Tuesday, July 16, 2013
George's Jones, and Other Calamities
Most of what I've read about the George Zimmerman case has examined Zimmerman's stalking and shooting of the unarmed, unoffending, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the judgment of the cops who arrived on the scene that they were good with it, and the decision of a jury of Zimmerman's peers, after the state of Florida was finally pressured into bringing the case to trial that, yep, they were good with it, has boiled down to examining the incident and the personalities involved through the prism of race. But if you want to understand the whole thing--understand who George Zimmerman is, why he did what he did, how the stars lined up around him, and what it all means--I think the most important thing you need to grasp is that Zimmerman, who looks like the besieged American Everyman to a lot of people, and like Everything Bad on a rocket sled to a lot of others, is, first and foremost, just an unbelievable pussy. He is to courage what Joe the Plumber was to working-class dignity.
Give Bernhard Goetz the credit he has coming to him: it took some balls to ride the New York City subway in 1984. Zimmerman's hobby, which he may well continue to enjoy, was to squeeze himself into his Batmobile and tool around prosperous, high-security communities--in Florida, the gated-community capitol of the United States--looking for anyone who Did Not Belong, with his peacemaker on his hip. So far as fake-macho displays of vigilante ballsiness by unbelievable pussies go, it was the small-timer's equivalent of making a speech saying that you're not going to just sit around and let evil flourish the way your predecessor in the Oval Office did, identifying three rogue nations as "the axis of evil," and then invading the one that's been disarmed and buckling under the weight of international sanctions for more than ten years. You may think you'll look pretty tough when you're getting your medal from Police Commissioner Gordon, but let's face it: you've got to do something at night, and so long as you're safe in your car, stay out of the bad neighborhoods, and, most importantly, have that peacemaker on your hip, it's a lot safer and less stressful than, say, trying to talk to a girl, if you have George's problem of being just an unbelievable pussy.
We'll never know how many times George actually saw someone he thought Did Not Belong while on night patrol and how many times he just sweated and stalked until his quarry hailed a cab or something--whew!! thinks George, he must have known I had eyes on him and messaged the rest of the New Black Panther Party to stand down--unless he kept excellent notes while waiting for his book deal. But we know that, on this night, he made more and more panicked phone calls to the po-po, and that whoever was manning the switchboard that night was insufficiently talented at soothing idiots who happen to be pussies, because he finally got out of his car to show John Law how it's done. This is where the whole gun thing becomes all-important, because George never would have gotten out of the car without his gun.
But, at the risk of sounding like one of those old bumper stickers asserting that guns don't kill people, people etc., I seriously doubt that Trayvon Martin would be dead now if George weren't such an unbelievable pussy. Can we talk? I grew up in Mississippi. Post-lega lynching, pre-Obama Mississippi. And I knew lots of guys who would have seen a black kid loping along and thought something of it. Some of the more Barney Fife-ish among them might even have followed him, called it in. The meaner and drunker among them might have gone so far as to step up to the kid and pick a fight, especially if they'd just walked in on their girlfriend making out with her brother again. But in all my extensive experience of being around intolerable sweaty-ass bad-smelling drunken peckerwood pieces of shit, have I ever met someone so cowardly, so yellow-bellied, so pathetically, contemptibly craven, someone with such a superhuman, rodentlike ability for banging on the bar to announce on the Jumbotron that he was about to write a check that his mashed-potato ass could not cash, that he would pick a fight with someone, and then, when his new friend elected to slap him back, scream like Homer Simpson finding that someone else had taken the last donut and pull out his boom stick and fucking shoot the person who had responded favorably to his invitation to engage him in fisticuffs and attitude? And then claim self-defense? Please. The racist shitheels I've known have their pride.
There's definitely the racist element to linger on here, if you're so inclined. Zimmerman's defenders were quick to complain that the pictures the media used of his victim made the sneaky little pickaninny look cute, cute and harmless, more Gary Coleman in his prime than Willie Horton in what Republican strategists consider to have been his. Then they rushed online with pictures of Trayvon Martin looking all scary and black power and hip hop and whatever the kids are into these days. Some of these pictures suffered from the fact that they weren't actually of Trayvon Martin, or of the right Trayvon Martin, but the point had been made, assuming the point was that if you saw the people in those photos working the soda dispenser at the Tastee Freeze, shoot his ass first and ask questions later--anyone with that kind of black face was too scary to live. In the letters column of my local paper, some jasper wrote in to say that Zimmerman was just trying to make safe for the people who lived in that neighborhood, which I guess means that Martin's father and his girlfriend's family, who lived in the neighborhood, thus helping to account for his presence there, owe Zimmerman a hug and a thank-you.
Yes, the mere fact that the unarmed Trayvon Martin was black made it a lot easier to account for how scared Zimmerman was of him--I see a black kid! I have no choice but to call the police! Oh no, the black kid is close to me and could hit me, like, really hard. I have no choice but to lay him out! Plenty more where he came from, so society won't register it as any kind of loss--and to help him raise and support a fan club. But I don't think the case marks a rise in racism and acceptance of racism, any more than the equally stupid and morally indefensible verdict in the O. J. Simpson murder case represented a clarion call from the African-American community to celebrity black athletes, urging them to marry blonde women so they could murder them and thin out their ranks a little. Still, larger societal factors were at work in both cases, and I do think the eagerness, willingness, hell, the mere ability of a great many prominent people to embrace a remorseless, quivering tub of guts like George Zimmerman may represent a rise in the intensity and social acceptance of unbelievably frightened pussies with arsenals.
