George Zimmerman of Sanford, Florida, is lying low. He’d better. The law that encouraged him to shoot an unarmed teen-ager then claim self-defense, now works directly against him. What’s to prevent anyone at all from catching the guy alone, preferably at night, get his attention, shoot him in the face and claim self-defense? Let the punishment fit the crime. But it’s also a giant step back into humankind’s primitive past.
Thousands of enraged people of all races are right now thinking of reverting to that past ever since he murdered Trayvon Martin, a kid guilty of nothing more than a trip to a store to buy a snack. How easy it is to shuck off a civilized veneer. Revenge fantasies are coursing through the minds of thousands.
I’ve always considered myself peace-loving although in WW II, I did entertain fantasies of dropping the bomb that put Adolf Hitler out of the world’s misery, and if I’d had him in my gun sights, would have gladly pulled the trigger. Yet I would never have tortured him, or hung him by the neck with piano wire, as he did the generals in on the failed plot to kill him. Inflicting needless pain on any living creature is the act of a very sick mind. But quick death by bullet, sword, or stone axe goes back to our origins.
To guard against reversion to those origins, civilized societies have erected laws. The fools in Florida and 21 other states who want to sweep away those laws with the idiotic “stand your ground” statute, now face scrutiny by all who realize that it is a giant step backwards toward the primitive urge for revenge: a license to kill. George Zimmerman is well advised to stay out of sight.