The PJ Tatler

The Politics of Rage and Stupidity

Here’s a writer at Gawker, Adam Weinstein, who should have hit the “delete” button before this post went live.

And if an editor is responsible for placing it on the website, he should be fired.

The George Zimmerman trial is being milked by interested parties in order to advance racist agendas, increase viewership or readers, and fill the coffers of individuals and organizations who benefit from racial tension. It is not a morality play. It is not a metaphor for American life. And the only reason it says something about race is because the federal government, in league with “community groups” in Florida, chose to make it so.

For a case with only one living eyewitness, millions of people on both sides seem dead certain about the facts of the case. And the prism through which we see those facts ends up being a kaleidoscope of fractured, jagged images, only fully perceived according to the biases, the prejudices, and the life experiences that we bring to bear on our understanding of what happened.

Mr. Weinstein, whose post features a picture of a dead Trayvon Martin, properly rails against the media coverage and the country’s fascination with the case. But this kind of hatred really has no place in the debate:

To Trayvon’s parents, Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, I’m sorry that I feel compelled to share this photograph. Were I a slave to journalistic norms, I would say that it’s somehow in the public interest to see him there. I would point out Florida’s sunshine laws, and the TV network’s incompetence, and argue the inevitability that this image would’ve gained a wider audience than it has already.

But those are rationalizations. They don’t explain my motive: Good old-fashioned rage that this kid is dead because my home state empowered a dullard aficionado of Van Damme and Seagal movie cliches to choose his own adventure. Florida literally gave George Zimmerman license to make up neighborhood threats and invite violent confrontations, confident in the knowledge that he carried more firepower jammed down his sweaty fat waistband than every army on earth beheld before 1415.

I wish I were a better person than that, but I’m not. People come up short all the time, after all. I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t have a gun.

It’s not a question of Weinstein “coming up short.” That’s just more rationalization. This kind of hysterical exaggeration, hyperbole, deliberate misrepresentation of the facts, and outright lying (Van Damme and Seagal?) bespeaks a rancid, ideological hatred for his political opponents. This is the writer overlaying a template on Zimmerman that isn’t even a caricature of the truth.

Being angry is not an excuse. Would that Weinstein got as worked up over the body count in Chicago on a typical summer weekend. He goes into a rage over a picture of a black teenager lying dead on the ground? Pay a visit to the Cook County morgue one night after the carnage this weekend and Mr. Weinstein may have an attack of apoplexy. There will almost certainly be a gaggle of Trayvon Martins lying on slabs, lives cut short by a stray bullet. Will they have died any more senselessly than Trayvon Martin? Only stupidity — or the cold calculation of agenda-driven journalism — would posit the idea that such wasn’t the case.

Of course, the shooters probably won’t be white. And the reason why that matters how much we care about the victim says far more about those whose overwrought emotions are strangely reserved for incidents where being “angry” or exhibiting “rage” authenticates their credentials with certain groups than about any genuine feelings generated by what should have been a private tragedy.

Actually, I claim no window into the soul of Mr. Weinsten and am unable to glean his intent. But when “over the top” is considered an understatement used to describe a piece of writing, what other conclusion can we draw but that the author is seeking to ratchet up the anger against Mr. Zimmerman, making any reconciliation after the trial impossible?

With justice must come reconciliation and writers like Weinstein are making it impossible to achieve either.