My Quick Take on The Martin-Zimmerman Incident

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1.  I did not want to be the guy coming out and saying “This situation might be more complicated than it appears.”

     

    Well done.Report

  2. Whoops, this was supposed to go on Potted Plant. Now I’ll need to find a picture.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Max says:

      Seems that would be evidence for the prosecution.

      (Okay, and now I definitely do need to be going to bed.)Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Max says:

      Umm, they guy in that video looks nothing like the mug shot of Zimmerman.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Max says:

      This jives with the story that the police report was amended after the fact to add details about his injuries.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Max says:

      The Daily Caller has an enhanced still that may or may not show an injury on the back of his head.

      Really, the resolution on that video isn’t good enough to rule out the presence of a wound, especially if there were paramedics at the scene–which I would expect, with the shooting–who cleaned it up a bit.. That watermark at the bottom isn’t helping much, either.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Max says:

      I’ve watched that video several times now, comparing it to George Zimmerman’s mug shot.  The mug shot shows a guy with pretty thick hair up front, even though it’s cut short, but the video appears to show a guy who’s head is shaved pretty close.  On the video, look closely at about the 1:27 mark, when they walk into the interrogation room and you can see the man from the front.

      It just doesn’t look to me like it could be the same guy as in the mug shot.  Is that just me?  How does it look to the rest of you?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:

        Is the publicly available image of Zimmerman his mug shot from this incident?  If so, I agree that the difference gives me great pause.  If it is a file photo, either from his earlier arrest or is not a mug shot at all, than I don’t know what to think.

        Why is information coming out in all these shady drips and drabs?Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Kazzy says:

          Because it’s being leaked by different interested parties.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

          Kazzy,

          Good question. I assumed it was from this incident. There are rumors he’s been violent in the past, but I haven’t heard about any prior arrests, so I’m still assuming for the moment that it’s a current mug shot.  But perhaps not.Report

          • Avatar Will H. in reply to James Hanley says:

            It’s from his earlier arrest.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will H. says:

              OK, if that’s the case then my comment is withdrawn. The size, shape, and facial features of the guy look similar enough to accept that it was him.  I was just wondering how his hair managed to grow out so fast. 😉  Thanks.Report

          • Zimmerman’s mug shot was from 7 years ago.

            Ironically, the “outdated” Trayvon picture that people complain as “too cute” (and sympathetic) is more accurate than the Zimmerman mugshot that has been circulating for weeks.

            If they had charged him, we’d all be seeing a more accurate picture.Report

            • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jeff Wong says:

              Ironically, the “outdated” Trayvon picture that people complain as “too cute” (and sympathetic)

              So, it was an /accident/ that they purposely circulated a cute cuddly picture of a 14 yr old to bolster their argument that Trayvon was nothing but an innocent youngster out for a lark when they had more than a month to find a more current photo? The only reason the Zimmerman picture was circulated was that was the only one the press could get their hands on. The picture from the police station camera stops a bit early, the closeup shows the ding in the back of his head quite clearly. As long as we’re trying him in the court of public opinion, which is of course what this is all about. Just how many “attorneys” does the Martin family need anyway? At last count there were 7. They’ll be working hard to make sure no further information concerning Trayvon’s possible criminal past never see the light of day, at least until after the election. I’m sure they are all working pro bono, or just cashing DNC checks.

              While our esteemed Mr. Tod would never dream of incendiary political puppet hood, I seem to recall him casting the first (and second and third) stones at Presidential candidate Herman Cain. Now that he’s safely out of the election, why haven’t we heard jack shit about his supposed “victims”? This is ALL about public opinion and is also about politics, juicing the campaign coffers for Obama (or should I say, a white African American”?) and capitalizing yet again on white man guilt (albeit that this was a Hispanic on Black incident). And let’s not forget the Million dollars that has been raised from black entertainers, athletes and other “concerned’ citizens as a bounty on George Zimmerman’s head (dent and all)?

              The first tragedy was the shooting the second tragedy was the farce that this circus has become. I am glad of course that Trayvon’s parents have copyrighted and trademarked his “slogans” in this incident. Nothing like parental love to bring tears to the eye.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                If I were a grieving parent, I’d totally try to cash in on the death of my child.

                Or maybe I’d just want to register the trademarks so nobody else could do it.

                Yet again, I’m disgusted by the rush to judgment.  Maybe the parents are behaving despicably.  Or maybe they’re not.  If you have any better evidence that they’re trying to cash in, you may present it here.  Otherwise, I’m going to withhold judgment.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Unless you and your child are both saints, I don’t see what standing you have to be annoyed that he was killed.  And if his killing is going to be taken up by Al Sharpton, well, I’d almost rather the little thug had lived.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Mr. Schilling, I’m forwarding your home address to Spike Lee.  Best of luck,—TVDReport

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Don’t you even fucking joke about revealing anyone’s personal details, Tom.  Other, more reputable blogs would ban you for even saying such a thing.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Guilt-by-association on the deceased for things that happened after they died has to be seen to be believed.  Thanks for the demonstration.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Silence me, dude?  That’s always the solution, int it?  I have a very salient point there, about Spike Lee’s moral culpability and negligence, and your concern trolling can go jump in the lake.  Plus it was funny.  Just because you get away with acting like this doesn’t make it right.

                BTW,

                Anyone who says Free Healthcare is an idiot, Tom.   It’s not free.   

                You called President Obama an idiot.

                “…we decided to follow the judgment of the nation’s leading medical experts and make sure that free preventive care includes access to free contraceptive care.”

                He uses the word “free” 8 times in that speech.  So if you’re going to play your sophistry game, you should make sure you don’t lose at it.

                If you play it straight, man, there are legitimate points to be discussed, be it Spike Lee, or your argument about communitarianism’s superiority to individualism/libertarianism.  The rest is noise.

                I think your [and presumably BHO’s] vision of a technocratic communtarianism as above is wrong, and cannot speak meaningfully of “freedom” except in the material sense of “freedom from want,” which is a perversion of the concept of liberty.  At least how I use “liberty,” and whatever libertarians are left around here do.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                If you ever had a salient point about Spike Lee, you just blew it, saying you’d send Schilling’s home address to anyone else.   I can’t shut you up, but you’ve long since depleted any reserve of goodwill you’ve ever had around here.  If it were in my power, you would be banned out of here.  You are stinking up the joint.

                As for “free”, I stand by what I said.  Anyone, including Obama, who says health care is free, is an idiot.

                Now you pull your head out and at least pretend to be civil.  I, for one, and I am not alone, am getting really sick of your tendentious whining and bellyaching.   If there ever was a chip on your shoulder, consider it knocked off.

                 Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Plus it was funny.

                Like the Half-hour News Hour.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                No, like Gutfeld’s “Red Eye.”  You really gotta update your cliches, man.  “Half hour News Hour” lasted a few months 6 years ago.  Red Eye gets better ratings at 3AM than some CNN and MSNBC shows get in prime time.  Loosen up, bro.

                The reference to Spike Lee was funny, although that he’ll get away with such gross moral irresponsibility is the real pith there.  True moral calculus goes to intent, not consequences.  Spike Lee’s intent was bad, very bad, although he lucked out on the consequences [because he had the wrong house!].

                But something horrible could have gone down, like when Sharpton got people killed at Freddy’s Fashion mart, and that’s not funny, man.  I had a larger point than mocking your ugly attempt at satirizing racism.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                a) The Spike Lee point stands despite your attempt to bury it.  b) Fine, call Obama an idiot.  c) Your own good will has not been in evidence.  You fight with everybody.  d) As for the blog as a whole, some days it gets #Occupied by the echo chamber who high-five and +1 each other.  Then they go away and good discussion returns.  Rinse, lather, repeat, with the emphasis on the lather.  “Goodwill” is mostly a function of ideological agreement, not manners, except for the very good handful who hold this place together.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Something horrible did go down, but you’d rather natter on about Spike Lee than deal with it.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                What Spike Lee did was terrible, and demonstrates what a pathetic ass he is.

                Focusing on that in order to distract attention from the death of a teenager is the true sophistry, and demonstrates a disturbing level of callous wickedness in  our resident sophist.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                The problem, Mr. Schilling, as previously noted, is the difficulty in “dealing with it.”

