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.

 

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  • Jared Bascomb

    Please don’t jump all over me, but I’m going to say something potentially explosive, but I’m arguing semantics: I’m sick and tired of Trayvon being described as a “child”. At 17 years of age, he was a legal minor, but at 17 years of age (as opposed to 7) he was *not* a child. The word “child” implies a pre-adolescent, which Trayvon was not. Recalling my own teenaged self, I would been royally pissed if anyone had referred to me as a child. (I know he was his parents’ child, but that’s a whole ‘nother definition/meaning.) 
    That aside, I am pleased that Zimmerman will finally be brought to trial, where justice will be served.

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    Recalling my own teenaged self, I would been royally pissed if anyone had referred to me as a child.

    It might have pissed you off to be described as a child at 17, but that wouldn’t have made it incorrect.

    I’m not sure you get to dismiss the “born to a father and mother” definition of child, either, since that’s, you know, a totally valid and relevant definition of the word.

  • Jared Bascomb

    I wasn’t dismissing the parental definition of “child”. OTOH to you and Turcano, there’s a big difference between being 7 (a child) and 17 (an adolescent). I think it actually diminishes and disrespects Trayvon to refer to him generically as a child (as in “a child died”). A 17-year-old killed in a car crash would not be referred to as a “child”.

    Again, I’m not dismissing the horror, outrage, and tragedy of Trayvon’s killing. I just semantically object to referring to a 17-year-old as a “child” – with that word’s implications – the same as I object to survivors of tragedies/disasters as “heroes”.

  • Turcano

     

    There’s a big difference between being 7 (a child) and 17 (an adolescent).

    The only real difference is that the 17-year-old pretends there’s a difference.

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    Yo, you’re the one who wanted to argue semantics, and semantically, the word fits. Whether the word strikes you as being inaccurate or imprecise or whatever, it is within normal usage to refer to a 17-year-old as a child, and in fact people do so all the time, and it does not automatically trivialize or disrespect the person so called, whatever personal associations you’re bringing to bear here.

    I, on the other hand, turn out not to want very badly to argue semantics, so I leave this pointless argument in the hands of the people who want to have it. G’night.

  • nirrti

     If Trayvon had been a white kid, he would’ve been considered a “child”…and not gunned down in the first place.

    That’s what this whole thing is about, dear.

  • Matri

    If the outcome had been the reverse, the only time Trayvon steps out of his cell at the police station would be to board a transport to a more permanent holding facility.

  • Turcano

    Recalling my own teenaged self, I would been royally pissed if anyone had referred to me as a child.

    Well, with all due respect, your teenaged self can suck it, because that’s what you, I and everyone else were at that age.  A teenager vastly overestimates his or her own maturity.

  • Jared Bascomb

    No. We may have been immature, and legal minors, but we were *not* children.

  • 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 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.

  • Panda Rosa

    It’s a sad antithesis to the Troy Davis case, a black man accused of shooting a white policeman, and died for it, amid much controversy as well. Then, people weren’t sure what had happened, now we can’t agree why it happened. Nobody won then, nobody wins now.

  • Omnicrom

    I agree. Fucking Finally. There really is little else to say. Zimmerman shot and killed another human being. Even if reality inverted and Zimmerman suddenly clearly had done it in self-defense they still should have taken him in for questioning and found out what happened.

  • JessicaR

    It doesn’t make things right or just, how could it? But I’m so glad and relieved it happened. Credit to Martin’s parents and everyone who wouldn’t shut up and be quiet and all post racial about this tragedy. It’s how the world moves.

  • Nequam

    Mind you, what we really need is an investigation into the Sanford PD and why they thought it was all right to let Zimmerman go on his merry way.

    I hope we get it, but I’m not overly hopeful.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    but at 17 years of age (as opposed to 7) he was *not* a child.

    Oh, you mean we, as a society, entrusted people of that age with the responsibilities of say, driving a car by themselves, voting, entering into legally-binding contracts?

    Oh, but you mean that this person was considered responsible by society enough to enlist in the military, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, borrow money from lending institutions?

    Oh, so you mean that at 17 years of age, any illegal acts he committed would automatically be assumed to be his own responsibilities, any crimes committed would be processed the same as if he was 35, any liabilities from his acts would be his own responsibility and not those of his parents or legal guardians?

    Wait, you don’t mean any of those things. As a society, we say that 17-year-olds aren’t old enough, mature enough, experienced enough to volunteer for military service, or drive a motor vehicle without a licensed driver present, or sign up for a credit card.

    . Recalling my own teenaged self, I would been royally pissed if anyone had referred to me as a child.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with the reality that in the eyes of the law and society, you were one. Hurt feelings do not a solid argument make.

    The word “child” implies a pre-adolescent, which Trayvon was not.

    No, the world “child” implies a diminished capacity for responsibility, often due to a lack of experience that would form the foundation for good judgement. Which describes most 17-year-olds just fine.

    But hey, let’s run a quick thought experiment on your bullshit, transparent ad hominem. Let’s imagine that instead of a 17-year-old kid carrying ice tea and skittles, wearing a hoodie and walking in the rain, stalked by an older man in a truck who ignored police orders and shot him, let’s imagine that he was two weeks past his 18th birthday. Does that make his death any more justified? Somehow, if we say he’s an adult, does that add a necessary aura of menace needed to explain why an unarmed kid was hunted down and shot by a zealous bigot?

    He was a kid. If he had been 18, he might have been able to drive to the store and the whole sad event would never have happened.

  • Trixie_Belden

    A kid, maybe, but not a child.  Jared Bascomb is making a fair point.  In most circumstances, you would not refer to a 17 year-old boy, with a girlfriend yet, as a “child”.  It’s also a reasonable to consider what Trayvon, were he still living, would have preferred to have been called.

    I find I want to call Trayvon a “child” because it’s part of how I express the outrage of what happened to him, even though I also find myself thinking, at the same time, that it feels a little odd to think of a 17 year-old as a child.  He was only 17 for crying out loud!  He should have had decades and decades of life in front of him.  Perhaps this is why referring to him as a child seems so necessary – although I don’t think anyone who questions the use of the word is automatically acting in bad faith.  Was he a “child” in the colloquial sense?  Not really.  But when you think of what was taken from him, and the stupid brutality involved in the taking, describing Trayvon as a “child” becomes a way to help encompass the monstrousness of the event   

    I guess starting your comment with “please don’t jump all over me” triggers some sort of reflex that makes other commenters want to jump all over you, even though JB says quite clearly that he is not dismissing the horror of the killing.

  • arcseconds

    I find I want to call Trayvon a “child” because it’s part of how I
    express the outrage of what happened to him, even though I also find
    myself thinking, at the same time, that it feels a little odd to think
    of a 17 year-old as a child.  He was only 17 for crying out
    loud!  He should have had decades and decades of life in front of him. 
    Perhaps this is why referring to him as a child seems so necessary

    Yeah, my previous comment notwithstanding, I certainly have some sympathy for this perspective – it’s a legitimate emotional reaction to the tragedy.

    I guess I’d want to distinguish three things here, while acknowledging that they’re highly intertwined: the immediate tragedy of a young person dying, the particular issue of justice in this case, and the context in which the entire tragic affair is embedded.  “he’s just a kid” is relevant to the first, but not so much to the other two.  And it’s really the last that’s the immense, abominable mess that’s being bought to light here and sorely needs addressing, but who knows how? Without that mess he wouldn’t be dead.

    Also, I was going to say earlier that I’ve always been a bit perplexed by the ‘s/he’s just a kid’ thing — because it always implied to me that the death of a kid is particularly bad, and I can’t understand why that would be.  Anyone under the age of 60 has ‘decades and decades’ of life (probably), and I’m not sure it’d be any less tragic if Zimmerman’s victim was 80. 

    But I think I’ve finally come to some understanding here.  ‘he’s just a kid’ is how _this_ is tragic. Another case involving someone older would be tragic in a different way.

    Am I going to get lynched if I suggest ‘spare a thought for Zimmerman’? He’s a tragic figure in his own right — without the constant messages reinforcing fear of blacks and lionization of lethal violence (by the right people, of course) and idolization of ‘tough’ law enforcement and righteous authority around it’s much less likely he’d have gotten caught up in these particular obsessions and delusions and might not now be an alleged murderer. He’s probably the most hated man in America right now, and he probably knows this. 

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

    ‘Just a kid’ – I’m at the age now where I’m content with the notion that if it were my life against a younger person’s, I’d gladly give mine up because I’ve had a few years under my belt. Let the younger person have a chance, all things considered.

    Zimmerman – In a less fear-obsessed, masculinity-obsessed, gun-obsessed culture he’d be a reclusive bitter crank who everybody knows about and stays away from. But in the United States, he gets to possess a weapon, act like a hero in his own mind, and let all his silly-assed fantasies come forth and be defended under the aegis of white male American-ness.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The_L1985

    Um, here in the U.S., you can in fact get your driver’s license at 16.

    I drove all alone on numerous occasions at the age of 17, without suffering any legal consequences whatsoever for doing so. Sure, I was pulled over once, but that was for speeding.

  • JenL

    There are some regional variations on when you can get your learner’s permit, and when you can drive alone – and when you can drive at night, for that matter. 

    But there’s also the fact that there are big regional (and socio-economic) variations in whether a kid is given a car at 16 or is expected to earn a car at 18 or 20.  Or, especially in cities, maybe there’s no particular expectation of ever owning a car.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    As a society, we say that 17-year-olds aren’t old
    enough, mature enough, experienced enough to … drive a motor vehicle without a licensed driver present.

    Um… I thought the US said that 16 year olds are old enough to drive a car.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Depends on the state. I don’t know offhand what rules would have applied to Trayvon, but where I live, at fifteen years ten months one can get behind the wheel if one has a licensed driver over twenty-one in the other seat and one has taken the theoretical portion of a driver’s ed course (offered by all state high schools for free and the YMCA for not-free). Six months after one gets one’s license, one graduates to being able to drive without a licensed driver, subject to other restrictions (no night driving unless it’s for work or school or there’s a licensed driver in the other seat, for example), and six months after that one graduates to a full license. But one doesn’t automatically get one’s license at fifteen-ten. I was seventeen. (Mom has made every one of us wait to take driver’s ed.) And one sure as hell doesn’t automatically get a set of car keys at fifteen-ten. So like I said, I don’t know what rules would have applied to Trayvon. He may have had no license; he may have had a license but no licensed driver over twenty-one to drive with; he may have had a license with no restrictions but also no car.

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

    Back when I was that age the law was, you could get your learner’s at the dot of 16, and one month later qualify to take your road test and be fully licenced.

    That said, I’m at the age where I would think a teenager was a “kid”, but I wouldn’t say “child” because the connotation tends to make one think of someone a fair bit younger than Trayvon. However given his pictures I can see why one might say “child”. He looks younger than 16 by a fair fraction.

  • aunursa

    However given his pictures I can see why one might say “child”. He looks younger than 16 by a fair fraction.

    Supposedly the photo that has been most commonly used by the media was taken when he was about 12.

  • malpollyon

    Supposedly the photo that has been most commonly used by the media was taken when he was about 12.

    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 in lieu of engaging with threads?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Is it wrong that I’m kinda happy aunursa at least didn’t link to the photo of a different Trayvon Martin that right wingers were putting around as part of the “He’s a thug, so shooting him is totes OK” argument?

  • 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.

  • Turcano

     Just be happy it wasn’t a link to a poll on the subject, which honestly is only a step up from Ken DeMyer blathering on about expected Google trends on Conservapedia.

  • 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.

  • 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.

     

  • 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)

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    where I live, at fifteen years ten months one can get behind the wheel
    if one has a licensed driver over twenty-one in the other seat and one
    has taken the theoretical portion of a driver’s ed course (offered by
    all state high schools for free and the YMCA for not-free). Six months
    after one gets one’s license, one graduates to being able to drive
    without a licensed driver, subject to other restrictions (no night
    driving unless it’s for work or school or there’s a licensed driver in
    the other seat, for example), and six months after that one graduates to
    a full license.

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

    *boggles*

  • The_L1985

    No, you take the driving test at 16 or so, and on that same day (if you pass), you get your driver’s license. The written test is just for your permit.

  • PollyAmory

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wait – so the only [driver’s ed] test you take is the theoretical one right at the start? Seriously?

    I left a bit out, sorry. Getting behind the wheel for the first ten hours or whatever the rule is is entirely under the supervision of the driver’s ed instructor, and if ze’s satisfied at the end of the ten hours that one can drive the car, one gets a blue card (I think it’s blue), which one can take to the DMV anytime in the next however long to trade for one’s license. The practical portion of the driver’s ed course effectively is the driving test. At least that’s how they do it in the schools–dunno about YMCA.

