In Defense of the Black Panthers Zimmerman Bounty

The remnants of the Black Panthers organization supposedly called for George Zimmerman to be killed and they offered a reward to the person doing it. There was a great hue and cry with claims from all sides that this was an incredibly inappropriate and awful thing to do. 

It occurs to me instead that it's not the wrong thing to do and, more importantly, it's is an inevitable consequence of the Stand Your Ground law. Though the situation is different now that the State of Florida bowed to public pressure and is applying it's 'justice' system to Zimmerman, for a long time, it seemed very clear that he was going to get away, literally, with murder, a murder that he freely admitted to committing. The lessons learned are interesting.

You have to ask, What is the appropriate response of a family or clan to the outright murder of a member? The Martin family knows this kid. They know that it is absolutely impossible that he posed a mortal threat to Zimmerman. They know with the same certainty that most of us would that their child was not into violence or crime and, thus, in he was not in some small way responsible for putting himself in a position to get shot. 

Can you allow a Zimmerman to go happily about his life while you are crushed with grief and your son is dead forever? Can you allow other violent racists to know that they can kill your sons with impunity simply because the majority of your state legislature is ok with it? It seems to me that the answer in all these cases is no.

What I think has happened is that the society has made clear that certain people, Travyon Martin's parents, are beyond the reach of justice. The services of civilization have been withdrawn from them. The Black Panthers, as bad as it sounds, are simply offering to exact the perfectly reasonable penalty that is being withheld by the State of Florida.

If there is a murder and the villain is acquitted, we generally say to the family, the process is imperfect, you must accept your defeat and go on with your life. We say, the virtues of civilization require that we accept the process, including the fact that it's imperfect. Your heartbreak and anger must be swallowed to support the public good. Public peace and safety demand that vigilante behavior be suppressed.

But for the Martin family, there is no public peace and safety. The police in their town and their state legislators are very clear in asserting that no one is safe. Justice is not imperfect because we have decided that the rights of gun owners are beyond the reach of justice. Black kids continue to live in fear. Outrage at a confessed murderer going unpunished corrodes peoples hearts. Confidence in society as the just substitute for our desire for revenge and protection is gone.

I have long thought that this country is heading for a violent period. The right wing has become so extreme in their viewpoints and political tactics that the rest of us are becoming effectively disenfranchised. Small victories notwithstanding, the juggernaut of fear and ignorance – and self-dealing – is neutralizing the good will that allows people of different viewpoints to coexist. And Stand Your Ground laws grant license to the insanely conservative for murder.

The conservatives have firmly established the idea that compromise and cooperation in pursuit of a peaceful and orderly society is not a requirement any more. From Republican intransigence on every issue to Florida (and 21 other states) making clear that one has no obligation to avoid murder if there is a plausible excuse, these people are leaving the rest of us no choice. WInning the Presidency and two houses of Congress leaves us impotent. Being a decent family with a decent kid earns you no justice. Truth is turned on its head every day and those who want to cooperate, discuss and conduct a reasonable society are simply taken for suckers by the right-wing.

Eventually, someone is going to focus on the fact that the the Supreme Court is filled with pragmatic, young judges acting on vicious conservative ideologiy and realize that there is no hope for justice. Others will focus on the Senate which, having a majority of representatives that agree with reasonable people, are prevented from working their will by the perfectly uncooperative minority. As night follows day, someone will realize that our society has given up on being reasonable. Someone will think,  John Roberts, Sam Alito, Tony Scalia (or, John Boehner, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, etc) present a real threat to his well-being and decide that it's time to Stand His Ground.