Gun Laws


You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.

In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all.  And bring a handgun. The legislators are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.

If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve.  I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.

Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies:  Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible.  I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country.  Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.



  • If Zimmerman had the God given sense to stay in the car for 2 more minutes the cops would have been on the scene and a nice community in Florida wouldn’t be stained by the violent death of a young man. The problem with concealed carry is that people with poor judgement , no common sense or just palin trigger happy are given an excuse to use deadly force. I find it hard to believe that a guy with 18 months of mma training couldn’t defend himself for more than a minute before pulling his gun and shooting. If he was that pathetic he wouldn’t have stuck it out for eighteen months. How many burglars go walking through the neighborhood at 7p.m. when most people are home, getting home and awake. Zimmerman di’dnt let that c**n get away, he shot him dead. Trayvon died a hero fighting off a creep with a gun. I hope your proud George cause we know your not remorseful. you sick piece of trash.

  • I’m glad i do not live in your sick racist country. You simply cannot build a nation on race hatred and expect it to go anytime soon. Im happy the world is watching how your fucked up nation truly operates. Do you really deserve to claim you are the home of democracy with shit like this going on?.

    Forget Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, don’t mention these places when you want to make a point about democracy. I have seen your disgusting overweight populace, obsessed with self gratification, greed and ignorance (80 per cent of you do not own a passport) make judgements on the rest of the world with no authority whatsoever. Thank you trayvon for
    Reminding us that none of this has really gone away. Rest in peace.

    • We’re getting better, actually. But there is a lot of work remaining. And some of us are never going to part of the solution, but with every generation, more hope, I think.

  • Ladies and Gents what is on display here is a deadly combination of white liberal elitist guilt by someone who lives in a bubble surrounded by yes men and who’s only interaction with minorities is either the Mexican behind the catering table or the black ladies who clean his house. I can 100% guarantee David Simon DID NOT WATCH THE ENTIRE TRIAL and instead got snippets by a media driven by racial politics between a Hispanic man and a military age black man. Do yourself a favor and work off facts rather than emotion.

    • I am white and liberal it is true. You might want to pick up a copy of “The Corner,” or maybe the crime and city coverage in the Baltimore Sun for the years 1983 to 1995. Because with regard to my racial isolation, your suppositions are a little bit embarrassing, I think.

  • Mr. Simon,

    I have to say that I am dismayed at the way you have chosen to deal with this issue. Is the death of Trayvon Martin a tragedy? Yes. But what happened in that trial had nothing to do with any “stand your ground” law. In fact,if you look, that was never mentioned.

    This was a case where self-defense was alleged. Did Mr. Zimmerman have a weapon. Yes. Is there any evidence that he used it in an illegal way? The jury has said no. The jury said no because there is no evidence that he had the weapon drawn at any point other than when Mr. Martin was on top of him, hitting him.

    Your piece is inflammatory, and not for a good purpose. The trial has not been concluded for a week and already the mythology of what happened, what was involved, and what the court said have overtaken the facts.

    This was not a trial where it was the NRA-sponsored statute being tested. This was a question, entirely, about the presumption of innocence, what another author referred to as “The Golden Thread”.

    The prosecution could not, and did not, prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Zimmerman did anything illegal. Did he make some bad choices? That is debatable. But none of the choices he made, that we have evidence of, constitute a criminal act.

    The state of Florida, and this court in particular, did not declare a year round season on Black teenagers. That existed, according to DOJ statistics, long before Mr. Zimmerman ever laid eyes on Mr. Martin. But nothing that happened in this trial suddenly made life more dangerous for young African-American men.

    • I disagree in all respects, but I admire your respectful tone. My answers to all points of your critique are elsewhere in these comments. I won’t endeavor to repeat them all here, it being time to conclude this dynamic after several hours of servicing it.

  • A man was found not guilty of murder or manslaughter by a jury of his peers who listened to days of arguments, testimony, and evidence in a single ambiguous self-defense case revolving around the death of a 17 year old black male. How did we get to the point where thankfully David Simon, in addition to a number of other Hollywood celebrities, knows more about the ambiguities of this case than the jury, and to the point where this man’s guilt or innocence became the single most important racial issue in the country? What a bunch of sound and fury over fucking nothing.

    Also, it seems bizarre that many of the people who comment on this want to make it a black/white thing when neither the defendant nor the victim were white. I guess if you have white guilt to exorcise you have to find some medium to do it with, but I think there’s enough material out there that people could do much better than this.

    • We will disagree of course and as your post contains no substance that hasn’t been directly addressed elsewhere, we will limit our great offense to being described as a Hollywood celebrity. I was born in D.C. I live in Baltimore, Md. I refuse to even film west of the Mississippi River, with the exception of a few scenes on the West Bank of New Orleans that I couldn’t avoid for logistical reasons. I can’t even get a good table at the Ivy, nor do I want one.