                By Florida law, they shouldn’t indict*.  If they do indict, a conviction is unlikely, and the “black community” will be doubly pissed off if there’s a trial and then an acquittal.  By giving this case added national status—and personalizing it and therefore racializing it with the “my son” angle—President Obama has worsened the predicament.

                Not to mention Sharpton, et al.  Now we’re into reruns, Mr. Still.  I’ve been courteous, I’ve been precise.  I’ve linked.  No matter what, I end up with the brown end of the stick.  Because sparring is one thing, but some people just come to the LoOG to fight.  I just happen to be the lucky recipient of their attention.

                http://volokh.com/2012/03/24/can-the-police-arrest-someone-for-homicide-when-its-clear-he-killed-but-likely-in-self-defense/Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Odd, if the facts are unknown, why do you link to an article about likely self-defense?Report

              • Avatar Irritating Pedant in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Tom –

                Do you bring anything to this site besides drama conflict?

                You have some decent writing skills, but you seem to deploy them only in getting under people’s skin.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Irritating Pedant says:

                If “conflict” is the dissident voice in the echo chamber, the answer is yes, Mr. Pedant.  The odd thing is the retorts are almost exclusively ad hom and don’t respond to my actual arguments.  So that’s what I describe as “conflict,” sir.

                To wit, your very comment here.  You appear to be slagging on me, not entering the discussion.  Spike Lee.  The blood on Zimmerman’s head if you must.  But not TVD.  Not that I’m not flattered by all the attention, but I’m really not.

                Tellya the truth, I think everything about this issue is significant except the actual issue of what happened when Zimmerman shot Trayvon.  Because that’s the one thing we do not know.  My remarks on the amateur criminology have been to that effect.  The rest—Spike Lee giving out a home address, the various agendas piggybacking on this tragedy—these we do know.

                [I do uphold Jason’s objection above to speculating Trayvon’s parents are up to no good with the copyright thing.  Although it is odd.  As for the rest of wardsmith’s rant that Jason chose not to address, there are some viable points in there too.]Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Irritating Pedant says:

                The odd thing is the retorts are almost exclusively ad hom and don’t respond to my actual arguments.

                So when you call someone a sophist, it’s an argument, but when someone calls you a sophist, it’s an ad hominem?

                Good to know you’re avoiding that foolish inconsistency that is the hobgoblin of little minds.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Spike Lee appears to be genuinely sorry that he gave out the address of innocent bystanders.  Which is about a D+ on the  “understanding why what he did is wrong” meter.

                And, Tom?.  If you see something ugly, don’t blame the mirror.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Spike Lee is a coprophagous troll at the head of his own little troll horde.   The only thing Spike Lee is sorry about is that he got it wrong.

                The rule of law and the presumption of innocence totally escapes his fevered little racist mind.  I am so sick of his blacker-than-thou ass.   He’s getting as bad as Al Sharpton, another skeevy little shitfly always buzzing around every turd and tragedy and getting it wrong, like he did with Little Miss Maybe, Tawana Brawley.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Mike:

                I’m sure that Spike’s “genuine sorrow” had nothing to do with the lawyer retained by the wronged couple.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The couple thought he was sincere, but who knows?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

                Wait – you’re criticizing for not continuing to write about Herman Cain, now that he’s out of the race and an also-ran?  Why in God’s green Earth would I want to keep writing about Cain?

                Also, am I still getting flack for suggesting Cain was a crappy, unserious candidate?  Seriously?Report

              • Avatar Wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod your posts about Cain presumed guilt before all the facts were in evidence. Cain may have been an unserious candidate but he terrified Obama’s handlers. The “white” african american is disadvantaged versus those whose ancestors came over unwillingly by boat not willingly via airplane. Cain would have split the black vote O needs to have a chance of winning ie 98% of the black vote. This episode is part of that “get out the vote” dynamic at least to a practiced cynic like me.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Wardsmith says:

                “Cain may have been an unserious candidate but he terrified Obama’s handlers.”

                There are so few things I am absolutely sure about in the horserace of politics, but one thing I am absolutely sure of is that the DNC would have gotten down on their knees and thanked God almighty if Herman Cain was named the GOP candidate.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jeff Wong says:

              The most recent and accurate pictures of Martin were taken at the autopsy.Report

      • I have to say, I think that it does look like the same guy.  (I thought the mug shot was from his previous arrest?)

        That being said, I think those that see a massive head trauma are seeing what they really want to see.  (Not to say he doesn’t have a head trauma, I’m just not looking at that video and thinking, “Oh my god, how is he able to walk upright?!”Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          His noodle looked well enough to me. No signs of pumpkin smashing.
          The snoz appears to be well enough too.

          Do I see a “blacks are ineffectual when kicking a Latinos ass” thread coming?Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to James Hanley says:

        Could the mug shot be older? He was arrested for assaulting a police officer at one point- it could be related to that. Also, his former fiancee had a restraining order against him- I assume there’s some sort of photographing that goes on with that. Otherwise, it wouldn’t seem to work.Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I thought the mug shot was current, not older.  Without a more recent photo, I can’t decide if it’s him or not.

          Re: Head Injury – I heard he had one, but not how severe.  Scalp wounds bleed like crazy, so it’s possible the initial report made it sound worse than it was, and a little work from an EMT could clean it up well enough it wouldn’t show up on a grainy video.  However, if, as Zimmerman &, I believe, witness statements say, Martin was slamming Zimmerman’s head into the ground, the severity of the injury is irrelevant.  It’s very easy to cause grave injury or death by doing so.

          Aside: Wait a sec, he had a previous arrest for assaulting an officer & a domestic TRO?  How is it he had a carry permit again?Report

          • The cop assault charge was waived when he completed an alcohol education program. He was also 20 at the time. Same year his fiancee filed a restraining order for assault. In return, he got a restraining order against her. Both were held up. This was in 2005. I have no idea how one gets a carry permit in Florida.

            I can attest that scalp wounds bleed like crazy and agree that the pertinent issue is head trauma, which indeed is nothing to screw around with.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Good summary Will. What had always been needed is a better investigation to find out what happened as best as can be ascertained.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

      Thanks. I do think it’s a good thing that there is more investigation forthcoming. We’ll never know what happened, but this way we should get a better idea of how it was responded to.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to greginak says:

      Good summary Will. What had always been needed is a better investigation to find out what happened as best as can be ascertained.

      Agreed. The incident obviously warrants further investigation. It’s too bad it took a s**t storm of outrage and publicity to get that investigation going.Report

  4. Avatar Will H. says:

    I can agree to no.’s 1-5 & 7.

    As far as 5 goes (belief that race played an important part in the investigation or lack thereof), I think people are responding more to what occurs in their own locality than what happened in Sanford.

    As to #8, I think that was a clumsy Clintonesque “I feel your pain” statement, and the “my son” bit went too far.

    I’ll add a #9:
    Things are getting so worked up about the whole incident, there better darned well be a conviction somewhere, or there will be hell to pay.

    It’s far from over.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Excellent thoughts on the subject and worthy of frontpaging.

    It ought not to be a surprise that a Black kid can be the victim of street crime or that he would be targeted in part based on his race. But when something gets this big a profile this fast it seems like a good idea to not immediately react to the noise in cavorted of waiting to tune in to the actual signal.

    Even now the focus seems to be on Zimmerman and not the police. And we in the public still lack enough solid information to render judgment on them. Probably won’t until all their interviews with Zimmerman come out. It’s certainly not wrong for authorities to withhold making arrests and filing charges until they’re sure they have a good case and here, we can all be sure the defense will claim self-defense. I’d cut the cops some slack if I knew they were gathering evidence to meet that obvious claim before making the arrest.Report

    • It’s certainly not wrong for authorities to withhold making arrests and filing charges until they’re sure they have a good case and here, we can all be sure the defense will claim self-defense. I’d cut the cops some slack if I knew they were gathering evidence to meet that obvious claim before making the arrest.

      It’s looking to me like somebody threw in the towel and stopped looking. The outstanding question (besides whether it was the cops or the SA’s office) is whether they had reason to do so (it doesn’t look like they did, but there’s still a lot to wade through) and, to some extent, why they halted the investigation prematurely if that’s what they did (which is likely unprovable and so will be looked at different ways by different people, though I will confess I am reconsidering #3).Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I disagree about 3: the real racial angle on this is that a black kid got shot, and the system (at this point, it looks like the prosecutor’s office) decided not to bother making a case.  The shooting is now being re-investigated and re-evaluated only because there was a national uproar. It’s disgusting that this re-investigation is being called a lynch mob, as if Zimmerman had a right to kill Martin with no inconvenience attached.

