I didn’t sleep much last night and woke up feeling sick with sorrow and dread. Yesterday was a monumentally shitty day in this corner of the blogosphere, what with the confirmation of General Stuck’s death and then the horrible news about Tunch, John’s feline doppelgänger (a big ol’ sweetie disguised as a badass) and this blog’s floofy, fabulous, irreplaceable mascot.
Hard on the heels of that, we learned that George Zimmerman skates after shooting an unarmed teenager to death. Many of us expected this, but it was still hard to hear. I watched a bit of the coverage after the verdict came in, and the most affecting commentary I heard was from Joy Reid, my fellow Floridian before MSNBC wisely signed her, whom I first became aware of when she and I were slugging it out with some jackasses in the comments section of a Florida newspaper during the first Obama campaign.
Reid described having “the talk” with her teenage son, walking him through the steps involved in optimizing a black male’s odds of making it through an encounter with police officers without getting tased, beaten or shot. Be respectful and non-threatening. Don’t make any sudden moves. And now she wonders how to tell her son that he needs to walk on eggshells with virtually everyone, not just the local authorities. Because now just about anyone down here can appoint themselves Sheriff of the Sidewalk or Cop of the Cul-de-Sac.
We’ve spent a lot of time and energy here in spirited discussions (and interminable internet slap-fights) about the NSA revelations and what that all means. It’s a discussion worth having, and despite a few extreme exceptions that prove the rule, I think most of us agree we don’t want to live in a police state and most support greater transparency and want to ratchet down the war footing, however we may disagree on the true nature of our current status and the methods for getting to a better place.
But honestly, I’m more worried about the fake police state, the mindset that compels a shlub like Zimmerman (and millions of others) to think it’s perfectly normal to shove a loaded pistol in his pants for a trip to Target, which is where he claims he was going before he profiled, pursued and killed Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman’s horrible brother Robert Jr. was on CNN last night and noted that he’s glad George Zimmerman’s gun will be returned to him since he needs it for protection. He cited death threats on Twitter. Well, Zimmerman thought he needed that gun in a far more fortunate time, before any of us knew his fucking name.
Florida issues more concealed carry permits than any other state – over a million so far. But don’t think that this is the answer, as amusing as it is:[Edited to replace “Bugs Bunny sawing off the state of Florida” GIF with a link.]
Because it’s not just Florida. It’s a sickness at the heart of this country, which is ass-deep in guns from coast to coast. It’s a putrification of the soul that would allow a Zimmerman to put words from a Dirty Harry script into the mouth of the kid he just killed: “You’re gonna die tonight, motherfucker!” “You got me!”
The laws in this state are particularly fucked up because, thanks to the tireless efforts of the NRA, they were designed to specifically remove the “duty to retreat.” But please don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a Florida problem.
Remember that 20 mostly white children were gunned down in affluent, civilized Connecticut. So far, despite the tireless efforts of their families, President Obama and Vice President Biden, not a damn thing has been done to address it.
This is an America problem, this obsession with guns, this fixation on dispensing hollow-point justice to “the other,” and it will take the combined efforts of all of us to change it. We have to try.