By Ben Cohen: I like Spike Lee’s movies, and I generally respect Spike Lee. He sometimes wades in on sensitive race issues with thoughtless and questionable comments, but his intelligence, talent and willingness to challenge conventional stereotypes with art has, I believe, had a positive impact on debate in America. His contribution to the film industry and American culture is immense and he is rightfully regarded as an icon.
While Lee has put his foot in his mouth on occasion, he has behaved disgracefully over the killing of Trayvon Martin, re-tweeting the supposed address of the accused killer George Zimmerman. Lee got the address wrong and an elderly couple was forced to evacuate their home due to threats and continuous harassment.
For some reason, the media seems to be focusing on the fact that an innocent couple were caught up in the cross fire. This is of course, awful, and Lee is criminally culpable for putting them at risk. But worse is the fact that Lee took it upon himself to advertise the address of Zimmerman – a man who by law is innocent until proven guilty.
I have written on this topic recently, expressing sympathy for the family of Martin and the anger shown by the public. However, I don’t know all the facts behind the killing and refuse to judge Zimmerman until all the evidence has been presented. We have been overwhelmed with the narrative defending Martin, and heard far less from the other side. As it stands, I am extremely skeptical of Zimmerman’s version of events, but that could change as more evidence emerges.
The public is right to be outraged over the fact that Zimmerman was let go after he was arrested, but inciting mobs to go to his house is not the way to go about rectifying the situation. Someone could have been seriously hurt, or perhaps worse, and Spike Lee would have been liable for any crime committed against Zimmerman or whoever lived at the address he tweeted.
There should be a campaign to make sure the police properly investigate the killing of Trayvon Martin, and it should be done through peaceful protest and legal action. Spike Lee has cheapened the attempt to uncover the truth behind the tragic killing, and he should be ashamed of himself.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.