    And I do have an opinion about 8: what Obama said was perfect.It’s disgusting that an expression of empathy for parents who have lost their young son is being viewed as racial.

    Oh, and speculating that Those People are going to riot if they don’t get what they want?  Disgusting.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I agree with you about Obama’s statement. It seemed to me to be both empathetic and innocuous, yet the right is making it out to be some kind of racially divisive pronouncement. Disgusting but not surprising.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I’m not talking about people rioting because “they don’t get what they want”, Mike.

      If you don’t trust in the law enough, you don’t trust in the law.  Riots don’t start because “black people feel aggrieved”.  Riots start because people feel aggrieved, and the young and impetuous pump each other up, and they feed off of community aggrievedness and turn it into violence.

      The vast majority of black people didn’t riot here in ’92.  The rioters here weren’t all black, either.  Most of the rioters were young and male and impetuous and pumped up on mob anger and rioters are of all colors.  Shit, I overheard a white upper class douchebag tell a friend during the King riots in our school cafe that he had gone down to Fry’s with a truck and stole a TV and a bitchin’ stereo, because he could.  He wasn’t black, he was just young and stupid.

      There are young and stupid and impetuous men everywhere.  Put up enough anger in the surrounding environment,  and young and impetuous men turn it into talk and then they turn it into action.

      I don’t fear the young and the stupid and impetuous because they might hurt somebody – although they might – actual fatalities or even big injuries during riots among innocent bystanders is very small given the overall level of violence.  People remember Reginald Denny *because* his injuries were remarkable.  Anybody think of anybody else who was hurt in the ’92 riots?  They “officially” went on for six days.  The murder rate during those six days was probably *down*.

      I fear the young and the stupid and impetuous because once they get going in mob violence, they do a lot of property damage and it’s entirely possible that a bunch of them will get shot.  And it’s a stupid, senseless waste of life to get killed because you threw a brick through a shopkeeper’s window for no other reason than you thought you could get away with it.Report

      • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        If Zimmerman isn’t charged or isn’t convicted, who’s going to  say “That’s the system.  It isn’t always perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got, and violence isn’t the way to change it.” and have a snowball’s chance of being believed?  Yeah.  Him.  And who’s going to be accused of race-baiting while he’s doing it?  Bingo.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to MikeSchilling says:

          I’m generally uncomfortable with the “No Justice, No Peace” meme.

          Then again, I have no doubt of my ability to seek justice through peaceful means.  Sometimes, you have to take to the streets.  I believe that is how our country was founded…Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

            I’m comfortable with it. but I am not saying “no peace” needs to mean violence.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kimmi says:

              What else might it mean?Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy:

                Kimmi must be using the special liberal dictionary again.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

                … anything from reporting it anonymously when you see a dead body being buried alongside the road (This Is The Internet, It happened here).

                … to deliberately exposing aspects of injustice being perpetrated on people unable to defend themselves.

                Hell, you think the Consumerist doesn’t do something about making sure there is no Peace for corporations who are deliberately trying to extract money through refusal to provide the services they claim they provide?Report

      • I don’t fear the young and the stupid and impetuous because they might hurt somebody – although they might – actual fatalities or even big injuries during riots among innocent bystanders is very small given the overall level of violence.  People remember Reginald Denny *because* his injuries were remarkable.  Anybody think of anybody else who was hurt in the ’92 riots?  They “officially” went on for six days.  The murder rate during those six days was probably *down*.

        53 dead in the Rodney King “civil unrest,” PatC.  Oy.

        Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred, and property damages topped roughly $1 billion. In all, 53 people died during the riots and thousands more were injured.[5]

        BTW, did you hear of this?

        http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/article/249567/4/Protesters-Ransacked-Miami-Walgreens

        I don’t see it in any media outside the state of Florida.   I do hope this Walgreen’s thing is an isolated incident [and it may be civically responsible for the national media to bury this] but as previously noted, via Volokh, a conviction seems unlikely under Florida law and the DA is now boxed in—screwed if he doesn’t charge Zimmerman and screwed if he does, because an acquittal seems likely and it was an acquittal that blew up Los Angeles in 1992.

        I bring this up because I’m unhappy with the way President Obama handled this.  I don’t believe he chilled this issue, I believe he played it to his voters and not the nation as a whole.

        Better President Obama had said nothing, in hopes this would chill out on its own rather than build in national profile.  Perhaps a private phone call to Rev. Jesse to stay the hell home and cool it with the “Blacks are under attack” rhetoric.

        Or this, Fiona.

        Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida): This is Treyvon Martin. Trayvon Martin’s murderer is still at large. It’s been one month, thirty days, with no arrest. I want America to see this sweet young boy who was hunted down like a dog, shot in the street, and his killer is still at large. 

        Not one person has been arrested in Treyvon’s murder. I want to make sure that America knows that in Sanford, Florida, there was a young boy murdered. He is buried in Miami, Florida, and not one person has been arrested even though we all know who the murderer is. This was a standard case of racial profiling. No more! No more! We will stand for justice for Treyvon Martin.

        This isn’t the Toy Dept. of infotainment.  This is a public official, the real world. Let’s save “disgusting” for where it really fits.  53 dead and thousands injured in 1992 should be sobering. Instead, we are playing with fire.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          53 sounds like a lot, Tom, but “53 people died during the riots” is a tricky stat.  If this counts the number of people who died of all causes over 6 days it’s probably not much of a blip on the statistical radar, if one at all.

          The Fidel Lopez story was the only other one that got a lot of play.  I’m not saying that deaths didn’t occur directly because of the rioting and the media didn’t report it, but there’s an odd disparity between two guys were horribly beaten and 53 people died during the riots.  Without digging more deeply into it, I think that 53 number might be loosely sourced.

          FWIW, I think your criticism of Wilson is legit.  It’s out of bounds for a public official to make a public statement decrying a murder when we’re not sure that one occurred.  I don’t think Obama was playing to the voters, I think he said what he said because he’s seen stuff like this before and he honestly felt a connection to the parents.  I don’t think it particularly helped, in the greater sense, but that’s different from Wilson’s speech.  I also think there’s a difference between making a point about racial profiling, or bringing up white privilege, and Wilson’s speech.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            Reading the citation for that number, several of the reported deaths seemed like random violence.  It is hard to attribute this to the riot (which is not to say it is not attributable… just that we don’t know if the guy randomly shot walking home from work was shot by a rioter in the midst of rioting or something else entirely).

            A handful were also rioters shot by police.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            Pat,

            Here’s a source that confirms Tom’s number, with a little more detail.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            PatC, were you living in SoCal when the Rodney King riots happened?  Regardless, that you’d so grossly underestimate the carnage is not an indictment of you, but an example of how unseriously we take this tinderbox, pontificating on abstractions like “white privilege” [how this applies to Hispanic Democrat George Zimmerman is yet to be explained] when the very real threat of, um, civil unrest with great consequences [dozens dead, thousands injured, a billion in damage] is risked by the irresponsibilty of the demagogues.

            What President Obama has done to chill this out is not in evidence.  George Zimmerman is our nation’s “son” too, and until evidence comes out to the contrary, this is a tragedy, not a crime.

            And the Walgreen’s thing in North Miami should remind people of how quickly things can get out of hand, and the terrible consequences if they do.

            And I won’t even accuse Rep. Wilson of demagoguery.  She’s probably sincere, and one look at the angelic photo of Trayvon when he was 14 is no doubt why she calls him a “sweet little boy” and adds to the rage.  The same angelic photo Barack Obama was no doubt responding to, that he looked like his son.

            But personalizing and sentimentalizing this issue is absolutely the wrong thing for the president to do.  It feeds the emotions, not the quiet of good sense.

             Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Yeah, Tom, I was here.  I watched the city burn from the bluff.  My uncle was president of Loyola High School at the time, and he was standing on the roof (it’s on Venice, between Normandie and Vermont, and basically right where everything started).  I’ve talked with him a few times about what his neighborhood looked like.

