Paul Jacob

A young man was shot dead by a neighborhood watch captain a month ago in Sanford, Florida, a town I’ve only driven through during a vacation or two.

The particular facts of the case, at least as they’ve been reported, are that the victim, 17-year old Trayvon Martin, committed no crime and was totally unarmed — unless a package of Skittles and an iced tea are considered dangerous weapons. Still, the shooter, 28-year old George Zimmerman, has not been arrested or charged with homicide.

The killing and the lack of an arrest — or even any sign, until recent days, of a serious investigation into the deadly incident — have understandably elicited public outrage and protest.

That anger and offense seems as universal as anything can be. President Barack Obama as well as Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have all expressed it.

GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney called the shooting a “tragedy” and offered, “There needs to be a thorough investigation that reassures the public that justice is carried out with impartiality and integrity.”

Newt Gingrich also called it a “tragedy” and said, “we’re going to relentlessly seek justice.” Rick Santorum argued it was “horrible” that local police didn’t “immediately go after and prosecute this case.”

The president went much further, stating that, “All of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen.”

Yet, the trigger wasn’t pulled by “all of us.” It was pulled by George Zimmerman.

On Fox News, Geraldo Rivera shifted blame elsewhere: onto hoodies. “I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters, particularly, not to let their children go out wearing hoodies,” he said. “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as much as George Zimmerman was.”

Beware the dreaded hoodie makers and those heartless retailers!

Throughout the news coverage and political punditry the issue of race is consistently raised. Some contend that Zimmerman is a racist. On the tape of his calls with a 911-dispatcher, some say they hear Zimmerman use a racial epithet. I’ve listened to the recording a dozen times and just can’t hear anything.

Zimmerman’s father adamantly denies his son had any racial animus, since “George is a Spanish-speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.”

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.