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Quid Est Veritas? (What Is Truth?)

The Trayvon Martin shooting is a tragic story - but not for the reasons you may think.

It's the question Pilate asked of Jesus, even though he didn't wait for an answer, and it's the question a lot of folks seem to be asking in regards to the Trayvon Martin shooting: what is truth?

Even with the aid of a million journalistic pieces, countless talk radio ruminations, endless Facebook posts, and a seemingly infinite number of water cooler conversations, we may never know exactly what happened the night Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman. And the sad fact of the matter is, that seems to be the way some people want it.

I read the CNN story this morning on Zimmerman's second-degree murder charge, as well as a story on Yahoo!, and the AJC. And in the interest of local voices, I read too.

The story is messy. It's polarizing. It raises questions about America's continued issues with race, violence, guns, and justice. It is, to be perfectly honest, the kind of story that makes me want to stick my head in the sand and just read a couple more blogs about the Braves horrific start.

But while I was reading these stories this morning, I noticed that none of the pictures of Trayvon seem to match the story. I keep reading that he was an innocent 17 year old, and I don't dispute that; but what flummoxes me is the fact that most of the pictures that accompany these stories are of Trayvon when he was considerably younger. In fact, this gallery on Yahoo! has pictures of Trayvon that seem to be at least five years old (Yahoo! cautiously notes that the pictures are "undated"). So I'm reading a story about a 17 year old but looking at pictures of a 12 year old?

Naturally, I started asking myself why?

Why not show Trayvon at the age he was killed? Why keep showing people photos that are clearly outdated?

The answers are as confusing as they are useless: maybe there weren't any current photos of Trayvon. Maybe the current photos of Trayvon would portray him negatively. Maybe the media wants a better story, and what's more juicy than a fresh-faced kid being shot by a scruffy looking old guy? Maybe it's a conspiracy to foster racial warfare.

I don't know.

What I do know is that there is no way to get the straight story. There is no way to get an honest account of the facts of that night because of the people who know the facts, one is dead and the other is apparently withdrawing into himself.

Quid est veritas? What is truth? Do we even know anymore? The cynic in me wants to scream at the top of his lungs that we are surrounded by a manipulative culture that wants a controlled narrative to better control the people. The idealist in me wants to argue for restrained observation, to see how it plays out and to trust that in the end all of the facts will come out. I want to believe that the truth will win, but the cynic seems to be gaining ground.

And in the midst of it all is the fact that I'm writing a blog about the issue, adding to the noise as it were, without offering anything but more conjecture and speculation.

I'm going to be honest: the fact that news outlets aren't running pictures of Trayvon that are closer to his age (heck, I'd be happy seeing him at 15) makes me skeptical about Trayvon's character. I have no right or reason to be skeptical, but the apparent desire to portray him as an innocent child just pushes me in that direction. And I'd feel the same way if you reversed the races. This skepticism is further heightened by the story that NBC ran an edited version of the 9-1-1 call that Zimmerman made the night of the shooting, a version that made Zimmerman seem racist.

I'm equally as skeptical of the people who are shouting that Zimmerman is a hero, and Trayvon was a hulking, snarling thug who deserved to be shot.

I guess the bottom line is I'm skeptical because I feel like someone, somewhere, isn't telling me the truth. And that bothers me.

Maybe I'm being naive for believing that objective truth exists. Maybe I'm being a complete Pollyanna in this day and age for wanting something more than spin, opinion and hype. Maybe I'm just an idiot.

