Strawmen Tell No Tales: The Sophistry of Victor Davis Hanson

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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  1. And yes, for the moment, I’m more than willing to take the hate mail and reactions. But honestly please forgive me if I’m not as brisk with responses on this particular topic. I may in fact tune out from comments for a while…if only to keep myself civil everywhere else.Report

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    I do find it interesting that we’ve reached a point where the best defense against being called a racist, even when you’re saying things that are blatantly racist, is to simply suggest that “liberals” or “leftists” or whoever call anyone they disagree with racists. “I don’t go into black neighborhoods because black people are violent and scary. People will call me a racist for this, but that is simply because they are unable to handle the truth and attempting to smear those who say things they disagree with.”

    We’ll see it in this thread.Report

    • Avatar Matty in reply to Chris says:

      In the last thread the argument seemed to go.

      Commenter 1: “Black people are scary, white liberals are hypocrites cause they avoid black areas”

      Comenters 2 through X: Give list of majority black areas they as white liberals are happy to spend time in

      Commenter 1: “Those don’t count only areas with high crime are really black”

      At this point commenter 1 disappointingly fails to fly up their own circular logic and explain the causal relationship between melanin and violence.

       Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Chris says:

      This is actually an old debating tactic, by merely bringing up a potential argument against you, you rob it of some rhetorical force.Report

  3. Avatar boegiboe says:

    Cogent and thoughtful, spiked with righteous anger. Very much appreciated, Nob.Report

  4. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Okay, well, I looked up the column in question and my response was mainly to wonder how long it takes someone to write a column like that when they have to pause every few moments and cry to themselves over their poor, miserable lot in life.

    That said, a link in your post would help a bit for those of us who are lazy as well as those who don’t understand how the Internet works.Report

  5. Avatar Sam says:

    It is important to remember that nobody in America is as victimized as the aging white conservative man. Nobody has had a harder time of it. Nobody has struggled more. Nobody suffers more. Once you understand that, Hanson’s work becomes far easier to understand.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Sam says:

      Whew, that’s good! Otherwise, he just sounds like a passive-aggressive chickenshit.

      Seriously, I’m starting to understand why people find wimps so offensive.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Sam says:

      Nowhere in that piece does he claim victimhood. He’s rightly pointing out that the left’s rhetoric on these issues is complete and utter bullshit, but he doesn’t say that he’s a victim, or that he’s suffering.

      Your comment makes no substantive point. It’s just cattiness.Report

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

        Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?Report

      • Yeah, you need to go to the Daily Caller for that.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Let’s examine VDH’s first point:

        1) If one suggests that there may not be, at least as yet, enough evidence to overturn the initial police decision of not charging Mr. Zimmerman with a crime, then one is a de facto racist.

        Let’s see if you can go this far along the track of inductive logic:

        If one suggests that the initial police decision to wrap up the investigation before all the evidence was collected, despite the unanswered questions surrounding this boy’s death, including an affidavit filed by the lead investigator supporting a manslaughter charge, could one possibly infer any malfeasance or incompetence in this case?

        VDH begins by begging the most important question: that of the sufficiency of the evidence.  If we return to this bit “at least as yet”, we might presume, in error, that the investigation was ongoing when this incident hit the press.  VDH mendaciously attempts to stipulate to insufficiency of evidence when the entire outrageous incident hangs on the casus belli of declaring for exactly that insufficiency by the Office of the State’s Attorney.Report

      • Brandon,

        There’s nothing bullshit about calling a (racist) spade a (racist) spade.Report

  6. This is how polemicism should be done.Report

  7. Avatar dhex says:

    comparing vdh to the sophists is unfair to the sophists. they had skills.Report

  8. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I was all excited when I read the first paragraph, since I don’t really read NRO and have never heard of Victor David Hanson.  I thought you were going after one of the Hanson Brothers.

    But the way you went was nice, too.Report

  9. Avatar HappyAcres says:

    The crew here resembles children biting at VDH’s ankles.  Consider me UNSUBSCRIBED.Report

  10. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “the outrage was and is focused primarily upon the failure of law enforcement to adequately investigate the killing. ”

    Oh, whatever.  Unless Zimmerman is drawn and quartered on live TV in the next couple of weeks, this will always and forever be seen as An Example Of White America’s Obvious Racism.  Reasonable Doubt?  fuck that shit, he’s guilty as hell and we all know it, why are we even talking about it?

    What happened here was that the cops looked at the situation, realized that nobody saw Zimmerman confront Martin and nobody saw Zimmerman shoot Martin, that any half-competent defense attorney would have a field day with that, and decided that a high-profile trial where a white(ish) guy got away with shooting a black teenager would be a nightmare to clean up after (just like it was with Oscar Grant.)  So, justifiable homicide, no charge, let’s all agree not to talk about this ever again.

    But some people just won’t be satisfied unless every killing of a black man is a deliberate act spawned by racial hatred.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Until the Sanford Police institute a policy of drive-by shootings for every third white person they see, there can be no equality under law.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Liberals are the real RAAAAAAAAAAAACIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISTS.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

      “Oh, whatever.  Unless Zimmerman is drawn and quartered on live TV in the next couple of weeks, this will always and forever be seen as An Example Of White America’s Obvious Racism.  Reasonable Doubt?  fuck that shit, he’s guilty as hell and we all know it, why are we even talking about it?”

      DD-

      I think there might be some truth to this.  But that is largely a result of how shockingly horrible the handling of the situation has been.  If Zimmerman was arrested that night, brought to trial, and acquitted based on an honest interpretation of the law and evidence, there would be some hemming and hawing, but most people would resign themselves to the system having worked, albeit with a result that is other than what they sought.  Attention would likely turn to SYG laws, gun control laws (I do think there is legitimate question as to how someone with a history of violence, including against the police, comes to carry), and other aspects of the legal system that led to the acquittal.

      Instead, you have months and months of anger, various trials in the court of public opinion, and shadiness and failures at all levels of “the system”.  It will be hard for anyone to accept a result other than what they believe is just as anything less than a perversion of justice.  Supporters of Zimmerman will insist that he was only found guilty because of “race baiting” or whatever and Zimmerman’s opponents will insist that the racist conspiracy continues.