  • Lori

     

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

    The exact rules vary by state, but in most places you have to have passed a practical in some form, as well as the theoretical, to get your license. When I got mine we still had state-sponsored driver’s ed in school and passing that counted as the practical. Once you finished that you could go on your 16th birthday (or up to a year after you finished driver’s ed), take the written test and get your license. If you didn’t take an approved driver’s ed course you had to do an on-the-road test with the DMV in attention to passing the written.

  • 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.

  • The_L1985

    Or he may have figured, “Meh, it’s just down the road, I’ll just walk.”

  • Ima Pseudonym

    The Foxnews.com comment threads are…interesting.  And I’m actually torn.

    On the one hand, I’m glad as hell to see that the enraged, foaming-at-the-mouth, bloviating bigots are in a state of snarling fury, since the things that enrage them are generally the things that make otherwise normal, sane, well-adjusted human beings in the 21st century HAPPY–you know, things like health care, universal suffrage, social safety nets, labor unions and safety regulations that help prevent companies from padding out flour with powdered chalk or passing off rotting food or poisonous medications to desperate consumers. 

    On the other hand, I’m UNNERVED that there are THAT MANY enraged, foaming-at-the-mouth, bloviating bigots still left in this country, and that a supposedly mainstream news source is actually openly pandering to people who are actually more insane and less literate than the average Stormfront poster. 

  • Matri

    mainstream news source

    Of which Fox News is not.

  • Matri

    I still can’t accept this outcome, though. Why? Because of this:

    She said Zimmerman had turned himself in and had the right to appear before a Seminole County magistrate Thursday.

    The only reason he’s even going to court at all is because he “finally” decided to turn himself in. If he hadn’t, nothing would have happened because the police made it explicitly clear that they weren’t going to take any action against him.

  • LoneWolf343

    The FBI is scarier than the cops.

  • PollyAmory

    I think you misunderstand. They obviously let him know that they were going to be filing charges against him, and gave him an option to turn himself in rather than sending officers over to have him arrested. A lot of high-profile defendants take advantage of this option.

  • JenL

    They obviously let him know that they were going to be filing charges
    against him, and gave him an option to turn himself in rather than
    sending officers over to have him arrested.

    Agreed. 

    I don’t think you even can “turn yourself in” if there aren’t charges pending against you for you to be booked on.  Well, you could walk in and blithely tell them you want to confess to a crime, but I think that gets you questioned, not arrested, until they decide there’s a crime worth arresting you for.

    Raises the question, though, of the flow of communication, given that highly weird press conference given by his now-ex lawyers.  Did the state attorney contact his parents?  Did he call the state attorney? 

  • 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.)

  • nirrti

    I know I should be happy about this…but I’m not. All this means is if some color-aroused white guy were to gun down my 15 year-old or 27 year-old brother, their cases would have to get just as much attention as Trayvon’s for the perps to even get charged with a crime.

    The lives of these two wonderful young men aren’t even worth as much as Mike Vick’s pit bulls.

     

  • arcseconds

    I’m not all that comfortable with the term ‘child’, either, like others to me it implies someone younger than 15.   I’m quite happy with ‘youth’, ‘adolescent’, etc.

    What I’m most discomforted by with this terminology is not that it’s inaccurate, but that I suspect it’s making an emotive, sentimental argument where none needs to be made, nor should be made. 

    This is a common tactic on the right. It’s the flip side of the attempt to portray Martin as a ‘bad boy’ or a thug. And it plays into that argument, too — instead of discussing the real issue here, we end up arguing over whether Martin was an innocent little cherub or an off-the-rails druggie gangsta wannabe.  (I agree with nirrti – probably he would be being portrayed as a child by the right if he was white.  But that would illustrate the problem just as much)

    And that argument is not relevant to any of the big societal issues here.  Let’s face it: people aren’t up in arms about this merely because a someone (a child, if you must put it that way) is dead.  Thousands of people died that day and they’re not in the public eye.  People are up in arms because the case is exposing a lot of problematic features of American society – particularly racism, but also attitudes to violence, and also because justice wasn’t been done (and certainly wasn’t been seen to be done).

    For those issues, the things that make this different from any other death, whether Martin is a cherub or a proto-gangsta is completely irrelevant.   I don’t care if he was dealing crack from his basement – he still shouldn’t have been shot, and Zimmerman should still have been arrested. So I say drop the irrelevant, sentimental descriptors in these cases.  They’re just going to end up with arguments that play into the hands of people attempting to trivialize this case.

