Trayvon Martin and the grievance factory

Even to a person as cynical and jaded as I have become about American politics, the brouhaha around the Trayvon Martin shooting is rather shocking. Usually, in past instances of even the most determined attempts to inflame racial hatred, there’s been at least a fig leaf of plausible deniability over the manipulation. Not this time. Not with MSNBC getting caught editing its presentation of the 911 tape to make it sound like the shooter uttered a racial slur. Not with Trayvon Martin’s photo obviously photoshopped to make him look younger, less threatening, and (ironically) more white.

I’m not going to utter or argue for a conclusion about whether or not Zimmerman shot in self-defense. We don’t know that. Perhaps he was, in fact, motivated by race hatred. The facts of the shooting will have to come clearer before that can be judged. We have more than enough facts, though, to observe and indict the operation of the racial-grievance factory, and to point a finger squarely at those who are dishonestly battening on Trayvon Martin’s death.

The progress of civil rights in the U.S. can be measured by the extent to which real racial outrages have been displaced by trumped-up fake ones. The year I was born, in 1957, segregation was still a cruel and oppressive fact in the American South; thirty years later, in 1987, Tawana Brawley’s false rape accusations would certainly not have had to be pimped to the max by Al Sharpton if he’d had any true ones to work with.

With the Trayvon Martin shooting the fakery has reached dizzying heights. Beginning with the fact that a hispanic man shoots a black and we are immediately urged to see this as evidence of pervasive evil and prejudice in a racial group of “whites” which, according to their IDs, neither man thought he belonged to.

Personally, I think the distinction between “white” and “hispanic” is a rather silly one to be insisting on in 2012, especially for anybody named “George Zimmerman”. But I’m not him – apparently George thought his hispanicity/non-whiteness was important enough to put on his documents. The racial-grievance industry, which thrives on assigning each of us to a place in an ever-more-ramified hierarchy of “victim” and “oppressor” groups, has no excuse in its own terms of reference for ignoring this.

And is anyone but me noticing the irony of whitening Trayvon Martin in his hoodie photograph? We’ll pass over quickly the blatant flim-flam of publishing five-year-old photographs that make him look like a chubby-cheeked kid rather than the sullen, angry teenage gangbanger (Twitter handle “NO_LIMIT_NIGGA”) in the more current ones. But the first time I saw the photoshopped version of the “hoodie” photograph, my instant thought was “My Goddess – they’ve Michael-Jacksonized him!”

That’s right, in covering a story that was, for them, ostensibly all about race, the mainstream media more than half bleached out Trayvon Martin’s blackness. To make him seem less threatening and more sympathetic. Thereby, implicitly, confirming and validating the exact stereotype of “black = danger” about which we are all being lectured!

But such thoughtless gaslighting should not surprise us. Because even supposing that Zimmerman pulled the trigger for racial reasons (which isn’t established), the media-approved post-shooting spin is only pretending to be about racial justice. And the pretense is a thin one. What’s actually going on is a load of grunting and posturing as stylized and disconnected from reality as a Kabuki drama, and directed to ends that had nothing to do with Trayvon Martin’s life or death. Let’s review some of the actual axes being ground here:

First on the scene to abuse Trayvon’s corpse were the jackals from the “Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence”, who have been fighting an increasingly desperate rear-guard action against civil-rights progress ever since the Heller ruling in 2008 reaffirmed the Second Amendment as an individual right. Their goal was to throw as much mud as possible at Florida’s recently-passed “stand your ground” law in hopes that some of it would stick, and never mind that it would probably be irrelevant to Zimmerman’s defense if he were charged.

But the gun-grabbers were quickly jostled aside by the usual gang of race hustlers, Al Sharpton being the most obvious but far from the only example. The last thing the race hustlers want is “racial justice”; their whole loathsome con depends on guilt-tripping Whitey, inflaming blacks, and profiting as both sides bleed. With actual racism as near dead as it is in the U.S., their game depends on being able to regularly construct white-on-black “injustice” out of nothing, and if that means editing George Zimmerman into a “white” racist, they’ll do it.

The race hustlers are small-time, though, compared to the White House, the Democratic National Committee, and the mainstream press. When Barack Obama said he though that Trayvon Martin looked like the son he doesn’t have, this had everything to do with his weak position going into the 2012 presidential elections. At all cost blacks must be mobilized to vote and everybody given a gaudy distraction from $5 gas prices, “green energy” cronyism, and the limping wreckage of the administration’s economic policy.

If this means Trayvon Martin has to be whitewashed and George Zimmerman gets a public lynching, then the mainstream press is showing itself eager to comply, supplying all the photoshopping and fake-but-accurate 911 audio the DNC could actually want. The actual facts of the case, and the actual meaning of Trayvon Martin’s death? Irrelevant. And, of course, the fact that George Zimmerman was a registered Democrat goes down the memory hole.

286 thoughts on “Trayvon Martin and the grievance factory

  1. This. I agree with every fucking word. Hope this doesn’t end in race riots.

  2. Inkstain: If it doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of trying on the part of AL Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the other race-baiters, terrified that they may actually become irrelevant as the American public quits worrying about race.

  3. All too true. I’ve also read that Trayvon got caught at school with a dozen pieces of women’s jewelry and a screwdriver, and that the subdivision Zimmerman was watching had had a number of burglaries. Oh, and for added confused-narrative goodness, apparently Zimmerman is a registered Democrat.

  4. “everybody given a gaudy distraction”—I hear the voice of Mencken in your word choice and in your analysis. Which is not bad at all; his unlimited skepticism and gift for turning a phrase would be very welcome at present.

  5. >I hear the voice of Mencken in your word choice and in your analysis

    You probably aren’t wrong. I read Minority Report in my teens and was impressed by the acerbic clarity of Mencken’s writing – I admired, then and now, his complete refusal to blink at humbug and horseshit. But, you know, I actually think Mencken and I both actually channel Mark Twain’s more cynical side, both in style and content…

  6. As far as I read it, what we have is a story that suggests that a person with a valid carry permit may have used deadly force inappropriately. Race or ethnicity has nothing to do with it, nor does the Second Amendment. As in any other such case, I hope that a fair investigation is completed and that any criminal charges arising from it would be fairly tried.

    IMHO, the only people that stand indicted now are the press and those who are using the incident to further their own agenda. They are not helping justice.

  7. Not with Trayvon Martin’s photo obviously photoshopped to make him look younger, less threatening, and (ironically) more white.

    Having worked in with digital imaging software for a couple of decades, I can tell you that the example image you provided has too many weird discrepancies to make strong claims about which was altered… or, more altered as the case may be, since both look to have a bit of post-production involved.

    For one thing, the supposedly “blacker” picture is cropped differently and looks as if it was blown-up by an amateur who didn’t know how to resample the image properly to decrease the hard shadows and grunge. Another open question is the degree to which the alterations were made to affect public sentiment as opposed to optimizing a grayscale image for printing. The second image looked like it was just equalized using a standard photo filter, and my own experiment with the cropped image just now using the default equalizer settings yielded a result fairly close to the zoomed out image (though not exact… the zoomed-in image is so cruddy that it never looks natural no matter what you do to it).

    So, the idea that the difference shows intentional “ironic” whitening doesn’t hold water for me with the evidence I have in front of me, and there’s actually better evidence that the second image is a more accurate grayscale depiction of what was shot (and, more importantly, when it was shot) because it is uncroppped, has less artifacting than the blown-up “scary” picture.

    Does that mean that the cropped “black” image was intentionally distorted to make Martin look more sinister? No. It just looks like an amateur job. But the more important distortion by the media is not with this grayscale image, but by the far more prevalent color images that show a much younger Martin with chubby cheeks and a cherubic smile:

    http://a.abcnews.com/images/US/abc_trayvon_martin_nt_120313_wg.jpg
    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/03/10/article-0-121B7BC5000005DC-788_634x344.jpg
    http://www.bet.com/content/betcom/news/national/2012/03/16/the-cruel-fatethat-came-to-an-average-kid-trayvon-martin/_jcr_content/featuredMedia/newsitemimage_0.newsimage.dimg/031612-national-trayvon-martin.jpg

    These are the images that dominate this story. They accompany almost every news story and protest sign, along with the mug shot of Zimmerman that makes him look like the Son of Sam’s beach bum brother. They are the real distortion. They required no photoshopping or digital alteration of any kind, and Martin doesn’t look the least bit white in any of them. In fact, among the color photos in wide circulation, most of them appear to emphasize his dark skin tone. Unlike the facebook pics that are coming to light, these are still in heavy circulation, and the wide band frequency of them shows an effort to recreate a child murder in the minds of target voters.

    Again, the goal is NOT to make Martin white… that would make absolutely no sense, and while the people promulgating this are evil they certainly are not stupid when it comes to racial bean-counting. Why play to the sympathies of racists who would require a dead “white” child to motivate them politically. If they did require one, why emphasize Martin’s blackness to the point of inundation? Their goal is to imprint the image of a poor, innocent, candy-eating, happy-go-lucky black child shot to death by a rich white vigilante.

    Other than that, I agree with everything in the OP. It’s frustratingly obvious what the strategy here is, and who is directing it. On the other hand, I think this will turn out to be a titanic misstep by the race-hustlers. It was a thornier incident than Emmanel, Axelrod and their minions in the media hoped, and might actually serve to wedge Hispanics and Blacks in the coming election.

  8. Once again, I’d like to propose that we do all we can to bury the ‘white people’ meme. We’re ‘mainstream people’. Many of us are not white these days. (Start with President Obama, and work your way down from there.) We don’t need those idiots that seem to want to bring us apartheid South Africa’s old Racial Classification Boards.

