Exploiting murders for political gain

Adam Serwer made some good points yesterday about the differences between the Trayvon Martin killing and the murder of Christopher Lane. Politics aside, some heavily trafficked conservative websites are publishing false information and not retracting or correcting it, so it’s good to get the facts out there.

That’s one story. Here’s another. People were upset by what happened to Trayvon Martin because they believed he was killed for being black. I’m not talking about a hate crime or a lynching and this has already been discussed, it’s about a culture where it’s OK to profile people based on who they are rather than what they’ve done.

But it didn’t become a national story until it was clear that Florida prosecutors weren’t going to charge and prosecute George Zimmerman. The racial profiling looked bad, but Florida’s “stand your ground” law coupled with seeming indifference by Florida authorities to the killing created the controversy. It looked like Florida didn’t care, and it felt like has before when the justice system failed us.

The need by some to tie these killings together only draws our attention back to what made the Martin affair so controversial. It underscores the different ways that our society treats crime based on the victim’s skin color. The suspects in Lane’s murder were arrested and charged within four days of his death and in all likelihood will spend the rest of their lives in prison. Martin’s killer wasn’t charged for two months and only after a special prosecutor was essentially ordered to do it by the state’s governor, and he’s not only free, but apparently just visited the corporate headquarters of the company that manufactured the gun that he used to kill Trayvon Martin.

As Serwer explained in the story I linked, there’s no evidence that the killing of Christopher Lane was racially motivated and one of his killers was white. Fox News, National Review, and The Daily Caller — all politically conservative — thought one of the most important aspects of the Lane killing was that all of his killers were black, when in fact they weren’t.

I can’t speak to the motives of other people, but I’d like to think that Travyon’s death was controversial on a national level because the justice system was failing him and his family in a depressingly familiar way when it comes to victims who are minorities. It looks like a lot of people right now want to make the murder of Chris Lane into a controversy as a twisted form of social commentary on the killing of Martin, where they perceived no wrongdoing except by those who wanted justice Martin.

What some people don’t understand is that the Trayvon killing wasn’t controversial because it was different, it was because this just keeps happening over and over again and nothing ever changes.

It’s gross to say the least.

Paul Tenny

Paul Tenny

I'm not a journalist but I do it anyway. I cover elections and have interviewed television writers and producers.
Paul Tenny

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