On the killing of Trayvon Martin, a couple of random thoughts leading to no useful conclusion:
We had four young children when the U.S. Information Agency sent us to Casablanca in 1966. Before leaving I bought a Saturday night special: a cheap Harrington & Richardson stainless steel snub-nosed, .32-caliber revolver. You never knew what might happen, I figured. Sure enough, next year came the Six Day War and a lot of talk in the papers about mob action against American facilities. But nothing came of it.
From there my family, my revolver, and myself were transferred to Laos, where an actual war was under way. True, it had not touched the capital city since the Kong Le coup in 1960. But still, you never knew. So I strapped on my six-shooter the first time I went hunting for orchids in the jungle outside Vientiane.
The holstered gun felt heavy and awkward on my belt, an annoyance really. Maybe foolish, too. No Pathet Lao patrols had been seen that near Vientiane in years, but then you never knew. What if I did, in fact, run across one? Well, what? Using the gun would surely get me killed. Just having it might. Who hunts orchids with a gun, unless theyíre military or CIA? It began to seem wiser to leave my little toy at home, which I did from then on.
Besides, carrying that gun had made me feel like a total asshole, a feeling based on scientific fact. Studies going back centuries have found that carrying a gun around with you is an almost infallible asshole signifier. (Exceptions may be made for military or law enforcement personnel, but only rarely. Never, for big game hunters.)
My second random thought involves the Trayvon Martin jury, which the entire English-speaking world knows was composed entirely of women. Five were white, one Hispanic. They were all racists, of course, because everybody else in the world is racist whether they admit it or not, and why should these six be any different? The question was whether they would be able to set aside their biases, pro or con, under the watchful eye of the blind lady, Justice. Would the fact of being female make them more merciful or more harsh? Toward the victim or toward his killer? And so on.
It occurs to me, though, that the jurorsí decision may have been gender-influenced in an entirely different way. The six women would be unlikely to have much first-hand knowledge of contact sports and street fights. Male jurors might, though, and would have been less inclined to take Zimmermanís plight seriously. They would know that scalp wounds tend to bleed out of all proportion to their severity ó and Zimmermanís were abrasions that hardly bled at all. They would know that finding yourself on the bottom in a struggle may be undesirable but is seldom fatal. They might feel scorn†rather than pity for an older, heavier man who panicked after starting something that he couldnít finish with a 17-year-old kid. Men might have found it beside the point whether Zimmerman felt his life was being threatened, which is the idiotically low bar set by Florida law. They might have found the more relevant and less moronic consideration to be whether he should have felt his life was in danger.
Basically, male jurors might have asked, didnít the kid die because Zimmerman was such a pussy?