Thank You, Dr. Fauci

I have tremendous respect and admiration for Dr. Anthony Fauci, and I am disgusted and appalled by the treatment he has received over the past several years.  Even today, he and his family continue to receive death threats and other forms of harassment.  Even though Dr. Fauci has saved countless lives throughout his career, and notably over the past nearly-three years of the Covid pandemic, some claim that he was single-handedly responsible for the creation of the virus.  It’s a classic case of “shoot the messenger.”

Two articles crossed my radar yesterday.  The first was a lovely tribute by Dan Rather [see below], and the other is an ‘exit interview’ published in The Washington Post that shows Dr. Fauci for the intelligent and patient man he is.  Dr. Fauci is retiring at the end of this month and he leaves behind some very big shoes to fill!  I wish him the best and hope the people of this country can show some good sense and leave him and his family in peace so that he can enjoy a well-earned retirement.

Thank You, Dr. Fauci

Withstanding an assault on science

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

11 December 2022

One of the most dedicated public servants in this nation’s history is stepping down after decades of government service. That this same man is being scurrilously attacked by the world’s richest man on a rapidly degenerating social media platform is a sad but instructive snapshot of our times.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has served presidents since Ronald Reagan. He has led efforts against infectious diseases ranging from HIV/AIDS to Ebola to, of course, Covid-19. His work and dedication have saved countless lives. And for much of his career, he was viewed with great respect on both sides of the political aisle.

But we all know what happened. Fauci has become a target for the anti-science, conspiracy-theory-marinated movement stoked by the former president. And today, Elon Musk sent out a tweet that epitomizes the debasement. Like a smirking bully on the schoolyard, he wrote; My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.

Many online were quick to point out how Musk had earlier tweeted favorably about vaccines. And they noted how he has been staggeringly wrong about the pandemic, which he said early on would just disappear. Plus, for what exactly is Fauci supposed to be prosecuted? You have to be fluent in crazy conspiracy theories to start trying to answer that question.

But even to try to debate on the merits is to have already lost.

This isn’t about facts and the truth. This is about scoring political points. It is about flooding our global discourse with horse manure. It is about attacking the very notion of expertise. It is about saying everything can be true so nothing is true. It is about intimidating scientists and health officials. It is about feeding the MAGA crowd with the red meat of a sacrificial lamb.

The rabid tone of the anti-Fauci brigades stands in stark contrast to the man himself. He is careful with his words, soft-spoken, and dedicated to the bounds of data and science. Perhaps what set Musk off was Fauci’s New York Times Op-Ed today, which is essentially a goodbye letter to his decades of service.

It is also a stirring call to action for those who will follow. Fauci writes, “I am confident that the next generations of young physicians, scientists and public health practitioners will experience the same excitement and sense of fulfillment I have felt as they meet the immense need for their expertise to maintain, restore and protect the health of people around the world and rise to the continual unexpected challenges they will inevitably face in doing so.”

He also looks back at his own career, stating with pride, “I ‌‌always speak the unvarnished truth to ‌presidents and other senior government officials, even when such truths may be uncomfortable or politically inconvenient, because extraordinary things can happen when science and politics work hand in hand.”

Public health is always going to be a mixture of policy and science. It is about weighing complicated and often competing factors. Furthermore, information, especially when diseases are new, is often incomplete. As science learns more, advice can change.

We can wish all we want that the world were simple. It would make everything far less complicated. But the truth is that most of what we contend with in life, like nature itself, is a web of complexity.

We are living in a time when many who try to confront this complexity through their expertise are denigrated, dismissed, and even demonized. Knowledge and facts are distorted by the funhouse mirrors warping our political discourse — social media, right-wing media, and the potent conspiracy theories they help foster.

The Covid-19 virus doesn’t watch Fox News, and neither do the chemical compounds altering our atmosphere with climate change. They don’t care what Musk tweets or what politicians haranguing scientists like Fauci say in a game of political gotcha in congressional hearings. Politicians can’t change the laws of chemistry, biology, or physics. But policies that ignore the data can have real life-and-death consequences.

This isn’t to say that scientists are always right. They aren’t. And on many complicated topics, scientists of good faith can disagree. Science, especially on the frontiers of knowledge, is about grappling with uncertainty. And any scientist will tell you that failure is part of the experimental process.

