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Kathleen Parker: A bullet through the heart

BY KATHLEEN PARKER Published: July 8, 2013
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The last question is most compelling. Can she?

Most mothers know the sound of their own child's cry from the moment of birth. Does this sort of attunement last through time? Logic suggests that as a child's dependency decreases, so does the acuteness of a mother's instinctive responses. But experience tells us that the mother-child bond does not diminish with time. Every dead soldier is still his mother's baby.

Would a mother recognize her son's cry for help on a recording? It is possible to believe so, while also possible not to believe so. Zimmerman's father testified that the voice belonged to his son.

Recordings often distort voices; other noises interfere. Further complicating are the unconscious desires or needs of the listener. A mother needs to believe that whatever harm came to her son was not his fault.

In fact, it was when defense attorney Mark O'Mara suggested that Fulton might have hoped to hear her son's voice that she uttered those five words and said, “I didn't hope for anything. I just simply listened to the tape.”

Trayvon Martin was undoubtedly a beloved son who didn't deserve to die. He was unarmed, on his way home from a convenience store. Did he attack George Zimmerman? Was Zimmerman so mortally afraid that he had no choice but to shoot the 158-pound Martin in the heart?

No one envies the terrible decision these jurors must make. Matters were made worse Friday when medical examiner Shiping Bao testified that Martin likely lived another one to 10 minutes and opined that he suffered and was in pain. Another pang.

Maternal instinct may not be a reliable witness, but in the absence of verifiable truth, she/it may prove to be the bullet through the heart of this case.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP