Sometimes S… Happens: The Trayvon Martin Shooting and the Zimmerman Verdict

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Criminal trials concern the guilt or innocence of a person who has broken state or federal law. The defendant is considered to be innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution’s responsibility is to convince the jury through the evidence at hand that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A verdict of “not-guilty” does not imply innocence; it means that the jury did not find there was evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant.

This is basic law that the liberals who claim that the George Zimmerman verdict was about racism miss. The issue is not the race of the defendant or of Tra

George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman (Photo credit: ChrisWaldeck)

yvon. Martin. The issue is not whether the killing of Mr. Martin is a tragedy–obviously it is a tragedy. A young man’s life was taken–that is always a tragedy whether it occurs in China, England, the United States–anywhere. Two paths crossed that led to disaster and pain for the family of the deceased. Mr. Zimmerman, who does not seem to be a sociopath, has a conscience–and he will have to live with what he did the rest of his life. The issue in the trial was whether Zimmerman met the criteria for Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law.” The defense failed to show this, and thus the only responsible verdict for the jury to reach is “not-guilty.” In a different state with different laws Mr. Zimmerman may have been justly charged. Given Florida’s law, the trial of George Zimmerman became a Soviet-style show trial that thankfully did not lead to a miscarriage of justice.

Personally I find Mr. Zimmerman’s actions before the shooting overly-aggressive and reckless. He kept following Mr. Martin when the police told him to stop. He left his car, thus making the situation more volatile. I think he realizes now that his actions were wrong–but if it is true, as multiple witnesses said, that Mr. Martin (who was not the saint the media portrayed him to be) began to pummel Mr. Zimmerman so that Mr. Zimmerman believed his life to be in danger, Zimmerman’s firing the fatal shot was not legally wrong.

The mainstream media’s race-baiting, and in one network, an edited audio track, are unethical actions that only stir dangerous passions. Mr. Sharpton’s usual agitation came into play–and his stirring up the pot of hatred arguably led to the brutal murder of an Orthodox Jewish man in New York a number of years ago. I would not have thought any differently about the case if it had been a white man that Mr. Zimmerman killed. The left is truly racist–in its labeling of Mr. Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic,” and in its continual exploitation of African Americans for its own agenda.

The left is obsessed with race–they see it everywhere, in every incident involving an African American. The American left treats African-Americans like children. Instead of allowing self-improvement, liberals supported a nanny state that only made African Americans more dependent. Liberals support abortion which, as a percentage of race, kills more of the African-American unborn than in any other group. Some wealthy liberals enjoy their gated communities while the poor blacks they have exploited to gain more power suffer and die under incentive-stifling liberal programs. By stirring up African Americans in cases such as the Martin case, liberals fuel the racial divisions that help keep them in power. Liberal academics get a good feeling of superiority in supporting “social justice” (i.e., socialism and the automatic assumption of guilt of anyone in a Zimmerman-like case).

Mr. Obama’s behavior has been particularly poor. His taking a side in a legal case was unethical. People complained when Mr. Nixon declared Charles Manson guilty–now liberals prefer to support Mr. Obama’s irresponsible actions. If the rumor is true that justice department officials engaged in anti-Zimmerman protests, most likely under at least tacit White House approval, the Administration has engaged in obstruction of justice.

Now there is a cry among liberals to try Mr. Zimmerman under federal civil rights laws. That may well happen–and then the result of the show trial might be a subversion of justice.

Sometimes s… happens. As a former EMT, I know how easy it is to be on a bad call–many little things add up to disaster. Police officers tell me the same thing. The Zimmerman shooting of Mr. Martin is similar–too many bad things happened, bad decisions on both sides, that led to a horrific tragedy. The Martin family can take action under civil law if they wish, but a federal criminal trial would mean double jeopardy (and while I understand why the laws were passed, it is cases like this that are politicized that reveal the injustice of those laws).

Mr. Zimmerman may have had character flaws that led him to a tragic decision to keep pursuing  a young man in his neighborhood. But his decisions, as bad as they were, were not violations of Florida law. Thus, the jury did the just and honest thing. Bless them for not yielding to public and media pressure.

