Warning, Social Commentary Ahead

M’kay, for anyone confused or complaining about the different reactions to the Trayvon Martin shooting and the recent murder of Christopher Lane, let me explain why the comparison is a false equivalence.

First, no one is saying that white-on-black crime is more serious or less forgivable than the reverse. Anyone who thinks this is the root issue here is missing the point entirely. Any death is a tragedy, regardless of race. But what made the Trayvon Martin shooting different from the murder of Christopher Lane wasn’t the race of the shooters, but the reaction of the police.

When Christopher Lane was killed, the police came and immediately arrested the three suspects. Then in a very short amount of time, the DA filed formal murder charges against them. That’s how this is supposed to work. Someone is killed, the person responsible gets arrested and charged.

That didn’t happen with Martin and Zimmerman. In that case, an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a man who had been chasing him in his car. When the police arrived, they performed a perfunctory investigation, asking only a few questions, then simply left. Zimmerman killed an unarmed boy, just as Lane was, but instead of being arrested on the spot, he was let free. It was over a month before public pressure mounted to the point that the police and DA did their jobs and arrested and charged Zimmerman.

THAT is the difference, the perception of unequal treatment by the police on the grounds of race. When you understand that, you understand that the public reaction to the Christopher Lane shooting isn’t an example of some double-standard, but simply confirmation that white victims and suspects receive preferential treatment from the police in this country.

And that perception is born out by everyday reality. In every meta-analysis that has been done, blacks are arrested at a far higher rate than whites, charged at a far higher rate, and convicted at a far higher rate. When making direct comparisons when the same crimes are charged, whites are more likely to have charges dropped, more likely to be offered favorable plea-bargains, more likely to be acquitted, and when they are convicted, are given more lenient sentences on average. Whites are also far less likely to face the death penalty, even for the same crimes.

These are the facts. Our Justice system has a race problem, and right or not, the Trayvon Martin case became a rallying point for many generations of frustration and anger. That’s the difference between these cases, so please stop pretending they are in any way equivalent.

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