      There are lots of stereotypes that you could applied, Mr. Goranson. “Hollywood celebrity,” to anyone who knows me, my interests or my work, is simply incompetence. Argumentative asshole? Lefty provocateur? Wordy sonofabitch?

      Come on, bear down, fella. You shanked that one, badly.

      • You ascribe yourself too much importance if you honestly care that much about whatever pejorative I use to describe you.

        • Mr. Goranson, that was a joke. My tongue was lodged in my cheek. The humor comes at my generalized contempt for the entertainment industry, and Hollywood in particular. If I was really concerned about pejoratives would I have offered you a choice of several more accurate ones?

          On this point, you leave me no other choice but to reply with some classic film dialogue: Lighten up, Francis.

  • Great post, David. You are spot on. And I’m really impressed by the way you are handling and responding to a lot of these ignorant and downright imbecilic people in the comment section. You’re more patient than I would be. Kudos.

  • Thank you for this, Mr. Simon. And thanks to the commenter who gave the Atlantic cite.

    I live in a city that filed for bankruptcy, and our police force shrank from 150 cops to 94 in a matter of months. We were also ground zero for foreclosures, so we became a magnet for a variety of people looking to commit crime, and taking over empty houses to do it. Prostitution, drugs, burglaries, robberies and homicides all went up, some by big margins. Some people got scared. Others got together.

    The result was a growth from about 10 to 350 neighborhood watch groups. Though wildly imperfect, these groups have helped citizens feel a bit more empowered — though we’ve also had far too many residents just move away, sick of the crime. But these groups have connected neighbors together and helped an overburdened police force keep track of actual criminals.

    I’ve been part of a volunteer group hoping to coordinate those neighbor watches so they communicate more effectively.

    We don’t use guns or encourage their use. We in fact discourage that use. We encourage being good witnesses: paying attention, looking for clear identifying markings (clothing, tattoos), recording license numbers. We encourage informing the police of observed criminal activity — even though the police force is strapped, and reporting crimes can often lead to edgy confrontations with overworked dispatchers.

    We have burglars casing neighborhoods by going door to door, ringing bells, seeing if anyone’s home. We never advise people: If you’re suspicious of the person on your doorstep, pick a fight and shoot to kill.

    We tell people: It’s frustrating sometimes. But work within the system. Otherwise somebody’s going to get hurt and you can’t predict who that will be.

    I believe manslaughter obliges the defendant to have acted reasonably in his behavior leading up to the confrontation. The Atlantic article suggests this may not be true in Florida, which is terrifying. And as you noted — again, thank you — SYG made a huge impression on this case both at its outset in the police response and at the end in jury instructions.

    But stepping back from that, asking what a reasonable person in Mr. Zimmerman’s place would have done, he first of all stays in his car. Period. Everything that happened after that was solely the result of his actions, because his getting out of the car (even WITHOUT the dispatcher’s advisal) was the result of his unreasonable act. That’s manslaughter.

    If staying in his car wasn’t possible — and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be — he approaches in a reasonable fashion. “I’m sorry, I live here and I’m head of the local neighborhood watch. We’ve had a lot of burglaries recently and I don’t know you. I’m sorry but I was just wondering if you could tell me why you’re here?”

    But even that latter scenario is misconceived. I’m just trying to give Zimmerman some benefit of the doubt.

    A better scenario would be, since he was neighborhood watch captain, to contact the other people in his neighborhood and alert them to his suspicion and identify who he suspects, not confront Mr. Martin. This too would have been at least within the realm of reasonable. (Personally, if this had been a neighborhood watch captain I knew of, I would have met with him and told him to calm down, but that’s me.)

    I don’t know why the prosecution didn’t raise the issue of reasonableness. I’ve read the prosecutor who botched this case is the same one who put the woman who fired the warning shot away for 20 years. I also know she’s black.

    I’ve avoided the race issue up until now because I think you addressed it eloquently, far better than I could hope to. But even if you take race out of it, as someone who works with neighborhood watches all the time in a high-crime environment I can say unequivocally that George Zimmerman’s behavior was not reasonable, and that unreasonableness provoked the confrontation that led to the death of Trayvon Martin.

    The fact that wasn’t enough to convict him of manslaughter is sickening, horrifying, and infuriating.

    Thank you for this forum.

  • The definition of assault in Florida:


    (1)?An “assault” is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.

    If a child is being followed on their way home from the store, confronted & aggressively questioned by someone based solely on blind assumptions, does that child not have the right to fear for his well-being? Was Trayvon Martin not under assault? You are exactly right David, Trayvon Martin defended himself from an aggressive predator. Someone recorded minutes earlier describing him as a “punk” and profiling him as a criminal. The law prevents Martin from carrying a gun because he is under age, prevents him from defending himself with his fists, for fear of being shot by someone who can legally carry a gun. I am scared of the precedence that has been set in this case. The jury had a chance to tell aggressors that initiating an altercation and then having to defend yourself for it, doesn’t give you the right to murder someone. Thanks for seeing it the right way David and for writing this article.

