A Bloggy Puttanesca


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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84 Responses

  1. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    lure children of gay couples to go on camera and condemn their parents for future advertisements. You know, to promote healthy, loving families and all.

    You just don’t value The Greater Good.Report

  2. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Wiki is now using the “less angelic” photo of Trayvon Martin and the “less demonic” photo of George Zimmerman.


    We shall see if it stands.  This entire episode has proven that perception = reality.  Wiki is one of the battlefields, the democratization of truth.Report

  3. Avatar Scott says:


    If Zimm’s story is true then it seems that the SYG law worked just fine and should be kept.  What I find amusing is that Dems aren’t even waiting to find out the facts before inviting Martin’s parents to DC to testify about racial profiling for a propaganda stunt.  I want to know how Zimm could have racially profiled Martin given that he is a Dem and we know they don’t do that sort of thing.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

      Excellent point.  Either Zimmerman stalked and killed a man because he was a racist white man who hates black people, or Martin deserved to be shot.

      It’s a shame there aren’t any other possible scenarios.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        Either the homicide was justified or it was not, there really aren’t any other scenarios.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Scott says:

          Scott, if you missed the Volokh link, the Stand Your Ground law makes it tougher to indict.

          Florida law, though, clearly resolves this: “A law enforcement agency … may not arrest [a] person for using force [in a self-defense situation] unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.”

          At best, it’s a coin flip, 50-50.  Nobody knows.  This falls short of “probable” cause.  I’m reading that the lead investigator wanted to arrest Zimmerman.  However, the State Attorney said the case had no legs.

          [Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee announced earlier this month that he was stepping down “temporarily” as head of the department amid the public uproar over the shooting. State’s Attorney Norman Wolfinger, from Florida’s 18th District, also stepped aside in the case.]

          Yeah, baby. Once the shit starts going down, like whoever maced the #Occupy @ UCal Davis, just call in sick instead.  Do NOT do your duty.  Pay a doctor buddy to diagnose you with cancer.  Drive your car into a tree, say you were drinking and enter rehab.  Get yourself caught with 3 hookers and a hermaphroditic dwarf and you’ll someday take Keith Olbermann’s place on the Al Gore Network.  Anything, but just get yrself out of the line of fire before your career and your life are ruined.

          So now there’s a new State Attorney appointed, Angela Corey.

          ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: We are going to make sure that Tayvon’s mother and father and family and of course, all the people interested in this case have their questions answered. So we are committed to giving them those answers. We have to still finish our investigation and then decide in what forum that will occur…

          She’s so screwed.  She can’t get a conviction because unless she subpoenas the Martians who were flying by and videotaped it, nobody can say what happened beyond a reasonable doubt—one way or the other, as Tod eloquently limns:

          Either Zimmerman stalked and killed a man because he was a racist white man who hates black people, or Martin deserved to be shot.

          Congratulations, Ms. Corey.  Your career has just been ruined.  Unless somehow you find us a way out of this mess.  In which case you’re the next governor of Florida, and if you move quick enough, Mitt Romney’s choice for VP.  But mostly I think you’re screwed.Report

          • Avatar Fnord in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            If you had paid attention to the whole post you pointed out on Volokh, you’d see that probable cause, while vague, is generally held to be a less demanding standard than preponderance of the evidence, which is the 51% probability standard. So, in fact, a 50-50 shot IS probable cause.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Fnord says:

              Thx for the wanking, Mr. Fnord.  State Atty Angela Corey is screwed.   Even if you’re correct about the indictment process in the face of the Florida law, there’s no way Zimmerman is guilty of anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

              Think the Casey Anthony case, if you follow these things.  She was guilty of something, but what???  So, she got off.

              A trial—and subsequent acquittal—will create even a bigger shitstorm.  I hope you can hear me on this now.  I’m trying to stay at arm’s length and not get anybody’s wankage on my new suit.  I take no position on what happened in the moments leading to Trayvon’s death.  I don’t know, I don’t know how I can know, unless some other evidence pops up.

