Trayvon Martin Disgrace

by Belle Waring on March 23, 2012

N.B. I say “disgrace” because it’s not a tragedy, precisely.
I am officially not allowed to look at the internet, as it is likely to give me a terrible migraine. More terrible than the one I already have. All the time. So this will have to be brief (lol srsly). I just scanned the front page to see if there was anything else, but didn’t see it, so I feel as if I have to say something about the shameful, quasi-state-sanctioned execution of Trayvon Martin.

Trayvon Martin was 17, and was staying with family in Sanford, Florida, in what is referred to by the obligatory monicker “mostly-white gated community.” He walked out to buy some candy and a can of iced tea at a local convenience store, and was tailed back by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman, who deemed him “real suspicious” and “probably on drugs or something.” This joker George Zimmerman then got out of his truck to (perhaps) scuffle with Trayvon, and then shot him in cold blood, as far as anyone can figure, while Trayvon was pleading for his life. This (the pleading) can be heard in the background of neighbors’ 911 calls. I have to say it’s a little odd none of them stepped out on the porch with a shotgun to say “I’ve called the cops already, cut it out!” The number of people committing crimes who will just run away if you say “I see you down there, knock it off” is high IME. Zimmerman claims it is his high-pitched voice we hear begging for his life between the firing of the first and the second shot, after which there is silence. Take a look at a picture of the man. I don’t even know what to say.

UPDATE: I place this above the fold so everyone will see. I was sort of taking it for granted that people were reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blogging on this, which has been copious and excellent. But if you haven’t, you should.

Now, although I went to high school in D.C., and have lived a lot of other places, I was born in Savannah, GA, and lived in S.C. as a child, like unto L’il Soft Shell, the turtle chile (from Pogo). I always went home in the summertime, and always planned to spend my golden years on the screened porch with my brother and sister. John will be consulted about his preferences also be allowed to come. So let me tell you what those gated communities are.

They started in the 70s and 80s and I’d bet more than half of them are brazen enough to have “Plantation” in their names. Ha. No really! They let white people move into places where black people couldn’t enter, on account of the gate. There’s a two-bit security guard running a little…what do you call those things, gantries, whatever. You get stopped if you’re black and asked where you’re going and whom you’re visiting, and are held up for an embarrassing length of time, and if you’re get white you get waved through, unless you’ve gone all Swedish death metal or something. Many of them pushed black people out, off of land they owned, on Hilton Head Island especially. Or rather, I happen to know about it. If I lived somewhere else I’d know about that. There’s a history book waiting there. They made it so black people couldn’t visit their own family cemeteries, going back to slavery days, because they had enclosed them in a gated community. They privatized the damn beach and chased black people off! You can’t privatize the everloving beach?! Under the high-water line is public to all, there ain’t no exceptions for gates. They didn’t fix these problems till various lawsuits forced them to in the 1990s. OK, sorry, digression, but if you wondered what a “mostly-white gated community” was, it is that.

The real problem with the situation is not that George Zimmerman, the man who shot an unarmed 17-year-old, is racist. He is racist as the day is long, as can be deduced from his thoughts on the nature of “being suspicious,” oh, and by his saying “fucking coons” while on the phone to the goddamn police dispatcher. Which he did, as plain as dishwater. There is no doubt there. I’ve heard all this “the young people don’t say ‘coons’ now what with the ipods and the friendsters and the series of tubes.” Bullshit. The problem is not that Florida has some poorly drafted law that either re-enshrines existing self-defense claims or grants justice to whoever shoots to kill first in any altercation. The problem is not that knee-jerk defenders of the powerful over the powerless of the Megan McArdle type would, in her words “have to acquit” if the case came to trial.

The problem is the cops didn’t arrest Zimmerman at the scene. They didn’t take his gun. They didn’t test him for drugs or alcohol, although they did do so to Trayvon’s dead body. They didn’t run Zimmerman’s records. They didn’t look at Trayvon’s phone and call the contact marked “Dad,” or note that he was on the phone within minutes of the death, and dial that number to see who that was. It was Trayvon’s girlfriend, and she recounts that he told her he was being “followed” by someone. She urged him to run, but he said he was not going to run, he would just “walk fast.” That just breaks my heart right there, as a mother. “I’m not going to run. I’ll just walk fast.” He was too brave as a young man to run, maybe, or he knew enough to know that running would make him look “real suspicious,” or both.

The problem is that the government of Sanford, Florida has given its official sanction to any white guy* who failed out of mall cop school, and sits home at night jerking off to back issues of Guns and Ammo, and has appointed himself neighborhood defender, to shoot a black teenager armed with candy, and walk away from the scene. That’s the thing: walk away from the scene. I know we’re all tired of hypotheticals, but we all know black Zimmerman wouldn’t have walked away from the scene after shooting an unarmed white kid. They didn’t breathalyze this asshole, they didn’t have him pee in a damn Dixie cup, they didn’t take his gun away temporarily just till “things got cleared up.” If an actual real-live cop shot somebody to death they would have taken his gun and put him behind a desk, even if the IA investigation was cursory bullshit. Higher level investigations are welcome, from the state of Florida, from the Feds… But nothing will change the fact that the cops thought Zimmerman was on their side. They were going to fix things for him. Those bastards had his back so hard his spine was right up in his beer gut. Nothing will change for the next black teenager walking “suspiciously,” i.e. at all, down some Florida street. Justice means more than just the Feds showing up the Sanford PD for a bunch of Skoal-using morons who couldn’t govern their way out of a wet paper bag. Justice means actual freedom for Trayvon Martin to walk down the street and not be in danger of losing his life to someone with no badge and a gun. Not just hypothetical freedom, like the kind of voting rights black people used to have before the 1950s and 1960s. Real freedom.

*I am aware that Mr. Zimmerman is, at least in part, a s33kr1t mexican so it’s not about race and white people are the real victims here Hispanic, a non-racial classification used by the US census to…uh…help people who are “passing” go through a middle stage? Make sure we can keep track of which Hollywood actresses are “smoldering”? I honestly have no idea.

{ 245 comments }

1

Emma in Sydney 03.23.12 at 11:41 am

Ta-Nehisi Coates has been all over this. There are some righteous discussions over there.

2

JL 03.23.12 at 12:07 pm

“fucking coons” while on the phone to the goddamn police dispatcher. Which he did, as plain as dishwater

It’s certainly not clear what he said, but if you have a strong prior, of course it’s “clear.”

*I am aware that Mr. Zimmerman is, at least in part, a s33kr1t mexican so it’s not about race and white people are the real victims here Hispanic, a non-racial classification used by the US census to…uh…help people who are “passing” go through a middle stage?

What if Zimmerman had been a victim of crime committed by someone who is unquestionably white? I would guess that many people would speculate that he was attacked for being non-white. The Hispanic classification was introduced in 1976, mainly for affirmative action purposes.

3

spyder 03.23.12 at 12:39 pm

Sadly, there is not much difference between a gun and: a rope, or a pickup truck, or any of the other forms of horrible things done to preserve the status quo.

4

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 12:45 pm

I can’t even talk about this case without foaming at the mouth. This country makes me want to puke sometimes.

5

David Evans 03.23.12 at 12:53 pm

spyder: Seriously? You think Martin would now be dead if Zimmerman had been carrying a rope?

6

R. Porrofatto 03.23.12 at 12:59 pm

They didn’t look at Trayvon’s phone and call the contact marked “Dad,”…
And they didn’t do that for three days – the kid was in the morgue as a John Doe. The cops apparently assumed from the beginning that the kid had no business being in the neighborhood. No attempt was made to ID him. It wasn’t until the father reported him missing several times that they bothered.

The Florida law (coming soon to a state near you!) is simply insane. There have been many cases since the law was enacted where shooters who killed unarmed opponents were not prosecuted. From the Orlando Sentinel:
Arthur C. Hayhoe, director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, calls the law “a right to commit murder….Almost every case between two individuals where one was armed and the other was not is dismissed.”

This is so through the looking glass that I predict the NRA will lobby for the prosecution of anyone unarmed who tries to prevent a gun owner from shooting them.

7

bjk 03.23.12 at 1:26 pm

Has anyone considered that George might be telling the truth? That he got into a fight – however it started – the 6’3 Martin was smashing his face in, G. cried for help, none was forthcoming, and the only thing he could do short of taking more blows was to shoot Martin? I suppose he could have said, while on his back, “I’ve got a gun!,” but is that the kind of thing you want to say while you’re on your back? Or he could have just waited for the beating to stop and prayed for no permanent damage, but how many of us would make that choice?

8

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 1:28 pm

#6 had better be a (very very bad) joke.

9

Manta1976 03.23.12 at 1:31 pm

Wasn’t this kind of accidents the *purpose* of the Florida law: reenacting the Wild West from the movies (with half of the reenactors being not voluntary)? I read about it well before this happened, and people warned about its consequences (see Porrofatto’s comment).

In this sense, I am less prone to blame the cops here: first, they followed the spirit of the law, and second, by experience they knew that prosecuting the killing would probably been futile (so, why waste time and effort)?

10

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 1:38 pm

In this sense, I am less prone to blame the cops here: first, they followed the spirit of the law, and second, by experience they knew that prosecuting the killing would probably been futile (so, why waste time and effort)?

And that explains why they didn’t bestir themselves to identify their John Doe for three fucking days. Which would have taken 5 minutes via his cell phone.

11

Michael Bernstein 03.23.12 at 1:44 pm

“Justice means more than just the Feds showing up the Sanford PD for a bunch of Skoal-using morons who couldn’t govern their way out of a wet paper bag. Justice means actual freedom for Trayvon Martin to walk down the street and not be in danger of losing his life to someone with no badge and a gun. Not just hypothetical freedom, like the kind of voting rights black people used to have before the 1950s and 1960s. Real freedom.”

True. But charging Zimmermann with murder and the Sanford PD with obstruction of justice and violations of civil rights would be a decent start.

12

Manta1976 03.23.12 at 1:47 pm

Steve, I did not say or imply that the cops were blameless: I was only claiming that the worst culprits in this accident (besides Zimmermann himself) are not the cops, but the guys (and gals) making the laws, and the people electing them.

13

Substance McGravitas 03.23.12 at 1:51 pm

Steve, I did not say or imply that the cops were blameless

You did that by setting up a blame/not-blame scenario.

14

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 1:51 pm

Steve, I did not say or imply that the cops were blameless: I was only claiming that the worst culprits in this accident (besides Zimmermann himself) are not the cops, but the guys (and gals) making the laws, and the people electing them.

The latter are also assholes, of course, but I’m sorry, cops protecting murderers who are on “their side” has a long and ugly history, which deserves no exculpation whatsoever. Those cops belong in jail on civil rights and obstruction of justice charges.

15

Katherine 03.23.12 at 1:58 pm

Except that by any reading of the so-called self-defense laws, Zimmerman’s actions didn’t fall within them. Also, how do you tell at the crime scene, immediately, whether such law is applicable? And aren’t, I dunno, things like judges and juries supposed to make that judgement?

And do you really truly honestly believe that had Zimmerman been black and Martin been white, the police would have thought “oh, no point in even arresting the guy with the smoking gun, or bothering to take the most cursory of steps to identify the victim, since obviously the state’s self-defense laws will apply”?

16

Katherine 03.23.12 at 2:00 pm

That’s also leaving aside the fact that a witness who said she had heard Martin pleading for his life was corrected by a police officer taking her statement – he said that no, the person pleading had been Zimmerman.

17

bjk 03.23.12 at 2:02 pm

“And aren’t, I dunno, things like judges and juries supposed to make that judgement?”

No. Prosecutors make that judgment. The first step is to determine guilt, then press charges.

18

Katherine 03.23.12 at 2:02 pm

Honestly, I’m so sick and tired of “debate” and “devil’s advocate” and whatever other BS people are flinging around. An unarmed and entirely innocent teenager was shot by a man, twice his weight, who was following him with a gun. There’s no “other side” to this damn story.

19

bexley 03.23.12 at 2:05 pm

Don’t worry bjk, McMegan has chipped in to defend the indefensible:

But could there be a scenario where he–wildly inappropriately–followed this guy, and brandished his gun, and then much to his surprise, the teenager tried to wrestle the gun away, and in the ensuing struggle, he got shot?

Does that seem the most likely explanation to me? No. Could I rule it out? Also no. And that’s reasonable doubt.

Thus extending by one the number of topics on which she is willing to share her ill-informed opinions on.

20

bexley 03.23.12 at 2:06 pm

oops blockquote fail. The quote ended with “And that’s reasonable doubt.”

21

Katya 03.23.12 at 2:16 pm

Does that seem the most likely explanation to me? No. Could I rule it out? Also no. And that’s reasonable doubt.

No, it isn’t. That you can imagine some other scenario, however improbable, that might explain the facts does not create reasonable doubt. If there was evidence for that scenario, that might be reasonable doubt. But based on what I’ve read, Zimmerman did not claim that the gun went off when he and Martin were struggling over the gun. He said that Martin attacked him and he shot him in self-defense.

And no, Zimmerman is not telling the truth. The idea that Martin overpowered Zimmerman, who weighed 100 pounds more than him, is nonsense. Zimmerman followed Martin in his car, while the latter was on foot, exited his car, and provoked a confrontation with a kid who was scared because he was being followed by a stranger for no apparent reason. Then he shot that kid. He didn’t have to follow him, he didn’t have to get out of his car, and he didn’t have to shoot him. You don’t get to claim self-defense when you pick the fight.

22

Jexpat 03.23.12 at 2:17 pm

Just two brief -yet salient quotes here on the matter:

The first- which I know is probably trite for folks here, reflects on the actions of Sanford police and many of the residents- which in turn, affects action on the part of people like George Zimmerman throughout the US South.

Gavin Stevens: The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

~From Faulner’s Requiem for a Nun.

The second Gary Younge provides us with in his 21 March article published in the Guardian UK:

The second world war had a civilising influence on Buford Posey, a white man raised in the Deep South during the Depression. “When I was coming up in Mississippi I never knew it was against the law to kill a black man,” he says. “I learned that when I went in the army. I was 17 years old. When they told me I thought they were joking.”

23

Uncle Kvetch 03.23.12 at 2:32 pm

Does that seem the most likely explanation to me? No. Could I rule it out? Also no. And that’s reasonable doubt.

I have to admit, McArdle surprised me on this one. I didn’t think she could sink any lower in terms of her lack of basic humanity, her complete ignorance of the subjects she writes about, or her blithe abandonment of “libertarian” principles whenever they conflict with the prerogatives of the powerful. And she manages all three in a single blog comment.

24

Manta1976 03.23.12 at 2:32 pm

Katherine, again: it was not my intention to say that the cops did not do a poor job. What I was saying is the following: killing going unpunished thanks to the Florida law happened already before, in cases nobody claimed the police did a poor job (see http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/03/stand-your-ground-and-vigilante-justice/254900/ for a round-up of a few examples; btw, I second Emma’s recommendation for Ta-Nehisi Coates writing on the subject), and that those “accidents” were not a side-effect, but the purpose of the law; thus, focusing on the law (and the legislators) seems to me more appropriate that focusing on the police.

However, I realize that I did not take into account the “hystorical context” (as pointed out by Steve and Jexpat).

25

Bruce Baugh 03.23.12 at 2:39 pm

Zimmerman weighs nearly twice as much as Martin did, has a history of confrontational behavior, is on the 911 tape referring to “fucking coons”, and pursued and engaged Martin after the 911 operator tried to discourage him from doing so. Even if Martin had managed any moments of victory in struggle against Zimmerman – and there’s no evidence that he did – it would have been genuine self-defense against calculated racist aggression.

26

Steve Williams 03.23.12 at 2:43 pm

‘I have to admit, McArdle surprised me on this one. I didn’t think she could sink any lower in terms of her lack of basic humanity, her complete ignorance of the subjects she writes about, or her blithe abandonment of “libertarian” principles whenever they conflict with the prerogatives of the powerful. And she manages all three in a single blog comment.’

I have to say, I think we need a policy of avoiding ‘what McArdle thinks’. She is literally beneath contempt, and I honestly just don’t want to know what she thinks, about anything, ever. Also, the ‘value’ of blogs like hers is often calculated in click-throughs, so sending traffic her way just increases her ubiquity. Nobody here wants to know what, say, Stormfront have to say on the topic, and at this point her opinions are just as unwelcome (and just as predictable).