  • MLK Jr would disagree with you. Using violence to protest is criminal and wrong-headed. Stop trying to incite a race war. The State didn’t have a case and rightfully lost. You should use your blog and time to promote peace, not violence.

    • No one is inciting a race war, or even advocating violence. But your hyperbole and dishonesty in claiming otherwise is noted.

      • You are indeed advocating violence by your very words, which you conveniently choose to ignore: “pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse”. Frankly, your disingenuous rhetoric would be hilarious if not for the gullibility of those it is aimed at.

        • QUote the entire sentence and the sentence after or affirm that you are dishonest and dishonorable bullshitter. Either that or a moron.

          The choice is yours.

      • You said you’d pick up a brick and you’re not inciting violence???

        Interesting take, liberal and detached from reality but interesting non-the-less (if only from the perspective of studying the goofiness of liberal thought)

        • Which are you, obtuse or dishonest? There is no third alternative. Quote the two sentences in full. I will stand by them, entirely, and assert they are not an affirmation of violence. Your inaccurate, reductive description of what I did not actually say is of no matter to anyone who requires honesty in their rhetoric.

  • I’m going to run circles around this argument.

    Your claim is that Trayvon had the right to defend himself, because he was afraid. So decking Z and pummeling him was justified. But Z doesn’t have the right to defend himself from someone trying to beat Z to death.

    That’s your argument. I’ve translated it from racist liberalise to English.

  • Your tune would change were it about the Crown Heights Affair, Jewboy….I hope you get beaten and killed by a black mob for being White…then you can scream ANTISEMITISM!…fock you, you dirty liberal mamzer…

    • Yes, well, those who oppose my viewpoint on this issue are less than pleased to have you as a camp follower, Mr. Yoll. Normally, we don’t post such stuff, but on this issue you are for once in your hate-encrusted and stunted life entirely relevant. Behold, the reservoir of racial comity that exists in the darker corners of the American experience. When you are in the minority in America, you at points will be obliged to encounter some who see you as not quite all that they are. For the Trayvon Martins of the world, every step on a public street is taken with someone, somewhere glimpsing him in just such a context.

  • Zimmerman, and by extension, society, perceives young, black males as dangerous criminal thugs. Well, gee, where on earth could that come from? Maybe from TV shows where literally 80% of the black characters are murderous drug dealers? Shows which get praised for their “realism?”

    • You didn’t actually watch or read anything I wrote or filmed, did you? Just winging it with a superficial critique and an incorrect percentage of black characterization. I suppose it was only a matter of time on this thread.

  • A lot of people on both sides of the argument, here and elsewhere, seem to assume that Zimmerman was getting the worst of a fist fight and then went for his gun to settle things. While that may be true, it’s also possible (probable in my opinion) that he followed Trayvon with his gun in hand. I would think that a guy with a concealed carry permit “guarding” his neighborhood would likely unholster that weapon before getting out of the car, chamber a round, and follow the “suspicious” person with his gun ready, probably held behind his back. Why keep that weapon holstered beneath his shirt if he thinks he’s dealing with a criminal? And if I was a 17 year old kid and somebody came up on me and demanded to know what I was doing, I’d probably turn around and tell him to fuck off. And if Zimmerman decided to show the weapon at that time, it would be either run or fight or wait to get shot. Also, In that 911 call that recorded the scream and then the gunshot, they happened pretty quickly. Who’s more likely to be screaming like that, the guy pointing the gun or the guy looking down its barrel, realizing he’s about to die?

    • Maybe you should have provided your evidence of what happened to the prosecutor since they did not provide any evidence of what you are claiming. Oh wait, you don’t have any actual evidence to support your claim? Nevermind.

  • Thank you so much for an excellent article. We now know that anyone who perceives someone in their neighborhood to be a “thug” has every right to simply gun them down and shoot them, based solely upon this verdict. All they really have to do is make sure the victim is dead so that no one else can challenge their story claiming self-defense. This is disgusting and appalling. Such a sad and pathetic time in our nation’s history:( Although, I agree our system is better than other countries, it still doesn’t make it right.

    • Your system may be better than “some” other countries: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia.

      Tragically it is much, much worse than some others: the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Japan … the list is long.

  • David,

    Your comments and reaction arent based on the facts of this case. You are looking for a reason to be outraged. Make no mistake – there are times and instances where your outrage would be warranted. You choose the wrong case study to pick up that brick about. THATS why the black community is not burning cities down. In their heart of hearts, they know it too.

    • No, I’m outraged and quite reasoned about it.

      An unarmed teenager who was walking on the street with a phone and candy is slain. The man who did this is unaccountable because the standards for self-defense have been crudely and barbarically weakened, and because of the underlying racial dynamic. I’m unconvinced by your assessment. This warrants outrage and disappoint, and a certain amount of collective shame, too.