              Pls don’t dog me.  Of course I paid attention to the post from Volokh that I’ve linked to four times now.  But I do appreciate you reading it.  Few did.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                My understanding is that the SYS statute, in Fla. at any rate, removes review from a grand jury to a judge.
                Judicial review is an important aspect of the system working properly.Report

              • Avatar Fnord in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Sorry I got evidence of your intellectual dishonesty, I mean my wanking, all over your new suit.

                If you’re trying to stay at arm’s length, Mr. Van Dyke, here’s an easy way to do it: stop talking.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Fnord says:

                Oh no, am I being shouted down again?  Whatever shall I do?

                Respond to the argument or move along, Mr. Fnord.  I’ve been wanked on by bigger dicks than you.  You clearly misread the Volokh post

                Florida law, though, clearly resolves this: “A law enforcement agency … may not arrest [a] person for using force [in a self-defense situation] unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.”

                if you read it atall.Report

              • Avatar Fnord in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I defer to your exceptional wanking expertise, Mr. Van Dyke.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            because of advice like this, people die.

            Now maybe you think you’re Mr. Special, and you get to Not Do Your Damn Job simply because your job got consequences.

            Seems like there’s a lotta them around, in fact. I almost feel like pulling some cases, exceptin’ you wouldn’t believe me.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Given that a man is dead, you really can’t hope for a better scenario than one in which he deserved it. Because the alternative is that he didn’t.Report

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

          Mr. Berg, my best understanding is this was adolescent fantasy on both their parts, and it ended up adult.  Death.  Zimmerman was Batman, Trayvon Martin was keeping it real.

          This isn’t funny, in this context.


          Do I think this is what happened?  Yes, I do.  Based on my own best guess, it was no more meaningful and no less stupid than this.  It fits.  These were both adolescents in our society, Trayvon 17, George 26.  I’m not punking Obamacare here, but we just kept children on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.  We have created a safe zone for adolescence into your late 20s.

          Mr. Berg, neither young man “deserved” it, one to die, the other to live with killing him.  They were both playacting, “acting out,” until the moment the gun went off.

          Jesus, why can’t we see this?  These were our children, acting out a script that we their elders wrote, they didn’t.  There is no meaning in the actions of children.


          There’s an occasional commenter/lurker/fisker/pseudonym for a regular, “George Turner,” who swoops in now & then for clarity’s sake.  He gets the details right, at least a solid enough theory to establish the legal parameters of a “reasonable doubt.”  Absent some additional evidence from a Martian videocamera, there can be no conviction.


  4. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    “…and verified the story was a complete fiction”

    Part of the difficulty of the whole Daisey affair is that some of it is true and some of it is fiction. Daisey did go to China, he did stand outside the Foxconn plant, he did talk with workers. Large parts of his account are highly plausible, as TAL explained, because Apple’s own internal audits reported violations of various kinds of their supplier code of conduct. Also, Daisey’s practice of taking things that were in the news and incorporating them into his story undercut the idea that it was a complete fiction – the n-hexane poisoning story for instance. What makes the whole situation so sad is that had Daisey just represented his account for what it was, a dramatization, an incorporation of some events that happened to him, as well as events he’d gotten from news reports, and as not journalism – he could have advanced a cause he cares about as well as moving people. Even knowing the exaggerations, Daisey’s story is quite a piece, serving an important purpose of focusing attention on the serious problem of labor practices in China and the large problematics of economic globalization.

    All that said, I look forward to your next post on the topic.Report

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

      The hardest part about being a “journalist” is that playing it straight doesn’t pay.  It doesn’t even get awards.  “Muckraking” pays. Fictional muckraking—Upton Sinclair, The Jungle—that’s stuff for the ages.  Redford and Hoffman in All the President’s Men isn’t even what really happened, but it keeps Bob Woodward on the bestseller lists.  Seymour Hersh has got some things [My Lai] very right, some things [his JFK expose] egregiously wrong.  But he remains a journalistic superstar.