      So, the extent to which your point is valid is largely predicated on the mishandling of the case to date.  While that does not absolve the responsibility of those who respond to the eventual verdict or decision poorly, it does shift some of that burden to the system itself.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Kazzy says:

        If Zimmerman wasn’t arrested, why is he visiting the police station wearing these bracelets? Are all visitors required to wear them?

        Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

          Yes.  It had been my understanding that there were no charges or investigation, not that he was never taken into custody.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I find it interesting that apparently no one bothered to document anything. No pictures of Martin’s hands, no pictures of Zimmerman’s wounds. Nope. We’re all squinting at video tape from a survellience camera.

            I mean, you’d think even in an open and shut case of self-defense it’d be a good idea to take a few snapshots. Civil suits and whatnot, right? Heck, I tend to insist on a police report for a car accident — because I don’t want there to be any arguments later about who was at fault or how much damage was actually sustained.

            You know — just in case.

            Stipulating Zimmerman was innocent — if I’d been in his shoes, I’d have been DEMANDING photographs and detailed reports. Didn’t the EMT’s document anything?

            I’m not a cop, but you’d think they’d have SOME SORT of basic procedure for a shooting, rather than what appears to be an “Aww, George never meant no harm!” coupled with a “Kid’s nobody, who cares” approach to the whole thing.

            Just the lackadaisacal approach to handling a shooting is enough to make anyone paying attention wonder what the heck is wrong in Florida. When you add in the stuff like coaching of witnesses and the 9/11 calls, well…it gets worse.

             Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Morat20 says:

              Not defending the police work, Jeff, just saying that I think Ward was right about that point.Report

            • Avatar Scott in reply to Morat20 says:

              Morat20:

              Why are you naively assuming that the cops didn’t take any pictures. Just b/c the cops didn’t release them doesn’t mean they don’t exist, duh.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Scott says:

                Because they’d have released them, or leaked them by now.

                The PR hit they’re taking is insane. If they had evidence that Zimmerman was actually injured, they’d have at least SOME ass-covering excuses for not charging — or investigating. “Seemed like an open and shut ‘kid tried to mug the wrong guy’ — bad call by first responders, in hindsight yadda-yadda”.

                So I’m thinking no, they don’t exist. Because if they did, someone would have leaked them because it’d make too many people’s cases/PR problems/media assautls easier.Report

    • Avatar Jeff in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Even if he hadn’t been arrested at the scene, as soon as the 911 tapes came out and it became clear that Zimmerman was persuing Martin, he should have been arrested.  His claim of self-defence vanished in a puff of smoke when he forced a confrontation.  Everything after that was Zimmerman’s fault, and he should be held accountable.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jeff says:

        Ugh. This again? First, it’s not clear from the 911 tapes that Zimmerman was pursuing Martin. He said he was following Martin, but there’s no real evidence that he was pursuing with the intent to confront, rather than keeping an eye on him until the police arrived. Furthermore, he said during the 911 call that he had lost sight of Martin. There’s no real evidence that he continued following Martin after the dispatcher told him they didn’t need him to (which, I should add, is not the same as ordering him not to follow). In fact, he said during the 911 call that he wasn’t quite sure of the address of his current location, which is entirely consistent with his claim that Martin confronted him when he got out to check the address.

        Finally—do I really need to say this?—it’s not illegal to follow someone. Zimmerman did not forfeit his right to self-defense by following Martin. “I think he was following me” is not a legitimate reason to knock someone to the ground and repeatedly slam his head on the sidewalk. That may or may not be what actually happened, but if it is, Zimmerman was entirely justified in shooting him.

        Obviously, Zimmerman has a very strong incentive to lie if the facts are not as he has claimed, and his story is not the only story consistent with the evidence which has thus far been made public. But his story is one story that is consistent with that evidence, and if it’s true he’s unquestionably innocent of any crime.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Zimmerman got out of the truck. Let’s not forget that.  It doesn’t prove what happened, but look at the chain of events that we do know about for sure and it’s very hard to see Zimmerman as wholly innocent. If I had somebody following me while I walked through a neighborhood I had every right to be in, then stop and get out of his truck…..

          Wait, I have had that happen. I felt threatened as all hell and was poised on the edge between fight or flight. I honestly can’t say how things would have gone down if the guy had made one false move.*

          Jeez, with all the apologists focusing on whether Zimmerman threw the first punch or not, nobody’s reflecting on how threatening his actions probably appeared to Martin, and how Zimmerman fucking created that situation, whatever happened next. No, he may not be guilty of a crime, and I’m not claiming he is. But the guy rates zero sympathy in my book.

          _________________________________
          * Walking through my 1500 person home town late on night when I had insomnia, I passed a guy getting into his truck. He followed me for a couple of blocks, then pulled ahead into the very middle of a parking lot of a church and called out to me. I kept walking, and then he pulled out, drove up beside me, stopped and got out. I’m not much of a fighter, but I’m also not much of a runner, so I was ready to do whichever seemed like my best option. Dumb motherfisher turned out to be a cop, reasonably wondering what I was doing walking around the town at 2 a.m. but unreasonably demanding to know why I didn’t walk over to a strange guy in street clothes in the middle of a dark parking lot at 2 a.m.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley says:

            “with all the apologists focusing on whether Zimmerman threw the first punch or not”

            It’s not apologism to discuss whether or not Zimmerman’s actions fit the definition of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, any more than it was apologism to discuss the meaning of “public use” during Kelo v. New London.Report

            • Not that this is really the right place for this, but your politics are mystifying to me. It’s like some weird blend of libertarianism and authoritarianism. Like, I don’t know, Pinochet or something.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Duck, it is apologism. Because if you follow somebody, then get out of your vehicle, you’re not “standing your ground.”  You’re encroaching on their ground.  It’s far more logical, based on what we factually know, to surmise that Trayvon Martin was standing his ground than that Zimmerman was.  To focus on Zimmerman’s alleged ground is apologism.  The unavoidable implication in your argument is that Trayvon Martin didn’t have ground to stand on.

              I don’t think you’re racist, so I’m not implying that.  Just that you’re being an apologist for reasons I can’t fathom.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley says:

                The point is not to apologize for either side.  The point is to show that reasonable doubt as to the circumstances exist.  Which is what will be argued in court if Zimmerman is ever charge with a crime.  Every argument you make just reinforces that point.

                “But he got out of the truck, he should have known what he was getting into, it’s his own fault!”

