July 21, 2013

The Essential Question of Trayvon Martin

Here is what I see as the essential question we must answer in the wake of the Trayvon Martin decision. 

Let's say the NAACP decides to respond to the trial's outcome by encouraging all law-abiding adults of color living in states where "stand your ground" laws are in effect to arm themselves.  They say the message isn't meant to foment violence, but to enable individuals to protect themselves from the kind of aggressive actions that led George Zimmerman to kill a teenage boy.  It's a message that is consistent with the nation's interpretation of what we refer to as the right to bear arms and understandable in light of what happened.

Are you uncomfortable with such a position?  If so, why?  In particular, if you're a Tea Party advocate, do you see the Second Amendment as applying only to white Americans?  Do you see your right to bear arms as the means by which you protect yourself from ice tea-guzzling and Skittles-eating black teenagers who wear hoodies?  Would you limit the ability of people of color to take advantage of the same right you cherish to protect themselves against a wayward system that promotes discriminating violence?  If that's the way you feel, I would suggest you might be a racist.

Some people, however, will say they're not racist, but that encouraging minority groups to arm themselves will only give rise to civil disorder and violence.  Yet, that's exactly how I feel about the self-righteous on the far right, who believe they will need arms to support a constitution they don't understand and have never read.  I fully expect them to wage an armed war against liberals, a possibility that frightens me terribly.  When people have free access to weapons and suffer no consequences for bone-headed decisions that result in the loss of property and life, we have a volatile and dangerous situation.  Stand your ground laws encourage both preconditions.  

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