One of the terrible results of the Trayvon Martin murder and George Zimmerman trial has been the revelation of a certain impulse held by certain individuals in the US that states, basically, this: Trayvon Martin deserved to get shot.
Most recently this notion was argued by Ted Nugent, who really doesn’t matter to the public discourse beyond the fact that he is capable of riling up others of like mind.
Still, we’ve heard this argument before. Generally it’s not spread with as much vile as Nugent’s version. Others tend to cloak the same argument in the reasonable tone of crime figures or profiling or fear. When you don’t know, this defense goes, you have to use caution. And somehow, in the US today, caution means violent aggression.
But it’s the same case: Travyon Martin had it coming. Because of how he was dressed. Because he was alone. Because he was out at night. Because there is a photo in which Martin gave the middle finger. Because he smoked marijuana. Because he got nervous when he was followed. Because he fought back when a man engaged him. Because he was a black youth. Because black youths commit __insert statistical defense___. For these reasons and a million more, Martin got what he deserved.
The idea that anyone deserves to get shot in the night by a vigilante with a gun is a darkness in the American soul that needs eradicating. That we build mountains of justification for the murders we commit is a habit we must break. Sure, Ted Nugent is a fringe figure in the US. But there are segments of our population who thrive on this message, who look for confrontation and have a legal system and a national history that will aid in their defense. If they need a defense at all. And there are media outlets who give undue airtime to the less savory racial opinions our national family.
People will continue to get murdered in the US. There’s no way around that. We don’t need to celebrate the killing of another American, especially a teenager. There is no ‘deserve’ here.