      If you feel none of that, so be it. But I’m pretty clear about what I feel and why.

      • From today’s, regarding the lawyer’s wife who was Juror B37, who now plans to make money writing a book about how Not Guilty was the only verdict the jury could come to:

        George Zimmerman Juror B37 Hates Media, Called Trayvon ‘A Boy of Color’

        A mere two days after finding George Zimmerman innocent of the murder of Trayvon Martin, juror B37 in the case has signed on with a prominent literary agent, as a prelude to a book deal. This juror is a woman who hates the media and went into the trial mistakenly believing there were “riots” over the case.

        The video above is the entire voir dire of juror B37— the process during which the attorneys question prospective jurors to determine their suitability. During the questioning, the juror, a mother of two who owns “a lot” of animals, revealed the following things:

        – She dislikes the media in general and considers it worthless. “You never get all the information… it’s skewed one way or the other.”

        – “I don’t listen to the radio” or read the internet, she said. Her only news about the case came from the Today show. “Newspapers are used in the parrot’s cage. Not even read,” she said. “It’s been so long since I even read one. The only time I see em is when I’m putting them down on the floor.”

        – During questioning, she referred multiple times to “riots” in Sanford after Trayvon Martin was killed. “I knew there was rioting, but I guess [the authorities] had it pretty well organized,” she says at one point. In fact, despite a great deal of salivating anticipation by the media both before and after the trial, there were no riots in Sanford, Florida.

        – She referred to the killing of Trayvon Martin as “an unfortunate incident that happened.”

        – Asked by George Zimmerman’s attorney to describe Trayvon Martin, she said, “He was a boy of color.”

      • He wasn’t walking, he was straddling a hispanic man and pounding his head into concrete.

        That wasn’t Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, it was attempted homicide.

        • Not according to the medical evidence, which is suggestive of a common, not aggravated assault, and for which Mr. Zimmerman initially refused any treatment at the scene, and then later was treated and released for superficial abrasions. But your hyperbole and passion are noted.

        • I like how those in defense of Zimmerman pretend that this is how the situation began. Two people were simply ported into existence, one standing over the other administering a beating.

          There are events leading up to the confrontation that George Zimmerman is responsible for. Why do you choose to omit that from what you seem to think passes as an argument?

        • FFS stop with the “:Zimmerman was getting his head bashed in” argument. The medical evidence simply does not support that.

          If Zimmerman had truly been having his head bashed into the sidewalk, he would have had a serious concussion and/or serious head trauma. He would have been bleeding profusely. He certainly wouldn’t have gotten up right away from the incident and walked away with only a scrape or two on his face.

          Maybe you guys are hoping that if keep saying that Zimmerman was getting his “head bashed in” enough, you think it will magically come true. Psst, it won’t. But being the intellectually lazy and morally suspect person you are, you probably believe in Santa Claus and unicorns too.

      • And if it were you that confronted him, whether you were in the wrong or it wasnt your place to do so, and the kid decided to attack you, beat you to the ground, straddle you, and start to pummel you… it possible that in a panic to defend yourself in this position that you might have made the same decision?

        There is more to the story than a kid with a phone and candy, more than both of us will either know. But to join the lynch mob based on emotion, and not the merits of the case, seems to indicate that you threw out reason from the beginning.

        • I would not have brought that gun to confront that seventeen year old. Yes, there is more than you say.

          • Mr. Simon, why are you even dignifying these irrelevant hypothetical questions with a response? We all know you wouldn’t even get yourself into that type situation in the first place. The closest you could do to earn the ire of a man enough to be assaulted is if you used your trademark wit and verbally conquer him. Your most greatest weapon is your mind and words, not your fist not a gun. Your mind and words.

            • Actually, I would be shot in the ass poste haste for some wiseass remark. We know this.

  • I still don’t understand your argument about minor injuries. If Zimmerman didn’t shoot Martin how do you know that Martin wouldn’t have kept going until Zimmerman could no longer use his gun? The injuries were minor because he shot him when he did. Teenagers generally don’t know when to stop in regards to high pressure situations. I don’t really care about the verdict because I don’t really care about the case at all, but I don’t see how you can say Zimmerman’s life wasn’t threatened just because of the extent of his injuries before he shot Trayvon. All it takes is 1 blow to the back of Zimmerman’s head to have him killed or blinded.

    • By your logic, if Mr. Martin were to have gone quickly to his pockets, or to the waist of his pants, then Mr. Zimmerman would be justified in using lethal force. Mr. Martin might be going for a knife or gun. Surely that possibility is more lethal than the blows from fists.

      Once you go down that sad road of speculating about what might happen if we don’t shoot and kill someone, you are in for a world of barbarism, Jeff. The barrooms and backyards of America will be littered with the bodies of those who might have been about to do something really harmful and potentially lethal, but hey, we’ll never know.

      Pause a moment and realize the horror show that you just constructed for American jurisprudence.