Pussies are the real core of the Fox News Republicans now, people so freaked out at the way the world has changed that they can't think straight, and don't want to--they just want to panic, while harboring the delusion that this mental state somehow puts them better in touch with the Founding Fathers, who must have been able to get a grip on themselves once in a while if they managed to win a war against the mother country and persuade their new countrymen not to throttle and eat them when the first winter came. God knows the NRA has abandoned any service it once performed in the nature of encouraging and teaching gun safety and responsible ownership to address their chosen constituency, with a message they can all get behind: Pussies of America! Through dishonest means, an Eisenhower Republican, or "Democrat" as they are now called, has seized the White House! He had no limits on his power, and he does not respect you. He has somehow gotten the peculiar notion in his head that the very people who organized a grassroots movement to oppose oppressive taxation around the same time that he took office and pushed through a tax cut to help the middle class in these harsh times, and who doubt his claims to be an American citizen because they suspect that he is in fact the Muslim Manchurian candidate, may not be too bright. A great flood is coming. You will want to shoot at it, since we found out a few years back that levees don't always get the job done. According to the NRA, Obama has hatched a new plot to outlaw and collect all guns every few weeks since taking off, while losing his very rare attempts to actually, say, demand background checks and limit the availability of armor-piercing bullets to the droolingly insane, just to throw the media off his scent. You'd have to be very stupid to buy into all this, but you'd have to be very stupid to give Halle Berry an Academy Award, and that happened. The pertinent thing, is you'd have to be an amazing pussy to be responsive to this particular brand of terror-stroking, and hundreds of thousands people qualify.
There are a great many self-identified "conservatives" who would stick up for George Zimmerman and the NRA, and this has naturally led the good-hearted to wonder where the hell this country is going. But try to keep in mind, if it would not further dishearten you, that mainstream conservative thought is not based on, well, thought. Nobody in his right mind would say that citizens have the right to murder unarmed fellow citizens with firearms for no reason, except that they disapproved of the cut of their jib, and call it self-defense, any more than anyone, two seconds after the planes hit the World Trade Center, thought, "Wow, you know that little Middle Eastern country we invaded and hollowed out ten years ago? We should do that again." Modern conservatives decide what they believe based not on any program or policies or comprehensible moral code, but strictly according to what they believe will piss off the hippies. (For modern conservatives, "the hippies," like "Socialists," is a synonym for "Eisenhower Republicans.") That's why those commentators who have gone that extra step and suggested not just that Trayvon Martin scared poor George Zimmerman so badly that Zimmerman had to strike back--just as, in the words of Thomas Friedman, the 9/11 terrorist attacks so affected America that "we had to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world," whether whoever we hit had wronged us or not--but that Martin was a criminal thug who deserved to die seem so needlessly cruel. It's enough to argue that it should be legal to kill black kids for scaring pussies by being someplace the pussy doesn't think they should be is enough--it makes hippies very angry. So there's no reason to add insult to injury by alleging that the dead black kid, in addition to being expendable and extraneous to society, wasn't also a nice person.
If that means denouncing the basic template for a health care system that their presidential candidate considers his legacy in the state he used to govern and that he thought he'd get to talk about a lot during the campaign, then the presidential candidate will just have to suck it up. If the world population split into two sides, joined hands, and starting picking people to play dodgeball, George Zimmerman, speaking strictly on his merits, would have a pretty fair chance of being the last person called. But that, and the moral and legal ramification of what he actually did, matters less to modern conservatives than their sense that hippies really get bent out of shape when somebody shoots and calls a black kid, because he was a-skeered. The advantage of this method of selecting one's opinions is that it's easy and fun. The down side is that you will sometimes find yourself forced to choose the wrong side of issues where there really aren't "liberal" and "conservative" sides, only "right" and "wrong", "good" and "evil," "intelligent" and "rock stupid."
Other things did happen this past weekend. The TV performer Erick Erickson, moved by the protests against Texas's anti-abortion legislation, tweeted the URL for a website that sells coat hangers, addressing it, "Dear liberals..." When the entire Internet upchucked, Erickson wrote, "I forget that feminists and anti-activists really are as humorless as they are stereotyped to be." It may seem strange that a man who cares so much about the sanctity of human life would make a "joke" about the prospect of pregnant women mutilating and killing themselves with coat hangers, but Erickson is pushing the outside of the envelope here by trying to extend the rules of modern conservative political thought to humor: if the thought of a dead woman lying in a blood-filled bathtub with a coat hanger sticking out of her would make a hippie cry, then it just stands to reason that it should make his people laugh. I first found out about Erickson's existence during the Mark Sanford/"Appalachian trail" business back, in 2009. When Sanford disappeared, Erickson, who is freed from ethical or moral considerations by his political philosophy that it's bad if the hippies like it and good if they don't, end of story, contacted the governor's people to offer his services, as fearless speaker of truth to power, promising to spin the story any way they liked at his website.
Sanford's people effectively hung him out to dry, allowing him to publish a slew of inoperative statements about Sanford's sabbatical, attached to his declaration that Sanford's going AWOL had confirmed in his mind the quality of Sanford's leadership, since sticking around and doing the job you were elected to do is the kind of thing a hippie would expect of his elected leaders. After Sanford's tearful press conference about how he'd finally felt love for the first time in the arms of a woman who had not made the mistake of exchanging vows with him or bearing his children, Erickson indignantly complained that "liberals," the heartless swine, were linking to his previous posts and laughing at them--this despite the fact that there was not then, nor is there now, a single thing to do with Mark Sanford and his political career that isn't hilarious; to cite Oscar Wilde, is the death scene of Little Nell of political careers, and Erickson, who endorsed Sanford in his successful-yet-sidesplitting Senate race last year, still doesn't get it. Maybe the coat hanger tweet is just what happens when someone who doesn't know what humor is tries to be funny.