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Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, President Obama and Me

July 16, 2013
rock 6

Good Advice. All photos from Yahoo.

 

Hey Ya’ll,

I am traveling for mostly pleasure this week so I will keep this short.

Before I get to the point of this post, I would like to review some basic items for our new friends and followers. I am a middle aged, short, fat white guy with gray hair. I graduated from college, I own guns, and I live in a rural part of West Virginia. I go to church regularly, I am friendly to people of every persuasion, ethnicity, creed, and sexual orientation. I am an anti-war, pro-peace veteran. I believe that our nation would have been better off had we fire bombed Kandahar, Kabul and Tora Bora in 2001. If we had to invade someone in 2003, it should have been Iran. I am conservative with my life, and liberal with my music. I am more comfortable at a Metallica concert than a Promise Keepers rally. I am a registered Democrat, I did not vote for President Obama and I will not support Lindsey Graham in anything. I believe in civil unions and I stand firmly against abortion, domestic spying, and drone strikes.

 

I could potentially qualify for every special interest group that exists in the US today. The only organization I am a part of is the American Legion, and that membership has lapsed. I do not label myself by anything other than husband, father, son, brother because no label can adequately describe who I am or what I believe. I try to not take sides in any political debate, preferring to support what is right, not politically expedient. I am who I am. I am not what anyone, other than my wife, expects me to be.

 

rock 3

This applies to all of us. I once was chastised by a police officer because I didn’t stop fast enough in his opinion.

 

In 2006, Chris Rock did a skit for his show. I am censoring the title because of its offensive nature “How not to get your butt kicked by the police.” During the next year, that four minute video was a staple during my time as a pilot in the West Virginia Air Guard. If there was ever a five minute pause or break, that video clip was playing on a computer or overhead projector. Everyone in attendance would laugh at the video. One of the tips from Mr. Rock is to not let a mad woman ride with you in a car. He then shows a guy being pulled over by the police and the woman yelling at the officer “He got weed, He got weed!” The next scene is the man being pummeled by the police.

 

rock 1

He got weed! He got weed!

 

That single line was the source of more fun than any other. It was spoke at a drive-thru, on the intercom system on the base, yelled into the phone of a friend, spoken over radio calls between airplanes, and even spoken when communicating with Air Traffic Control. It was simply the gift that kept giving. I didn’t watch Chris Rock’s show, and only knew he had a show because of this video clip. But to me it is genus in its simplicity and truth. If you want to watch it, click here but be warned it is full of potentially offensive language and even more offensive racial subject matter.

 

rock 2

More good advice. I always place my hands out of the window so the police can see them. No fast movements, ever.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=chris+rock+how+not+to+get+beat+by+the+police&mid=9D834F46AD090EAADCDF9D834F46AD090EAADCDF&view=detail&FORM=VIRE6

So here is my point, I am a white guy who lives in a predominately white state. I live a quiet life and other than driving my four door sedan or my wife’s mini-van too fast from time to time, I obey the law, pay my taxes and take care of my family. I have very little to fear when I am subjected to a police inspection. I do not have to deal with negative stereotypes, negative image nor is anyone intimated of me because of my appearance or size.

My son will be six next month. In ten years, he may not fit into society the way I do. It is quite possible that he may be larger than most people, he will certainty have a different skin color from most West Virginians, and so far in his development he has my temperament. That means he doesn’t like to be told what to do. A few months ago President Obama spoke of Trayvon Martin and he famously said that “Trayvon could have been his son.” I think the President said that to placate his political base. I would say that because it is the truth and my son could very well be in the same situation that Trayvon found himself.

I have thought about this since we adopted our son. I wondered what I was going to tell him to do if he found himself in a potentially dangerous situation. What if he found himself walking down the street and was attacked. What if he was pulled over by the police? Or what if he was in the same situation that Trayvon was in. Would I tell him to stand his ground or should he surrender? Trayvon had as much right to stand his ground as George Zimmerman did. In Trayvon’s mind, he was being attacked and he did not have to take it.

Twenty-two years ago, I got my private pilot’s license. The examiner had one piece of advice for me that has stuck with me, ever since. “You can be legal and legally dead at the same time.”

