Trayvon Martin: 45 days later is better than never

The Washington Post,George Zimmerman is charged with 2nd-degree murder in Trayvon Martin shooting“:

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin 45 days ago, was charged with second-degree murder Wednesday, marking a turning point in a case that has provoked nationwide debate over racial profiling.

Florida special prosecutor Angela B. Corey, who announced the charge in Jacksonville, said that “the search for justice has brought us to this moment.” She said Zimmerman had turned himself in and had the right to appear before a Seminole County magistrate Thursday.

Two of the people I’ve been following closely as they followed this case closely expressed similar reactions to this too-long-delayed, but welcome news.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “George Zimmerman to Be Charged in the Killing of Trayvon Martin

What I know is that I care much more about him being charged, then I do about him being convicted. What always rankled about this case wasn’t that Zimmerman might not see a jail cell (that’s what judges and juries determine) but that law enforcement had done everything to foreclose that possibility. We may find that they still have. I imagine a lot was lost in bungling. But at the very least this says, “We take the loss of life seriously.”

The Field Negro: “Finally!

The fact that it took so long to get an arrest in this case is a travesty and a real stain on the America justice system. And what some of my friends in the majority population do not understand is that this case was not about racism per se on the part of the killer of this young man. … This case was about a police department devaluing the life of a young black man, who sadly laid on a slab in the morgue for days before his parents were even notified of his death. It’s about an unarmed child being killed while minding his own business by a citizen, and that citizen remaining free for 45 days while real racists and ideological whores in this country rallied around him only because his victim was black.

 

  • Tonio

     I wasn’t aware of the Stand Your Ground laws before. It’s tempting to assume that they’re on the books partly because of Wild West macho fantasies and partly because of the racist fears that go along with them. Was that the case? As far as handguns are concerned, shooters are apparently far less likely to be street muggers and far more likely to be relatives or friends of the victims during heated arguments.

  • P J Evans

     Zimmerman had called the state attorney’s office, but they wouldn’t talk to him unless his lawyers were also present. (I don’t know what he was calling them for, and he’d apparently quit listening to the lawyers by then.)

  • Monala

     He was still a pretty babyfaced kid. Here’s a photo of him taken about a month before his death, at his junior prom: http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17hyv6pj79xfjjpg/cmt-medium.jpg

    And this was taken 2 weeks before his death, at his mother’s birthday party: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/tanehisicoates/trayvon-martin-family-photos-4.jpg

    (These pics were posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Gawker, respectively, both drawn from his Facebook page)

  • hidden_urchin

    In my state, it is possible to do a home course with your parents.  They can then decide to either have you do a practical test with the DMV or they can just sign off that you know what you’re doing.  It’s somewhat terrifying to think that something like driving can be on the honor system but I am grateful for the option.  I was such a shy, anxious teen that I would never have gotten my license if I had to drive with someone I didn’t know in the car grading me.

  • veejayem

    Arcseconds, you’ve done a very good job of putting something into words that’s been nagging at the back of my mind. Elements of the right-wing have tried to demonise Martin (no surprise there) and many decent people who wish to see justice done have tended to the other extreme. There should be no need to dramatize anything ~ one human being has killed another and the case must be decided on its merits by a judge and jury, for all to see.

  • Atwinters

    I must say that I am a bit surprised by the vehemence of some of the responses in defense of the use of the word “child” in this context. It has struck me as strange as well. I think Arcseconds hit it on the head whey they pointed out that the use of deliberately emotive language has no place in serious debate even when it is in favor of the side you are sure is right.

    I don’t disagree that the word is technically correct from a very strict legal point of view. I just think it’s not fully appropriate because it is ONLY correct from a very strict legal point of view. To illustrate. I am a Peace Officer (not in Florida). As such I am no stranger to the notion that legally a person who is seventeen and 364 days is legally indistinguishable in most cases from a one year old and that a person who is eighteen and ten seconds is (in most cases) indistinguishable from a forty year old.

