Look - this is all that matters. A white dude found a black kid in his neighborhood frightening and suspicious and, despite the fact that the black kid was unarmed, the white dood took out a gun and shot the black kid dead. This is murder. Even if the black kid did throw a punch, the appropriate response to that is not gunfire - it's a punch of your own. Maybe if Zimmerman was a 66 year old lady she could use a gun to defend against a barehanded attack, but of course a 66 year old lady would not have followed, challenged and intimidated Trayvon Martin.
It was obviously racially motivated - Zimmerman didn't seem to have a great deal of fear or suspicion of the white people in the neighborhood. It was obviously excessive - there was never at any time a need to draw a weapon. It was obviously unnecessary - even the 911 operator told this racist bully to stand down. And it is obviously a horrific injustice - as a simple thought experiment, just reverse the races of the participants and try to imagine a black George Zimmerman still free, still legally ARMED, after killing a white Trayvon Martin.
So no. There just isn't anything to say about this crime. Except perhaps as it contributes to a conversation about how desperately America has lost her way. About the society we have become, and even more frightening, about the society we are becoming. I have no doubt that George Zimmerman will be prosecuted - either by the State of Florida or in a civil rights case brought by the US Attorney. Somebody will make it right because it is so patently egregiously wrong. It has become a political liability to everyone, from Sanford to Washington DC. But that's really not the point. The important thing, the critical thing, is that it happened at all. And similar things happen all the time, with increasing frequency.
More hatred, more fear, more racial and sectarian acrimony. Standing side-by-side with crazed, genuinely ignorant lawmakers making laws that put more guns in more hands in more places with less control. How can this be a good idea? How can we find a way to stop the slaughter in the midst of this insane sociological experiment gone amuck, where we encourage the worst of our culture, the bullies and the bigots, not only to carry firearms but to use them.
If you look objectively at America in this foul year of our lord 2012, you see a surreal place, a place that could never come into being, a place that could never be allowed to come into being. It is nothing short of a perfect storm, a collapse in governance, skyrocketing greed and inequality, an utterly corporatized media concerned only with it's own profits, and an organized system of political corruption on such a massive scale as to be unprecedented. And in a stroke of criminal genius, by codifying that corruption into the very fabric of law, the entire system made itself impervious to reform.
Yeah, Trayvon Martin is a cause célèbre today, but that will quickly fade from our attention. But what is important here is that Trayvon Martin is a symptom. Our system's immune system is telling us how sick it is, and we are refusing to provide treatment. The story of the decline of the US will be one of warnings ignored, symptoms undiagnosed, damage unrepaired.
There is a well known apocryphal tale of Nero playing his Lyre and singing while the city of Rome burned. When the historians write the story of the collapse of the United States, how will they describe our unwillingness, indeed our inability to face our own problems and work together to solve them? There will be lessons plenty, but I have my doubts they will be learned.