I find it very difficult to feel hatred for total strangers, or for people I’ve never met.
Now, that doesn’t mean I have to meet someone to decide I hate them – it’s relatively easy to hate, for example, dictators once you see the large-scale atrocities they commit. You can certainly feel intense anger and hate at Syria President Basher al-Assad for the massacres he’s inflicting on his own people.
On the other hand, I know a lot of people – liberal and conservative alike – who absolutely hate our two presidential candidates. Flawed as they may be, I think we’ve actually got two smart, honest, sincere and first-rate candidates in Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – and yet I know people who would fly off the hinge at the mere thought of handing any pale compliment to either one. They literally work themselves into a seething lather at the thought of the candidate they despise winning in November. Ideology, I suppose, can a strongly negative motivator in some of us.
Then again, I know people who feel pure contempt for major sports figure or certain celebrities, and for the life of me I can’t quite figure out why these seemingly innocuous people inspire such venom. I can understand absolutely loving a particular celebrity, admiring them, and becoming a huge fan …. but I always figured if you don’t like someone – their acting, their movies, their flamboyant public persona – you simply ignore them. Not everybody is as nonchalant about their feelings of hostility toward so-and-so.
Still, it’s there, and even though politicians and celebrities don’t normally breed feelings of enraged snarling on my part, I understand that the major political and legislative actions that a politicians makes will lead to intensely bitter feelings among some.
But for the life of me, what I can’t understand at all is the anger being directed on some Web sites against someone who I don’t think deserves one bit of condemnation.
His name is Trayvon Martin.
There’s no question that a lot of people are following the heavy media coverage of the second degree murder trial of George Zimmerman of Sanford, who is being charged with having shot and killed 17-year-old Martin.
Martin had been walking from a convenience store to the home of his father’s girlfriend at a development known as The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Seminole County on Feb. 26. Zimmerman was reported to have called the Sanford Police Department to say he’d witnessed suspicious behavior in his development, and it led to a confrontation between the two men.
Martin was shot death at the scene.
Responding officers handcuffed Zimmerman and took him into custody, but he wasn’t formally arrested. Although it’s been reported that the lead homicide investigator wasn’t convinced by Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense and wanted to charge him with manslaughter, the state attorney’s office responsible for Brevard and Seminole counties refused, citing insufficient evidence. It took a special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to reopen the case and file the second degree murder charges.
We know that Martin’s parents and their attorney began speaking out, demanding to know why Zimmerman had not been charged when a teenager was left dead, and soon there were protests outside of Sanford City Hall and the Sanford Police Station that featured prominent civil rights leaders, including Reverend Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, calling for a full investigation.
I know that Sharpton and Jackson are controversial political figures that make some people very angry. Fine.
But I got a huge surprise when The Daily Caller ran an article about Zimmerman’s recent interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, when Zimmerman told the host, “I feel that it was all God’s plan.”
That prompted Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, to respond on CBS News that, as Tracy Martin said, “I simply really don’t know what God George Zimmerman’s worshipping because there’s no way that the God that I serve had in his plans for George Zimmerman to murder my son.”
The injection of religion by both sides into a highly controversial murder trial is going to enflame some people, I get this. And no doubt throughout the trial, I expect there will be people who think Zimmerman is guilty and will be condemning him on a daily basis, and others who are going to criticize the parents for pre-judging a case before any evidence has been presented.
What really stunned me, though – and maybe I’m just not jaded enough to have thought of this before, or maybe I just don’t hang out with this kind of crowd – was the venomous and reactionary responses that some readers left as feedback to the article, with their hatred and malice directed at Martin – a dead teen.
“Your god would have just let George get beat to death or just into a coma and your punk a** kid could have gotten his hands on a gun and become a real gang banger instead of the wannabe thug he was. These parents are pathetic liars. They knew damn well that Tray Tray was a trouble making loser of a son.”
The Internet allows people to post the most atrociously hateful comments anonymously, and this one came from “Thephranc,” a perfectly fine example of a coward hiding behind a fake name to say the most shameful things imaginable. I think it’s probably a safe bet that Thephranc never met Martin, but he sure seems to have the lowest possible opinion of this murder victim. Amazing.
There are others who wrote that they’re convinced Martin jumped Zimmerman, so he was only defending himself. It’s interesting to see people who were not at the scene of the shooting stating so emphatically that they know exactly what happened. Haven’t there been a lot of Zimmerman’s supporters, including his attorneys, who have criticized Martin’s parents and the civil rights protestors for saying they, too, know what happened at the scene, when they weren’t there, either?
I guess it’s only wrong when the other side does it.
“The kid was on top of him at the time of the shot, what more proof do you need? I can understand a lot more if the kid was 20 feet away or shot in the back. The facts state the shot was made from inches away at an upward angle. This proves the Kid was on top the zimmerman…. Zimmerman’s injuries proves he was also attacked.” So writes Leviathan, another anonymous bragger.
And add to all this another comment, “The only reason we are talking about this is the RACIST BLACKS IN THE DIM PARTY, thought they had an instance of WHITE REPUBLICAN on BLACK LEFTY CRIME.”
You have to be pretty naïve to think race doesn’t still fuel a lot of angry emotions in people, and that Martin’s race is contributing to the anger being directed at someone who died at a tragically young age.
But I wonder if we’ll ever become a society that views it to be downright shameful to direct this kind of nastiness at someone these critics have never met, and never will, all because he unfortunately came to symbolize the things they hate about a multicultural society.
Contact Mike Freeman at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.