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09/28/2013

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Trayvon’s Tragedy - A tale of political opportunityI ordinarily don’t “go public” and outside my circle of political junkies to speak out oncontroversial subjects. But because of my abiding convictions in support of the concept of individual responsibility, and of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United Statesof America, I’m breaking with that routine to share some thoughts about the tragic death of aFlorida teen involving the discharge of a firearm.I don’t view what has happened as a “racial” issue. Nor do I see it in terms of “gun control”.Both are political concepts that are emotionally charged, misunderstood by the general public,and for that reason frequently exploited to advance a political agenda or ideology. At the very outset of this story, all the so called “facts” that we heard from every media outlet of every political leaning reported:1. An unarmed black teen, with emphasis on the black part, was shot.2. The shooter was a white man.3. The 911 call by the shooter contained a racial epithet or slur.4. The only statement disclosed made by the teen was that he was “being followed.”5. The grief stricken parents of the teen described their dead child as a kind and loving saint.6. The white guy continued to pursue the teen even after being told to break his pursuit off.7. The police failed to charge the shooter, or even to relieve him of his weapon.8. The shooter claimed self defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.When I first heard the reporting of this incident I had the same visceral reaction of disgust andsorrow as many of you probably had as well. Then my rational brain started working. The firstthing I thought was that it was rather strange to me that the police had neither charged theshooter, nor had they taken his gun away from him. If these facts were true, and that theshooter had pursued his victim, the “stand your ground” law wouldn’t even apply. Havingpracticed law for over 30 years, and leading a gun education group for seniors, I have morethan a passing knowledge of the “stand your ground laws” and police protocols. Nothingseemed to fit. If I were to believe the reported description of what had happened, I couldn’tunderstand why the shooter hadn’t been arrested or at the very least why he hadn’t beenrelieved of his gun. I turned to my wife and I said “Something isn’t right here. There has got tobe a lot more to this story.” And now, more facts are turning up. Mr. Zimmerman is neither entirely “white”, nor is heJewish. He is of Hispanic and white heritage, just like Trayvon who is of black and whiteheritage.I heard the 911 call. I didn’t hear anything even approaching a racial slur. I heard only static,and a muffled unintelligible voice.For the first time, I learned the picture the media displayed of Trayvon was several years old,and that at the time of the shooting he was 6’2” tall and a football player. (I’m still waiting for acurrent picture to be shown by the media).
 
Perhaps most revealing however was the recent disclosure of a secret witness (no doubt in fear of his/her life) who has come forward describing a far different picture and one that supports theconduct of the police. The unnamed witness describes Trayvon on top of Zimmerman andbeating him. Zimmermans' shirt had grass stains on the back, and his face was bloodied. Evenmore startling is the statement of the witness that Zimmerman had broken off his pursuit, andwas returning to his SUV when he was attacked by Trayvon. This is a very different version of events that if true would cast doubt on the claims that a “hate crime” had been committed, or that the "stand your ground" defense of the shooter was baseless.So what are we to discern from all of this? First of all the obvious is not to jump to conclusionsuntil all the facts are known. That’s why we have a judicial system and due process guaranteedby the Constitution. The second point to note is that persons with an ideological agenda willseize upon certain situations, politically exploit them, distort them, and agitate for their view of the world. Unfortunately, a lot of people, including the President don’t seem to be bothered bythe facts, or practice what they preach. Can you say "Rodney King"?Need I remind you that this is the second time the President has interjected himself into asituation for political purposes after saying it’s a “local matter” and that he didn’t have “all thefacts”. Mr. President, if you don’t have all the facts, shut the hell up.The President is not alone in his political agitprop either. He is joined by a cast of well knownrace mongers. You’ve got Al Sharpton leading a public rally with the family of Trayvon. This isthe same deadbeat liar that brought you the likes of Tawana Brawley. If you don’t know whoshe is, Google it! Jesse Jackson is out there beating the same old drum that blacks in Americaare being targeted. (The inference is that we haven’t changed since the pre Civil War days inour attitudes about race). Death threats are being made on the chief of Police in Florida. Andthe good ole...oooops...”New” Black Panther Party is publishing “Wanted Dead or Alive” postersfor Zimmerman. Oh yeah, this is the same group that our beloved Attorney General, EricHolder, let off the hook from criminal charges arising from voter intimidation at a polling place inthe 2008 elections.The bottom line is that we need to start acting as rational, civil citizens of our country andcarefully evaluate all that we hear and see, especially when our information is coming fromsomeone or some organization with an axe to grind. Let all the facts come out, and let our  judicial system work.RF 

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