We can't see into George Zimmerman's mind and soul to know what his true motivations were... what he was really thinking... whether he really is racist or paranoid or remorseful... whether he really did fear for his life that night. We can't know for sure. There has been a lot of speculation from both sides of the issue, a lot of questionable claims made, and a lot of incorrect information floating around the Internet... but one recurring theme keeps coming up and it has rubbed us the wrong way so we'd like to address that.
Women - in particular, women who have been the victim of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, etc. - have to deal with victim blaming so often, that it's easy to forget that we are not the only group that this happens to. There have been so many parallels in this case to the victim blaming of rape survivors and frankly, we're sick of it on all ends.
- It doesn't matter what they were wearing
We've heard way too many people suggesting that Martin deserved what he got or may have attacked or provoked Zimmerman. But the facts just don't add up to that. Zimmerman has claimed that he shot Martin in self-defense and there has been a lot of debate and speculation as to whether or not Zimmerman was ever really in danger (or at least believed that he was in danger). But Zimmerman had no grounds to apprehend Martin because he wasn't doing anything wrong that night. And even if he had done something wrong, Zimmerman would still have had no evidence of that, no knowledge of any (alleged) prior bad acts and no reason to suspect that Martin was doing anything wrong. Being black in public is not a crime and it's not reasonable grounds for suspicion.
It has been reported that Zimmerman may use the "stand your ground" law as justification, but it probably wouldn't be applicable in this case. According to the legislator who wrote the statute, there's nothing in it that authorizes you to pursue or confront other people. Zimmerman was specifically told by the police not to follow or approach Martin, but he did it anyway... while carrying a loaded gun. Let's not forget Zimmerman is not a police officer (he's not even an official member of any neighborhood watch group) but apparently he considers himself some kind of vigilante superhero. Who does he think he is, Batman?
We're just so tired of hearing victims of crimes being blamed for what happened to them... what someone else chose to do to them. We recently wrote about a terrible victim blaming article in Cosmo and the parallels here are just too clear. What happened to Trayvon Martin is sad and was entirely avoidable. It doesn't matter if he was a good kid or a "bad" kid... it doesn't matter what he was wearing... it doesn't matter if he looked "suspicious" or was acting in a way that made Zimmerman think he was a criminal. It doesn't matter.
The fact is that Zimmerman should never have been following Martin, he should never have gotten out of his car and approached him, he should never have tried to play cop. Whatever the surrounding details of the incident, that fact remains true. We can't ever really know if Zimmerman intended to kill Martin or if he truly feared for his own life or if he had any actual reason to find Martin suspicious other than the color of his skin...
But the one thing we do know is that Zimmerman is the only person to blame for Trayvon Martin's death. Period.