    We all need our parents; we need our families, but it should be brought home to our fellow Americans that, long term, over the generations, ethnicity is a loser. The social and economic disadvantages of staying ethnic are many and they are severe. That’s why most of us don’t do it.

  9. But the first time I saw the photoshopped version of the “hoodie” photograph, my instant thought was “My Goddess – they’ve Michael-Jacksonized him!”

    Look, I know that you mean well, but you have to understand that dealing with grayscale images and skin tone is a tricky business, not for political reasons but for presentation ones. No matter what the skin color of the subject, most grayscale portraits inevitably end up gray, because developing them in either the white or black extreme is going to cause the photo to lose detail. I think this notion of whitening misses the forest through the trees, not only because of it’s technical ignorance, but because none of the (far more dominant) color pictures in wide release seem to attempt to lighten Martin’s skin (for instance, the one of him in his Midget League football uniform looks even darker than the gold-toothed images released by skeptical parties). The media conspiracy didn’t rest on the shoulders of one art director who clicked “equalize” in Photoshop. It was all about Martin’s age and his race…. his black race.

  10. “Perhaps he was, in fact, motivated by race hatred.”

    Perhaps, but the fact that Zimmerman said, “he looks black” when asked whether Martin was black, white or hispanic implies to me that he wasn’t even sure of Martin’s race…. Otherwise he would’ve just said, “black”. I usually don’t say “it looks” or “it seems” unless I’m hedging against the possibility that I’m wrong. If that’s correct, it’s hard for me to imagine that the scenario was racially motivated.

    I also get a kick out of the same media describing the hispanic “Martin” as white who has been accusing white Americans of racism for years because some of them want to keep illegal hispanic immigrants out of the country. Apparently, hispanics are a non-white victim class when they’re merely undocumented aliens, but somehow become white when they shoot black people.

  11. I don’t have anything good to say about the Jackson, Sharpton, Lee & Co. Race Circus, but I’ve been around long enough to know that they’ll appear in certain situations no matter what. Complaining about their antics is like complaining about the weather.

    I’m sure there are insignificant details that have not emerged yet, but we can summarize the main points: Zimmerman was armed; Martin wasn’t. Zimmerman is a burly grown man; Martin was a skinny teen. Zimmerman stalked Martin; Martin at least initially tried to get away. Zimmerman may or may not have gotten a scrape or a bruise; Martin died of gunshot wounds. Zimmerman went home and slept in his bed; Martin went to the morgue. On the basis of these facts alone we can expect a police investigation and a prosecution at some level (I’m inclined to 2nd-degree murder, but a case could be made for manslaughter). The facts cited do not imply a justified shooting, and only one party brought a firearm. “Stand your ground”/”no duty to retreat” may or may not be a good law, but it doesn’t somehow excuse an unjustified use of lethal force, and no reasonable person would have expected to prevent death or great bodily harm by chasing down Martin and his Skittles.

    The media and race entrepreneurs are very likely to impede police investigations in this sort of situation, but somehow it was nearly a month before anyone outside Sanford noticed what had happened. In that month the police had gathered very little evidence, and made very little effort to interview potential witnesses. We can say with some confidence that if no one outside the community had paid attention, the file would have been closed by now, with no prosecution whatsoever. That is not how the justice system is supposed to work, whether a victim is a virginal white girl or a banger-wannabe black dude. We don’t need any more details about who had what record, what races were involved, relative wealth, what was said, or any of that nonsense. There is something wrong with the police and prosecutors in Sanford, and I hope the rest of the nation will pay attention long enough to see the problems corrected. If Jackson, Sharpton, et al. play some role in that, then they’ll have done at least one positive thing this year.

    It’s not enough to decry the ways that pwogs distort the national discourse; we must also be on guard that we don’t read unnecessary racial politics into situations ourselves. The tint of the photographs shouldn’t matter, when an armed man stalks and shoots a teenager.

  12. I always find this blog thought provoking, and this was no exception. You make several points that I agree with, but I think you missed something about this incident that really scares me.

    First, I agree with you that MSNBC, Sharpton, and the media in general felt compelled to take Trayvon Martin’s side in this story without knowing all the facts. Many determined George Martin was guilty without waiting to know the facts. I also agree that those who look at this case should put aside their racial prejudices, whether it be positive or negative. Justice should be blind.

    However, if not for the media, if not for the popular internet campaign, where would Trayvon Martin’s parents be now? Would they have the ability to influence a state to again investigate what happened that night?

    I agree, George Zimmerman should not be demonized and if charged with a crime, he must be presumed innocent and given a fair trial. But what about Trayvon Martin? Is it too much to assume he wasn’t a threat to George Zimmerman’s life? In 2012, I expect the media to rush to judgement. That’s what they have become.

    What I didn’t expect was that the police would rush to judge Trayvon Martin. If you don’t believe they did, you would have to find it plausible that someone with no criminal history and no weapon would get off the phone with his girlfriend and attempt to kill an armed man in the middle of several nearby houses.

