Thursday, December 5, 2013
As a matter of law, George Zimmerman was rightfully acquitted of the criminal killing of Trayvon Martin. Yet Martin was wrongfully killed. Society is left with a wrong without a remedy.
An image of Trayvon Martin and a bullet shell keychain are seen at a protest in Los Angeles on July 15 in response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the fatal shooting of the teenager in 2012.
2013 File Photo/The Associated Press
The fault is twofold. First are the endemic vestiges of racism in our culture. The second is the Florida statute that allows a person who fears for his safety to use deadly force on his perceived assailant.
Racial stereotyping led Zimmerman to accost Martin as the first in a chain of events ending with the killing of the unarmed boy. Had Martin been white, Zimmerman wouldn't have suspected the worst of him.
How many of us, as whites in a largely white society, in spite of our best educations and enlightened humanism, are totally free of some form of stereotyping of black kids? It's naive to think that Zimmerman, a product of a small-town Florida gated community, is race-blind.
The facts educed at trial show that Zimmerman approached Martin and an altercation followed. Under Florida law, once a person feels threatened, he's justified in using a gun to remove the perceived threat. Whether Martin or Zimmerman began the fight doesn't matter.
Picture yourself in a fight. Whether you are winning or losing, you think that the other person not only wants to hurt you, but may possess a weapon. Unfortunately, there's no middle ground. You use whatever weapon you have.
I am a large white male. Some could be intimidated if we should approach each other on a dark, deserted street where there has been a recent spate of muggings.
It's conceivable that if I got too close to an armed person, that person might be frightened enough to shoot, especially if I were black. In Florida, the shooter would not be criminally responsible.
Quebec train tragedy poses questions for Maine's future
Thank you for your coverage of the derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Since I am in Nova Scotia this summer, I listen to reportage on the CBC every day, and, as Canada's neighbor, Maine needs to know what is happening next door.
It should not be lost on anyone living in the United States or Canada that the oil cars that destroyed Lac-Megantic run through many Maine towns on their way to New Brunswick and the Irving refinery.
It also should not be lost on anyone that the type of crude being transported is highly volatile and laced with chemicals that endanger air, water and lives. There is no way for this product to be safely shipped through any of our communities. The rail and pipeline infrastructures in both of our countries were never designed to handle these substances nor the volume now being rushed to market.
The companies that operate these carriers, whether pipeline or oil, are not given to self-disclosure. Case in point: As we in Portland and South Portland well know, it was citizen investigation that revealed the plan for the additional two 70-foot smokestacks to be erected on Bug Light where tar sands oil could be offloaded into tankers in Casco Bay.
The powers that delegate these actions that so affect our lives need to hear our voices loudly, clearly and often. If we don't educate ourselves, speak up and act proactively, the other shoe will invariably drop on another beautiful little community.
We can write letters. We can go to community meetings. We can protest. Our beautiful little communities are worth it.
Current events drive reader to search for distractions
"Summertime, and the livin' is easy ..." Remember that old song? But this summer's goings-on make livin' anything but easy!
I'm talking about what has to be a bonanza for all of the media -- and a downer for the rest of us. Let me give some examples:
• The Lac-Megantic train crash and explosion (tragic -- criminal charges?); the horrendous San Francisco plane crash (pilot error?).
• Criminal cases: (in Boston, alone), those of Whitey Bulger, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect and Aaron Hernandez. What about Pfc. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden's continuing saga at the Moscow airport?
• Of course, in Augusta, we have the governor and the Democrats still going at it. And in Congress, between the immigration bill and the fiasco of Obamacare, we have left-wing Democrats fighting with moderate Democrats and right-wing Republicans fighting with middle-of-the-road Republicans.
• Overseas, we are all aware of the awful chaos and killings in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan.
• Even in regional sports there has been major change, with the Celtics trading their top scorers and the Bruins making multi-player trades.
As for me, I'm going to distract myself from all this (at least until Congress goes on their yearly August "break") by happily watching the good play of the Red Sox, going to a rave-movie like "Despicable Me 2," watching the exciting new TV series "Under the Dome" and enjoying the stock market making record highs.
'Old schooler' doesn't need social media to enjoy friends
I would like to believe I am not alone in praying that social media and its ugly offspring have reached a saturation point and will soon go the way of telegrams and phone booths.
What makes TV and print media feel I need to hear or read tweets from anyone commenting on a story, particularly so-called celebrities commenting on anything, knowing darn well most cannot develop a clear thought unless it was on a script?
The same goes for anyone with opposable thumbs and a cellphone who feels the need to share their deep and well-thought-out opinions.
And can we get through a broadcast without hearing the terms "like us" and "hashtag"? What is a hashtag, anyway? It looks like the pound sign or number symbol to me.
Call me old school, but when I want to share something with a friend or family member, I call or go see them. When I want to show pictures of my new grandson, I show them in person.
We are becoming a nameless and faceless society that relies on anonymity and electronic communications for human interaction. Soon we will forget how to say "hello" to another human being in person.
For those who claim a desire to safeguard your privacy, you think nothing of plastering your entire life onto a computer for the world to see.
Old schoolers of the world, rise up and unite in returning to a world of human interaction. I may not have hundreds of "friends," but the ones I do have are real.