              Reading briefly from the link James provides, it sounds like that breaks down as

              10 shot by police or National Guardsmen (riot caused, victim presumably a bad guy)

              6 died incidental to arson (riot caused, certainly)

              6 in car accidents, 2 more in a hit-and-run (this is probably only incidental at best)

              5 in other obvious violent attacks (sticks, strangulation, knives).   Let’s assign all that to riot damage.

              20 other shooting deaths.  From the descriptions, it’s hard to assess how many of these are “people committing random acts of violence during a riot” and “people committing acts of violence under the cover of a riot”.  Judging from this, I’d say that a lot of gang-related killing in 1992 was just condensed in those six days because, Jesus, the cops weren’t stopping anything.  But if you look at 1991-1994, 1992 doesn’t look like much of an outlier in the overall murder rate.

              I’ll go out on a limb and say that a good portion of those 20 were people who were already on somebody’s list.

              So I don’t think I’m grossly underestimating the carnage.  Underestimating, yeah.  I hadn’t even heard about the arson related deaths or Epstein or Willers cases.  That Willers case in particular is effed up.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Dude, thousands injured, a billion in damage?  Forget the quibble on the death toll, then, LA was still a war zone. We’re playing with fire and I think people have forgotten.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I agree. We should just ignore it when African-American kids are gunned down for no good reason. I mean, black people might get upset about it or something. Better to sweep it under the rug and maybe throw some false information out there about the victim. That’s much better.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                C’mon, Jesse, that’s hardly anything like what Tom just said.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                From my comment above, Tom:

                I don’t fear the young and the stupid and impetuous because they might hurt somebody – although they might – actual fatalities or even big injuries during riots among innocent bystanders is very small given the overall level of violence.  [snip]

                I fear the young and the stupid and impetuous because once they get going in mob violence, they do a lot of property damage and it’s entirely possible that a bunch of them will get shot.

                I don’t know that we’re as far apart as you might be thinking that we are.  I agree that riots are a really bad thing.  I just didn’t want Mike to think that *I* think that rioting is some sort of collective hissy fit over not getting what they want.  It’s not simple.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Yes, PatC, I also attributed a lot of this to being young and stupid [and of course, male].  There’s no question the LA Riots crossed race lines in a hurry when the whole city went on sale for 100% Off.  [As with last year’s London riots.]Report

            • Trayvon Martin’s death has made a lot of people aware about the risks of being a black male in America. Commentators have been relating their stories about how one day their dads gave them “the Talk”, how you have to be on your best behavior, don’t be too nice to white women, how to deal with police even though you’ve done nothing wrong, how to avoid being killed because of your race, how you will get stopped by the police A LOT.

              “White privilege” is about not having to live with this type of paranoia or generally having to live with undeserved stereotypes. It’s clear that Zimmerman’s spidey sense was triggered by Trayvon being a young black male. I doubt he would have been killed if he was a girl. Of course, people assumed that since the victim was black and the absurdity of a black kid being killed by someone with an authoritarian tendency, the default assumption is that he was white.  You don’t have to be white to consider black men to be threatening. I’ve crossed the street to avoid groups of black kids too. I bet most Arabs and SW Asians would do the same despite also being on the receiving of end of various grades of racism.

              It seems like you’re going out of your way to be “even-handed”, like the kinds of bending-over-backwards justification in absurd PC perspectives on things. The obvious reason people aren’t being even-handed is because the incident wasn’t. Martin died, and the absurdity of how his death was ignored is appalling. Zimmerman’s claim that “he followed me back to my car and attacked me” is absurd because the fight ended in someone’s yard (not near the car). There are many ways the situation would justify an even-handed perspective on the case: Martin also had a gun, Zimmerman was shot, Martin happened to look like a police artists sketch from a recent mugging, etc. But basically until there was furore, the incident was decided completely in Zimmerman’s favor because the case was dropped. No even-handedness there.

              Why should Obama also express sympathy for Zimmerman’s family? He killed someone and almost got away with it. And his father might have been one of the reasons he got off. Zimmerman is also NOT dead. If Zimmerman had also been killed (despite his culpability), you might have a point. But I think having the public hate him is relatively OK compared to being dead. He could easily move to somewhere where people would consider him a hero.

              I postulate the following reasons for your umbrage at Obama’s comments:

              • Your only news sources are right-wing media. We aren’t having a discussion based on the same facts if you’re being told what you want to hear.
              • You have a compulsive need to undermine liberal position, regardless of the facts. I enjoy mocking liberals too, especially when people protest to “demand” jobs. But demanding justice is fundamentally American.
              • You have a need to shut down out any indications that black people might have it worse than the rest of us. When people say Obama is being “divisive,” it’s just another demand that minorities “fall in line” and STFU.

              From your writings, you don’t seem like a person who is trying to be sympathetic. You’re suddenly calling for sympathy for Zimmerman, the aggressor, when you don’t even seem to have empathy for the rest of us here or what we say.

              I can certainly understand why you might oppose public officials expressing sentiments of any kinds. For an official to “send out prayers to” various injured parties is technically a violation of the First Amendment, but Americans are people first and we live in a human world. If I were to be offended at Obama “sending prayers” because he doesn’t represent me as a non-Christian, that would make me an asshole.

              I can see how it’s weird for government to recognize victims of various kinds. I thought Congress was cheesy in having an official sendoff for Giffords, but I don’t work there and I can understand why they would.

              Speaking of which, I wonder what you thought of Jared Loughner and the tragedy of him having schizophrenia and the shame of his father being a father of a killer.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jeff Wong says:

                You’re speaking to me, Mr. Wong? After writing that my last name sounds “Lesbo”?  Just because they let you get away with it doesn’t mean it’s right.  You don’t rate, sir, and besides, your “facts” aren’t facts.  I read the same papers you do.  And some you don’t.

                By Florida law, they shouldn’t indict.  If they do indict, a conviction is unlikely, and the “black community” will be doubly pissed off if there’s a trial and then an acquittal.  By giving this case added national status—and personalizing it and therefore racializing it with the “my son” angle—President Obama has worsened the predicament.

                As for “white privilege,” some people are using this tragedy to get on their soapbox about that abstract agenda, and I object.  Zimmerman is a Hispanic Democrat, and this tragedy has nothing to do with that facet of the culture wars, The Rest of Us vs. the white male cracker power structure.

                So next time you want to try to read my mind, read what I wrote instead and we’ll get along fine, OK?Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Very well put. This sums up my perspective almost perfectly. The ony disagreement I have is with this statement: “Without an assured conviction, I believe there to be an institutional motivation to call things not-criminal-homicide when you can, such as this case.” I have seen enough cases of trumped up charges against black men, young black men in particular, to question this. Perhaps those are overexposed rarities, but it does give me pause.

    It is a shame that people holding this view have been cast as overzealousy demanding Zimmerman’s trip to death row. Most people I know want nothing more than for the justice system to engage this fully.

    Keep up the good fit, sir.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      I have seen enough cases of trumped up charges against black men, young black men in particular, to question this.

      I think that this sort of thing is more often done within my caveat “without an assured conviction.” I think this caveat takes on greater meaning when we’re talking about homicide, which is much more likely to garner negative attention upon a failure to convict than if we’re talking about trumped up charges of a lesser variety.

      That is my thought, anyway. I’m still thinking it out.Report

  8. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    I’ve been relatively quiet on the incident for a very simple reason:  Local news reporting is terrible.  God-awful.  Execrable. Just plain bad.

    The whole thing certainly looks like an outrage, but I don’t trust that I am getting the full story.  I’d like to see Zimmerman arrested and changed with a crime in part because I trust the justice system a good bit more than I trust the local news teams.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Trying this in the court of public opinion has been a huge mistake.  The unfortunate thing is that, absent an opportunity to properly adjudicate it, this is what we are left with.  It is ultimately unfair to both Martin and Zimmerman.  If there is ample reason to demonstrate that charging Zimmerman would be unwarranted and done only to placate outrage, that would be similarly unfair.  If that reason exists, it ought to be made known through official channels.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Thus far, it’s the justice system that dropped the ball on this, and the media that forced them to pick it back up.Report

      • Avatar Plinko in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        There has been national media attention that has been critical to the case getting re-investigated, this is absolutely true, but I can assure you that it is also true that local media outlets, are extremely unreliable sources of  narratives about criminal cases.Report

  9. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I must say, I agree with just about everything you say here, Will, and even my quibbles are only quibble-lites:

    I have come to strongly suspect that race was indeed part of what triggered Zimmerman, especially now after hearing about the other 911 calls – but I am still not quite as sure as you.  And the Occam’s razor I keep in my own personal shaving kit still feels like sloppy and lazy police work is the simpler explanation for what immediately transpired than racism by the police.

