Why I’m Not Writing About the Trayvon Martin Case

The easy, short answer is that I don’t have time. It really is that simple, too simple. Unclear.

I worry that some of my more critical readers have confused the difference between simplicity and oversimplification.

Of course things often reduce to a simple core reality. At the same time, these simple things can rarely be accounted for with “simple” talk. Perhaps silence is best. But that leaves much to be desired, too, sometimes.

I value clarity as a form of fidelity. For me, to be “clear” is to describe or represent a thing as it is. To adhere to it as strongly as possible. No more, no less. Simple, not oversimplified. This is terribly difficult, especially when the thing in question is not clearly understood to begin with. Concepts and ideas, inchoate things that exist in the heart and the mind and the guts, these sorts of things do not submit to “clarity” without a great deal resistance and doubt.

To be “clear” about that which is not clear to begin with is to not be clear at all.

This may be boring to read and digest, and it may come off sounding too serious for a blog post, but I guess sometimes you get what you pay for.

+++

I stayed away from the Trayvon Martin trial for a long time, which at first was not too hard to do since I don’t own a television. Lately, though, it became inescapable online and, in the past few days, I was willfully avoinding it. I don’t have time to give all the reasons why I fled from it, but, if you’ve been reading me for a while, you can surely imagine why.

Then, on Friday, Obama’s speech piqued my curiosity, mainly because it was so sharply criticized from both the Right and the Left. On Facebook, legions of #tcot conservatives were calling it racist and being very uncreative about repeating each other’s truisms about it and echoing each other with gusto. I figured I should read it, and I did. After reading it, I immediately suspected that it would cause an unexpected, albeit superficial, form of solidarity between the far Right and the far Left. And, shortly thereafter, my suspicions were confirmed when Tavis Smiley took the offensive against it calling it “weak as presweetened kool-aid” (I mostly agree with Smiley in this one regard).

This triangulation of polar ideological interests against Obama sent me in Google search of police reports and other primary sources related to the incident. I figured it was time to know what the hell was going on. It took all of ten seconds to find a whole slew of original documentation here. I was hooked. An hour and a half later, I felt like I’d been reading an altogether different story from the two I saw in the headlines, memes, and statuses that went something like what follows:

  • From the Righthand side, this seemed to be a very simple case of self-defense, with Trayvon the Terrible — the seventeen year-old, 160 lb whirlwind of Black fury —assaulting the multi-racial (or Hispanic) Zimmerman the Pure — a full grown, well over 200 lb., man — for no good reason, forcing Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon in the heart.
  • From the Lefthand side, this seemed to be a very simple case of racial profiling, leading to a modern-day lynching. In this version, St. Tryavon Martin, martyr, is put to death in cold blood for nothing other than wearing a hoodie and being a Black young man, with the White villain, George Zimmerman, taking the generic role as an angry, violent racist.

Both of these narratives fail for more than the obvious reasons. They fail primarily by how entirely derivative and predictable they are. For aesthetic reasons. I could write either one of those tired, boring stories in my sleep. You could too, we all could. If not, then you might be one of their victims. The story I read in the dry reports and witness transcripts is much better. Fascinating, really.

+++

There are two ways to read the Trayvon incident: forwards and/or backwards. The former tends to emphasize the effects, the latter looks at the causes. Depending on how one reads it, there are multiple justifiable conclusions to draw from it and either one of the main characters gets vindicated or indicted. I suggest being Catholic about it: both/and. Here are six conclusions I’ve come to after doing my homework:

