In what we desperately hope is not a trend, another Florida idiot with a gun has shot someone in cold blood for the offense of coming to his door (although to be scrupulously accurate, the armed citizen in this case is not actually claiming a “Stand Your Ground” defense — yet). But unlike other unrelated shootings in post-racial America, the shooter was witless enough to say something openly racist, both to neighbors and to the sheriff who arrested him. And some relatively good news: the victim of this isolated incident is expected to survive, for a change.
This time around, the singular event (which we must note is unrelated to other recent shootings) occurred in the town of Port St. Joe, Florida, population 3,440. According to the police report, 59-year-old Walton Henry Butler, a resident of an apartment complex, had earlier that day “made several racial remarks to the black children in the apartment complex.” After another resident complained that Butler had called her child a nigger, the victim, Everett Gant, 32, went to Butler’s apartment to talk to Butler about the incident. Butler immediately shot Gant in the face with a .22 caliber rifle, then “shut the sliding glass door with Everett Gant lying outside the door, called 911 then finished cooking supper, sat at the kitchen table and began eating.”
Upon his arrest, Butler, who acted alone in the isolated crime that happened to involve a firearm,
acted as if it was an inconvenienced [sic] when he was asked to stand up and handcuffs were put on. He said he did not understand the problem he had only shot a nigger.
Does this sound familiar? Perhaps this passage from a classic of American Literature will refresh your memory:
Now I struck an idea, and fetched it out:
“It warn’t the grounding — that didn’t keep us back but a little. We blowed out a cylinder-head.”
“Good gracious! anybody hurt?”
“No’m. Killed a nigger.”
Which, of course, is Mark Twain satirizing that sort of casual racism and brainless dehumanizing 130 years ago in the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Of course, Huck is a child and a naif, (not to mention a fictional character in a picaresque novel), while Walton Butler is an alleged adult who actually tried to kill another human being, so perhaps the comparison breaks down a little.
Butler has been charged with attempted murder, with a hate crime enhancement.