By now you’re probably familiar with the case of Trayvon Martin. Martin is the 17-year-old from Florida who was killed by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watchman. Martin was unarmed at the time of his death. None of this is up for debate — it’s all been confirmed.
But does American society truly acknowledge what happened on that night?
I don’t mean to say that we’re not recognizing it, because the media has certainly given the story plenty of coverage.
What I mean is that we’re not accepting the events at face value. We’ve chosen to make the Martin case about a variety of things, including race, law and stereotypes.
What we haven’t focused on is what the case is actually about — the murder of a minor.
The 17-year-old was the latest minor to be killed and to gain national attention in America, where events like this aren’t supposed to occur.
Martin’s honor student status has no bearing on this case. Implying that, because he got good grades, he deserved to live more than someone who didn’t do as well in school is absurd.
The argument that his suspension for possible drug possession somehow makes his death OK is even more absurd. If Martin was really the “thug” that some commentators are making him out to be, implying that he deserved to die more so because of this is ludicrous.
So why do these implications continue to be brought up?
We want to find solace in the case. We want to believe that maybe he brought it upon himself. We want to feel better about our justice system, our country, maybe even ourselves. So we look for flaws as opposed to recognizing the truth.
If we all looked at this case logically, the next rational step would be to ask what to do in the future so Martin’s case doesn’t repeat itself.
For example, it’s almost comical how little the media is discussing gun control. We allow people to purchase guns and we put laws in place that allow them to rely on their best judgment, but we are left with tragedy after tragedy.
If Zimmerman was truly overpowered by a 150-pound 17-year-old, then he obviously counted on his gun to protect himself. If stricter gun control laws were in place, Zimmerman wouldn’t have had a gun to carry. And if he hadn’t had that gun, he most likely wouldn’t have followed a suspicious figure that he viewed as a threat. Nobody would have died.
Gun control can’t just be another aspect of the case that we choose to brush aside. Neither can Florida’s questionable Stand Your Ground law, which gives citizens significant leeway in self-defense.
America needs to really think about the events that occurred. We can’t just look at Martin and Zimmerman. We need to take a look at ourselves.
People are a product of their environment. We have to comprehend why this 17-year-old was killed, and we certainly have to make changes so that similar events won’t take place in the future.
It’s truly a shame that Martin had his life taken away from him. But what about the children who might still have their lives taken away? What about the children we might be able to save?
If we continue to pretend these things don’t happen — not here, not in America — matters will only get worse.
And we’ll have only ourselves to blame.
Mat Goldstein is an undeclared freshman.