This, from Katherine, is right:

‘An unarmed and entirely innocent teenager was shot by a man, twice his weight, who was following him with a gun. There’s no “other side” to this damn story.’

Amen to that.

27

sleepyirv 03.23.12 at 2:58 pm

I find it fascinating that McArdle (Sorry, the basic facts of the case are so appalling I haven’t really figured what to say or what it means about the grand scheme of things) has already decided she would have to find the guy NOT guilty. I can understand the other way around, insisting you would put that piece of scum in jail for the rest of his life but who decides they would have to release him?

No matter how much McArdle pretends to, she certainly doesn’t know the law well enough to make a decision like that. There’s common law, the technical meaning of the written law, and other considerations she shouldn’t be prepared to make. She certainly try to guess the directions of the judge who’s going to tell a jury God knows what. I can understand saying, “whatever the law or judge might say, I’m voting to convict” but the other way around?

28

Belle Waring 03.23.12 at 3:00 pm

I shouldn’t allow myself to be trolled by McMegan. It’s just that, like Uncle Kvetch above, I was actually astounded by this new depth of sudden, pro-state ignorance and imaginary knowledge of the law. Sorry for introducing a hungry troll, everybody. Please don’t feed it.

Really, we should be talking about Trayvon Martin’s horrible death and the ways in which his murderer was aided by the local government.

29

Uncle Kvetch 03.23.12 at 3:11 pm

Really, we should be talking about Trayvon Martin’s horrible death and the ways in which his murderer was aided by the local government.

Agreed, and I’m sorry for the part I played in sidetracking the thread.

30

Barry Freed 03.23.12 at 3:12 pm

I hadn’t known about the being in the morgue for three days as a John Doe. What amazes me is that this murderer had a history of violence towards police FFS and the cops gave him a pass. (At least IIRC, didn’t he pull a knife on a cop). In any normal place that would have had him marked by the police as an undesireable to be watched closely and harrassed at every given opportunity. To be given a free pass to gun down kids on the block.

31

JW Mason 03.23.12 at 3:13 pm

What I want to know is, has anyone asked a spokesman for the police or local/state government, is it actually the case that you are, in florida, free to kill anyone at any time and are immune from prosecution if you just say the magic words “self-defense”?

Because that seems to be the theory they (and bjk and Manta1976) seem to be operating under: Not just that the law permits deadly force in certain circumstances, but that it prohibits the police from investigating whether those circumstances apply.

Also, thanks to Belle for sharing some horrible details about this horrible story that I did not know, like the drug tests of Trayvon’s body and the “correction” of the witness. i wouldn’t have thought it could be any worse, but it is.

32

Barry Freed 03.23.12 at 3:14 pm

Sorry for my semi-coherent comment above, this just reduces me to incoherent rage. Unbelievable.

33

akatsuki 03.23.12 at 3:14 pm

I find particularly compelling how people are identifying Zimmerman as Hispanic, as if that somehow will defend him against a charge of racism.

34

Belle Waring 03.23.12 at 3:29 pm

Barry, the police claim not to have run Zimmerman’s record till 12-14 hours after the shooting, after they had already released him, so they didn’t know, and something mumble something. (Well, they never had him “in custody,” but they rode him to the station in the back of a police cruiser but not in handcuffs, for some cursory questioning and medical help (a band-aid.) N.B. I made up the band-aid part but the rest is true. I agree that “assaulted a police officer” sounds like the kind of thing that normally gets you on the local police force’s shit list. White people trumps cop-assailant? I…WTF infinity.

35

Barry Freed 03.23.12 at 3:38 pm

I believe the precise technical term the police use is “shitbird.” As in: “that’s the shitbird wannabe that tangled with Bob down in the 3rd a couple of years ago. Watch his ass. “

they rode him to the station in the back of a police cruiser

Harsh, they usually let those types ride up front.

36

snuh 03.23.12 at 3:43 pm

so on the one hand, it is somewhat heartening that this is now being discussed as the big deal that it should always have been. like it feels ages since i first read about it on some blog somewhere, and i just kind of thought in a resigned way, “that’s awful”, because basically it seemed to me none of the principals would be made to pay for this outrage because no one would care. turns out that might have been wrong. which is i guess of small comfort to the martins but still.

37

snuh 03.23.12 at 3:49 pm

on the other hand, i happened to listen to springsteen’s “american skin” today (aka the “41 shots” song). there’s that one heartbreaking verse where bruce imagines a black mother giving her son some amadou diallo based advice:

you got to understand the rules
if an officer stops you
promise me, you’ll always be polite
and that you’ll never ever run away
promise mama you’ll keep your hands in sight

and yeah, what sort of heartbreaking advice would black mothers be giving their sons in the wake of this thing? i cannot even begin to imagine.

38

KCinDC 03.23.12 at 3:50 pm

JW Mason, apparently the magic words make you immune not just from prosecution but even from arrest.

39

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 3:50 pm

turns out that might have been wrong.

But only because we happen to have people in power in Washington who were willing to launch a Federal civil rights investigation. So we still live in a country in which even delayed and inadequate stabs at justice in a case like this may only take place when a particular party is in power or, more to the point, another particular party is NOT in power. Incoherent rage is pretty much the only appropriate response to that.

40

bexley 03.23.12 at 3:55 pm

Sorry for the threadjack – I’ll behave.

No. Prosecutors make that judgment. The first step is to determine guilt, then press charges.

And the local PD and prosecutors do that by not doing any investigation whatsoever?

41

Sebastian H 03.23.12 at 4:03 pm

The defense law seems like an enormous distraction in the discussion of this case. First, it just restores the common law understanding on self defense that had been undermined by court rulings over the past thirty or so years. Second, it doesn’t say anything like what it’s attackers here seem to think. Third, self defense is an AFFIRMATIVE defense. That means roughly that after a prosecutor proves his case beyond a reasonable doubt, if a defendant wants to raise a self defense claim the burden is on the defendant to prove it up. Fourth, claiming a killing was self defense has long been one of the easiest ways for a killer to sow confusion about his acts–long before the Florida statute. Fifth, the statute has approximately zero to do with this case. The killer was pretty clearly not acting in self defense.

It is the fact that the police didn’t investigate this crime, with an obviously dead body and sketchy story, that is a horrible and racist set of actions. Trying to turn this into a side attack on an irrelevant Florida law is missing the point completely.

42

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 4:07 pm

First, it just restores the common law understanding on self defense that had been undermined by court rulings over the past thirty or so years.

That is pure, reeking bullshit. Duty to retreat unless in one’s own home was at the heart of the traditional doctrine, and is specifically excluded from laws like Florida’s. Frankly, when you start off with a rank piece of dishonesty like that, there’s no reason to listen to anything else you say.

43

bjk 03.23.12 at 4:07 pm

After looking into this, and listening to one of the tapes, you can hear that there was shouting, then a gun shot, then screaming, then another gunshot. I don’t know what happened, but hard to square that with self-defense.

44

Substance McGravitas 03.23.12 at 4:44 pm

Aileen Wuornos is apparently owed a posthumous apology by the legislators of Florida.

45

Manta1976 03.23.12 at 4:53 pm

There is also this article on the topic: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/03/why_george_zimmerman_trayvon_martin_s_killer_hasn_t_been_prosecuted_.single.html
(yes, I know, it is Slate, but the content seems good):
“And yet as the Hernandez and Martin’s case shows, Stand Your Ground laws often lead prosecutors to decide against so much as bringing charges. According to the Sun Sentinel, “In case after case during the past six years, Floridians who shot and killed unarmed opponents have not been prosecuted.”

46

Ethan 03.23.12 at 5:11 pm

It seems that he was handcuffed, though not arrested, and that the gun was taken into evidence. http://www.sanfordfl.gov/investigation/docs/Twin%20Lakes%20Shooting%20Initial%20Report.pdf It’s still, of course, a disgrace, but best to get as much right as possible.

47

Aaron Baker 03.23.12 at 5:21 pm

Does that seem the most likely explanation to me? No. Could I rule it out? Also no. And that’s reasonable doubt.

As a former prosecutor, I was often encouraged to say to the jury that reasonable doubt is not the same thing as any doubt. The law isn’t super-precise about the difference between reasonable and unreasonable–but we have Zimmerman’s pursuit of Martin (confirmed by Zimmerman’s own admission as well as by the boy’s girlfriend); the high-pitched screams; the statement of one witness that she heard the boy screaming. Throw in “fucking coons” (which is certainly what the relevant tape sounds like), and I think you’d have to be Megan McArdle to aquit.

48

Jerry Vinokurov 03.23.12 at 5:34 pm

That is pure, reeking bullshit. Duty to retreat unless in one’s own home was at the heart of the traditional doctrine, and is specifically excluded from laws like Florida’s. Frankly, when you start off with a rank piece of dishonesty like that, there’s no reason to listen to anything else you say.

Worth repeating. This is a law that quite literally authorizes the use of deadly force if one “reasonably believes” they could be in danger. It doesn’t require anything like an actual proof of the danger and is entirely dependent on the psychological state of the shooter. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand why this is a horrible idea!

49

js. 03.23.12 at 5:36 pm

we still live in a country in which even delayed and inadequate stabs at justice in a case like this may only take place when a particular party is in power or, more to the point, another particular party is NOT in power. Incoherent rage is pretty much the only appropriate response to that.

This, in addition to everything else, is really bizarrely depressing.

50

R. Porrofatto 03.23.12 at 5:37 pm

Third, self defense is an AFFIRMATIVE defense. That means roughly that after a prosecutor proves his case beyond a reasonable doubt, if a defendant wants to raise a self defense claim the burden is on the defendant to prove it up.

Not with this law, which is certainly no distraction but at the heart of the strictly legal reason that Zimmerman is free at the moment. From what I’ve read, self-defense here is not so much an affirmative action reserved for trial but a claim that has to be disproved even before the “self-defender” can be arrested. Here’s the relevant sub-section of the law:

A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force… As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

51

Salient 03.23.12 at 5:41 pm

A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force… As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

…DETAINING IN CUSTODY. what. the. fuck.

52

Substance McGravitas 03.23.12 at 5:45 pm

But you have to look at 776.012 and so on. It’s insanely broad but it’s still not a blank cheque.

http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/776.012

53

JW Mason 03.23.12 at 5:48 pm

IANAL but the “who uses force as permitted” is not the same as “who claims to have used force as permitted.” Arrests for violent crime are still made in Florida, no?

54

geo 03.23.12 at 5:51 pm

Belle and Steve: re McArdle, I think I respectfully disagree. She won’t, alas, go away if we ignore her. Moreover, it’s a question of justice: she’s working hard to deserve our continual ridicule, and she’s entitled to it.

55

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 5:51 pm

As obscene as that law is, a plain reading, and common sense, suggest that Substance and JW Mason are correct- if the Sanford cops and prosecutor cite it, it’s as an excuse, not a valid reason, for their inaction.

56

Manta1976 03.23.12 at 5:53 pm

My exact reaction, Salient@48.
And take into account that the legislators were warned about the consequences of the law; by, among other people, some police officers.

Substance: in that section you will see that you don’t need to claim self-defence to kill somebody: it is enough that:
He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony

57

Salient 03.23.12 at 5:56 pm

Yeah, I’m a bit relieved to find the next paragraph in 776.032 clarifies this:

A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

58

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 6:01 pm

But, of course, if you don’t bother to investigate, you’re not gonna find probable cause, amirite?

59

Manta1976 03.23.12 at 6:02 pm

I think that we may reach an agreement: the Florida law is terrible, and the police used it as an excuse for not doing their job.
Do two wrongs make a right?

60

Watson Ladd 03.23.12 at 6:32 pm

Jerry, reasonable does not mean what you think it does. The jury will judge whether someone had good grounds for believing they were in danger. If someone jumps out in a dark alley from behind a dumpster, the law should recognize that regardless of their intent you would probably believe yourself to be in danger.

Mantra1976, AFAIK the Subway Vigilante was not prosecuted for murder because he believed (correctly) that the 5 men he shot were planning to rob him. The reasoning behind this is that you cannot judge whether someone merely intends to beat you to a pulp, or wants to kill you by beating you to a pulp. Parts of the Florida law were intended to prevent the lawsuit which the surviving robbers filed against their would-be victim, alleging that by defending himself he interfered with their rights!

The Florida law doesn’t seem to actually apply to the facts as stated: 776.013 (3) doesn’t apply when the invoker initiated the attack. 776.041(2) denies the use of the defense to anyone who initiates the use of force. It’s clear the law is being used as an excuse, and isn’t a substantial obstacle. Then again IANAL, and I certainly ANAFL.

61

Salient 03.23.12 at 6:35 pm

I think that we may reach an agreement

Yeah, 56 sums it up (though I prefer the emphasis of Katherine’s summary).

I think I am going to fly to Florida and start walking through gated communities with an iced tea and an upside-down American flag. Or something. Does anyone know of an organization preparing to raise a titanic and ongoing stink that I could donate to? maybe the ACLU or…?

62

smartalek 03.23.12 at 6:41 pm

@ #20, Katya: “You don’t get to claim self-defense when you pick the fight.”

Not always true; it depends on context.
Seems to have worked pretty well for a few Arab states in the Mideast, for instance.

63

Salient 03.23.12 at 6:42 pm

Belle and Steve: re McArdle, I think I respectfully disagree. She won’t, alas, go away if we ignore her.

What we’ll need is fewer words, and more pies. Or maybe eggs. Maybe we can start mailing her eggs. “I was considering throwing this at you in protest of your atrocious apologism, but I decided to mail it instead, so that when you receive it, it’s almost as rotten as you.” That could be funny.

64

Manta1976 03.23.12 at 6:42 pm

Watson, neither me or you is a lawyer. This guy, however, is a law professor
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/21/do-stand-your-ground-laws-encourage-vigilantes/what-the-florida-stand-your-ground-law-says
and discusses the Florida law in the context of Trayvon Martin’s death.

65

Sebastian h 03.23.12 at 6:51 pm

The duty to retreat was later add on in some but certainly not all common law jurisdictions. You just don’t know what you’re talking about and screeching as if you do. But again, duty to retreat wouldn’t have helped the police analyze this case at all, Trayvon was persued and had done no wrong. Complaints about the Florida law just don’t have anything to do with this case and are a distraction from the very real racist failure to properly investigate the murder of a black man by a white man. Whatever the merits or demerits of the Florida self defense law they just don’t have much to do with a case where the police seem to grab any excuse to not investigate.

66

Steve LaBonne 03.23.12 at 7:00 pm

The duty to retreat was later add on in some but certainly not all common law jurisdictions.

Bullshit. In common law, it was always understood that the Castle Doctrine did not apply in public places, and this distinction was explicitly enshrined in the statute law of most states. It’s batshit insane laws like Florida’s that are the (pernicious) novelty. Stop trying to pretend that they’re merely a reversion to earlier practice- that’s a lie.

67

Jerry Vinokurov 03.23.12 at 7:02 pm

Jerry, reasonable does not mean what you think it does. The jury will judge whether someone had good grounds for believing they were in danger. If someone jumps out in a dark alley from behind a dumpster, the law should recognize that regardless of their intent you would probably believe yourself to be in danger.

It has nothing to do with what I think and everything to do with actual court decisions and the results of actual trial outcomes, which you can read all about here before you go lecture me about people jumping out of alleys or whatever.

68

Jerry Vinokurov 03.23.12 at 7:04 pm

Oops, my bad, what I actually meant to link was this. But the other one is good too.

69

Salient 03.23.12 at 7:06 pm

…when in doubt, mistrust the person who uses words like “screeching” and “silly” traditionally reserved for dismissing vocal women, in order to characterize others’ responses. Steve there’s really not even a need to reply.

70

Jerry Vinokurov 03.23.12 at 7:07 pm

And perhaps it might be also useful to peruse what the courts have said about it, which you can read at this PDF link. Here, let me do the hard work for you:

“[the] law does not require defendant to prove self-defense to any standard measuring assurance of truth, exigency, near certainty, or even mere probability; defendant’s only burden is to offer facts from which his resort to force could have been reasonable.”

