Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trayvon Martin and Brian Beckman

It just keeps getting uglier and uglier. The latest episode in the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman tragedy involves a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue captain. Well, he used to be a captain, recently he was demoted two ranks to firefighter.

According to MSNBC, Brian Beckman went on facebook and wrote this: "I and my co workers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youth are victims of racist profiling, or products of their (expletive) ignorant, pathetic welfare dependent excuses for parents, but like Mrs. Corey (prosecutor Angela Corey), we speak only the truth. They are just misunderstood little church going angels and the ghetto hoodie look doesn't have anything to do with why people wonder if they're about to get jacked by a thug."

Unfortunately for Brother Beckman the Chief of the Miami-Dade fire department doesn't agree with his assessment of the situation. Besides the demotion the former captain must complete a "fit for duty evaluation" and diversity sensitivity training. The firefighters union plans to appeal.

Beckman is, of course, white and he was echoing the hard core beliefs of not just a few members of his race. If you look at the statistics there is a yawning  abyss between what most white people think of this affair and what most black people think. If you don't believe it, just hang out at a sports bar one morning sipping bloody marys. When the wonks at Fox News, or CNN start talking about Martin and Zimmerman the reaction is always swift and intemperate.

Now Beckman himself will become a cause. There is nothing that will drive conservatives into a foaming fit quicker than something like "diversity sensitivity training." There will be howls that Beckman has the right to free speech, even though a lot of what he said was dead wrong. Number one, neither of Martin's parents are on welfare. Number two, Trayvon Martin was in Sanford that night because his father was concerned enough for his welfare that he didn't want to leave him home alone in Miami.

And yes, we do have the right to free speech, but we ultimately have to be responsible for what we say. Just because you can say it doesn't mean there won't be consequences for you saying it. All you have to do is ask Miami Marlins manager, Ozzie Guillen. He will explain it to you.

Beckman is reported to have claimed he wasn't the author of that ugly little screed. Apparently he is saying he copied it from what he thought was an editorial reply to either a news article, or a blog. Maybe, but it doesn't really matter now does it. He agreed with every word of it, or he wouldn't have copied it and posted it on a social network site.

Meanwhile the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Angela Corey has filed a witness and evidence list with the court in Seminole County. The paper says most of the witness names have been redacted for now because of security concerns. I can't blame the prosecution for that. I wouldn't want my name out there until I took the stand and probably not even then. The pressure is going to be immense and at times ruthless from people on both sides of the argument. The Sentinel is saying the evidence includes video and crime scene photos. There are also 56 audio recorded statements.

This whole dance is starting to look like some dreadful Poe-Shakespeare hybrid. The most frightening aspect of it is that its going to get even worse the closer we get to the trial.

It has become terribly evident that we might not ever get past the racial divide in this country. Oh we will all be polite, or at least correct when in mixed company. However that heart of darkness that has dwelt in the American soul ever since we came to these shores refuses to fade. It lurks within all of us and at times like these it becomes exposed in all its horrifying brutality.

Bis interimitur qui suis armis perit.


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