      • We don’t have to speculate. If Martin thought Zimmerman had a gun, Martin would have attacked Zimmerman’s hands and tried to gain control of the gun. The evidence indicates that he did no such thing.

        • Actually, Mr. Richman, the defense scenario claims exactly that which you deny. They say that Mr. Martin grabbed for the gun. But thanks for playing.

      • At what point is it justified in your opinion for someone to use self defense? Does your skull actually have to be cracked open or should grey matter be leaking from your ears?

        There is a real simple solution for these types of problems. Don’t attack people. If Mr Martin had a problem with Mr Zimmerman he could call the police. Instead he attacked him and beat his head against the concrete. I think that fits the definition of barbarism a lot better than Zimmerman screaming for help and then shooting Mr martin when he thought he was going to die.

        • At the point of the legal standard that we have embraced since the days of English common law: You can use lethal force if you are yourself confronted by the threat of violence that is potentially lethal. This is the actual standard in layman’s terms, in my state of Maryland, where we discourage barbarism of a kind welcomed in Florida.

          If you think that hyperbolic, review the Tampa Bay Times coverage of the bloodletting in the six years since SYG was enacted in that state. My standard discourages unneccessary killing. SYG provokes it.

          Or, perversely, you can stand there, like a goddman ostrich, and wail about how a seven year old kid was stupid enough to react to a confrontation by punching someone with a concealed handgun. Stupid punk. If he didn’t want to get shot, he shoudn’t have made that mistake. No more years for his foolish ass.

          Don’t you want to think about the systemic here? I know it’s harder, but it’s where the reform needs to be.

  • American black people have plenty on their plate to worry about in Florida with regards to treatment by society, treatment by police, lack of opportunity, and violence in their communities. While I agree that Mr. Zimmerman was morally culpable for killing Mr. Martin, the laws in Florida clearly allow you to kill someone, especially if no one is left alive to dispute your life or death claim.

    That said, I go back to the first point to say that this is very low priority on the list of ails that affect the American black community in Florida. You’re still more likely to be denied a job, harassed by a cop, killed by a cop, or caught up in black on black violence than to have a vigilante-type like Mr. Zimmerman come after you and kill you without any witnesses. I do agree that it’s a kick-you-while-your-down moment for the community, though.

    • No need to pay attention to this verdict, people, move along. Other travesties to come. Keep moving.

  • I am absolutely astounded by the extent to which certain people will exhaust themselves in order to victimize a known murderer. In hindsight, perhaps it should be unsurprising that such a large number of the comments in favor of GZ are vastly perpetuated by hypothetical claims, being that the very same could be said of the official court defense. Claims that Zimmerman was subject to a near-fatal beating at Martin’s hands are not supported by the few injuries he sustained — a swollen lip, lacerations, and a nose bloodied, but only purportedly broken. Had Martin truly smashed the shooter’s head against the pavement, as it has been alleged that he had, the corresponding wounds would be more serious by far.

    There is incontrovertible proof that Zimmerman was instructed to wait for aid, and instead actively decided to take the law into his own hands. Armed with a lethal weapon, he chose to follow and eventually approach an adolescent boy for no reason other than the state of his appearance. Speculation that a young man — in possession of little more than a bag of skittles — would seek to savagely attack someone utterly without provocation is completely groundless, and I am thoroughly disappointed in anyone who would protest otherwise. This boy was intentionally sought out, cornered, and murdered in cold blood. George Zimmerman did not choose to aim his gun at a non-fatal body part; knowingly, he shot to kill.

    As for the frequent complaints of reverse racism, I have no pity to extend on behalf of such a cause. I am not foolish enough to insist that there is no resentment toward those of majority ethnicities. At the same time, anyone who chooses to believe that racism against whites has had an effect anywhere near as widespread as that which is displayed against blacks is incredibly naive. I am a white woman, and I have never in my life felt slighted as a result of the color of my skin. I will never know the feeling of walking down the street with countless pairs of eyes on me, judging me before I have even had the chance to open my mouth — but Trayvon Martin has, and we have all seen what has become of him.

    Open your eyes. There is only one victim here, and he is already dead. It’s as simple as that.

  • Well, don’t throw fists if you aren’t sure what the other person has under his coat. If Mr. Martin had simply walked home, then by all acounts he’d still be alive.

    Of course, that wouldn’t be very good fodder for your typical David Simon fare. Race baiter lives here.

    • Yes, he was such a foolish kid. But hey, he had seventeen good years. He sure didn’t deserve more than that making such a dumbass mistake as to throw a punch at someone who confronted him with a gun. What a chump.

      You do realize that your post is borderline sociopathic, do you not?

  • Dear Mr. Simon,

    I greatly admire your work (I am a big fan of The Wire) and your take on the problem of race, although, because I am Romanian, I probably do not understand all the intricacies of the American life. The problem is not whether Zimmerman is guilty. If he were convicted, he would have been a victim of the system as much as Trayvon was. Any person who is under attack and his or her head is being smashed against the pavement seems to be entitled to use a gun to defend herself since this kind of injury can lead to death.

