If you remember former state representative Cynthia Davis and her proclivity for weirdly entertaining rightwing mental rambling, you might want to check out The Turner Report to read her explanaton of how “the media is responsible for racial unrest” – specifically in regards to the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman travesty. Cynthia starts with the classic “I’m not a racist- some of my best friends are black” gambit, noting that she grew up in a mixed neighborhood, played with black children and, in college, performed with black gospel groups:
To this day, if an emergency were to break out and someone needed a pianist capable of playing “Black Gospel”, “Southern Gospel” or the music of Andre Crouch, I could come to the rescue.
Of course this is also the woman who, in a GOP effort to cut nutrition support to lower income individuals, questioned an African-American witness by referencing the supposedly bad “nutrition habits of ‘your people’ and ‘your community.'” I wonder if she was just this tone deaf during her college “black gospel” performing days.
Davis’ big news flash: there were no riots in her mixed nieghborhood and the folks she performed with seemed appreciative. I think that she’s trying to imply through these comments that racial resentment had to be instilled in African-Americans by artificial means, which is to say – gasp!- by the media. Apropos the Zimmerman case, she exclaims:
The Martin-Zimmerman story is still dominating the news because the media outlets are obsessing over the race question instead the facts of the case.
For Davis, the facts of the Martin/Zimmerman encounter have been settled by a jury and we all know that juries always get it right. Zimmerman is not guilty of anything. Never mind that the jury was instructed to disregard any considerations of race, and were only instructed in the intricacies of the stand-your-ground law in ways that would necessarily bias their considerations favorably towards Zimmerman.
Davis doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that the verdict leaves lots of questions unanswered. Numerous legal commentators haven noted that inherent in the legal application of Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground law to this incident are questions of who was the initial aggressor and who, Zimmerman or Martin, should have been allowed to exercise deadly force under the terms of Florida law. If the jury had been so instructed, the verdict might have been very different. Davis, however doesn’t wonder about how why we allow questions of life-and-death to be adjudicated through ambiguous, poorly conceived laws?
However, she is on a tear because folks like Missouri’s Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill are calling for a candid conversation about “stand-your-ground” laws. McCaskill has observed that “I think whatever we do to encourage the use of deadly force in non-lethal situations is not a good idea.” Cynthia, however, counters the idea that arming unauthorized, inexperienced and possibly racist vigilantes is dangerous by declaring:
The anti-gun proponents never seem to miss one opportunity to strip away self-defense rights. Waiting for the police is a great strategy, but what if they don’t show up in time to help?
Of course, what the Zimmerman case suggests is the exact opposite. There would have been no crime had Zimmerman done as the police had instructed him and waited for the police. In addition Trayvon Martin, a sixteen year old boy, would most likely still be alive.
Why didn’t Zimmerman wait? Could it have been the worry, fear, anger – take your pick – excited by the fact that Martin was African-American? In spite of the efforts of the judge to scrub questions of race from the testimony, it seems plausible. Maybe, in spite of Davis’ happy, riot-free childhood, the media’s concern with racism is justified.
Maybe the rush to enact Stand-Your-Ground laws beginning in 2005 itself suggests that the question of race is not, if left to itself without the intervention of a sensationalistic media, so easily resolved. Funny isn’t it that the 2nd amendment, although always a favorite of the fringe right, became the holy-of-holies at around the time of the election of the first black president.
The 2nd amendment itself does not escape the taint of our troubled racial history. There are those who hold that it was included in the Bill of Rights at least partly to placate Southern slaveholders who wished to arm themselves in order to put down potential slave insurrections (see here, here and [here. As historian and legal scholar, Charles T. Bogus, observes:
The Second Amendment takes on an entirely different complexion when instead of being symbolized by a musket in the hands of the minuteman, it is associated with a musket in the hands of the slave holder.
Nor does self-defense