If you watch the news in any large city you are probably desensitized to stories about crime involving young black men. Most nights there are reports about several of them getting shot; often, more than one dies. It might be a gang fight, a revenge killing, robbery or a drive-by. Someone is likely killed for their cellphone, or simply because they talked to the wrong girl at a party. Tragedy has become routine. Too many young black men die on our streets; too many rot in our prisons.
Two weeks ago, the Chicago Tribune reported that at least 10 people, including a 6-year-old girl, were killed in weekend shootings in Chicago.
The media love these stories because they up the ratings and spike newsstand sales. Fear sells. "If it bleeds, it leads" is a familiar saying among those in the news business. Politicians use these horrific stories as an opportunity to pontificate for the cameras. They all deplore the violence, denounce it and demand its end, their outrage well timed to make the 10 o'clock news.
Rev. Al Sharpton frequently inserts himself into these situations, crying for "justice," which in the case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is likely to come without his help, given the multiple levels of government involvement in the investigation.
The facts in this case are not yet fully known, but that doesn't stop people from thinking they have them, giving some an excuse to resurrect racial templates from the past. The Washington Post featured this headline last week, "Florida Shooting Stirs Memories of Civil Rights Era."
Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a member of a neighborhood watch group. Whether Zimmerman was an official member, or a cop wannabe, is one of the questions investigators are asking. Zimmerman has yet to be charged, presumably, because officials are trying to sort out whether a Florida law known as "stand your ground," which gives Florida residents the right to protect themselves with deadly force, applies in the Martin case. That hasn't stopped nearly 1 million signers of an online "petition" from reaching conclusions before investigators and a grand jury have completed their work.
I will leave the questions about this tragedy to those looking into it, but the politics of it is worthy of comment.