But that doesn’t mean that all opinions are valid. That doesn’t mean we just dismiss data or experts like Fauci who live in that world and try to use what they have learned to help the rest of us. Fauci and the overwhelming majority of scientists base their conclusions on the best available evidence at the time. All the while, they continue experimenting and innovating in the never-ending search for more knowledge.

So thank you, Dr. Fauci, for your service and for your courage. You have been the epitome of steady, and the world has benefited because of it. Godspeed, good doctor.

Uncomfortable History Month: Hammer Time

Black History, like all history, is a mixed bag. Unfortunately, from the time the first slaves were transported to this continent until present, it seems that we keep taking two steps forward, then one step backward. Humans … seem to have an immense propensity for love, but also for hatred, and both are expressed in a myriad of ways. Brosephus’ post today shows us one of the uglier sides of humans and how it has played a role in Black History. Thanks, Bro!

The Mind of Brosephus

Day five, and what better topic is there than the Hammer himself. On this date in 1934, the greatest player to ever wear an Atlanta Braves uniform was born in Mobile, Alabama. Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron would leave Mobile and go on to become the homerun king of Major League Baseball.

I could go on all day about his career, but we all are pretty familiar with his stats. What makes his career even more impressive is when you realize that he accomplished all he did while under constant threat to both himself and his family. Just as revisionism portrays Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr as someone who was supposedly beloved during his time on earth, Aaron wasn’t universally accepted and loved by America during his playing years.

I’ll give you just a few samples of the thousands upon thousands of hate letters he and the Braves organization received…

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Just Two Short Bits of Snarky

Yes, yes … Filosofa is still snarking and ranting … there is just so much wrong in this world, every bit of which could be so easily fixed with just the three ‘C’s – common sense, compassion, cooperation.  I did have more snippets than just these two short ones, but … I’m out of time, so I shall save them for later or tomorrow!  Gives you something to look forward to, eh?

Cosa Nostra rides again?

William Braddock is a Republican candidate from Florida who is hoping to be elected to fill the seat currently held by Democrat Charlie Crist, who is resigning to run for governor to (hopefully) replace the ignoble Ron DeSantis next year.  William Braddock is short on name recognition, but one thing he has plenty of is audacity.

Also running in that same GOP primary race is Anna Paulina Luna, an Air Force veteran who went on to become a conservative activist and won a crowded GOP primary in the state’s 13th Congressional District last year but lost the general election to Crist.

Apparently, Mr. Braddock has a unique plan for winning the Republican nomination next fall … kill off Ms. Luna!  Yes, you heard me right!  During a 30-minute call with a conservative activist, Braddock is heard saying the following …

“I really don’t want to have to end anybody’s life for the good of the people of the United States of America. That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a f—ing speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.”

And later in the conversation …

“I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians. Don’t get caught out in public supporting Luna. … Luna’s gonna go down and I hope it’s by herself.”

And still more …

“My polling people are going to charge me $20,000 to do a poll right before the primary. And if the poll says Luna’s gonna win, she’s gonna be gone. She’s gonna disappear.  For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few. … For the better or the good of the majority of the people, we’ve got to sacrifice the few.”

My jaw dropped when I read this.  WHO THE HELL talks like that and hopes to win a seat to the U.S. Congress???  Does he fancy himself Don Corleone?  If so, he’s watched The Godfather a few too many times!  Even the mob don’t talk like that, especially in a phone call where they may be recorded!

This jackass belongs either in a mental institution or a prison cell, but definitely NOT in the U.S. House of Representatives!  Until reading this, I didn’t think it was possible to sink any lower than the likes of Margie Greene and Matt Gaetz, but obviously I was wrong!


We’ve got another mass shooting here in the U.S., this time in Chicago.  I could give you the details, but you likely already know them, and … if you don’t, you can just Google “latest mass shooting”.  But, I will tell you that four human beings, people minding their own business, people who were husbands, wives, parents … are now dead, thanks to the gun culture in the not-so-United States.  Yesterday, I decided to check the local news for my own area, Cincinnati, Ohio.  I don’t often read the local news, but about once a week I try to catch up.