      Geraldo Rivera, enough said.  True, he was forced to tapdance if not gobble his own feces

      Geraldo Rivera: Reflections on Last Week’s Trayvon Martin ‘Hoodie’ Comments


      but he’ll survive.  In a nicer house than most any reporter who ever lived, especially the ones who played it straight.

      And I like Geraldo, but he’s always been an advocate, a muckraker, one who tells one side of the story passionately.  People like that.  People don’t like ombudsmen.  Name me a famous ombudman.  Tell both sides of the story?  Both sides will hate you accordingly, alternately when you go against them in turn.  Do not do this, unless you have the belly for it, that you love the search for truth more than you fancy your popularity.

      The ombudsman’s column should be the most popular feature of all at a newspaper.  Instead, it’s the biggest misery of all, and nobody gets out alive.

      Poor Geraldo.  Makes you almost feel sorry for him, getting all out of sync with his “base” and all.


      It has been a wrenching week.

      There is nothing more disorienting than to be attacked by people you love.

      Rather than an existential threat, it is frustrating and depressing, particularly because I meant well.

      What caused the schism with my base was my rant in this space last week against hoodies like the one worn by 17-year old Trayvon Martin on the evening he was shot dead by George Zimmerman inside a modest, burglary-plagued  gated community in Sanford, Florida.

      Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/03/30/geraldo-rivera/#ixzz1qlDVHLHUReport

  5. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    With no undue respect to NOM types, it’s not actually hypocrisy if they don’t consider gay couples and their children to be real families. I don’t want to defend them, but arguments of the form “You’re a hypocrite because you don’t accept my premises” annoy me. See also: “If you’re so pro-life, then how can you support the death penalty?”Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      “You’re a hypocrite because you don’t accept my premises”

      I’m sorry, did I come off as sounding like my problem with paying children to condemn their parents on camera for a political campaign was bad because it was “hypocritical?”  My bad.  To be clear, then:

      I had not meant to communicate that my problem with the NOM strategy was that it was hypocritical; I generally find hypocrisy to be a universally and wholly human trait, and consequently try not to condemn others for falling into its trap.  

      Rather, I had meant to communicate that my problem with paying children to condemn their parents on camera stems from it being a callously thuggish and evil thing to do, and that anyone that can think that doing so is a “good” for any family should be slapped upside the head and drummed out of politics – regardless of what social issue they are fighting for, or their political philosophy or party affiliation.

      I apologize to the NOM for any confusion my comments might have caused.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      I believe all the elements of ‘family’ are easily satisfied by any objective measure.
      If we can count single-parent households as ‘families,’ then it would appear as if the presence of opposing genders is rather arbitrary.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Will H. says:

        I loved my late mother dearly, and even though on the outside I’m so much like my dad, few know it’s my mom who made me the man and the person that I am.

        But as anyone who’s ever had a mother might attest, perhaps one is enough.Report

  6. Avatar James K says:

    What was far more worthy of shock and condemnation was the attempt to use $120,000 to identify and lure children of gay couples to go on camera and condemn their parents for future advertisements. You know, to promote healthy, loving families and all.

    Didn’t the Soviet Union teach children to inform on their parents?Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “So why this desire to paint Martin, rather than the man who shot him, as the guilty party? Partly, of course, it’s just a reaction to his death becoming a cause célèbre on the left—it’s the same sort of impulse that leads some conservatives to delight in “Fry Mumia” T-shirts. Beyond that, though, some on the right are deeply invested in the idea that anti-black racism is no longer much of a problem in the United States, and certainly not a problem on the scale of false accusations of racism. You might call these people anti-anti-racists. They are determined to push back against any narrative that would suggest that a black man has been targeted for the color of his skin.”


    A great, great piece.



    • Avatar Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

      Liberal media at it again, who is surprised?  NBC edited Zimm’s 911 that was broadcast on the Today show.  Guess the public needs Fox to keep the liberal media honest.




