Day 1: I read about a young, innocent 17-year old boy, Trayvon Martin, shot by a crazed vigilante, George Zimmerman, in Florida. The crazed vigilante was patroling his neighborhood with a gun and it appears he singled out Martin because he was black and wearing a hoodie. Martin was armed only with a cellphone, a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. The nation is outraged. Twitter feeds light up. People are demanding the arrest of Zimmerman.
Day 4: I see a picture of George Zimmerman and he looks Hispanic to me. I think, of anyone he should be more sensitive to racial profiling, since he, too, is a minority. (Although, not for long.) I see a picture of Trayvon Martin. He looks all of 12 years old. He looks like a baby. How could he have been a threat?
Day 12: Citizens across the country are still outraged. Protests are being organized demanding Zimmermans arrest. I wonder how in the world he couldn’t have been arrested yet. This is outrageous.
Day 14: The friend Martin was talking to on the phone says that she heard Martin saying, “Why are you following me?” He tells her he has to go. He hangs up. Five minutes later, he is dead. I wonder what happened in those five minutes. Did Zimmerman chase Martin and then gun him down? Did they have a conversation? Did they argue? Could it have escalated to the point that Zimmerman did, indeed, feel he needed to defend himself? Nawwwww. He’s the psycho vigilante and Martin is the babyfaced victim that the media has portrayed them to be. I’m sure of it.
Day 15: Clever pictures of Skittles and cans of iced tea are popping up all over the internet with the caption “Not A Weapon.” I post said picture on my Facebook page to join the crusade.
Day 24: Geraldo Rivera claims that Martin’s hoodie is responsible for his death. Apparently, he thinks black men and boys shouldn’t wear hoodies, a common fashion statement among all people, of every race and gender. What an idiot.
Day 25: Rallies are popping up all over the country. Celebrities and politians are giving their two-cents. Zimmerman is still not arrested and has gone into hiding (legally.) I wonder how the authorities don’t have enough evidence by now to arrest the bastard. Sure, some inconsistencies are popping up, but he shot an unarmed man. How can this happen?
Day 29: Updated pictures of Martin and Zimmerman are now appearing on the internet. Martin now looks 17 years old and his full height of 6’3″. Zimmerman is now seen in a suit, not the old arrest picture, of which all charges were dropped. I also read that Martin was visiting his father while suspended for 10 days from school for possession of an empty baggie with trace amounts of marijuana.
Day 30: The Orlando Sentinel reveals that, according to police reports and Zimmerman’s account that has been corroborated by witnesses, that Martin knocked Zimmerman down with a single punch and then proceeded to slam his head into the pavement several times. This occurred while Zimmerman was returning to his vehicle and Martin approached Zimmerman. A witness states that Zimmerman was crying for help and then shot Martin twice at close range. It’s starting to make sense why, perhaps, Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested yet. I take down clever picture from Facebook page.
Also Day 30: Martin’s mother is applying for a patent on phrases involving her child’s name. She says she is doing this to ” protect intellectual property rights for use in projects to help other families in similar situations.” Huh? This sounds fishy to me. But since I’ve never been in this situation, I’ll give her a crazy-because-I’ve-just-lost-my-son-in-a-tragic-horrific-way pass.
Day 31: Joe Oliver, a friend of George Zimmerman, a black friend of George Zimmerman, feels compelled to speak up for his friend. He confirms that George was attacked. He says that he is remorseful and suffering from post-traumatic stress. He can’t stop crying. Oliver describes a man who is caring and the farthest thing from a racist. I realize this is Zimmerman’s friend, so I take it all in with a grain of salt. But he is black. And he is on national television, supporting a very unpopular man. I take it all in with a minuscule grain.
The only two people who really know what happened are Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.
Tragically, Trayvon can’t speak for himself. He is dead. Please, don’t tell me that guns don’t kill people, that people kill people. I won’t believe you. Why anyone needs to carry a gun on their person is beyond me. I’m aware that people kill people. But guns sure make it easy. This is not the wild west. We are a civilized nation. I want a world where guns, used to kill people, are unneccesary. Using guns to kill people is barbaric. There has got to be another way.
As tragic as Trayvon’s death is, the news that has trickled out oh-so-slowly certainly casts doubt to his complete innocence. Did he provoke George Zimmerman? Was there an altercation? Did he deserve to die? No. But should we cast stones at Zimmerman if we don’t know the whole story?
The media, at the start, led us to believe this was a hate-crime. Pure and simple. Then, slowly, information starts oozing out on both sides that creates doubt and suspicion. No real answers. Peppered with opinion and speculation. News stories that are short and factual. New stories that indirectly point blame.
But no one really knows anything. We are going to have to let the authorities do their job. Once a full investigation is complete. We might finally know what happened.
And by then? We’ll all be on to some new crusade.
I don’t know who is innocent. Both men are victims. Of many things.
But I do know one thing.
Geraldo Rivera is still an idiot.
9 responses to “Evolution Of A Hot News Story. Or How The Media Creates Mass Hysteria.”
Excellent points. This is somewhat the result of nonstop news, social media, and people’s inclination to jump to conclusions fueled by nonstop news and social media. And yes Geraldo is and has always been an idiot.
I totally agree. No one knows what happened except those two. This is a true tragedy.
Geraldo an idiot? Absolutely. But so is Zimmerman for following the kid after being told not to by police dispatcher. And a gun? in a gated community? I want to know crimes stats to know why he felt that was necessary.
I’m with you: wherever the truth lies, this is a tragedy plain and simple.
At the end of the day, I’m at a loss to understand why a person needs to carry a gun while on Neighborhood Watch. As you said, if there were no gun involved, we most likely wouldn’t be looking at the death of a young person – and George Zimmerman’s life would not be forever changed.
An example of the power of the media – potentially to distort. An example of why we do indeed need to let the authorities do their job.
And I’m so with you on the guns.
A tragedy, no matter how we slice it.
Wow, this is quite the story isn’t it? It just goest to show how sensationalism rules our news and media.
As long as we’re talking idiots, how about the celebrity that tweeted a supposed address for Zimmerman…except it wasn’t and an elderly couple in Florida was out of their mind. And in what parallel universe is it okay to put a bounty out on someone? Yes, this story has gotten completely out of control.
I might be an aberration but I didn’t originally get anything from the media regarding the “white on black” violence angle. In fact, my recollection is that the media stories I was exposed to all properly handled the story as one about the killing of an unarmed man and not a racial killing. Then, the first time I did hear something about Trayvon being killed by a white man, I remember thinking, “Wasn’t the shooter Hispanic? What’s the story here?”
I agree the media coverage has taken many twists and that I may have rushed to umbrage like many others. At the end of the day all I really know is that an unarmed person was shot dead and I still have a problem with that. I think society needs to have a VERY high standard for that sort of outcome. If Zimmerman didn’t literally and utterly fear for his life then this story should have had a different outcome.
I love your last line.