OPINION – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period” that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on being received, for good or for evil, in the most superlative degree.
Two young men walked a lonely street in the dark of the evening. I was not there and can only imagine the scene, from those which I have personally experienced.
The two, with different purposes and intents, danced the waltz of suspicion. It was a minuet of minute detail. The grace of classical dance quickly evolved into the theatrics of modern grunge prancing to the tune of hateful rap.
Now, for the less aware, or those in flat-out denial, rap is portrayed as a form of music. It is no more music than would be the National Anthem set to the voice of Roseanne Barr. A tune exists, a voice is heard, a rhythm is pretended. Yet, none of that is at the origin of rap.
At the origin of rap is insult. A duet of quick-thinking trash talk applauded by a crowd of onlookers ill-equipped to escape the doldrums of its mini-culture. Rap was a form of expression from various ghetto mentalities to demonstrate superiority over opponents. But at its heart, rap is really nothing more than “Yo momma so fat she needs two zip codes to get her mail.” Of course a retort is necessary, maybe along the lines of “Well yo momma so ugly when you were born the doc slapped your daddy.”
Patch in a little rhyming, have a friend slap down on a trash can cover, you done got yourself a bona fide rap song. Or, in other words, a popularized insult for the undereducated.
That is what I believe happened.
George Zimmerman was walking his neighborhood wearing the badge of authority given to a neighborhood watchman. Why? Because the neighborhood was concerned about a recent rash of home intrusions.
Trayvon Martin was visiting his dad. Why? Because it was his dad. That is sufficient.
What went terribly wrong, I am convinced, is that these two heard the music of an incongruent situation. They began to dance. The music deteriorated into rap.
A boy lay dead in the street. Over what? Mistaken intent, exaggerated into a misinterpretation, compounded by miscommunication, and culminating in misjudgment.
Both men had a right to be where they were, doing what they were doing. That is not in question. What is unfortunate is what cannot be replayed. Martin is dead. He is dead because of things that were seen, and things that were said, and things which either man (or more likely both men) did.
There is sufficient evidence, that a reasonable person can observe, that clearly suggest that casual observation turned into anger … and ultimately turned into death. Not one death, but two. The second death is the death of George Zimmerman. Martin has been separated from his body. George has been separated from the peace of his life. It will be no easy thing if he ever comes to be fully at peace again.
Both those tragic deaths warrant all the disappointment and disgust we can muster. Yet, there is another tragedy of equal if not greater importance.
Society is dancing to the rapper rhapsody. The noisiest of authorities refuse to learn that such incidents as the death dance between Martin and Zimmerman need not be repeated by themselves. It is far more important to them to “insist on being received, for good or for evil, in the most superlative degree.”
These authorities from the president’s right-hand man down to local loud-mouths, such as I am, insist on filling the streets with the blood of discontent. It is possible to deescalate and learn from this situation without calling for more blood on the guillotine. Justice cannot be provided to Trayvon Martin. All that can be insinuated now is the insult of retribution and punishment, unless we choose to rise above repeating the rap played out by two men many months ago.
That is the WAY I see It.
William Way is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News. Additional writings may be found at wwwjr.wordpress.com.
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