    Assuming George Zimmerman is telling the truth and that the Sanford police are competent and not corrupt, a by-the-book investigation or trial would probably show him to be innocent and give Trayvon Martin’s parents closure.

  13. An excellent post, and relatively free from the frantic “but I am not racist” signalling that most people who posts a similar post are apt to put into every paragraph.

    Because Zimmerman had a gun, there is no way he would jump Martin. If Zimmerman had behaved badly, he would have done so by threatening Martin from range.

    Given we have multiple witnesses that Zimmerman was on the ground screaming while Martin pummeled him, and given that blacks regard being suspected of crime as disrespect, and are apt to attack people who disrespect them, it is highly probable that Martin jumped Zimmerman, and highly unlikely that Zimmerman jumped Martin.

    Blacks tend to engage in spectacular displays of aggression, resembling that of a chimpanzee, (the infamous chimp out) while other races are less inclined to put on a spectacle. Whites tend to put on more display than Chinese, but less than blacks, at most resembling the display of a guard dog, which is quieter though more menacing than that of a watch dog. Genghis Khan was famous, or perhaps infamous, for understated threats.

    This results in frequent miscommunication – white men in Thailand may fail to realize that a thai is threatening them, resulting in an avoidable beating, while black men may perceive themselves to be making a minor threat, while a non black perceives the black man as making a deadly threat, resulting in a black man avoidably getting killed.

    I think that anyone with a little familiarity with actual blacks believes that Martin chimped out on Zimmerman, but blacks regard chimping out as a perfectly reasonable non lethal response to the fact that Zimmerman disrespected Martin, and thus the killing as a wrongful killing even if Martin chimped out, as he almost certainly did, whereas non blacks are apt to regard chimping out as a potentially lethal threat

    Zimmerman gave offense by non verbally, and perhaps verbally, showing he suspected Martin of crime. That is an offense that many blacks think needs a beating, that schools teach them needs a beating, so, unsurprising that a beating was applied, and unsurprising it would be applied in a manner that would cause Zimmerman to fear for his life, even if Martin did not believe it would have or should have caused Zimmerman to fear for his life.

    Schools need to teach blacks that chimping out is so over the top that members of other races are apt to reasonably respond with lethal violence, but of course they cannot teach this, and indeed teach the exact opposite, for to teach this would be racist.

  14. I agree with the photoshopping. Black people simply don’t photograph well. I blame photons. Any black person’s face is going to get lightened when it’s printed simply because of the need to make a picture that doesn’t completely suck.

    Apparently, George Zimmerman has two parents, one of them hispanic and the other white. That’s why we call Barack Obama a white African-American.

  15. James A Donald on Tuesday, April 3 2012 at 2:04 am said:
    An excellent post, and relatively free from the frantic “but I am not racist” signalling that most people who posts a similar post are apt to put into every paragraph.

    The “frantic ‘but I am not a racist’ signalling”, he says? I guess that would be along the lines of what he said last evening, when he declared in frantic terms that he is not a racist, and people who think he is are morons.

    It’s strange to me that this post has no mention of the critical distortions, like that of NBC news in omitting a question from the 911 operator in order to make Zimmerman seem racist, or of ABC news trying to retcon a video analysis to account for a head wound on the shooter.

    These are the details that really matter. If the kabuki theater surrounding Martin and Zimmerman has any value at all, it is the entertainment of watching internet blowhards like James A. Donald self-destruct. Sure, the really dangerous bad guys are the ones in charge of shaping this story, but I suppose they actaually do a certain service by forcing certain rats like Donald out into the light. It’s not a big deal — outing James A. Donald as a racist isn’t exactly a coup — but every jackass who subsumes the individual for the sake of group identity deserves a good kicking in my opinon.

  16. +1 on everything that Grantham said about B&W photos. I once had to process a large number of self-submitted photos of faces into grayscale for both web and print publication. Getting some kind of a consistent scale of skin tones was very, very tricky, and the subjects in those photos were all pasty white Finns, supposedly easy cases. The color photos of Trayvon M each seem to have been taken in very different lighting conditions, from direct on-camera flash to high-contrast sunlight. You could easily produce a huge range of brown skin tones from one African-American person by doing that, without touching Photoshop.

  17. Eric, can you post a link to “MSNBC getting caught editing its presentation of the 911 tape to make it sound like the shooter uttered a racial slur”? I’m skeptical of that because CNN has checked Zimmerman’s 9/11 call independently and did find the slur, too. (After running the audio track through a high-pass filter, an edit they disclose and that shouldn’t alter the material facts.) To be sure, the CNN’s hand-wringing, self-promotion, and you-just-can’t-know posturing confirms much of your general point on the matter. But on the particular point of MSNBC manipulating the tape, I’m inclined to call it for MSNBC unless I see good-enough evidence to trump what CNN presented.