    The problem is with the fact that guns are everywhere in America. Carrying a gun encourages people like Zimmerman to act like cops. If he has not had the delusion that he was a vigilante, the whole incident would not have happened. It is sufficient a ban of guns to prevent a lot of murders. Although corrupt and poor, Romania is a very peaceful country only because it is hard to find a gun here.

  • I’m confused. Does everyone believe that the trial was somehow deficient or unfair to the prosecution? Do you content that the trial was tainted in some way? The State put on its case and simply failed to meet its burden. It’s a high burden to meet. I watched whatever I could of the trial, opening statements, and closing arguments. The State screwed up on several fronts. In the end, the closing argument amounted to nothing more than: (1) GZ’s story has too many inconsistencies to be believed, and (2) telling the jury to look into their hearts. It was nonsense. You have to prove something, not merely raise doubt about the Defendant’s story. This is what due process is about and this happens everyday in courts. If you don’t like the jury, the don’t moan and groan the next time you get a summons for jury duty.

    • There is a revolution underway in the application of self-defense and the lessening standards for its application. Moreover, there is a definitive racial bias in the way such a defense is applied and where it is successful in the Florida courts. Moreover, the new SYG logic produced one of the most inert and incompetent police investigations in the wake of this shooting because Sanford police actually believed they could not even charge Mr. Zimmerman under the logic of the SYG statute. Do I need to go on? Is there any chance that in doing so you might become less confused? Or no?

  • Mr. Simon, I actually agree with you in principle. I’m as outraged and upset as anyone about what happened. But you lost me completely with “If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford.” You’re not a person of color in Florida. So it’s easy to toss such words easily, hoping to fan the flames and incite violence and rub your hand together in glee. And even if you were, if you think that picking up a brick and marching towards the courthouse is the solution, then you sir, are part of the problem. Violence is not the solution. Period. And if you disagree with me, then I suggest you read some of the writing of Dr. Martin Luther King.

    • Please quote the ensuing sentence. What you think the first sentence giveth, the second sentence taketh away. You’ve missed the thread of that passage, utterly.

      • I have not missed utterly missed the thread. I read it, and i understand what you are saying, but it does not change the fact that you are advocating a violent reaction. As a writer, you understand the power of words. And in what is a short, very well-articulated essay describing your feelings, you make it clear that picking up a brick and looking for retribution is – in your opinion – the more worthy path to take. If that was not your intent, I have to tell you as a reader with pretty good comprehension, that that is the message you are sending when you describe non-violence as “stoic tolerance”, which is somewhat of a back-handed compliment.

        As an aside, thank you for taking the time to comment and engage in this dialogue… it it very meaningful on many different levels.

        • I am not advocating such. If you read this, you didn’t actually understand the words. There is nothing else to be said here.

  • I am thinking about the early Black Panthers’ openly carrying guns to assert their right to protect themselves from racist citizens and police. If a group of blacks did that today would the NRA have their back? Or is it only whites who can safely protect themseves from real and imagined threats and benefit from the insane Florida law involving standing one’s ground.?

    • MM – The black panthers carried AK’s in front of the Texas state capital after the election of George W Bush. The NRA didn’t have a problem with it and Texas Rangers on the scene let everyone know that it was perfectly legal as long as they didn’t point the guns at anyone. Your attempts to tar the NRA with racism is offensive. The NRA was founded by generals from the north that helped end slavery in the civil war. Also, the stand your ground law wasn’t involved in the Zimmerman case. It was a pure self defense case and he could have won in any of the states.

  • I think the mistake made by the prosecution was not charging with Manslaughter from the beginning. Proving murder fueled by racial malice on the part of Zimmerman is a stretch.

    Additionally, I am not sure how comfortable I am with such a grave case being decided by people who are so insular/unaware that they had not previously heard of the case.

  • Mr. Simon, I have been all over the internet over the past two days – reading and responding to all kinds of neanderthal nonsense set afloat into the electronic ether on this topic. I have nothing more to add to what you’ve stated so clearly and fervently herein – both in the body and text of your post, as well as in the responses to commentary. I want to thank you, sir – from the deepest point of my soul for your courage and truth telling. – DTCMD

  • Thank you David Simon for lending an eloquent and passionate voice to so many of us who are saddened by this verdict.

    To those commenting here and elsewhere that while the death of Trayvon Martin was a “tragedy,” there was no proof of racial bias or profiling, I have one simple question. So utterly obvious, in fact, that I’m sure I’m not the first to pose it, but here goes: if you think this killing had nothing to do with race, you must ask yourself, in the unguarded honestly of your private thoughts, regardless of what you think exactly happened that night, had Trayvon been a 17 year old white boy walking down that street, would he be dead today? I am so sad for his family.

