Quid Est Veritas? (What Is Truth?)

This is the predominant image of Trayvon Martin.

***Just after I wrote this post, Trayvon’s mother spoke to the media regarding her belief that the shooting was an accident.***

It’s the question Pilate asked of Jesus, even though he didn’t wait for an answer, and it’s the question a lot of folks seem to be asking in regards to the Trayvon Martin shooting: what is truth?

Even with the aid of a million journalistic pieces, countless talk radio ruminations, endless Facebook posts, and a seemingly infinite number of water cooler conversations, we may never know exactly what happened the night Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman. And the sad fact of the matter is, that seems to be the way some people want it.

I read the CNN story this morning on Zimmerman’s second-degree murder charge, as well as a story on Yahoo!, and the AJC. And in the interest of local voices, I read Brian Crawford’s open letter to Zimmerman too.

The story is messy. It’s polarizing. It raises questions about America’s continued issues with race, violence, guns, and justice. It is, to be perfectly honest, the kind of story that makes me want to stick my head in the sand and just read a couple more blogs about the Braves horrific start.

But while I was reading these stories this morning, I noticed that none of the pictures of Trayvon seem to match the story. I keep reading that he was an innocent 17 year old, and I don’t dispute that; but what flummoxes me is the fact that most of the pictures that accompany these stories are of Trayvon when he was considerably younger. In fact, this gallery on Yahoo! has pictures of Trayvon that seem to be at least five years old (Yahoo! cautiously notes that the pictures are “undated”). So I’m reading a story about a 17 year old but looking at pictures of a 12 year old?

Naturally, I started asking myself why?

Why not show Trayvon at the age he was killed? Why keep showing people photos that are clearly outdated?

The answers are as confusing as they are useless: maybe there weren’t any current photos of Trayvon. Maybe the current photos of Trayvon would portray him negatively. Maybe the media wants a better story, and what’s more juicy than a fresh-faced kid being shot by a scruffy looking old guy? Maybe it’s a conspiracy to foster racial warfare.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that there is no way to get the straight story. There is no way to get an honest account of the facts of that night because of the people who know the facts, one is dead and the other is apparently withdrawing into himself.

Quid est veritas? What is truth? Do we even know anymore? The cynic in me wants to scream at the top of his lungs that we are surrounded by a manipulative culture that wants a controlled narrative to better control the people. The idealist in me wants to argue for restrained observation, to see how it plays out and to trust that in the end all of the facts will come out. I want to believe that the truth will win, but the cynic seems to be gaining ground.

And in the midst of it all is the fact that I’m writing a blog about the issue, adding to the noise as it were, without offering anything but more conjecture and speculation.

I’m going to be honest: the fact that news outlets aren’t running pictures of Trayvon that are closer to his age (heck, I’d be happy seeing him at 15) makes me skeptical about Trayvon’s character. I have no right or reason to be skeptical, but the apparent desire to portray him as an innocent child just pushes me in that direction. And I’d feel the same way if you reversed the races. This skepticism is further heightened by the story that NBC ran an edited version of the 9-1-1 call that Zimmerman made the night of the shooting, a version that made Zimmerman seem racist.

I’m equally as skeptical of the people who are shouting that Zimmerman is a hero, and Trayvon was a hulking, snarling thug who deserved to be shot.

I guess the bottom line is I’m skeptical because I feel like someone, somewhere, isn’t telling me the truth. And that bothers me.

Maybe I’m being naive for believing that objective truth exists. Maybe I’m being a complete Pollyanna in this day and age for wanting something more than spin, opinion and hype. Maybe I’m just an idiot.

But it saddens me to know that Trayvon Martin won’t get justice, and neither will George Zimmerman, because justice is served by the truth. And it seems like no one wants the truth to be known.

3 thoughts on “Quid Est Veritas? (What Is Truth?)

  1. I have tried to avoid this story as much as possible, mostly because when I get passionate about something it is very hard for me to be silent. When it gets hard for me to be silebnt I can be quite bull headed. I have felt lied to since this first hit the news, and the reason is because there was so much initial bias and flat out warmongering in the media about the whole situation. It made it impossible to get the facts, rather we had to listen to every one elses opinion of fact. But the point you make goes much farther than this tragedy. We have a terrible system of media in America today. I’ll save my soap box for my blog, but this is a note we should all take. We should all ask the question, am I being told the truth by the media in regards to anything?

    • The media has some major flaws, that’s for sure. I think another good question to ask (and I wish I’d thought of it earlier) is what responsibility does the dilution of truth bear in all of this? In creating a society where objective truth no longer exists and subjective or personal truth is the rule, how could we ever hope to have media that actually tells us “fact” since we’re the arbiters of truth?

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