                And if the bitch hadn’t worn such a short dress and gotten so drunk she wouldn’t have gotten raped, right?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley says:

                Note that an entirely different standard of evidence would hold for a civil lawsuit against Zimmerman by Martin’s family, and if that ever happens I doubt it would even be argued in court, because there’s no way Zimmerman would walk away from that one.  But what people want is for his ass to fry like bacon, and that’s never going to happen, and it never was, and it never would have.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I thought that the SYG law applied to civil actions as well as criminal proceedings – yes?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Crap, you’re right. (Florida 776.032). Although Florida 776.085(1) suggests that using it as a defense against civil actions requires a “preponderance of evidence” that the injuries to the plaintiff were sustained during the commission or attempted commission of a forcible felony, and I doubt that anyone would claim there’s such evidence in this situation. I’m not sure how 776.032 and 776.085 interact in practice.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

            Right, he got out of the truck after he told the dispatcher that he had lost sight of Martin and didn’t know the address of his current location. That’s a matter of public record. That’s not something he made up in the wake of the shooting to cast it in a favorable light, so he was almost certainly telling the truth.

            He needed to find out his location in order to tell the police where to meet him. Which means that he had a perfectly good reason to get out of his car, with Martin presumably nowhere in sight. He had no apparent reason to want to confront Martin—he had already called the police, after all.

            Claims that Zimmerman confronted Martin, or that he sought a confrontation with Martin, are entirely speculative, and are not regularly being presented as such. They may in fact turn out to be correct, but that doesn’t mean that they’re justified at this time.

            Let’s turn this around. Suppose a white guy had beat up a black guy because he thought he was following him? Self-defense, or a case of Walking While Black?Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              Of course, this all falls on the idea that a guy who had been patrolling his own neighborhood for the past x weeks/months somehow didn’t know the roads of his own neighborhood well enough to know a street location without getting out of his car.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              Brandon, you are misrepresenting the 911 calls (I’m not claiming you’re doing it purposely, just that you’ve got it wrong). Here’s the two relevant parts from the transcript relating to location.

              Zimmerman:

              We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy. It’s Retreat View Circle. The best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle….

              911 dispatcher: OK, you said that’s 1111 Retreat View or 111?

              Zimmerman: That’s the clubhouse.

              And;

              Zimmerman: … When you come to the clubhouse, you come straight in and you go left. Actually, you would go past the clubhouse. 

              911 dispatcher: OK, so it’s on the left hand side of the clubhouse?

              Zimmerman: Yeah. You go in straight through the entrance and then you would go left. You go straight in, don’t turn and make a left. He’s running.

              911 dispatcher: He’s running? Which way is he running?

              Zimmerman: Down toward the other entrance of the neighborhood.

              911 dispatcher: OK, which entrance is that he’s headed towards?

              Zimmerman: The back entrance. …

              911 dispatcher: Are you following him?

              Zimmerman: Yeah.

              911 dispatcher: OK. We don’t need you to do that.

              Zimmerman: OK.

              911 dispatcher: Alright, George, we do have them on the way. Do you want to meet with the officer when they get out there?

              Zimmerman: Yeah.

              911 dispatcher: Alright, where are you going to meet with them at?

              Zimmerman: Um, if they come in through the gate, tell them to go straight past the clubhouse and, uh, straight past the clubhouse and make a left and then go past the mailboxes you’ll see my truck.

              911 dispatcher: Alright, what address are you parked in front of?

              Zimmerman: Um, I don’t know. It’s a cut-through so I don’t know the address.

              911 dispatcher: OK, do you live in the area?

              Notice that at no point does Zimmerman indicate that he’s getting out of his truck to check the address. In fact nowhere in the transcript does it indicate when he got out of the truck or why. There are post-incident statements about that, but the transcript does not tell us anything about that.

               

               

               Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

                I reviewed the transcript before I made that comment, to make sure that I got it right. I didn’t say that Zimmerman got out of the truck while on the phone with the dispatcher. I said that the conversation indicated a reason for him to get out of the truck: “Um, I don’t know. It’s a cut-through so I don’t know the address.” A bit later, he told the dispatcher to have the police call him when they arrived so that he could tell them where he was. Private communities often have inconspicuous street signs that are difficult to read in dim light, especially if your vision is less than perfect—I myself have had to exit my vehicle to determine my location on more than one occasion in the past.

                That Zimmerman got off the phone with the dispatcher, got out of his truck to check the address, and was then approached by Martin is plausible and consistent with the publicly known facts.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Brandon,

                Where in the transcript does Zimmerman say anything about getting out of his truck?  I don’t see that reference anywhere, so you’re just guessing that he got out then. We can’t know that from the transcript, unless you’ve got a copy that has something in it that the copy I used didn’t have.

                 Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to James Hanley says:

                At 1:45 in this call, you hear Zimmerman getting out of the call (that beeping noise is the tell-tale sound of the car door open warning). With a nickel’s worth of forensics the FBI could even tell you which brand of car from the beeping. You can also hear Zimmerman breathing harder, hear wind noise that was noticeably absent previously and he makes his famous “it’s fucking cold” statement that left chose to interpret as “fucking coons”.(1:52). All the armchair Perry Masons in the world aren’t going  to convince me he wasn’t out of his truck, but nice try anyway, pointing to a printed transcript of the conversation rather than the conversation itself.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to wardsmith says:

                Eh, Ward?  I’ve never listened to the tape; I’ve only read the transcript.  If you think I’m trying to pull something over on someone, you’ve clearly forgotten who I am. And who in the world is trying to convince anyone that Zimmerman wasn’t out of his truck? I’m not aware that has been in dispute–it certainly isn’t here.

                But thank you for the link. I have now listened to the transcript, and here are my thoughts.  First, I do not hear the beeping you mention at 1:45. I’m not saying it’s not there, but wondering if you put in the wrong time or if I just can’t hear it?  If it is at 1:45, that’s a long way away from him getting out of the vehicle at the point Brandon claims, the mention of a cut-through, which is around 3:23.  So if you’re right, Brandon’s wrong, and you’ve actually supported my argument.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to wardsmith says:

                This copy isn’t embedded in a newspaper article. Listen starting at 1:40, the sound of the door alarm is when he says, “They always get away”. Certainly even if you can’t hear the high pitched door alarm (speakers? hearing?) you can easily hear the wind noise which was previously absent. Sorry for mistaking your intentions, I haven’t been reading all the posts on this thread, just saw yours on the sidebar and remembered from hearing the tape weeks ago the car door open sound. Specifically I recall because it was right before he said “it’s f-ing cold” that everyone (like CNN with a doctored tape) was claiming was a racial slur. Plenty of misinformation out and about on this case, including that he wasn’t arrested (which he obviously was, hence the handcuffs).Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to wardsmith says:

                Ward,

                I used headphones, but perhaps they weren’t good, perhaps my computer doesn’t have loud enough speakers (it doesn’t go volume up very high, to be sure), or it could be too much rock music has wrecked my ears.  I did hear windnoise, which I agree suggests he got out. As an alt hypothesis I wondered if he had rolled down his window and was driving with his phone near the open window. It’s not impossible, but it’s also adding variables not in evidence, so I’m not claiming it’s so. But I’ll reiterate that assuming you’re correct–which I think is very plausible despite my bad ears–that fact undermines Brandon’s claim about when Zimmerman exited the vehicle.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’m not sure how much more clear I can make this: I didn’t say he got out of the truck during the call. I didn’t say he announced his intention to get out of the truck during the call. I said that the call indicates that he had a reason to get out of the truck:

                Dispatcher: Alright, what address are you parked in front of?

                Zimmerman: Um, I don’t know. It’s a cut-through so I don’t know the address.

                Me: This establishes that Zimmerman was unsure of the address of his current location.

                Dispatcher: Alright, George, I’ll let them know you’ll meet them at …

                Zimmerman: Could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?

                Dispatcher: OK, no problem. I’ll let them know to call you when they’re in the area.

                Me: This establishes a need for Zimmerman to determine the address of his current location. Which, given that it was roughly one hour after sunset, making it difficult to read signs from the street, gives some plausibility to his post-shooting claim that he exited the vehicle to check the address. He could be lying, but as it stands now his claim is consistent with publicly disclosed evidence, and speculation that he confronted Martin, or even continued following him after the dispatcher said that he didn’t need to, is just that—speculation.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                The lines labeled “Me” are my commentary, inserted after the fact. I wasn’t actually in on that call. And it would have been kind of creepy if I’d said that stuff.Report

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

                gives some plausibility to his post-shooting claim that he exited the vehicle to check the address.

                That is total crap.
                I’ve been in ride-alongs with cops.
                Those guys know every short-cut through every parking lot in their precinct.
                They know every sidewalk; they know every driveway; they know every deer trail.
                The address isn’t important; it’s the such-and-such hundred block of so-and-so.
                Nobody gets out of the car to check that.
                That line is total crap.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Will:

                But as liberals keep saying, Zimm is not a cop, so why do you expect him to act like or have the knowlegde of a cop?  Even then frankly I think you are exaggerating, given that we have no idea about Zimm’s knowlegde of every address in the his neighborhood.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Brandon, your first comment said:

                Right, he got out of the truck after he told the dispatcher that he had lost sight of Martin and didn’t know the address of his current location. That’s a matter of public record.

                That’s different than saying he “had a reason” to get out.”  That’s saying he did get out then.  I’d be willing to accept that you just didn’t write it clearly enough the first time except that you added that “That’s [his getting out at that time] is a matter of public record.”

                I’m just responding to the actual words in your first statement.

                Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Okay, I see the source of the confusion now. He did get out of the truck after telling the dispatcher he didn’t know the address of his current location. He hold the dispatcher that he didn’t know his current location, and a few minutes later he got out of the truck. I didn’t mean to suggest that he got out immediately after saying that, which I have no reason to believe is the case.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Will:

                I lived in an apartment complex for several years and never bothered to learn any of the internal street names, nor was there any point at which that information ever would have been useful. I knew what street the entrance to the complex was on, and that’s all that mattered. There’s a five-way intersection right outside my home and I don’t know the name of the third street. It’s never come up.

                Zimmerman said he didn’t know the address of his current location while talking to the dispatcher prior to the shooting. Unless he was actually planning on shooting Martin at that point, he had no reason to lie. Why would you not take that claim at face value?Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          let’s stipulate that Martin did attack Zimmernan:

          Wasn’t Zimmerman following Martin sufficient cause, under Florida law, for Martin to shoot Zimmerman dead?  All Martin needed was, as has been said many times, to feel threatened.

          I tend to feel threatened when strangers follow me in their car.

          So Martin has a perfectly legal right to “defend himself” from Zimmerman. Martin didn’t have a gun, so he used his fists. At that point, Zimmerman shoots Martin — also apparently in self-defense. You can apparently legally defend yourself against someone else’s self defense.

          That’s awesome. Apparently it’s whomever is left alive that was “self-defending” and whomever is dead was “attacking”. I suppose it would have been mutual self-defense if they’d just shot each other dead.

          Not sure what would have happened if they’d have just injured each other.

          Not to worry. As long as ONE of them is dead, it’s a clear cut case of self-defense!  Screw Disney, Florida might as well start offering people a chance to hunt the most dangerous game — let all those drooling gun-nuts with their self-defense fantasies live it out!Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Morat20 says:

            I suppose it would have been mutual self-defense if they’d just shot each other dead.

            Awesome. Just awesome.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Morat20 says:

            Wasn’t Zimmerman following Martin sufficient cause, under Florida law, for Martin to shoot Zimmerman dead?

            Not as I read the law. The standard is:

            A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if…He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

            I don’t think that “I think he was following me” qualifies as such, though certainly I would be interested in seeing any precedent for this interpretation in Florida or any other state with similar laws.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              There’s this case, which amounts to “I shot him because he was being a drunken pain in the ass”.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              He was followed by an unknown person in a car — Martin was on foot. Therefore Martin was at a severe disadvantage in attempting to escape.

              He didn’t know why he was followed, didn’t know whether the man was armed or not — if he caught a glimpse of Zimmerman’s gun, surely being followed by an ARMED stranger would seem sufficient.

              That appears to be sufficient to claim ‘reasonably believe force is necessary’ — especially given precedents in other states with similar laws, and the rest of the SYG laws that hamper investigation.

              Then there’s the funner questions — like, for instance, the Derbyshires of the world — they might reasonably believe a trio of black kids is out to kill them and rape their wives. Reasonable people might differ, but racists would agree! What’s reasonable?