71

Barry Freed 03.23.12 at 7:08 pm

I think I am going to fly to Florida and start walking through gated communities with an iced tea and an upside-down American flag. Or something

And the body armor. Don’t forget the body armor.

One of the things that really first got to me was where the murderer says “It’s raining, and he’s just walking around looking at houses.” And I can just imagine this poor kid who left to get some snacks (“Yeah dad, I’ll come straight back”) and is a bit lost and looking for the right house in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

72

ascholl 03.23.12 at 7:08 pm

The law might be something of a distraction from the bigger issues in this situation, but one thing really strikes me: as far as legitimate self defense goes, there’s absolutely no need for any sort of law! If I honestly & truly believed that I was in immediate mortal danger, I’d use whatever force I had available to defend myself. I wouldn’t worry for a moment about possible legal ramifications in the future: immediate mortal danger trumps everything else. Anyone would behave this way, and any judge or jury would take this into account in the aftermath. It’s possible (I don’t believe this, but it’s possible) that a law like this might prevent unjust punishment of morally innocent killers after the fact. But before the fact, the only effect the law has is to empower people to kill one another. If the law is meant to alter behavior, I really cannot think of any other effect it could have. Supporting it just seems batshit crazy.

73

Manta1976 03.23.12 at 7:24 pm

ascholl, the Florida police agree with you: from one of Jerry’s links

Miami’s police chief made a prediction shortly before the law took effect:
“Whether it’s trick-or-treaters or kids playing in the yard of someone who doesn’t want them there or some drunk guy stumbling into the wrong house,” Chief John Timoney told the New York Times, “you’re encouraging people to possibly use deadly physical force where it shouldn’t be used.”

and

One of the law’s biggest critics is Willie Meggs, the state attorney for six counties in the Panhandle. He says he’s a strong believer in gun rights but thinks the law is just another valuable tool for killers. The old law was working just fine, he says. He petitioned the Legislature to address the law last year. Nothing.
“Gangsters are using this law to have gunfights,” he said. “That’s exactly what this law breeds.”

But look at the bright side: Floridians can now enjoy a bit of the old Far West.

74

Salient 03.23.12 at 7:31 pm

Instead of the flag thing–since I don’t own body armor–I’ve decided to start mailing a “left out in the sun for a bit” egg to the local police department every day. Zimmerman’s act was, it seems to me, premeditated murder. Horrible. Premeditated murder happens often. But the behavior of the police throughout this is immeasurably more horrible, and deserves to be met with civil protest.

Mailing eggs is apparently perfectly legal so long as they are individually cushioned and are packed to withstand shocks encountered during normal Postal Service handling; these criteria are apparently satisfied by the styrofoam package eggs normally come in.

Am settling on, for the accompanying note, “Your officers neglect to even arrest a murderer in cold blood on nonsense grounds. That’s strong evidence something in your department’s far more rotten than this.” …how much you want to bet they’ll concoct some nonsense bullshit about mailing someone an egg being a terrorist act, or whatever. (If they do, I’ll have some choice words ready in response about a police department that considers a properly packaged mailed egg a greater threat than a person armed with a gun chasing someone down in a car and then on foot…)

75

Salient 03.23.12 at 7:45 pm

“I was considering whether or not to fly to Florida to throw this at you, in the spirit of citizen protest at your outrageous willful negligence, but I decided your department is likely to be incapable of distinguishing traditional acts of contemptuous protest like that from actual acts of terror or violence (acts which I, a committed peaceful person, would never commit). I feel nothing but sorrow for any individual who resides in or visits your jurisdiction, whose lives are continuously endangered by your willful incompetence. Expect one egg from me, with another copy of this note, each week until the firing and/or resignation and/or retirement of all officers and superiors who had a hand in denying Trayvon Martin, and indeed all of us, justice. Smelly past-due eggs can only begin to match the stain you have placed on all law enforcement. Wear them with honor. With love, and compassion for those whom you continue to endanger, Sal.”

76

ajay 03.23.12 at 8:52 pm

“But look at the bright side: Floridians can now enjoy a bit of the old Far West.”

If only. Strong handgun control measures were a vital part of keeping order in the Old West. Guns were banned from the streets of Tombstone.

77

x.trapnel 03.23.12 at 8:52 pm

Justice means actual freedom for Trayvon Martin to walk down the street and not be in danger of losing his life to someone with no badge and a gun.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that justice means actual freedom to walk down the street and not be in danger of losing one’s life even to someone with a badge, but the original version would be a step in the right direction, yeah.

78

Sebastian 03.23.12 at 11:11 pm

“That is pure, reeking bullshit. Duty to retreat unless in one’s own home was at the heart of the traditional doctrine, and is specifically excluded from laws like Florida’s. Frankly, when you start off with a rank piece of dishonesty like that, there’s no reason to listen to anything else you say.”

I know I’m approaching “someone is wrong on the internet” here, but Steve being abusive doesn’t actually make you right.

The ‘duty to retreat’ except when in the home has never been the law in the majority of states, though it has been in a significant minority. I suspect you are just confusing the law in your particular state, with being the majority rule. But it isn’t.

The following states have absolutely no duty to retreat whatsoever: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington.

The following states have a duty to retreat in some cases, but not even remotely limited to just the home, I’ve included the areas more than just the home: Alaska (workplace, protecting a child or protecting a family member), California (any reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury), Georgia (any person attacked has the right to meet force with force), Iowa (place of business or in defence of self or third party), Missouri (anything with a roof where a person might lodge the night including hotels, also any vehicle), North Carolina (includes workplaces and vehicles), Ohio (includes vehicles and in protection of self or family members), and Oregon (reasonably believes that another person is using or about to use deadly force).

only in “complete safety” which in case law has tended to eviscerate the ‘duty to retreat’: Hawaii, New Jersey.

Maryland and Minnesota appear to have really messy case law on the subject so it isn’t clear.

Also, “stand your ground” has been the federal standard for cases in which self-defense is asserted since Beard v. U.S. in 1895. See also Brown v. United States (1921).

79

rosmar 03.24.12 at 5:19 am

Mostly I think the original post is excellent, but I don’t understand the weird digs at Latinos at the end. Racial categories change over time and vary across space, Latinos have been subjected to a lot of discrimination (including, for example, being kept off juries in Texas until 1954) in U.S. history and still are over-represented in prisons and in poverty. Some Latinos identify as White, and many don’t. That seems irrelevant to whether or not George Zimmerman, based on racial stereotypes, killed someone (which Zimmerman clearly did).

80

js. 03.24.12 at 5:29 am

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that justice means actual freedom to walk down the street and not be in danger of losing one’s life even to someone with a badge, but the original version would be a step in the right direction, yeah.

Too true. As someone pointed out elsewhere (maybe in comments on the latest Jesse Taylor post at Pandagon? (which ps. is very worth reading)), this could have become a barely remarked-upon case if the killer had been a cop.

Fucking hell, everything about this is so depressing. Like, e.g., Barry Freed’s comment (71) makes me incredibly sad and angry. I guess part of it is being a POC (at least visibly one of the “favored” ones I suppose, so I don’t have to worry too much about getting shot by racist cops or vigilantes), and so instantly knowing that sense of being “in the wrong place”, or of someone looking at you and you recognizing that they think you’re in the wrong place. And I still can’t even imagine what it’s like to be black in this country.

Anyway, wanted to say that the bit about gated communities in the South (in the OP) was highly enlightening if also utterly horrifying. Cheers.

81

wilfred 03.24.12 at 6:07 am

If it’s an isolated incident atrributable to a bad law then it’s a one-off – a tragedy that ended one life and is bound to ruin others.

Coming on the heels of the slaughter of 17 Afghans it barely registers. Is ‘stand your ground’ preemptory self-defense a case of as above, below? We invaded a country based on what it might have been able to do to us. Hundreds of thousands of deaths later we still haven’t prosecuted anyone for what amounts to the same thing that Zimmerman is hiding behind: He felt threatened and shot someone.

We felt threatened and destroyed a civilization, or two. We have serious discussion about whether it’s a good idea to attack Iran and kill more people because we need to draw a line in the sand, or stand our ground, or be better off safe than sorry.

What’s the difference?

82

SN 03.24.12 at 6:09 am

This information about gated communities is something I haven’t heard yet. I’m sort of with #79 there but mainly I am puzzled by 79. Latinos are killed by white people because the white people are racist and hate Latinos. In some regions of the US, Mexican-Americans call themselves Hispanic. I don’t think the US government’s definition determine who gets targeted for racist reasons. You can call it ‘ethnic hatred’ if you think that is more precise.

http://newamericamedia.org/2011/02/death-sentence-for-arizona-minuteman-who-killed-girl-and-dad.php

http://americanhumanity.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/mexican-immigrant-beaten-to-death-in-pennsylvania/

83

SN 03.24.12 at 6:16 am

To clarify a bit: Thanks for the information about the gated communities. This post adds to my understanding of the racial factors that could have led to this nightmare.

I did not think that you meant to dig at Latinos but I couldn’t figure out what your point about the US government is. If your point is that Zimmerman’s actions were racially motivated–whatever his parentage–that makes sense. But you seem to want to say more.

84

js. 03.24.12 at 6:20 am

RE 79 and 82: I think part of Belle’s point is the rankly dishonest way in which, “Oh, but the Zimmerman entity is Latino!” has been used to attempt to deflect (obviously called for) accusations of racism. The other bit of the reference, I think, is to the way in which (e.g.) the “Hispanic” category shows up in EEO forms, which frankly I’ve always found to be utterly mystifying—-though happy to be enlightened.

85

Belle Waring 03.24.12 at 6:53 am

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that justice means actual freedom to walk down the street and not be in danger of losing one’s life even to someone with a badge, but the original version would be a step in the right direction, yeah.

Ouch, OK, 10 points to Trapnel. I need to dream bigger. Wait, hypothetical-Trayvon should be able to walk down any street, in a hoodie, free from the fear of being shot by gun-toting yahoos of any stripe, be they badged or no, and he should be given a pony.

My comments on the non-black Hispanic thing is that ‘Hispanic’ is a term of art on the US census which refers only to Latin-speaking parentage, broadly construed to include Spanish- speakers of any racial origin, and people of Brazilian origin…and maybe Portuguese people? But not Romanian people because…er. And obviously not French or Italian people, that would be silly. Many right-wingers on the internet have been running a “it’s just criminal Mexicans shooting Negroes like usual, but the lame-stream Media is blaming innocent White people” flag up the pole to see if anyone salutes. Some have obliged.

86

Belle Waring 03.24.12 at 7:16 am

Zimmerman might have every right to define himself as Latino or Hispanic should he wish, but the plain sad fact of the matter in America is that only one thing matters: are you black or not? Zimmerman is not black. I think the varying groups of Latino people in the US will likely be unambiguously regarded as white by mainstream American culture when I am an old woman, and in all likelihood Asian-Americans, and probably Americans whose ancestry lies in India, and black people are just going to stay black. That’s all we’ve got in the US: black/not black. You’d like to think that would change but we seem to be pretty damn stubborn on this one.

On the gated communities, yes it is really creepy, and I do think that anyone who wants to write an awesome book should go around the low-country and interview people on how these plantations were formed. Because these islands like Hilton Head were majority black during the 1800s (well, so was all of S.C., like 80% vs 20%), and were often abandoned by their white owners during the (long) malarial summers, so the slaves were left alone, to cultivate, but be free from supervision to a great degree. That’s why those people spoke Gullah there for so long. When my dad was young there was not even a bridge to Hilton Head, and now have a look on ye Google at 278. Only lawsuits forced the plantation owners to let black people on the public beaches and into their own cemeteries, and this, as I say, in the 90s. Many historic cemeteries had small grave markers and relied a lot on oral tradition to know who was where in family plots; many of those were pushed under to make golf courses and condos in the 1970s. I think it’s sad that only the house slave families had their masters’ favor and later the money to have proper markers, not that those people are rich now, but they are the only ones whose graves have survived. But they should be rich now! They got muscled out of their plots in the 1970s, pieces of land worth millions now [grinds teeth, looks off pensively into the distance as she contemplates her S.C. retirement in the family's summer house. Winter was in Savannah. Good thing my family never owned slaves or exploited anyone's labor or were complete bastards or...oh shit.]

87

wilfred 03.24.12 at 7:34 am

“but the plain sad fact of the matter in America is that only one thing matters: are you black or not?”

I don’t know about that. How about if you’re Muslim, or an Arab with a Muslim sounding name, or white with an Arab/Muslim sounding name?

Race may or may not be an ontological category but these days there are consequences to other things than race, no?

88

Belle Waring 03.24.12 at 8:11 am

OK, I guess there’s the new Muslim terrorist category. Still, it’s the main thing.

89

John Quiggin 03.24.12 at 8:17 am

I find it striking that both Sebastian and McArdle instinctively know which side to jump on and that, even in an appalling case like this one, it’s the side of the racist authoritarians (for even worse versions of the same stuff, see any pro-Repub site). Truly, the word “glibertarian” was invented for a reason.

90

bjk 03.24.12 at 10:14 am

Geez, can’t a troll get any attention here? Hello! Right here! There are at least two witnesses who report seeing Trayvon on top of George, and George screaming for help. It’s interesting that there have been 89 comments on this thread, but no discussion of what actually went on. This isn’t a question of, what side are you instintively on? It’s a question of what the facts are, and in this case, there is good reason to believe George was on his back being beaten by Trayvon at the time of the shooting. Surely that’s a relevant fact in the case. (Btw, there was one shot, not two. Ignore my other comment up thread).

91

Watson Ladd 03.24.12 at 11:47 am

Jerry, the case you linked to was about non-deadly force, not deadly force. The argument we have is whether the plain statutory language in 776.041(2) makes the self-defense defense moot if the invoker initiated the confrontation. There’s also a question about what reasonable means. Here it means not unfounded, and the prosecution can always introduce evidence to show that the defendant was unreasonable in his belief. (Why not truth? Because determining if someone was really going to hurt you if they hit you with a fist, or just cause thousands of dollars of damage to your teeth is a bit much to ask in the heat of the moment)

bjk, even if the facts are as you state them, 776.041(2) seems to squarely deny Zimmerman the defense.

92

guthrie 03.24.12 at 11:48 am

bjk – so what you are saying is that George attached Trayvon, and upon losing physically he then shot him. That also sounds pretty bad to me.

93

rf 03.24.12 at 11:57 am

bjk
“This isn’t a question of, what side are you instintively on”

Well it appears to be in your case. You came out all guns blazing on post 7 saying:

“Has anyone considered that George might be telling the truth?”

It was only by post 43 that you decided to actually read up on the situation:

“After looking into this, and listening to one of the tapes”

So forgive me personally for not taking what you have to say particularly seriously.
Having said that I haven’t been following the case the last day, so fill me in on a few things; have the stories fundamentals changed? (, Zimmerman taking it upon himself to follow Trayvon after being told not to) Are there any accusations that Trayvon was doing anything more than going to the shop? Is Zimmerman still the only one that had a gun?

If so then what exactly is your argument, that the kid ‘stood his ground’, at best that the shooting was ‘accidental’? (Not premeditated but happened during a fight)
If Trayvon did react to Zimmerman following him then so what, what does that change? At 17 I would have done the same, would you not?

94

bjk 03.24.12 at 12:04 pm

I’m pretty sure that if one person is on top of another person, and the person on the bottom is repeatedly screaming for help – the tapes are hard to listen to, because somebody is desperately crying for help – then I don’t imagine “who started it” matters too much. Put yourself in the position of the person on the bottom and ask what you would do.

95

Barry 03.24.12 at 12:31 pm

g-d, but you’re nasty. By this standard, if somebody was mugged, and turned the table on their mugger, the mugger would be justified in using killing their victim.

Could you please direct us to where you’ve held this view when the victim was white?

96

snuh 03.24.12 at 12:37 pm

bjk may be the worst troll this site has ever had.

