On Jordan Davis’ Killer and Other Pertinent Matters

Judson L. Jeffries, PhD

What surprised me was not that the majority white jury deadlocked on the first degree murder charge, but that the jurors actually found Dunn guilty of three counts of second-degree attempted murder. Dunn’s demeanor in court and his behavior in the minutes and hours following the shooting mirrored that, which Dr. Bobby E. Wright described in his 1984 work The Psychopathic Racial Personality. According to Wright the white psychopathic racial personality is someone who:

a)    has a total disregard for the rights of others
b)    is completely callous
c)    is unable to experience guilt
d)  takes advantage of Blacks without any hint of guilt, anxiety or threat to their self-esteem and
e)    is bereft of ethical and moral development

Let’s see. On November 2012 a boisterous argument ensues over loud music and the rational response, in the mind of this middle age white guy, is to retrieve a fire arm from his vehicle and fire ten rounds into a car in which sat four fresh-faced teenagers. Afterwards Dunn and his lady friend drove to their hotel where he reportedly ordered pizza and spent the night. According to his companion, Dunn seemed unmoved by what had transpired. Well, why would he be unsettled or shaken by the day’s events? After all, history, recent history at that, was on his side. Hell, Florida history was presumably on his side. All that was required of Dunn was for him to remember to convincingly repeat the all-too familiar refrain “I feared for my life”, “I feared for my life”, “I really feared for my life!” when questioned by the police. Dunn was apparently so unfazed by what he had done that calling the police did not figure into his evening plans. What many might consider an anomalous sequence of events was seemingly normal for Dunn, a psychopath whose world view was undoubtedly tainted by race.

Imagine this. Dunn pulls into a gas station and seconds later a carload of Goth, grunge looking white kids pulls alongside him. Dunn asks them to turn down their radio from which Marilyn Manson is blaring at ungodly (no pun intended) decibels. An argument erupts at which point Dunn reaches into the glove compartment, pulls out a gun and fires ten shots into the car, killing one of the kids. He drives more than an hour away, gets a room, orders pizza and settles in for the night without so much as notifying the authorities. Can you imagine that? No, you can’t, because it’s unthinkable, so unfathomable that it resembles (and this is a stretch) a wicked, demented and perverse iteration of Albert Camus’ theatre of the absurd. In other words, the mere suggestion is ludicrous, because it wouldn’t happen.

Despite the fact that the jury could not come to terms on the first degree murder charge, it is likely that Dunn will spend the remainder of his life behind bars along with scores of other devil incarnates. Sadly, however, Dunn’s imprisonment will probably do little to deter other grown men from snuffing out the lives of Black boys believing that in the end white privilege places them above the rule of law. While Dunn was clearly the culprit in this matter I can’t help but wonder if we bear some responsibility for Jordan Davis’ murder; and Trayvon Martin’s too for that matter. The great Rev. Vernon Johns of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama spoke powerfully to this very matter in a 1949 sermon titled “It’s Safe to Murder Negroes.” Click on the video below to hear Johns’ sermon as delivered by James Earl Jones in the 1994 biopic The Vernon Johns Story. His words are no less poignant and appropriate today than they were sixty five years ago.