Not even the Dignity of a Dog

Imagine, you see a stray dog in your neighborhood.   Since you have been in your neighborhood for sometime, you are familiar with all the dogs in your neighborhood, and this dog is definitely not from your neighborhood.  While it is simply sitting on a sidewalk, your instincts for safety kicks in.  You are well aware of the dangers that  a wild, undisciplined, or even rabid dog can present to your neighborhood.  So, you call the county animal control agency, and you describe that menacing canine to them.  To your surprise, animal control does not share the same degree of alarm, but states that they will send a unit to investigate the dog right away.  They specifically ask you not to approach the dog.  The dog notices you watching it and begins to move into a yard.  You become more alarmed as the villainous vermin is now coming closer and closer to his vicious potential.  You get out of your car and the dog begins to run.  You chase the dog until it is cornered, and the dog bares his teeth.  You know, as anyone who has observed dogs, that baring teeth is a sign of aggression and hostile intent, therefore you take a stick and begin to hit the dog, hoping it will run away.  The dog begins to yelp and bark with each blow and finally lunges at you.  Luckily for you, you have a loaded firearm that you carry on your person at all times to protect yourself against the threat of wild and vicious dogs (although statistically, there are very few actual wild and vicious dogs in your neighborhood, according the the animal control groups).  You discharge your weapon and kill the dog, thus making the neighborhood safe against the threat of the menacing dog.  Just then the owner of the dog reappears as well as the police, who had been summoned due to the barking and yelping.  With righteous indignation, you claim self defense and proclaim that you were simply protecting the neighborhood.  The neighborhood and the owner mourns.

Several years ago, the nation was in an uproar of the vicious and malicious treatment of dogs by Michael Vick and his dog-fighting cronies.  There were no witnesses that actually saw Michael Vick beat, kill, or mistreat dogs, but the dog fighting occurred on his property and was backed by his money.  He was arrested immediately, charged, convicted, and even after he served his sentences, was protested against as a monster.

I am convinced that Trayvon Martin would have gotten more justice if he would have been canine.  The imaginary story above is recreated using the information that has come forth from the story thus far.  Even in the imaginary scenario, there is compassion for the dog and a pragmatic approach that says the shooter had no right to kill a dog in which he was clearly provoking.

I have a son who is 18 years old, and guess what, sometimes he wears hoodies.  He has never been in legal trouble and has academic and athletic success at a College in NY.  Yet, I look at the Trayvon Martin case, and all I can see is my own son.  All I can think is that all of his hard work, his strong character, his powerful faith would not have protected him from the suspicions and fears of a man with a gun.

In Florida, the shooter claimed self defense and according to law enforcement officers, that trumped the right of Trayvon to simply exist in that neighborhood.  The initial law enforcement officers immediately believe the shooters story, do not detain him, and do not even take his gun for evidence.  I tell you, it would have been better off for him to be a dog. (see this story for a Florida detective talking about dog law)

I know that people have strong opinions regarding this case and that an investigation by Federal and State authorities is underway as we speak, but the bottom line is that a young man is dead for no reason other than his presence provoked fear in another.  Can you imagine if Trayvon was your son, or daughter, and significant other?

Trayvon has not received the dignity that a dog would get in this situation.

Lets demand more from ourselves.  Lets demand that we see the image of God in each individual, and that while we are not naive to think that there are no evil or malicious persons, that we protect the rights of individuals to have "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".  These are our children after all!

I would love to hear your thoughts,

God bless,

Pastor M Traylor