On February 26th, 2012, seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was initially stalked and then murdered by George Zimmerman, the appointed neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where the murder of Trayvon took place. We listened to Zimmerman’s own confession that he was following Trayvon without justifiable cause. Packed with his nine millimeter handgun Mr. Zimmerman felt bold enough to follow the young man and instigating a confrontation that wound up in the murder of an unarmed black teenager guilty of looking suspicious while walking home from a quick trip to the convenience store for Skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea.
The dustup from the shooting of Trayvon still has yet to settle. Although he was free to go home with his murder weapon the night Trayvon died, Mr. Zimmerman was later charged with second degree murder and is awaiting his trial that is to start in June 2013. But in the meantime, people have gathered on both sides of this issue. Many black people, including yours truly, see Mr. Zimmerman as a criminal, a bad guy who had no business following Trayvon and initiating an altercation while packing a deadly weapon. Many white people see Mr. Zimmerman as a good guy who may have been justified in killing a black teenager who looked suspicious even though there was no evidence that he was doing anything wrong that night.
So who’s right and who’s wrong? Who is to say who the good guy is and who the bad guy is? Eventually the courts will decide Mr. Zimmerman’s fate. Unfortunately, Zimmerman already decided Trayvon’s fate. And it’s a fair bet that if Trayvon was carrying a gun and started following George Zimmerman as he was walking home and a fight ensued and Zimmerman wound up dead, I seriously doubt if many people would be willing to give Trayvon the benefit of doubt if he said that Zimmerman attacked him and there was no initial evidence to contradict that claim.
But many people see Trayvon, the deceased victim of Zimmerman’s zeal for law and order, as a good guy who had the misfortune of being followed by a bad guy with a gun. Would it have been acceptable for Trayvon to walk the streets of Sanford, Florida that night so he could’ve had stopped the bad guy? Believe it or not, I don’t think so.
So when I heard Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, give a televised presentation advocating for more guns in our communities and in our elementary schools as a response to the tragic murder of twenty first grade children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary by a deranged gunman loaded to the hilt for a murderous rampage, I really have to ask the question is that a rational and well thought out mode of action to take. Not only that, Mr. LaPierre says that arming more people is the only way, strong emphasis on the word “only”, to keep our children safe.
Mr. LaPierre says with absolute zero indecisiveness that anything done to keep guns out of the hands of people who don’t need guns, like George Zimmerman, will only fail because it would not be totally effective. No matter what laws are passed people will still get their hands on a gun if they want one. Pass laws to make high capacity clips illegal and some people will just get them illegally. And guns don’t kill people, people kill people. With such infantile logic, or illogic might be more precise, anybody who wants a nuclear weapon should have one because nuclear weapons don’t kill people, people kill people. A nuclear weapon is just a tool. And giving the good guy a gun is no guarantee that a bad guy won’t still do damage to the community. So going back to Mr. LaPierre’s high standard of effectiveness, giving the good guy a gun is just as useless as keeping guns in the hands of bad guys off the street.
In Trayvon Martin’s altercation with George Zimmerman there is a difference of opinion of who the good guy was and who the bad guy was. For some people, the bad guy had a gun and the good guy was unarmed and paid the price for it. For others, Trayvon was the aggressor even though George Zimmerman clearly chased after him and instigated the struggle that wound up with Trayvon’s death. If both men were armed they could have had a shoot out in that gated community. Some people think that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That might work. But sometimes just the opposite winds up happening. Sometimes, it’s the good guy with a gun that gets stopped by the bad guy with a gun. There is no guarantee.
We already have plenty of so-called good guys with guns on the streets already. We have police officers and armed security personnel already equipped to kill. We don’t need elementary school teachers and principals packing heat as well. Their jobs are already tough enough. Why do we think we need to add more to their already hectic jobs by holding them responsible for keeping their schools safe from somebody crazed enough to enter a school with an assault rifle? If teachers need guns then we might as well let anybody carry a weapon. And I for one don’t need another George Zimmerman blowing away a teenager because they thought somebody they saw walking and minding their own business looked suspicious.