    I know that this is true from a legal point of view. I also know that it’s absurd. The law exists to serve humanity, not the other way around. This is why the law is to be interpreted at all levels by people with a good grasp of reason. I run into this wall of unreasoning compliance with legal technicalities most commonly with regard to status offenses.

    There may be those out there who actually consider that a person of seventeen (being undisputedly a juvenile for legal purposes)  ought to be arrested and charged for possessing tobacco or being out past curfew. I prefer (absent other relevant circumstances) to bring this to the attention of the parents, because we all know that the juvenile in question is rapidly approaching adulthood. I don’t think it’s reasonable to continue to treat them as a child. I don’t think it’s morally defensible to tell someone on Tuesday that they cannot stay out past midnight and then ask them on Thursday who they want to be the President just because their birthday happened to have been on Wednesday.

    As a person who was working full time and taking a full class-load at fifteen I am acutely aware that the legal definition of adulthood, while very necessary, is also woefully inadequate. I’m not suggesting a better alternative; the line must be drawn somewhere and we’ve drawn it there. What I am suggesting is that we should not start getting so cognitively sloppy that we actually believe that just because the law regards seventeen year-olds as identical to one year-olds, that it’s actually true. This sort of “Englishman who went up a hill and came down a mountain” thinking misses the point.

    To refer to Martin as a child because it serves to heighten the pathos of the situation is to imply that the circumstance lacks sufficient pathos in its own right. I think that there is enough reason for outrage in the event of an apparently fear-driven and racially motivated man pursuing another person (yes, legally a juvenile) over nothing more than the first man’s unsupported inference that he MIGHT be about to commit a god-damn PROPERTY CRIME, then shooting and killing that person under very suspect circumstances. Keep in mind here that Zimmerman instigated this whole encounter because he had a gut-level feeling that Martin was going to commit a property crime.

    As a cop I carry a firearm off duty every day and everywhere, but I’ll tell you this; if I ever see a property crime in progress, I’m going to call 911 and let my sisters and brothers who are on duty with proper equipment handle it. If this means that a property criminal gets away I can live with that. The reason is that actively intervening in a property crime with just you, your gun, and a can-do attitude puts people at risk of DYING, and life is worth more than property 100% of the time (for dismaying reading, got to ODMP.com sometime and read the many examples of off-duty cops who forgot this and died because of it). If I’m off duty and I think my intervention is necessary to save a life, then I’ll take that risk and intervene. Otherwise, I’m gonna be a good witness and nothing more. (None of the above should be construed to indicate that I in any way believe that it has ever been established or even strongly indicated that any fact whatsoever exists to show that Martin had any criminal intent, just that Zimmerman had decided that he did).

    It may be in dispute whether Zimmerman is a murderer. It is not to my mind in dispute that he is an overzealous and grandiose idiot who unnecessarily instigated an encounter that left a seventeen year old juvenile dead. I think that Martin was legally a juvenile. I don’t know whether the term child was appropriate for him, because I truly don’t know who adult he was. But I know how dead he is, and I have yet to learn anything which would lead me to believe that he should be dead, but I’ve learned a lot about how black he was and how much of a hoodie his shirt was. That’s tragic, No matter how old he was.

  • aunursa

    From the article linked “The dominant photo of Martin shows him 13 or 14 years old”.
    *sigh*
    Do you even bother reading these links you post…

     
    Yes.  And your criticism is really nit-picking.

    I’ve seen other links that identified him as being about 11 in the photo.  The majority of links and references to his age identified him as about 12. I have not found a reliable source that has definitively identified his age at the time of the photo.  
     
    That’s why I wrote “when he was about 12.”

    Edited to add: The reason that I chose that particular link was that it had three different photos of Martin and two of Zimmerman — and because it discussed the effect that the media’s choice of photos had on the public’s perception of the case.

  • Tonio

    In principle, Arcseconds is right about the flip side of the demonization of Martin. In practice, that’s a far less important problem than the demonization itself, because it amounts to blaming the victim and because the demonizers are trying their damnest to pretend that this wasn’t racial.

