Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Politics of Naked Apes: Did George Zimmerman Kill Because He is a Failed Alpha Male?

[I have received some very kind emails in response to my series of pieces on the George Zimmerman trials and his killing of Trayvon Martin. I have been following this case since the beginning and will continue to offer my thoughts and observations on it through to the duration. 

Those essays here and on the Daily Kos have brought quite a few new readers to We Are Respectable Negroes. As I do during such moments, I inaugurate an informal fundraising drive. Some kind folks have thrown some money into the virtual begging bowl. I very appreciate that. I doubly appreciate it given that this is a holiday weekend and money is being spent on festivities, food, and frivolity.

I do not advertise or monetize my work here on WARN. I also choose not to run advertisements or sponsorship because I want to remain independent. Random monies thrown into the tip jar Paypal bucket are however always appreciated. My work here and elsewhere are labors of love. However, I never refuse encouragement.]


I do believe the sociobiology offers some helpful insights into human behavior. These insights are not whole explanations for complex human social behavior. But, the argument that human beings are driven by instinct, and that society offers a thin veneer to control and mask these behaviors, is quite compelling.

At this late hour, The 24/7 news cycle has become circular in its discussions of the Trayvon Martin case. Zimmerman defenders see him being exonerated; Trayvon's advocates see the prosecution as having done enough to win over the jury. 

There was one truth-teller on the Piers Morgan show who dared to state the obvious: just because Zimmerman is a negrophobe does not give him the right to go around killing innocent black people as a function of his personally maladaptive emotional behavior. We need more voices in the media who speak with such clarity and forthrightness.

National Geographic has a great series called Ape Man which is worth watching if you are at all curious about the deep biological origins of human behavior as reflections of our primate origins. The first episode explores the "alpha male" phenomenon. As detailed by the show, the desire for men to control territory, opportunities for reproduction, i.e. passing one's DNA to sex partners, and to achieve and maintain social dominance over others are key elements in alpha male behavior.

By all accounts, Zimmerman is a serial screw up and failure. He was not able to become a police officer, and instead chose to be a one person block watch unit. In all, George Zimmerman is a paranoid racist obsessive who fixates on "those people" that to his standards do not "belong" in "his" neighborhood. Zimmerman's efforts at playing toy cop are an over-compensation for some type of social insecurity mated with the psychic wages of whiteness. 

I wonder, was Zimmerman an alpha male who could not achieve the power and authority he yearned for in day-to-day life? And when Zimmerman, as a naked ape, picked a fight that he was not prepared for--and in which he was unable to control his own personal space--did he in a panic use lethal violence because his vulnerabilities and inadequacies were so exposed?


Dave said...

I think that you nailed it.
We are indeed funny animals.
This is is too bad, but this struggle is real, whether we are capable of recognizing this fact or not.
Thank you for bringing a voice to this notion.

chauncey devega said...

Instinct plus a sense of power and hierarchy and that "those people" should submit to people "like me" is a tried and true formula for tragedy.

Dave said...

Consent Is funny (big) thing we all best get our heads around at some point.
Sadly, there seems to be too much hardwiring of our wetware that gets in the way.

OL GRIFFIN said...

plays out in the subset called 'the hood' all too often .. more outrage needs to gio there as well

CNu said...

lol, Zimmerman did what he did for exactly the same reason you delete factual comments which put the lie to your race-studies pearl clutching.

Now we see that arid drivel dressed up with "borrowed" killer-ape ethology..., your "brand" is so weak CDV - that not even Amway could move these kits.

chauncey devega said...

I agree. But how did it play out here?

Elly said...

This seems right to me...

I actually know someone who's a wannabe-but-cannot-be cop, who fits the "over-compensation for social insecurity" description to a "T." He's not a "paranoid racist obsessive" like Zimmerman, but he's been working methodically for years to be ready for that moment when a "good guy with a gun" is needed. It's part of his identity.

IMHO, there's something chilling about people whose self-confidence derives from their ability to apply deadly force, even if they never actually do. If you want to be a hero, it seems to me that lifeguard or volunteer fire fighter would be better choices... except there are no dominance thrills to be had.

pjwhite said...

The whole "alpha male" phenomenon is the root of all evil. Here is a great article about what happens when "alpha males" are eliminated from a baboon society. And if this can work for baboons, it can certainly work for us humans.

Also, pardon my obscenity, but I think "Asshole Males" is a more accurate term than "Alpha Males". REAL alpha males are those strong enough to choose cooperation and compassion.

chauncey devega said...

what is his weakness? why do some find strength in rendering pain on others? we all idolize our parents. but, i learned lots from my dad. he was an old head who fought in ww2. he killed lots people as his battle record indicated. he had contempt for bullies. why is that?

chauncey devega said...

make a t-shirt! I will check that link. do be sure to give me kickbacks!

OL GRIFFIN said...

" But how did it play out here?" It is playing out with needless deATHS & THE COMMUNITY IS ACCEPTING IT AS THE NORM. caps unintended but unchanged LOL

Elly said...

What is weakness of the guy I described? He seems to see the world (or at least certain aspects of it) in almost cartoonish terms.

I once intervened in an online conversation he was having with two other guys about heroism and courage. I wasn't originally part of it, but I broke in when the pattern became obvious: they were trying to "one up" each other with examples of ultimate bravery, and all they could manage were TV/movie tropes: descriptions of soldiers (WWII and Civil War), jut-jawed explorers braving the elements, etc.

And - of course - there was the inevitable lament that "we" are "pussies" by comparison.

It was pretty revealing. They were bothered by the fact that they'd never had to fear for their lives... and this was a bad thing, rather than a blessing. The display of imagination, empathy and history FAIL was pretty mind-blowing.

chauncey devega said...

Ahh those men who yearn for "great battles" and "struggles" but would somehow fail to be present when the time of most need and combat came.

FLeFlore said...

Chauncey -- You are brilliant! I love your analyses of many issues, both contemporary and historical. Thank you for providing us with excellent, insightful articles.

chauncey devega said...

How sweet and kind. Even when the copyright monster take videos down. You gonna make me blush.