97

Belle Waring 03.24.12 at 12:45 pm

bjk, if you want to troll us, you’ll have to up your game. We’ve been trolled by the best. Are you going to pretend you are totally unsure, when listening to the pleading on those tapes, as to whether it comes from a fat 28-year-old man with a 9 mil which he has already discharged once, or a skinny 17-year-old boy armed with a bag of skittles? Seriously, are you going to assert that? Zimmerman is afraid he’s going to have to taste the rainbow? Is that your contention? Zimmerman follows Martin, engages him in a physical altercation, starts getting his butt kicked, fires his handgun once, which is no deterrent to the Arizona Iced Tea-fuelled rage of young Mr. Martin, who keeps on whupping his ass, so good ol’George’s lying there on the ground, with only 15 rounds because he didn’t have one in the chamber that day, but pleading for his life in a distinctly high-pitched voice, and then he had no other way to evade death by skull fracture or serious blunt force trauma other than shooting his hoodie-wearing opponent? That’s what might have happened, for so high a value of might that we must all give it careful weight and scrutiny? Cop to that, and I might pay you some mind. Also, you should go rake stones in Bob McManus’ Texas garden for 8 months and then come back.

98

bjk 03.24.12 at 1:02 pm

You obviously haven’t listened to the tapes. George has a high-pitched voice. He’s a fat, whiny cop wanna-be, and I think a little sympathy for him and the tragic situation he found himself in is in order. Second, there was only one shot. That’s what the witnesses said, and the cops found only one discharge from the gun.

Not only is this scenario plausible, it’s also backed up by witnesses and corroborated by the tapes and George’s injuries. So not only do I think that’s what happened, there is a ton of evidence pointing in that direction.

99

rosmar 03.24.12 at 1:19 pm

No, it doesn’t only matter whether one is White or Black in the United States. Race in the United States developed through slavery AND the genocide of American Indians AND xenophobia. (Latinos fell under two of those, often.) It has never been the case that it only mattered whether one was White or Black–it would be more accurate to say it mainly mattered whether one was White or not. And, if Latinos will be seen as White some day soon, I haven’t yet seen evidence of it. People are still making laws primarily aimed at Latinos. Latinos are still among the poorest paid and least well educated people in the United States. Studies routinely find discrimination against Latinos in hiring and housing and court cases. And Latinos are also over-represented among those killed by police.

None of this in any way excuses Zimmerman, but I think one can point out how ridiculous it is to say “he can’t be racist, he’s Latino!” without oversimplifying racial politics in the United States.

100

Steve LaBonne 03.24.12 at 1:19 pm

The following states have absolutely no duty to retreat whatsoever: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington.

No shit, Sherlock. That’s because so many crazy morons like you pushed for such insane laws. But they are NOT in accord with traditional Anglo-American doctrines of self-defense, no matter how many times you lie about that.

101

Belle Waring 03.24.12 at 1:21 pm

Ne? I thought there were two shots? I’m certainly willing to be corrected on that point. The rest stands. I am astonished that a grown man is willing to pretend to believe something so preposterous just to get people to pay attention to him on the internet. But, I suppose it takes all kinds. If you would now like to reveal that you are in fact a black woman whose best friend is a Latina volunteer in Haiti, rock on with your bad self.
I think a little sympathy for him and the tragic situation he found himself in is in order.
For fucks sake. If there are points of fact I’ve got wrong and on which you wish to correct me with actual links to actual news articles, please do so. If you are going to soil the page in this fashion I invite you to take it elsewhere. You will find many more congenial sites. Zimmerman didn’t “find himself” anywhere, he went about 250 miles out of his way to get into this exact stupid evil situation. I would be more sympathetic if he hadn’t just shot an unarmed kid to death because he though a back kid in a hoodie looked “real suspicious” and like he was “probably on drugs or something.” Also, long years spent in the South have given me a kind of “sixth sense” about racists, so that even a minor thing such as calling black people “fucking coons” will give me the sense people might be racist, while a reference like that might just sail over the head of…oh, shit, no. No, that’s just regular racism, sorry. Also, why didn’t they arrest Zimmerman at the scene? Why didn’t they take his gun? Why didn’t they test him for drugs or alcohol? Run his records? Leave Trayvon’s body as a John Doe in the morgue for 3 days when they had his cell with all his contacts? The migraine thing is real, so, night all. Please either get us some interesting trolls or ignore these meagre ones to death. Yes yes, practice, preach, etc.

102

bjk 03.24.12 at 1:35 pm

DD sez: Let freedom’s ban-hammer ring. I did once run a site where self-admitted trolls could practice their skills and expect to be congratulated, but it wasn’t this one

103

Barry Freed 03.24.12 at 1:43 pm

bjk @90 sez:
………….
………….
………….
…Ignore my other comment up thread

Thanks, I’ll be doing that on general principles with all your other comments going forward as well.

104

snuh 03.24.12 at 1:50 pm

Not only is this scenario plausible, it’s also backed up by witnesses and corroborated by the tapes and George’s injuries. So not only do I think that’s what happened, there is a ton of evidence pointing in that direction.

perhaps the evidence is so heavy, that you’re unable to carry it here to show it to us?

105

EKR 03.24.12 at 2:04 pm

John @89

I find it striking that both Sebastian and McArdle instinctively know which side to jump on and that, even in an appalling case like this one, it’s the side of the racist authoritarians (for even worse versions of the same stuff, see any pro-Repub site). Truly, the word “glibertarian” was invented for a reason.

Wait, is Sebastian jumping in on the side of racist authoritarians? Here he is in 41:

Fifth, the statute has approximately zero to do with this case. The killer was pretty clearly not acting in self defense.

It is the fact that the police didn’t investigate this crime, with an obviously dead body and sketchy story, that is a horrible and racist set of actions. Trying to turn this into a side attack on an irrelevant Florida law is missing the point completely.

His point seems to be principally that the question of the appropriate law on self defense is irrelevant to this case, which doesn’t seem to me to match your characterization particularly well.

106

Kevin Donoghue 03.24.12 at 2:05 pm

One shot it is. Mother Jones has a page with frequent updates of the story:

http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/what-happened-trayvon-martin-explained

107

EKR 03.24.12 at 2:05 pm

Gah, the paragraph starting with “It is the fact…” also is a quote from Sebastian.

108

Kevin Donoghue 03.24.12 at 2:07 pm

Agree with EKR. Though ‘glibertarian’ fits Sebastian pretty well on past form, not so in this thread.

109

bjk 03.24.12 at 2:47 pm

110

JanieM 03.24.12 at 2:59 pm

As to the relevance of the Stand Your Ground law: It seems to me that the law came out of, and encourages the intensification of (and is explicitly intended to do so), an atmosphere in which this kind of violence thrives. Moreover, I haven’t gone back to find evidence of this, but if I remember correctly the law was part of the police department’s original self-whitewashing for not arresting Zimmerman, and of Zimmerman’s own reasoning. “It was self-defense” — he says it as if it matters, the police accept it as if it matters. As if any perpetrator of any crime just has to excuse him/herself on the scene and that’s the end of that!

So whether the law would actually be relevant to guilt or innocence in a trial is … not the only thing that might make the law relevant.

(Disclaimer: my rule, because life is too short, is that I don’t waste time reading certain commenters, and I skim quickly past comments answering them. Sebastian H is on that list, so it is possible that I’m repeating something someone already said about the Stand Your Ground Law.)

111

JanieM 03.24.12 at 3:01 pm

Although, or maybe because, I am practically incandescent with outrage over this story, I agree with the folks who say it’s important to get the facts straight, to wit:

The “fact” that Trayvon’s body sat in the morgue for three days has been repeated everywhere. I know this because I went looking for corroboration of it after I read it here, and the reason I went looking is that when I mentioned it to my daughter, she said that she had heard the father say he’d been notified of his son’s death the morning after it happened.

The interview where he says that is the second of the three at this link, the one with the little headline “Family seeks justice for slain teen”:

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/17/10732812-family-911-calls-show-shooting-of-black-teen-was-not-self-defense

I suppose Tracy Martin could have been notified on Monday and not allowed to actually identify his son until three days later. But still, all this business of not looking at Trayvon’s phone, etc., seems just made up in light of what the father says. What seem to be the agreed-upon facts of the story are bad enough, they don’t need any embroidering for the point to be clear.

112

JanieM 03.24.12 at 3:13 pm

Just a couple more things:

In the link in the previous comment, Mr. Crump, the lawyer, says that they have two witnesses saying that it was Trayvon screaming for help. Okay, so there are conflicting witnesses. That’s what we have trials for. Of course, there can’t be a trial until someone is actually charged with a crime….

And finally — however much more weight we should give to the failings of the police (and others) in this story, the psychology of someone like Zimmerman is a menace at the best of times that grows into a tragedy at times like this.

Having been harassed on my own property more than once in my life, I am not inclined to minimize the problem of what to do about the Zimmermans of the world. The worst such occasion was a long time ago when I was living in a nice suburb north of Milwaukee, living in and fixing up an old “mansion” with some friends with whom I had bought the place communally. The house was on the bank above Lake Michigan, and we four friends were hanging out on the beach late one night when a weasely, whiny sort of guy came stalking up the beach saying we were trespassing and demanding to know who we were. One of my fellow owners was a lawyer and no shrinking violent, and instead of answering (we were on our own property, after all), he asked the intruder who he was.

The guy said he had been hired by the neighborhood to patrol, because there had been a lot of burglaries, and he pulled out a massive object and swung it around to prove how powerful he was. It wasn’t a gun, it was a police radio, or so he said when he threatened us with the police and enlightened us to the fact that only “official” people can carry such radios.

As far as we knew there didn’t exist any neighborhood committee that could have “hired” someone to patrol, and if there was, they hadn’t invited us dirty commune-loving hippies to attend its meetings. In any case, my lawyer housemate told the guy to get lost and come back with real police if he thought it was truly wise to bother them about this.

He never came back, nor did the police. But just imagine if we had been young and black and the radio had been a gun….

That mentality is a dangerous one. I don’t know what can be done about it, except to say what some neighborhood watch people have already said, which is to be careful of it when it shows up wanting to participate.

113

bob mcmanus 03.24.12 at 3:48 pm

You want a different kind of troll?

To me, this is just another “teachable moment” or politics-by-scandalous-media-event like Terry Schiavo or “white woman gone missing” or soldiers pissing on corpses or SS flag or Breitbart methods or DSK or Polanski or etc etc. A way for liberals to form phony bonds of temporary outrage and performative pseudo-activism exactly to avoid the hard slog of structural observation and analysis and extended organization that might get the system actually changed.

Anybody remember the black dragged with chains in Texas years ago? No? Ancient outrage. Nothing changed.

Okay, you might get limits on vigilantes and out-of-control watchbigots. Structural institutional racism will find another outlet.

114

bob mcmanus 03.24.12 at 4:06 pm

Here ya go

Richard Seymour

Don’;t get bogged down in the details, and stop “making cases” marshalling evidence and arguments with the assholes.

Theorize it. Historicize it. Make sure it is an example, a tool, a weapon, not an incident or event. And against the system and structure, not against individuals.

Stay cool.

115

JanieM 03.24.12 at 4:07 pm

A way for liberals to form phony bonds of temporary outrage and performative pseudo-activism exactly to avoid the hard slog of structural observation and analysis and extended organization that might get the system actually changed.

Since, in this view, even being sneered at doesn’t inspire “liberals” to do anything that might get the system actually changed, what is the true self-defined-as-effective activist’s point in wasting time sneering at them?

Perhaps it’s a way to form phony bonds of self-congratulation on their own meta-ineffectiveness? So many teachable moments used for teaching that doesn’t get the system actually changed, much less contribute to the hard slog, etc.

Turtles all the way down.

116

JanieM 03.24.12 at 4:15 pm

[Apologies for the sidetrack. I won't continue with it.]

117

heckblazer 03.24.12 at 4:19 pm

The stand your ground law has gotten so much attention because police used it as their excuse for not arresting Zimmerman, and before other facts came out it wasn’t clear that they were mistaken. Plus, it’s a really horrible law.

Interestingly, in 2010 there was a sort of reverse Trayvor Martin case. An unarmed Iraq War veteran was shot and killed in a public park in broad daylight in front of his daughter. The shooter walked because of the stand your ground law. The victim was white and the shooter was black.

http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/311679/28/Widow-says-Floridas-Stand-Your-Ground-law-is-free-pass-for-murder

The one big difference is that unlike Zimmerman the shooter was still arrested at the scene and subsequently tried.

118

hartal 03.24.12 at 4:50 pm

See an excellent 2005 piece by the outstanding criminologist David Garland on lynchings in the early twentieth century South

“these lynchings were not undertaken in the absence of a functioning criminal justice system. Public torture lynchings were a preferred alternative to “official” justice, not a necessary substitute for it.5 Fourth, public torture lynchings were not highly unusual or infrequent events. Contemporary reports and modern research suggest there were probably between 400 and 500 lynchings of this kind between 1893 and 1937, almost all of them in the South.6 Fifth, they were not only the work of disreputable mobs or “criminal elements.” Respectable people attended, law officers colluded with the lynchers, and community leaders defended their actions (Brundage 1993:38). And sixth, they were not the continuation of an established, age-old tradition. Public torture lynchings were a new kind of event that emerged around 1890 and continued until the late 1930s, mostly in the rural areas and small towns of the Deep South (Williamson 1997:1235; Moses 1997:xii).7 I argue that public torture lynchings were a mode of racial repression-and more obliquely, of class and gender control-that deliberately adopted the forms and rituals of criminal punishment. The fact that lynchers’ claims to be imposing criminal punishments were invariably upheld by the actions or inactions of local legal officials means that these events were, at least at some levels of collective authority, defined as public punishments rather than as acts of private vengeance. “

It’s been several years since I read the whole piece, but it left quite an impression. Its reading of the many meanings and functions of lynching is brilliant. I have also heard fine things about Jacqueline Goldsby’s book on lynching.

119

JanieM 03.24.12 at 4:54 pm

Respectable people attended

…and had picnics and sent postcards about it to their friends…

http://withoutsanctuary.org/main.html

120

hartal 03.24.12 at 5:12 pm

More from Garland:

‘Lynchers acted in ways that proclaimed the sovereign power of “the people” acting directly on their own behalf, avenging their victimized kin, upholding white honor, and demonstrating their collective strength. The heinous crime of the black man-and behind it the suggestion of an insubordinate black underclass-was a challenge to these values and demanded a vigorous rebuttal. To allow the matter to go to the authorities and be dealt with by the legal system was to depersonalize the relationship of white to black and to treat the matter of black misconduct as a question of law. By avenging the crime themselves, the lynchers implied that the relationship that counted was between blacks and whites, and that this was a relationship not of laws and citizens but of superiors and subordinates, masters and slaves. For the lynchers and the community they invoked, this was personal.

The penal excess of the lynching spectacle said things that a modernized legal process could not. It cut vivid statements into the flesh of its victim and used broken bodies to establish indispensable truths. It demonstrated that unrestrained violence and unlimited power were hallmarks of communal justice and that moderation was out of place when race supremacy was at stake. At the same time, it re-established the correlative status of the troublesome black man, which was as nothing, with no rights, no protectors, no personal dignity, and no human worth. To allow a black rapist or murderer the due process of law would be to treat him as a citizen, a fellow American, a fellow human being. The public torture lynching worked to deny this fellowship and to insist on the utter worthlessness of any black man who offended against white people. If torture and penal excess were gestures of nullification, they were also, of course, deterrent reminders that any black man who attacked white women or children could expect to endure hell on earth. In the 1880s and 1890s, and indeed for decades later, casual violence by whites against blacks was commonplace (Litwack 1998). Violence also characterized the treatment of blacks in Southern criminal justice, which alternated the death penalty with the brutal servitude of the chain gang (Oshinsky 1996)… Mass lynchings were crowd events through which lynching activists and their supporters proclaimed a distinctive communal identity. They defined themselves as sovereign in opposition to state (and later, federal) authorities for whom their actions were not law but lawlessness. They defined themselves as superior against the fact of black emancipation and the aspirations of African Americans for social status and legal protection. They defined themselves as Southern by invoking old codes of Southern honor (Brown 1975; Wyatt-Brown 1982) that demanded self-help and direct action whenever personal interests were threatened. And they defined themselves as immoderate in defense of these values, in a way that expressed disdain for race “conciliators” and voices of moderation in the white community, as well as for the reformed criminaljustice system and its humane concern for black offenders.’