              I’ve got to say, of the two of them — I’d say Martin had more reason to fear for his life. And not just becaue he was the one that ended up dead.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Because “So a black kid got got shot, he probably had it coming” is the precise meaning of equality under the law.Report

  11. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Anyone who thinks the “disproportionate rate of criminality and drug use” from official statistics is based on the fact that black “culture” is somehow just inferior to the rest? You’re either willfully ignorant or have an unspoken prejudice. If you seriously think that a white, middle-class teenager is less likely to possess or use marijuana than a black urban teenager? You’re either stupid or blind. One can get away with it with a wink and a nod. The other gets sent to jail. Guess which actually shows up in crime statistics.

    Speaking of sophistry, you addressed the weak point and pretended like that covered the strong one. Hanson is wrong about drug use. Blacks have only a slighter higher rate of past-month drug use than whites (Source). But he’s right about real crimes.  For example, here’s a table (PDF) of the race of perpetrators of violent crimes as perceived by victims. Whites outnumber blacks six-to-one in the general population, but by no more than three-to-one in any of these categories (except simple assault, barely). Here’s murder. More murders by black offenders than by white offenders, suggesting that blacks commit murder at a rate about seven times higher than whites.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      How many of those murders are gang related, and what does that tell us?

       Report

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

        I’m admittedly pretty lousy at math, but I’m missing the strong point and the uncomfortable truth about blacks that people keep bringing up here, or at least saying we’re all trying to ignore. If blacks committed 5,770 of those murders in the US, according to your link, that might well be at a rate seven times higher than that of whites. But, we’re talking about a black population of about 39 million at last count. Again, my math is terrible, and hopefully someone can correct whatever mistakes I’m about to make, but I still don’t get more than 1 in 10,000, or maybe more like 1.6 in 10,000 blacks committing murder. How many “uncomfortable inferences” to use Hanson’s term are we supposed to read into something so statistically insignificant?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Rufus F. says:

          Over on the Derbyshire thread, Pat has actually been doing yeoman’s work trying to explain this to people.

          He is not getting very far.Report

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

          It means one out of every 10,000 times you interact with a black person you’ll be murdered.  Or something equally stupid.Report

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

          “Statistically insignificant” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here.  By these lights, all murder is statistically insignificant.Report

          • “Statistically insignificant” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here.

            No it isn’t.  Not if your conclusion is that you need to avoid black people.  Or that if a black person was killed it was almost certainly his fault.  Which is the two points this conversation stemmed from, yes?Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

               Or that if a black person was killed it was almost certainly his fault.

              Do you want to maybe revise that a bit, or are you standing by this as a fair description of the defense of Zimmerman?Report

              • @ Brandon Berg – Do you want to maybe revise that a bit, or are you standing by this as a fair description of the defense of Zimmerman?

                Nope.  Not in the least.

                Not everyone, of course. But hey,  let’s be honest – “everyone” isn’t the subset of people Rufus was referring to above. That group of folks are the ones using national black crime statistics as arguments to defend Zimmerman, which is what Rufus was in part referring to – which is what you and Tom in turn were objecting to.

                I spent too much time on this site over the past week arguing with people that pointed out that the SYG law worked perfectly in this case because victim had smoked pot, or that he once had a picture taken with gold in his grill, or worn a hoody, backing it all up later with national black crime statistics vs. white crime statistics.

                Now all of those above observations may (or, in some other cases of things people were saying, may not) have been true.  But if your response to a complaint that a police force might have been lax in an investigation because of race – which, as I have said repeatedly, is a claim I do not believe there is evidence to support – is that it was not racism…  and your proof that it wasn’t racism but was in fact justice, is that you post pictures of the victim wearing gold in his grill (the way those people do),  or show that he had smoked pot in the past (the way those people do), or defend asinine FOX anchors for blaming it on wearing a hoody (like those people do), or posting stats over and over about other black people that committed violent crimes (like those people do), or post real & phony news reports of black people being arresting in different states for completely and totally unrelated crimes, then yeah… I’m going to call you out for blaming Martin’s killing on Martin.  Even if you didn’t go so far as to type the exact words, “IT WAS MARTIN’S FAULT.”

                Now BB, you wanna stand by these people?  Hey, be my guest. God knows the left has had people doing equally sh**ty things surrounding this mess.  (Hello Spike Lee and NBC defenders!)  But don’t sit through a week of this kind of insinuation, and then step back and say, “Why, no one would never imply it was his fault!”  At least have the stones to call out those on your “side” and admit that’s what some people are doing when they’re making these “relevant” arguments about – Jesus H Fishing Christ – hoodies, or a pho-gold tooth, or other black people being arrested in Texas, or what not.Report

            • Tod, I’m not afraid Oprah will murder me.  Absolutely not.

              I’m much more afraid of Charlie Sheen.Report

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

            When you correct for what most people worry about when they think of the risk of murder (most people are actually thinking about, “Random nutjob or pissed off robber kills me for no real reason”), murder *is* statistically insignificant, as far as causes of death go.  In order to get it to significance, you need to focus on small subpopulations.

            That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything about it.  It just means that you need to keep a proper perspective about what it means.

            Similarly, gun violence ending in death – given the number of guns in the country – is statistically insignificant.  Hell, even counting the Big Four (Murder, Rape, Armed Robbery, and Aggravated Assault), crime is barely statistically significant.

            As a white, middle class person, you are much more likely to be killed in a random traffic accident than you are to be murdered by a racial minority who doesn’t like you because you’re white.  Scads more likely.  About the only way you could come close to evening your odds would be to deliberately try to instigate an attack on yourself.  And yet you get into the car almost every day – if not every day – and drive to and from work, and to the store, and you put yourself at a risk of violent death that is much, much higher than walking through a minority neighborhood.  As a white, middle class person you are much more likely to die falling off a ladder than you are to be shot – accidentally or on purpose – by an irresponsible gun owner.

            Saying that you’re more afraid of the minority neighborhood than your car shows that you have bad risk analysis.  Which is okay, most people have very bad risk analysis.  I don’t fault people for that, per se.Report

            • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              We could talk about lotterys and how they are just a tax on people who don’t understand statistics and/or just stupid people.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                That too.  That last jackpot was the first one I think in a long while where the EV was even close to worth the buck.

                But then, people don’t play the lottery as an investment.Report

              • Exactly right. I’m kind of a big deal when it comes to math, but I still play the lottery several times a year. I don’t actually expect to win, but where else can you buy a dream for a $1?

