Smith: Judge people by what they do

Robin Smith
photo Robin Smith
A 54-year-old Miami woman, Gwendolyn Jenrette, returned to her home at 5:30 p.m. on March 1 to find a 17-year-old male climbing out of a window. Following a confrontation, the female shot Trevon Johnson in protecting her property and personal safety. The juvenile repeat offender was taken to a local trauma center and later succumbed to his injuries.

The family of Trevon Johnson now is calling for the prosecution of Jenrette and demanding "justice" for him.

Speaking to a local CBS affiliate, Nisha Johnson, the dead teen's sister, angrily demanded of the property owner, "What's wrong with her? She did not have to shoot him." A cousin of the Johnsons, Nautika Harris, declared: "I don't care if she [did] have her gun license or any of that. That is way beyond the law way beyond."

Harris continued to defend the actions of her dead cousin: "You have to look at it from every child's point of view that was raised in the hood. You have to understand how he gonna get his money to have clothes to go to school? You have to look at it from his point of view."

Jenrette's home, a duplex that backs up to railroad tracks in a high-crime part of town, had been targeted previously by thieves. The home was located a few blocks from the home of the deceased. According to The Washington Post's account, the Sunshine State's "Stand Your Ground" laws that permit property owners to defend against crimes against personal property and persons were to blame.

The Post lamented the "slaying" of the teen by asking if the victim of the crime, Jenrette, could "be forgiven" for choosing to act before police arrived. The actual victim of crime was standing her ground and "justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony" and "does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be."

But, let's ask a few questions.

When is it acceptable for someone to "get his money" by stealing from someone else?

When is it "unforgiveable" to defend what you've worked for and rightfully own from criminals?

When is it socially acceptable to be indignant in anger, making demands rather than standing with regret at the criminal behavior of your family member?

The entitled beliefs expressed by these women explain clearly why their family member is deceased. Excusing deliberately lawless behavior is not only just socially unacceptable, it's indefensible.

There's a lot of truth to the repeated line in the 1994 Academy Award-winning movie "Forrest Gump" that was offered up by the lovable but slow-witted young man echoing his "momma" that "Stupid is as stupid does."

The interpreted meaning of this line, whether from Google Answers or applying Bible verses, is simple: "Judge people by what they do, not by how they appear."

Robin Smith, a former chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, is owner of Rivers Edge Alliance.