      • Avatar BSK in reply to Scott says:


        I offer no defense for what NBC did there.  Besides being an abuse of the privileges afforded our media and demonstrating a complete disregard for their responsibilities, it offers little towards what should be the single goal of this work: justice.  Framing Zimmerman is not justice.

        However, I don’t see what that has to do with the linked story and the quote, which has a lot more to do with a broader ideology (the “anti-anti-racist”) than with the actions of any particular media outlet.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

      Not a “smear,” necessarily.  The “angelic” picture of Tayvon, along with the following assumption of no social maladjustment, leaves the only reasonable conclusion that George Zimmerman—less than angelic-looking, with some history of wack behavior—initiated the fight that led to the fatal tragedy.

      You might call these people anti-anti-racists. They are determined to push back against any narrative that would suggest that a black man has been targeted for the color of his skin.

      Mostly true, especially as the counter to Jesse Jackson’s demagoguery that “blacks are under attack.”  For if Jackson is right, we are already at race war.  If he is wrong, then we have a chance.

      Now every time a white is assaulted/killed by blacks, what if a demagogue got out in front, that “whites are under attack”?  Whipped up the outraged mob in the “caucasian community”?  Tell me the pushback wouldn’t be there, and hopefully not just from the left, but from everybody.

      But when you have an event like the Wisconsin State Fair last summer, where Tweeter-gathered bands of black kids indiscriminately assaulted whites based on skin color alone, “whites are under attack” would have been literally true.


      However, we would hope that nobody would try to demagogue this into a greater commentary on the state of the nation, and that we would hope [and] pray that this was more the exception than the rule.

      As we should be saying—hoping and praying—that the Trayvon tragedy was just one of those things, that George Zimmerman is George Zimmerman and not “America.”

      Michelle Goldberg is quite right, in between her grenade-tossing.  If only she understood what she wrote.Report

      • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        As I noted (and was ignored) the last time someone (you?) brought up the WI State Fair incident, I was at the fair that entire week, including the night of the “riots” and to say that the news reporting was exaggerated is a massive understatement.  I guess the Lame Stream Left Wing Media gets it right when they’re misrepresenting black youth though.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NoPublic says:

          Shall we bring up what happened at Kentucky over the weekend?  Or will that be written off as it almost always is?Report

          • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Kazzy says:

            As in “Stupid Young People Doing Stupid Things”?

            I’m not a sports fan.  At all.  I enjoy the games (some of them) but I don’t have a team and I don’t really root unless there’s someone I know actually playing on the field.  The whole “wreck Main Street when we win/lose” thing is completely foreign to me but it does seem pretty common.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NoPublic says:

              My point is that it often gets the “Stupid young people doing stupid things” treatment when it’s white folks and the “OHMYGOD, IT IS THE END OF CIVILITY AS WE KNOW IT” when it’s black folks.  And the frequency of the former far outweigh the frequency of the latter, owing largely to the post-sporting-event phenomenon, especially on college campuses.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Kazzy says:

                Yeah, that’s pretty much the point I tried to make the last time the State Fair stuff got brought up.

                Stallis after the races: Drunk White Folks smashing stuff and pissing in gardens.  Meh.
                Stallis after the state fair: RACE WAR!Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NoPublic says:

                Sorry for the confusion.

                This plays out in a myriad of ways and has to do with how we tend to “otherize” people.  Generally speaking, we are better able to accept the actions of people we identify with.  When we are able to see ourselves in the person, we can better understand the circumstances that might have led them to do what they did.

