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Sigrid Schmalzer: Trying to apply logic used in Zimmerman guest column

To the editor:

Gregory Clay’s guest column “Zimmerman jury delivered correct verdict” suggests that Zimmerman was justified in deducing that Martin posed a threat because A) black teenagers behaving a certain way had recently been burglarizing apartments, and B) Martin was a black teenager behaving a certain way.

Let’s turn that around, through your own chosen “prism of a syllogism.” Premise A: White men have been taking the law into their own hands and killing black men for centuries. Premise B: Zimmerman appeared to be a white man taking the law into his own hands. Logical conclusion: Martin was justified in defending himself.

If he had a gun, presumably he would have been justified in shooting Zimmerman. By that logic, Martin and Zimmerman were each justified in killing the other; everyone in Florida will now need to carry a gun so that they can be in a position to shoot first, and so end up in Zimmerman’s shoes rather than Martin’s.

But in any case, applying such a sympathetic logic to Martin’s behavior, and not just to Zimmerman’s, would require first overcoming the racist “prism” through which our society perceives black people as inherently more dangerous — and more deserving of punishment and even death — than white people.

Sigrid Schmalzer


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