                I can spend the buck at the start of a road trip and have created my own island nation far away from the ridiculous tax codes and laws of the US and full of toys by the time I arrive at my destination.Report

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

            I’ll agree that “statistically insignificant” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there. When I wrote that, I struggled to think of a better way of phrasing it. Now, you must have noticed that some of the phrases used in the particular arguments that I was responding to were doing some heavy lifting to make their points, right?Report

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

              Actually, no, Rufus.  Yours are among the few comments I read anymore, on this issue in particular.

              PatC points out that I’m more likely to be killed by a bathtub than a black person, and so it is. However, murder is about the last issue I’d pick for such a sense of proportion.

              Indeed, on the other side of the “proportion” coin, there was a time—and not very long ago atall—when whites murdered blacks with impunity.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmett_Till

              However, in 2012, the real “statistical insignificance” is in the Trayvon case, where a black is killed by a white with no legal consequences.  If murder is a “statistical insignificance,” in 2012 this type of case is an anomaly.

              Those jokers the other day who shot blacks in Tulsa, I hope they fry.  One of James Byrd’s killers—and note Byrd’s name is remembered, years later, as is Emmett Till’s—is already executed, with tears shed by none.

               Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                in the Trayvon case, where a black is killed by a white [Hispanic] with no legal consequences

                Fixed it for yaReport

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

                Okay, so you’ve probably picked up from my comments that I actually agree with you on this- the Trayvon case is indeed an anomaly- actually, I’m pleasantly surprised at how low the homicide rates are in general. It would be nice if it became unheard of.Report

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

                That’s the glass half-full, Rufus.  PatC recently pointed out that the murder rate in LA was 2-3X what it is now back in 1992, around the times of the Rodney King riots, and the crack epidemic.  Make of it what we will:

                http://www.npr.org/2011/01/06/132677265/las-homicide-rate-lowest-in-four-decades

                2011:

                “Crime generally has been going down since 1994; it’s now half what it was in 1994,” says UCLA public policy professor Mark Kleiman. “It’s a spectacularly dramatic social change.”

                Kleiman says police departments have new crime-predicting tools and sometimes better community relations. Sentences are stricter, and there are more prisons.

                There’s another big difference between now and the early 1990s, when the crack wars were at their peak: “Crack dealers have learned how to do business without killing each other,” Kleiman says. “In the early days, it was like a gold rush, and people were literally shooting each other on the street corners.

                “They were also heavily armed and shooting each other over petty interpersonal disputes.”

                Kleiman says that has calmed down because “a lot of the people who would be committing murder in L.A. are dead, and the rest are doing life in prison.”Report

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

                For reference:

                2010

                population 3,841,707
                21,484 (total violent crime)
                293 (murder)
                923 (forcible rape)
                10924 (robbery)
                9344 (aggravated assault)

                The FBI site only goes back to 1995 but this shows:

                2005 3,871,077 489 1,105 13,797 16,376 31,767
                2004 3,864,018 519 1,131 14,181 26,956 42,787
                2003 3,838,838 517 1,226 16,577 30,506 48,826
                2002 3,830,561 655 1,415 17,197 32,429 51,696
                2001 3,763,486 588 1,409 17,166 33,080 52,243
                2000 3,694,820 550 1,459 15,527 32,705 50,241
                1995 3,466,211 852 1,590 29,134 38,945 70,521
                1990 3,485,398 987 2,014 36,098 44,714 83,813
                1985 3,186,459 778 2,318 27,938 21,799 52,833
                1980 2,952,511 1,011 2,813 25,637 21,987 51,448

                Year, Population, Murders, Forcible Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Total Violent Crime

                Sorry, the formatting is bad.Report

              • 1500 murders in the Rodney King days down to 300 now.  Not that 300—or one!—is acceptable, but we can update the argument a bit, and our perceptions of the proportion of the problem.

                2800 murders in 1980?  Migod, the number astounds.  By that standard, the glass is more than half-full today, and the arguments and perceptions really outdated.

                 Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                You’ve got the forcible rape numbers there, Tom.

                Murder comparison:

                1980, 1,011 murders.

                1985, 778 murders

                1990, 987 murders

                2000 and up, declining more or less steadily down to the 293 number we have now.

                There are a lot of ins and outs there.  People may jump to the immediate conclusion that three strikes is contributing a lot, but you’d have to compare Los Angeles to a mean for all of California and then compare that to states that don’t have a three strikes law.

                My general understanding is that violent crime, in general, nationwide, has been on a 30-20 year downturn, due to a large number of factors.Report

              • Ooops, right you are, PatC.  2-3X more in 1994 felt more right. I moved here in 1981 and 2800 murders probably would have kept me away.

                A big jump between 1985 and 1990 in robbery and aggravated assault.  The crack epidemic?Report

              • My understanding of it is that part of the decline is due to a change in the crack trade and part is due to better policing in the cities. My friends in NYC tell me the drop in the crime rate there is probably because the cops are everywhere now.Report

              • Rufus, Los Angeles is “underpoliced,” cops per capita, esp compared to NYC.  As you see above, crime rates have dropped here bigtime.  Better policy but also something organic afoot, methinks.  Crime rates are exponential—the worse things are, the very worse things get.

                http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/13/us/13lapd.html?pagewanted=all

                The [Los Angeles Police] department, once widely assailed as racist, homophobic, authoritarian and corrupt, is now viewed as more friend than foe by most people in this city, including blacks and Hispanics, according to polls. A 2009 poll by The Los Angeles Times found that 8 in 10 voters strongly or somewhat approved of the performance of the department, with 76 percent of Latinos and 68 percent of blacks giving the agency positive grades; some analysts said that given the relative lack of contentious issues and the continuing drop in the crime rate, the department’s approval numbers have if anything continued to improve since that time.

                What is more, officials announced last month that the violent crime rate had declined 9.6 percent from last year, the ninth consecutive year of decline.

                Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                A big jump between 1985 and 1990 in robbery and aggravated assault.  The crack epidemic?

                There’s a reason Colors came out in 1988.  Yeah, the L.A. gang stuff was hot in between 1985 and 1990.  My guess is that.

                The UCR stats are not a clean dataset (which they themselves point out when you get the tables, popup warnings and everything) due to a number of limitations, but for the purposes of what we’re looking at they’re good enough for some measure of trends.

