Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Woulda Shoulda Coulda

Nothing plagues the human mind so much as "What if?" What if I had chosen to study law instead of business?  What if I had told that girl how I really felt about her?  What if I had just kept my mouth shut and gone home? What if I had made that left at Albuquerque?

With the George Zimmerman case, there have been all forms of malpractice by the media and certain folks with agendas, but the most reckless and infuriating of them all is damning Zimmerman because "if Zimmerman had just stayed in his car, Trayon Martin would be alive."

In point of fact, Trayvon Martin's death is the result of a chain of events, any one of which changed ever so slightly may or may not have affected the outcome.  In hindsight, we can say George exiting his vehicle to follow Martin contributed to this chain, but it's absurd to point to an event so ambiguous in its outcome as getting out of one's car to continue observing a suspicious person and call that the deciding factor.

For example, what if Trayvon Martin was not skipping home with his Skittles like a perfect little Cherub as he has been portrayed, and George's decision to follow led him to catch Martin burglarizing a house, such that the police could arrive, arrest him, and use Zimmerman as a witness at trial?  Would we call the decision to leave his vehicle overzealous and foolhardy, or a brave choice by an upstanding, observant citizen?

On the other side of the coin, what if George Zimmerman had stayed in his car, and the person that Trayvon ultimately confronted turned out to be a police officer, wherein the events played out exactly as they had for Zimmerman? What then, do we say of George?  That if only he had followed the officer with his smart phone we'd know exactly what happened?

Or quite simply, what if Zimmerman had exited his vehicle and not walked quite as far, such that the two men never see each other again?  Then what would we say of his choice?  Nothing at all since it would never have come up.  It would've been just another day in the lives of two random Floridians.

The fact remains that nobody alive but George Zimmerman knows what happened at the actual critical point, the interaction between the two men.  If we take Zimmerman at his word (and what little evidence we do have supports him), the decisions that had the best chance of changing the outcome were Trayvon's, to not go home, to punch Zimmerman, to pin him to the ground, to continue assaulting him even when the neighbor said to stop.  And yet, it would still be foolish of us to point to any of those things and declare "If Trayvon had only...he'd be alive today. Thus this is all his own fault."

It's clear the jury, at least, understood that no matter what they thought of George's decision to follow Martin, laying this incident at his feet for that one decision is not justifiable.  In any case, it makes about as much sense as a tornado full of sharks to turn this case into some kind of sociopolitical racial battleground over the idea that a guy getting out of his car constitutes hunting down another human being and killing him.

So I ask...what if we all just let this go and move on?