What do we tell our kids?
By Robert T. Smith
In the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial, for some, emotions have ruled the day, while the law and logic ruled when delivering the verdict. "What do we tell our kids?" has been a recurring question in the twitter-verse and on television.
We tell our kids that the key to the verdict is that only George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin know exactly what happened. We tell our kids that the local police and prosecutor, and now a jury tell us that the known facts and available evidence indicated George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. To have convicted George Zimmerman beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt for murder or manslaughter would have been injustice, regardless of the emotions of the situation or conjecture as to what did or did not happen. We tell our kids that Mr. Zimmerman was not found innocent, he was found not guilty beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt.
We tell our kids that lawyers can debate the elements of self-defense because real life seems to rarely fit the letter of any law, life is messy. We can tell our kids that this was not a classic case of self-defense...for example, George Zimmerman minding his own business walking in his own neighborhood and being set upon by a robber, thug, or murderer brandishing a club, knife or gun, then shooting his assailant in his own defense....no, this incident was not such a clear scenario.
We can also tell our kids that for the same reason why this isn't a classic case of self-defense, this case also isn't a good example of the second amendment right to carry a gun for self-defense. Those who do choose to carry a gun must purposefully go out of their way to not put themselves in a situation where they may need to brandish their weapon. We should tell our kids that the right to bear arms is not an excuse to be emboldened or to act in lieu of the police, it is purely for a defensive and not an offensive purpose.
If we care about our kids, we can tell them that there is a threshold for defending themselves, their life is valuable. We can tell them that if they are to defend themselves, determining an appropriate threshold of defense can be subjective. In the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, many appear to believe that George Zimmerman should have taken a beating, and relied on his attacker to stop before causing him severe harm or death. It is unknown to what extent Mr. Zimmerman would have been harmed or even if he would ultimately have been killed, the assault was stopped when he shot Trayvon Martin.
We should tell our kids they can defend themselves based on a threshold high enough that even if they should be prosecuted and jailed, they would in their own mind be able to justify being alive and in jail, instead of dead or disabled. We can tell them self-defense is the opposite of being the aggressor, you cannot attack someone, then claim self-defense.
We should tell our kids that based on the evidence, both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman had every right to be where they were at the time, but once the assault began, the legal line was crossed, and the available evidence indicated the assault was initiated by Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman was not required to ask Trayvon's age, ask or hope that he wouldn't be beaten to death, strangled, or otherwise caused great bodily harm or death. Based on the available evidence and not any conjecture on what may or may not have happened, Mr. Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin to stop the assault, the very definition of self-defense.
We should tell our kids that even although Trayvon Martin had no club, no knife, no gun, just a hard sidewalk and fists, regardless of the lack of a "classic" weapon, once the assault began, the use of the concrete sidewalk and physical contact allowed Mr. Zimmerman to claim this to be self-defense. We should tell our kids not to be an aggressor, assault and batter someone, because that person might not want to fight them and they may just kill them instead. At the point of being a dead aggressor, it matters little whether they were right or wrong, or whether the other person is arrested, tried, convicted or released, they are still very dead. We should tell our kids not to assault and batter someone, or to put themselves in the position where someone could claim them as the aggressor and kill them in self-defense.
"What do we tell our kids?" Tell them that they are safe because we have a justice system equally available to all, based on a presumption of innocence, and the truth and logic of law, not the emotions of man.
Robert T. Smith is an environmental scientist who spends his days enjoying life and the pursuit of happiness with his family. He confesses to cling to his liberty, guns and religion, with antipathy toward the arrogant ruling elites throughout the country.