                It is why old people can’t understand what the kids these days are doing, which men and women find each other so baffling, and why we respond so differently to equal actions done by people of different races.  There is an extent to which this is a part of human nature.  The problem is when we give in to this, refusing to step back and say, “Is this a rational response or an emotional response?”  It is worse still when people actively attempt to defend these biases.  “No, no, no,” they insist, “it really IS different when those people do it than when these people do it.”  They can rarely offer any substantive reason for why though…Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Kazzy says:

            Kazzy, the guy (?) right above you, the one who said that he was at the fair that Tom brought up and that the media coverage was highly exaggerated, and the one you were ostensibly responding to with your comment- you just wrote his point off by ignoring his comment altogether. That also counts as “writing off”.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Rufus F. says:


              My comment wasn’t as much as reply to his direct point as it was a contribution to the broader conversation about news reporting on “riots”.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Kazzy says:

                Fair enough. It’s really just a pet peeve I’ve had around this site in the last few months that you probably unintentionally brushed against.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Rufus F. says:

                I could have been clearer.  Sorry to have set you off.  And on a Monday, for Pete’s sake!Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’m a notoriously angry man.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Your avatar gives that away…Report

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

                Some pseudonym gives an “eyewitness” account that contradicts the papers and that’s it?  While you’re at it, who really shot JFK?

                How about this assault then?  Actually, my point was that these incidents should not be leveraged into a greater narrative.  George Zimmerman is not “America.”Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


                who shot JFK is obvious, though obviously you’re more inclined to listen to Spector than I am.

                No, George Zimmerman is not AMERICA.

                You are, the person who would turn his back from his duty, and advise others to do the same. I suppose I ought to be charitable, and say at least you aren’t shooting them in cold blood. But they’re dead just the same.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Kimmi says:

                Phil Spector shot JFK?  That explains so much…Report

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

                No, Tom, that’s not “it”. What I’m saying is, “Okay, let’s hear what this commenter has to say and maybe ask him some questions about it, or even argue with him about it, but at least engage in some way with his comment”, and what you’re saying is, “He uses a pseudonym, let’s dismiss what he said out of hand.” So, apparently, that’s it.

                In fact, you quite often make what I consider to be absolutely correct criticisms of the people here who dismiss the points you raise out of hand without engaging with them- the “99” stuff, and so forth.- but you also very frequently dismiss the points other people raise in response to you out of hand without engaging with them at all. So, okay, we’ll ignore this person too because they use a pseudonym. Must be lying.

                Furthermore, I agree with your point about not leveraging these events into a larger narrative about “America”, but it’s hard to remember that point when you also argue that the narrative, ““whites are under attack” would have been literally true.”  As for the Seneca story, yep, that one was on Drudge nearly a week ago, so I saw that one too. But, if you’re not bringing it up to push any narrative of your own about the “racial landscape of America”, then I don’t see what the point is. It seems as if you’re going to post every Drudge-approved rampaging blacks story here to make your larger point that we should stop trying to spin narratives about race in America out of random acts of crime and violence. If you want to make that point, however, you should stick to that point.Report

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

                Sorry, Rufus, but pseudonyms on the internet aren’t credible sources to me.  Hell, the way NBC just edited the 911 call, even the credible sources aren’t always credible.

                As for the rest, acknowledged with my thanks.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Rufus F. says:

                The real problem with this approach is that we are not comparing like events.

                Much of the outrage surrounding the Trayvon Martin situation has had to do with the “official response”.  People are going to hurt and kill other people.  Sometimes that is going to be because of how the other person looks.  I don’t know that this will ever end.  Holding up examples of times where people who looked one way hurt or killed someone who looked another way with the difference in their appearances possibly being a motivating factor as evidence of some sort of organized attack on people who look a certain way is silly.  But when the government seems to constantly fail people who look a certain way, or talk a certain way, or act a certain way… it raises very legitimate questions.  Now, there are many possible answers to those questions, many of which have nothing to do with race.

                Trayvon Martin’s death is not evidence of an attack on black America.  The response by the police/DA, many members of the media, and individuals across this country do point to animosity, hostility, and/or a disregard towards black Americans, particularly young black men.

                Six black dudes beat up a white guy, were arrested, and face hate crime charges.  The system worked.