  • Thanks for your commentary Mr Simon. I am so saddened by this murder, trial & outcome – it’s been hard to gather my thoughts to even get at a definition of my feelings. And then after reading your piece it came to me, I feel DEFEATED. As a black woman with nephews and cousins and other family members, I hear this instructive refrain over & over again – “when confronted by anyone: stop engaging, surrender, put your hands up, make it clear you are not a threat even if you aren’t doing anything at all”

    It feels like no progress has been made since Emmett Till’s whistle cost him his life – when black people (especially boys) were told to step into the the street when a white person was walking on the same sidewalk as them, when black boys were instructed to NEVER look a white person in the eyes (“lower your head as they pass you”). What can be done?

    Feeling hopeless in NJ.

  • I’m having a tough time with with issue myself. I can see why the jury aquitted given the state of the laws. I can even see how blacks would be upset and could see inequalities with the deck stacked against them. However one thing I am having a hard time with is a discussion about Martin possibly being a troubled teen or putting yourself in his shoes as a white person just isn’t even permitted. It seems to me that culture and race are getting mixed up.

    I’m going to put myself out here as a possible racist…but would like to use myself to illustrate how I conceptualize the difference between race and culture. If I’m out walking in my parents neighborhood in the evening and a young black man wearing baggy clothing is walking my way I will most likely cross the street to keep my distance. If that man is a young white man in similar clothing I might very well do the same. If they are wearing skinny jeans and a hipsterish vest I’m much more likely to keep walking with a nod and a smile. Also less likely to cross the street for women or older men. I am very much profiling these people and I am not so insecure with my self to think that race doesn’t play some part; I fight against this urge but it does happen. For me however the location, culture and presentation of a person are more important than skin tone.

    Could Martin’s actions have contributed to his death? (Can this question even be asked in earnest?) I understand that many who would pose this question do so out of slander and smearing of character. I don’t mean it in that way. I ask it with the understanding that ZImmermans actions were deplorable and 90-100% the cause of Martin’s death. That questionable 10% is why Zimmerman was aquitted.

    I guess my rambling point is that I think 95% of blacks who are picturing themselves or their son as Martin are wrong in my racist judgment because their culture is different.

    • well first, admitting that you notice race and, like gender and age, it impacts your thinking is not by itself racist. Actually, it’s the first step to interrogating those ideas. You can’t control how race impacts your thinking if you just ignore it. So, on that part I give you some credit.
      However, baggy clothes only means something different from skinny jeans because of it’s association with race and racist stereotypes. Without those stereotypes the association disappears. So, it is really about race not some race-neutral cultural judgment.

  • Good for you trying to share a thoughtful, rational point of view in the face of legions of the thoughtless and irrational who patently refuse to consider and/or accept the foundation of racism, inequity, injustice, etc that exists absurdly alongside all that actually makes the country a great and unique one. You have the patience for it where so many of others of us do not. I am included in that latter group.

    What I’ve always wondered personally is, why everyone doesn’t want to make it (the country as a whole, that is) that much better? So I don’t argue, but I definitely wield those proverbial bricks…

  • Zimmerman is a killer. He made up his mind to be one before he killed Martin. He decided to employ lethal force in a lethal way against Martin not because he saw that Martin had a weapon but because he knew, as someone who has decided to live as a killer, that Martin might be like him, might decide to kill him. Martin was a stranger to Zimmerman, a member of a strange society all around him. Hard to grasp the whole. Can’t know everyone. And we’re always seeing our evils in strangers.

  • “If I were a person of color in Florida.”

    Leaving aside the little problem that the guy who walked was a person of color, of course.

    • Not as much color, brother. You obviously didn’t read far into the commentary or you would not be offering the same weak shit. Any effort to pretend that Mr. Zimmerman, of mixed European and Latino race, occupies the same sociopolitical strata as a young black male in our society is dishonest, semantic obfuscation.

      You want this to be a matter of racial equality. And you are bullshit for that.

      • In the US, “person of color” includes Hispanics–and that group includes Zimmerman.

        It also includes Asians.

        If you want this to be about racism towards blacks, fine. But don’t follow up that by appealing to the broader “persons of color” neologism.

  • You’re all very well spoken individuals…but it doesn’t make any of you more right or wrong than the others. What happened was a tragedy, both the murder and the verdict. Reality is that this string of comments is happening only because the media decided so. They made this about race. Unfortunately, worse crimes happen every day, and go unpunished, to all races, minorities and genders…I’ve experienced it myself. It’s the country we live in and we can choose not to live here. While this is certainly a setback, we are making great strides forward…change takes time…

    • I regret to inform you that my post and these comments — at least mine — are occurring because I believe them to be true. And I am, on my own website, speaking my mind. Please do not generalize about the media. I am not the media. I’m not even a small part of it anymore. Not in the manner that you mean.

