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We are all Trayvon.. or Not

July 20, 2013

A lot of words have been spilled over the death of Trayvon Martin.  Better men and women than I have spoken on it, but I want to share two of the best comments I’ve seen.  Massad Ayoob is a well recognized expert on the legal and practical aspects of self-defense.  After a lifetime in law enforcement, Massad spent a second lifetime giving expert training to firearms owners and expert testimony in the courtroom.  He wrote four insightful posts so far about the trial and the verdict from July 19th  back to July 13th, and I encourage you to read them all.  Each is fairly short.

The point that struck me strongly was Mas writing about disparity of force.

“Disparity of force means that while your opponent(s) may not be armed with a deadly weapon per se, their physical advantage over you is so great that if their ostensibly unarmed assault continues, you are likely to die or suffer grave bodily harm.

“A position of disadvantage means that the opponent has full range and freedom of movement, and you don’t.  You’re seat-belted behind your steering wheel while he rains punches onto your skull through the open window…or you are down and helpless in a martial arts “mount” while your opponent pounds you at will.

“..we have the clearly proven element of Martin smashing Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk. If I picked up a chunk of concrete..  and tried to smash your skull with it, you would certainly realize that you were about to die or be horribly brain-damaged if you didn’t stop me. It would be what the statutes call “a deadly weapon, to wit a bludgeon.” There just isn’t a whole hell of a lot of difference between cement being smashed into head, and head being smashed into cement.

“Clearly, Trayvon Martin possessed the power to kill or cripple Zimmerman. That is why, under law, Zimmerman was justified in defending himself with a per se deadly weapon. (a firearm RM)

“The jury got it. Too bad the haters didn’t understand…or didn’t want to understand.”

My takeaway is that you don’t have to die from a beating to prove you were at risk.  That is an obvious point that some commentators are determined to ignore.

The second article is from Victoria Knox, and is a fairly long article she calls “A Polite Handshake Could Have Saved Trayvon Martin’s Life”, but what I think of as A Disparity of Manners.

I’ve shortened her comments, so she gets the credit and I get the criticism for misquoting her.

 “I am not Trayvon Martin.  If Zimmerman had asked me what I was doing in his neighborhood, I would have told him I was staying with my father.  I would have introduced myself, asked his name and shook his hand.  Zimmerman would have explained that he’s a Neighborhood Watch volunteer.  I’d have responded that I understood, and thanked him for volunteering.  I would have gone home, and he would have gone home.

“I am not Trayvon Martin because my parents raised me to mind my manners.

“I am not Trayvon Martin because my first instinct is to be friendly, not hostile.

“I am not Trayvon Martin because it would never occur to me to react violently and try to kill Zimmerman.

“If Trayvon Martin had not acted like Trayvon Martin, in other words, if his behavior had been like mine, .. then Martin would be alive today.”

I too was taught to be polite, but cautions.  From the only evidence we have, Zimmerman did not know the meeting with Martin was a physical threat until Martin threw the first punch.  Martin forgot that firearms can make the small and the peaceful as dangerous as the strong and the aggressive.  Martin’s mistake proved fatal.

I’ve been in a room with 5 thousand armed men and women and never felt safer.  The message I learned is to stay polite until you absolutely can not.  It is a valuable lesson that crosses all lines of race, class and sex.  That is why most men and women, black and white, are safe on the streets of Sanford Florida even now.


Rob the polite

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