But it saddens me to know that Trayvon Martin won't get justice, and neither will George Zimmerman, because justice is served by the truth. And it seems like no one wants the truth to be known.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Perry Parks (Editor) April 13, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I'd like to point out that forums like this, when used properly by well-meaning people, are a good way of bringing us closer to the truth. If Jason hadn't asked the question about recent pictures of Trayvon Martin, then Brian wouldn't have posted an answer, and most of us wouldn't have seen these photos of a young man enjoying his family and friends. With this issue, as with many others that have such potential to incite bile and vitriol, I'm proud that so many Patch contributors are civil, curious, and open to other points of view.
Jason Brooks April 13, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Thanks, Perry. That means a lot to me.
Ryan Smith (Editor) April 13, 2012 at 04:37 AM
I have to disagree with you, Dennis; Zimmerman's gun wasn't a lifesaver -- but not stalking an unarmed youth who had a perfect right to be there would have been a lifesaver. Zimmerman was armed. Martin was not. Zimmerman was told not to follow Martin and he chose to do so anyway. Any altercation that occurred, occurred because Zimmerman decided to play policeman.
Ryan Smith (Editor) April 13, 2012 at 04:43 AM
I guess my question is, why would it matter if it had been 1:30 a.m.? I was out past midnight quite often as a teenager, doing, believe it or not, perfectly innocent things -- like buying candy at a convenience store on my way home. I'd hate to think it suddenly becomes open season on teenagers once the clock strikes 12.
Bill Palmer April 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM
I agree with you. It may be apocryphal but I've read about the bad guys (bank robbers, etc) wearing masks back in the day. I would certainly think that a masked man or woman at night on a public street would cause justified concern and the hoodie is the modern equivalent of the mask although it does have other functions. But Mr. Martin should not have been conducting his neighborhood watch duties armed and this ultimately is the bottom line.
Bill Palmer April 13, 2012 at 11:21 AM
There is a tidal wave, no....a global flood, of information or content these days and we do not yet have the proper tools to "contextualize" that content so that it is more pertinent, useful and truthful. Search tools help but they don't fully solve the problem. That said, I would NEVER want the "time of less information", then nothing can you help you get at the truth.
Bill Palmer April 13, 2012 at 11:23 AM
I agree with Ryan, Mr. Zimmerman was playing cop, an armed one at that. The comment that "the gun that Zimmerman had, was a lifesaver!" would be hilarious were it not so tragic.
Charley April 13, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Rebecca, what is your point?
Charley April 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Dennsi....I couldn't have said it any better.
Karsten Torch April 13, 2012 at 03:13 PM
My problem with this case is that it seems to me that the media outlets are leaving out important information. This case seems to be being used to push racial divides, and to push somebody's agenda. I'm not saying whose.... Zimmerman has black people in his immediate family. I still haven't seen this mentioned. Zimmerman was patrolling his neighborhood because there were 8 recent burglaries in it. Also not mentioned. He's being painted as an armed loon, stalking his neighborhood because he had nothing better to do. At least three of those burglaries are verified to have been committed by a young black male. The other five are suspected of being the same by some witnesses, but unverified. Missed this being mentioned, as well. 911 told him "we don't need you to do that" in reference to following Martin, but it was not an order. It was a suggestion, made by 911 with no authority. And no authorities immediately available. If I was Zimmerman, with what he knew and what his job was, I probably wouldn't have listened either. And, the police got to the scene, did their immediate investigation, and let Zimmerman go, handing him back his weapon. This is not something police do without some form of knowledge supporting that decision. Lastly, there was a grand jury called within what, a day of this all going public? Means there was some facts available, and they'd already been investigated.
Karsten Torch April 13, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Let me just point out that I'm not supporting Zimmerman or Martin. I don't know. Like Jason said. It just seems to me that the media is leaving out information that could be important. Like pictures of Martin. Or the fact that Zimmerman was recently the point man in helping organize a protest over the beating of a black man by police. We're not being told everything, and it seems very purposeful. I'm just not sure why....
Brian Crawford April 13, 2012 at 04:03 PM