  18. I’m not a Yank, I’m not in Yankeeland, and I’ve not followed this story in great detail.

    But from what I can tell, the biggest problem is that person A followed, and then shot and killed person B, under apparently suspect circumstances (as in, there was no good reason), and person A has not been charged by the police.

    I think that if person B was a “white” person, either person A wouldn’t have followed them, wouldn’t have shot them, or would already have been charged. That’s where the racism comes into play. It’s irrelevant the “race” of person A as far as I can tell.

    The other issue is that person A is apparently rather too friendly with the police.

    So if y’all can tell me that person A would not have been charged even if person B was white, I’ll accept that maybe racism isn’t an issue. If y’all tell me that person A would not have been charged even if they weren’t so friendly with the police, I’ll discount that.

    I’ve already discounted all the previous history of person B, because it’s irrelevant. Whether or not person B is a crazy criminal who regularly held up stage coaches (or whatever) is not relevant. Because person A did not know that. They did not know any of the history of person B when they shot and kill them.

  19. apparently suspect circumstances (as in, there was no good reason)

    And you think you know that because . . . ?

  20. Wikipedia says:

    Trayvon Martin was an unarmed

    Martin was walking from a 7-Eleven convenience store to the home of his father’s fiancé when Zimmerman, a community watch coordinator, began following Martin and called the Sanford Police Department to say he witnessed suspicious behavior.

    The dispatcher recommended that he not take any action, and informed him that police were on the way. Zimmerman reported that Martin had started running. The dispatcher asked him if he was following Martin and he affirmed that he was. The dispatcher informed him that this was not necessary, saying, “We don’t need you to do that.

    So, person A was following person B in a car, and then got out and confronted them. After being advised not to do that. Even assuming that there was a good reason for person A to be following person B in the first place, they were explicitly advised not to. Then, there was not a good reason to get out of the car. A car is a safer place in such a situation then on the street. So you are following someone you think is a potential criminal, and then you get out of the car and confront them?! There’s all kinds of stupid right there.

    And, my question still stands, would person A have been charged if person B was “white”?

  21. @Michael: exactly. It’s not about the racial injustice of Zimmerman shooting Martin. It’s about the racial injustice of what happened afterwards. The original post addresses a straw man.

  22. @Tom

    “We seem to have a good counter-example in Europe to this. Here we have regulated the mobile carrier industry and it seems to have produced good effects for the consumer.”

    Yeah, that must be why if I drive 70km from Vienna to Slovakia or Hungary and try to use the mobile internet I pay an arm and leg in roaming fees. Until the whole concept of roaming fee (inside the EU countries at least) is eliminated don’t call it a good situation. It isn’t. We are fairly small countries. We go rather often abroad for business. This is why the whole EU thing was invented…

    Oh and we don’t even have unlimited data within one country, at least as far as the major Austrian companies go, generally there are 3GB and 4GB per month packages. This is why instead of simply using Google Maps on my phone for navigation like every second American does (I think) I need to use rather awkward apps like Navit that can work with downloaded maps.

    If it is a good situation, I would like to see a bad one.

  23. Wait, it’s not me. You got a bug in the system that causes comments for older posts end up redirected into the latest post. I am using Chrome 17.

  24. Someone needs to run ads from now until the election about the lies here, particularly the “he looks black” lie from NBC. I know the GOP lacks the balls to do it, but there has to be some wealthy conservative who would be willing.

    Imagine the ad: “NBC: apologize to America’s 100 million gun owners. Obama: apologize to America’s 100 million gun owners.”

  25. Weird. Don’t know if my last post will ever appear. Tried to submit, got a ‘site busy’ error. Waited a bit, tried to submit again and got a ‘duplicate post detected’ warning. And I don’t see it in the comment thread at all, even as ‘in moderation’.

  26. (third time’s a charm?)

    @James A Donald

    chimp out

    Aw, not this shit again. Please stop conflating race and culture, not only is it embarrassing it prevents you from understanding and dealing with real, actual problems.

    We don’t know all the facts, but from what has turned up concerning Martin, his character (the Twitter feed, etc) and the way he acted on the night of the shooting (the 911 tapes, the witness testimony) he seemed quite in keeping with what we’d call ‘ghetto culture’. Which is just that, a culture not a defining set of attributes of a race. You might really learn something from Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Ironically, (from what we can surmise) Martin was – in a very special case, limited way- acting white. Specifically Scots-Irish, “Borderer” white.

  27. You really think there’s an industry of people who cynically decided to make money on “racial grievances”? Color me skeptical. I’m pretty sure that (apart from the journalistic motivation to get a good story) the people who are reading the Trayvon Martin case in a racial light are just people who honestly have a different view of the significance of race than you.

  28. Al this talk about “Race” in the USA is non-sense. Genetics has nothing to do with this.

    You can clear up the discussion tremendously when you talk about “Caste” instead.

