Why I’m alive and Trayvon Martin is dead

There’s a lot to be said about the Zimmerman trial, and most of it has been said over and over again.  I don’t want to make this post about the racial component involved in what happened between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Despite arguments made by a lot of people that look like me and share my geographically influenced culture, I believe race played a significant role in what transpired that night.  But, that’s a post for a different time.

This post is about me and the misspent moments of my youth.  When I was a year or two older than Trayvon, I got in a fight.  Actually, this wasn’t just a fight.  This was a brawl that included a dozen or so people.  We were all young and drunk and stupid.  I was perhaps dumber than the others because I chose to exchange blows with a ‘fella’ a few years older than me, and he displayed some impressive martial arts skills.  In fact, he kicked me in the collarbone, and some 30 years later it still bothers me when the wind blows just right.

I didn’t know this mullet-haired, Chuck Norris wannabe.  He just squared up on me, and we went at it.  After he kicked and whacked me a few times, I went all-out redneck on him and threw him to the ground.  With him flat on his back, I sat on him, pinning his arms to the ground with my knees, and I proceeded to pound his face with my fists.  His head bounced off the gravel as I threw punch after punch.  I was in a rage.  I screamed out “I’m gonna fucking kill you!”  Eventually a friend pulled me away, but by then the rage had already subsided.  It struck me that the man I was beating, although he had initiated the actual melee, was now helpless.  My punches became progressively less forceful with each blow.

As I listened to the evidence and testimony coming out of the Zimmerman trial, I paid close attention to the physical confrontation between the teenager and the man.  They were describing the fight I had been involved in as a young man.  Right down to the, “I’m going to fucking kill you!” that allegedly came out of Trayvon  Martin’s mouth.  It was eerily similar.

Yet, the two fights had two very different outcomes.  I am alive, and Trayvon Martin is dead.  Why? Because while the two confrontations were strikingly similar, there was one major difference. The man I had pinned to the ground did not have a gun.  If he had had one, I can assure you it would have escalated things to a point of no return.  Either he would have shot me, or I would have never let that rage subside.  I would have continued to savagely and frantically beat him until he was completely nonresponsive.

In my opinion, the most culpable party in this shooting death of a teenager in Florida is the state of Florida.  The lawmakers that run the state decided that a private citizen has the right to carry a firearm and make a snap judgment on whether or not the lethal discharge of that firearm is warranted.  It’s an insane law and needs to be repealed.  I’m hoping the voters in Florida will eventually see the madness in the “Stand Your Ground” law, and vote some reasonable folks into office that will strike it down.

I write this fully aware that I write violent fiction that involves guns.  I’m not going to apologize for writing fictional violence.  To do so would be absurd because my characters rarely benefit from their violent behavior. Fiction isn’t the problem.  Guns and the current gun laws are the problem.

Jon Oliver says the above much better in the following video.