  1. Trayvon was innocent. He was not doing anything relevantly illegal. Even though there had been robberies that may have justified Zimmerman’s suspicions, these do not, in any way, make Trayvon guilty of them. Those who go even further to bring up his Facebook account and more as ways to adhere culpability to him in advance of the assault are being stupid. Trayvon is innocent in this particular sense.
  2. Trayvon was guilty of assault. Zimmerman’s antics notwithstanding, there was no good reason for Trayvon to throw a punch or to proceed to kick the living shit out of Zimmerman. Those who try and argue that Trayvon was defending himself seem to misunderstand what self-defense is about in any serious sense. It is, first and foremost, defense. And no, the Bush Doctrine of preventive defense doesn’t qualify — it didn’t apply then (in Iraq) and it doesn’t apply now, trying to absolve Trayvon from his wrongdoing. (Interesting how the Left is unwittingly trying to use the Bush Doctrine to get Trayvon off the hook.)
  3. Zimmerman was innocent. He was within his rights in following Trayvon. While it is questionable as to whether he should have ignored the dispatcher’s advice to stay in his car, he did nothing overtly aggressive, although the creepiness factor is not wholly irrelevant. And then he got knocked down by a single punch to the face by a 160 lb teenager. This takes his “innocence” to a whole new level: he was also innocent in the sense that he was childishly defenseless and, frankly, weak sauce. All he could do was yell for help and then let his (legally possessed) firearm do the rest. (If Zimmerman is not “innocent” in this sense of being a total wuss, then he is guilty of, to use the basketball expression, “flopping,” and killed Trayvon in something closer to intentional murder.)
  4. Zimmerman was guilty of some degree of murder. Even if you dismiss the borderline issue of his paranoid surveillance and ill-advised exit from his vehicle, the fact remains that Zimmerman shot and killed a person who was walking to a friend’s house. Not in cold blood, mind you, but even under the duress of being assaulted, the idea that a full grown man would need to resort to lethal force against a 160 lb teenager is at the very least manslaughter in the most basic sense. Self-defense can only work if it is proportional to the threat imposed. Even if that threat is elevated to personal safety, it is hard to see how this was life threatening. 
  5. Trayvon was a strong idiot. Racial profiling and justified minority angst aside, you don’t beat people up in the streets, especially these quiet streets, regardless of their motivation. Acting like a thug is hardly what the Black community needs right now, or ever. This is a pragmatic sort of non-violence. Even if you win, you lose. In this case, if Zimmerman doesn’t kill Trayvon, Trayvon is on the hook for the whole thing. Which, all things considered, is better than the way it turned out.
  6. Zimmerman is an weak idiot. Whether he is White, Hispanic, or multi-racial (a fascinating question in its own right), it doesn’t change the fact that, clearly, he was personally threatened by Trayvon and is probably an overall insecure guy. And for good reason: he got knocked out by a seventeen year-old. He carries a gun around in a gated community. Not a barrio or an urban ghetto — a gated community. Now, it sounds like the gates at the gated community sucked, because their houses were getting broken into at a rate disproportionately higher than any ungated neighborhood I’ve ever lived in — if living in a gated community makes you more liable to get your shit stolen, then something isn’t working. So he’s an idiot for paying association fees and is a bigger idiot for not using his fear more productively and letting the police handle things. Clearly he’s not Rambo. Which leads to his last reason for being an idiot. If you are scared and have a gun and don’t use it to keep your antagonist at bay early, then it makes even less sense to try and fire a pistol in the middle of the action. The dude hardly fits the profile of Wyatt Earp. If he doesn’t, almost miraculously, shoot Trayvon in the heart on his first and only shot, he runs a major risk of getting the rest of his 9 mm clip unloaded into his skull. Again, if he holds Trayvon at bay with his weapon or just lets himself get his ass kicked (knowing cops are an their way), he is golden. He becomes the clear victim and the ideological finessing shifts in the other direction.

+++

The reason I didn’t write about the Trayvon Martin case is because, juridically speaking, none of this matters. This is where the law is goofy and counterintuitive. In a case like this, as easy as it is for a layperson’s intuitions to make sense of the matter if they are willing to do the work, the law is the standard, not common sense. It may sound terrible, and of course we should want our laws to be as intuitive as possible, but until I devote even more time (that I don’t have) to reading those laws, their precedents, and more, I have nothing to say about the case. Nothing, that is, besides the fact that Florida’s self-defense laws appear to be very permissive. In this regard Obama’s cautious tone and rhetoric was sensible.

