider Josh Powell, who burned himself and his sons when faced with hardships and trials."
Tyler Clementi is the Rutgers University student who jumped off a bridge in 2010 after his roommate secretly recorded and broadcast footage of Clementi hooking up with another man. It shook an entire university community and provided the impetus for the "It Gets Better" campaign to reach out to LGBT youth.
Josh Powell was a Seattle father who stole his two young sons from a social worker, hit them both with a hatchet
, and then blew up his house with all three of them inside. For real
The social worker was supposed to be supervising the visit between Powell and his sons because Powell had lost custody of them -- he was a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, and his kids were taken away after his father, with whom they were staying, was arrested on child porn charges.
"Hardships and trials" indeed, Ms. Avian, but hardly a case in which we get to say "Poor Josh Powell." You don't get to lump Clemente and Biggs in with a hatchet-wielding child-exploder and use it to back up your justification of a killing. What's the point here? That Zimmerman didn't kill himself? Is that cause for admiration now?
"Lynch mobs want vengeance, not justice... It is easy to see from his actions and the court proceedings that Zimmerman has the deepest respect for our justice system," she says, with no comment on Zimmerman's assertion to the 911 operator about how "these assholes always get away." And where was that "deepest respect" when Our Justice System told him not to chase Martin around his father's gated community?
She then says "Zimmerman is neither a racist nor a vigilante."
While we'll probably never be able to prove race was a factor in the Trayvon Martin killing, Zimmerman's MySpace page included totally racist stuff about Mexicans
. Maybe he got over it. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt on that one.
But Zimmerman isn't a vigilante? If you define vigilante
, as Google does
, as "a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate," then yeah, Zimmerman is totally a vigilante. How could that even be a question?
Even if the killing was justified, even if Zimmerman acted in self-defense, even if he Stood His Ground and is found to be totally innocent, Zimmerman is a vigilante. He was told not to follow Martin -- he did it anyway. Even if you support Zimmerman completely, you can't deny it was vigilantism that led to this whole debacle.
Let's read some more of the column:
"Humans have discovered that good wishes are essential to life. Imagine then, if groups of people, organizations, churches, politicians and media were to vilify and demonize a single individual."
It's not clear which publication this "good wishes" discovery appeared in, but let's move on to this thing about how "groups of people" don't demonize individuals. Turn on CSPAN for about ten seconds and you'll see a group of people making a living off of doing just that. Pro-choice? Demon. Anti-abortion? Demon. Cries of voter suppression from one side, cries of voter fraud from the other? Demons, the lot of 'em.
And churches? Churches demonize people every day -- that's where the word demonize comes from." Imagine, for a second, what a crazy world it would be if churches just went and passed judgment on people. What a terrible place!" Yeah, that doesn't happen. None of those gay people actually wanted to get married.
Avian concludes, "Whatever else you may think regarding the case, the character and courage of Zimmerman and his family is an inspiration to us all. Would we fare so well in his shoes?"
A good question. What would we do if we were in Zimmerman's shoes? Would we walk around in the dark with a handgun, following random people through our neighborhood? Would we ignore authorities who told us not to just be following people around while the police are on their way? Would we then kill someone as he tried to beat the crap out of us for following him around
? And when we got arrested, would we lie to the courts
about how much money we had for our defense and then get our bond revoked?
Who knows? But it's nice to know that if we did all those things and ended up charged with murder, people would compare us to Tyler Clementi and say they look up to us. When you kill someone, after all, it's incredibly courageous to sort of cooperate with authorities.