Today’s Christmas and the latest Quinton Tarantino film “Django Unchained”, featuring Jamie Foxx as Django, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kerry Washington is being released today. The film is set in the pre civil war southern United States when America’s institutionalized enslavement of the people of Africa is running at its peak. These days when most people’s idea of black people in movies runs along the lines of the timid Aibileen Clark in The Help who was resigned to her fate of jumping at the beck and call of white people at the expense of her own black children, we have a movie about a black man bold enough to buck the racial status quo with guns blazing to save his woman.
I have yet to see the movie and I probably won’t bother to see it until we can stream it through Vudu. But from what I understand it’s a new twist in the style of the old spaghetti westerns made famous by Clint Eastwood. Django is a slave with a knack for tracking who wound up being owned by a bounty hunter who promised Django his freedom if he helped him apprehend the infamous Brittle brothers. When the job is completed, instead of taking advantage of his new freedom and high telling it up north, Django hangs around the bounty hunter essentially becoming the man’s partner. He develops his tracking and hunting skills and bides his time with the ultimate goal of finding and freeing the wife he lost to the slave trade.
Considering the debate over gun control initiated by the mass shooting by Adam Lanza of twenty first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Django is hitting theaters at just the right time to be impacted by the controversy over guns. But Django was fated to be controversial even without the mass shooting of Sandy Hook. Django is a movie about a black man shooting and killing a bunch of white people. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie with a black man on a righteous killing spree. You’d have to go back to the Richard Roundtree’s version of Shaft to find a black man given cart blanch to break out a can of whip ass on white people and even then there were restrictions.
I saw a discussion of Django on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show Sunday morning. One of the commentators who participated in a pre release viewing of the movie said it was immoral. A movie about a man killing people with the sole purpose of freeing his loved one was too unethical even though it’s already been done by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando and True Lies, Bruce Willis in all the movies from the Die Hard series, Jodie Foster in Flight Plan, Gina Davis in the Long Kiss Goodnight, Liam Neeson in Taken, Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition, and just about every James Bond film where the heroine gets captured and 007 has to roll up his sleeves and get busy to get her back. And if we had added a list of movies where the main character kills in order to protect somebody else’s loved ones we’d have Sylvester Stallone in Cobra, Jason Strathom from the Transporter series, Nicole Kidman in the remake of the Body Snatchers, Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games, Ryan Gossling in the Driver, or Tom Cruise in Knight and Day. A movie about people killing other people is a prime staple in the entertainment industry. But when the movie has a black person as the protagonist doing all the killing of the white bad guys, suddenly the genre becomes too immoral for some people’s sensibilities.
The idea of a black man indiscriminately killing white people, even white people who are depicted as the epitome of racists and the worst perpetrators of America’s history of the enslavement of black people, is just too foreign a concept for people to accept. A black man with a weapon who is willing to use it to defend himself or his family is just not something we are prepared to accept. The depiction of a black man living straight as an arrow is still not living straight enough to be able to justify killing without permission. Some of us are just not ready to accept the concept of a black man taking charge the way we accept others taking charge and doing whatever they need to do to set things right. With Django Unchained Quinton Tarantino is treading where nobody dares to these days.
On Melissa Harris-Perry they played a video clip of an interview with Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington talking about the movie. Ms. Washington said that above everything else she saw the movie as a love story. Despite all the guns and despite all the violence, here’s a man doing everything he can to get back to rescue his woman to save her from a life of enslavement, living the rest of her life as somebody else’s property. We’ve already seen this story from the perspective of non black people. Ever since Snow White little white girls have been conditioned to believe that their prince would one day come and rescue them to live happily ever after.
Black girls have never had a story that they could relate to. What black man was coming to save them in their time of peril? It doesn’t happen. Even when the Disney Corporation was trying to do their first movie featuring a black princess they couldn’t envision have a black man coming into her life. The Disney people were too steeped in the thinking that a black man having the love and commitment to do something great for his woman just doesn’t makes sense. Thankfully, Mr. Tarantino goes where others simply don’t have the vision to see.
