This post isn’t about George Zimmerman or Sammy Hagar. It’s an observation about each generation’s first experience with Federal overreach, the serious evil of witch burners, and the silly mystery of yellow pants.
When I was young and naïve, the Federal Government crammed the 55 MPH speed limit down America’s gullet. This is when I learned that a small city a thousand miles from my home could insert stupidity in my life and that of everyone around me. I never fully recovered.
The 55 MPH speed limit was originally sold as a means to reduce America’s consumption of foreign oil. Based on its stated goal it was a total failure. (Free market fracking on private land in North Dakota is how it’s really done!)
I remember the debate leading up to it. Nobody seemed to notice that that Washington D.C. was meddling where it ought not. A scope of influence well suited to military action and treaty negotiation was involved with the speed at which a Chevy cruises to Grandma’s house? I didn’t have any particular attachment to foreign oil. What I was attached to was liberty. Screwing around with the balance of powers made me nervous. It still does.
Good intentions do not justify doing wrong to attain them. I was just a kid but it seemed obvious to me. Even now, I won’t let ends justify means. I have to sleep at night.
Like many really bad ideas, the 55 MPH limit came to pass. People in (to pick examples at random) Hanksville, Utah (population 215) and Boston, Massachusetts (population 625,087) were now under the same thumb. Residents where the nearest dentist might be a two hour drive and six cars is a parade were supposed to crawl around like a city commuter who thinks ten miles to the grocery store is excessive? Wars have been fought for less.
It played out as you’d expect. Americans simply didn’t obey. Nobody, and I mean nobody, drove 55 MPH. Little old ladies who wouldn’t swear if you set them on fire exceeded the limit. Earnest law abiding uptight wimps exceeded it. Off duty cops and devout priests exceeded it. Hookers, librarians, plumbers, and accountants all shared one thing in common, they drove faster than 55 MPH. The only people who took the limit seriously were cops and they only took it seriously while writing tickets. Any police car going anywhere for any reason on any road would exceed the 55 MPH limit. Laws are only for the little people.
That’s the definition of overreach. I was appalled. I lived in a world where the people inexplicably put a yoke on their own backs and then did nothing but break their own rule and bitch about speeding tickets
Sammy Hagar played “I Can’t Drive 55”. I hummed along. He wore, for no reason, strange yellow pants. I can’t explain the pants.
Overreach is one thing and witch burners are the other. The matter of George Zimmerman is where the witch burners came out of the woodwork. Rather than the usual problem of overreach; this particular orgy of suck was caused by witch burners. The event was exactly what it sounded like at the onset; a violent confrontation where a person (who was not a choirboy) attempted to beat the living crap out of an unfortunate victim (who was doing his civic duty as a volunteer). That’s pretty straightforward. Alas there are witch burners out there who decided it was time to play.
There’s one industry built around controversy, another built around racism, and a whole lot of people who like to inflict suffering (or enjoy it from a distance). Together they chose Zimmerman. Crowds (presumably in the thrall of a good old fashioned mob mentality) screamed that Zimmerman should be punished. They were livid because he survived. I know this because if he had died, none of us would have heard about it. I have proof. I looked it up and 43 people were murdered in Sanford Florida in a decade. (2002-2011 source.)
So lets ponder the 43 deaths that weren’t Trevon Martin. Go ahead, name one. No takers?
The witch burners don’t care about the other 43 deaths… only one. Only one because the would be victim had the temerity to live another day. Every death is a tragedy. Every murder is a loss. So let’s read the heated rhetoric around the other 43 documented muders. Let’s recall the riots. Let’s read what the president had to say about those poor tragic souls. Let’s read the CNN interviews. Lets wallow in the theorizing and the arguments and the opinions and the many events that followed those 43 horrible deaths. What does the world have to say about the 43 others?
Hollow. It’s a hollow thought that Martin’s loss ruled the world but others can be gunned down and it won’t even pop up on a Google search. I decided to light a candle. I’d find a few names of other people who have been shot in Sanford Florida. With roughly one murder per quarter it should be easy. After all, they reported everything about Zimmerman but his favorite breakfast cereal and we got to see adorable ten year old photos of the deceased Martin from when he was a child.
It’s not as easy as you’d think. The which burners only cared about Martin as an excuse and Zimmerman as tinder. They have no sympathy in their world view for the continuing unremarkable loss of life surrounding Sanford Florida. Roughly one person every three months is gunned down and they don’t give a shit.
Finally I found a photo about a murder near Sanford Florida from this March.
That’s a picture of shooters Tracey Cashe III and Aaron Riggins (top left and right respectively). They were charged with the homicide of Phillip Hunt and Nathaniel Hall respectively (bottom left and right respectively). (Click for source.) Riots? Presidential commentary? Interviews on CNN? No. Why?
Did you know that Stevie Wonder boycotted Florida because of the Zimmerman verdict? Apparently it’s totally ok that Phillip Hunt and Nathaniel Hall died of gunshots. They don’t matter, only Martin did. Classy!
I found another article about an attempted murder form the Sanford Florida locale in April. A 50 year old guy was beaten with a hammer until he would up on life support. I didn’t find his picture. I couldn’t even find his name. It appears that Julius Ricardo Bender and Yahaziel Isaac Israel were charged with attempted first-degree murder, burglary with assault or battery and armed burglary. Apparently they dragged him from a car. One held the victim while the other beat him in the head with a hammer. No pictures of them either.
You probably guessed that Al Sharpton had something to say about Zimmerman and Martin. Apparently his words about justice don’t to a man beaten nearly to death with a hammer. Sharpton doesn’t care about him. Classy!
Imagine that! Two assailants versus one victim. A hammer! What happened to all those folks who second guessed whether Zimmerman was really in duress. Is winding up on life support noble? Is it better to get hit with a hammer than fists. Is it superior to be attacked en masse? If witch burners were apoplectic about Martin getting shot why don’t they care if a guy beaten with a hammer pulled through? I guess it’s irrelevant. No speeches by the president. No riots. No interviews. Nobody cares.
Only Martin’s blood can cause the dance and only Zimmerman’s torture benefits the burners.
Zimmerman was treated as if he had an obligation to die. He alone was used as a tool in a presidential speech. He alone went through a legal wringer. Apparently that’s the mathematics of the situation. It’s better to die than live and prosecuting a neighborhood watch volunteer who survived is worth more than the loss of 43 others from the last decade.
I disagree! I’m not going to swallow that pill! It is never in the service of justice to ruin an innocent man. It is never inherently noble to be beaten to death.
Likely it’s not over. The witch burners didn’t have their day but the next turn of the page might be overreach. The president has already spoken. Now perhaps the Federal Department of Justice will decide that Martin was special and unique. Possibly, in a way that totally ignores 43 other deaths, the Department of Justice will decided it’s the special business of the Federal Government to ruin a neighborhood watch volunteer.
Imagine having the full force of the Federal Government carefully pondering your financial and personal ruin… because you didn’t die when it would have been convenient and forgettable. Who deserves that?
I’m glad Zimmerman lived. I hope he survives the forthcoming financial and legal attacks. I hope he comes out strong and whole and has a long and productive life. In retrospect my generation got off pretty lightly with only a few speeding tickets and the disturbing memory of Sammy Hagar’s yellow pants.