  • Monala

    Beautifully said. Thanks for your perspective.

  • caryjamesbond

    One thing I would caution people on is not to get too eager. This case, like all cases, will be tried within the law, and that runs the risk of a Casey Anthony type situation where she may be more or less obviously guilty, but it cannot be proved. And specifically, it takes place in the context of the Florida stand your ground law, which may very well enable him to get off.

    I hate that law. Not because I disagree with its fundamental purpose- to permit people to legally defend themselves when attacked, without the expectation of retreat- but because it goes so much farther than other laws of the same type, particularly with the clause that says you can’t arrest or detain them if they say it was self-defense. 

    The castle doctrine is one of the most ancient rights under English Common Law, however, and is a necessary right- people have the right to defend themselves from attack, in their own homes.  Most Stand Your Ground laws also make sense- they allow you to legally stand where you are, as opposed to some places, like New York, that require you to have retreated as far as you can before you fight. It’s the difference between fighting your mugger or rapist on an open street vs. a blind alley. 

    Where the Florida law goes wrong is you only have to FEEL threatened, or THINK that someone is threatening your life. And that is fundamentally different from all other states that have SYG laws, where you actually have to be attacked to defend yourself with lethal force. 

    And, unfortunately, I think that’s one of the reasons why the hoodie and Martin’s looks come into it. Because the FL law puts things into the context of a threat, whether or not Martin LOOKED threatening might very well have a bearing on the trial. Sickening, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. 

    And, of course, it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The vast, VAST majority of handgun owners are responsible people who want to be able to protect themselves. I know a large number of people who own handguns- my two favorite cousins, for example.  They are both female, and both of them have been in situations where I am very glad that they had a gun available, although they never had to use it. The key is making sure only the responsible people can get guns and…we aren’t very good at that. 

  • Hawker40

    My $.02 on the ‘child’/’adolescent’/young adult…
    It’s a distraction.  They keep saying Trayvon Martin “Wasn’t really a child”, but never say “George Zimmerman wasn’t really a Neighborhood Watch Captain.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Canada has a much more restrictive law regarding self-defence. It basically boils down to “force may be met with equal force but not greater”. I.e. if an unarmed person attacks you, you can’t pull out a knife or a gun, but you can respond with nonlethal force.

    There are some precedents for the overlooking of the use of Mace or bear spray when the victim is a woman and the attacker a much larger man, so there is some fuzziness in how it works. But in the main, if you’re a man in reasonable physical shape, don’t pack heat because if you’re attacked by someone without a gun, you’ll get charged as well.

  • Monala

     I think the two photos most commonly used (Trayvon in the red Hollister T-shirt, and the 2005 mug shot of Zimmerman) were probably the first available to the media. The pic of Martin may have been one his dad kept in his wallet, so was the first one he had to give to the media, with other photos likely back at their home in Miami. Zimmerman was in hiding, so what police had to give the media was his mug shot.

    Since that time, I have seen many others of Martin in the media, as well as the suit-and-tie pic of Zimmerman (which I read was a work photo). The hoodie shot I have heard was supplied by Martin’s parents–I think to show that even in a hoodie, he didn’t look like some big, bad thug.

    All the points made above about it not mattering if Trayvon was 17 or 40, or an innocent kid or a gangsta wannabe, are valid. Nevertheless, I still object to the photo of him in the undershirt and gold grill being used, because those who use it want to suggest that that’s the real Trayvon Martin.  From the close angle and somewhat poor quality of the photo, it’s evidently one he took of himself with his cell phone, which suggests to me that he took it while goofing off. There are plenty of other recent pictures of him (such as the two I posted above) where he does not look like that. My objection is this attitude among the right that playing around by acting tough and using obscenities is somehow atypical behavior for teenage boys, and therefore suggestive of something sinister on Trayvon’s part, and it’s not, it’s just not.

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    I wasn’t aware of the Stand Your Ground laws before. It’s tempting to
    assume that they’re on the books partly because of [...] the racist fears that go along with
    them. Was that the case?

    Well, that’s what most of the black people I’ve read on the subject think, so I’m gonna say yes.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I also don’t like the way people here are dumping all over teenagers.

    Yes, we adults who are much over the age of 20 realize that our teenage selves were actually quite astonishingly naive and ignorant about a lot of things. That doesn’t mean we get to dismiss or denigrate their aspirations to maturity and applaud those who prove that they can live up to those aspirations. I’ve known some crackerjack-smart young people in my time (right now, AAMOF, there’s a chemistry student who’s already trying to get their head around quantum mechanics, and the person is only in first year – person’s also like, 17 or 18), and they don’t deserve to get slapped down over rhetorical debate over “child” vs “teenager”.

    That said, infantilization of today’s youth, while not normally a topic of discussion, is worth considering in light of social trends regarding parenting amid a media-heightened awareness of low-probability phenomena*.

    Guy was seventeen. “Teenager” best fits the description, anyway, in discourse not involving legal concepts, I feel.

    * I’ll elaborate if asked.

  • Lori

     

    Stand Your Ground varies by state. 

    They actually don’t vary by much since most if not all of them are based on model legislation pushed by ALEC.

    http://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&p=%22stand+your+ground%22+legislation+%2B+ALEC

  • Lori

    I hate that law. Not because I disagree with its fundamental purpose- to permit people to legally defend themselves when attacked, without the expectation of retreat- but because it goes so much farther than other laws of the same type, particularly with the clause that says you can’t arrest or detain them if they say it was self-defense.

    I think that the “without the expectation of retreat” aspect is seriously problematic even without the mandate to assume that the shooter was telling the truth. It’s one thing to say that a person is not legally required to retreat in his/her home. It’s an another thing entirely to apply that standard to the entire world and say that no matter where you are you have no obligation to even attempt to walk away before killing someone.

  • John__K

    3) Can anyone tell me why the prosecutor is allowed to charge him
    without the grand jury? (The details of the Washington Post piece are
    behind a paywall.) The Fifth Amendment seems to require it in ‘capital
    or otherwise infamous crimes’. Did the defendant waive this?

    I would have thought 2nd degree murder would have allowed for the prosecutor to charge. Even if that degree isnt itself capital, it seems to fit the ‘on the same level of infamy’ rule.

    The Fifth Amendment requirement for a grand jury only applies to the federal government, not to the individual states. In fact, less than half of states even use grand juries any more. Others prefer to use preliminary hearings, which tend to be fairer for criminal defendants (they have the opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, for example, whereas before a grand jury the defendant allowed to speak and usually isn’t even invited unless they volunteer to testify).

    A few states require both; I work in Virginia, and the state law requires us to present the case to a grand jury for a formal indictment after the charges have been certified at a preliminary hearing before a magistrate.

    Each state can make its own rules, by the way; in California, where the infamous OJ Simpson trial took place, the prosecutors decided not to use a grand jury there either because of amount of media coverage turned the whole thing into a circus. They were able to file two capital murder charges against him without the grand jury.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    Wut? Almost every substantial news article I’ve read about this had something like “George Zimmerman had no affiliation with the national Neighborhood Watch Program”

  • nirrti

    I just got through talking with my *black* 15 year-old brother about the case. He said that since “black people commit most of the crimes” he understands why Zimmerman shot Trayvon.

    Oh god how did the media brain wash him so thoroughly at only 15 years of age??? *Wants to cry now…*

  • Monala

     Nitri, does he feel like it would have be understandable if someone like Zimmerman were to  profile, pursue and shoot him?

  • aunursa

    Yes, other photos have been available.  But many media have continued to use the two photos (the younger Martin and the booking photo of Zimmerman) several weeks later.  I wish that they use a more recent photo of Martin, and I would be happy with either of the photos that you posted – particularly the one of him in a tuxedo.  I agree with you that the gold grill photo is prejudicial – I would say just as prejudicial as the initial Zimmerman photo.