There have been plenty of movies with black heroes. But those heroes are rarely depicted as being personally motivated. It’s usually the black guy that’s trying to save an entire neighborhood from a criminal or a black guy that’s trying to save the future from a super computer gone rogue. It’s rare to see the black man that endeavors to save his black woman from harm. And a black man with the cajoles to save his woman from slavery, the greatest atrocity white people have ever perpetrated against black people? Now that’s something new at a time when Hollywood is stuck on remakes, sequels, prequels, combic books, children’s books, and the same predominantly white oriented usual.
Just a few days ago Robert “Bob” Costas used the Sunday Night Football halftime show to deliver a commentary about guns with respect to the murder suicide of Kansas City Jovan Belcher who killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his three month old infant child, and then turned the gun on himself in front of his coach, general manager, and others from the team staff. Mr. Costas said that the country’s gun obsessed culture was responsible for more deaths and made the suggestion that Belcher and his girlfriend would not have died had he not owned a gun.
Proponents of gun control attacked Mr. Costas for his remarks saying that he was promoting gun control. Former Republican Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain felt that Mr. Costas should not have used a program intended as entertainment to publicize political views on sensitive topics. FOX commentator Lou Dobbs made a leap of illogic by concluding that Mr. Costas was advocating for the abolishment of the Second Amendment.
Anytime anybody of any significant amount of public notoriety makes a statement that could be interpreted as any kind of condemnation of America’s gun culture opens his or her self up to a potentially overwhelming onslaught of gun loving feedback. Mr. Costas was criticized for talking about the subject of guns on the wrong show or he used the wrong forum or he talked about it way too soon or he was trying to score political points even though he’s not a politician nor speaking politically. Last time there was a check we all had freedom of speech and should be given the right to exercise it whenever or wherever. At least that’s what we’ve all heard when Ted Nugent, Hank Williams, Jr., or the president of Chick-fil-A wants to go one off on one of their politically sensitive or controversial topics.
But gun control is so controversial and/or so sensitive that any suggestion to change the environment so that we can take steps to do more to minimize the potential for horrific crimes committed by average joes with guns is not an option. People have the right to guns and any law, rule, regulation, and/or etc., that limits any American from getting his or her hand on a gun as easily as possible is a slippery slope that endangers us all to an existence where we can be as free as possible from being shot from someone with a murderous hair up his or her ass.
The issue was debated on über conservative FOX News with one of those fair and balanced episodes where a low key liberal is burdened with the task of arguing his or her position against the entire FOX network. Instead of calling for gun control we should be doing just the opposite and make it easier for more people to get even more guns because the real problem is that there aren’t enough guns out there in the public sphere.
Friday, there was another senseless killing in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School where an average twenty something guy took his easily acquired guns into an elementary school and killed twenty kindergartners, twelve little girls and eight little boys, along with six adults and then killed his self after he had shot and killed his mother. Not coincidentally, this happened the day after a mall shooting where a lone gunman walked into the Clackamus Town Center in Happy Valley in Oregon where two people were randomly killed.
No doubt somebody will say making the suggestion that we change gun laws to help prevent this shit from happening over and over again is simply too soon. We need to wait until the wounds heal over and people move on with their lives and no longer care about this senseless violence because they’ve got to get all their Christmas shopping out of the way before all of the good sales are over. And after that, we have to wait until after the New Year. And then after that, who gives a shit? Gun control is anti American. We shouldn’t be doing anything that curbs our Second Amendment remedies while we continue to live with the status quo that assures that we play this game of suffering with gun violence over and over and over again.
Tuesday, Dec 25, 2012
Saturday, Dec 1, 2012
Latest White On White Crime
Adam Lanza, the shooter of Sandy Hook Elementary, is just the latest in a long list of high profile perpetrators of the phenomenon virtually unrecognized as white on white crime.