Questioning During Spring Break

I’ve been on spring break for the past two weeks so my thoughts and reflections about my AP Government class have been temporarily placed on the backburner. One of the main benefits of taking an online class is the great amount of flexibility, which allows a student to complete the weekly workload at a convenient time. This flexibility also makes it possible to stay up to date with the class during spring break even while traveling because the Internet is the only necessary resource needed to complete assignments. Amidst a camping trip and daily trips to the beach, I managed to stay up to date on the AP Gov course load and a couple of current events topics during my spring break thanks to technology and social media.

Naturally, I wasn’t checking the New York Times website as often as I normally do during spring break, but I got a high dose of news hype every time I signed into Facebook because of the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. I first learned of the shooting of Trayvon Martin from a meme that was posted on Facebook that showed the different profiles of Trayvon Martin and his shooter, George Zimmerman. I also learned about the strong and spiteful aftermath of the shooting on social media sites like Twitter from a segment of the Daily Show with John Stewart. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old black high school student who was shot by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch security guard, on February 26, 2012. George Zimmerman told the police that he shot Trayvon Martin out of self-defense, so the police did not arrest him. However, Trayvon Martin was found with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of ice tea.

The shooting of Trayvon Martin is tragic, plus I find myself being  interested in the court case and investigation that has resulted from the court case. In a previous unit in AP Government, we learned about the different between state laws and federal laws. State laws are customary and different for each state whereas federal laws are the common laws that every United States citizen must abide by. The state of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law is currently facing nationwide scrutiny because of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. This law permits a person to use deadly force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat. George Zimmerman is using this state law to legitimize his reasons for killing Trayvon Martin. After researching this case, I found myself questioning the pros and cons of having a “Stand Your Ground” law. Does it provide an excuse for homicide? Does it make America a safer place? In my opinion, this law does provide an excuse for homicide because it does not require a person to retreat before shooting. Also, having a law that justifies killing does not make America safer in the long run, especially with cases like this. My answers to these questions have led me to be against the law because as this case shows, it can do more bad then good.

Our class has also studied the role of media in politics, court cases, and elections, which is very relevant to this situation. By studying the role of media, I’ve also begun to question how fair the court case of George Zimmerman could really be. This is an extremely publicized case and everyone seems to have an opinion, so is it really possible for George Zimmerman to get a case free of media biases? I am curious to hear the opinions of others on these issues, so comments would be much appreciated!

Here is an interactive depiction of the events leading to the shooing of Trayvon Martin.



  1. Hi Hannah:

    I live here in the heart of central Florida just a stone’s throw away from Sanford. Sanford is any town USA. It has a mall, a zoo, a train that you can put your car on and wake up in Virginia…really it is just like most other suburbs. The case of Trayvon Martin has been an extremely sad one for the nation and the community. I am currently reading a book about The Great Migration (The Warmth of Other Suns) and this story really hit home on so many levels. It reminds me that we still live in a black and white world although we have made great strides. I hope that your generation will change this worldview.

    You mentioned the role of the media in your post. Certainly this case is making a profound impact on the global scale. Some say, let the law take its course, others protest for an immediate arrest. Everyone from the average Joe to the celebs seem to have an opinion. Still, others are boycotting many local businesses of those who had nothing to do with the case. Do I think that Zimmerman will have a fair trial? I can give you an affirmative no. With that being said I didn’t think that Casey Anthony would either and now she is a free woman.

    I might encourage you to also look at how the foreign media is covering the case to get another perspective. You might find it eye opening. Some think that Americans still believe to be living in the gun toting Old West and find it unimaginable that ordinary folks can go around with guns. I will leave the rest for you to discover on your own.

    I think that Florida has to re-examine a lot of issues in the next legislative session. Only time will tell.

    When I was your age the OJ Simpson case was going on. I remember all the gory details. Sadly, as an adult, you will remember all the details of this tragic case as well.

    Thanks for sharing your post with the world. It takes courage and as usual I am impressed with the mature intellect of you and your classmates.

    Ms. Liv


  2. Hi,
    Glad you enjoyed your spring break. My school’s spring break begins Friday and I can’t wait! The students and teachers really need some time off.

    I’ve been reading a great deal about this case and about the Stand your Ground law. Time Magazine had an interesting story about it this past week. The author discusses how it is crime in Florida to point your gun at someone, but if you shoot them under this law you can go free. It also discusses how the law came to be in Florida. (Unfortunately I don’t have the issue of Time with me and I’m having trouble logging in to my online account so I can’t tell you the author or name of the article. I believe it is called “The Law Heard Round the World”.)

    Zimmerman will find it difficult to get a fair trial if it ever comes to that point. Even if his lawyers ask for a change of venue it would still be hard to find a jury of people who haven’t formed opinions already. The case has received way too much media attention. But I agree with the previous comment in regards to Casey Anthony. I didn’t think they could find a jury for her trial either, but they did.


  3. I agree with Mary. This case is highly publicized and people are trying to present their own ideas as factual evidence when the truth is still unknown. Because race played a part in this case i do believe that finding a fair jury will be difficult but i think the Casey Anthony story is alot different because of the race factor that is apart of the equation. Personally i believe he is guilty because one he shouldn’t have been following him after the police told him not to because now cant Trayvon use that same “stand your ground” law as his reason for retaliation, and at the end of the day Zimmerman is an oversized man with a gun and Trayvon is a seventeen year old teenager with a bag of skittles and iced tea. It’s sad that our world still lives in this black and white age but It is what it is. God bless


  4. The Fact of the matter is that Zimmerman was not standing his ground! He pursued Trayvon even after the 911 dispatcher clearly said not to. This Florida case has nothing to do with self defense or the Stand Your Ground law. If Zimmerman would have remained in his car as instructed, there would have been no altercation leading to the death of this young man. Also for self defense to apply any reasonable person has to believe that your life would be in danger and it is your burden to prove that your life was in danger when using deadly force. Zimmerman was 10 years older, 100 pounds heavier, and armed with a handgun, no reasonable person would fear for their life when faced with these circumstances. They need to leave the self defense laws out of this case. If anyone needed self defense it was the 17 year old.


  5. I found it interesting how some of the news broadcasts altered Zimmerman’s call to the police. NBC broadcasted a phone call that went something like this:

    “There is a man walking around looking at all the houses. I think he’s up to no good…”

    “He must be on drugs or somethin..”

    “I think he’s black…”

    The actual call was something along the lines of this (excuse the inaccuracy; I’m going off what I heard of the news yesterday):

    “911 whats your emergency?”

    “There is a man walking around looking at all the houses. I think he’s up to no good…”

    “Does he seem to be in the right state of mind? Is he acting violent?”

    “He must be on drugs or somethin..”

    “What does the man look like?”

    “I think he’s black…”

    I find it interesting how the media chooses to alter stories to get a larger response. I don’t agree with Florida’s law, however I think there could be a possibility to another side of the story than the one we hear everyday. Normally this would be an easy racial case but the media’s lack of honesty has made me consider if there is more to the story than what we hear. I find it amazing that Zimmerman has escaped almost all criminal charges. One cannot say the policemen, the Florida court system, and everyone else who has played a roll in Zimmerman’s lack of criminal charges are “racist”. I am curious to read the full story to see what actually happened…


  6. Hi,
    I noticed a few things in your blog that I thought were interesting. First of all, I thought it was very online-class-like of you to find out about this murder in a meme. Then, I wondered what the significance of Skittles and iced tea was?


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