The reason you don't hear garbage like the story of Zimmerman organizing protests in the black community in the legitimate press is that one of the jobs of the legitimate press is to vet the BS. There is no public record of Zimmerman doing any such thing. This "story" comes from an anonymous letter that was supposedly sent to the Seminole County NAACP from Zimmerman's family. They never received the letter and no one recalls Zimmerman's involvement in that matter. Read about it here: http://www.thegrio.com/specials/trayvon-martin/purported-zimmerman-family-letter-demands-naacp-call-off-the-dogs.php#46979554
Jeffrey Allen April 13, 2012 at 04:48 PM
(I wasn't replying to this particular comment...more of a general statement to the column. I didn't mean to attach it to this comment. Sorry for the confusion)
Msgoff April 13, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Some of those photos were shown previously; actually many of them. I was going to write this in my comment last night, but ran out-of-characters. :-o I saw them at least a couple of weeks ago. It is difficult to know the truth thanks to the media; however, it was written somewhere that Zimmerman did have some previous encounters with the law and was not arrested or charged. I can't remember what they are and do not plan to spend my time looking them up.
Karsten Torch April 13, 2012 at 07:20 PM
And that's fine. I wasn't aware of that fact. But, at the same time, that's just one item from a fairly long list. Even if that one isn't true, there's still a ton of stuff we don't know, because it seems to be left out. Hell, we probably don't even know how much we don't know (yes, in my mind that sentence made sense...).
Msgoff April 13, 2012 at 07:23 PM
So true!! HOWEVER, you should click on the link to Brian's "Letter to Zimmerman." It is early on in the posts here. I was sickened by the responses to his letter. I don't know Brian or anyone who has responded; however, it appears to me that he doesn't have a lot of "friends" wherever he lives. Brian please understand how I said that; it is my subjective opinion regarding responses to your letter, which I thought was very well-written and you were not accusing anyone of anything, either Martin or Zimmerman. It seems Brian has been labeled a "liberal" and it seems that is a negative in some places. My guess is that Brian is open-minded and fair, which is what we all should be. Thanks Jason and thanks Brian for posting here and getting a good dialogue going between "civil" people, as Perry has stated. We all take a risk of being attacked for expressing our opinion on web sites and sometimes it is truly too ugly.
Dennis Forrester April 13, 2012 at 07:37 PM
@ Ryan - Was Zimmerman "stalking" Trayvon, or was he following Trayvon so that he could inform the police of Trayvon's current whereabouts? Is a 17 year-old, a "youth"? What if Trayvon were 17 years, plus 364 days old? When we start listening to the media, it is very easy for us to start using their "buzzwords". If Zimmerman was going to "stalk" Trayvon, why would he call 911 and invite them to respond? How do you know that Zimmerman was "playing policeman"? Zimmerman saw who he believed to be a suspicious person, in his neighborhood, and called 911 to report that suspicious activity.I agree that Trayvon had every right to be in that neighborhood, but equally, Zimmerman had every right to consider him suspicious, for legitimate reasons, or not. Whether his suspicions were justified or not, we'll never know, because no one but Trayvon truly knows Trayvon's intent that day. I have reported suspicious people in my neighborhood to the police before. Does that mean I'm "playing policeman"? What if I report a possible drunk driver to the police? Am I "playing policeman?" Why does Trayvon have a right to walk down the street, but Zimmerman does not? They both had equal rights to be on the street that day. We'll never truly know who instigated the confrontation between the two. We don't know if Zimmerman's life was in danger or not, but if it was, Zimmerman may be alive today because of his decision to carry a gun. If Zimmerman had been killed....we'd of never heard the story!
Msgoff April 13, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Hello Karsten, This is a point for educational purposes, hopefully. Earlier reports were that Zimmerman's father is Jewish and his mother is "Hispanic," however one interprets that. You may click on this link from the U.S. Census Bureau as to who it classifies as "Black:" http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/meta/long_RHI205210.htm. (you may have to cut & paste) It has been my understanding/knowledge for years that Hispanics are counted on the Census as "white;" however, this link has a lot of variations. Another expression that is used is "people of color," which can be all who fall under the category Blacks, Hispanics, Latino, East Indian, etc. I think we have too many labels in this country. IN THIS CASE IT DOES NOT MATTER IF HISPANICS ARE BLACK OR WHITE, it's about what has happened in Sanford, FL and the loss of a young man's life. Another point of clarification: I didn't know that this was Zimmerman's "job." Also, I would think a reasonable & sensible person would have taken seriously and followed the suggestion "We don't need you to do that," and be concerned as to what could happen to him if he approached this "suspect." Perhaps Zimmerman was not concerned re what could happen to him because he had a gun. Did he stop to wonder if this person might have a gun as well, since he was concerned that Trayvon might be just another burgler in the neighborhood. We know what can happen when the adrenaline flows, "fight or flight."
