Dear Mr. Zimmerman,
If I could apologize properly for this not being the only message addressed to you in the following weeks, months... or years after your acquittal, I would do just that, but I can't. It is one message that you most certainly do not wish to hear, but one that could very well help you in ways you cannot, at your tender age, yet imagine.
Simply put, the message is this:
I feel very, very sorry for you.
No, I do not feel sorry for you for the reasons that so many others would put forth. Although I'm very disappointed that many would lower themselves to threats, whether sincere or blown wind. There is a far better reason that all of us, every person that knows of you should feel sorrow rather than hatred for you. The death threats are a terrible, stupid thing. Whether you 'deserve' those threats or not is not up to me, it is up to society. A civilized society does not threaten a man with death without due process, and due process was yours. Death threats should be out of the question.
I'm disappointed that you might feel, for many months, years, or longer, that you have to 'watch your back'. I sincerely hope that your back is well-watched, that you are safe, and that you have a bulwark of friends and family to keep you that way. It is shameful to have to acknowledge that we must create such defenses in what should be a civilized society. To do so is an acknowledgment that we are not, after all, civilized.
This should bring us to the point at hand.
We all know some particular facts about that day. I'm not going to pain you or anyone else with the minutia after all the coverage this nation willingly subjected itself to. You know the bottom line: You killed an unarmed person.
Now, let's get to why I feel sorry for you; You had a choice. Ultimately you made the choice to shoot him. When faced with that choice, you decided that a 17 year-old that weighed 60 or more pounds less than you, who hadn't had the martial arts training that your instructor testified that you sucked at, was a threat to your life. At least that's the version of the story that the jury believed, and I'm not going to presume that it wasn't Truth Sacrosanct. In fact I presume that it is exactly, perfectly, 100% Absolute Truth.
And you shot him. You killed him. It is permanent.
I do not pretend to be perfect. I am not in any way so. I'm not 'better' than you, I'm not your moral superior in any way. We fuck up in life, that's the only guarantee. But you have made one fact of your existence absolute, whether you will acknowledge it or not, whether you think it affects you or not:
You are a Coward.
You were afraid of death in a situation where death seldom ever occurs: a fist fight. Call it grappling, call it whatever you want. Only the very well trained can kill with their bare hands and a bag of Skittles™. No 17 year-old in Florida in recent memory has had that kind of training. So you just about wet yourself when you pulled your piece, didn't you? Again, that's what the jury believed; you were in a fight for your life. You did what you had to do.... etc.
Your story is that you believed you could be killed or devastatingly injured by a skinny teenager.
I feel sorry for you because that is your identity [i]forever[/i]. You will exist on this planet for however long as someone who capitulated in fear to an adversary and used a bought piece of lethal power in a moment of panic to save his urine-drenched ass.
But that's not the only reason to feel sorry for you.
Your family is there for you, and for that you are blessed. May the Divine bless them as well. For they are in for a difficult time. I very much hope that you all stay safe and insulated from the uncivilized people that might threaten you. I feel very badly that your family knows you as well as they do. Obviously they will tell everyone that you were getting your ass handed to you by a skinny 17 year-old when asked. It's their duty, as your family, to defend you. The very sad part is that they know the truth. Whether that truth is the one you've laid out, or something much more heinous about your entire family's attitudes on race is ultimately irrelevant. Because they know in their hearts too that you were a coward.
They'll say otherwise. Obviously. But what they also won't tell you is how your act of cowardice changed their lives... and not for the better. You've now burdened them with yourself for the rest of your life. They seem to be wonderful people, so I have no doubt that they will stand by you no matter what. Again I must say how sad it is that this society is not civilized enough that your verdict did not immunize you to the threats of those less civilized. But society is supposed to be about civility.
And what is civility?
It is the use of reason in society to promote the welfare of the populace in small or large groups, and for the purpose of assuaging fear so that we may deal mindfully with one-another rather than with suspicion and prejudice.
In other words, Mr. Zimmerman, you were not 'civil'. You acted out of fear. Call it prejudice, call it hatred, call it profiling. You determined that an innocent teenager wasn't where he belonged for whatever reason. You stalked him, he fought you, and you killed him in one of the most spectacular acts of cowardice ever read into court records.
From The Bard: [b]”Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.”[/b]
I do not envy you the sorts of metaphorical deaths that await you. They may be in turning over in your mind how your life could have been if you didn't engage the 'suspect'. They may be the ways your family looks at you so very differently since you disrupted their lives so permanently. The simple truth is this: I cannot know what will torment you, for even at my moments of cowardice, I have never taken a life.
It is because of the future that awaits you, the one future you built and will cower in, I pity you.
Stay safe, may your family be blessed, and may you glean some insight or wisdom that will allow you to work through the terrible times ahead.
I do not envy you those coming times.
G. S. Croft