by Max Brantley
The Sunday night line is open. Some items to note;
* TRIPLE SLAYING IN PIKE COUNTY: State Police say three people are were fatally shot following what was described as a domestic disturbance Saturday night at a home on Highway 301, southwest of Delight. Dead at the scene were Dana Hill, 33, who lived at the house, and Julie Hartsfield, 54, of Waldo. Autumn Hartsfield, 9, was wounded, but died later at a Hot Springs hospital. Another resident of the house, Timothy Allen Hill, 43, was taken into custody. No details have been released on what transpired.
"... [the] death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.
"And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin."
This case has produced complicated feelings for me. I think the justice system worked — investigation, charges, trial, extensive jury deliberations, vigorous lawyers — even if the outcome meant freedom for a racially motivated creep. Some of the best commentary I've seen didn't dispute the verdict but raised related questions — about the open invitation to justifiable homicide claims created by Florida's "stand your ground" law (dead men tell no rebutting tales) and about the question of whether a black self-deputized neighborhood watchdog would have been released initially by police if he'd claimed he shot down a suited white gentleman in self defense after the unarmed white man jumped him. Food for thought.
I note, too, that a Little Rock resident was angered by the verdict — Spirit Trickey, daughter of Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine. She has spoken out fiercely. The friend who sent her Facebook post to me described it as a "primal scream" about racial injustice . It is that. Trickey sees an America in which Jim Crow still lives. She is not alone, judging by favorable responses to her post. An excerpt:
Trayvon was proven guilty yesterday...for being black in America...the greatest crime. How long can this continue...what is going to have to happen for something to change? Every step forward we go 20 steps back. People get outraged when white children are harmed, let alone murdered... I love all children, but the truth is, as Jonathan Kozol said, America has its Macy's kids, its Nordstom kids, its Neiman Marcus kids and its KMart Kids, its Walmart kids...its throwaway kids. Why do we have to wait until one of the Macy's kids gets hurt or killed before anyone cares?
I don't mean to diminish Trayvon Martin's lost life or George Zimmerman's travails, but the deep national division that reflexively accompanies cases such as this is the continuing big story. Every news story isn't a football game with sides chosen on tribal loyalties. But you knew which side the usual suspects in the left and right pundit sphere would take on this story without having to read the reporting. This story — and lots of others — aren't always so simply reduced.