The emotions, the hatred and the facts

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dr. Joseph L. Bass

Far too many Americans are enthusiastically ready to lynch George Zimmerman. Some of this is based on the fact that few understand our self-defense laws, which are based on the 400-year application of English Common Law in America.

Some of this is based on the unrelated fact that there exist great disparities between white and black people, with black people coming up on the short end of the stick. We have far too many poor and uneducated black Americans and far too many in prisons. None of this is acceptable. Approaches that have been applied to correct these disparities are clearly not working. Some think these approaches have made the situation worse.

But many are ready to lynch Zimmerman because these disparities exist, instead of judging his guilt or innocence based on statutes founded on English Common Law. Emotions regarding the disparities and past history seem to make it impossible for many to clearly think about the evidence associated with Zimmerman shooting Martin and Zimmerman being found not guilty.

The application of facts and logic often flies in the face of emotion and hatred, but let us try one more time.

I carry my gun every day, everywhere I go. I am required to carry it in my daily work. Last week, I re-qualified to demonstrate my handgun capabilities to meet the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services annual requirements.

Two state-certified firearms instructors were involved. One asked about the Zimmerman verdict. The other said that the case should never have gone to trial; it was a clear case of self-defense. There was a nodding of heads between them. Both of the instructors are black. People that understand our self-defense laws, like these two black gentlemen, know that much of what is flying around in the media is unrelated to the law and the facts in the case.

Those who can think logically about life and death should ask themselves a few questions. What would you do if a person were on top of you pounding your face with his fists and hitting your head on a sidewalk? Would you, as a reasonable person, believe your life was in immediate grave danger? Would you do nothing and allow yourself to be murdered? Would you try to save your own life any way you could?

Recognizing that verdicts of innocence and guilt are determined based on evidence, the preponderance of evidence provided to the Zimmerman jury clearly indicated the above words describe where Zimmerman found himself that night in Florida. And, regardless of what Zimmerman did before that point, did he do anything that would justify Trayvon Martin killing him?

One would have to have his or her head in the sand for many years to not know that unacceptable conditions exist among too many of black Americans, but do those disparities justify ignoring our laws and lynching Zimmerman?

It seems to me we should focus our attention on overcoming the economic disparities that exist, instead of being diverted by Zimmerman trying to avoid being murdered.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Crittenden. Email him at