I know this much: I’ll never get into a fight of any kind in the state of Florida. In fact, I may just never go there.

Some have raised problems of unequal application of the same laws and this might be true, I just don’t know. And, sorry, I don’t trust anyone. If I cannot read and interpret it myself, from primary source documents, then I will always be a skeptic. Call me cynical, I’d just call it not being a lemming.

As vulgar as that may be, a lesson we can learn is this: there is a crucial distinction between what we mean by “justice” when we are speaking about the common intuitions that ought to inform the law and the just application of the actual laws on the books. The law does not always correspond to what is just, we’ve known this since Augustine, or Moses vs. Pharaoh. This might be, among other things, because we are not sure how to describe, and much less judge, what justice is to begin with.

People like to make fun of theory and philosophy and abstract thought. But without it, the application of justice will only be harder, if not impossible, to do. The lack of clarity in our present laws reflects a conceptual lack of clarity in our ability to describe the concept of justice and its many applications.

+++

The question of race looms over this whole discussion, heavy and thick. As it should. This is a far richer racialized situation than the simplistic Black and White narrative of the Left or the post-racial naiveté of the Right.

It also ignores the question of class and the very notion of a “gated community.”

Is this the result of the inherent ideology of a gated (albeit poorly gated) community? Is this a manifestation of what Charles Taylor, in A Secular Age, calls the “buffered self”? Can we read this tragedy as a story about what happens when we enclose ourselves from others to the point of total, absurd violence? Is this the lesson of Crash, where the city of Los Angeles pines for human touch so deeply that its inhabitants settle for the only intimacy they can muster: crashing into each other?

One thing is sure: just as the Left has conveniently tried to use preventive defense to justify Trayvon’s assault, and in doing so endorsed the Bush Doctrine, so too with the Right on the (ir)relevance of racism, and especially racism against the Black community: to dismiss the cancerous problem of racism, and in particular the racist legacy of the US, out of convenience, also denies the role it plays in a particularly graphic, yet apt description of abortion: genocide. If race and racism cease to be real, then genocide is impossible. If genocide is impossible, then it only follows that one cannot make the claim that contemporary abortion rates are genocidal.

Furthermore, given the monstrous presence of genocide (and other racial, national, and ethnic conflicts) in the past century, and throughout history, anyone who attempts to wish away racism ought to be more cautious and far less desperate.

My guess is that racism runs deep in the human psyche; it is ideological not material, and, like suffering, will not be washed away and may not even be entirely evil. It should not be oversimplified.** The paranoid post-racial nonsense reminds me of New Atheists trying to rid themselves of religion without understanding that it is more than a passtime or a club — it is a fundamental desire inherent to the human person, a longing for something beyond, warts (even genocide!) and all.

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I wrote a lot about the Trayvon Martin incident, but nothing about the (court) case. The reason I didn’t do that is that I don’t have time to do my homework.

Simple, really.

No. Not really.

**If you’re interested in other work I’ve done on race, here is a talk I gave during Black History Month (titled “White HIstory Month”) and an essay I wrote about racist jokes as form of social solidarity.

  • Jane

    why do you think Trayvon beat up Zimmerman? From what I have seen this seems unclear. We only have George Zimmerman’s word for it. Trayvon is dead. And to make myself clear, I am defining beat up as attacking someone and getting the better of him/her.

    • SamRocha

      That is true. We don’t know if it was entirely unprovoked or not. Good point.

      • Patrick Corey Edrey

        Very troubling that you are taking Zimmerman’s account of what happened as if it is verified fact. Your whole Bush doctrine double standard thing only applies if it played out exactly as GZ says. If Zimmerman started the fight (after having already initiated the confrontation) then how can TM be guilty of anything? There’s conflicting eye witness testimony as to who was where on the ground, and no one claims to have seen the initial altercation.