121

bob mcmanus 03.24.12 at 5:14 pm

The classic perfect historical model for blogosphere dramatics is of course l’affair Dreyfuss

After their despicable betrayal of the Commune and the deaths and deportations of tens of thousands, French liberals and intellectuals found a cause! A way to make a difference and fight the system! In a singular instance of identity injustice and a trivially easy place to drive a wedge between the discredited military and the new bourgeois, liberals proved, after great struggle, that the system really worked after all. Voila! Long live the system.

And by focusing laser-like on these media moments in a form of discourse that plays well on talk tv, I think the liberal blogosphere, unknowingly maybe, innocently not so sure, is perpetuating and protecting the problem. Justice to evil dude Zimmerman! The system must work, will work, does work. We don’t need no stinkin revolution.

Then on to the next headline on headline news.

Gone now. You bore me.

122

bob mcmanus 03.24.12 at 5:17 pm

Damn, I forgot. And fifty years or so after Dreyfuss we got, you know, the Sorrow and the Pity.

Such are liberals.

123

Barry Freed 03.24.12 at 5:34 pm

I love you Bob. I really, really do. But it should be possible for a black teenager to walk to the local 7-11 for an iced tea and a bag of Skittles without getting shot by some busybody wannabe mall-cop before the revolution. And for us to be outraged by same. Especially when the local authorities treat it as no big deal at all. And without being called “liberals.”

124

Jerry Vinokurov 03.24.12 at 5:43 pm

The bob mcmanus theory of politics: it is impossible to care about both particular injustice and the injustice of the system as a whole. This is true because Paris Commune.

A better class of troll, indeed.

125

guthrie 03.24.12 at 6:48 pm

I think Bob might have made a mistake. “Liberals” do not necessarily desire a socialist revolution or similar the same way noted left wing agitator Richard Seymour would, and it seems clear that there are differences in their reality structures (Or whatever the term for them is) between liberals and socialists. Thus chastising liberals for not being revolutionary enough and trying to detroy the entire system kind of misses that liberals aren’t necessarily wanting to destroy The System, but merely reform it.

126

Colin Danby 03.24.12 at 7:14 pm

Thanks hartal for spelling out more of the background.

There’s a long history worldwide of para-police or paramilitary groups operating with the protection of the civil authorities. The death squads operating in Brazilian favelas are one example, the Klan, in its heyday, another. What’s typical of these situations is informal cooperation between authorities and vigilantes, plus a layered protection for vigilantes of minimal/botched investigation, refusal to prosecute, and legal ambiguity. I don’t know the situation in central Florida, but it’s not hard to see the extension of a legal umbrella for armed pursuit as part of this process.

127

MPAVictoria 03.24.12 at 7:33 pm

The fact that the guy wasn’t even arrested is what really kills me. From what I understand they even let him keep his gun. Maybe there is more to this case than meets the eye but to not even take the basic step of treating the shooting death of a teenager as something worthy of serious investigation is unacceptable.

128

Henri Vieuxtemps 03.24.12 at 7:40 pm

But it should be possible for a black teenager to walk to the local 7-11 for an iced tea and a bag of Skittles without getting shot by some busybody wannabe mall-cop before the revolution.

It may certainly become possible for individuals with this particular set of characteristics. But there will always (well, before ‘the revolution’ anyway) be a way to ‘profile’ individuals for belonging to the lowest class in the hierarchy; those who have no stake in the system, and therefore are very likely to have no respect for private property, and thus, obviously, criminal intent. A hobo, an Italian immigrant, hooded black youth, Mexican, tattooed hick. Tomorrow it could be a grey haired old lady.

129

hartal 03.24.12 at 7:46 pm

President Bush claimed the Schmittian sovereign power to create a state of exception, a place where the law did not hold—Guantanamo. These castle or “hold your own ground” laws seem to create (and may actually be meant to create) a space of lawlessness around the black male body such that a black man, qua “death bound-subject” (Abdul JanMohamed), can be killed by anyone “with impunity” (Giorgio Agamben).

130

Doctor Memory 03.24.12 at 8:23 pm

I realize it’s considered gauche to trivialize the application of the High Theory Sneer with anything so mundane as “facts”, but in fact there is a historical record of treatment of ethnic minorities by revolutionary socialist states, and that record is, how shall we say, not encouraging.

131

Watson Ladd 03.24.12 at 9:01 pm

hartal, the KKK doesn’t need an excuse to bash in some heads. If you want to talk about police racism, let’s talk about the racism that makes 10 murders in a weekend OK on the South Side of Chicago. Let’s talk about how our society doesn’t give a damn that boys as young as 12 are selling cocaine and getting shot up over it. But if you think that a law saying that you have the right to defend yourself against violence against your home is racist, you probably don’t get that blacks are victims of violence every day, violence which the police ignore. Of course the policeman wants you to be dependent on him for safety. It makes him powerful.

132

Jerry Vinokurov 03.24.12 at 9:11 pm

Oh, yeah, I mean, if we just distributed guns to everyone in the ghetto, they’d be able to protect themselves and gun violence would totally go down. I swear, it’s like arguing agains bizzarro-world.

133

Watson Ladd 03.24.12 at 9:26 pm

Jerry, we can’t keep guns out of the ghetto now, what makes you think we ever will? Did you know that DC v. Heller decreased robberies in DC immediately? It turns out that robbers think twice when they think you might be armed. But regardless of that, the point is that racist police and people always have the means to murder and excuse murder, be it with gasoline and a tire, or a rope and a tree, or a gun. If the police are in league with your would-be killers, your only friends are Smith, Weston, and Colt.

134

Rory 03.24.12 at 10:32 pm

I was waiting for the standard NRA line of “If only more people were armed, this tragedy would never have happened…” to be trotted out, though I didn’t expect it to come from Watson Ladd.

Of course, were Martin armed (i.e., were he an adult with a legally-obtained firearm and a concealed carry permit), this might have been a situation in which alternate-universe-Martin and alternate-universe-Zimmerman would both have been justified in shooting the other in self-defense under Stand Your Ground, as each man could reasonably believe his life was threatened by the other.

Maybe this would be a world in which we had fewer Zimmerman-style busybodies, which would be a good thing. On the other hand, it seems more likely that it would be a world in which the old saw “it doesn’t matter who’s right; it matters who’s left” rules the day.

135

F 03.24.12 at 11:21 pm

133

How does that square with “Robbery is up more than 30 percent in the District in 2012, a jump that has forced police to redeploy resources, shake up tactics and urge residents to provide tips and act as witnesses in investigations.”?

136

F 03.24.12 at 11:32 pm

I see what you did there. 2008 was an abnormally robbery-rich year for DC. So when the number of robberies in 2009 and 2010 dropped back to the 2007 levels, you can claim victory.

Most types of crime are down this century, but that’s continuing a trend that’s been in place since 2004, well before DC vs Heller.

137

Eimear Ní Mhéalóid 03.24.12 at 11:37 pm

This case is international news now – I’ve been reading about it on US blogs for a while but now it’s been on the radio news bulletins in Ireland .
The most powerful and affecting piece I’ve seen is here. (hat tip: http://www.racialicious.com/)

138

bob mcmanus 03.24.12 at 11:50 pm

Is this is really making “safer gated communities for our kind of people?” James and Wade have shown solidarity, I just have to wonder what their neighborhood is like, and if I would be welcome standing in front of their house. I wouldn’t go anywhere near it. I wonder if the J-W neighborhoods have young men in SUV’s.

I am an infamous walker, as in dozens of miles a week sometimes, and recognizable by sight if not by name, for reasons, in most of two counties. And do I have anecdotes and experiences.

There are definitely neighborhoods I avoid, besides the richest, because of “walking suspiciously while looking like a hippie and not from around here” reactions that often get downright frightening. And ethnicity and political leanings had nothing to do with the nasty looks and the threatening postures.

Upwardly mobile 30-40 somethings with newly acquired property and children are among the scariest most dangerous people on earth. The liberal ones, as usual, and as Seymour and hartal say, just like to outsource their violence to duly constituted authorities.

Bourgeois kill. Ain’t about racism.

139

Cranky Observer 03.25.12 at 12:18 am

= = = Watson Ladd 03.24.12 at 9:01 pm “harrtal, the KKK doesn’t need an excuse to bash in some heads. If you want to talk about police racism, let’s talk about the racism that makes 10 murders in a weekend OK on the South Side of Chicago.”

Actual homicide statistics for Chicago:
2000: 628
2001: 666
2002: 647
2003: 598
2004: 448
2005: 449
2006: 467
2007: 442
2008: 510
2009: 458
2010: 435

The South Side makes up about 40% of Chicago’s population IIRC, and teenage boys 7/65 of that population. Things must have really gone bad in the neighborhoods where I used to live if 520 South Side teenage boys alone are being offed every year out of a total of 550 homicides for the entire city of 3 million.

Cranky

PS What ever happened to the preview function? I fear that this post will not format the way I hope…

140

Doctor Memory 03.25.12 at 12:53 am

Actually I think you’ll find that it often very much is about racism. (Again, I know, trivial facts staining the glorious theory.) You’ll also find that bourgeois is an adjective, and bourgeoisie is the noun.

141

bob mcmanus 03.25.12 at 1:17 am

139: So something like this could never happen in upper-class certain areas of Port-au-Prince, Sao Paulo, Lagos, Cairo, Mumbai, Shanghai?

I thought about a test involving standing scruffy in front of the Odom/Kardashian home, then running with something in my hand when the SUV came around, but I doubt I would survive the Taser.

142

bob mcmanus 03.25.12 at 1:29 am

I am not blaming the victim, the Martin kid, for being in the wrong place.

I am blaming those who accept private property that can be protected with violence.

This Zimmerman guy was a well-known, obviously accepted part of the system, and that system was not about going out chasing down blacks to kill. It was about protecting rich people’s privilege.

143

Belle Waring 03.25.12 at 1:41 am

See that, bitches? See what McManus did right there? That was trolling.

144

snuh 03.25.12 at 1:54 am

bjk, every “fact” you’re relying on in that article is attributed to the sanford PD, an obviously and extremely interested party to this incident, and specifically attributed to the sanford PD in a statement the PD made before it was forced to release the tapes.

145

rf 03.25.12 at 2:07 am

“Upwardly mobile 30-40 somethings with newly acquired property and children are among the scariest most dangerous people on earth”

This is obviously true though, and for some reason entirely unreported.

146

LFC 03.25.12 at 2:30 am

“See what McManus did right there? That was trolling.”

He also misspelled Dreyfus @121 and 122. (Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother to note this but I found the comments sufficiently objectionable to make it seem worth noting.)

147

heckblazer 03.25.12 at 2:58 am

I can easily picture Zimmerman gunning down a “suspicious” white teenager in a hoodie. I can definitely picture a black guy using the stand your ground law to get away with shooting a white guy, as I linked above to just such a case. For that matter lynching was by no means limited to blacks or the American South; in 1933 two white men were lynched in San Jose, CA. That said, to deny that race was a factor in the Martin case or in the history of lynching is to be willfully blind. At the least I doubt a dead white kid would have had such a lackadaisical murder investigation, and I strongly suspect race was an aggravating factor in Zimmerman picking his target.

148

js. 03.25.12 at 3:01 am

LFC:

He also misspelled Dreyfus @121 and 122.

Yeah, but that doesn’t hold a candle to Watson’s “Smith, Weston, and Colt” (133), does it?

BM:

Bourgeois kill. Ain’t about racism.

You know, I’ll actually buy that the bourgeois kill—in something like the sense you mean—is not quite false (private property needs coercive backing, which at least at the limit, etc.). But: sometimes it’s also about racism. After all, the construction of race distinctions can be—one might say has been—one way of entrenching class privilege.

149

js. 03.25.12 at 3:03 am

Oh, and “bourgeois” can be perfectly well used as a noun, though it is then generally preceded by an article (I think).

150

Tedra Osell 03.25.12 at 3:18 am

Belle @ 86: the plain sad fact of the matter in America is that only one thing matters: are you black or not?

Truly, this is not the case. Trust me: in the southwest, “Mexican” is perceived as “probably criminal,” very clearly distinct from “white.” (Also, there are categories of Asian–Vietnamese, Cambodian–which in some parts of CA, at least, are very much popularly identified as “probably involved with gangs.”) Which is why the “Hispanic” categorization matters–broadly speaking, I mean. In Zimmerman’s case, it of course doesn’t mean shit. There’s no reason on earth why a Hispanic or Hispanicish guy with a boner for guns and law enforcement can’t be racist as shit against black people.

151

LFC 03.25.12 at 3:19 am

Yeah, but that doesn’t hold a candle to Watson’s “Smith, Weston, and Colt” (133), does it?

Point taken. I knew that sounded wrong.

152

LFC 03.25.12 at 3:20 am

But Watson I make more allowances for, perhaps… sheer volume of typing. :)

153

heckblazer 03.25.12 at 4:07 am

Since The Charleston Conservative Examiner piece linked above looks like what we’re going to hear a lot of from the Tea Party, I feel compelled to respond.

1. This is national news because (presumably) unlike the Chicago shooting mentioned there was no serious investigation of a fatal shooting. That’s an egregious miscarriage of justice.

2. Pointing out that Martin was a “towering” 6’2″ ignores his weight being around 130. I’m 5’4″ and 160; Martin had to be a beanpole.

3. Hispanic is an ethnic category and not a race so it can definitely overlap with white. Just read any US Census form.

4. Zimmerman made over 45 calls to the police in the previous year. He was bound to get lucky and hit an actual crime in progress eventually.

5. The black neighbor Ibrahim Rashada did say there had been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood. He also said that Zimmerman made him nervous enough that he did not take walks in his own neighborhood. Both statements are in the same linked Miami Herald article.

6. The ‘overlooked’ witness said that he thought the guy on top doing the beating was the one who ended up dead. However, he also said the one on the ground being beaten was wearing red, which was what Martin was wearing.

5. A five day suspension could be for all sorts of things, many of them non-violent. The Miami-Dade Code of Student Conduct lists cheating, instigative behavior, profanity, and possession and use of tobacco products among the infractions that can be punished with suspension for 1 to 5 days. For all we know Martin was suspended because he was caught with a stack of Playboys.

http://miamieducatorsalliance.com/CSCSecondary.pdf

154

Watson Ladd 03.25.12 at 7:24 pm

@Cranky: You missed the news: there was a single weekend with ten murders, none domestic. On reflection, to someone who didn’t know that, it might look like I’m talking about the murder rate, but it was that past weekend I was talking about. Depending on when and where you used to live, things may have gotten a lot worse in those neighborhoods: the city is in a financial crisis and so is cutting services extensively, including transit.

155

Doctor Memory 03.25.12 at 7:50 pm

Hm, did Henri V manage to earn the banhammer? My attempt to reply to him got lost in the server problems this morning, and now his original comment (frankly, more worthy of Andrew Ti’s sort of response than mine) appears to be gone.

156

Barry Freed 03.25.12 at 7:54 pm

You and me both Doctor Memory, I was going to reply to that same Henri V post as well and when the server came back it was gone. I wonder if we were going to pounce on the same absurdity (something he said about being more afraid of a 17 year old black kid in a hoodie than a white 50 something dude in a business suit).

157

ciaran 03.25.12 at 7:58 pm

Am I imagining things, or did Sebastian post a comment replying to JQ earlier? I can’t see it anywhere .

158

Sebastian 03.25.12 at 8:21 pm

I did, and it seems to be gone. I’ll blame the server even though the paranoid side of me finds it surprising. I think I’ll wait a couple of hours to see if it makes it back before reposting it.

159

Eli Rabett 03.25.12 at 8:56 pm

1. The Sanford police and city government were scared about being sued by Zimmerman if the kept him or investigated.

2. Zimmerman has been in trouble before and is a general pain in the ass

3. Zimmerman’s father is a lawyer

3. What DOES Zimmerman the Younger do for a living? Blank silence on that

4. Connect 1-4

160

heckblazer 03.25.12 at 9:43 pm

Zimmerman’s previous felony arrest was for “resisting officer with violence” and “battery on a law enforcement officer” from when a drunk Zimmerman was arrested at a bar back when he would have been a 21 year old college student. Those are charges that I normally assume are really a charge of disrespecting a cop until I see hard evidence showing that they aren’t BS. Until such time damning details about the incident come forth, I’ll give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt on this.