                The gangs don’t fight over turf the way they did in the late 80s.  Not just because crack isn’t as lucrative as it used to be, but because a lot of the violence moved farther up the supply chain, which is why drug violence in Mexico is so crazy, I’d guess.  Lots of ex-gangbangers working with their old homies to make truces, better policing, three strikes putting a lot of the middlemen and triggerguys behind bars for longer, or making them think more about getting caught one more time.

                I am not a fan of three strikes, but I’ve talked to a couple of gang support counselors and they have said to me that they know guys who have dropped out after two, so I’m certainly not ready to discount it as being part of the equation, at all.Report

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

                This appears to be part of a broad, nationwide trend encompassing crime and a number of other forms of risky behavior. Basically, the country stopped going to hell in a handbasket around 1990 on all measures except drug use, mainstream popular music, and entitlement spending.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                It looks to me as though the crime rate began dropping after the baby boomers had moved out of adolescence.  I’ve always said the children of the greatest generation are our worst generation. 😉

                 Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                To be fair, their greater numbers were a big part of it. Young adults commit the most crime, so all else being equal, crime rates will be higher when young adults are a greater prorportion of the population.Report

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

                However, murder is about the last issue I’d pick for such a sense of proportion.

                Oh, to be clear, I have no problem with this, Tom.

                If you’re talking about justice for crime, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

                If you’re talking about making rational decisions about what streets to walk on at night vs whether or not to drive your car at 2:20 am on the morning of July 5th or January 1st or whether or not you should leave behind your “Kill Whitey” sign when you’re traveling through the park on Civil War re-enactment day, though, that’s straight up risk assessment.  My pardon if I’m crossing the streams on the comment threads and making my position unclear.Report

              • Cheers, Pat.  Reductio ad absurdum is a legit technique used sparingly, but overuse renders the entire discussion absurd.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Rufus F. says:

          You’re kind of lowballing it by looking at only a single year. And murder is of course the tip of the iceberg; the rates of less severe crimes are much higher.

          That said, the vast majority of black people are not criminals. And they’re not in any way, shape, or form responsible for the crimes of those who are. Racial guilt is collectivist BS.

          I assume that the uncomfortable inferences he refers to are for those who use an exaggerated narrative of white oppression of blacks to push a left-wing socioeconomic agenda—the “professional grievance industry” that was mentioned in the first sentence of that paragraph and which was the topic of the prior paragraph. I guess I can see how someone coming in with different priors could interpret that as a statement about collective racial guilt, but the context strongly suggests otherwise.

           Report

  12. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    You’re kind of lowballing it by looking at only a single year.

    Fair enough. I hadn’t thought of that.

    And murder is of course the tip of the iceberg; the rates of less severe crimes are much higher.

    I looked at murder because you mentioned the fact that blacks commit murder at a rate seven times that of whites and I was just asking how significant that fact really is, given that such a small percentage of each population actually commits murder anyway.

    I assume that the uncomfortable inferences he refers to are for those who use an exaggerated narrative of white oppression of blacks to push a left-wing socioeconomic agenda—the “professional grievance industry” that was mentioned in the first sentence of that paragraph and which was the topic of the prior paragraph. I guess I can see how someone coming in with different priors could interpret that as a statement about collective racial guilt, but the context strongly suggests otherwise.

    No, I didn’t say there was a “statement about collective racial guilt” there; actually, I just asked what his point is. You said he had a strong point that was backed up by the violent crime statistics and how they break down in terms of blacks and whites, so I assumed you were referring to those specific paragraphs in Hanson, but I’m still not sure what the uncomfortable truth is that liberals, or Nob in specific, are hiding from, or entirely what Hanson’s driving at. What are we supposed to take from these numbers?

    In the two paragraphs, Hanson says that white-on-black crime gets huge media attention, which is probably true, while black-on-white and black-on-black violent crime, both of which he calls epidemics, get scant attention. Then he says, “The disturbing truth is that to examine the black-on-black crime might raise uncomfortable inferences that such violence cannot be entirely explained by contemporary racism, and arises from issues as wide-ranging as illegitimacy, male parenting, literacy, education, family structure, disproportionate rates of criminality and drug use, misogyny in popular culture, etc. —  crises that often demand more than just government attention and funding.”  

    So, it sounds like he’s saying on one hand that closer analysis of these crimes would undermine liberal claims about racism and what you refer to as the left-wing socioeconomic agenda; and on the other hand, he seems to be saying that studying violent crime would highlight underlying “crises” that the right-wing cultural agenda seeks to address. But, just how much support for either agenda should we take from the 5,770 murders, or whatever it is, in a particular year? I’m asking how much of an indicator violent crime is either way. Even though, yes, rape and robbery are higher numbers, it still seems to me that the vast majority of people don’t actually commit violent crimes; so, how much should we really infer about the larger culture from the small sliver of the population that does?Report

  13. Avatar Royce Williams says:

    Seriously Nob, Patrick, & Tod, ya’ll were wearing me down and were real close to breaking me.  You guys really need to go to Biloxi to prove that it is perfectly safe to hang with “The Next Generation“.  If you do and any of you are not black, BE CAREFUL, and don’t get so comfortable that you fuck up and address your new found friends as “My Nigga”, and if any of you are black for God’s sake don’t do anything that would cause the brothers and sisters to think you are being “uppity”.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Royce Williams says:

      Swing … and a miss!

      Royce, if you don’t want to comment here you can stop on your own. If you want to engage with people you can do that too. What I don’t understand is the point you think you’re making by compelling people to kick you out. Care to help me out on that?Report

  14. Avatar Katherine says:

    Thank you.  The right wing’s been spinning this with all their might in order to ignore the actual issues.  They need to get some pushback.Report

  15. Avatar Damon says:

     

    I’ll start off my comments with this generality-I think VDH is an ass.

    But then again, I think most people are.

    Everyone on all sides is now in full agenda / propaganda overdrive mode supporting their “narrative”.  It’s the anti black cops, the racist white guy, the libs trying to take our guns, you name the interest group, I’m sure someone can make a connection into this case, and any side.

