The text above is from my post on Facebook the day before the verdict came down in the George Zimmerman Trial. Here is an expansion on that...
I have not been one to obsess over these types of public court cases, but I do try to stay aware of the news. With a situation like this, seeing coverage or opinions of the case is unavoidable. Trayvon Martin's name has been a trending topic for the entire year and a half since the incident. During that time lines have been drawn and opposing sides have dug in their heels on the hot button issues – Gun rights, Race, and Self Defense. The first two of those issues, while clearly playing a role in how the events unfolded, both before and after the incident, are not the issues that truly matter in this case. They are just easy targets for media and politicians to steer the conversation to the things that distract us and keep us divided.
Did George Zimmerman racially profile Trayvon Martin? Fuck yeah he did. Did his defense shamelessly attempt to use anything they could to posthumously thug up Trayvon's character? Disgustingly yes. The sad part is that had Trayvon lived and killed George Zimmerman in self defense he would be on trial and the same character assassination would be coming from the state. George Zimmerman is a sociopath who aggressively pursued an innocent teenager, initiating a conflict that was bound to cost one of their lives because he brought a deadly weapon into the mix. The scary thing about all this is that there are people who think he's not a dangerous person, and not only that, but he did the right thing. Killing an unarmed teenager is never the right thing. Zimmerman was a ticking time bomb. Carrying a gun with him, playing police, following people; These are not the actions of a stable person. This man was directly told by 911 to STOP FOLLOWING Trayvon Martin. He ignored that instruction. Now, should we believe that had Trayvon submitted to him that this would have turned out better? How about if Trayvon had turned out to be a teenage girl of similar build and reacted similarly to how Trayvon did? The defense was right, there are “too many what ifs”, but not the ones they intended.
To the real facts of the fight, no one will ever know the full truth but Trayvon and Zimmerman, though regardless the circumstance, Trayvon did not have to die. Zimmerman was power hungry, but what he was really driven by was his own fear. Fear of different people, fear of being powerless, and god knows what else. If what has come out in trial is true, that Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman getting the better of him, in my eyes Zimmerman was getting what he deserved. We believe in this country in standing up for ourselves. The irony is that at the time of the incident all the talk was about Zimmerman using the “Stand your ground” law, when what Trayvon Martin did was stand his ground. He stood up to a strange man who followed him, and may or may not have obviously had a gun. It took courage for Trayvon to confront the man who was stalking him, and it took a great deal of cowardice on the part of Zimmerman to gun him down, regardless the scenario. Zimmerman was no where near sustaining an injury great enough to truly have reason to fear for his life. He could have yielded, he could have run away, hell he could have pulled his gun and not fired to get the kid to back off. The bottom line is to believe the defense theory requires that we accept that Trayvon Martin was viscous and brutal enough to attempt to beat a man to death. That's is a pretty huge jump in logic, not to mention that George Zimmerman was the only one who entered this situation with a weapon and intent to use deadly force. This man tried to play super hero, but had no thought behind it, no training, no plan, just a gun and sudden confidence to feel empowered to pursue his own paranoid delusions. When he got bested, he used his false sense of power to take the life a young man who was simply fighting for his. That's not self defense, it's flat out murder. As I stated above, I don't believe this incident would have turned out better had Trayvon been submissive to Zimmerman. He had no plan for how to handle a situation like this, yet he pursued it aggressively, even against orders from authorities. That is dangerous, deluded, and frightening. He is a sociopath.
I hoped to see George Zimmerman get found guilty of the full charge. Alas, I sometimes have too great a faith in what I see as obvious logic. In my eyes I see a dangerous trend of people in this country becoming increasingly paranoid, xenophobic, racist, and feeling justified in their aggression. These are not the people I want roaming my streets armed feeling like they run the roost. Authority figures abuse their power enough without a bunch of crazy assholes running around playing cowboy. My streets feel safer when there isn't a local sociopath driving around with a gun looking for people he deems “suspicious”. Even as a white person myself, because of my tattoos or my style of dress in the wrong neighborhood people will look at me crossly, like I don't belong. It's a scary feeling, made all the scarier now that there are people out there who have gotten the message from this: “It's OKAY to be a vigilante”. Something gives me the feeling that the people who take that message away, are DANGEROUS. One of my favorite graphic novels, Watchmen, is about real life super heroes and the societal impact of vigilantism. A great question posed in the form of graffiti in the book is “Who Watches The Watchmen?”. I think that is a question we should be asking ourselves after all this.
I'll close with this, one of my favorite observations about Zimmerman in the aftermath, that came from comedian Matt Braunger: “Ironically, Zimmerman will spend the rest of his life worrying that someone with a gun and something to prove will murder him.” And if someone gets him, well, sadly I doubt anyone would feel pity.
I'm glad this Zimmerman trial is almost over and I do hope he is convicted of manslaughter at the very least. What parts I've watched of the trial, I have been absolutely floored by the defense strategies, particularly the fact that they feel they must spit on the grave of a dead kid to make it seem acceptable that he was killed. Race is a part of this whole ordeal, but it is also a huge fucking distraction with people caught up on both sides. The important part in this is about SELF DEFENSE. Let me be clear I am NOT talking about pussy ass Zimmerman's idea of SELF DEFENSE which is to feel more powerful by having a gun. What is at stake here, is a the right of a private citizen to DEFEND THEMSELF AGAINST A WEIRDO FOLLOWING THEM WITH A GUN. Trayvon Martin could very well have been on top of George Zimmerman and giving him the ass-whooping of a lifetime, which he rightfully deserved for following and harassing another human for no reason other than his own paranoid suspicion. The fact remains Trayvon was unarmed. Zimmerman initiated conflict by following him and approaching him, so if he got his ass kicked, sorry bud take it like a fucking man and learn not to follow around people you got no business following around. The claim is that Zimmerman "feared for his life" but it was in a situation HE PUT HIMSELF INTO. At the end of the day, Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman is a cowardly sociopath with delusions of authority. Think for a minute how this situation would have played out had Trayvon been submissive to Zimmerman, does it end with Trayvon alive?
