Tuesday, April 03, 2012

I'm Not the Man

I could have just as easily called this post "Guilt". I wavered.

I have not weighed in on the death of Trayvon Martin or the would-be lynching of George Zimmerman.

I don't know this is a weigh-in. Observational sure - but not at the situation as much as the aftermath. I make no judgements for either side of the two directly involved in this instance.

Not unlike everyone on the gay-internet weighing in on two men allegedly having sex in front of others, saying it never happened and they were arrested wrongly, everyone on-line seemingly knows exactly what happened - with Martin and with that cruise ship case. That is until pictures surfaced of those guy butt-fucking right there for all to see who were at port.

I won't disagree that there are fishy things with the Martin-Zimmerman case, but I also won't jump to conclusions, way the way commenters on the net have done or anyone reading / seeing the media stories. The horribly horribly skewed media stories.

Over the last two weeks, I've noticed this trend in print media - and on-line - where they use the victim's first name, but the accused's last name.  I'd say at least 50% of the articles do this consistently. It totally humanizes the victim (I get that), but starts to make the accused less so.

I would guess that most readers don't overtly notice this, but editors should and I'm also guessing it starts to build prejudice against the accused.  It starts playing with the psychology of the general public and unfortunately, the would-be jury pool.

Ditto with images being used in the media. There was an interesting AP article this last weekend about how most images of Martin are from years ago, before he was six feet tall and weighed much more.  The photo of Zimmerman in his orange prison jumpsuit was from seven years ago and when he was much heavier than at the time of this alleged crime.

I made assumptions the Zimmerman photo was taken directly after the shooting death of Martin. I'm guessing most of us did.

But even if not, the photo already makes him look like a criminal, as he was in prison garb. Very few stories mentions those charges were dropped.

But assumptions are made. Stereotypes easily come into play. Minds are made up. Justice is out the window.

Of course, NBC editing a 9-1-1 call help matters little when it comes to race. Here is what they broadcast:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

Here’s how the actual conversation went down:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.

A major network helps set up justice to fail for both Martin and Zimmerman. I'd bet they are not the only ones. But the way NBC positions this clearly shows Zimmerman being racist in nature. He may or may not be, but being asked the question, as opposed to just offering up race, could speak to his character as much as NBC manipulated what that character was.

I have yet to hear that State and Federal authorities are not charging Zimmerman. They are investigating. I think this is fair. Personally, if I were Zimmerman, I'd have fled the country weeks ago.  There is no fair trial for this man - no matter if he is guilty or not.

Ask the New Black Panthers, who have put a $10,000 bounty on his head.  Yes, kill the man, they say. The man who has not been charged, nor tried. I believe that is called "lynching".  It's not only bad enough that they put out that offer, but the media does stories on it.  Not buried in bigger articles, but stand-alone ones calling the attention to it.

No doubt, if someone could figure out which person in that organization would write the check and could collect it, I'm sure they'd do the job.   ...and Spike Lee can assist, since he tweeted Zimmerman's home address to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers.

Oh, but he actually tweeted the wrong address - and sent harassing people to an elderly couples home.

But with traditional and social media's help, we are becoming a lawless society.  The laws and courts are not perfect - clearly, but I would not want to be in Zimmerman's shoes right now, for any number of reasons.

If truth be told, neither would anyone who is so easily making assumptions and accusations.

Song by:  10,000 Maniacs


Anonymous said...

That was a very smart, objective and enlightening post.

Cubby said...

"But with traditional and social media's help, we are becoming a lawless society." You nailed it. It is a new form of modern vigilantism, like an electronic lynching where no one is to blame, but everyone is to blame.

Ur-spo said...

I haven't heard enough of this case to make a valid comment; by now it must be impossible to get facts without passions. What a mess.

wcs said...

On the subject of first names/last names, I've always noticed that media folks tend to use first names to belittle. I remember political talk show people referring to "Hillary" (Clinton) or "Jesse" (Jackson) while simultaneously referring to "Senator Hatch" or "Congressman DeLay." Just

I know it's totally opposite what you cited here, but your post made me remember the power of the first name/last name thing.