Msgoff April 13, 2012 at 08:21 PM
"Hell, we probably don't even know how much we don't know (yes, in my mind that sentence made sense...)." LOL I agree with you, and yes, your sentence makes sense. ...
Karsten Torch April 13, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Being a liberal does not make you any more 'open-minded and fair' than being a conservative. Brian is a self-described liberal. In fact, if I remember correctly, he admitted he was closer to socialist than progressive. And that's fine. But it does make him a target for conservatives. I try to disagree with respect, and some others don't, but I will say that Brian is very well-researched, even if, in my opinion, he does come to the wrong conclusions from that research. :) The problem some had with that article was his obvious claim that the shooting was racist, and then claiming he didn't say that. And then saying that he didn't believe everybody should be able to have guns, and then saying that wasn't what he said.
Karsten Torch April 13, 2012 at 09:00 PM
And I'm not arguing any of those points. I'm just addressing the racist angle, as the media seems to want to try to push for some kind of class warfare struggle. To me, it doesn't matter whether those folks in his family are black, white, or even purple. It shouldn't to anybody else, either. But, some people want to make it about race. And by black, I mean black. He has actual black people in his immediate family. But, again, that doesn't really matter. As I said, I'm also not defending Zimmerman. From what I can tell, he didn't act as intelligently as he really could have. Maybe he did feel secure because he was armed. Or maybe Martin was acting suspiciously, ducking into and out of shadows and looking in vehicles. Or walking down the middle of the street in plain view. Maybe Zimmerman walked up and got belligerent with Martin. Or Martin turned around and charged Zimmerman. All I'm saying is that with the lack of information out there, you just really don't know. And that was the only real point of my post. Jason made mention of not knowing what was going on because of the different things we're being told. I'm making mention of the many things that we know, but aren't being told. It's being told from a point of view and with an agenda....
Sharon Swanepoel April 13, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I think in many instances the media has lost's way by becoming too partisan - on both sides of the aisle. We were taught to seek the truth, and to always get the other side. That doesn't always happen anymore. I was also taught the dangers of "lying by omission." An example given was, "Jane's pregnant," - that's exciting news. "But her husband has walked out on her." What a dog. "Because another man is the father of the child she's carrying." Who is the dog now? Each statement on its own is completely true, but you need all of them to get the full story.
Msgoff April 14, 2012 at 12:23 AM
(1) "Being a liberal does not make you any more 'open-minded and fair' than being a conservative." - That is not what I said. (2) What is a socialist? "Pew Research finds that sixty percent of Americans respond negatively to 'socialism'." I wanted to take a course in grad school and was told by another student that I did not want to take it because the professor was a socialist. I talked with another professor who enlightened me about the professor, the course and told me that I would really learn a lot from him ("socialist" professor) and enjoy the course. It was one of the best classes that I have ever taken. There was a lot of thought-provoking discussion, independent thinking, freedom of expression, and on and on. I left the course with a wealth of knowledge and a new attitude and openess re acceptance of other people's thinking, ideas, ideals, etc.; my outlook and perspective were very positively affected. (3) I have read Brian's letter several times and I still do not see where he has written that the "shooting was racist". (4) I also do no see where it is written that "everybody should not be able to have guns." Please show me where it is written in the letter. Thank you very much for doing so.
Msgoff April 14, 2012 at 12:42 AM
"And by black, I mean black. He has actual black people in his immediate family." What is your source of this information please? Just wondering because I have not heard or read this anywhere else. Gee, I have to stop spending so much time on this blog as I'm finding spelling errors in my writing; openess (openness), burgler (burglar) and probably others. Peace and love to all and I pray for justice in this case.