        • SamRocha

          Not so much troubling as simply unknown. But I do admit that that added factor is not one I questioned in this post, but not for the sake of a hidden agenda, just a blind spot in my thought process. You’re right, if GZ gave reason for a defense, then there would be no such thing as Bush Doctrine in this case.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      We have Zimmerman’s word, we have the word of the person who gave first aid at the police station, and we have Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend listening on the cell phone as Martin profiled a “creepy ass cracker” and his fear of “gay rape”.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      One potential reason- he saw this “creepy-ass cracker” and “possible gay rapist” as a threat. In other words, homophobia.

      • SamRocha

        Theodore,

        I think everyone here got your point. Loud and clear.

        SR

  • Agni Ashwin

    “And, shortly thereafter, my suspicions were confirmed when Tavis Smiley took the offensive against it calling it “weak as kool-aid” (I mostly agree with Smiley in this one regard).”

    Many news sources quoted “weak as kool-aid”, but Smiley actually said “weak as pre-sweetened kool-aid”. For Kool-Aid aficionados, the distinction is important.

    • SamRocha

      Thanks Agni, I get that distinction very well. I’ll get that corrected.

  • Kemp

    On behalf of the “more critical readers”:

    1) You are confusing “clarity” (the ability to be coherent and intelligible on a topic) with “fidelity” (the ability to create a reproduction or exact copy). A good writer can discuss complex topics with clarity without the need for fidelity; readers expect the former but not the later.

    2) Your logic is frustrating for readers. You claim to not be writing about the “case” (the post’s title) but then write “a lot about” the “incident”. Huh? This distinction is not particularly important. Nobody expects you to cover the trial’s antics and legal strategy (“case”) AND “the incident,” all in a single blog post. Again, see #1 above. This habit is throughout your writing (this blog and beyond): claiming to not know what you’re saying, then peddling a book or availability to speak; claiming to desire criticism and debate, then being snarky with critics; claiming to hate things that you love; claiming to not write about the Martin “case” for lack of time, then writing about it (section 4 of the post), then finishing with the claim to have written “nothing” on the case. A meandering style need not have meandering intelligibility.

    • SamRocha

      Hi “Kemp,”

      I actually wasn’t thinking of you at all. Last thing you said was something about marshmallows. I wouldn’t call that being particularly critical.

      I think you are underestimating what being clear is about, at least for me. In the end, clarity is only useful if it shows something as it is. To be clear, but too clear and obfuscating or oversimplifying, may indeed be a form of clarity, but it is not the sort I am trying to achieve in my writing.

      I also think you generalize too much regarding what readers really want and what good writers are. I admit to not being a good writer and part of this blog is about the exercise it takes to get there. But there is also the fact that I am not always strictly writing to “readers” — many times my writing is sorting through my own thoughts, with readers invited to observe, if they want to. Why would they want to? I don’t know. But I like to do that to certain writers, too. It seems like some people do the same with me, yourself included.

      About my logic: I don’t think the distinction between the incident and the case is unclear here, it follows from the further distinction between Justice and the law. But your issues with it seem to be more petty, e.g., the peddling, etc.

      On those issues, I will admit to being temperamental in comments — especially in two very specific instances: when critical commenters hide behind anonymity and fake or bogus e-mail accounts and when their comments strike me as being posed in an adversarial way. On the flip side, I do not ban commenters or restrict their comments as others do. Maybe I will someday. Plus, there is nothing mutually exclusive about wanting debate and then being snarky in the debate — maybe I like to snark. Who knows? You should check out William F. Buckley and other fine debaters who loved to debate and be snarky, too, all at the same time.

      About peddling: guilty as charged, I guess, although I don’t recall doing it as much as you seem to imply. I should do more, really. But when I do I won’t be apologizing for it. I play music and try and sell CD’s, I write books and try to sell them where I can, so on and so forth. Nothing exceptional about that.