161

Andrew F. 03.25.12 at 10:47 pm

The Department of Justice is investigating, and we should wait for the results of that investigation before rendering judgment. At present, as best I can tell, the facts are that an unarmed Martin was returning to the home of a friend of his father’s from a local store where he purchased some snacks. An armed Zimmerman saw him, called the police, and proceeded to follow him. What happened next is – crucially – unclear. An altercation ensued, and by the end of it Zimmeran had sustained a minor wound to the back of his head and a bloody nose – and Martin had been, in addition to any other injuries he may have sustained, shot. How did the altercation start? What happened during the altercation? What were the precise circumstances at the point at which Martin was shot?

As to the ensuing police actions, that Zimmerman was not arrested does not mean that the matter was uninvestigated. The DOJ is looking into this aspect of the case as well.

It does seem likely that Zimmerman’s – to put it charitably – overzealousness, at a minimum, contributed to the existence of an altercation in the first place. But it is too soon for calls of arrest, or accusations of racism, or cries of police misconduct. We need more facts. And then, perhaps, an arrest, accusations of racism, and cries of police misconduct, will be fully justified.

162

William Timberman 03.25.12 at 11:26 pm

But it is too soon for calls of arrest, or accusations of racism, or cries of police misconduct. We need more facts.

We? And what we would that be? A rhetorical question, to be sure. Anyone who’s lived in this country for more than ten minutes knows the answer. Andrew F, if you have any shame left at all, please take a moment to consider what you’re trying to sell.

163

Bruce Baugh 03.25.12 at 11:35 pm

You are comprehensively wrong, Andrew F.

First off, we’re not rendering judgement in a legal sense at all, ever, unless we’re called to a jury or something. We are forming opinions as private individuals and as communities. It’s not only necessary that these often precede legal judgements, it’s highly desirable, because public pressure does shape legal actions, for good as well as bed.

That said, you’re tossing out a bunch of relevant considerations. Zimmerman, the shooter, has a history of violent and aggressive behavior. Martin, the victim, did not. Martin was perfectly entitled to be when and where he was, unless someone can show that the neighborhood had a curfew for non-resident relatives of residents. Zimmerman used racial slurs – “coons”, in particular – in his communication with the please, and was looking for confrontation – he referred to frustration at how they “always get away”. The 911 operator tried to discourage him from further action, and he ignore dit.

(Someone unaccustomed to bureaucratic usage might misunderstand “we don’t need you to do that”. But Zimmerman has been calling them nearly every week for more than a year. He has extended familiarity with such usage.)

Nor do you seem to care about the fact the police literally didn’t investigate. Zimmerman is at large, and there was apparently no question of ever taking him into custody even temporarily. Martin’s body and possessions went unexamined for days. Action is happening only because the feds are making to step in.

The fact is, there is no set of facts or possible conflict details that can make Zimmerman the defender, or justified in shooting Martin. The conflict exists because he sought it out, and he was wrong to. Nor can anything Martin might have done excuse what the police did with regard to his remains and to Zimmerman.

To use a term of art, fuck off and take your racist whining with you.

164

Jerry Vinokurov 03.26.12 at 3:41 am

International travel makes it hard to keep up with comments…

Jerry, we can’t keep guns out of the ghetto now, what makes you think we ever will? Did you know that DC v. Heller decreased robberies in DC immediately? It turns out that robbers think twice when they think you might be armed.

If more guns equals less crime, then I expect we should not just not try to keep guns out of the ghetto, but actively be arming everyone living there. I, for one, eagerly await your Kickstarter project to distribute automatic weapons to senior citizens.

By the way, the court case I cited above cites Murray v. State (of Florida) which does deal with deadly force.

In this case the State charged defendant with aggravated battery. He sought to avoid culpability with the legal justification of self-defense, claiming that his deadly force against the roommate was legally permitted because the roommate was already committing an aggravated battery against him.[6] Under Florida law a defendant may claim this defense if there is evidence indicating that initially he was the object of a “forcible felony” such as aggravated battery. Thus, to be lawfully allowed to use deadly force defendant had to produce evidence that his roommate brought the knife into their fight.

…That is, did he have to prove the additional facts for self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt?…

The answer is this. No, he did not have to prove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. He did not have to prove even that his additional facts were more likely true than not. The real nature of his burden concerning his defense of justification is that his evidence of additional facts need merely leave the jury with a reasonable doubt about whether he was justified in using deadly force. Hence, if he wanted his self-defense to be
considered, it was necessary to present evidence that his justification might be true. It would then be up to the jury to decide whether his evidence produced a reasonable doubt about his claim of self-defense.

[6] Murray and his roommate fought outside their apartment. The State charged that Murray introduced a butcher knife into the fight, but he claimed that the other guy first wielded a pocket knife against him. The key fact for the trial was who brought the knife to the fist fight.

165

Jerry Vinokurov 03.26.12 at 3:42 am

Damn, the blockquote should encompass the entire bottom portion of the above post.

166

Doctor Memory 03.26.12 at 3:48 am

Can we please, please, please for once skip the 2nd Amendment / RTKBA discussion here? I can barely begin to express how beside-the-point it is. Regardless of what you feel about the right of individuals to wield deadly weapons (and as it happens I’m personally in favor), it’s not even remotely relevant to this case: Trayvon Martin was not an adult, and even the most absolutist of 2nd-amendment puritans generally concede that the right to bear arms is one granted to adult citizens, not children.

(And if you think that an armed citizenry is in some way a deterrent to misbehavior by the police, I submit that you have not been paying attention to the outcome of armed battles that the police get into for the last, oh, century or two. Hint: the police win.)

167

Sebastian 03.26.12 at 4:05 am

I’ll try again since the comment seems to have vanished in the server problems.

John Quiggin, normally I’d ask for better trolls, but since you’re a front page poster here, I’m at a bit of a loss. (Unless of course you’re a troll impersonating Quiggin in which case I’ve been uber-trolled). What I actually wrote was:

Fifth, the statute has approximately zero to do with this case. The killer was pretty clearly not acting in self defense.

It is the fact that the police didn’t investigate this crime, with an obviously dead body and sketchy story, that is a horrible and racist set of actions. Trying to turn this into a side attack on an irrelevant Florida law is missing the point completely.”

Somehow out of that you jump to: “I find it striking that both Sebastian and McArdle instinctively know which side to jump on and that, even in an appalling case like this one, it’s the side of the racist authoritarians.” I’m not sure how you turn my comment into support for the racist authoritarians when it seems clear to me that it is an attack on racist authoritarians, but I’d at least appreciate a thumbnail sketch of the logic behind the statement. I’m sometimes unclear, but not usually that unclear. You seem to be stereotyping libertarians in an especially strange way. Maybe you thought I was wearing a hoodie.

My basic argument is that talking about the Florida self-defense law (which as I point out is well in line with the common law for federal self defense in the past hundred years or more and with the majority position of the individual states) is basically accepting Zimmerman’s bullshit at face value and accepting the transparently dismissive police ‘investigation’ as if it were real.

Under the Florida law, given the best evidence we have about what really happened, Zimmerman’s actions don’t even come close to qualifying as self-defense. If anything, Trayvon, if he had killed Zimmerman, would have a valid self-defense claim not the reverse.

Zimmerman CLAIMS self defense, but a lot of lying sacks of shit do that when they kill someone. It is the job of the police to investigate the killing and figure out if they have a valid claim or not.

The police manifestly DID NOT DO SO.

They ‘corrected’ a witness to make the story match Zimmerman’s.

They didn’t bother to identify the body for 3 days even though they had access to Trayvon’s cell phone, which upon inspection should have revealed that he was talking to someone minutes before his death; that the person he was talking to was his girlfriend; that he told her he was being followed; and that she counseled him to run.

They didn’t take away Zimmerman’s gun.

They didn’t listen to the 911 tapes, which certainly problematize Zimmerman’s bullshit story.

They appear to, at a minimum, not bothered to do even the most cursory investigation into a black man’s death. And they may have actively covered it up, because their actions are almost shockingly incredibly as mere negligence.

They reached for whatever tool was necessary to dismiss the need to investigate. The content of the Florida self-defense law is irrelevant *because they didn’t give enough of a shit to actually investigate to see if it was applicable*. Focusing on the content of the self-defence law is buying into their racist bullshit. I don’t see any reason to do so.

Now I hope that is crystal clear that as someone who has strong libertarian tendencies, who by definition mistrusts government exercises of power, I’m NOT defending the racist authoritarians. At a minimum I hope they don’t get continue working as cops anywhere. I’d hope for more, but police immunity over investigations is ridiculously strong, so I don’t expect much.

168

Doctor Memory 03.26.12 at 4:23 am

Having recently served on the jury for a (completely and deservedly un-famous) assault+battery case in California where the defense actually hinged on a stand-your-ground claim, I find myself uncomfortably siding with Sebastion on the legalities here. Florida’s law is not particularly unusual, and is not where the problem lies. This is probably deeply weird to non-Americans, but it is so.

(In our case, much as with this one, the claim of self-defense was laughable and was dismissed out of hand by every last member of the jury. The important difference was that the case was investigated and charges were brought.)

169

John Quiggin 03.26.12 at 4:54 am

@Sebastian The law, the mentality that drove Zimmerman and the police complicity after the fact in his actions are all part of the same package. It’s absolutely clear who the NRA have in mind (at each end of the gun) when they promote “stand your ground” laws and similar.

It turns out that the law can’t be confined to the intended beneficiaries quite as neatly as hoped, but unintended consequences are the way of the world.

More generally, though, I’m just pissed off by the “Yes, but I still need to defend my ideological corner” attitude shown by you, McArdle and (from the other end of the spectrum) Bob McManus on this.

170

js. 03.26.12 at 5:20 am

I’d just like to say, in defense of Sebastian, that his comments, even if misplaced or wrong, which I don’t know enough about the history of common law to judge, really don’t bear comparison to the utter mendacity of Megan McArdle on this. (And believe me, I didn’t think I’d ever find myself coming to the defense of Sebastian.)

171

Sebastian 03.26.12 at 6:10 am

Which ideological corner am I defending? The racist authoritarians? I think it is relatively clear to any fair reader that I’m doing no such thing.

“The law, the mentality that drove Zimmerman and the police complicity after the fact in his actions are all part of the same package. “

No. They most certainly aren’t. I know you want to assert that they are (you aren’t even really bothering to construct an argument about it). Florida could have a self defense law that fit every single thing that you wanted from a self defense law, and it wouldn’t have mattered because the particulars of the law are completely irrelevant to a police force that doesn’t want to bother to find out what the circumstances of killing this black man actually were.

I find it somewhat weird that you claim to be ‘pissed off’ by the need to defend your ideological corner type of thinking when you paint with such broad strokes as to construe my comments as a defense of the police when I’m absolutely attacking them. I expected you to just say you read my comments at the same time you were thinking about Megan’s and got them confused or something. But instead you double down. Just weird.

172

faustusnotes 03.26.12 at 6:23 am

Sebastian, the law does have one piece of relevance here: if the law did not exist, then the police would not be able to justify not investigating. They wouldn’t have the flimsy excuse that “oh it was obviously a self-defense case, no need to even take the gun” and no one on the authoritarian side of the “debate” would be able to cast self-defense smokescreens.

I don’t think for a moment that self defense laws are passed with that in mind, but it does appear that the police can make up a reason not to charge someone with the help of this type of self-defense law.

I do agree with you though, it’s a second order consideration when stacked up against the obvious racist handling of the investigation. But it would be harder for the cops to get away with their racist crap – they’d have to botch an actual investigation, rather than just not starting one.

173

John Quiggin 03.26.12 at 6:32 am

I’ll repeat what JanieM said @110. The existence of the law was relied on by the police in their decision not to investigate. Their decision was given a color of plausibility by the fact that the law has led to the acquittal of numerous murderers in the recent past. If the law had not been changed to remove the duty to retreat, it would have been very difficult, even for the a thoroughly racist police force, not to arrest and charge someone who shot and killed an unarmed victim. Your claim that

Florida could have a self defense law that fit every single thing that you wanted from a self defense law, and it wouldn’t have mattered because the particulars of the law are completely irrelevant to a police force that doesn’t want to bother to find out what the circumstances of killing this black man actually were.

is entirely unconvincing to me. We have plenty of racist police in Australia, but I’m absolutely confident that the facts of this case (even as presented by the Sanford police) would have produced an arrest and charge under our self-defence law. So, I found your rush to defend the law as irrelevant quite objectionable.

That said, it was unfair to lump you in with McArdle, who not only defends the law but the police and Zimmerman.

174

Henri Vieuxtemps 03.26.12 at 7:09 am

@Barry Freed I wonder if we were going to pounce on the same absurdity (something he said about being more afraid of a 17 year old black kid in a hoodie than a white 50 something dude in a business suit).

I’m assuming that the comment disappeared because of technical issues, and if so, I’d be glad to hear your response. About the white 50 something dude, sure, but also in general, whether you can see the difference between racism and profiling that takes skin color into account.

175

brkily 03.26.12 at 8:03 am

fyi–Outside of San Diego in In El Cajon, Shaima Alawadi, 32 & mother of 5, was found by her daughter lying in a pool of blood inside their home with a note warning the family to “go back to your own country.” She died Saturday after three days in the hospital.

After Treyvon and hearing the woman at Santorum’s gun club appearace yell “pretend it’s Obama” and the recent firebombing of a Democratic state senator’s office in Texas–among so many other things–it really seems to me that the incendiary rhetoric of the far right insurgence is quite possibly manifesting itself in permission to kill.

176

heckblazer 03.26.12 at 8:06 am

I want to note that “stand your ground” is a newer twist on the old common law castle doctrine (as in “a man’s home is his castle). In the latter you generally do not have a duty to retreat when attacked inside your own home, on the grounds that you have no place to retreat to. In the US we’ve tended to take a broad interpretation as to where your castle is so that it includes your property (Beard v. united States) and regular workplace (Brown v. United States), and even your car in some places. Stand your ground laws like the one in Florida remove the duty to retreat when in *any* place if you are there legally. That’s a big change from the traditional common law. The law also contains language that immunizes someone using self-defense from both prosecution and civil suits, and that in particular is what lead the police to not investigate Zimmerman (or so they claim).

The Florida law itself is only seven years old, and it was opposed by Florida prosecutors because of fears that it would lead to cases like this one. While it is true that 16 other states have similar statutes, they were all passed after the Florida one and were based on the same model legislation.

177

Sebastian 03.26.12 at 8:18 am

“The existence of the law was relied on by the police in their decision not to investigate.”

No. I don’t believe that. The existence of the law was used as an EXCUSE not to investigate. They were willing to take Zimmerman *at his word* that it was self defense. They were willing to contradict an eyewitness and correct that person to match Zimmerman’s story. They were using any EXCUSE available not to look closely.

The funny thing about my take on the story is that it makes the police officers look MUCH WORSE than your take on the story (that they were legitimately ‘relying’ on the law). Yet I’m not the one accusing you of trying to offer support to racist authoritarians.

So long as they were willing to take Zimmerman at his word [a la, oh dear I was so very very afraid for my life /sotto voice], and so long as there was any normal sort of self defence law of any sort, and so long as they were willing to actively mar the investigation by changing witness testimony and utterly failing to follow up on even super-obvious leads, the particulars of the law aren’t relevant *because they don’t want to charge on this murder*.

I’m not ‘rushing to defend the law’. I’m merely pointing out that the law is utterly typical, has been a feature of US jurisprudence for more than a hundred years at both the federal level and in a majority of the states, and yet somehow doesn’t produce these kinds of cases on a regular basis, at least so far as we know. Now I’m certainly not saying that it is impossible to dredge up misapplications of this law, or any other law in a jury system. I’ve seen horrible misapplications of all sorts of perfectly clear and seemingly rational laws.

I’m suggesting that the problem, for people who actually want to wrestle with the facts, is not in this very typical law, but in the fact that a pernicious faction of institutionalized racism in the police force/law enforcement units is allowed to thrive in at least that city, probably that county, and maybe a large portion of that state.

I’m suggesting that hand wringing about the particular law that they used as an EXCUSE is a stupid way of trying to deal with the problem of a police force that seems to have a big strain of institutionalized racism in it because they can find another EXCUSE if we don’t root out the institutionalized racism.