The other day, I saw the first episode HBO’s Newsroom which is created by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin. For those that don’t know him, I’m sure you know some, if not all, of his works: A Few Good Men, West Wing (my personal favorite), Charlie Wilson’s War, Social Network, Moneyball, etc, etc. This might just be the most brilliant of them all.
Even though I just did, I’m not writing this article to tell you how great he is and highlight his resume. It was more about the Newsroom, or more accurately, the first 10 minutes. Here’s the scene:
Will McAvoy is an anchor on an imaginary show called “News Night”. He is on a political panel at a random college, sitting in between a liberal and conservative arguing with each other about the same shit liberals and conservatives argue over all of the time...everything.
The camera focuses in on him, and, to be honest, he looks like he’s about to have a panic attack. The fade out, he looks into the audience, and as they fade back in the moderator asks if he has anything to add. He replies, “I think we need a more precise definition of perverted”. Crowd laughs.
The moderator then points to the next person to ask a question, ask McAvoy if he is a conservative, liberal, or independent. McAvoy, intending not to offend or take sides with anyone, states that he is a New York Jets fan. Crowd laughs.
The moderator mentions how he always avoids a political allegiance, and asks if it’s because he feels that his integrity as a broadcaster will be compromised? He replies, “It sounds like a good answer”. Crowd laughs.
The moderator tries to press him a little further to find out which side he leans towards to no avail, then moves to the next question.
Enter: The Sophomore Jenny
Her question to the panel is, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”
The liberal says, “Diversity and opportunity”.
The conservative says, “Freedom and freedom, so let’s keep it that way”.
Mr McAvoy says, “The New York Jets”.
The moderator won’t let him get off that easy this time, and tells him that he needs a legitimate answer. After a little positioning of his words to agree with the conservative and liberal, he then drops a bomb (after brief pause) while being badgered to give an answer.
“It’s not the greatest country in the world Professor, that’s my answer”.
The moderator tries to confirm what he said, and McAvoy confirms. Then continues to go on this rampage where he tells the liberal that the reason that no one likes liberals is because they always lose, and mocks the conservative for talking about freedom is what makes this country great because over 180 countries have the same thing.
He then goes in on Jenny The Sophomore or as he refers to her, “Sorority Girl”.
“There is no evidence that supports the fact that we are the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-seventh in life expectancy, one hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories:
Then he scolds her and all of the students that are there to see him by yelling, in the best bitter old man voice that has, that they are part of the worst generation ever. The auditorium is silent.
He then starts part 2 of his monologue by saying, “It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We raged wars on poverty not poor people. We sacrificed. We cared about our neighbors. Put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chests. We built big things. Made ungodly technological advances. Explored the universe. Cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars. Acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to do all of these things and be all of these things because we were informed. By great men. Men were revered.
First step in solving any problem is by recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore”.
In my opinion, the most powerful first eight minutes of a first episode of any show that I’ve ever seen. It made my mind stir and wonder. I saw the argument. I felt his pain and anguish. I understood what was going on in his head, and I knew why he did it.
Then I asked myself...what have I written to inspire that emotion in people?
Does my music, blogs, films, or books inspire people to think about anything other than what they are watching, listening to, or reading by me? I wish it does. Now I’m not of the mindsight that everything that I ever write will be this Shakespearean Masterpiece. I know too many people that try to get deep everytime that lay something, and, to tell the truth, it wears me out to have to listen to that all day. Besides, if you’re trying to be deep all of the time, are really doing it for the right reasons? I mean are promoting thought because you are sincere, or are you doing it so that everyone can say how thought provoking you are?
I’ve been on both sides of that mirror. I’ve written songs on subjects that made me cry while writing them; however, I’ve also written shit for the sake of my own self assurance through the eyes and ears of my listeners. That becomes addictive...and dangerous.
People are influenced, and when I say people I mean everyone. No ideas are completely original and most behavior is learned. The clothes we wear, the computers we own, and the type of phone that we talk on was inspired by something or someone.
Even emotions are at the behest of the influencer. Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries was booed in almost every arena he played in last season because he was being divorced by Kim Kardashian. Biggie and Tupac had entire coasts beefing with each other. Radio commentators, like Rush Limbaugh, influence Republican party policy through his listeners. Dave Chappelle had every White kid in America claiming they were “Rick James Bitch!”
So the question remains..do I inspire people, and, if I do:
I would like to have a positive impact. To think that my words are a call to action for most people. Enlighten them to whatever was in my heart and compelled me to create, and hopefully find their own meaning through what I’ve presented to them.
With all of the information that floats and flows on the 24 hour cycle, who knows whether the things that I put out influence people to do anything but listen, read, or watch my projects. All I can say is that I put my all into it, and will continue to do so until I feel that I’m no longer influenced by myself. At that moment, it would be time to go to Las Vegas and drink myself into oblivion.
Quanstar is an American underground hip hop artist, indie filmmaker, comic creator, and self published author from Atlanta.