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!