And I’m REALLY irritated to find myself accused of supporting the police force when I try to make that point just because you insist on having some hang up about the particulars of this utterly typical law.

178

Sebastian 03.26.12 at 8:26 am

Heckblazer, you’re misreading Beard.

“The rule is thus expressed by Wharton: “A man may repel force by force in the defence of his person, habitation, *or* property, against any one or many who manifestly intend and endeavor by violence or surprise to commit a known felony on either. In such case he is not compelled to retreat, but may pursue his adversary until he finds himself out of danger, and if in the conflict between them he happen to kill him, such killing is justifiable.”

That is the rule in Beard v. US (1895!!)

The Florida law is, and I quote EXACTLY: “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony”

That is THE SAME standard as the hundred year old “A man may repel force by force in the defence of his person…, in fact it is arguably clearer than the federal standard because it explicitly limits it to “not engaged in an unlawful activity”, while the federal standard has to get that through case law in ‘defence of his person’.

179

John Quiggin 03.26.12 at 9:19 am

“No. I don’t believe that. The existence of the law was used as an EXCUSE not to investigate. They were willing to take Zimmerman at his word that it was self defense.”

So, we’re agreed, the existence of the law provided the racist police (and, for that matter, Zimmerman himself) with the excuse they needed. If the law had not been changed (or, if you insist, restated in line with 19th century precedents) the excuse would not have worked, even on Zimmerman’s obviously bogus account.

There’s plenty of racism to go around here. Zimmerman is a racist killer. The Sanford police are racist and complicit in his crimes. But the NRA, which pushed this law, is cut from the same racist cloth. Defending them on an occasion like this is putting yourself on the wrong side of justice.

180

ponce 03.26.12 at 9:42 am

Concern troll is concerned

181

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 10:16 am

Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford …article from Tampa Bay Times

Brown, a 40-year-old single mom who says she is “mostly black,” moved into the Retreat at Twin Lakes last year. She chose the gated subdivision of identical townhomes because it is racially diverse, lots of children live there and, she said, “it seemed so safe.”

Retreat is Not so upscale, 250k or so.

Sanford itself is majority/minority, 30% black, 20% Latino, 4% Asian. Anybody know the racial breakdown of the Sanford PD? Going through the city website. One of four city commissioners is a black woman. City manager is black, graduate of Rutgers, brought in from Topeka Ks in 2011. Median and per capita income a little higher than my own town of about the same size, poverty a little higher.

Here’s the City Magazine nice St Pat’s picture with “Luis O’ Peña [IT], his assistants Maria Garcia and Vandell McCoy [Community Development],”

Look, the South is not what it was in 1950. It is much more integrated by race, across all income groups.

182

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 10:26 am

The above of course is trying to move away from the story that says

Zimmerman:”OMG there’s a black person. In my neighborhood!”

He saw his black neighbors every single day, and likely lived within a wall from some.

Doesn’t mean he wasn’t racist, I suppose,. or that this wasn’t a racist killing.

Zimmerman’s father is listed as Dr Zimmerman, military veteran.

183

Andrew F. 03.26.12 at 10:43 am

Bruce @163: leaving aside your – what is to me anyway – laughable accusation of racism, let me focus on the substantive points;

1 – my point is not that we need wait before forming a legal judgment, but that as citizens we lack sufficient information to judge. I raised, in particular, questions we need answered before rendering a reasonably well supported judgment of the matter.

That Zimmerman was not arrested does not mean that the police did not investigate. We do not know the extent of their investigation – this is but one of the relevant facts which, hopefully, shall be produced by the Department of Justice’s investigation.

As to the issue of Florida’s self-defense law, its particular form will likely but not necessarily be relevant, depending on Zimmerman’s freedom of movement when he fired. It is, again, premature to draw any firm conclusions.

Ultimately, I suspect the facts would support a charge of manslaughter, but the case would be a difficult one. And that’s simply a suspicion. Perhaps in a few weeks we’ll have a fuller report.

184

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 10:46 am

Why are James and Wade and everybody showing their hoodies?

To show that hoodies are not a class marker that even rich people wear hoodies.

Zimmerman thought that Martin was the wrong kind of black, the wrong class to be walking around his neighborhood.

185

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 11:13 am

See, I live this every day. I live in a majority-minority community, maybe 30% black, 40% Latino, 5% Asian and ME (I saw veils in the grocery store), all with children, maybe 20% older whites like me.

There are a half-dozen neighborhoods, some very new and nice developments, also totally mixed. The neighborhoods run from 1/2 million dollar houses to 50k houses to cheap apartments. They all go to school together. They don’t wander around places in a higher income bracket where they aren’t known well.

186

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 12:39 pm

The Sanford police are racist and complicit in his crimes.

Quiggin, how many of the 150 employees of the Sanford Police Department are black? How about the homicide detectives, the coroner or medical examiner?

Do you know? What would make a difference for you?

187

Manta1976 03.26.12 at 12:53 pm

I’ve seen someone (particularly, Sebastian) claim that the Florida law was irrelevant to what happened. So, let me review some facts:
1) When the law was enacted, police officers warned, among other things, that it would encourage vigilantism
2) A vigilante shoot Trayvon Martin
3) The police did not arrest him, claiming that the law explicitly forbids arrest

Notice that the shoddy investigation has only partial bearing on 3): without the law, with the same lack of investigation, Zimmermann would have been arrested.

188

Watson Ladd 03.26.12 at 1:45 pm

JQ, gun control first existed specifically to reverse the gains of Reconstruction. The 1960′s laws on pistol imports specifically existed to deny poor people firearms, and the Black Panthers walked around with guns in California, which is why you can’t do that anymore.
Furthermore, the police don’t need an excuse to let a murderer off the hook: as Sebastian pointed out, they could say “we investigated and believe that Zimmerman acted in self-defense after a struggle ensued. As a result we do not believe we can bring in a conviction.”

bob, if Trayvon Martin had been a poor white wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt, do you still think the outcome would have been the same? You’ve raised good points about the department being possibly incompetent, not racist, which we should take seriously. But I’m having trouble extending that argument to Zimmerman. As the old saying from the time of pervasive racial discrimination goes, in the South you can have a black for a neighbor, but not for a boss, while in the North you can have a black fro a boss, but not for a neighbor.

189

Katherine 03.26.12 at 1:52 pm

I’m finding it hard to discern bob mcmanus’s point, but I have the horrible feeling it is that Zimmerman didn’t kill Martin because of his race because he lives in a area that contains black people and therefore wouldn’t be suspicious of a black person walking around. Because bob mcmanus “lives this every day” and sees veils in grocery stores with children.

I’m thinking Zimmerman’s use of the work “coon”, in a phone call to the police complaining that said “coon” was walking around just looking at people’s houses, should be a clue here.

190

faustusnotes 03.26.12 at 2:09 pm

no Katherine, it’s all about class you see…

191

Barry Freed 03.26.12 at 2:19 pm

@Henri Vieuxtemps: I’m assuming that the comment disappeared because of technical issues, and if so, I’d be glad to hear your response. About the white 50 something dude, sure, but also in general, whether you can see the difference between racism and profiling that takes skin color into account.

I’d rather not because I only half remember your comment and I don’t want to impute to you something you didn’t write and I don’t want to get sidetracked here. Sorry.

192

JanieM 03.26.12 at 2:47 pm

If someone were to suggest that class and race were involved in this story, I wouldn’t disagree. But even then, I see it more as an example of within-class resentments interacting with race (very familiar to me from my home town in Ohio) than between-class conflict. And it’s beyond thickwitted to suggest that if class is involved, race isn’t.

I could go on all day with anecdata about things like the ancient rivalries between the Italian-American immigrant community and the black community in my home town, starting 100+ years ago and showing up to this day in people’s (unsubtly racist) reactions to e.g. news stories out of Cleveland, in which the suspect is invariably black, never mind that the victim often is as well.

bob mcmanus’s “point” sounds as stupid as Katherine suggests because the real point isn’t the content, it’s the sneering superiority. There’s an old joke, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich.” I leave the mcmanus-inspired revision to the reader’s imagination.

193

Substance McGravitas 03.26.12 at 3:11 pm

The class argument makes it sound as if people in gated communities – and their children! – always dress according to their station. It ain’t the case.

194

faustusnotes 03.26.12 at 3:19 pm

also McManus has offered no clear evidence of the class station of the shooter, or of how identifiable the class of the victim was. It’s all supposition and guesswork.

195

BobbyV 03.26.12 at 3:21 pm

“[The American Left] can’t understand how an armed citizen can walk away from a fight in order to keep from having it escalate out of control. Anti-gun schemers also don’t understand the self-reliant and self-assured know they are capable of acting properly if forced to defend their own life, or to stand down when it isn’t necessary. “(http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/node/5556)

Were it reasonable to expect that every armed citizen carries the burden of lethal force as seriously as he or she transports their concealed weapon through a public sphere simmering with petty personal grievances, one may realistically hope that tragedies like the killing of Trayvon Martin would be extremely rare. I fear that this is a false hope.

“Every handgun owned in America is an implicit declaration of war on one’s neighbor. When the chips are down, its owner says, he will not trust any other arbiter but force personally wielded.”
Don B. Kates, Jr., Public Opinion: The Effects of Extremist Discourse on the Gun Debate

196

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 3:23 pm

If someone were to suggest that class and race were involved in this story

We do appear to be making progress.

Let’s go back to the blockquote in 181. What did Ms Brown want to be safe from in moving to the gated community? Hispanic bigots in SUVs? Has there been a lot of recent white-on-black violence in majority-minority Sanford?

What bugs me is that conversation, this discourse, feels like it could be happening in 1965. Or hell, 1935, which I have seen referenced. There have been as lot of changes since 1965.

Do blacks get targeted? Sure as the poorest most vulnerable and lower resourced part of society, of course they do, there are tons in prison. I’ll bet I could find quite a few black teenagers that got rousted and hurt last month. They wouldn’t necessarily be the nice middle-class kid that Martin was.

I couldn’t find posts, but TN Coates has been writing for years about how upper middle blacks have been identifying and bonding more closely class with upper middle class and creative whites than with poor blacks and how black communities have been separating by class. This is also happening down the next income quintiles. One of the big stories of the last forty years is the increasing equality and opportunity gap between higher income blacks and low income blacks, which has been even more drastic than the general rise in inequality, though of course, from a lower start.

Zimmerman was no secret, he was in training to become a Sanford cop. If, as I am guessing, a solid percentage of the Sanford PD is black, maybe we can ask them if they thought Zimmerman was obviously racist. Maybe we can ask people who knew him.

People say shit, and hear stuff in noise if they are told it is there. “F&&&ing c**ns” will never make it into court.

197

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 3:28 pm

193: Rich people like Lebron wear hoodies! I wear a hoodie.

As I said above, Zimmerman thought Martin was the wrong kind of black, the kind that get hassled every day in America. Poor.

194: That is public knowledge, and easily available at Wikipedia.

198

Substance McGravitas 03.26.12 at 3:36 pm

Zimmerman thought

The omniscient would know.

199

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 3:40 pm

Darn it, that is what class is about, there came a time when upper and upper middle class whites wanted themselves and their property to be separate and protected from poor and working whites.

Why would upwardly mobile blacks be immune?

200

Katherine 03.26.12 at 3:48 pm

Which upwardly mobile black people would we be talking about here? The imaginary ones who didn’t shoot and kill Martin?

201

bianca steele 03.26.12 at 4:22 pm

John Quiggin doesn’t need me to defend him, but authoritarianism aside, one of my first thoughts on reading (a) Sebastian’s comment was: typical of a libertarian to insist that statute, precedent, etc., don’t matter, and to insist on reasoning everything out for themselves from first principles. @177 even suggests that the reason the police were wrong is that they failed to reason everything out for themselves from first principles (they used the statute law as an “EXCUSE” for not doing their real duty). In fact, the presumed intent of the law was to remove an obstacle to a perception, shared widely enough to influence elections and public opinion, that people could not defend themselves from a criminal class, or were at risk of being punished by the government for defending themselves from criminals (which the government, of course, should have swept up, and didn’t, because liberals)—a perception itself tied largely to a belief that it is easy to distinguish between “criminals” and others, largely because “criminals” are perceived as black, urban, identifiable by their dress and their refusal to behave as “good” minorities like the ones Zimmerman persuaded not to go out on the street—and there is every appearance that the police acted according to the spirit of the legislation. The only difference between the argument further up the thread and typical Usenet libertarian stuff is Sebastian’s evident ability to muster a series of actual legal arguments in favor of his position’s being adopted.

202

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 5:20 pm

Black Friend of George Zimmerman on Good Morning America, video

I re-read the article in 181 again, and it is very good and very sad for many reasons

No, he was not a “self-appointed” Neighborhood Watchman

In September, the Sanford police helped the Retreat start a neighborhood watch program.

“Some residents called me wanting to do a startup,” said Dorival, a civilian police employee. About 30 people came to the clubhouse for that first session, she said. “Everyone was enthusiastic.” Zimmerman volunteered to be captain.

Which upwardly mobile black people would we be talking about here?

The kind who who pay to be behind high walls with electronic metal gates and keypad front doors. And are all apparently now 100% underwater on their mortgages.

This is a crazy mess. I’m through. Let this play out in court, if it can.

203

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 5:25 pm

Working Link

“GMA Joe Oliver” if that doesn’t work

204

bob mcmanus 03.26.12 at 5:30 pm

Hell, I hate video. Whatever.

205

roger 03.26.12 at 6:18 pm

Probably the strongest sign of racism on the right in this controversy is what has NOT happened. There has never been a shooting in recent times that raises outrage – such as the Virginia Tech massacre – without the right responding, in chorus, that it only proves that we need more firearms. That we must be armed to protect ourselves. But in the face of a black kid in a hoodie, there is … silence. Almost like conservatives don’t want to arm black kids. Huh, it makes you wonder… Although not really a lot, since the idea that conservatives in the U.S. are not by and large a racist lot depends on a bad faith that is as big and broad as the mighty mississippi.

206

Sebastian 03.26.12 at 6:36 pm

Well bianca, maybe your first thoughts are stereotyping and prejudice.

Your ‘first principles’ thing is muddled, and you’re confused about dismissing precedent. I characterize the police non-response as using the law as an ‘excuse’ because it is absolutely obvious that the law don’t excuse Zimmerman’s actions, and at the very very minimum should still trigger a deep investigation to confirm his story.

The police didn’t do that. Therefore they weren’t interpreting his actions as legal under the law, they were merely using it as an excuse not to investigate. That has nothing to do with “reasoning things out from first principles”. It has to do with ACTUALLY USING THE LAW. Their non-investigation demonstrates that they were NOT ACTUALLY USING THE LAW.

I’m not dismissing precedent at all. I’m employing the more than a hundred years of precedent on this legal concept, across federal law and the majority of state laws to show that Zimmerman’s actions wouldn’t be “self defense”. I

For reasons which I cannot understand, a number of talking heads want to use this incident to attack “stand your ground” even though it is not applicable in this case. It is those people who are being dismissive of precedent. It is those people, and you, who pretend that this is some new concept that Florida dreamed up seven years ago. Yes, this instantiation of the Flordia law is seven years old. It is seven years old because some judges were attempting to insert “duty to retreat” and limit self defense claims, and the legislature decided they agreed with the federal standard and the majority of other states in the union for all of the last hundred years in not wanting that. So they corrected the law back, removing the “duty to retreat”. Now you can claim they overcorrected or whatever, but the pretense that this is some new fangled legal concept, untested deeply confusing, is just non-factual.

You all like to pretend you are so “you can have your own arguments but not your own facts” right up until you don’t approve of the facts.

Stand your ground is common in the US.

Stand your ground has little to do with this case because Zimmerman was stalking Trayvon.

Even if Zimmerman had a colorable stand your ground claim, the police would still need to investigate in order to confirm it. You don’t just get to say “self defense” and get off without an investigation.

If you don’t like stand your ground, fine. Argue against it in a case where it was actually applicable, and do so without the pretense that it is novel or a minority view in US law.

207

bianca steele 03.26.12 at 7:30 pm

Sebastian:

I have no problem with many of your other arguments as far as they go (“some judges” were trying to change the law as it had existed for decades at least, and make it more liberal, though, is another story), and if the Florida statute doesn’t make the law in Florida different from the law anywhere else because everybody else already permits the same support for people who claim to have killed in self-defense, that’s pretty strong.