  • Monala

     Good points.

  • EllieMurasaki

    He said that since “black people commit most of the crimes” he understands why Zimmerman shot Trayvon.

    Even if it’s true that “black people commit most of the crimes”, which it ain’t (Bank of America, I am looking at YOU), innocent until proven fucking guilty, and what the hell was Trayvon doing wrong? Is it against the law to go buy candy?

  • Atwinters

     Oops. ODMP.org. no .com.

  • nirrti

     Yes, he thinks that it’s expected since he believes, in his words, that “black men commit the most crimes”. I think  this is his father’s doing as he is the most self-hating black guy I’ve ever met. I’ll bet if the Klan started handing out memberships to black people, his father would jump at the chance.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Wait – so the only test you take is the theoretical one right at the start? Seriously?

    Yeah, obviously. Do you know of another way of learning how to drive than by driving?

    Well, for instance…

    - a theoretical test at sixteen
    - at least two years (and at least 200 recorded hours) of supervised driving
    - another theoretical test at eighteen
    - followed by a practical driving test
    - followed by three years on a probationary license
    - followed by getting awarded a full license

    That’s how we do it.

    So… yes, I find it weird that you’d have a single, theoretical test.

  • konrad_arflane

    The Fifth Amendment requirement for a grand jury only applies to the
    federal government, not to the individual states. In fact, less than
    half of states even use grand juries any more. Others prefer to use
    preliminary hearings, which tend to be fairer for criminal defendants
    (they have the opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, for
    example, whereas before a grand jury the defendant allowed to speak and
    usually isn’t even invited unless they volunteer to testify).

    Indeed, I know a guy who was indicted by a grand jury and didn’t learn about the indictment OR the jury until he was arrested. Several of the claims made by the prosecutor at the grand jury hearing were false to the degree of their false-ness being matters of public record. Of course, he got his due process of law eventually, but a lot of trouble could probably have been avoided if someone had capably represented him at the grand jury hearing.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Twenty years ago, in Michigan, here’s how I got my license:

    1) A few weeks of driver’s ed when I was 15, between sophomore and junior years
    2) A short written test on which I had to score 100% to get a blue learner’s permit. I didn’t know anyone who didn’t pass this test. I don’t remember how long I had to have a learner’s permit before I got my license, but it must have been a short time, because…
    3) I got my license as soon as I was 16, iirc. Then my parents gave me their old car, and I drove myself, alone or with friends, wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, within my parents’ rules. That was how it went for most of my friends. Kid’s 16th birthday = reason for Mom or Dad to buy themselves a new car, cuz the kid’s gonna have the old hatchback or boat.

    I would have been outraged to be called a “child” when I was 17, and rightly so. I was making decisions about the entirety of the rest of my life. Some of them didn’t turn out to be the right ones, but there is no possible way I could have known that without experiencing them. They weren’t irresponsible decisions. And, while I didn’t have the experience I have now, I’m pretty much the same person I was when I was 17 — just less brave and a bit wiser, maybe. Also, I’m more punctual, I can no longer stay up all night and be fine the next day, and I now realize that Mountain Dew tastes horrible.

    Infantalizing teenagers is one way the right wing keeps real sex ed out of schools, by the way.

  • PollyAmory

    I didn’t think that I could read anything about this case that would break my heart further, but damn. Did you tell him it wasn’t true? That, in reality, 84% of white victims are killed by white criminals?

  • PollyAmory

    We don’t have just a single theoretical test, most states have a practical driving test too. But you’re allowed behind the wheel, supervised of course, once you pass the driving theory exam.