A few days ago, in a suburb a few miles from where I live, a little 6-year-old boy left his bicycle in a neighbor’s yard.  When he went back to retrieve it a while later, the neighbor shot him.  The little boy will be okay, the shot went straight through his arm, but WHO THE HELL SHOOTS A KID for nothing more than leaving his bike in their yard?????????

And on Sunday night, in another subdivision that is just a few miles from where I live, two children – a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old – were shot, as well as two teenagers.  Both of the younger children, last I heard, were in critical condition, while the teens suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  Again, the details are irrelevant, but what is relevant is that 4 young lives were nearly snuffed out, two may yet die, and FOR WHAT????


Ramblings From My Own Bouncing Mind

What follows is just a few of the many things that weigh heavily on my mind these days, that keep me awake at night, and that are robbing us all of peace of mind, of any sense of security in this nation.

Why in hell do we start campaigning for the office of president before the ink is even dry on the last election results?  Huh?  Anybody know an answer to this?  Last Tuesday, in an interview with the traitorous Candace Owens, the former guy, asked about whether he plans to vie again for the Oval Office in 2024, said …

“I think people are going to be very, very happy when I make a certain announcement.”

The implications of that arrogant statement made me want to throw up my supper.  Luckily, I had only eaten about ¼ of a salad, so not much to worry about.

Very happy???  It literally made me want to kill the man.  Note to FBI agents who may be monitoring WordPress blogs … don’t worry, I don’t own a gun and wouldn’t go within 100 miles of that jackass anyway.

There are 1,276 days left until the 2024 election … PLEASE let us live at least ¾ of them in relative peace!!!  Allow us time to rest and recuperate from the turmoil of the past 5 years, to take heart in the fact that we once again, have a government led by a man, a man who cares about people, not only their money!

And then I read that former Vice President Mike Pence touted Trump, saying – “we made America greater than ever before” – in a recent speech.  No, Mikey, you and he damn near destroyed this nation.  You both attempted to turn a nation built on diversity into a homogenous, lily-livered, homophobic country filled with people who carried a torch for hatred of ‘other’ in their shriveled up little hearts.  And how … just HOW can you say that when it was he who incited the riot where people were chanting “Kill Mike Pence” on January 6th, and a gallows had already been erected for just that purpose?  Are you really so blind, so stupid?

In Arizona, a fake audit of the ballots cast in Maricopa Country (you remember Maricopa’s former sheriff, Joe Arpaio) performed by a nudnik cast of characters including one who participated in the January 6th attacks on Congress and the Capitol.  The audit is neither legitimate nor sanctioned by any government agency, and is crazy in that they are using ultra-violet lights to attempt to detect bamboo on the ballots, for they claim that something like 40,000 ballots were shipped here from Asia.  Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs detailed multiple irregularities with the audit in a letter to the person overseeing it for the state’s Senate Republicans, Ken Bennett.  Hobbs warned Bennett that she would be forced to haul him back to court if he didn’t bring the audit into compliance with state law.  And then, the death threats started against Secretary Hobbs and her family.  Said Hobbs …

“Earlier today a man called my office saying I deserve to die and wanting to know ‘what she is wearing so she’ll be easy to get.’ … It was one of at least three such threats today. Then a man who I’ve never seen before chased me and my staffer outside of our office.”

As a result, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has ordered round-the-clock security for Ms. Hobbs.  This is not the first incident of this type related to the controversy surrounding the 2020 election and the Big Lie being perpetuated by the former guy, nor is it likely to be the last.

Capitol Police report that there has been a 107% increase in reported threats against members of Congress compared to last year.  In 2020, the USCP logged about 9,000 cases of threats against lawmakers, while the Secret Service handled another 8,000.  In a press release, Capitol Police said …

“Provided the unique threat environment we currently live in, the Department is confident the number of cases will continue to increase.”

This, my friends, is what happens when people in positions of power such as members of Congress, former presidents, popular media personalities, and religious leaders engage in game-playing, lies, deceit, and do so loudly, attempting to stir emotions, to rouse the masses.  This is what happens when those same people with power blindly follow a madman.  This is what happens when people don’t bother to ask questions, to verify what they may hear from others, or to even take a few minutes to think about whether something makes sense or not.  C’mon folks, surely we are better than all this?

We’re Better Than This … Or Are We?