    I don’t think Obama’s comments were as brilliant as I’ve heard them described, but I did like them.  For all the talk of race baiting, his comments where he internalized the shooting by talking about his own kids was the part that spoke to me most directly, and I’m not black.  (I’d be interested to see, pundits aside, how many of the people that thought those comments were wholly inappropriate do not have children – because his response seems pretty universal among parents whenever something like this happens.)

    Aside from that, I must say I have found the whole matter fairly depressing.  Because the law quoted by the police as a reason for not arresting (or really doing any kind of investigation at all) was a controversial one that was championed by the right and opposed by the left, I think it was inevitable that this was going to be a political issue in our 24 hour news world – even had the sensational aspect of race not been part of the equation.  Still, the way what transpired went from being predictable to being borderline creepy.  Normally when things like this happen, I tend to think that when one side starts saying, “I don’t actually know what happened, but if you disagree with my interpretation you’re a racist!” is about as bad as it gets.  But this time it succeeded on going that extra step: People (including some people here!) that were so willing to use “Everyone’s so against this Zimmerman guy, but Martin smoked pot!/didn’t look like a black boy, he looked like a black man – here’s a picture to prove it!/ was suspended from school!” as a kind of justification for why it was actually OK for this 16 year old to be gunned down for buying skittles was the worst thing I’ve seen around these parts since the “which people on this site are really to blame” for the Norway shootings last summer.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      “And the Occam’s razor I keep in my own personal shaving kit still feels like sloppy and lazy police work is the simpler explanation for what immediately transpired than racism by the police.”

      Do you think one of the reasons that explanation is “simpler” is because it avoids the muddiness of the racism aspect?  If so, is this not a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts when it comes to analyzing the impact of racism on a given event?  I fear it reduces any instance in which someone didn’t yell the n-word to being about something simpler.

      “I don’t think Obama’s comments were as brilliant as I’ve heard them described, but I did like them.  For all the talk of race baiting, his comments where he internalized the shooting by talking about his own kids was the part that spoke to me most directly, and I’m not black.  (I’d be interested to see, pundits aside, how many of the people that thought those comments were wholly inappropriate do not have children – because his response seems pretty universal among parents whenever something like this happens.)”

      This is very interesting.  While Obama’s words spoke to parents in a way they might not have spoken to non-parents, I do think there was something important to what he said.  Throughout this ordeal, I’ve been a bit bothered by the “I am Trayvon Martin” meme that has popped up, especially when it is carried by white folks.  The problem with “stand your ground” laws are universal and a threat to all people… but, no, 20-year-old white kid, you are not Trayvon Martin, no matter how many times you insist so on Facebook.  I understand that people are attempting to express their solidarity with him, his family, and the cause, but it glosses over the reality that this experience is felt by the black community in a way that it is simply not by the white community.  Obama mentioning his hypothetical son was not simply an appeal to parents, but an acknowledgement that he would have to fear this situation in a way that most of our country would not (leaving aside the obvious absurdity that a sitting President’s son would be so well protected as to never come within a mile of a regular person).  I can sympathize with the Martins, argue the facts of the case, wear my hoodie, and cry for Trayvon… but nothing is going to extend the reality of his experience to me.  I am not Trayvon Martin.  I never will be.  And this is a GOOD thing.  I should not feel guilty or ashamed of this.  I should only seek that the next Trayvon Martin not be Trayvon Martin.

      News flash: If we decrease racially-fueled murders, we decrease murders overall.  Somethings I think people miss this fact.  A call for equality is not a cry that all people be taken down to the lowest common denominator, but that all be raised to the base level of the majority.  I don’t want the George Zimmermans of the world targetted white folks like he apparently targeted black kids.  I want him targetted black kids the way he apparently targetted white folks… which seems to be, not at all.

       Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

        “Do you think one of the reasons that explanation is “simpler” is because it avoids the muddiness of the racism aspect? “

        Excellent question, and one that drills well down into the level of thinking that the answer might well be “Yes and I am unaware of it.”  But on the surface, at least, I feel like I need something more – like a history of the police in Sanford ignoring stuff, or making decisions based on questionably racists motivations.  (And those might well exist and I might simply be unaware of them – and if they do, then I have not problem modifying my belief about this part of it.

        Obama mentioning his hypothetical son was not simply an appeal to parents, but an acknowledgement that he would have to fear this situation in a way that most of our country would not (leaving aside the obvious absurdity that a sitting President’s son would be so well protected as to never come within a mile of a regular person). 

        True enough – but I still think it’s the other part that speaks to me, and I have a hard time hearing the race baiting others hear.

        Also, I have to say I am with you on the I Am TM stuff.  It seems to me to be the equivalent of posting a yellow ribbon on your FB account: “I’m not really making any sacrifices or working to make things better, but with this click of a button I can feel like I am.”  (This is of course overly cynical of me, and I apologize up front to anyone that does that kind of thing and works to make things better.)

         Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          To your first point, I agree wholeheartedly.  As this case has proven time and again, better to reserve judgement until more is known.  One data point is not enough to make a declaration one way or another.  I don’t know that we should default to the “simpler explanation”, especially when these can be held up as evidence after the fact.  “Yes, there is a history of X happening but all those other times we concluded it wasn’t a result of Y, despite the larger pattern indicating so.”

          To your second point, I fully see the possibility of it being a both/and.  His comments spoke to all parents, but probably particularly so to black parents.  This wasn’t race baiting.  I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that he understands their fears in a unique way, in a way that white people can’t necessarily.

          What I mean by this is that I’m sure you worry about your children.  But I doubt you worry about your teenage son the way a black parent does.  Just like I doubt you worry about your teenage son in the same way you worry about your teenage daughter.  Or that you worry about your fully able teenage child in the same way that Rose will one day worry about her teenage child with I/DD.  I see Obama’s statement as nothing more than, “Trust me, folks, I get you.”Report

  10. Avatar Derp says:

    Let’s say Martin did attack Zimmerman, started punching him and they were wrestling on the ground. Florida law allows Zimmerman to pull out a gun and shoot the kid?

    Now, I understand the principle behind the stand-your-ground law when the other guy is armed, or in your house, but shooting someone during a fist fight? That just doesn’t seem the least bit reasonable.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Derp says:

      Yes. Pa law requires he at least have a “deadly weapon” (baseball bat applies. unsure about such things as car keys, which to me would count, as they’re sharp and metal, and work like brass knuckles…)Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kimmi says:

        The rule is “disparity of force”

        2 grown men having a fist fight is not a lethal action kind of thing, 3 on 1 & the game changes. Healthy 25 year old man attacking an 80 year old woman? Granny get your gun.

        If you are on the ground with a 17 year old sitting on your chest ringing your bell on the concrete, you A) may not be thinking or reacting too clearly,, & B) you have a reasonable belief that you arr in danger of serious injury or death.

        I recall a case where 1 16 year old killed (knifed) another because the deceased wouldnt leave the 1st kid alone & punched him in the back of the head. Court ruled it justified.

        Its a sticky area of law, & in a case like this, it really should have gone before a Grand Jury,, rather than just getting pushed aside.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Derp says:

      His claim is that Martin was slamming his head against the sidewalk. That sort of thing could lead to permanent brain damage or death. If Zimmerman is actually telling the truth, then I believe the shooting would be considered justified in any jurisdiction. Duty to retreat only applies when there’s opportunity to retreat.Report

    • Avatar BSK in reply to Derp says:

      And there is still the issue that the SYG law applies to Trayvon just as much as to Zimmerman.  Even if Trayvon did throw the first punch, he likely did so because a strange man was following him and because he was afraid, possibly for his life.  So you essentially have a scenario wherein both individuals could lay claim to SYG (obviously Trayvon can not because he’s dead).  What do you do at that point?  My feeling is that you revert to who created the situation in the first place, which is quite obviously Zimmerman.Report

      • Avatar Derp in reply to BSK says:

        Brilliant.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BSK says:

        Yes, this.