    (It’s also irrelevant whether or not he can drive a car or legally vote – isn’t it?  I don’t think it changes anything of import if we knew he was actually 33)

    I’d go further and say that there’s a tendency to want to play this story (and other stories) as some kind of TV drama, where we’re desperately caught up with the psyche of the dramatis personae.  In such a drama, what kind of character Martin has would be relevant, and also Zimmerman – there, his attitudes to black people shown in other scenes might well be crucial to the unfolding drama.  In the real world, though, at the moment these things are distractions.  (whether or not Zimmerman is ‘really racist’ is just as irrelevant as whether or not Martin was ‘a child’).

    It seems people need all the help they can get in ignoring these distractions.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jared Bascomb

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

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

    Zimmerman might very well not be convicted. Besides the court system’s racism and the fact that our dangerous, ludicrous “shoot anyone who scares you” law in Florida makes it well-nigh impossible to convict anyone who claims it, Zimmerman does not seem to be mentally well. He should have been under psychiatric care.

    He’s the type of person who’s most susceptible to right wing rabidity. Like the man who shot Gabrielle Giffords. Not given the psychiatric treatment he needed, instead he got a gun. And watch for the right wing to throw him under a bus. “The president’s a Muslim terrorist born in Kenya and they’re raping ‘our’ women! Ahem, we abhor violence, of course.”

  • The_L1985

    I thought “Stand Your Ground” only applied if someone was in your home, not one along down the street PAST your home.

    If that’s not the case, then the law needs to be changed yesterday.

  • PollyAmory

    No, that is exactly it. What applies in your home is the so-called “Castle Doctrine.” “Stand Your Ground” goes one step further by removing the requirement to attempt retreat before using deadly force. 

  • JenL

    Stand Your Ground varies by state.  It started, in most states, as The Castle Doctrine – the notion that “a man’s home is his castle” (gender-specific language from the original) and he shouldn’t have to run and hide when someone else breaks in. 

    But Florida took it significantly further a few years ago, and said that even outside your home, you are not legally required to run/hide/evade before you can defend yourself and claim self-defense.  There’s some logic to it, when used with common sense – a person in high heels or with reduced mobility may not have any expectation of being able to successfully flee, and there’s also that whole “I’m supposed to turn my back on my attacker?” issue.  But Florida apparently went so far as to make it explicit that if police arrive at the scene of a shooting, and the shooter says “hey, I was attacked and I simply defended myself”, the police are not allowed to arrest the individual unless there’s evidence that contradicts the self-defense claim.

    In this shooting, though – allegedly, multiple witnesses said “we heard the younger, smaller guy yelling for help” and were told (by police) “no, you misunderstood – it was the bigger guy who was yelling”.

  • 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

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

    I really, really, REALLY wish people would not use “whore” as an insult. Besides the implicit misogyny, I know women who are sex workers. What they do for a living should not be used as a slur.

  • Michael Cule

    1) Yes, he was a child. A pre-adult by legal definition. (Unless of course he had been charged with a crime and the prosecutor decided to take advantage of the laws that allow children to be charged as adults if they can con a court into going with that. I hate laws that have exceptions like that.)

    2) He turned himself in when he was informed he was going to be charged. That’s normal and what you want. He wasn’t crazy enough to think he could run.

    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?

  • Linnet24

     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.

  • wendy

    In Florida, first degree murder requires a grand jury. Second degree can be directly charged by the prosecutor.

    (first degree is you wanted to kill someone so you did, second degree is on purpose but spur of the moment.)

  • Michael Cule

    First degree is ‘infamous’ but second isn’t? But you can go to jail for life for 2nd?

    And that stands up to scrutiny? Sheesh.

  • JenL

    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 believe the state attorney had at least 2 choices –

    1) go to a grand jury and seek Murder 1 charges.  There would have been some chance of the grand jury declining, and Murder 1 charges would have gotten into issues of whether Zimmerman had the gun for self-defense or had a premeditated plan to kill Trayvon from the start.   

    or

    2) skip the grand jury and just charge him with Murder 2.  There’s less of a legal penalty (no potential for the death penalty), but you don’t have to prove premeditation. 

  • 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.

  • Monala

    Beautifully said. Thanks for your perspective.

  • Atwinters

     Oops. ODMP.org. no .com.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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://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”

  • 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.

  • Tricksterson

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…)

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.)


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