    The USA was a Caste society on a par with India. Caste boundaries have blurred considerably since 1957. But a large part of the population still divide people based on Caste membership and associate accordingly. Caste membership also makes a lot of difference when interacting with official instances and banks. Actually, still a lot like India.

    The two protagonists belonged to two different Castes, one identified as the Black caste (or whatever the label is nowadays), the other as the Hispanic caste. Both could be genetically more alike to each other than each to West Africans and Iberians respectively, or Native Americans as I am unsure what genetic make-up Hispanic is supposed to indicate.

  29. I normally read the political posts to this blog solely as an exercise in perspective-expansion, and usually come down exactly where I started (in general, much further left than the article). But you have actually changed my opinion here, and not just on the Trayvon Martin case, but to some degree on race in American society.

    I have to point out, though, based on a skimming of the comments, that your readership seems to have a large proportion of people who think the following statement isn’t racist: “Blacks tend to engage in spectacular displays of aggression, resembling that of a chimpanzee, (the infamous chimp out) while other races are less inclined to put on a spectacle.” I don’t know what the speaker’s experience with black people has been, but I guarantee that if I’m a well-qualified black person at a job interview, I do not want this man in the room.

  30. Winter, what do you think talking about caste instead of race clears up?

    So far as I know, Hispanic is a multi-racial cultural category.

  31. @Nancy Lebovitz
    “Winter, what do you think talking about caste instead of race clears up? ”

    A caste is something you are “born into”. But it is a social construct unrelated to genetics, race or other biological trait. So, we can do away with all the “Ueber/Untermensch” ravings (eg, from JAD) as irrelevant. Also, we do not have to wonder why a “white” looking guy called George Zimmerman is classified as Hispanic. Castes work like that.

    I look at this matter in terms of inter-caste tribal warfare, now between three castes, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Black. I see nothing special. Looks quite like the stuff that happened in Yugoslavia before the civil war. Or in Northern Ireland during the “troubles”. Or daily in rural India.

  32. >Zimmerman is a burly grown man; Martin was a skinny teen. Zimmerman stalked Martin; Martin at least initially tried to get away.

    170 pounds to 150 isn’t a lot of difference. And the “stalking” characterization is probably incorrect – one of the myths still circulating is that Zimmerman continued to follow after the dispatcher said that wasn’t necessary.

  33. >Eric, can you post a link to “MSNBC getting caught editing its presentation of the 911 tape to make it sound like the shooter uttered a racial slur”?

    How’s this?

  34. @Winter:

    Interesting speculation concerning castes, but it’s based on a lack of information. You at least understand that the troubles here aren’t really racial. The fact that there’s what looks like caste is a side effect of something else.

    What the US’s ‘race’ issues are about is actually culture. Many different immigrant groups came here, bringing their own cultures but there was a central dominant culture that the immigrants would assimilate into (each influencing the dominant culture somewhat as well). Membership in that dominant culture meant society’s doors were open to you, even if your ancestors were from a group that was not initially compatible with the dominant culture. It used to be, that being spoken of as “white” meant you were part of the dominant culture, but it wasn’t correctly a racial term (else there’s no way to explain how, forex, Irish, Italians and Eastern European Jews weren’t initially considered white, despite the skin tone).

    Winter, where you get confused is that ‘caste’ was introduced, indirectly, later as a side effect of efforts to undermine the dominant culture. See the problem is that the dominant culture in the US has embedded in it a number of ideas that are hostile to the political ambitions of certain groups. Introducing multiculturalism and pandering to different ‘identity groups’ works very well to undermine the dominant culture, but for individuals failing to assimilate to the dominant culture serves to shunt them into little ‘identity group’ ghettos. Which, over time, rather resemble castes. It then becomes a win-win (for *somebody*) because those identity groups, trapped in their little self-created ghetto, then become a natural voting constituency of identity group panderers (the same folks who introduced multiculturalism).

    Most of what you see in the American press is ‘narrative’ being pushed by the same collection of interests who want to undermine the dominant culture, who politically are identity group panderers. So it’s no accident that you see something that looks like caste everywhere, but it causes you to overgeneralize from (deliberately) incomplete information.

  35. Ben,

    I haven’t commented before in this thread, but I’m one of the people you disparage, provided you strike the “like a chimpanzee” bit; they act like people (which they are) who have been taught that displays of violence are a good way to gain or maintain status.

    Black people in the Olden Days were taught to be subservient, or in the best case subordinate, and to pretend calm acceptance of that status. The earliest Civil Rights “agitators” found that frustrating, and taught blacks to be confident and self-assertive, and to respond to attempts to “put them down” with self-assured strength. There followed a graphic example of the Eric Frank Russell principle that any system can be corrupted — just turn the handle the way it goes, only more so. We now have two generations of black people who have been carefully taught that any display of a cooperative attitude, whether accepting instructions from a boss or speaking the English language so as to be understood by the mainstream, is a display of subservience and consequent betrayal of themselves and their fellow blacks. This attitude is by no means universal, in fact it’s still at least somewhat a minority, but it is extremely visible because it is deliberately confrontational.