      Finally, whoever you are, I wonder why you are here if my writing is so off-putting. By all means, save yourself the suffering. I’m sure with clear standards and insights into what people want to read and how to write and host a blog, that you must be terribly busy doing all kinds of high quality literary activity. Go peddle it! Don’t let my lesser efforts get in your way.

      SR

  • Steve

    The last bit made me think about something.

    You said that racism was is deep in the human psyche. I can see your point, but that wasn’t always necessarily true. Racism, or at least racism as we think of it today, is a more modern thing from the 15th Century at the earliest. I’m pretty sure that the Ancient Romans didn’t care much for race- they’d be more comfortable around a dark-skinned African from the empire than a light-skinned German barbarian from the outskirts. I’m not saying that racism doesn’t run deep, but I think its causes are more cultural than psychological.

    • SamRocha

      I agree Steve, and didn’t mean to date what I meant by ‘racism’ as much as it may have come across. So thanks for your thoughtful comment. For instance, I am very interested in the notion of “whiteness” which is even more recent. I think that, perhaps, there is a place between culture and psyche that might be the place I am trying to press against.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I think you’ve missed the homophobe-meets-pervert angle in #2

  • CharlesCrawford

    A thoughtful and interesting piece. Fascinating to see so many of the case documents for oneself – thanks for that link.

    Some points.

    “Self-defense can only work if it is proportional to the threat imposed.”

    This is tendentious. It imposes on people in situations of the highest stress they may ever face in their lives a requirement to be ‘reasonable’ and proportionate. The common law has an ‘egg-shell skull rule’: anyone who attacks someone who happens to have a think skull must be held liable for the unforeseeable consequences of that attack (you take the victim as you find him).
    In a similar way it is not a priori unreasonable to say that if you attack someone you may run the risk of a disproportionate response if that person is of an especially nervous disposition. The effect of this is to increase the legal and actual risk to attackers – on the whole a good thing? The moral logic of ‘stand your ground’ laws goes in the same way: why should someone being attacked somehow be expected or required to retreat?

    Here Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman. He took a risk and tragically that risk ended with a disastrous result for himself. That does not mean that Mr Z was ‘guilty of some sort of murder’.

    “The lack of clarity in our present laws reflects a conceptual lack of clarity in our ability to describe the concept of justice and its many applications.”

    I disagree. There is an open-endedness about language that makes any such clarity unattainable in practice. The problem lies not in describing justice but in satisfying rival and different reasonable ways to look at it.

    There is a general wisdom (and substantive justice) in the key principle of our law that it is better that some guilty people walk free than the state convict an innocent person. This is a social risk management issue, where in principle there is no ideal outcome, just difficult choices. It requires the state to have a clear and compelling case before it is authorised to inflict violence (arrest, imprisonment, death) on a suspect. Almost no-one disputes that as a guiding rule – indeed we jeer at those oppressive countries where this rule does not apply.

    However, it also means that in cases such as this one the clamour for ‘justice’ in the face of a convincing jury verdict is specious and ignorant. The system worked as intended. The state strove to make its case but obviously failed to show that Mr Z had behaved maliciously or unfairly: there was a case to answer, and he answered it. What possible other outcome could have been more ‘just’ within the framework of the way we all look at justice under the rule of law?

    “My guess is that racism runs deep in the human psyche; it is ideological not material, and, like suffering, will not be washed away and may not even be entirely evil”
    Beautifully put. Social solidarity, tradition and community (all good) can end up being defensive and fearful of ‘otherness’ (bad). Racism is part of that wider dynamic. The way to deal with it is patient fair-minded emphasis on what people have in common, not to bludgeon people into thinking a certain way. The contrast between the inclusive language of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and the crabbed, aggressive unpleasant Marxist tone of the Western ‘race relations’ grievance industry today is more than obvious.