Karsten Torch April 14, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I understand about different viewpoints and opening yourself to them. This is why I take part in these discussions. I have also had my mind changed on some things. But that still doesn't change that some people are polarized in one direction more than another. Socialists seems more open-minded to those that already lean that way. And moderates seem more socialist to those that are firmly on the conservative side. I realize this. I had many good professors that, in retrospect, were probably socialist or at the very least progressive. I get that. And agree with you. Regarding racism - Brian's whole first paragraph and a half - "The city of Sanford, Fla., has a checkered past with race relations. In 1946 Brooklyn Dodger great Jackie Robinson, the first African-American ballplayer in Major League Baseball, was run out of town while attending spring training there because of the color of his skin. On the evening of Feb. 26 of this year a 17-year-old boy, who happened to be black, was walking home alone from a trip to his local 7-Eleven store in Sanford, Fla., to buy some candy and a soft drink. His name was Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin was followed and ultimately confronted by a vigilante named George Zimmerman, who had a known love of firearms and a history of making complaints about suspicious black males in his area." How anybody can arrive at a conclusion other than Brian was setting this up to be a question of discrimination doesn't make sense to me....
Karsten Torch April 14, 2012 at 02:09 PM
And another from Brian -"Do you really think that would have been the case had Trayvon Martin been white?" Regarding the gun thing - "That and the fact we let any darn fool walk around carrying a loaded weapon." It's kinda called the 2nd amendment. This started the handgun discussion. "Thanks for picking up on the thrust of my piece which was intended to spark a discussion not so much on race, though that's certainly a major element of this case, but on our out of control gun culture." "I am however not comfortable with any Tom, Dick, or Harry walking around with a Carry Concealed permit. I don't want my loved ones ending up like Trayvon Martin because some idiot wants to play Dirty Harry. We stopped talking about responsible gun control over a decade ago and have allowed the NRA to gain way too much power over legislative decisions." "I am however not comfortable with any Tom, Dick, or Harry walking around with a Carry Concealed permit. I don't want my loved ones ending up like Trayvon Martin because some idiot wants to play Dirty Harry. We stopped talking about responsible gun control over a decade ago and have allowed the NRA to gain way too much power over legislative decisions." Now, I may be reading too much into these, but this seems to be Brian questioning people carry guns. And forwarding the idea of more strict gun control.
Jason Brooks April 14, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Thanks to all for the discussion. Here's hoping that over the next few months we get to see justice served - whichever direction that might take us.
Brian Crawford April 14, 2012 at 08:26 PM
For the record Karsten is correct, while I believe the 2nd amendment confirms the right of most Americans to own firearms (I'm a gun owner), I am advocating for responsible gun control.
Dave Emanuel April 15, 2012 at 03:33 PM
There's about as much chance of justice being served as there is of the sun rising in the west. The trial will be yet another media circus with all the typical race-baiters crowing at maximum volume. That isn't meant to imply that Zimmerman should not have been charged, only that his trial will be influenced more by racial considerations than by evidence. I wonder what will in fact be on trial-- Zimmerman's actions or his ethnic background.
Msgoff April 15, 2012 at 06:07 PM
The city of Sanford does have a negative history of race relations, just as many towns in the south, & other regions. I cannot cite it for you, but it has existed, still does, & we should admit it & work harder & more diligently to improve race relations in this country & the world. Yes, many ask the question, "If Trayvon had been white, etc." & this is not the first situation where this question has been asked, and rightfully so. These comments are not to respond to Karsten, but to all of us reading this "blog." We cannot put racism & the history of racism behind us because racism is still alive & well, & is facing us & ahead of us. Last item, I don't believe Brian was setting this up to be a ? of discrimination; that had already been done. We all need to admit our prejudices & work on eliminating them and not be so quick so say "I am a Christian," as if that absolves us of our prejudices, discrimination and racist practices, thoughts and actions. Prejudice: 1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason. 2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable. 3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group. For example: I do not like appropriate weight, healthy, beautiful, rich , etc., people! LOL

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