"He's a no-account son of a bitch, he's just like a scum bag of the earth, I should have sued him and put him in jail."
William Zantzinger on Bob Dylan
Factual errors aside, Bob Dylan's 1963 protest song "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" brutally illustrated the fatal violence that can be visited on poor African-Americans with scant penalty for the guilty.
The song, recently given a spooky reading by Cage the Elphant, sadly still speaks to 21st century American racial relations as evidenced by the tragic death of Trayvon Martin in Florida in February of this year. While the evidence in this explosive case has not all been assembled, the fact that George Zimmerman* could walk away free after killing the unarmed youth he pursued against the advice of law enforcement is shocking. The coterie of far-right reactionaries willing to "philosophize disgrace" piles insult upon injury. There is no question that Zimmerman chased, shot and killed Martin and it is my belief that if there are any mitigating circumstances, they should be argued in front of a judge and jury, not played out in a media free-for-all.
Of course it was the reaction of people, in both the mainstream media and social media, that brought this issue to international attention, so let us play an oh-so-modest part in that reaction with this little batch of words and a song.
"The Lonesome Death Of Trayvon Martin” by American folk-punk-emo dude, Jonah Matranga is an earnest adaptation, which, like Dylan's original, seems to represent a gut reaction to the initial injustice rather a balanced account of the events. While this song will not likely be remembered when the crime's memory fades, it is, if nothing else, another indication of how the protest song will be spread ("Please feel free to share all of this in any way you like. Any money generated will go directly to Trayvon's family.") in the internet age.
*(Speaking of Bob Dylan and this case, has anyone noticed that George Zimmerman's father's name is Robert?)