Does It Matter Whether Trayvon Martin's Shooter Is a Racist or Not? (VIDEO)

Trayvon Martin protest

The attorney advising George Zimmerman (only advising because he hasn't been formally charged yet) in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin went on network television this morning. The main reason Craig Sonner appeared on CBS was to tell the world that what Zimmerman did was purely out of self-defense and not because Martin was black at all. And here it begins. What came first, the chicken or the egg?


Either Zimmerman was right: That he shot a man -- wearing a hoodie and supposedly acting "suspiciously" and who he claims later attacked him -- purely in self defense.

Or Martin's family is right: That Zimmerman shot Martin because he was profiling Martin, assumed because he was black he was up to no good, and shot him because he figured the boy had to be carrying a gun.

At some point we just have to say ... who cares which one it was. As fundamental as the race issue seems to this story, at the crux of it all it really doesn't matter. The way we're told the incident went down, even with many conflicting accounts, George Zimmerman was not justified in shooting Martin under any circumstances whatsoever.

By calling 9-1-1, he did his job as a community watchman and should have let police take it from there, go home and lock his doors or whatever, but he chose not to -- against orders from a 9-1-1 operator. From a log of 9-1-1 calls recently leaked, we know that Zimmerman was a chronic 9-1-1 caller, including several reports of "suspicious" black men but also very trivial matters, like kids playing in the street or open garage doors -- things none of us would ever think of as a public threat.

Racism unfortunately is everywhere and it should be disdained and punished when it motivates a crime. But let's not let that cloud what really happened here: Zimmerman called 9-1-1 because he thought all these mundane disturbances or events, including Trayvon Martin, were serious and warranted police attention. When he did not get the urgent response he wanted, he felt that was justification enough to take matter into his own hands.

Regardless of the underlying motivation, Zimmerman made a wrong and life-altering choice. We all have to pay for our choices. The real outrage is that Zimmerman seems to be getting away with his. That's really what his lawyer should be spending time addressing on TV.

How critical do you feel race is in the Trayvon Martin killing? When is a crime just a crime?


Image via david_shankbone/Flickr

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