Trayvon Martin is a reminder to me that these words are very true. Trayvon did not deserve to die that night, but unfortunately it doesn’t matter because when faced with that situation the end result is that Trayvon was legal and legally dead at the same time. I am going to do my best to teach my son that it is not a disgrace to surrender to the law. I am going to do my best to teach him that if you have time, don’t call your girlfriend, call 9-11. I am going to do my best to teach him to make himself as non-threatening as possible. Keep a distance between him and the other guy. Remove the hood, keep your hands in plain sight and stay calm, level headed and focused. It is much better to diffuse the situation before it escalates, than to prove your manhood and end up on the wrong side of the bullet.

I know this is a serious topic. In some ways, I am scared for my son and I pray that he never find himself in the same position as Trayvon. But if he does, I hope that he can find an alternative ending.

Please allow me to say this and to remind us of what the truth is. I have taken my son with me everywhere. We have been in the checkout line with the reddest of rednecks, at Wal-Mart with “those” people, walking thru the mall or at a restaurant where he doesn’t look like anyone else in the room and in backwoods Kentucky getting gas at 1 AM.

 

rock 5

I don’t know what this means, but it is cool.

 

Every person we encountered, has always been nice and respectful of my son. No one has ever made an offensive remark towards him, my family, or me. I think in many ways, as a nation we are becoming more accepting of our differences. I hope that our nation can learn from this event and that it serves a greater good than as media talking points and filler.

 

rock 4

Peace is good for everyone.

 

Until next time, keep on rockin’!

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From → life

11 Comments
  1. I think that any Dad that tries to teach his son regardless the color of his skin what you are will leave his son in good stead. My dad did the same. He wanted to teach us to have the guts to stand up to the weak and to think for ourselves, but he also wanted us to respect our authorities….and when you carry a concealed handgun you learn real quick to keep your hands in plain sight when the cops pull you over. 🙂 Keep it up! Teach your boy to be a man!

    • Abby,

      Thanks for stopping by. It is a big job to teach the kids and your Dad did a great job with you I am sure.

      I also have a concealed permit but I never carry. I just don’t want the responsibility that comes with carrying a loaded weapon. Also, when people are armed, they act different. I don’t know if it is the knowledge they have a weapon on them or if they feel like they are in the wild west. But they almost turn into a pseudo-super hero.

      Just because a person is packing doesn’t make them any smarter or more perceptive. It just means they have the ability to change lives in a more dramatic fashion.

      • I don’t have my permit right now, I did when I first moved out the of the house. It is a huge responsibility and it does make you look at life differently. I found that it made me much more aware of my surroundings. I’ll have to say I never met anyone with a permit who turned into a pseudo-super hero. Most of them were far more careful then they were when they didn’t carry. They talked more carefully, watched out for others and seemed very gentle. But, maybe that’s the people I hang out with. 🙂
        I was blessed with a great Dad. He worked very diligently on all of his kids. I’m also blessed with a great husband who isn’t afraid to tell me no. I’m very thankful for the men in my life!

      • Reasonable people understand the responsibility of packing heat. Unfortunately many people are not reasonable.

        Two stories.

        2AM, driving back to the airport from getting a midnight dinner with my buddy Bill. Billy is a reasonable guy, he has the concealed weapons permit, and owns several weapons. He is a man I trust with my life. So we are in the combat zone in Memphis at 2AM wearing our bright white pilot shirts in a car with out of state license plates.

        I asked him this question. “Do you have a gun in this car?”

        “No, I don’t. I would not take a weapon on FedEx property.” (This is against the policy of FedEx and he could be fired)

        “Gotcha. Just remember that we are the only people on this street without a gun right now.”

        In today’s society you have to assume that everyone is packing a weapon. Legal or illegally, they gun is still there and loaded.

        #2 story.

        Flying with a Captain who had just gotten his Federal Flight Deck Officer certification to carry a loaded weapon on an aircraft. He was full of himself and went on and on about what he was going to do if we had a incident. I don’t mean he was prepared, I had the impression that he wanted someone to be on board so he could shoot them. I was a new hire, so I was sitting in the Flight Engineer seat.

        When the Captain asked if there were any comments from the co-pilot or myself. I asked the co-pilot where he was going to duck. He didn’t know what I was talking about and he said he didn’t know.

        I said when the ramp guy gets accidently caught onboard the aircraft and mistakenly knocks on the door, the Captain was going to be so excited that he would have premature e-shootulation. Then I held my arm out and my fingers formed a gun. I pointed my gun finger in a big arc around the flight deck and said bang seven times.