                One Hispanic dude shoots a black kid and is still sleeping in his own bed.  The system failed.  And if there is greater evidence that the system worked, please present it.  A lack of transparency in and of itself is a system failure.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mange moi M.Van Dyke (if that is your real name)
                I’m pseudo because I’ve been stalked on the internet and it’s not a pretty picture.  I try to avoid that these days.
                If you want proof, I’ll gladly take a picture of this week’s Shepherd Express next to the very State Fair entrance described in the news report you forwarded and post it here.  Not that it matters, since I contradict your world view and am therefore irrelevant.
                The simple fact of the matter is that on that evening a bunch of people did really stupid things.  Some of them were young black men and they were, with no exceptions that I’m aware of, the only ones punished for any of them.  I’ll leave how this is relevant to the discussion at hand as an exercise for the reader.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to NoPublic says:

                Mr. Pseudonym, I prefer to believe you—it’s a disturbing thought.  However, we had a sockpuppet scandal here just a month ago.


                We have several shady characters around here who are obsessed with winning regardless of the truth.  Your “name,” I do not recognize.

                I often opine that our national crisis remains epistemological.  At this very moment, somebody’s on the radio saying they saw George Zimmerman in bandages the next day.

                The interviewer is asking outrageously contentious questions [or at least contentiously asking things the witness had no personal knowledge of], like “Do you think anyone has the right to ‘pull the trigger'” and “Do you think this was racial?”

                [Answers: “I think something happened that night where he had to defend himself,”, and no, “I don’t think race is involved at all, because I’ve seen black, African-American folks come to George’s house.”]


                [Oh, look, it’s Fox News!  Even though local Fox stations have nothing to do with the Bill O’Reilly network.]

                But Mr. Public, I am sincere—I really hope the Wisconsin State Fair thing didn’t go down the way the media said it did.  I found it an upsetting thought for our country, and take no delight in such things.

                Just as I hope it’s true that George Zimmerman really has had black visitors as friends, and that he didn’t “hunt Trayvon down like a dog” out of racial animus.  OK?



      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Yeah, but TVD? I know fools who have worked in Detroit. Zimmerman is America — or at least significant portions of it.

        You go walk in your fairy tale america.

        “America never was America to me.”Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    A legal question that I have been wondering about…

    Under this law, would it be possible for there to be two people standing their ground against each against the other?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

      Ah, the famous Zax conundrum.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

      I wondered that as well (not sure if it was on this thread or elsewhere).  If Trayvon legitimately feared for his life with this unfamiliar man following and watching him, than any action he took would have been theoretically justified.  If we accept the theory that he initiated the physicality, than Zimmerman would also have been justified if he believed his life was in jeopardy from Trayvon’s attempts to protect his own life.  Like a snake eating its tail…Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

      No, only one person can claim a legitimate use of force.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

        And with Trayvon dead, his ability to make that claim seems gone, no?  Which almost seems to incentivize killing the other person, as opposed to simply disabling them*.

        * I don’t mean to imply that Zimmerman knew this and made a calculated decision to shoot-to-kill to avoid just this type of scenario.  My hunch is that things happened too fast for that.  But it is worth pointing out when a law can potentially create such a perverse incentive wherein killing someone is better than not.  This takes us back to the idea that a rapist could kill his victim and insist the sex was consenual until she went crazy and started hitting him, at which point he simply stood his ground and defended himself.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

      Actually, I think since what the law allows is the use of deadly force, it makes it kind of a moot point.  (Kind of an “applies to last-man standing” thing.)Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Also, does anyone know where the law itself draws the line at when it is appropriate to use deadly force when fearing for your life?  Like, I’m sure that it doesn’t protect me if I honestly believe some commenter is going to kill me because of something he says here, so I buy plane tickets to wherever he lives to take him out first.  But does it protect, for example, someone with a severe mental illness that truly believed some random guy in the street was out to get him?  If not, why not?  I obviously haven’t ever read the actual law, so I really don’t know.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:


          You might have to click around because there are several different statutes that sort of say the same thing but also sort of contradict each other.  I don’t know how laws are generally written, but this is confusing as F.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          This is a really interesting part:

          “776.041?Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

          (1)?Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
          (2)?Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

          (a)?Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
          (b)?In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.”
          Several questions: Could anything that Zimmerman was doing that night quailfy as a “forcible felony”?  What exactly are the laws about following a minor?  I imagine that I would get arrested if I was following a 17-year-old girl around…
          What constitutes “provoking” an attack?
          And, there still seems to be little in the way of an ojbective standard of reasonable belief of imminent danger of death or bodily harm.


