What If Trayvon's Case Had Been About Rape?

The blame-the-victim treatment isn't right in sexual assault. It's not right in killings, either.

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Trayvon Martin's parents and brother with the Rev. Al Sharpton
at Trayvon rally (Earl Gibson III/WireImage/Getty Images)

Consider this scenario: Aroused by an attractive teenager in a halter top walking through his neighborhood, a Sanford, Fla., man was instructed to stand down by police, but instead he provoked an encounter that ended tragically with the assault and rape of the 17-year-old girl.

After showing authorities scratches on his face and arms that he claimed were inflicted by the rape victim, the pursuer was promptly released by the local police chief that night after discussions with the detained man's father, who is a retired judge.

Sound familiar?

This scenario, minus the complicating race factor, approximates the rough outline of what we've learned about George Zimmerman's encounter with Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26. Contrary to distracting media accounts, the "Stand your ground" law is clearly not applicable to Zimmerman here because he ignored police instructions and advanced on Trayvon's ground. The ordinance may well apply instead to the victim's reaction to a man moving toward him with a Kel-Tec PF-9 9 mm pistol.

Though the hypothetical rape tragedy described here is not lethal, as it was in Trayvon's case, the "arousal" motive is similar, the execution approximate; and the behavior by officials should be no less troubling to those concerned about judicial fairness in a civil society.

Cops in both the real and hypothetical cases gave the aroused pursuer the benefit of every doubt and, in the Trayvon incident, initially dismissed the victim's defenders as frivolous petitioners, lacking the attacker's connection to city hall and police headquarters.

In the Trayvon case the local media also failed flat out in their responsibility to inform the citizenry in sufficient detail -- or in any detail during the first few weeks -- so that residents could reach a sovereign decision. It was instead left to Trayvon's parents and supporters, over a period of weeks, to energize residents, and social media to protest the official whitewash by blackout.

"She was wearing a halter top and tight jeans, very provocative," would, in our hypothetical rape, match the sentiments actually voiced by Geraldo Rivera, the has-been who never was much of a reporter.

"Slut gear" is likely how Rivera would describe her clothing as "probable cause" in justifying the rape of the mature-looking-for-her-age victim.

"I think what's far more significant is what Trayvon Martin looked like on that night, Bill," is how Rivera actually attributed blame to Trayvon for his own death in a recent discussion with Bill O'Reilly on his TV show. During the same discussion, he accused Trayvon of dressing in "thug wear" (read: slut gear) on the night of his killing and not looking like the kid that he was.

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