Trayvon Martin and the Wicked Adventure of the Media’s Red Herrings

Yesterday a buddy of mine posted this captioned picture on Facebook.

It asks why the media is by-and-large using 5-7 year old pictures of Trayvon Martin, looking so innocently baby-faced and smiling, and George Zimmerman, wearing a prison-jump-suit-orange collared shirt, a mean and unshaven facade, and menacing earrings.

More interestingly, it begs the question of why more current pictures, such as Trayvon, shirtless and all growed up flipping off the camera. or Zimmerman, clean-shaven smiling in a suit and tie, weren’t used as more accurate portrayals of their current identities.

Which, of course, raises a United Nations plethora of red flags in any inquisitive mind.

Zimmerman may have been arrested for assaulting a police officer a few years ago but he’s held a good, steady job, a family, and a home in a gated community for years with perfect behavior. Meanwhile, Trayvon from the other side of the train tracks tweets shirtless pics with obscene finger language, he’s beensuspended from school for possible marijuana possession and writing “WTF” on a locker. To anyone caring to take a closer look, recent history shows Martin is the inner-city thug looking for trouble and Zimmerman, the upstanding citizen of a flourishing community.

To make matters worse, now we’re starting to see information about Martin and Zimmerman’s respective families.

Zimmerman’s father was a district court judge, a defender and arbiter of the law, who recognized his son’s mistake but assures us that he has instilled a prideful sense of right and wrong in his first-born boy. He paints us the portrait of a picture-perfect family. Christian, good values, educated, wealthy, well-to-do (other than one assault charge). He tells us that his son would not, could not, have shot in any other situation but self-defense.

But Trayvon’s family? What a mess. His mother and father are divorced. His father has had multiple run-ins with the law regarding drugs and possible violence. His mother has had multiple boyfriends post-divorce. We all know how values get passed down through parenting. And to top it all off, Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, is seeking patent marks for the phrases “I Am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon,” according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In both instances, Fulton is seeking the trademarks for use on “digital materials,” namely, CDs and DVDs featuring Trayvon Martin,” and other products. Why in the Lord’s good name would she do that? All signs points to the unthinkable: is this woman, who has been mired in poverty her whole life, looking to cash-in on her son’s death? Commodifying a national tragedy in race-relations in which her son is the symbol? Is this her golden gander to pluck? Unbelievable.

I mean, you take all that into account, and well… it just changes everything doesn’t it? What the hell am I supposed to think? All the context, all the spin, all the talking heads.

It’s the media. The media is lying to me. Trying to make me believe a story that isn’t true by distorting the framing of the issue, right down to the pictures they show me of the shooter and deceased. The hippies at MSNBC and the clan members at Fox are driving me crazy by playing the blame game. It’s Florida’s fault for founding the Stand Your Ground law, it’s Republicans’ fault for not instituting stronger gun control legislation. It’s the police’s fault for not questioning or arresting Zimmerman on the spot, for not running a background check or testing for alcohol or drugs. No no, Geraldo Rivera got it, it’s the hoodie’s fault! Yes yes, minorities simply should know better than to wear hoodies at night, lest they convey that they’re begging to be shot. You know, the way women shouldn’t wear short skirts at clubs unless they wanna be raped.

These idiots are all lying to me. But when I look beyond the spin, I mean, this kid really isn’t so innocent huh? All these African-Americans are just pulling an O.J., siding with their guy; rocking a hoodie in solidarity and marching with Reverend Sharpton because it’s a boiler-pot lightning-rod issue. How can they do that when such an overwhelming preponderance of the evidence shows that, shocker shocker, “Trayvon the black kid” was a thug posing a threat to the good citizens of Twin Heights Estates?

I beat the media machine. I know the truth. Dammit. This changes everything… doesn’t it?


The media has a job. It’s job is to construct narratives that drive ratings. Things like picture and quote selection certainly shape that narrative and push the conversation in certain directions. Those narratives are constructed to affect public opinion, with the aim of swelling public opinion to outcry and hopefully ratings or social effect, that is their purpose.

Nevertheless, one thing cannot be disputed: everyone is entitled to their opinions, but they are not entitled to their facts.

The facts are as follows:

– A 28 year old, 250lbs man shot and killed a 17 year old 140lbs boy.
– The shooter was an unauthorized citizen and the victim was completely unarmed (unless you count skittles and iced tea as weaponry; don’t laugh, you ever been pelted with a bag of skittles or a bottle of Snapple? That shit hurts).
– The shooter was clearly instructed by the police, as evidenced by 911 audio calls, to not pursue the victim and let the authorities handle his complaint, which he ignored.
– The shooter has made 49 calls to police in the last 12 months, most of which were suspicious of young black males in the neighborhood.
– Audiotape evidence shows the following (make your own inferences): the shooter probably says “f#cking coon,” the victim screams help, and a gunshot goes off right after said scream.
– Videotape evidence of the immediate aftermath does not corroborate with Zimmerman’s story that he was attacked and bleeding due to an assault by Martin. Zimmerman was clean, unharmed, and seemingly untouched, according to the only and most immediate video account.
– The Sanford police did not question, nor arrest, nor confiscate the weapon of, the shooter despite that being due diligence or having the probable cause to do so.

Those are the facts.

I know it’s the cool thing to do for people of our generation to be contrarians and dislike/distrust the media’s portrayal of just about anything. And most of that contrarianship is well founded in a general disregard of even-keeled reporting in modern media.

As for me? I don’t give a shit what the kid was like, I don’t give a damn if every news network on Earth suddenly substituted the pictures of Martin and Zimmerman with that of a ham sandwich and a hibiscus flower. I don’t care if Zimmerman’s dad was the Lord Jesus Christ himself or if the day prior to the shooting Treyvon Martin pissed on a corpse while his mom turned tricks on the corner and his dad defecated in a bank.

I don’t care about the color, creed, motive, extenuating circumstances, explanations, distortions, distractions, or red herrings.
I do not care how anyone in the media portrays this in any way shape or form because one thing, and one thing only, is for certain:

A human being was murdered in cold blood. There is zero evidence to the contrary.

In response I humbly request just three things:

Mourning from a nation that should always repine when a son or daughter is taken too soon,

Reflection from a people who should know better, and, above all,

Equal justice under the eyes of the law.