          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

            I could see a situation where each of two people in an altercation could reasonably claim “self-defense” after shooting the other. If Trayvon had been packing, for example, the tape of Zimmerman getting out of the car despite warnings from 911 would be sufficient for me to say that Zimmerman was looking for trouble and, indeed, found it.

            The debate I had originally thought we were going to have was about the theory/practice of “Stand Your Ground” laws but if the law allows you to pick a fight, get your ass kicked, then kill the person you provoked and claim that you were “standing your ground”, I’d say that it’s unequivocally a bad law.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              but if the law allows you to pick a fight, get your ass kicked, then kill the person you provoked and claim that you were “standing your ground”, I’d say that it’s unequivocally a bad law.

              On a causal reading, I don’t think that’s what the law says. It’s what people have mistakenly understood the law to be saying. Read the provisions. They apply to the use of deadly force against others when forcible entry into dwelling is occurring or has occurred, or as a response to an imminent threat if you have a right to be where you are and haven’t engaged in any illegal activities. Stalking, I’d imagine, constitutes some form of illegal activity. As would other forms of harrassment or etc which might otherwise justify killing as a response.

              But! IANAL.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:

            This part seems to constitute a defense for Martin:

            (3)?A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
            Of course, the term ‘attacked’ in this section renders the law sort of moot, since I’d have to assume that ‘defense from being attacked’ is already permitted by Florida law. And without further definition of what constitutes an ‘attack’, being followed or stalked may fail to rise to that level. Personally, I think the weakest part of the provision as a defense for Zmmerman is the concept of ‘being where you have a right to be’. Surely Zimmerman had every right to be in any specific location that night, but he does he have the right to be following or stalking another person who’s exhibited none of the other sufficient conditions for the use of deadly force:
            (a)   The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
            (b)?The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
            Seems to me the answer is no. So, on a narrow reading of one of the provisions, Zimmerman has the right to stand his ground. But since his actions leading up to the incident violate the SYG provisions, it seems to me Martin is the only one who can legitimately use SYG as a justification for what may have subsequently happened.


            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              it seems to me Martin is the only one who can legitimately use SYG as a justification for what may have subsequently happened.

              I agree with this 100%.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

              A huge issue is that the law does not require that self-defense be made as an affirmative defense in a court of law.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:

                That may be so. But if it’s distinguished from standard self-defense, the SYG provisions require either 1) that Trayvon was “in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling…”  as well as that Zimmerman “knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred”, or 2) that Zimmerman had a right to be where he was, that he hadn’t engaged in any illegal activity, and that there was an imminent threat not to his own life (since that’s self-defense) but to the lives of others, or in the prevention of a forcible felony.

                If Trayvon attacked Zimmerman, the argument should be that he defended himself. That people argue instead that he has a right to stand his ground is, on my reading of the law, incoherent, since Trayvon’s actions and Zimmerman’s beliefs around those actions fail to satisfy the conditions under which the law applies. On the other hand, if anyone has a right to stand his ground according to the “threat to his own life” provision and meet force with force, it’s Trayvon.

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                It’s kind of modeled on the “Castle” law, is it not?

                To what extent is self-defense an affirmative defense when it comes to in-home incidents?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:


          “Forcible felony.—“Forcible felony” means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.”

          “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”

          “776.032?Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

          (1)?A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
          (2)?A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.”
          This last one is the full text of a statute that has been quoted in part elsewhere here.  I could not find a definition for what constitutes “probable cause” and it is unclear whether the police and DA followed standard procedures during the investigation.  The way in which this last statute shifts burden is very problematic, as it again incentivizes killing the other person since, absent eye witnesses, that would seem to make it impossible to overcome a self-defense claim.