  • Jared Bascomb

    Thanks, arcseconds – you said what I was trying to say better than I did.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    The way it worked for me was (in California about 10 years ago) you had to take a class in a classroom (through school) then you could take your permit test (written test, had to score 80% or better to pass) once you were 15.5. After you got your permit you had to sign up for behind the wheel training, and after you completed your first hour, you were able to drive as long as any adult (21(5?)+) licensed driver was in the car with you. You had to complete a total of 6 hours of “official” behind the wheel instruction, as well as some additional number of hours of behind the wheel experience, and have your permit for a minimum 6 months before you could take the behind the wheel test for your license.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    (Heh, try getting your license in Michigan now. Worst driving test ever. I nearly failed it for not looking back and forth enough times during a turn — three times each way was the requirement. During the turn. Counting looking both ways before and after the turn, that’s a total of five cranks of the head in the midst of performing a four second operation. That’s not even counting how many points I was docked for not slowing down and looking both ways while passing by any intersection or side avenue, regardless of right-of-way privileges…)

  • Anonymous-Sam

    I’m surprised there’s no outrage for this being a second degree murder charge. The fact that Zimmerman had a gun, had a history of unusual interest in African Americans and stalked Martin against police requests is a pretty strong suggestion that this was premeditated. They’re probably settling for second degree because it’s more likely they can prove a murder than a premeditated murder, but…

  • P J Evans

     And after you’ve had your license for a while, you only occasionally have to take a short written test to renew it. You have to go in every third renewal for a new photo, though.

    Where I work, our big boss (lower than a VP, higher than a manager) requires that every employee under him passes a driver training class and a yearly classroom refresher. It makes sure we know what we’re doing. (And the traffic-camera video from last year’s class is still embedded in my brain. People going through red lights. Some of them made it.)

  • hapax

     First degree murder is a capital crime, and requires a grand jury indictment.

  • Tricksterson

    Ironic thing is that if they’d just gone with the investigating detective’s reccomendation he’d only be facing manslaughter charges.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Doesn’t even a REAL Neighborhood Watch Captain have all the authority of a stripper dressed as a cop?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Not to mention how weak it is to go around calling yourself the “captain” of an organization that only include yourself. It would have just been as legitimate if he had called himself Commissioner of the Neighborhood Police or Head of Ranch Security or even Lord High Commander of the Zarklonian Empire.

  • Anton_Mates

    I must say that I am a bit surprised by the vehemence of some of the responses in defense of the use of the word “child” in this context. It has struck me as strange as well. I think Arcseconds hit it on the head whey they pointed out that the use of deliberately emotive language has no place in serious debate even when it is in favor of the side you are sure is right.

    Oh, c’mon.  People are defending it vehemently because other people are attacking it vehemently.  If you call someone’s phrasing “deliberately emotive language” that “has no place in serious debate,” do you think they’re going to respond with cupcakes?  Don’t be the U MAD? guy.

    (Never mind why this, in particular, should be the unacceptable instance of emotive language here.  Everyone talking about this case uses loaded words like “tragedy” and “racist” and “terrified” and “murder,” and quite understandably so.  If you can manage to describe the Trayvon Martin case without emotive language, I welcome you to planet Earth and hope the weather on Vulcan is nice this time of year.)

    The other thing is that a lot of the folks opposing the use of “child” would clearly prefer to use, say, “hulking black thug that any decent American would blow away.”  Obviously you’re not one of them, nor is anybody on this particular thread, but it’s a significant element in the national discourse right now and, yeah, people are reacting to it.

    I just think it’s not fully appropriate because it is ONLY correct from a very strict legal point of view.

    But that’s not true.  People up to eighteen are commonly described as children in medicine, in psychiatry and social work, in education, in human rights texts.  So are eighteen-year-olds, for that matter.  They’re not invariably described as children, but that usage is certainly common enough to be legitimate.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone has to use the term.  If you want to call seventeen-year-olds “young adults” or “youths” or “teenagers”, no problem.  But you might consider the possibility that some of us are calling them children because we honestly believe it’s the appropriate word, not because we’re trying to con you into feeling worse.

    What I am suggesting is that we should not start getting so cognitively sloppy that we actually believe that just because the law regards seventeen year-olds as identical to one year-olds, that it’s actually true.

    Well…okay.  Have you actually met someone who thinks seventeen year olds and one year olds are identical?

    To refer to Martin as a child because it serves to heighten the pathos of the situation is to imply that the circumstance lacks sufficient pathos in its own right.

    Why?  There’s no maximum level of “sufficient” pathos.  It sucks that Zimmerman apparently shot somebody for no good reason, it sucks even more because the police shrugged it off, it sucks even more because the victim’s race was a factor in both the shooting and the shrug-off, and it really sucks because the victim was seventeen and had most of his life ahead of him.

    I don’t know whether the term child was appropriate for him, because I truly don’t know who adult he was.

    Then why attack people who happen to think that it is appropriate?

    ——-

    On another note, this is probably a good place to mention that the Kenneth Chamberlain case has now gone to a grand jury.  (Apologies if someone already has and I missed it.)

  • Rob Brown

    I wouldn’t call a 17-year-old a “child” either, Jared, and didn’t think of myself as one when I was 17 either.

    The guy was probably full-grown.

    To me, a murder is a murder though, violence is violence.  Whether the victim is a child or adult or teenager shouldn’t matter as much as the fact that a possible crime was committed.  In other cases, whether the victim is male or female or trans shouldn’t matter as much as the fact that a possible crime was committed.  (Since there are many tropers here, I’ll link to TV Tropes for that one: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale )  The race of the victim is another thing that shouldn’t matter when considering whether A) there was a crime and B) how severe it was.

    I may be preaching to the choir with this next part, and I’m probably be repeating what others have written, but it’s worth saying and bears repeating: in the end, Martin was a person, he got shot apparently without justification, and that’s all that really matters.  So it’s very good that action is finally being taken and that Zimmerman will be standing trial for this.

    As for Zimmerman, let’s imagine that he’s being completely truthful.  If so, he saw a person he felt looked suspicious.  He called the police.  The police were on the way to check things out, and the 911 operator told him that no action was needed by him.  (Maybe the operator should’ve phrased it more specifically, as in “Do NOT do anything,” but still.)  But he decided to go out there with his gun and confront Martin.

    Whatever happened after that would not have happened if he’d let the police do their job and not decided to play vigilante.

    Finally, here’s a comment posted over on mightygodking.com a couple weeks ago when Christopher Bird wrote about this:

    Well said. I’m black, and I’ve been following
    the Trayvon Martin case almost obsessively lately, but it wasn’t until a
    few days ago that I actually realized why. It’s not just because I’m
    black, although that is a factor, but it’s also the fact that it could
    have just as easily happened to me if I was in the wrong place at the
    wrong time near the wrong person.
    I remember back when I was 13 or 14, I was staying over at my
    cousin’s for the weekend in Savoy, which at the time was a predominately
    white area. It was around 9 PM and we wanted a pizza, but we didn’t
    have a whole lot of money between us. So instead of ordering from
    Domino’s or whatever, we ordered one from this place nearby called
    Skateland, which was about 15-20 minutes away if we walked.
    It was cold that night, so we had on jackets and skullcaps. The guy
    on the phone said the pizza would be ready in 10 minutes, so Brandon
    said we should run to get there faster so our pizza wouldn’t get cold.
    Being a fat-fuck I objected, *naturally*, but I couldn’t argue his
    logic. We ran for about a couple minutes and I was already getting tired
    of it, literally and figuratively, but then it hit me that we were two
    black kids running in a mostly white area at night. So I said to him:
    “You know…*huff*…that we look like…*huff*…we stole something…*huff*…right?”
    He stopped, and so did I. We exchanged a look and walked the rest of
    the way. When we got our pizza, we walked the rest of the way back. We
    laughed about it when we got home.
    I don’t laugh about it so much now.
    And now I can’t help but wonder exactly how fucked we would have been
    if someone like Zimmerman spotted us and a Stand Your Ground law was in
    effect.
    I can’t imagine that I’m the only one thinking the same thing either.

  • Rob Brown

    The only real difference [between a 7-year-old and a 17-year-old] is that the 17-year-old pretends there’s a difference.

