TRUTH, JUSTICE AND JOURNALISM
It seems almost redundant to link to the Reuters piece on George Zimmerman that nearly everyone has seen by now, but what’s interest about it is just how routine it is. It’s a standard background piece and thousands like it run after prominent crimes. Any sizable news organization can put one out within a week and smaller community papers and magazines regularly run them when there’s a major case. When the case is big enough, some of them get turned into movies, mostly they help set a tone.
All they really involve in meeting with some of the locals, arranging for interviews, taking some notes and writing up the results. And what’s really interesting about “Prelude to a Shooting” is how long it took until a media organization chose to run it.
I strongly suspect that there’s a dozen pieces like it sitting in file folders and desks in other media organizations that have not decided what to do with them. I suspect the Reuters piece was in that same state until someone decided to finally run it. The Zimmerman family has been proactive in reaching out and trying to tell the story. It’s the media that has held the door shut.
“Prelude to a Shooting” is not the last word on the case. It’s background on Zimmerman, not the entire set of events, and it wouldn’t even be all that significant except for the lynch mob atmosphere in the media and the refusal of the media to do any basic reporting on the case besides spewing back the same ‘hoodie and skittles’ narrative.
If Zimmerman had just shot a man in cold blood, there would be little point in laying out the background, it would be no more than another Bernie Tiede piece, but instead we do get crucial bits of context that explain what was going on in the neighborhood at the time in the context of property values, constant break ins and a neighborhood on the edge.
It’s the final concluding material on Emmanuel Burgess that sets the most important context in the case. It tells us part of why events happened the way they did and that along with Martin’s No Limit Nigga material sets a different stage than the one that the media has thrust on us.
BUILDERS AND DESTROYERS
We are more than who we are at any given moment. We are also who we aspire to be.Both Zimmerman and Martin were flawed men, but Zimmerman’s writings and behavior showed a man who aspired to be something better, while Martin’s showed that he wanted only to sink down. Martin can’t be entirely blamed for that, he did not create and perpetuate the fake gansta culture. It’s the mostly white entertainment industry that did that, often embedded in the same news corporations which organized the lynching of George Zimmerman.
The entertainment industry did not tell Martin what would happen if he assaulted an adult man who was concerned about the neighborhood, while Martin was concerned about getting the “Respect” that gangsta culture told him he was entitled to by virtue of his posing.
Martin did not understand that life was different than gangsta culture. That men who have guns don’t necessarily go waving them around. And that sometimes when you have someone down on the ground and you’re beating on them, they will use what they have.
Had Martin killed Zimmerman, he would be preening for the cameras now, the defiant upward head tilt you see so often in court photos. The pose that says, “I don’t care, because I’m too cool to care.” It’s the pose that the man who might have been Martin’s father often wears to tell us that he’s going to go on doing whatever he likes, because he can.
But that’s not what you see in Zimmerman’s face, it’s not just regret, it’s pain. Zimmerman did not intend to take another human life, and he regrets that and regrets how society sees him, and he is coming to terms with doing what he had to do. There is a basic decency in his expression which cannot be photoshopped onto Martin’s face. The photoshopping can pale his skin, younger photos can make him look innocent, but nothing can make him look decent.
Zimmerman quoted Burke. Martin quoted hip hop. That was the fundamental difference between the two men, not race, but culture. Zimmerman aspired to be a good human being. Martin aspired to be street trash.
In a society under siege, there are builders and there are destroyers. Zimmerman was a builder, we will never know what Martin might have become, but he was on a path to becoming a destroyer.
We live in a culture that punishes builders and rewards destroyers. That treats the destroyer as innocent and moral, because he is untainted by knowledge and experience, because he resists the builders and spreads anarchy and chaos.
The gap between Martin and Zimmerman is the gap between the graffiti scrawler and the business owner, the occupy wall street thug and the office worker, the rap star and the composer, the activist and the entrepreneur.
Martin was just another pawn in a culture war waged by the destroyers against civilization. As a a man he gorged himself on destroyer culture, imitated it and then fatally lived it out. As a dead man, he became a rallying cry for the destroyers.