The merits of Zimmerman’s claim are hardly worth debating, seeing as he is a grown man who was wielding a semiautomatic weapon while Martin was a high-school student carrying candy.
The murder has sparked nationwide outrage at both Zimmerman and the police department that has refused to prosecute him.
It was a tragedy, and the aftermath has only made it worse, as some have complicated the matter in an effort to exonerate Zimmerman through slandering Martin.
It recently came to light that Martin had been suspended from his school 10 days before his murder. He was suspended after school officials found a baggie containing traces of marijuana in his book bag.
This has been tied to the narrative put forward by some bloggers and conservative media that Martin was a bad apple and a criminal in the making.
Of course, those denigrating Martin’s character ignore the fact that black students are three and a half times as likely to be suspended than white students, a prejudice in modern school systems, according to a New York Times article.
But even if we set aside the issue of racism in school discipline, Martin’s suspension record is still irrelevant to his murder.
Let’s be honest for a moment. How many IU students have weed in their book bags at this very moment? You couldn’t throw a brick on this campus without hitting a stoner, but no one would ever suggest that we begin executing IU students for being thugs and criminals.
The crucial difference between most IU students and Martin is, of course, race.
Internet and media commentators are gleefully tearing through Martin’s past, including pictures and tweets illegally obtained by a white supremacist hacker.
They point to his suspensions, images in which Martin wears a grill and tweets with foul language, and they exclaim that he was a thug. The implication is that anyone who meets the slippery definition of thug deserves whatever fate a man with a gun decides for him.
The very fact that the Martin family feels moved to publicize private photos of Trayvon with small children or riding a horse is a defense that should not be required of a family in grief.
This is a classic example of victim-blaming. Just as when a woman is sexually assaulted, those who would defend privilege are crawling out of the woodwork to tear down the reputation of the victim, rather than that of the true criminal.
Trayvon Martin was murdered in cold blood. Nothing else matters.
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