More and more these days I am disgusted by the behaviour of some of my fellow humans in this country.  Okay, so we have fools in our government who believe it is okay to denigrate people, to tell lies and issue meaningless threats, but do we really need to emulate them?  I realize there have always been people for whom violence, or the threat of violence, was a way of life, an answer to all their problems, but today I’m seeing more and more of it.  How many times have we read in the past 7 months about someone threatening a store employee for merely doing his or her job, enforcing a store policy to wear a mask while inside the store?  So many that I’ve lost count.

Just last week, a man in Pennsylvania shot a clerk at a cigar store for being told he must wear a mask inside the store.  Then when police went to the man’s home to arrest him, he pulled an AK-47 automatic rifle and fired at police.  The man’s attorney, attempting to justify his actions, said he was “just not handling the pandemic well.”  And this is just one of many such incidents.  Is this, then, to become our new ‘norm’?  Come on, people … surely we’re better than this???

Kill the messenger?

The cruelty of humans never ceases to amaze me.  Dr. Anthony Fauci … you all know the name by now … is probably the most reliable source for information about the coronavirus pandemic.  He is, as I recently noted in another post, highly qualified and a top expert in the field of such things as infectious diseases and pandemics.  Those who respect science and the opinions of experts, listen to him.  Others listen to Donald Trump and his minions who have repeatedly and consistently denied that the pandemic is a big problem … nothing to see here folks, it’s all going away soon … and turned their backs on the recommendations of the experts, much to our detriment.  Okay, fine, but …

fauci“Getting death threats for me and my family and harassing my daughters to the point where I have to get security is just amazing. I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that people who object to things that are purely public health principles are so set against it and don’t like what you and I say, namely in the word of science, that they actually threaten you. That to me is just strange… I wish we did not have to go through that.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci

Yes, my friends, people are actually threatening not only Fauci, but his family as well … threatening to kill them!  WHY???  Apparently because they don’t like his recommendations and/or predictions.  He recommends wearing masks, recommends certain areas of the country need to remain shut down, recommends schools stay closed, and predicts that the virus isn’t going to magically disappear as Trump claims it will.  So … if you don’t like what someone says, the answer is to threaten to kill them?  This is a sad, sad statement about the values, or lack thereof, of some people in this nation.  No, I don’t believe the majority, or even a significant number of people would do such a thing, but the fact that there are some people who would is appalling.

He didn’t like masks, so …

A Florida man, James Copenhaver, was dining at Ricky T’s Bar and Grille in Treasure Island, Florida, when he spotted a young boy wearing a mask, sitting at a nearby table.  Copenhaver himself was not wearing a mask, and apparently took umbrage at the young boy wearing one.  He walked over to the boy and told him to remove his mask.  He then asked the child to shake his hand, and the boy refused.  What he did next is yet another example of the cruelty of which humans are capable.  He grabbed the boy’s arm, leaned in close to his face and spat in the boy’s face, saying, “You now have the coronavirus.”

He wasn’t, however, content with that, but walked over to the nearest restaurant employee and attempted twice to punch the man … for what reason remains a mystery, other than that Mr. Copenhaver had apparently had a few too many drinks.

CopenhaverThe employee Mr. Copenhaver tried to punch managed to get Mr. Copenhaver outside, wrestle him to the ground and hold him until the police arrived, at which time he was arrested on charges of simple battery and disorderly conduct.

Who does this to a child???  Frankly, if somebody did what he did to my child, he would likely be lying in a hospital bed or a morgue right now.  Again, no I don’t think this is representative behaviour for the vast majority of people in this country, but … I do see it happening more and more frequently and I find it highly disturbing.

I repeat what I said in the beginning … this is no way to solve the many problems facing the people in this nation.  I really want to believe that we are better than this, but it gets harder by the day.

A Class Act — Ilhan Omar

It has nothing to do with how much money a person has, nor does it relate to a person’s position in society.  You cannot purchase it … you either have it, or you don’t.  Barack and Michelle Obama both have it in spades.  Donald and Melania Trump do not.  What is it, you ask?  It is a thing called ‘class’.

U.S. House Representative Ilhan Omar has this thing called class. ilhan-omarMs. Omar has been the target of some of the most vicious racist and Islamophobic threats and verbal attacks imaginable.  Why?  Because she is a Muslim, because the ‘man’ who is masquerading as president of this nation has instilled a fear of ‘other’ into some 40% of our population and has, in fact, launched a personal attack against Ms. Ilhan.