    • SamRocha

      And thank you for your thoughtful post, especially your well reasoned arguments to the contrary. Here are my replies:

      1. I take something of a scalar view on proportionality, but you are right to emphasize that these measurements are not reasonable to expect from people en vivo. Nonetheless, I think this is not a reason to abandon proportionality altogether, at lest in principle, but, instead, to perhaps lower the expectations for it. The flipside of this, of course, is a permissiveness to self-defense that makes the law into a farce. But on the whole, your point is very well taken.

      2. Here I think I may have not made myself entirely clear and perhsps indicated a stronger, and more direct, kinship between legal theory and legal practice. That was not my intent, but, in a similar move as before, it is not entirely beside the point when we inflate the legal or juridical affair into the broad scope of political history. Regardless, it was sloppy of my to try and fit such a larger claim into this tiny case study.

      3. Thanks. I think there is a great deal of room for difference, too, but I see these things as descriptive, not normative things. I think the issue of race could be summarized as a decriptive condition that, sometimes, leads normative consequences. It does not follow, then, to turn it into an axiom of sorts — it is a very serious category mistake, I think. I am hoping to do more work on this in the future, so thanks for the support.

    • Petro

      ” The contrast between the inclusive language of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and the crabbed, aggressive unpleasant Marxist tone of the Western ‘race relations’ grievance industry today is more than obvious.”

      Mandela was a violent revolutionary and Marxist for much of his life. He never repudiated these approaches nor these opinions. When released, and much older, he led with a hope for unity, but never felt as if violence nor Marxism were morally wrong. You may wish to revisit your thoughts on “Western race relations” through study before making remarks on the subject.

      As for your defense of Zimmerman:

      “Here Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman.”

      You do not know this. No one knows this. No one knows what really happened. That is why Zimmerman is free. This is also why people are clamoring for justice. They are making equally specious assumptions about what happened as yours. In their narrative, Martin was stalked and attacked, thus the verdict was unjust. In your version, Zimmerman is attacked. Neither was proven to be true by any evidence.

      • Barfly_Kokhba

        Those who would condemn Zimmerman continually repeat this: “No one knows what really happened.”

        That is false. Zimmerman knows what happened. The only question is whether he is to be believed or not. It is possible that, were he able, Trayvon Martin would give the exact same account of events as Zimmerman. But saying “nobody knows what happened” is clearly false. Zimmerman was there, he knows what happened, and he has given a first-hand account of what happened. To claim otherwise is a deliberate effort to discount Zimmerman’s credibility–and thus his personal integrity–from the outset. That is specious in the extreme.

        A jury listened to Zimmerman’s account and believed it. The lead investigator testified under oath that he believed Zimmerman’s account. Zimmerman’s broken nose and bloody skull seem to represent some sort of physical evidence. Your characterization is false.

        • Petro

          My characterization is hardly false. Of course, Zimmerman knows what he thinks happened. If you want to assume that his version of the story is true, you are making assumptions. This is my characterization—anyone who claims to know what happened is making assumptions. They are basing their opinions off of what they wish to assume because there is no evidence, eyewitness account, nor recording of what occurred.

          The broken nose and bloody skull are not evidence that Martin attacked Zimmerman nor that Zimmerman attacked Martin. They are only evidence of a fight. In the end, it comes down to whether you believe Zimmerman’s story or not. Even testimony from the investigator is mere speculation that was later stricken from the record. The same investigator also noted that he doubted the section of the story in which Zimmerman claims he returned to his car.

          The fact that a jury decided that there was not enough evidence to convict Zimmerman of murder is not an acknowledgement of the veracity of Zimmerman’s story. It’s an acknowledgment that doubt exists that he committed murder. People are still free to decide what they think about the case because they are not restricted by the expectations of a jury. This certainly means that they question Zimmerman’s credibility, but it’s disingenuous to suggest that no one should ever question anyone’s credibility, particularly when their freedom and livelihood is at stake.

          In the end, you are also making the same types of assumptions of others based on whom you chose to believe. It is your right to do so. But it’s ridiculous to suggest that you are somehow more right than someone making the similar assumptions. Instead, perhaps you should reflect upon your readiness to accept one story and dismiss another.