    Note that the connection with melanin content in this situation is contrived. You could teach any identifiable ethnic group the same procedure, with the same result.

    In this case, though, the result is that a “Man from Mars” observer with no knowledge of the background would note that, when confrontations occur, blacks are more likely to be violently assertive than whites. It’s a fact. The data are there. It’s day-to-day experience, and denying it just reinforces the (inevitably) re-growing stereotype.

  36. >A caste is something you are “born into”. But it is a social construct unrelated to genetics, race or other biological trait.

    And then when someone observes that different castes have different non-verbal communication cues, and someone decides to liken one to a style favored by chimpanzees, we’ll call it “castism” instead of “racism”.

    While I find “chimping out” to be an inflammatory term, I don’t take it as “racist” because I recognize it as describing a cultural phenomenon, or in your parlance, a “caste” phenomenon. JAD is absolutely correct to observe that in dealings between groups (call them “races” as he does or “castes” as you prefer) a person will often send signals that convey one meaning in his own group’s non-verbal “language” and an entirely different meaning in the other group’s NVL. I believe I read Thomas Sowell on the subject once as explaining a good deal of the friction between “races” is that these non-verbal cues don’t match what a person is conditioned to expect should accompany the explicit verbal message, and unconsciously distrusts the person of the other “race” as a result.

    That the same phenomenon occurs between, say, Irish Catholics and Protestants, does not prevent it from being described as “racial” in other instances. I don’t know that it really matters if one refers to “castes” instead of “races”, because expressing any such ideas will still be called “racist” by people who find it an easy way to score points.

  37. @Greg,

    I did not think of using the term “caste” on the USA situation, I got it from “After Tamerlan”.

    But what you describe is quite like what Caste signifies, in India. The Indian system works exactly like that. Eg, the English and every other new group were simply put in their own (sub-)Caste added on to what was available.

    Originally, you had a few Castes in the USA: White, African (slaves), and Native Americans (Indian is confusing in this context). Added were assorted Asians, eg, Chinese, Japanese. I understand that until the 1960s, the walls between the groups were insurmountable. As is usual in India too, there is/was a lot of fragmentation within castes, with sub-sub-castes of different hierarchy. Apartheid was another example along the same lines.

    On top, I do not see the relevance of “assimilation”. That was irrelevant before the 1960 for a large part of the population. It is still not painless today.

  38. Ric: /That/ sounds like a reasoned theory about a current state of affairs, whereas “Blacks tend to engage in spectacular displays of aggression” is pretty clear about assigning blame directly to the aggressor’s melanin content.

  39. The media already won: you’re still talking about the Trayvon incident. This is a coordinated and deliberate effort by the liberal media to maintain a nonstop narrative on social issues from now until November, thereby distracting the public from the fact that Barack Osama has destroyed the economy and will continue to do so if re-elected. The liberal media knows that if a narrative on the economy is allowed to come to the forefront, it is bad news for the re-election of the statists.

    Discussions about Trayvon Martin, government-subsidized contraception, and whatever they come up with next month, are distractions. Don’t fall into their trap. Talk about the economy. Talk about energy prices. Talk about the things that the liberal media doesn’t want you to talk about. They are playing the classic game of “Don’t look over there, look over *here*” and you’re falling for it.

  40. @The Monster
    “And then when someone observes that different castes have different non-verbal communication cues, and someone decides to liken one to a style favored by chimpanzees, we’ll call it “castism” instead of “racism”.”

    Yes, indeed. But racism includes a lot of genocidal history. And a lot of pseudo-biology about Ueber and Untermenschen. Castes do not have these associations.

    Calling it castes currently brings out the irrationality of the whole mess.

  41. On top, I do not see the relevance of “assimilation”. That was irrelevant before the 1960 for a large part of the population. It is still not painless today.

    You do see the incompatibility of assimilation and caste, don’t you? You create caste only by destroying assimilation.

    And yes, multiculturalism only seemed like a good idea at the time because assimilation *is* painful. Accepting and embracing ways different from what you were brought up with… just terrible. But multiculturalism is deadly poison, and assimilation works and still does for those who practice it.

    Originally, you had a few Castes in the USA: White, African (slaves), and Native Americans (Indian is confusing in this context). Added were assorted Asians, eg, Chinese, Japanese. I understand that until the 1960s, the walls between the groups were insurmountable. As is usual in India too, there is/was a lot of fragmentation within castes, with sub-sub-castes of different hierarchy. Apartheid was another example along the same lines.

    You still don’t get it. Not sure you ever will, but I’ll try again. That’s a map that doesn’t fit the territory. Again:

    It used to be, that being spoken of as “white” meant you were part of the dominant culture, but it wasn’t correctly a racial term (else there’s no way to explain how, forex, Irish, Italians and Eastern European Jews weren’t initially considered white, despite the skin tone).

