"These parking assholes always get away!" "Should I confront them?" "We don't need you to do that." Seems familiar enough.— David Waldman (@KagroX) February 12, 2015
It was appropriate for Waldman to repurpose dialogue from George Zimmerman's famous 911 call on the night he killed Trayvon Martin, because, as The New York Times and The Washington Post tell us, Hicks had a Zimmermanesque vigilante self-image:
From the Times:
Neighbors knew Craig Stephen Hicks. He was the angry man on Summerwalk Circle, they said -- irritated about noise, irascible about parking, hostile to religion. And armed.He became angry not only when other neighbors parked in ways he didn't like but when this woman and her friends violated his personal noise standards while playing cards -- just as, according to Amina Ata, a friend of the murder victims, he became upset when they were animated while playing Risk.
Mr. Hicks was such a disruptive presence in the Finley Forest condominium complex that last year, residents held a meeting to talk about him....
“I have seen and heard him be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community,” said Samantha Maness, a resident of the complex. She said that Mr. Hicks had displayed “equal opportunity anger” and that “he kind of made everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe.”
Ms. Maness said Mr. Hicks would often seek to have cars towed from the complex’s lot, either because they did not have stickers or because he did not recognize them. And she said he would complain about noise -- he was upset when she and her friends were playing a card game and he thought they were too noisy, and he was again upset when she pulled into the lot with music playing loudly in her car.
And he seemed compelled to police everything he saw, like Zimmerman:
The Chapel Hill police released a report about a 2013 incident in which he apparently called them to complain that someone had allegedly grabbed a tow-truck driver’s arm while he was trying to tow a car. And just last month, he wrote on Facebook that he had called the police because he saw a couple having sex in a car in the parking lot.He had a favorite movie, as the Post notes:
His ex-wife, Cynthia Hurley, who divorced Hicks about 17 years ago, said his favorite film was “Falling Down,” in which a disgruntled and unemployed defense industry worker played by Michael Douglas goes on a shooting rampage.Yikes.
“That always freaked me out,” Hurley told the Associated Press. “He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at all.”
In both stories, we're told that Hicks was an equal-opportunity antagonist. And yes, it seems clear that he menaced people of more than race or creed. But as we see from Zimmerman, when you think everyone in the world apart from yourself is a potential miscreant, people of certain groups can seem more, um, miscreant-y than others, and their membership in a suspect group becomes one more crime against your personal moral code. In the case of Hicks, spoiling his complicated vision of platonically ideal parking in his neighborhood counted as one violation; making noise counted as another. And if your wife and her sister and friends wore hijabs? I guess that raised what these poor kids did to a capital offense. It must have been like Zimmerman seeing a hoodie.
Hicks was a gun nut, and all of this reveals a huge problem with the gun nuts' worldview. The gunners want you to believe that they're armed for self-defense, or for defense of a commonly agreed-upon notion of the community. But too many gun owners decide that they're the ones who get to decide what community values are and what crimes are. They're like anti-vaxxers: They don't care what professionals or people with expert knowledge think, and they don't care what the rest of the community thinks; they're going to make unilateral decisions, and to hell with what impact this has on the community. Sorry, but you can't trust people who think that way with the power of life and death over others.