        Any way you slice it, Zimmerman’s actions instigated the whole affair.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

          Just as Rodney King’s refusal to obey the cops triggered all that came after? Check your moral reasoning, gents. This one doesn’t hold atall.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Tinder’s already lit, and you can’t smell the fire burning. You think you know so much…You know nothing.

            Amid the stench of urine, the smell of saltpeter cloaked the zone.

            Keep right on dreaming, it’ll be some comfort to you.

            I remember the stone that was thrown — the glass that was shattered.

            Were you on the other side?

            Witches burn brightly beneath the midnight sun.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Wait a second, Tom.

            Aren’t you the one who says the victims of war in Afghanistan are attributable to the bad guys, whether we shoot them or they do?

            Is this different?

            Let’s posit for a moment that Zimmerman, in fact, is working with the best of intentions.  Maybe he’s honestly frustrated with the break-ins in his neighborhood (we have a similar problem in ours at the moment).  Maybe he’s trying to protect his neighbors (we have a lot of concerned citizens with no training posting stuff to a facebook group right now regarding suspicious or potentially suspicious or even just non-suspicious but out-of-the-ordinary goings on in our neighborhood, because of the crime rate).  Here’s the thing.

            He chose to follow someone.  He chose to be armed.  He chose to get out of his car.  He decided, on his own, to take it upon himself to police his community when he lacks the training to do so.  And somebody died.  This guy isn’t like a trained master technician replacing someone’s brakes and screwing it up and having their brakes give out and they die.  This is a person taking his underinformed, untrained self into an environment where imperfect information and *good* training gets people killed.

            By your own postings in the last couple of days, he regards this as his fault, yes?  Are you saying he’s wrong?Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              I’m perfectly consistent, PatC, and I hope at least you and I can remain gentlemen and not get personal.  Now then—

              Let’s posit for a moment that Zimmerman, in fact, is working with the best of intentions. 

              That premise ends the inquiry right there.  Had Zimmerman gone after Trayvon with intent to harm, then all that followed would indeed be on his head, just as if he’d gone to rob a bank and the guard shot a bystander by accident.  This is correct moral reasoning as I understand it, and why I objected to

              Nothing I have heard since makes me believe that Zimmerman is anything less than guilty of something immoral.

              That case cannot be made absent knowledge of bad intent [mens rea]  on Zimmerman’s part.

              Pls permit to borrow us some Wiki:  actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means “the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty”.

              This is both a legal dynamic and a moral one as well.

              You yourself get halfway there in allowing

              Maybe he’s honestly frustrated with the break-ins in his neighborhood (we have a similar problem in ours at the moment).  Maybe he’s trying to protect his neighbors…

              Indeed, http://www.fox10tv.com/dpps/news/national/south/supporters-of-fla-shooter-fearful-of-speaking-out-nt12-jgr_4119235

              Speaking Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Joe Oliver said Zimmerman is not a racist and has virtually lost his own life since the shooting.

              “This is a guy who thought he was doing the right thing at the time, and it’s turned out horribly wrong,” said Oliver, one of the few blacks to come forward in support of Zimmerman.

              The Miami Herald reported that  there were eight burglaries, nine thefts and one other shooting in the year prior to the incident in the neighborhood.  That’s kind of a lot.

              Was Zimmerman kind of wack?  Fixated on young black males as suspects [according to one account]?  Let’s stipulate that.  But was he morally obliged to take orders from a seemingly indifferent police dispatcher, especially in light of his frustration at the police not being able to catch “assholes who always get away”?

              I think that’s a tough one to assert.  If I had to choose, I’d rather argue Rodney King’s moral guilt for disobeying actual cops and physically resisting arrest.

              And I’d rather not argue that one past a certain initial point.  The Trayvon affair has become a melodrama, where we cheer the hero and hiss the villain.  But in real life, this is tragedy, where nobody’s completely right or completely wrong.  That’s what makes for tragedy.

              He chose to follow someone.  He chose to be armed.  He chose to get out of his car.  He decided, on his own, to take it upon himself to police his community when he lacks the training to do so.  And somebody died.  This guy isn’t like a trained master technician replacing someone’s brakes and screwing it up and having their brakes give out and they die.  This is a person taking his underinformed, untrained self into an environment where imperfect information and *good* training gets people killed.

              You can argue negligence from here, but again, I don’t think we can know if Zimmerman had an honest appreciation that a wrongful death was a real possibility [and neither was there a legal or a moral obstacle to trying to keep Trayvon within sight, if that’s all he was trying to do].

              Again, intent and understanding are required for moral or legal blame.  If he was indeed blindsided by Trayvon–something he might not have reasonabaly expected—what happened after that lacked all mens rea.  It was tragedy.

               

               Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I don’t think we can know if Zimmerman had an honest appreciation that a wrongful death was a real possibility.

                Probably not.  I doubt most people have an honest appreciation that wrongful death is a real possibility in lots of scenarios.  I would submit to the general public that I’ll let you get away with this in some circumstances.  Once you start packing a gun, you have a goddamn responsibility, though, I’d say.  One would hope Florida’s CCW course includes a number of lectures about how wrongful death can be a real possibility.  That doesn’t mean everyone learns what they’re taught.  I cut you some slack on moral opprobrium in that I won’t call the outcome of that “murder”.  But you still carry a pretty heavy moral debt.

                At some point, Tom, “You shoulda known better” comes into play, right?  That’s just one case where I’d draw the line.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I can’t say that, PatC.  My best guess he he wanted to keep Trayvon in sight, not confront him.  But I don’t know.  I’m more confident believing this was a tragedy, that neither was completely right or wrong.  But I.  Don’t.  Know.

                BTW, via InstaP, this is a Black Swan case, 2004 being the most recent similar incident one writer could find

                http://pjmedia.com/blog/how-common-are-deaths-like-trayvon-martins/

                Which is partly behind my saying that the exploitation of this is worse than its deeper meaning.Report

              • Zimmerman’s only defense to get from Murder 2 to Manslaughter is for his lawyer to argue that Zimmerman,

                • is simply incredibly stupid,
                • did not do what a reasonable person would do at various decision points that could have avoided this tragedy,
                • the contents of the CCW course encourage this type of incident to occur.

                It would be acceptable to believe that Zimmerman was merely holding Martin at gunpoint but did not intend to shoot. A reasonable person would not shoot someone if they thought they had a good chance of being punished. Perhaps Martin saw the gun and reached for it because he thought he was dealing with a murderer, not a neighborhood watch captain. In the ensuing struggle, someone accidentally pressed the trigger (guns don’t just go off) and Martin was shot. Or maybe Zimmerman drew the gun but had his finger on the trigger while he was drawing (due to adrenaline) and instead of shooting himself in the leg, his gun was mostly leveled at Martin.

                It’s possible to look at this like an airplane accident where a series of mistakes added up to an unintended tragedy, but we have to conclude that Zimmerman is not a reasonable person and therefore could make all of the bad decisions he made.

                Or he is a reasonable person and thought he had a good chance of getting away with it.

                 Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jeff Wong says:

                I do not stipulate your version of the facts as factual, Mr. Wong.  My position is that we don’t know what happened, and following, neither can a jury, therefore acquitting Zimmerman on the grounds of “reasonable doubt.”

                Notice here that I’m not taking a position on Zimmerman’s guilt.  I’m arguing formally, at arms length.  You are arguing from a certainty; my starting point is the uncertainty.  And President Obama has worsened the legal conundrum, one from which there is no way out [except chilling the “black community”].

                http://www.clickorlando.com/news/Civil-rights-leaders-condemn-Sharpton-s-call-for-escalated-civil-disobedience/-/1637132/9863196/-/owq31pz/-/index.html

                This is good, although it’s only the local NAACP chapter, and not the national leadership.

                Civil rights leaders condemn Sharpton’s call for escalated civil disobedience
                Rally Saturday in Sanford hosted by NAACP
                Author: Erik von Ancken,
                Published On: Mar 30 2012 06:47:35 PM EDT  Updated On: Mar 31 2012 01:47:47 PM EDT
                SANFORD, Fla. –

                The Rev. Al Sharpton said Friday his National Action Network will “move to the next level” if George Zimmerman is not arrested in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

                Sharpton called for an escalation in peaceful civil disobedience and economic sanctions, although he did not say what those sanctions might be.