  42. (Hope this isn’t a dupe, it seemed to get eaten the first time I tried to post it.)

    Yes, indeed. But racism includes a lot of genocidal history. And a lot of pseudo-biology about Ueber and Untermenschen. Castes do not have these associations.

    Which is nice.

    Calling it castes currently brings out the irrationality of the whole mess.

    But brings its own baggage, and causes confusion in its own right by not accurately describing the actual situation. Which makes it almost as bad as talking about racism.

    Big giveaway- if you can change “caste” just by behaving like a member of the “caste” you want to join, it’s not a caste system. The US is not a rigidly hierarchical society, despite the Left’s best efforts.

  43. What makes this entire news story nauseating to me is the lack of perspective.

    I live near a major city that is 80%-plus Black. It is also notorious for its crime rate, its declining population, and its core industry being undermined by overseas-owned competition.

    Anyway, in a bad year, the murder rate is in the ballpark of one-per-day. Most victims and perpetrators are both black. The more encouraging news stories about such things are ones when an elderly black man deters a home-invasion by shooting the at the invaders as they break down the door.

    ( see http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120328/METRO01/203280394/Detroit-senior-kills-break-suspect-long-can-fight-back-will-?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE#
    Also note that crime rates 1 mile or more away from the City Limits are 1 or more orders of magnitude lower. Most suburbs see fewer than 10 homicides a year, and most see more car theft and B&E than assault and robbery. It’s weird, and even black-dominated suburbs are low-crime environments.)

    And the news media gives night-and-day coverage to a relatively-rare story of a 17-year-old black man being shot by a paler-skinned member of his new neighborhood. The circumstances are muddy, and the police didn’t think they had enough evidence to hold the shooter as a suspect on the night of the event. (Even after taking Zimmerman into custody for questioning.)

    If Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson wanted to stop the tide of homicide of young black men, they would not be campaigning against events like the Zimmerman/Martin shooting.

    They would be spending every day of every month talking with community leaders, reminding people that a community that hates and distrusts the police can’t help the police investigate crime in the community.

    They would be encouraging young men to do something more productive and protective than petty crime. They would protest and boycott record companies and movies that promote gangster culture.

    Maybe they would campaign against portions of the Federal War on Poverty that encourage women to have children but live separately from the child’s father. (Incentives matter; a man with a child who knows that the surrounding culture expects him to provide for his child is a man motivated to work and be productive. A man with a child who knows that the child and mother can get money for free if he moves out is not motivated to remain involved in the child’s life at all…and he also has less reason to be productive.)

    But Sharpton and Jackson appear to follow the motto from the Despair.Com poster. “Consulting: If you can’t be part of the solution, there’s good money to be made prolonging it.

  44. Barack Osama has destroyed the economy and will continue to do so if re-elected.

    Very cleverly misspelled, but you forgot “Hussein”. Yes, the economy was just peachy in September 2008, and Romney will stop the destruction.

  45. Ric Locke: We now have two generations of black people who have been carefully taught that any display of a cooperative attitude, whether accepting instructions from a boss or speaking the English language so as to be understood by the mainstream, is a display of subservience and consequent betrayal of themselves and their fellow blacks.

    It’s interesting that if you ask them, black people will tell you the exact opposite–that if you don’t tread carefully around cops and white people, they may go crazy and shoot you, that you can’t do the same crazy stupid stuff white kids can do (about 1:40 in). I wonder where the disconnect comes from.

  46. Jess said:

    On the basis of these facts alone we can expect a police investigation and a prosecution at some level (I’m inclined to 2nd-degree murder, but a case could be made for manslaughter). The facts cited do not imply a justified shooting, and only one party brought a firearm. “Stand your ground”/”no duty to retreat” may or may not be a good law, but it doesn’t somehow excuse an unjustified use of lethal force, and no reasonable person would have expected to prevent death or great bodily harm by chasing down Martin and his Skittles.

    I can clear some of this up since I have the distinct advantage of having this story splashed all over my local media.

    According to local media sources, it is alleged that Martin had Zimmerman on the ground and was banging his head against a curb. I do not know the facts of the story, and obviously this would be a matter for a jury to decide, but the police initially arrested Zimmerman but let him go based on his claim of self-defense and the statements they took from eyewitnesses. That means, folks, that the police did not believe that a prosecutable offense had occurred.

  47. “170 pounds to 150 isn’t a lot of difference. And the “stalking” characterization is probably incorrect – one of the myths still circulating is that Zimmerman continued to follow after the dispatcher said that wasn’t necessary.”

    From the old mug shots we have of Zimmerman, for him to weigh 170 lbs. his height would have to be 5’0″, rather than 5’9″ as reported. Some have claimed that he has lost 80 lbs. since those photos were taken, which I suppose is possible, but it seems unlikely: most people of that stature have never lost that much weight at any point in their lives. Probably his true weight is somewhere in the middle, like 200 lbs. or so. