A life was not lost. A life was taken. Stolen. Jordan Davis did not live to celebrate his 19th birthday today. He was shot by Michael Dunn. Michael Dunn drove away from the scene like this was a normal event. I don’t understand. I don’t understand any of it.
The jury verdict is in. Dunn has been convicted of four out of five charges, but the main charge of murder in the first degree has been declared a mistrial. I don’t understand why yet, but legal analysis will surely be published soon.
“This defendant was disrespected by a 17-year-old teenager, and he lost it. He wasn’t happy with Jordan Davis’ attitude. What was his response? ‘You’re not going to talk to me like that,'” Wolfson said. “He took these actions because it was premeditated. It was not self-defense.”
I’m a parent. We all have moments of anger over the behaviour of teenagers. We don’t shoot them. This trial carries headlines of “the loud music trial” in much of the reporting in the USA. It isn’t a “loud music trial” it is a murder trial. A teenager was shot and killed.
Many white feminists wonder why women of colour don’t find much in the feminist movement for them. I was discussing this with a friend this morning before this verdict came in, so I am reminded of that conversation now. Racism is a far greater threat. As a mother of children of colour, I can tell you what I am sitting here worrying about the most. Not will I manage to score a seat on the board, my main worry is will my kids live to their old age. Will I see my grandchildren?
Yes, both Trayvon and Jordan lost their lives in the USA, not Australia. Yes, I know the USA has bigger problems than we do, but that doesn’t stop a mother worrying. Our problems in Australia are far from non-existent and we know that all too well.
Huffington Post reports the following words were used by Dunn in a letter from jail to his grandmother:
The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots, when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.
If that is his mindset, he probably did think he had every right in the world to silence people “unlike him”. Or was he just trying to back up his version of events that he had been threatened? I don’t know, but I DO know he advocates killing.
I haven’t pulled all my thoughts together yet on this case at all. I’m just writing what I feel at this time. I do know this, like every other mother of a non-white child living in a predominantly white society, I feel fear deep in my gut. I sure as hell know feminism fades in importance when the lives of my children are a more immediate concern.
Please visit the Walk With Jordan Foundation and support the work of Lucia Kay McBath, Jordan’s mother, and her husband and family. Although separated by the seas, we can reach out and share experiences and work together for a better future for our children.
Apropos your comment on the experiment – I knew of a French one, conducted soon after the Second World War, to specifically find out what had happened in the death camps – to understand the ‘banality of evil’. Same sort of result as your link indicates. This whole issue is well removed, of course, from the US case you posted about – nothing in common.
For me, however, it raises general questions about all of us – about the fundamentals of the human condition, which we all share irrespective of time, place or culture. What are we vulnerable to in this sense? What conditioning – social, indirect or direct – can provoke behaviours? Can this explain some of what happens that we find undesirable? And – which to me is the clincher – if we can understand what it is that causes any kind of undesirable behaviour…maybe we can also understand what might provoke desirable conduct – kindness?
My guess, initially at this stage, is that an awful lot flows from the ‘validation’ mechanism.Usually it ends up being expressed as power (compensating for a perceived lack thereof).
Off topic relative to your post, but it’s an interesting line of investigation…and, like all such things, maybe it’ll bear results that flow back into a wider understanding. How do people intellectualise themselves into behaviours of any kind? Huge question, that.
Your comment makes me think of another issue raised in Australia recently and written about in The Guardian’s Comment Is Free section. Some of the comments are an education in themselves, yet seem to perhaps fit to the question of how do people intellectualise themselves into undesirable behaviour. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/14/sexual-assault-western-sydney-race
I won’t say more about the comments, although mine is here http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/32004592
If we can understand what would provoke desirable behaviour, we could would certainly have made a wonderful scientific discovery!
Interestingly, I read another study today you may be interested in (and they do say at the end of the article they change the colours) about the concept of nature versus nurture. Are babies born with a moral code? http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/12/us/baby-lab-morals-ac360/index.html Now when I was studying CPA, we were taught essentially no, that ethical behaviour (or was it integrity? I forget) doesn’t develop until much later in life and sometimes never.
You are right – it is a huge question.
This comment is published for Trudy, her comment didn’t publish, as per her comment on Facebook.
I’m trying to make some sense out of a similar attitude shown by police yesterday. I’m not saying they are killers but two officers in particular had the same attitude as this killer and one day, who knows?
I was on the TJ Hickey memorial march yesterday – a noisy but well behaved and peaceful crowd of about 200. The two officers – both bicycle cops, one Asian-Australian – were not happy with the crowd and tried to provoke some response from some young men. Over balancing their bikes into the marchers and shoving one who declined to shove back which made him really angry. So he did it again and got the desired response from another. And so started the first of the “ugly scenes” the media played up. I’m wondering how far they would have gone if there had not been so many witnesses.
At the end, Barry O’Farrell’s new offensive language laws were applied liberally in all directions and what we knew would happen did happen. The Police will use these against all the people they do not approve of. A good illustration of why people are still protesting against what the police did to TJ and continue to do against his family.
Trudy, thank you for sharing your experience. I hope your experience will encourage people to stop and think. My concern is so many read these reports and think “only in America”, but the reality is, it isn’t only in America. I agree they have the added issue of no gun control, but it the attitudes I am concerned about.
In this case the altercation wasn’t even over loud music for months from a neighbour’s house or unit – it was total strangers at a petrol station! Not that loud music for months from a neighbour’s house is any excuse for murder, but I’m merely highlighting the TOTAL irrationality of this shooting.
It’s true – the mind set into which the whole world seems to be falling is frightening. What ever became of caring for each other’s well-being, for respect, for kindness? If we all chose to validate each other – by which I mean ‘all of us’, as humans – the hate would go away.
I don’t know Matthew but it is a worry. How on earth could a person SHOOT people and then just drive away and order pizza? It is beyond me.
It’s beyond me too. It’s not an isolated case. Analytically, it’s potentially because such people have intellectualised themselves into what by your or my standards amounts to psychosis. In this case, likely self-induced, but it’s well recognised that this same style of response can be achieved by external conditioning. Repeated tests have identified the innate mechanism, and it’s where death camp guards came from. Very, very scary. Damn, I wish more people just had a proper attitude of acceptance and care! The world would be so much nicer.
Yes, I read some very interesting research conducted by an American university and the results were so dramatic they had to shut down the experiment. I will try to find that article again.
I am also seeing a lot of information come out now about the type of person Dunn was, but am waiting to see some validation before linking to what could be nothing more than rumour at the moment.
I found some details of the experiment I referred to. Did I originally learn about this from you? I think I may have. http://www.bbcprisonstudy.org/bbc-prison-study.php?p=17
It scares me at times…where the world is headed.
I agree. We seem to be going backwards. Devolving instead of evolving, perhaps.