                Turner Clayton, the Seminole County chapter president of the NAACP, reacted immediately to Sharpton’s warning, saying, “We hope that the citizens of Sanford will govern themselves accordingly. We are not calling for any sanctions, against any business or anyone else. And, of course, what Rev. Sharpton does, that’s strictly the [National] Action Network.  We can’t condone that part of the conversation, if that’s what he said.”

                “I don’t think they can confuse that,” Clayton said. “It’s just that they will have to make a judgment as to whether they want to follow the mission of the NAACP or follow what the Rev. Sharpton said.”

                 

                Contra the headline, not a “condemnation,” but we’ll take what we can get.

                 

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              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                My position is that we don’t know what happened, and following, neither can a jury, therefore acquitting Zimmerman on the grounds of “reasonable doubt.”

                Exactly.  It’s not as if there were some way for a jury to hear from witnesses or view evidence.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to BSK says:

        BSK:

        That may be your feeling but it has nothing to do with how the law actually works. All it takes is about two paces for the victim to become the aggressor.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to BSK says:

        +1Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BSK says:

        So you essentially have a scenario wherein both individuals could lay claim to SYG (obviously Trayvon can not because he’s dead).

        OK

        What do you do at that point?  My feeling is that you revert to who created the situation in the first place, which is quite obviously Zimmerman.

        Why do you treat this as a paradox that needs to be resolved?  Yes. SYG applies to both parties, so both are entitled to escalate. The likely result is at least one death, which the police can now brush off as self-defense. Why not?Report

    • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Derp says:

      Let’s say Martin did attack Zimmerman, started punching him and they were wrestling on the ground. Florida law allows Zimmerman to pull out a gun and shoot the kid?

      Well, that’s one of the questions. I hear multiple, and contradictory, accounts of what Florida Law says. If Zimmerman was, as he claims (though I do not believe him), headed back to his car, then I am pretty sure he is in the clear and whether or not he should be is something I lean heavily towards “should” but is a more open question than if Zimmerman was out and about, stalking for someone he believed was a criminal without foundation (which I believe he was), then I hear from some people that the law does apply and others that it does not, but my view if that is legally permissable that presents a very serious problem with the law that needs to be fixed ASAP (though we still wouldn’t be able to convict Zimmerman, if that’s what the law says).Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Trumwill says:

        If Zimmerman was a community watch member, how did he not know how to direct police to where he was in the community he supposedly watches?  To me, that doesn’t add up.  He was out-of-breath looking for an address for a gated community he lived in and watched over?  Fishy…Report

        • Avatar BSK in reply to BSK says:

          Another fishy detail… Zimmerman having grass stains on his back and his head being slammed into the concrete has been held up as evidence of Trayvon being the aggressor  (None of which seems supported by the video, but let’s go with it).  Wasn’t he at his car?  Was his car on the grass or in the street?  I realize that there can easily be a patch of grass adjacent to a pass of concrete, but it seems like Zimmerman ought to be explaining that little piece instead of all his defenders.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to BSK says:

            I noticed that too, but at this point, we’re hearing so much contradictory information from so many sources (including leaks intended to influence rather than inform), I’ve given up trying to interpret it.  I’m glad it’s finally being investigated by organizations more interested in finding things out than sweeping them under the rug, and I’m trusting that the state of Florida and the FBI are going to do their best.  I just hope that there’s enough evidence left after the month that the case was allowed to lie dormant.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Trumwill says:

        If Martin decked Zimmerman, got on top of him, and was beating him pretty badly (as confirmed by witness accounts), then if Zimmerman thought Martin might attempt to kill him, he had little choice other than to kill Martin first.  When you lose control of close combat situation and lethal force is available to both parties (as it would be due to the presense of a gun within reach of either party) and you cannot disengage (as Zimmerman couldn’t since he was pinned on the ground), then his best decision was to use lethal force before Martin did.

        This was a tragedy, but the fault lies with who ever escalate to physical combat.  My guess is that Martin started it, as it makes no sense for Zimmerman to start a fist fight when he’s got a gun and on the phone with the police, whereas 17-year olds are often still operating under the rules of high school locker and hallway confrontations where if someone is eyeing you, you beat them up and get suspended for a couple weeks.

        As Zimmerman said in his 911 call, “it’s fucking cold.”  It was also raining.  Martin probably kept pulling is hood up around his face to keep warm, which also happens to look like a person trying not to show his face (red flag for a burglar), and was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone and could’ve been wandering rather aimlessly, distracted by the call.  He might’ve been casing around for some jewelry to steal (going by what his high school principal has said), but even if he wasn’t, he still probably acted suspiciously enough to trigger Zimmerman’s antennae, as evidenced by the fact that Zimmerman called the police to report his activities.

        Since Martin hadn’t committed any crime, or tried to, Zimmerman had no need to confront him directly, just keep him in sight to try and ward off any such attempts.   When you let someone know they’re being watched, they’ll usually head somewhere else or go on about their legitimate business.  Keeping an eye on the neighborhood is not illegal, immoral, or frowned upon  Physically assaulting someone without strong provocation is all those things.  Getting into a fist fight with someone who is carrying a gun is never a wise decision, nor is getting into a fist fight while carrying a gun.  It often ends badly.

         

         

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  11. Avatar BSK says:

    What I find most interest, nay, troubling about much of the conversation is the zeal with which some people seem to respond to news that reflects more favorably on Zimmerman.

    There is a part of me that HOPES it turns out Zimmerman was justified in shooting Trayvon.  IF Trayvon did something to justify Zimmerman shooting him, then we don’t have an innocent young man killed.  That would be a good thing, in a weird way.

    But… there are a whole cohort of people out there who seem to actively WANT Zimmerman to be innocent.  They seem almost bothered by the idea that he might be very guilty.  My gut tells me that this is largely a reaction to the reaction… they see Jackson and Sharpton and rallies and other things they tend to hate and just want all those people to eat a big bowl of crow.  So, they turn Zimmerman into THEIR cause.  They oversell every fact in his favor and downplay everything that says otherwise.  People are actively digging up dirt on Trayvon… people are linking to images of him that they know aren’t him but, hey, might convince a few people that he really was a thug who had it coming.  They mention at every turn that he was supposedly 14 in the widely circulated images.  To these people, I ask… why?  Why are you so invested in Zimmerman’s innocence?  What has Zimmerman come to represent?  To me, he has become the face of a movement that has long been quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) resistant to efforts by blacks and others to gain equal status in society.  Zimmerman might very well be the victim of an unfair rush to judgement, fueled by racialized issues.  AND HE’S HISPANIC TO BOOT (which ignores the well-known fact that Hispanic is an ethnicity and white is a race and Zimmerman could be both, but alas). So now they have their hero.  Trayvon Martin is the new Tawana Brawley.  Zimmerman is the new crew of falsely accused gang rapers.  They can hold Zimmerman up and say, “NOT THIS TIME, FOLKS!  All your rallying and marching and Rainbow Coalitioning… now we see it for the farce that it is!”  It’s downright scary…Report

    • Avatar karl in reply to BSK says:

      Great comment.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to karl says:

        Thanks.  I’m sort of disappointed with it, as I don’t think I really articulated what I wanted to very well, but if it conveys the general sentiment, I or someone smarter than I can probably flesh it out through the responses.Report

        • Avatar karl in reply to BSK says:

          Hey, I know that feeling all too well.  For the record, “Why are you so invested in Zimmerman’s innocence?  . . .  Trayvon Martin is the new Tawana Brawley.  Zimmerman is the new crew of falsely accused gang rapers.  They can hold Zimmerman up and say, “NOT THIS TIME, FOLKS!” is more than articulate for me, bub.

           Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to BSK says:

      I find interesting that while we debate the role race did or did not play in all of this, three Mississippi teenagers just pleaded guilty to hate crimes in a case of going to a town in search of a black man that they beat and murdered. They found, beat, and then ran over an auto worker with a car. I don’t find it interesting in a telling sort of way where one side or the other is exposed as wrong or insincere as it pertains to Zimmerman, but man… can we all gather around the flagpole in agreement on this other case? Find common ground just for a second before we get back to accusations of racism and race-baiting?

