Friday, May 18, 2012

Trayvon Martin and The Great Divide Part Two

So here is how it plays out in the conservative media. The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City's daily paper, is and has been a bastion of white republicanism for over a century. In every survey taken so far white people and especially white republicans think the Trayvon Martin killing has been getting far too much press. In other words they want it to go away because it challenges their public view that racism isn't a problem in this country any more. Besides, he was probably just another gangster wanna be in the first place.

Evidence in the case is now being made public. Yesterday MSNBC reported that Martin's autopsy states he died by a single gun shot fired at intermediate range. That mystical distance still hasn't been determined, or at least explained. It is at odds with a lab report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. After an analysis of Martin's sweatshirt, the dreaded hoodie, their conclusion is that the fatal wound was inflicted by a muzzle shot. That George Zimmerman's gun was pressed against Martin's body when he pulled the trigger.

Lab results also show, according to MSNBC, trace amounts of THC in Martin's blood, but at levels lower than what medical experts believe would cause "performance impairment." As just about anyone who came of age in the late sixties can tell you THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the magical mystery tour ingredient in marijuana. It is the reason you smoke it, or eat it in brownies, or, in my one time favorite, banana nut bread. In addition, as anyone who has ever had to take a drug test can tell you, it lingers in the system for weeks after your last toke. Perhaps as long as a month. So what we are talking about here is that Trayvon Martin might have smoked a joint the day before, or even the week before, but certainly not that night.

Enter the Oklahoman. In today's edition on page 4A they ran a brief snippet regarding the Martin-Zimmerman case. The head line reads: "Martin Autopsy Lists Marijuana." The breathless lead sentence that rambles on forever begins with, "Trayvon Martin's autopsy shows he had marijuana in his system the night he was killed..." Well that certainly seems fair and balanced considering what the truth of the matter is. The sentence concludes by telling us Martin was shot "at close range." What The Oklahoman failed to mention, other than the amount of THC in Martin's blood was negligible, is that George Zimmerman had Tamazepam, which is also known as Restoril, in his system the night of killing. It is used to treat anxiety and insomnia.

I've never taken Restoril, so I really can't comment on it. I can tell you that unless there have been some pretty dramatic changes in the composition of marijuana in the last forty or so years it does not, I repeat, does not cause you to be aggressive. In fact that is the last thing it does. Think fine tunes on the stereo and Fig Newtons. Think rambling observations about the nature of the universe. Deep thoughts. As a friend of mine told me one bleary evening, "Cheese is eternal." Be that as it may, the evidence shows without a doubt, Trayvon Martin wasn't stoned that night. The Oklahoman deliberately left you with another impression.

Buried at the end of the article the paper finally does admit that one of the cops thought Zimmerman should have been busted for manslaughter after the shooting, but was over ruled. That won't matter to some older white dude who is tired of the whole affair anyway. He just caught that headline and said to himself, "I knew it," then shrugged and moved on to the sports section.

The Oklahoman played the perfect game of disinformation, which is what the right wing media loves to do. While what they said was technically true, they didn't tell us the entire story. They left it to the reader's lurid imagination to fill in his, or her own conclusion. They also carefully avoided saying anything about Zimmerman's involvement with prescription meds. Why muddy the waters with something like that? Lets keep it short and clear cut.

The country is fracturing. White vs. Black. Left vs. Right. The media is playing an important role in this great dissolve. They don't report, they pander to specific audiences. They tell people what they want to hear, or more darkly what politically motivated editors want them to hear. And in a state where Barak Obama failed to carry a single county four years ago the Oklahoman has decided those of us in OKC and beyond want to hear that Trayvon Martin was whacked out on an illegal drug.

They want us to believe that somehow it is Trayvon Martin's fault he is dead. Then they want to story to go away.

God Bless the First Amendment and all those who abuse it for their  own twisted ends. Where on earth would we be without them?


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