    Well, with all due respect, your teenaged self can suck it, because that’s what you, I and everyone else were at that age

    Since you’re telling people to suck it, I’m going to gather that civility is out the window here, and with that being the case I say that you’re being stupid.

    If we go by what the law says at this time, then in 39 of 50 states a 17-year-old is not a minor, and a 17-year-old is allowed to operate a motor vehicle.  A 7-year-old is not.

    If we look at other criteria, a 17-year-old with the proper education can read and comprehend something like “The Great Gatsby”.  A 7-year-old would need to have the novel explained to them.

    A 17-year-old can solve complex mathematical problems.  A 7-year-old cannot.

    A 17-year-old can study and debate a complex issue with anybody, ranging from another teenager to an adult.  A 7-year-old isn’t.

    If you didn’t think of yourself as an adult at 17, if you thought that you were still a child, if you thought that your mind was no better than that of a 7-year-old, then your self-esteem must’ve sucked back then.

    But hey, don’t take my word for it.  Go find a 17-year-old and call him a child, which is basically the same as saying to him “I’m better than you, I’m smarter, I’m more stable, etc, because while you’re a mere child, I am an adult.”  See if he finds that insulting.  Anybody with an ounce of self-respect would.

  • Rob Brown

     

    I would have been outraged to be called a “child” when I was 17, and
    rightly so. I was making decisions about the entirety of the rest of my
    life. Some of them didn’t turn out to be the right ones, but there is no
    possible way I could have known that without experiencing them. They
    weren’t irresponsible decisions. And, while I didn’t have the experience
    I have now, I’m pretty much the same person I was when I was 17 — just
    less brave and a bit wiser, maybe. Also, I’m more punctual, I can no
    longer stay up all night and be fine the next day, and I now realize
    that Mountain Dew tastes horrible.

    Infantalizing teenagers is one way the right wing keeps real sex ed out of schools, by the way.

    Hell yes. *applauds*

    And that’s a good way to describe what Turcano and others are doing: “infantilizing” teenagers.

    When you say something asinine like it doesn’t matter if you’re seven or seventeen, you’re saying “Hey everybody under 18, guess what?  It doesn’t matter what you accomplish, it doesn’t matter how high you score on your IQ tests, it doesn’t matter how responsible or irresponsible you prove yourself, it doesn’t even matter if you end up inventing the cure for cancer in your spare time, because to me all you are is some little kid.”

    Judge people on their ability, on their intelligence, and on how they conduct themselves.  When it comes to determining an individual’s worth, their age should be far down the list.

  • Tricksterson

    First off, AFAIK the only person who considered him a neighborhood watch member was him.  In other words he was a crank.  Second, again, AFAIK he didn’t even live in that neighborhood and third all a neighborhood watch is supposed to do if they spot something suspicious is notify the real police, which he did who told him they’d take care of it.
    Zimmerman reminds me of what I call Type 3 security guards.  Most security guards fall into one of three categories:  Type one are retired folk who want a not too strenuous job to pad out their Social Security check.  Type 2 are students who want a job that gives them time to study and get paid for it.  These are both perfectly legitimate reasons.  Type 3 on the other hand are cop wannabes who couldn’t pass the psych and/or physical evaluations but want to play tenth rate god (Think Cartman as Hall Monitor).  Type 3 was Zimmerman in a nutshell but probably even more emotionally unstable.

  • Tricksterson

    Actually that last one is my title, but don’t tell anyone.  I’m in hiding from the filthy usurpers who overthrew me.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

     Do you have a link to the photo of the other Trayvon Martin?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     Here’s the Snopes page discussing it: http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/martin.asp

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Still, I like the idea behind the “media bias” demotivational. Put a picture of a white dude wearing a suit next to the black guy he offed, who’ll be wearing “gangsta” outfits* and it’s about the most naked appeal to majority privilege you ever did see.

    —-

    * What’s especially hideous is when white people who should know better use grossly exaggerated “gangsta speak” in email forwards to mock black people. I saw one quoted on Snopes recently, actually.


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