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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Stand Your Ground

Over my lifetime I have seen many instances when people have stood their ground; after which they found themselves subjected to a zinging “Got You” moment stunning in its profound implications. I have known a student who was ridden by a teacher. After long abuse the student couldn’t take it anymore and snapped at the teacher—whereupon the student was hauled to the principal’s office and forthwith expelled.

I have seen a work situation in which the spirit and atmosphere of the workplace were poisoned by an arrogant and obnoxious boss. At some point the employee couldn’t stand it anymore and snapped at the boss—where upon with great and somber deliberation before a formal board of discipline—with the focus entirely upon the employee—the employee was summarily fired.

The essence of the pattern here is of long and continued abuse followed by an overdue response followed by weighty and sanctimonious proceedings in which the victim of abuse is found at fault and punished. The big picture—essential to give a shred of meaning to the incident—is entirely ignored.

I see the Trayvon Martin case in this light. A young man minding his own business is stalked by a stranger armed with deadly force. As the one pursued, Trayvon eventually summons great courage and stands his ground. The stalker responds with deadly force killing the victim. After great and somber deliberation by a court of law, Trayvon effectively is found to blame because the big picture—in which he is innocently going for a walk—is held to be completely irrelevant. Justice, it inevitably follows, is indeed blind. The lesson, dear children, is that the letter of the law is often purblind and thus does not and cannot achieve justice.

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