      I don’t know that I am ably articulating what I am trying to get at – if I am trying to get at anything – except to say, I guess, that sometimes we’re not comfortable if we aren’t at one another’s throats. And things that I would think we should be able to agree on are not worthy of our attention.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

        Sure. If they’re guilty, hang ’em high. I’m fairly certain that we can all agree that murdering black people is a bad thing.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        This is sort of what I was trying to get at. The Martin case is a tragedy, no matter what happened (and my own sense of it is that Zimmerman is a murderer), and I’m glad it’s getting attention, but there are a lot of people who are outraged, outraged I tell you, about this case who don’t seem to have ever been all that interested in what’s going on all the time in this country with respect to race, and with respect to black people in particular. We live in a country where racism still pervades pretty much every aspect of our society, but until it becomes something you can use to beat up the other side, a lot of people don’t seem to care. That, I suppose, is the real white privilege: getting to pick and choose when racism bothers you.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

          That, I suppose, is the real white privilege: getting to pick and choose when racism bothers you.

          Chris, I get the disappointment you feel about liberals picking and choosing their causes, about liberals dredging up incidents and factoids to represent the other side as something malevolent, about the partisan bickering being more of a distraction from the real issues than helpful in resolving them. But here’s the thing: just because we don’t dedicate 100% of our free time to the cause of eradicating our world of racism (and how is that done except by words and actions?) doesn’t mean that having an opinion about the things that pop up on our radar is counterproductive. In fact, that’s what we do here everyday: present our opinions about things that were just presented to us. We’re not trying to change the world with our comments at the LoOG. We’re conversing, joking, presenting, arguing, snarking, ridiculing, back-slapping… We’re just engaging in conversation. And part of the conversation is that when someone says something we disagree with, we challenge them on that. I don’t think there’s any other big motivation behind commenting at the LoOG than engaging in discourse with intelligent people and shaping our ideas. ANd more importantly, for those of us that comment and post, expressing them.

          There is great utility in posts like Elias. He presents what he thinks  is an accurate description of a certain state of affairs. Then we get to read it and decide if we think his view withstands scrutiny. That the right finds his post offensive is sort of irrelevant: it wasn’t meant to be, and it certainly shouldn’t be understood that way. If the right has a problem with it, they can argue against it rather than just bitch about it. Furthermore, Elias doesn’t owe anything to conservatives, just as he doesn’t owe anything to liberals. He’s just presenting his views.  I find it exceedingly strange that you think Elias, or anyone else for that matter, owe anything to the discussion other than their best effort at honesty, clarity and civility when writing about topics that interest them. So when you say

          until [racism] becomes something you can use to beat up the other side, a lot of people don’t seem to care.

          you’re missing the point. People do care, and these higher profile cases present opportunities for people to express their thoughts about the underlying issues. I mean, the case Trumwill cites is important and should get lots of attention, but it doesn’t present any counterpoint to the Martin/Zimmerman case. And the fact that it doesn’t means that there’s nothing noteworthy about the case other than some white kids killed a black man. For all I know, that’s the beginning, middle and end of the story. Racism exists! There’s your proof! The Zimmerman case, on the other hand, is interesting because it appears to be a racially motivated murder that wasn’t investigated (for whatever reasons!) and one which conservatives insist wasn’t racially motivated, was an act of self-defense, and is legal under the Stand Your Ground law. That makes the case, and the rhetoric surrounding the case, interesting. One worthy of commenting on and writing posts about. The Mississippi case? It’s open and shut racism, right?

          But we’ll see. Now that we’re aware of it, I’m sure some conservatives will argue that that incident wasn’t racially motivated either. And Elias and me and others can begin our drumbeat of criticizing conservative apologetics, and you can pick right back up criticizing us for doing so.

           Report

          • Who shed a tear when James Byrd’s murderers were executed?

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/21/lawrence-russell-brewer-executed_n_974926.html

            It’s hard enough dealing with the caricatures and distortions without dealing with stuff made up from whole cloth, Mr. Still.

            Another case

            http://www.wyff4.com/news/30787874/detail.html

            that didn’t make the national media. So it goes.  It’s probably better it doesn’t go viral, so as not to encourage copycats.  But I think gentlepersons of the left, in not hearing about these things, get a wrong picture of the racial landscape.  Either that or this is all a game to you, just an excuse to bash the other half of the country that doesn’t vote the way you do.  In which case, I gotta stop indulging it with honest replies.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              But I think gentlepersons of the left, in not hearing about these things, get a wrong picture of the racial landscape. 

              No, no, I heard about that one too- it was posted on Drudge, yesterday I believe. Also, there were two British students killed in Florida by black kids last April and the parents are mad at Obama for not making a comment on that. Actually, reading Drudge, I think I know every time a black person assaults or kills a white person anywhere in the states. I don’t believe that gives a correct picture of the “racial landscape of America” though.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

            Still, let me be clear that I don’t think people need to talk about race all the time in order to say that they care. That’s certainly not true. However, the analogy to me is the Christmas-Easter Catholics, those Catholics who only go to Church for midnight mass on Christmas Eve and Easter day mass. Are they Catholics? Sure, if they say so. Do they contribute in any real way to their Church community? Not really. Unlike those 2-times-a-year Catholics, though, the people who only talk about race when it becomes a hotbutton political issue are actually doing harm to the dialogue.

            By the way, I highly suggest to Tom that he choose not to comment on this issue further. He has sunk to new League lows throughout these threads, and while I thought the comment about the photos and “gold teeth” would be as low as he could go, his comment here about black on white crime takes him even lower. The charitable interpretation that he’s simply tone deaf might have been possible before, but at this point, it’s no longer an option.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to Will Truman says:

        The Jackson case actually occurred to me when I first heard about the Martin case. The discussion in Jackson focused on the point that the victim, Anderson, had chosen a mighty suspicious place to be beaten and run over. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger* asked some of the “more basic questions that need answering, such as: What is an 18-year-old from Brandon doing out in the pre-dawn hours in front of a Jackson motel? Was there an altercation with Anderson that precipitated the incident?” Like with Martin, apparently some victims are just never quite innocent enough – if, despite our best efforts to determine otherwise, the dead person was not trespassing, or carrying a screwdriver, or had a brother-in-law in a gang, we can at least point out that he was out too late or wearing a sweatshirt with a hood.

        * The original piece seems to be gone from the paper’s site.

         

         Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to BSK says:

      Sure. I mean, the main reason I’d prefer that it turn out that Zimmerman was justified in shooting Martin is that I’d rather it turn out that it was a thug who was killed than that it was a decent young man. But it also irks me that the left is using this to bolster their narrative about how everything wrong in the lives of black people is due to white racism. That narrative is wrong, regardless of how this particular case turns out. The statistics don’t lie. But I’d prefer that they not be handed a vivid anecdote that appears to support it.

      Also, I’ve seen enough allegations of racism turn out to be bad statistics, bad reading or listening comprehension, or straight-up hoaxes that I’ve learned to be skeptical. The media are looking for sensational stories and the left is looking for anecdata to bolster their narrative, so there really isn’t much of an incentive to get things right when the story first breaks, and the bias all goes in one direction, at least from the non-conservative media.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        To be clear, I’m not convinced of Zimmerman’s side of the story. If I had to bet at even odds, I’m not sure which way I’d bet. But there really hasn’t been any shortage of people laying out the case against Zimmerman.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Also, I’m not suggesting that the conservative media are necessarily unbiased, only that whatever bias they have goes in the other direction.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Nope. not everything. just 75% of everything. (referring, again, to the 75% of an average white person’s wealth that was given to them via racist policies — homestead act on down)Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One question worth asking is “is what you’re saying Person P should know the same thing that you’re saying Person Q should know?” (assuming colorblindness, equality under the law, etc).

    It seems to me that the argument that “Person P had every right to stand his ground under Florida law” is a statement that applies to Trayvon. It seems that the tragedy is that Trayvon didn’t have a gun with which he could have protected his own life and instead got shot by a racist who had spent a loooong time daydreaming about the opportunity to finally shoot a “truant”.

    If what you’re saying Zimmerman had the right (or expectation) to do doesn’t apply equally to Trayvon, I’d like to know why.

    If it would have been Murder! for Trayvon to kill Zimmerman but a tragedy for Zimmerman to kill Trayvon, I’d like to know why.Report

  13. Due the extremely negative tone, and lack of productivity and constructiveness of the conversation, I have decided (with permission) to close this thread.Report