  • I’m glad that Republicans, NRA and racists have decided to rally behind Mr. Zimmerman. I think they have finally found a man who accurately personifies their world-view and political goals. He’s an accused child molester, a man who has assaulted police officers, and has stalked and killed minors. Physically, he is overweight and out of shape – described as “physically soft” by his mixed martial arts trainer – 28 years old and still living with his parents. He is clearly preoccupied with aping the authority and bearing of police – he joined the “young Marines” as a boy but couldn’t cut it as an adult.
    They’ve chosen their standard-bearer. Let’s make sure everyone knows it.

  • I used to work for a TV station in Cincinnati. Once I got a call from a man who’d visited downtown with his family, and according to him got harassed by a group of teenagers. I didn’t get what he wanted until he came right out and said it, “Don’t you think you should do a story telling people with white skin that its too dangerous to go down there.” I wish I could remember what I said, I always hoped I called him a racist, but I was so shocked I’m sure I just mumbled something and hung up the phone. It wasn’t just what he said, it was how he said it. There was hate in his voice.

    I used to feel comfortable knowing that there weren’t a lot of people like that man in the world. I don’t feel that way anymore.

  • I wish that the local police had realized that Zimmerman was a tragedy waiting to happen. Here’s a self-important cop wannabe riding around making frequent 911 calls every time he saw a black person. Perhaps police sitting down with him and telling him in a friendly way that civilians don’t get to do freelance stop-and-question could have prevented this. Let it be a lesson to all law enforcement agencies.

  • While I was sickened by the verdict, it was not unexpected. Since the mid-80s we, as a country, have been on a path toward disenfranchising the poor, the infirm, women, immigrants, and racial minorities. Is it really any surprise that it has now become so easy to kill – on the flimsiest of excuses – and get away with it? The process is accelerating. We are now witnessing a very effective and dangerous power grab by the angry, white, bible beating, gun wielding far right, as states and municipalities around the country (supported by the Supreme Court) jerry-rig constituencies, limit voting rights, curtail a woman’s reproductive freedom, destroy Headstart, pervert the tax laws, and make it damn near impossible for anyone born dark skinned or poor to achieve the “American Dream”. What does the American Dream even mean anymore and to whom? And what is the plan, exactly, when women can’t get birth control, when poor and immigrant kids can’t get an education, when SNAP and other benefits are increasingly restricted, when the scoundrels can’t even be voted out of office? Are we just going to round up the 47% and put them behind a high wall?

  • Dear Mr. Simon,
    Thank you for posting this. I am so sad, sadder than I have been in a very long time. I don’t know this boy, but the whole thing pulls at my heartstrings like he was a relative. I thought our country was moving forward on race relations, on equality, on fairness. But it’s clearly not. After this verdict, it appears to be moving backward at an awful clip. I will continue to read your blog in hopes of finding comfort and/or answers.

  • Can you find me another instance in which a neighborhood watchman got out of their vehicle and getting into an altercation ending with the death of a unarmed person? I’m baffled at why a neighborhood patrol would even need to arm themselves with a lethal weapon – for police, the gun is their last resort – they even carry multiple non lethal weapons should an altercation arrive. If we are going to allow untrained people to carry lethal weapons, shouldn’t they also have to carry non lethal alternatives? And I’m not talking just a baton and a gun – an ECD or mace would have ended the altercation between George and Trayvon without a death. Stand Your Ground seems to have a lot of grey area in which you can allow you to legally murder or kill someone and it needs to go.

  • I was outraged that they didn’t charge Zimmerman with premeditated first-degree murder.
    That said, do you agree that responding to this verdict with violence, Mr. Simon, would be stooping to Zimmerman’s level?

    • Of course. If you read what I wrote with any care at all, you will see that I am not urging such in any sense. I am saying that if I were as disenfranchised and betrayed as an African-American citizen is by the state of Florida, I would pick up a brick. I then note with admiration that they nonetheless do not.

      • I realize you’re employing a literary technique when you write about the brick (the term of which, for the life of me, has slipped my tongue and mind), but what actually stops you from picking up that brick? The fact that you’re white? Or that you live in another part of the country? There is a larger issue here. We are responsible for each other regardless of the color of our skin. He was a human being, a child, and it was the responsibility of us all to protect him. We failed. Now we need to stand up and fight. Perhaps not with bricks, but with vision. Something that goes beyond the borders of race (the lexiconography of which still acts to suppress, to divide, still forces someone, like yourself, to see yourself as the other, to say to yourself, “I cannot pick up the brick because I am not from that tribe”). We’re all from the same tribe. The enemy is not the other. The enemy is us.

        • The fact that the game is not rigged against me, and that I feel I have enough self-actualized weaponry available to me to counter this outrage in other, effective ways. Not sure I could muster that I was a black parent, though. I think I would feel something directed at me and mine personally in the wake of this verdict and this betrayal and degradation by my government and my judicial system.

          I’m a writer. This is the best brick I got.

          But I’m also acknowledging my own white entitlement when I concede that I can’t feel the same despair that this verdict offers to the parents of an African-American child. That’s all.

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