What exactly was Spike Lee thinking? Obviously, outrage and sadness over the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. After all, as the facts continue to come in, who has not been shaking their head in disbelief at what appears to be more senseless violence resulting in the loss of life of a young African American. It is an epidemic and a tragedy.
Yet, it would appear in recent days, through his actions, that Lee rushed to judgement with a profound lack of judgement. Thinking he had found the address of George Zimmerman, the man that shot Martin, he retweeted the home address of an elderly couple in their 70s whose son, William George Zimmerman, is not related to the shooter. As a result, the couple was forced to flee their homes in fear of possible repercussions.
Lee has since apologized and compensated the couple who took refuge at a local hotel but at what cost to society and social media? I have witnessed firsthand the abuse of Twitter by outside interlopers with no respect for the medium and the way it should be utilized. Considering in particular his vast following and position as a thought leader, Lee’s actions were irresponsible, reprehensible and could well have resulted in more violence, perhaps worse.
It should be a lesson to us all. Where such emotionally charged issues are at hand, it is important to step back and think before we speak (or tweet); celebrities even more so. And where violence is involved, inciting more is far from the answer. It is the problem – not the solution.