Saturday, March 31, 2012

Political Cartoons for the Trayvon Martin Shooting and Florida's "Shoot First" Bill

(UPDATED -- scroll to end for most recent)

With the outrage felt by the nation at the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and the potential that the shooter could get away with it because of Florida's "shoot first, ask questions later" law, political cartoonists have been busy trying to capture the issue.  Here are many of the political cartoons I have seen for this issue:

UPDATE (4/7/12):

UPDATE (4/9/12):  

UPDATE (4/12/12):

UPDATE (4/15/12):

UPDATE (4/17/12):  

UPDATE (4/23/12):

UPDATE (4/24/12):

UPDATE (4/25/12):

UPDATE (5/1/12):

UPDATE (5/10/12):

UPDATE 7/14/12:

UPDATED 7/9/13:
UPDATED 7/11/13:

UPDATED 7/14/13:

UPDATED (7/19/14):  HERE are 25 more examples of political cartoons, as well as works of art.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Just A "Hooded Sweatshirt," Right?

Trayvon Martin, age 17
The shooting of Trayvon Martin continues to polarize the nation.  Some critical questions about the case have yet to be answered.  Even though the shooter, George Zimmerman, feeling empowered by Florida's "shoot first" law, clearly stalked and chased the boy around the housing complex before shooting him to death, Zimmerman claims the boy was the attacker.  If the boy did throw the first blow, would the boy's attack have been justified, given he knew he was being followed and might have suspected that Zimmerman was armed?  We may never know the true story of who threw the first punch, since it is the shooter's word against that of a dead boy.  But even conceal carry gun owners are agreeing that Zimmerman's claim of self-defense won't justify the shooting.

"I'm a Florida deputy in a neighboring county. Zimmerman is guilty of 1st-degree manslaughter at a minimum. I personally feel like this was an outright homicide!" wrote vkent718. "I feel for Trayvon's family."

And how much of Zimmerman's actions were motivated by racism?  Twice in the 911 call, Zimmerman describes the boy as black.  He then calls the boy a "fucking coon" under his breath.  When asked by the 911 operator, Zimmerman describes how the boy wore a hoodie.  
In case you've been living in the dark ages of fashion, a "hoodie" is a sweatshirt with a hood, harkening back to the 70's, like when Sylvester Stallone wore one in "Rocky."

It is an article of clothing worn by young people of every race all over our nation.  I own one, too.  To some people, it has become a symbol of hip-hop, urban style.  But for other people, the racist ones, it is a symbol of gangs and violence committed by black youths.  It's not acceptable to publicly accuse a black young man as a criminal simply due to the color of his skin, but somehow people can get away with using an article of clothing for the same purpose.  The hoodie becomes a stand-in for the skin color.  If a white boy were wearing the same garment, I doubt anyone would say anything.

Was Zimmerman one of those people?  Given his racist slur, I hazard to guess that he is. 

Listen as Geraldo Rivera apologizes for those people:  HERE.

“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera explained.

“What’s the instant association? It’s crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone stick up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or get the old lady in the alcove, it’s kid with a hoodie,” Rivera continued.

“When you see a Black or Latino youngster, particularly on the street, you walk to the other side of the street. You try to avoid that confrontation,” he said. “Trayvon Martin, god bless him, an innocent kid, a wonderful kid, a box of Skittles in his hands. He didn’t deserve to die. But I bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on that, nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way.”

“Stop wearing it! You know the old Johnny Cash song, don’t take your gun to town, son. Leave your gun at home,” Rivera said. “There is some things that are almost inevitable. I’m not suggesting that Trayvon Martin had any kind of weapon, but he wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way and if he had been dressed more appropriately… I think unless it’s raining out, or if you’re at a track meet, leave the hoodie home, don’t let your children go out there.”

Apparently Rivera is afraid to walk past black or latino kids on the street, particularly if they are wearing a hoodie.  Does that make him racist?  Yes.  Yes it does. 

In light of Rivera's comments and Zimmerman's apparent stereotyping, people all over the nation are wearing hoodies as a symbol of the injustice of the shooting and the apparent racism that contributed to it.  A "Million Hoodie March" is being held across the nation.  HERE is one that is planned for Portland, Oregon.  Yesterday a Democratic Representative, Bobby Rush of Illinois, wore one in the nation's capitol and was escorted out as a result.
At this point in his remarks, Rush took off his jacket to reveal that he was wearing a hoodie underneath it. He covered his head with the hood, violating a rule in Congress that prohibits wearing hats on the House floor.
"Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker. Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum," Rush added, swapping his spectacles for a pair of sunglasses.
Gail Collins, an op-ed writer for the New York Times, had some good comments on this:
Congress, which never draws any serious conclusions from terrible tragedies involving gunplay, did have time on Wednesday to fight about whether Representative Bobby Rush of Chicago violated the House dress code when he took off his suit jacket, revealing a gray sweater he was wearing underneath, and pulled the hood up over his head. 
“Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” Congressman Rush said, before he was hustled off for violating the rule against wearing hats on the House floor. 
This is pretty much par for the course. Whenever there is a terrible shooting incident somewhere in America, our politicians talk about everything except whether the tragedy could have been avoided if the gunman had not been allowed to carry a firearm.

And what does the NRA have to say about the shooting?  Nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.  As usual, in the wake of an horrific shooting that grabs the nation's attention and highlights the dangers of lax gun regulation, the NRA has nothing to say.  They don't mourn the death of another child.  They don't condemn the shooter for stalking the boy or killing him.  They don't even examine the facts of the case.  Little wonder.  It was the NRA and their lobbyist, Marion Hammer, who crafted the "stand your ground" (a.k.a. "shoot first, ask questions later") bill that empowered Zimmerman and may let him get away with the shooting.  Since that bill was passed, "justifiable homicide" cases in Florida have tripled in number.

The NRA's new Concealed Carry Hooded Sweater
The NRA may be silent on the case, but that isn't stopping them from profiting from it.  They've now added a new item to their online store:  the NRAstore™ exclusive Concealed Carry Hooded Sweatshirt

That's right, coincident with the death of a boy who may have been targeted because he was black and wore a hoodie, and shot by a man with a violent history yet had a concealed handgun, the NRA is now releasing a hoodie that is specially-designed to conceal a handgun.  Should we be surprised at this arrogance?  Or is this just another example of how the NRA profits from the deaths of innocents?  From their ad:
Inside the sweatshirt you’ll find left and right concealment pockets. The included Velcro®-backed holster and double mag pouch can be repositioned inside the pockets for optimum draw. Ideal for carrying your favorite compact to mid-size pistol, the NRA Concealed Carry Hooded Sweatshirt gives you an extra tactical edge, because its unstructured, casual design appears incapable of concealing a heavy firearm – but it does so with ease!

I wonder, would George Zimmerman have wanted to wear one of these NRA "Conceal Carry Hooded Sweatshirts" as he stalked the young man he called a "fucking coon" and then shot him to death?

UPDATE (4/11/12):  Zimmerman has finally been taken into custody and will be charged: