The lessons learned
There’s fear that the verdict will embolden vigilantes but that need not be the concern: History has already done that. You need not recall specifics of everything that has transpired in Florida over the past two hundred years to recognize this. The details of Rosewood, the black town terrorized and burned to the ground in 1923, and of Groveland and the black men falsely accused of rape and murdered there in 1949, can remain obscure and retain sway over our present concerns. Names—like Claude Neal, lynched in 1934, and Harry and Harriette Moore, N.A.A.C.P. organizers in Mims County, killed by a firebomb in 1951—can be overlooked. What cannot be forgotten, however, is that there were no consequences for those actions.And this:
Perhaps history does not repeat itself exactly, but it is certainly prone to extended paraphrases. Long before the jury announced its decision, many people had seen what the outcome would be, had known it would be a strange echo of the words Zimmerman uttered that rainy night in central Florida: they always get away.
Tonight a Florida man’s acquittal for hunting and killing a black teenager who was armed with only a bag of candy serves as a Rorschach test for the American public. For conservatives, it’s a triumph of permissive gun laws and a victory over the liberal media, which had been unfairly rooting for the dead kid all along. For liberals, it's a tragic and glaring example of the gaps that plague our criminal justice system. For people of color, it’s a vivid reminder that we must always be deferential to white people, or face the very real chance of getting killed...Those are lessons learned long ago by African Americans and their racist white fellow citizens. I guess it's the rest of us who are continuously under the misapprehension that it has ever changed.
From reading the right wing commentators and bloggers this morning I see the lesson learned is that it's perfectly reasonable to conceal a loaded gun on their person, stalk/provoke/fight someone and then kill them with impunity if the state cannot prove that the person did not "look suspicious" and that the perpetrator didn't feel scared because of it. They aren't granting that this is only operative if the dead person isn't white. (Otherwise, one would have to keep an open mind about those circumstances.) But it's obvious.
This is filed under our new American credo --- "Protect Us At All Costs!" Americans are so frightened of everything, even 17 year old kids with nothing more than skittles and tea in their hands, that they must "protect" themselves from all threats by any means necessary. The government police apparatus may be vast, extremely powerful and growing exponentially, but even that is not enough. In places like Florida they empower citizens to carry concealed weapons to "protect" us as well.
For me, the lesson (aside from the deeply depressing racial one) is that this culture is deteriorating at the hands of a small group of gun fetishists who insist that we must have a society where certain people are allowed to carry guns everywhere and use them at their discretion. And that means that for all this talk of being "protected" from the boogeyman of the moment, we cannot ever feel safe.
Or free. If a young black man is stalked by a stranger he is not free to confront him. He must keep his head down, be obsequious, be prepared to be questioned not just by police, but by anyone. Because anyone could be concealing a weapon loaded with hollow point bullets and yesterday they were given permission to shoot if this young man does anything else.
But it's not just him. In various parts of the country someone like George Zimmerman, a wannabe cop, a wannabe macho dude, is legally allowed to carry a concealed gun loaded with hollow point bullets. What if I did something to startle or frighten someone like him? Indeed, how can any of us know who's carrying a loaded gun and who isn't? So, I'll keep my head down too and be obsequious and subservient to every person I come across in public. I won't make any smart remarks. I won't express myself at all. I'll just hurry along in the hopes that I haven't drawn any undue attention. It's less likely that a white woman like me will be shot than it is a young black male, but it's foolish to take any chances in a world like this. Standing up for your principles or the constitution is really hard to do when you're dead.
This is already happening:
A member of Moms Demand Action said that she felt unsettled by the presence of [armed counter-protesters] and said that the organizers would have to think twice before holding another event, particularly one where children could be present.
This is what the gun fetishists characterize as a "polite society" brought about by the fact that guns are everywhere.
They also like to talk about liberty.