        I told them I had a desk to climb under to avoid the bullets. But the poor co-pilot was going to catch a couple before the accidental passenger got in the way of the bullets intended for him. The co-pilot finally got it. The Captain was pissed but I didn’t care. There is no place for John Wayne in an airplane or on a neighborhood watch.

  2. Rob, I know that everyone wants to think this is race related. But I think Z would have behaved the same with a white teen on the street. First… hoodie on, how did he know that color of his skin? When I walk down the street, and someone follows me, I don’t care what color they are. I go the other direction.

    I think we had a situation with a man who had a temper and should not have had a gun, trying to be a bully and exert his authority, who met with a teenager who was…well, being a teenager. And everything got out of hand.

    We need to teach our children, no matter what their race, to be smart. Know that there are bad people out there, and how to identify and avoid. But also… no matter who you are, if you stand up to the “wrong” person, you might find yourself in conflict. With the world of guns and everyone owning them… someone is going to get shot. Not sure on the answer to that.

    • You have to remember that Zimmerman did not pull out his gun until AFTER he’d had a broken nose and multiple cuts and bruises on his head from having his head slammed against the pavement and AFTER he called for help and no one came to his aid. Doesn’t sound like a man with a temper to me. A man with a temper would have pulled out his gun straight away, not let a kid beat him near to death first. All Trayvon needed to do was not try and beat someone to death and walked into a store or neighbor’s place and say, “I need to call the police, this dude is following me.”

      Personally I think Zimmerman should have just taken a photo and stayed in his neighborhood, vigilant for any future visits from potential threats. But if someone is breaking my nose and slamming my head against the pavement and I’d called for help but no one came to my aid, I’d probably be inclined to pull out any weapons I had on me too and save my own life.

    • Karlene and Jae,

      I appreciate you both for joining the conversation. I also respect both sides of this argument, but I do not have enough knowledge of this case to weigh in with any intelligent comments. In this case, Mr. Zimmerman was tried and judged by a group of his peers. They came to a conclusion and the case is over.

      To me, it isn’t about the legal aspects of this case. It is about the possibility that both Trayvon and Mr. Zimmerman had several opportunities to change to ending of this event. They both made choices to continue to head toward confrontation. That is what bothers me, and that is the tragedy of the event. This is what I should teach my kids. Find the alternative path.

      Chris Rock makes this plea in his comedy. But he is really teaching us all how to not get into trouble. Yes it is funny but once you get past that, it is informative.

      Thanks again to both of you, and if you still want to debate the merits of this case. I have some opinions. Feel free to reply here or sent me a e-mail. I am always around.

  3. A very thought-provoking and sensitively written article, Rob. Thanks for sharing your unique perspective and experience on the subject. On a topic where so many people are emotionally charged and screaming, it’s nice to read a contemplative response.

    • Thanks Julie.

      It is not often that I get a compliment like this. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  4. Thank you for posting this thought-provoking and well-written article. I was not on the jury and only know what the media has chosen to reveal about this case. It is very unfortunate for so many of the obvious reasons. I am equally concerned about the long-dormant negative race relations. I live in Milwaukee, and last evening a group of black individuals attacked a white man, yelling “this is for trayvon!” There is also a recent case where a young black teen stole some beer at a convenience store, and a group of white patrons of the store held the young man down, smothering him to his death. There is a general opinion in Milwaukee that these cases were both race related. In addition to the injuries and deaths, Milwaukee could be in for some rough Incidents.(I refer to the races as black and white, because I do not believe in putting qualifications on the American experience, i.e. African-American or European-American. I am just an American.)

    • WS,

      Thank you for saying hi and telling us about Milwaukee. It is so troubling on so many different levels. The modern philosopher Rodney King said it best. “Can’t we all just get along?”

      I think you said it best when you stated that all you really know about this case is what the “media chooses to reveal about this case.” In many ways we are at the subject of the media because what we learn or know is what they report. Every news person has their own views about everything and it is impossible to totally hide their perspective.

      I have tried to make this post about my feelings concerning my son and his future. But I know my personal bias has slipped into this post. Like it or not, race has been a part of the “American” experience since our country’s inception. I had nothing to do with that time, nor did anyone living in America today. But that time still haunts us as a nation. We need to collectively work together to grow past this issue but there is a lot of power in the politics of hate and discrimination.

      People het to give up their power.

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