Thursday, July 18, 2013

Common Sense?

This is a very thoughtful, enjoyable article - until the conclusion, after which Kathleen's judgment was apparently impaired.

She asks why GZ was armed, and it is a good question. But she ignores that being armed prevents many crimes annually, more often than not, with no shots being fired. The equally relevant question is - why did TM think he could jump a guy in a public place, an adult, and threaten to kill him, and suffer no consequence. It's not just that TM thought he was in the right to do that, but that the risk of doing so was low. The reason he thought that was that he'd been in so many school fights he began to think of assaulting people as a sport, not a matter of life and death.

The point is that this is one of those rare instances in which everyone is right within his or her own experience. African Americans are right to perceive that Martin was followed because he was black, but it is wrong to presume that recognizing a racial characteristic is necessarily racist. It has been established that several burglaries in Zimmerman's neighborhood primarily involved young black males.

Picture Zimmerman's neighbor Olivia Bertalan, a defense witness, hiding in her locked bedroom with her infant and a pair of rusty scissors while two young males, later identified as African American, burglarized her home. They ran when police arrived.

This is not to justify what subsequently transpired between Zimmerman and Martin but to cast a dispassionate eye on reality. And no, just because a few black youths caused trouble doesn't mean all black youths should be viewed suspiciously. This is so obvious a truth that it shouldn't need saying and yet, if we are honest, we know that human nature includes the accumulation of evolved biases based on experience and survival. In the courtroom, it's called profiling. In the real world, it's called common sense.

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