I was just struck by the fact that you chose to post in support of shutting down discussion about legislation, because (you say) in this case legislation didn’t matter. It just seems to turn out that, when libertarians argue, in every individual case legislation turns out not to matter, which seems not too plausible.

And for all the bipartisan-sounding talk about racism, your argument just happens to be that what matters in the case is the character of the individual police officers carrying out their duties, which just happens to be the argument of people who say we don’t need government to enforce explicit legislation because this would prohibit “men of good character” from following their conscience.

Everybody is under an obligation to show good judgment, at all times–fine. Statute law doesn’t change that obligation—fine. Statute law doesn’t change whether an act that demonstrates poor judgment can be prosecuted—that’s ridiculous.

a number of talking heads want to use this incident to attack “stand your ground”

No talking heads on this thread and I haven’t seen what you describe—why not either cite what you’re referring to or explain how what you said actually engages with what was said on the thread even if in other words.

I don’t know whether Zimmerman sincerely (if stupidly) thought he was acting in self-defense, or whether the police thought he reasonably could have been, or whether the police were influenced by what they would have done in a similar situation, or whether the police liked Zimmerman or despised him. (Which sincere if possibly stupid beliefs may well have been informed by racism, and likely were.)

I don’t know what the police did, only what they announced publicly. I don’t expect the police to provide me (or journalists, to filter down to me) a fully descriptive account of what they did and didn’t do so that I might make a decision about how to judge their actions and what political steps I ought to take next.

I do know that according to members of the police themselves, the effect of the law would be to get people who did what Zimmerman did off the hook (unless you think “vigilante” means something different), and that would clearly make things easier for police who wanted to do what the Sanford police did here.

208

David in NY 03.26.12 at 8:09 pm

Sebastian has a hobby-horse based on a twisted view of Blackstone and anything else that disagrees with him and the NRA and ALEC. I suppose in the Trayvon Martin case, however, he also must take the position that an aggressor, coming at someone with a gun, can avail himself of the claim of self defense. Not so in any jurisdication where I’ve practiced law, though if the NRA buys some more legislators, maybe it will be.

209

Salient 03.26.12 at 8:55 pm

“using the law as an ‘excuse’ because it is absolutely obvious that the law don’t excuse Zimmerman’s actions”

Are you saying that when an excuse seems like obvious bullshit to us, it’s no longer an excuse? That seems like wordplay around the definition of ‘excuse’ to me. Would you rather we use a different word? If so, which word?

If you don’t like stand your ground, fine. Argue against it in a case where it was actually applicable”

You’re kidding, right? Joking around? The #1 problem I have with “stand your ground” is that citizens are highly likely to misunderstand it and misinterpret its scope as broader than is actually the case, leading them to commit acts they think of as legitimate vigilantism. The #2 problem I have with “stand your ground” is that a cold-blooded person is much more likely to commit a crime, knowing that they can attempt to pass it off as an instance where the law would exculpate them, leading them to commit acts they can attempt to paint as legitimate vigilantism. So this is basically exactly the sort of situation where either #1 or #2 applies.

210

Sebastian 03.27.12 at 12:38 am

No, I’m saying when an excuse is obvious bullshit, it is obvious bullshit and shouldn’t be taken as a serious argument.

“I suppose in the Trayvon Martin case, however, he also must take the position that an aggressor, coming at someone with a gun, can avail himself of the claim of self defense.”

Huh? I’m arguing AGAINST a self defense claim for Zimmerman.

211

Salient 03.27.12 at 1:31 am

No, I’m saying when an excuse is obvious bullshit, it is obvious bullshit and shouldn’t be taken as a serious argument.

We just live on different planets, is the problem. On my planet, people get away with all sorts of crap by means of obvious bullshit, so working to bullshit-proof your laws as well as you can is part of building a responsible society. I swear to god, you’d be the one arguing in 1871 that lynching and arson and stuff are obviously totally illegal already and excuses for not investigating or making arrests are obvious bullshit, so, like, why are we wasting precious Congressional time this Civil Rights Act thing?

212

SN 03.27.12 at 4:24 am

Thank you Tedra for that point about how Mexicans are perceived in the Southwest.

There are many places in the United States where being perceived as Muslim or as an immigrant from Mexico or Central America or as an American Indian puts you in jeopardy for being killed and/or gets you racially profiled by the police.

I’m not trying to raise some kind of shitty contest about who gets murdered most often by racist fuckwads (or arrested). Clearly, black people win that one by a mile.

Perhaps a good effect of this current concern could be attention to the failure of the criminal justice system overall to adequately prosecute murders committed by racist white people.

213

hartal 03.27.12 at 5:51 am

very thoughtful reflection on the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin. It is by one of the other great American criminologists in the US, Jonathan Simon. I cited Garland above about the history of lynching. Simon suggests the ways in which the history of lynching distorts the dynamics of the neighborhood watch.

http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2012/03/26/whose-public-safety-trayvon-martin-and-neighborhood-watch/

214

hartal 03.27.12 at 5:54 am

215

Helen 03.27.12 at 7:47 am

It appears that there is now, surprise surprise, an active campaign to smear Trayvon Martin. I did think that the pro-Zimmerman comments here didn’t quite pass the sniff test.

216

Katherine 03.27.12 at 8:21 am

Which upwardly mobile black people would we be talking about here?

The kind who who pay to be behind high walls with electronic metal gates and keypad front doors. And are all apparently now 100% underwater on their mortgages.

This is a crazy mess. I’m through. Let this play out in court, if it can.

Which has what exactly to do with Martin’s death? Oh, that’s right, nothing.

217

Katherine 03.27.12 at 8:22 am

Argh, formatting fail. The last sentence was me responding to bob mcmanus’s earlier sentences.

Anyway, it was all contributing to a pointless derail, so please ignore.

218

Belle Waring 03.27.12 at 1:50 pm

Breaking the migraine rules…I don’t know enough about the American West to say anything about how Mexicans are perceived, so I’ll defer to others’ judgment on that one. I’ve lived in GA, S.C. (various locations, country and city), Washington D.C., NYC, Berkeley/Oakland/SF. That’s it. But all my youth on the East Coast and mostly in the South or D.C. where, I assure you, Black and Not Black are the operative categories of people in the eyes of the authorities…everyone, maybe.

219

Dave Maier 03.27.12 at 2:18 pm

Such weak, half-hearted trolling on this thread, even that linked to off-site (McArdle, feh). I dare not quote, but for the real thing (post title gives a hint, but there’s more, oh yes there’s more) check out Roger Kimball: http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2012/03/27/thomas-sowell-on-geraldo-on-hoodies/.

220

Manta1976 03.27.12 at 2:40 pm

Dave, “Thomas Sowell weighs in with his usual laser-like beam of common sense and wisdom”?
After that, I was not able to continue to read: I was too distracted by the idea of using beams of common sense and wisdom to build a doomsday device.

221

bob mcmanus 03.27.12 at 4:08 pm

216:Which has what exactly to do with Martin’s death? Oh, that’s right, nothing.

Well, the murder could have taken place on a backroad in rural Mississippi by some sheriff’s deputy…

…or inside a majority-minority gated community by a publicly-approved Neighborhood watchman

You know, this dedicated abstraction from contingency and concrete details (“they are all racists! Sanford PD is racist! “Hoodies are thugs”) in order to create politically ideologically useful stereotypes is why, yes, I have contempt for both sides

222

bob mcmanus 03.27.12 at 4:14 pm

Even to Zimmerman, the “racist”

“Racist” sometimes, some places, with some people, in specific situations and circumstances. How when what who. All these details matter a lot for determining the structures and institutions and processes of oppression. Because fighting on a group-vs-individual basis is a fool’s losing game. And I mean game. Show.

Matters to me, I guess. Not at all to some others

223

bjk 03.27.12 at 9:22 pm

I don’t know, seems like my half-hearted trolling was pretty dead accurate. This story will now be conveniently forgotten ASAP.

224

hartal 03.27.12 at 10:44 pm

Zimmerman scared the hell out of an innocent boy. He followed him in a menacing way in a pick up truck even as the boy Trayvon was trying to get away and the police told him to back off. Zimmerman leveled accusations against a frightened boy for no good reason. He insulted him and left the Trayvon fearful of what he may to do him. Zimmerman was not clearly winning the fight that he provoked; he does not try to save his sense of self-esteem by taking another life for a bloody nose. Zimmerman is a killer, someone who itched for such a confrontation and the excuse to pull the trigger. We’ll leave aside the psycho-analysis that he had a need to kill off his own minority side.

225

John Quiggin 03.27.12 at 10:53 pm

@Bob McManus And of course, entirely coincidental that this tirade against sloppy bourgeois individualism turns up in the comments thread of a post by one of our female members.

226

rf 03.27.12 at 11:24 pm

In fairness to Bob Mc, Belle did specifically mention him earlier (as a better class of troll to bjk) which, I gather, encouraged him to pop over and voice an opinion. This was his schtick from the get go (fwiw imho far more convincing than a lot thats been said)

227

John Quiggin 03.27.12 at 11:37 pm

True, he is indeed a better class of troll, and there are some rank amateurs in this thread.

228

Hartal 03.27.12 at 11:42 pm

Z does not get to try his sense of self esteem
By killing someone for bloodying his nose
In a fight that he provoked. Trayvon did not
Even go on someone’s lawn

229

Hartal 03.27.12 at 11:44 pm

Oh heck with it I can’t write on a iphone

230

Giampiero Campa 03.28.12 at 3:12 am

I am finding hard to find a reliable source that explains what “coon” means and why is it used and to indicate what exactly … obviously i am not from US, but apparently a lot of people use that word on the net without understanding what it means.

231

JanieM 03.28.12 at 3:36 am

I am finding hard to find a reliable source that explains what “coon” means and why is it used and to indicate what exactly

This seems a little hard to believe. The first two entries the Bing search engine offers are these:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=coon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coon

It’s not that complicated.

******

And since I came back here……Trayvon Martin’s school records are relevant to the fact that he was murdered for walking with Skittles and iced tea?

What Steve LaBonne said @4.

232

John Quiggin 03.28.12 at 5:00 am

Oddly enough, in Australia it’s both a racial slur and a popular brand of cheese. No confusion seems to arise.

233

js. 03.28.12 at 5:10 am

Google search for “coon”

(Hope this works. Could comment preview come back?)

234

Katherine 03.28.12 at 7:13 pm

by a publicly-approved Neighborhood watchman

Except he wasn’t. And most of the rest of his neighbourhood had already complained about him, in fact.

And honestly I’m still not getting how this statement:

The kind who who pay to be behind high walls with electronic metal gates and keypad front doors. And are all apparently now 100% underwater on their mortgages.

has anything whatsoever to do with Martin’s death. I get that you insist that Martin was killed inside a gated “minority-majority” community, but I’m failing to understand how the mortgage status of a 100% of somebody has much to do with Zimmerman shooting Martin.

Now, you seem to have some overall kind of point, otherwise what you’d written really would seem just like a string of sentences about “minority-majorities” strung together , but you’ve failed to actually explain it. Care to bother?

235

JJ 03.28.12 at 8:21 pm

What he seems to be saying is that the people who profit most from the management of a capitalist economy can maintain their control of the economy only by keeping the people they manage in perpetual conflict with each other. The conservative managers bait their conservative supporters with horrific narratives of a communist revolution, while the liberal managers bait their liberal supporters with horrific narratives of a fascist revolution. So that the same set of circumstances (an unarmed black teenager killed by an armed white vigilante patrolling the privatized boundaries of a relatively affluent ghetto) can be interpreted to support diametrically opposite conclusions. Which in turn can be utilized to prevent the people managed by their managers from forming an alliance dedicated to the mitigation of the misery which compels an armed white vigilante to kill an unarmed black teenager who happens to be strolling through the privatized boundaries of a relatively affluent ghetto.

236

Giampiero Campa 03.28.12 at 10:50 pm

Yes I get that it’s an insulting term but it must mean something, right ?

It looks like it means racoon, (“The black eye masks and noctural habits of the animal paralleled the characteristics of typical robbers and thiefs. The stereotype was then applied to black people”), but i have also found “It comes from the term baracoons (a cage), where they used to place Africans, who were waiting to be sent to America to be slaves.” and “This old Southern term for blacks derives from the last syllable of the Portuguese ‘barracoes’ (o has a nasal n sound), the name of buildings that once housed African slaves.”.

237

JanieM 03.29.12 at 2:41 am

Yes I get that it’s an insulting term but it must mean something, right ?

Having stupidly bitten this hook once, I can only say, the second time around: who the f*ck cares? Why would anyone come into a conversation on a topic like this one and obsess out loud about a nitpicking question in historical linguistics?

238

Katherine 03.29.12 at 9:27 am

JJ – ah I see now. Both sides do it! People complaining about racism are sheeple too! We should concentrating not on the dead kid, but on overthrowing our overlords! These two impulses are naturally mutually exclusive! Damn, he had a long winded and obscure way of saying such banal bollocks.

239

faustusnotes 03.29.12 at 9:52 am

In my view, Katherine, it’s less the “both sides do it!” argument and more the “class is the root of all evil!” angle. We shouldn’t be focusing on the obvious racial inequalities and history of racist violence in the USA because M**xism! It’s a variant on the “lie back and think of the revolution” argument being peddled in defense of Assange.

240

Katherine 03.29.12 at 10:04 am

Yes, I’ll agree with that. He definitely pulled a “plague on both your houses” earlier though as well.

241

Giampiero Campa 03.29.12 at 3:59 pm

who the f*ck cares?

Sorry for making an effort to understand completely what people say it when they say it. Btw I am not sure what you mean by “hook” but I didn’t mean to be disrespectful of anyone’s emotion or opinion or of the facts themselves, really. Only just trying to understand.

I guess where I come from insults are always a bunch of colorful words that always do mean something very precise. Ok, I get it, nobody cares, I’ll end up right here.

242

JJ 03.29.12 at 4:51 pm

No, it’s the “communism and fascism are the principal complimentary political ideologies of a capitalist economy” argument. Communism and fascism are the ideological extremes of a political spectrum which operates within a capitalist economy. Communist economies rise from the ashes of fascist economic collapse, and cycle through the developmental stages of socialist, liberal, conservative and fascist/communist economies. It’s how we justify the genocide of a surplus labor force and the voluntary servitude of the survivors.

243

Bemused 03.29.12 at 7:32 pm

I’m a Canadian, where we’re all about “peace, order and good government”, so I guess that colours my view of all this….but I honestly just don’t get why a guy like George Zimmerman is allowed to carry an assault weapon. Or “stand his ground.”

I was taught that the state is supposed to have a monopoly on the use of force. And in exchange the rest of us get to walk around and go about our business in relative security, without having to have bodyguards and stuff. I’m perfectly willing to suffer the indignities of backing down, retreating and failing to stand my ground, because I figure we’ve got the police. And no, I don’t like or trust the police a lot of the time, but rather the police (yes, with the brutality, incompetence and stupidity that seem to infect all police forces to some degree, not the least our own RCMP) than leaving myself open to the GZs of the world.

Why isn’t there more debate about the idea that the use of force, and the use of assault weapons by anyone other than a police officer, to go after any alleged wrongdoer, is just out and out crazy, intolerable and should in all cases be illegal? (there may be some very narrow exceptions)

(That’s not to say that the failure to prosecute GZ and the demonization of the teenage victim isn’t also indicative of endemic racism and bigotry, not to mention mind-blowing meanness and insensitivity.)

244

Steve LaBonne 03.29.12 at 7:36 pm

I’m a Canadian, where we’re all about “peace, order and good government”, so I guess that colours my view of all this….but I honestly just don’t get why a guy like George Zimmerman is allowed to carry an assault weapon. Or “stand his ground.”

Because shut up you stupid commie foreigner, that’s why. (And I’m not kidding- there’s no better reason than that behind our lunacy. Remember that the insane fucked-up mess of a country to your south has lots and lots of nukes, and be very afraid…)

245

tomslee 03.29.12 at 8:53 pm

I’m a Canadian, where we’re all about “peace, order and good government”

I think that’s “we were all about…”

Comments on this entry are closed.