Vampires, Folklore, and Reality

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Little vampire

Little vampire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At http://theweek.com/article/index/237005/the-serbian-village-thats-warning-of-a-vampire-on-the-loose is a story about a mayor in the Serbian village of Zerozje who warned the villagers of the danger of a vampire in the area. Villagers began to purchase garlic and other anti-vampire products. This story is interesting in revealing the power of folklore to be belief-forming and action-guiding even in an age permeated with science and technology.

Although I do not believe in “undead” vampires, history has had its share of people who enjoyed drinking human blood. One who probably should not be included in that category is the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth von Bathory (1560-1614) whom legend says bathed in the blood of the servant girls she murdered. Although this is pure legend, it is true that she was a sadist who tortured and murdered some of her servants.

What is interesting in contemporary times is the number of criminal cases involving people who self-identify as vampires, particularly in the state of Florida. In 1985, John Brennan Crutchley (1946-2002) was captured after a woman he had held prisoner escaped and was found wandering along the side of a highway. She had been drained of almost half her blood supply, and she said that her kidnapper had drank some of the blood. Crutchely would rape his victims first, drain their blood, drink it, and then murder his victims. He died of autoerotic asphyxiation in prison in 2002, revealing that he has more than one paraphilia. Roderrick Justin Ferrell (1980- ), from Murray, Kentucky, with the help of an accomplice, brutally beat a couple to death in 1996 and carved a “V” into one of the victims. Ferrell believed himself to be “Vesago,” a vampire.  In 2011, there was another murder by a teenaged girl claiming to be a vampire, and another girl bit pieces of the face and lip off a homeless man after telling him she was a vampire. Although not the only state to have such clubs, Florida is among the leading growth states for “vampire clubs,” in which members ritualistically drink small amounts of blood from other members. There is no need to fear the legendary “undead” when living people commit horrific crimes.

Many vampire stories are not fairy tales because their setting is usually in a particular time and place, and often with an actual historical figure as the vampire. Bram Stoker took advantage of legends about the Transylvanian Prince Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476) in his writing his famous novel, Dracula. Yet the vampire stories remain folklore; historically the origin of the legends are rooted, in part, in people’s confusion about the process of decomposition after death. Lips drawing back make teeth look larger and more ominous. Skin pulling away from hair creates the illusion that hair continues to grow after death. The fact that such folklore exists should be no surprise given the clear connection between blood and life—the character Renfield was not totally off base when he quoted the Hebrew Bible and said, “The blood is the life.” Driving a stake through the heart of a vampire makes sense within the secondary world of the legend since the heart is the organ that pumps blood. The older idea of the heart being the center of the self may have helped the folklore develop. The self is, in part, a psychological notion, and there is much contemporary discussion of “psychic vampires,” people with personality disorders such as narcissism, histrionic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder, who seem to feed on the emotional energy of other people.

Montague Summers (1880-1948) was a British writer who claimed to be a Roman Catholic priest  but most likely was not one). He wrote a survey of vampire stories around the world along with a second book focusing on vampires in European folklore. Summers believed that vampires existed, arguing that they are (1) logically possible, (2) could exist with the permission of God, and (3) do actually exist given the extent of legends about vampires throughout human culture.  (1) is true—vampires are logically possible, but so is Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. (2) True, vampires could exist with God’s permission, but so could many other unusual creatures. (3), given the considerable evidence that vampire folklore arose, to a major extent, from mistaken views of decomposition, it is highly unlikely that “undead” vampires exist.

I have always preferred, when it comes to vampire fiction, the traditional evil vampire, the vampires of Stephen King’s novel Salem’s Lot being an excellent example. Romantic vampires, such as those in the Twilight series, nauseate me—yes, writers can create new traditions, but making some vampires good is tantamount to blasphemy. Hopefully teenagers will soon grow out of this romanticized view of the “vampire with the good heart” (no pun intended) as soon as possible. Throughout its historical manifestations, both good and evil, the vampire remains a powerful symbol, to the point that for some people in Serbia today, it is much more than a symbol—it is a part of literal reality—and it is to be feared rather than loved.