    I find this really disappointing.  Few seem to really care about getting to the truth anymore.  I’ve decided that I’m going to be a “non participant”.  To paraphrase a quote a favorite TV show of mine.  “Let the universe burn.  I don’t care anymore.”  I will however, remind those that stoked the fires of their role when it’s their time on the block-assuming I’ve not gotten there ahead of them.Report

  16. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Is everyone here aware that Zimmerman has been booked and is being charged with 2nd degree murder? I’ve been checking in on this site because he seems to have a good collection of accurate information including the complete text of the police report.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to wardsmith says:

      Yes I heard the announcement on tv, let the show trial begin. I mean we all know he is guilty of a racially based killing, right?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Scott says:

        Well, he definitely killed someone. And it’s not a stretch, given the evidence, to think that race was a contributing factor in the outcome that night.

        Whether he’s guilty before a court is another matter. But all the hubbub about the incident was motivated to get the man to a trial, to have to defend himself. I mean, he killed someone Scott. Isn’t that enough to justify charges and a trial? Especially given all the surrounding evidence?Report

  17. Avatar Scott says:

    Alan Dershowitz: Zimmerman Arrest Affidavit “Irresponsible And Unethical”  Wow, can you believe that?

    http://realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/04/12/alan_dershowitz_zimmerman_arrest_affidavit_irresponsible_and_unethical.htmlReport

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Scott says:

      He must think Zimmerman is Jewish.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Scott says:

      THIS JUST IN: career academic who helped defend OJ thinks prosecution lacks probable cause in another murder case. Story at 11.

      Also, too: seeing as the affidavit mentions the very thing Dershowtiz claims it does not mention, I’d say his credibility as a legal analyst is in question. Then again, the fact that he is a TV legal analyst, period, should call his credibility as a legal analyst into question.

      …..and since when are probable cause affidavits supposed to be occasions for laying out the entirety of a case, including setting forth facts that may or may not support as-yet unasserted affirmative defenses.Report

      • Alan Dershowitz, not George Zimmerman, is on trial here now?  Where does it end, fellows?

        I was going to write up Dershowitz’s objections to the indictment just as an “Off the Cuff,” but this is getting just too crazy.  When it comes to the law, Dershowitz argues the law.  Formally.  Not who’s guilty or innocent, necessarily.  I heard him on the Casey Anthony case.  He said, well, she’s guilty of something, but nobody can figure out what.  he endorsed the acquittal, on the grounds of a faulty prosecution alone.

        Every defendant is guaranteed by our Constitution a proper lawyerly defense.  Defense counsel need not prove innocence, only to raise “reasonable” doubt.

        A career prosecutor said—ethically, no prosecutor can ask a jury to convict “beyond a reasonable doubt” unless he himself has no reasonable doubt.  Defense counsel can “play the game,” but not one of us thinks that the prosecution should play games.

        That’s the ethics of it.  I’m unconfident what’s going down in Florida right now passes prosecutorial ethics.  From the first I’ve questioned whether an indictment will satisfy the popular outrage if it’s followed by an acquittal.  In fact, it’s questionable whether an ethical judge should even let this go to a jury trial.

        A prosecution that does not honestly anticipate a conviction is unethical.  It’s playing games.

         Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Wait, someone’s on trial here? That’s so odd.

          I like, Tom, that you’ve spent a few weeks telling us that we don’t know the facts, so we shouldn’t make a judgment (all the while bandying about racist tropes), but now you know the facts well enough to decide not only that there’s no chance of conviction, but also that the case shouldn’t even go to trial because the prosecutor is just playing games. You, sir, are a joke, and not a funny one at that.

          Seriously, at some point “despicable” ceases to be a strong enough word to describe your presence here.Report

        • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.Report

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

          Unless the prosecution has forensic evidence that Martin was shot from more than a couple feet away, there’s no way they can get a conviction.  There is no evidence to dispute the facts that Martin was on top of Zimmerman and beating him up, so Stand Your Ground doesn’t even apply since Zimmerman could not disengage or retreat.  Zimmerman had a gun in his waistband trivially within Martin’s reach while Martin was slamming Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk.  If at that point Zimmerman shot Martin, it was justifiable self-defense in any state in the union.  If, however, Martin had gotten off of Zimmerman and was backing away when Zimmerman fired (which would show in the forensics), then Zimmerman could fry  But if the forensics or witness had shown that to be the case, Zimmerman would’ve been in jail a long time ago, so it’s highly unlikely such evidence exists.

          For a juror placed in Zimmerman’s shoes, the situation is this.  It’s dark, you are alone, and you’ve just been decked by a person that moment’s earlier you were suspecting was a thief or a gang banger.  He gets on top of you and starts slamming your head into the sidewalk.  The assailant then says that “you die tonight.”  (The prosecution can’t disprove Zimmerman’s allegation about that point, only dispute it).  There’s a gun in your waistband staring the assailant right in the face, and you have good reason to think that as soon as he’s knocked you silly, he’s going to put the gun in your mouth and pull the trigger.  What do you do?  Is it right and just that if you choose to live, by responding in the only way that will eliminate the threat of imminent death, you will be executed or sentenced to life in prison?  Is there now a law that says if someone attacks you, you will be executed by the state if you don’t allow yourself to be murdered?

          That’s all the defense needs to focus on, but they can also point out that there is evidence that Zimmerman did not start the confrontation, that he mentored minority kids and thus was unlikely to be pursuing some racist agenda, and wouldn’t have been looking to beat up anyone since he was on the phone with 911 much of the time, trying to coordinate a police presence.  Thugs don’t do that.

          The prosecution’s case depends on the unimaginably bizarre jury where there’s not a single person, not one, not even a grouchy old veteran, who would think the above argument is valid and plausible.

           Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        THIS ALSO JUST IN: Generally, Alan Dershowitz’s credibility has plummeted in the last ten to fifteen years.  Film at 11.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew says:

          Funny how supporting torture will do that.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

            There’s a running joke around here, in this apartment.   Kinda got to set this joke up — we have both a cat and a dog.  Cheyenne was originally her dog.  I am accused of being a cat fan and all the cat’s sins are blamed on me.   My g/f hates snakes, so I advocate for the snakes in a jokey fashion, explaining how cuddly they are and how she ought to love them.  She rejects my advocacy, so I use a Dershowitz term “Speciesist” to describe her unwarranted and bigoted opposition to serpents.

            For Dershowitz also has some rum ideas about animal rights.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Mark:

        Your mockery is rather sad. Dersh has a record that any attorney would envy, I do though I don’t like his liberal politics.Report

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