        • Petro

          As an addendum, I have no strong opinions on this situation as far as the verdict. I am mostly concerned with the willingness for people to defend or decry Zimmerman and what it says about them since they are clearly driven by their ideologies as they have no real knowledge of what occurred and are lead by assumptions.

          My own thoughts are as follows:

          I think that even if Zimmerman’s story is correct that it paints the picture of a sick society that believes in violence as a way of life. I also believe that Zimmerman’s role, even in his own story, is one of a man who was completely deceived by the power of violence and was stunned when confronted by the true nature of it.

          I think that the situation demonstrates the danger of the proliferation of guns.

          I think the reaction of law enforcement, the media coverage and reaction of the public demonstrates the effects of race on our society.

          I believe that the verdict creates the situation that, as long as no one else sees what is going on, you are free to use deadly force and that this is a problem in our violent society.

          That’s it. Feel free to pick at those beliefs if you wish. Unfortunately, I am not going to accept that one assumption is more right than another in the absence of evidence. Nor will I tell those that they have no right to make the assumptions that they make.

      • CharlesCrawford

        Having spent four years in S Africa at the coalface of apartheid-style racism and having myself spent an hour talking privately to Mandela in 1990 soon after he came out of prison, I disagree. Whatever his revolutionary inclinations (and important mistakes), Mandela did advance an inclusive and reconciliatory agenda in public and in practice. This is why he is seen as setting a global example and why he and F W De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize. The whole tone of his approach was quite different from the formalistic bullying of the Grievance Tendency in the West now.

        As for who attacked whom, there was a lot of evidence adduced that Martin attacked Zimmerman and
        initially got the better of him, and almost none going the other way. You’re right that we can’t be sure what happened (and that’s why Zimmerman properly had the benefit of the doubt).

        • Petro

          There was no evidence beyond the words of Zimmerman that Martin attacked Zimmerman. There was only evidence of a fight. If I am missing the evidence, please feel free to cite it.

          The fact that Zimmerman was injured or that Martin was on top of Zimmerman does not preclude that Zimmerman instigated the confrontation and attacked Martin.

          What you assume occurred is based entirely on your own assumptions. This is equal to those who believe in a different narrative. This was the point of my initial post. You stated that the clamor for justice was “specious and ignorant.” This was what aroused my concern. My contention is that those who are seeking justice are as equally entitled to their narrative as you are. Calling them ignorant is hardly the conciliatory approach that you seem to be advocating in the other parts of your post.

          Remember that a jury verdict proves nothing. Even more so in this case which has very little verifiable evidence to support any narrative incontrovertibly. Feel free to believe your narrative, but be cautious of criticizing the narrative of others as if you hold the undeniable truth in your hands.

        • Petro

          As for the Mandela issues, my issue was with you seemingly painting those who are looking for justice in this case as aggressive and Marxist as opposed to MLK and Mandela, both of whom, as you well know at least with Mandela, were called aggressive and Marxist in their day. This was made slightly more ironic as Mandela actually was a Marxist, and, before he took power, was very aggresive.

          It’s interesting that you use the term bullying. Bullying implies a position of power. Are you suggesting that racial minorities in the West are using their power to injure others? What power do they have?

          Mandela was conciliatory after he had gained the power to be so. It was brilliant how he did not use his control to punish those who, by all rights, deserved to be punished. Nevertheless, he never repudiated nor denigrated where he came from. What you call his mistakes, he never cited as such. He was a Marxist. He was in favor of violent reaction, though not initially. He never declared that his beliefs were wrong, but only that the time for those methods had ended. In fact, when Botha offered him a bargain as long as he repudiated his past, he refused to do so and remained in jail. But, by then, he knew who was really in control. And when he came to power, he saw the need to move forward.

