About the Name of this blog

This blog's title refers to a Dani fable recounted by Robert Gardner. The Dani live in the highlands of New Guinea, and at the the time he studied them, they lived in one of the only remaining areas in the world un-colonized by Europeans.

The Dani, who Gardner identifies only as a "Mountain People," in the film "The Dead Birds," have a myth that states there was once a great race between a bird and a snake to determine the lives of human beings. The question that would be decided in this race was, "Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?" According to the mythology, the bird won the race, and therefore man must die.

In the spirit of ethnographic analysis, this blog will examine myth, society, culture and architecture, and hopefully examine issues that make us human. As with any ethnography, some of the analysis may be uncomfortable to read, some of it may challenge your preconceptions about the world, but hopefully, all of it will enlighten and inform.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

God is a Bullet


I am going to be blunt here, Trayvon Martin was murdered.  I don't care mental contortions what a racist jury in the South had to tie themselves into, he was murdered by a man who unfairly profiled him, stalked him and murdered him in cold blood.  I lived in the South for close to five years, and I knew that there was no way that Zimmerman would be found guilty of killing a black man.  I also know, from living in the South, that if Zimmerman had killed a white teenage boy named John Martin, he would be facing the death penalty. 

But wait, you say, he was half Hispanic, he couldn't be guilty of a racially motivated crime.  And to that I say, bullshit.  Just because he was also a self-described minority does not absolve him of racism.  Racism does come in all forms and among all people.  Just because Zimmerman was not lily-white does not mean that he did not target Trayvon Martin based solely on the color of his skin.

Zinmmerman had a long history of calling 911 and reporting people for the "crime" of being blatantly Black in public.  He also called 911 on the night of the murder, and even though he was told to let the police handle it, he still stalked and killed Trayvon.  The facts show that he put himself in the position to have a confrontation; he escalated the situation rather than diffusing it.  Further, he escalated it when he did not need to: at the time he began stalking Martin, no crime was being committed; no one was in danger; and the only thing happening was that a black teenager was cutting through a neighborhood.

A black teenager walking through an affluent gated community, obviously that is a crime that deserves execution.  And Zimmerman appointed himself, judge, jury and executioner.

But wait, you say, Travon Martin attacked Zimmerman, and he shot the teen in self defense.  But, even if that is factually correct, Zimmerman put himself in the position in the first place.  He could have followed the police directive and LET THE COPS HANDLE IT.  Sorry for shouting, but that is a critical point.  HE DID NOT HAVE TO BE THERE, ZIMMERMAN MADE A DELIBERATE CHOICE.

But, lets go a little further.  Zimmerman was acquitted based on the "Stand Your Ground Law," that is basically a get out of jail free card when it comes to murder.  Flip the situation around again, and imagine that Trayvon had killed Zimmerman on the exact same grounds of self defense.  How do you think that would have flown.  Trayvon would have faced murder 1 charges and would probably have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

And still further, lets look at the situation from Travyon's perspective.  He is walking home from the store, having gotten a bag of candy, and takes a shortcut.  He then gets stalked by an older man, which could be considered "stranger danger."  He's in a situation where he doesn't know if he's going to get mugged, raped, (Yes it does happen) or killed (Which did happen)  He "Stands His Ground" when the crazy old guy pulls out a gun, and defends himself.  And for defending himself, he is killed.

Everyone talks about Zimmerman's right to defend himself, as a white adult man, no one talks about Trayvon Martin's right to defend himself, as a black teenager. 
If you are going to have a law like Florida's, then both parties have the right to "Stand Their Ground," when no crime is being committed, and none was that night, except for Zimmerman stalking an unarmed teen.

By the way, I want to nip something else in the bud here, Hispanic is an ethnicity, like being French, it is not a race.  You can be white Hispanic, Cuba, black Hispanic, Dominican Republic, Asian Hispanic, the Philippines, or Meso-American Hispanic, Guatemala.  I have a good friend who is Hispanic, and he has red hair and the last name of Gordon, but he is still Hispanic, and identifies himself that way.

To return to the point, Zimmerman put himself in a situation, by his own choice that threatened the life of a young man, who may or may not have tried to defend himself.  If that is exactly what happened, it shows the danger of laws like the one Florida has, where it is essentially a license to kill someone with impunity.  If Trayvon did not even try to defend himself, then Zimmerman killed him in cold blood.

And that is the definition of murder.

And now begins the crowing of the Right: Trayvon deserved to die; Trayvon was a racist because he used the word "cracka;" that Zimmerman was unfairly prosecuted.

And again I call bullshit.  No teenager, who is just walking through a neighborhood, even if it is a gated community, deserves to die.  So what if he used the term "Cracka?" That is in no way shape or form anything like the term "Nigger."  It does not carry anything of the evil of the N-word, which in my opinion is the single worst word in the world, no term is more belittling, racist or vile than that word.  And just to satisfy Godwin's Law, the N-word is the Hitler of language.
And finally, Zimmerman was fairly prosecuted.  Given the circumstances, if I was the prosecutor, I would have sought first degree murder charges, given that he stalked the teen.

The vile rhetoric of racism spewing from the Right makes me ashamed to be a white American, for fear that my non-white friends might just think that I agree with some of this hatred.  Many people thought that electing our first black President would stem the flow of hatred in this country, when in fact, it has done nothing but acerbate it.  The hate in this country is hitting a crescendo, building vile inequity upon hideous innuendo, demonizing an innocent teenage boy, and blaming him for his own murder.

However, the single worst thing I have heard is what Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'mara said, that if Zimmerman were black, "he never would have been charged with a crime."  Really?  In the South? A black man killing a white boy would never have been charged?

He would have been executed next week.

There's a green plaid jacket on the back of the chair
It's like a moment frozen forever there

Mom and dad had a lot of big plans for their little man
So proud!
Mama's gone crazy 'cause her baby's shot down
By some teenage car chase war out of bounds
It was the wrong place wrong time wrong end of a gun.
And its sad, sad, it's sad!

Shoot straight from the hip, yeah.
Gone forever in a trigger slip
Well, it could have been
It could have been your brother.
Shoot straight shoot to kill, yeah.
Blame each other, well, blame yourselves, you know
God is a bullet have mercy on us everyone
-Johnette Napolitano

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