Monday, July 15, 2013

Two Letters About a Tragedy

Two letters from today's Star Tribune about the George Zimmerman verdict run the gamut, as I suppose letters to the editor should. First, one that makes no sense at all:

The lesson of the tragedy of the Trayvon Martin case is that we as parents must teach our children respect for authority. To my generation, authority meant parents, adults, schoolteachers and law enforcement. We as youths were taught to respect them and to act politely and deferentially with them. 
Any adult could question our behavior, and often did so. We were taught to politely explain what we were doing — but above all, not to get into a confrontation with authority. 
Ken Kimble, Brooklyn Park
What does Kimble mean? That Trayvon Martin should have obeyed the "authority" of a self-appointed vigilante? Or that Zimmerman should have listened to the 911 operator who told him not to follow Martin? I have a feeling it's the former.

Mr. Kimble, that is incredibly stupid. You think all young people should listen to and obey all adults, huh? Even at night, in the dark, when the adult is following you? Your simplistic world view takes my breath away. Your authoritarian personality is a bad fit for democracy.

Second, a letter that echoes some of my thoughts:
Anger toward Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin tragedy is mostly a waste of otherwise productive energy. This outcome is, alas, a completely expected result of the country’s runaway gun lust and the multitude of state “Stand Your Ground” laws. We should be up in (fleshy) arms over this dangerous legislation. And we should show solidarity with those standing up to the juggernaut, like our own governor, who vetoed a similar bill last year. 
Ben Seymour, Minneapolis
Seymour is right that the Stand Your Ground law was an essential part of the tragedy, and I share his thanks to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for vetoing a version of the law that was even worse. Concealed carry also contributed, since it's hard to believe a law-and-order-lover like Zimmerman would have been carrying a gun if it wasn't legal for him to do so. If he hadn't had the false courage of being armed, he never would have engaged with Martin.

Repealing these laws is an important part of making gun possession as safe as possible in a civil society.

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