And yet through it all, she has retained her grace and dignity.

Back in March, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr. of Addison, New York, called Ms. Ilhan’s D.C. office and spoke to a staff member …

“Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she’s a [expletive] terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. I’ll put a bullet in her [expletive] skull.”

patrick-carlineoOn Monday, November 18th, Mr. Carlineo pleaded guilty to threatening to assault and murder the freshman congresswoman and for being a felon in possession of firearms.  He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Carlineo hates Muslims and even went so far as to tell the FBI when they began their investigation into him, “if our forefathers were still alive, they’d put a bullet in her head”.

Ms. Ilhan, whose life he threatened, however asks for compassion for the man …

“We must apply a system of compassion to criminal justice. Who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves?”

This, folks, is class.  It is compassion.  It is human decency.

Although she had just turned 19 when, on 11 September 2001, 19 Middle-Eastern terrorists flew planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, some have sought to place the blame, by extension, on her shoulders.  Trump himself re-tweeted an obnoxious tweet several months ago that falsely claimed she was seen partying in the aftermath of 9/11.  And, in the West Virginia State Capitol, a poster was at a table in the Capitol’s rotunda …ilhan-omar-911The poster led to a brawl outside the House of Delegates that eventually spilled into the chamber, where at least one person was injured.  The body’s sergeant at arms submitted a letter of resignation at the end of the day after being accused of a making an anti-Muslim slur during the dispute.

And then in August, Ms. Omar received an anonymous death threat …ilhan-omar-death-threatThis was shortly after Trump said that Ms. Omar and three other Congresswomen of colour should “go back to the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”, and then-Senate candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore, echoed Trump, saying “… Trump was right, she should go back to Somalia from whence she came”.  When such ugly talk comes from our politicians, especially the faux president, is it really any wonder she receives death threats?

And that brings us to this week, when her republican challenger in next year’s election, Daniella Stella, got herself and her campaign banned from Twitter for her hateful tweets.  On Tuesday, she posted …

“If it is proven @IlhanMN passed sensitive info to Iran, she should be tried for #treason and hanged.”

And she followed up with an image of a stick-figure being hanged.  Her reference to Ms. Omar passing “sensitive info to Iran” stems from a conspiracy theory started by Canadian businessman Alan Bender who has links to the Saudi government, and he implicates everyone from Jared Kushner to Ty Cobb to Ms. Omar.  The story has been proven false, yet apparently Ms. Stella failed to get that memo.

Danielle-StellaThis is not the first time that Daniella Stella has come onto my radar.  Back in July, I wrote a snippet about her having been arrested twice for shoplifting, and once for trying to outrun the police when they stopped her for driving drunk!  She is also a supporter of the conspiracy group QAnon, if that tells you anything.  I don’t think Ilhan Omar needs to worry overly much about keeping her seat next year, if Ms. Stella is the best the Republican Party of Minnesota has to offer!

I began this post talking about class.  What is class, exactly?  It can be a lot of things – being kind and compassionate, being calm in the face of adversity, walking away from a fight.  Class is one of those things that … you know it when you see it.  Class is definitely not defined by racism or any other form of bigotry.  It is not defined by cruelty.  Those who would attack Ms. Ilhan Omar simply because of her ethnicity, her religion, or the fact that she is a woman, are the ones who have no class.  Ms. Ilhan Omar has more of it in her little finger than Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Daniella Stella, and Patrick Carlineo combined.

Note to readers:  Saturday Surprise will return next week … probably.

What Have We Become?

Politics is one of those things that we have a bit of fun with up to a point, then it turns ugly and the fun turns to heartburn.  Okay, that is the norm, it is what it is, what it has always been.  I accept that, as I am certainly incapable of changing it.  But there is a line.  It isn’t even a fine line, but a broad, coarse line that should never be crossed.  When, due to political disharmony, debate, disagreement, the families of candidates or others involved in the political process are threatened or harmed, that crosses the line.  No if’s, and’s, or but’s … it crosses the line and anyone involved in it should be prosecuted and imprisoned.  Period.  No grace.

Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House began receiving death threats in the wake of the controversial republican caucus on March 1st.  His home phone number was published by angry Trump supporters who were upset (to say the least) with the outcome of the caucus.  Within hours, Mr. House had logged over 2,000 calls, some threatening harm to himself, and some to his family.  FOUL.  It is never appropriate to issue a death threat, not even in a moment of rage, not even in jest.  Even the 1st amendment does not protect this type of speech. Now, I admit the Colorado caucuses are just about as confusing as any political contest in the nation and I do not fully understand it myself*.  So, thus is the nature of politics, but you never threaten a person and you never ever threaten his family.  Have I made myself clear on this?  One particular threat against Mr. House himself went like this: “Do me a favor: Get your gun, put it in your mouth, pull the trigger, I’ll call you back in two minutes. If you can’t do that, I’m gonna send somebody over to the house and help you.”  YU-HSI LEE, Think Progress, 14 April 2016 

It doesn’t stop there, either.  Trump’s own family, as I reported in an earlier post, was threatened when his son, Eric, received a threatening letter containing white powder.  The powder turned out to be a harmless substance, but the letter threatened “harm will come to the kids” if Donald Trump did not pull out of the presidential race.  Tom John, the Indiana GOP’s 7th District Committee Chairman received an anonymous email telling him that he is “being watched” after he told Politico that Trump “doesn’t represent what I want my party to represent.” Trump ally Roger Stone once threatened to send supporters to delegates’ hotel rooms if they switched from Trump to another candidate. What are we becoming?  This is not the politicians, this is not the candidates, this is us.  The people indulging in these acts are citizens, everyday average citizens.  Politics is ugly, yes, but this is beyond ugly, it is beyond the boundaries of normalcy, it is unacceptable.  The candidates, Trump in particular, have done more than their share to stir the pot, to bring about this culture of hysterics, of fear, of violence and hate.  But that does not give us carte blanche to threaten anyone’s lives.  We are better than this, or at least we are supposed to be.

There are some who are apathetic to these types of threats, and they are as guilty as the perpetrators.  I immensely dislike Donald Trump, but I would never threaten bodily harm or death to him or his family.  Those who would are a sub-human lifeform in my book.  As a small child, I was taught sportsmanship.  I was taught that it is just as important to be a gracious loser as a gracious winner.  Apparently we no longer teach our children those values.  No matter what Donald Trump says or does, and make no mistake, he is the most noxious, vitriolic candidate I have seen in my lifetime, neither he nor his children should need to fear for their personal safety, for their lives.  Never the children.

* I plan to attempt to explain the process in a later post.

More on Trayvon Martin …

I didn’t want to write another post on the whole Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. Enough people are offering their opinions and the media is certainly doing more than their fair share in keeping the case at the forefront of everyone’s minds without me adding my two cents worth. When asked if I would write a follow-up to my initial blog, I said, “No, absolutely not. Let America begin to heal so that eventually cooler heads may prevail.” And I meant it. And yet, here I am, fingers going where my mind really doesn’t want to go anymore. And it all started with a conversation with my granddaughter. When I happened to mention one evening that even the jurors and George Zimmerman’s parents were receiving death threats, I was surprised by her emphatic, “Good … they should!” This was definitely not the reaction I expected from my typically tolerant teen, and it was then that I began to think we, all of us, needed to be talked down off the ledge of anger and emotion so that some truly meaningful dialog could take place, conversation that might, just might stand a chance at helping avoid similar disasters in the future by helping us figure out what really went wrong and what should have happened and what we can do to ensure those things that went wrong do not go wrong next time. So here I sit on a Sunday night, writing the column I never intended to write.

First off, let me just say that death threats against George Zimmerman, his parents, the prosecutors or the jury are not helpful. It adds fuel to an already out-of-control blaze and never have two wrongs equaled a right, to use an old cliché. Death threats against anybody, for any reason, are a tool of the under-educated and the mind that is limited to using acts of violence as a solution to a complex problem. Most of us realize this and the majority of those who uttered such foolishness out of emotion in the hours immediately following the verdict will have, by now, allowed their wiser, saner minds to kick into gear and are feeling pretty foolish, hoping nobody heard or remembers what they said a week ago. The rest are in the minority and would prefer to add to the problem rather than be a part of the solution. That mentality is undeserving of any response.