          What you are calling for is conciliation before power and inclusivity while still being excluded. Even your reading of MLK in this vein is incorrect. There really is very little connection between MLK Jr. and Mandela except that they were both black men challenging institutional racism. their lives, motives, approaches and goals were completely distinct. Nevertheless, MLK was never conciliatory. He was continuously told by politicians and even allies that he needed to go slow. He did not do so.

          At the time, his opponents branded MLK as a bully and a Marxist. The holiday dedicated to him is always a time of dissent and anger for some. Some still say that he was a Marxist.

          Your use of words like Marxist and bully without any connection to reality places you firmly in the camp of a long line of detractors for those who seek a just society. Who is bullying? How do they do so from a position of powerlessness? Who is a Marxist? How are they implementing a Marxist strategy? What does this have to do with the Martin case?

          Certainly there are charlatans and professional bloviators who seek to profit from these things, but they exist on both sides. Painting the side in opposition to your thoughts with the extremist brush also reeks of a lack of a conciliatory approach.

  • creampuff mcsissypants

    And for good reason: he got knocked out by a seventeen year-old.

    There
    are many 17 year olds capable of knocking out pudgy middle aged men.
    This particualr 17 year old was a football star who’d been actively
    recruited by college scouts. 17 year olds are old enough to join the
    marines and go kill adults in battle. They are also old enought to be
    tried as adults for violent crimes.

    “If you are scared and have a gun and
    don’t use it to keep your antagonist at bay early, then it makes even
    less sense to try and fire a pistol in the middle of the action.”

    Totally
    disagree withg this. If you bring the pistol out “early” and use it to
    keep someone “at bay,” you are assaulting that person. To bring a pistol
    out early is to bring it out before a clear necessity of lethal force
    exists. It is also an escalation of force. Bringing the weapon out early
    is as likely to infuriate an opponent – or frighten them into a
    ‘defensive’ grab for the weapon – as it is to keep them at bay.

    If “the middle of the action” is when you first perceive the threat
    of death or serious injury, then that is the ONLY appropriate time to
    deploy the weapon. If you deploy a weapon BEFORE you find yourself in such jeopardy,
    then you are an assailant or provocateur. If you deploy the weapon AFTER “the action” (assuming you even survived “the action”) then you commit retaliatory
    murder. No, “the middle of the action”- ie the moment when you first
    perceive a credible threat to your life/threat of serious injury – is
    the only time, justifiably, to use a weapon.

    Zimmerman is an weak idiot.
    Whether he is White, Hispanic, or multi-racial (a fascinating question
    in its own right), it doesn’t change the fact that, clearly, he was
    personally threatened by Trayvon and is probably an overall insecure
    guy. And for good reason: he got knocked out by a seventeen year-old. He
    carries a gun around in a gated community.
    Not a barrio or an urban ghetto — a gated community. Now, it sounds
    like the gates at the gated community sucked, because their houses were
    getting broken into at a rate disproportionately higher than any ungated
    neighborhood I’ve ever lived in — if living in a gated community makes
    you more liable to get your shit stolen, then something isn’t working.
    So he’s an idiot for paying association fees and is a bigger idiot for
    not using his fear more productively and letting the police handle
    things.

    So, he is insecure
    because he felt the need for a gun in a gated community, which
    presupposes that such a community affords so much safety that only an
    insecure wuss would carry a gun within it’s protective cocoon. But in
    the very next sentence, the author acknowledges that the community was
    suffering a bizarrely high frequency of home invasions and burglaries –
    but that doesn’t make the gun owners fear any more justifiable. It just
    makes the gun owner stupid for living in an ineffective gated community.
    And it’s bizarre to censure Zimmerman for not “letting the police
    handle things.” He called the police and asked them to handle
    things! That was the whole purpose of the call to Sanford PD! Not that
    the police were doing any better job at security than the gates of the
    community were doing.

    At any rate, it is not against the law to be an insecure wuss, nor should any law require a wuss – no matter how insecure, and no matter how inappropriate his behavior leading up to the incident – to lay on a sidewalk and allow his brains to get beaten out of his skull by a younger, fitter assailant.


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