So much has been said about this case and the ultimate verdict that my head spins. I’ve heard that it was definitely a racist crime, that the outcome of the trial was a result of Florida’s now-infamous “Stand Your Ground” law, that the jurors were somehow coerced, that the prosecution did a poor job, that the prosecution should have gone for a lesser charge, that there were an extraordinary amount of gun-related deaths in Chicago over the July 4th weekend and nobody cares about those, that a white kid was killed by a black kid and nobody cares, that black-on-black crime is flourishing and nobody cares, that Trayvon Martin was on top of Zimmerman beating him to death, that George Zimmerman was on top of Trayvon Martin beating him to death, and on and on and on, ad nauseum. Some of which is true fact, but not pertinent to the issue at hand; some of which is exaggerated or only half-truths; and some of which is blatantly untrue. Not surprisingly, depending which side of the issue you weigh in on, you have a different story to relate. However, none of this is helpful and all of it is designed, whether intentionally or not, to distract our attention from the core of the issue. The core of the issue can be narrowed down to a few simple questions: is shooting a gun into an unarmed person’s body at point-blank range an appropriate use of force? Should a community security guard be allowed to carry a loaded weapon? Should said security guard be held accountable for firing that weapon and taking the life of an innocent, unarmed person whom he had no reason to believe was committing a crime? We will never know exactly what transpired that night. A friend argues that Trayvon Martin was atop George Zimmerman beating him savagely and George Zimmerman feared for his life. However, as his injuries did not appear to support that assumption and the only “eye-witness” is unreliable, we don’t know. We cannot know what George Zimmerman thought was going to happen. The first step here is to understand and admit that we really just don’t know who was beating whom, for how long, or how badly. Since we don’t know and cannot know this, then, is a moot point and must be left out of the equation, so that we can come to some fact-based understanding. What we do know is that when George Zimmerman initially contacted the police to let them know he saw somebody he was suspicious of, he was told by police to stay in his car. We know he disobeyed that order by police. Disobeying a direct police order is a crime. That is an undisputable fact. We know that Trayvon Martin was initially guilty of nothing more than walking on the street on his way home from a local convenience store. That is not a crime. We may strongly suspect that George Zimmerman’s reaction to this young man was altered by the fact that he was African-American, but we cannot know this for a fact, so it is a supposition at best and really cannot be considered in any intelligent discourse. All the other comments about other crimes and incidents that have taken place in other places, other times, no doubt deserve analysis of their own, but they are not relevant to this situation and should not be a part of any conversation about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. As I see it, there are only two things that could have been done in the initial scenario that would have resulted in a different, happier outcome. The first is that George Zimmerman could have stayed in his car as ordered by the police and either let Trayvon Martin have a safe journey home or let the police come sort it all out, which would have been appropriate. The other is that, immediately upon sensing Mr. Zimmerman following him, Trayvon Martin could have turned and gone back into the convenience store, if it was in fact close enough, and called the police or a parent to report that he was being followed, which would also have almost certainly resulted in a less disastrous outcome. What is the lesson here? I think it is two-fold: we need to really review procedures for security guards who patrol public areas. Should they be armed with loaded guns? Probably not. A Billy club, a can of mace, or even a stun gun should be adequate for most situations. And if we as a society are teaching our children to defend themselves, let us also teach them that to do so should be only as a last resort, that the best option is to get into a safe place and call police, a parent or other trusted adult. This should apply whether the person is Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Hispanic or Middle Eastern. It should be the advice we all give our children, regardless of race.

I am not saying that racism wasn’t a factor; quite possibly it was. I am simply saying that it isn’t the key factor we need to be looking at right now in order to prevent a repeat of this very tragic outcome. The issue of racism is a whole other issue, as is the issue of whether Stand Your Ground laws should be repealed and whether stronger gun regulation laws are needed. Those of you who know me know that I most likely have opinions on those issues also and that sooner or later those discussions will appear on this blog. For today, though, let’s stick to one issue at a time and maybe, just maybe, we can stay focused long enough to make a difference. And last, but certainly not least, let us not threaten death or bodily harm to jurors and lawyers who are just trying to do their jobs. It isn’t a reflection on them, but on us, and it helps not at all.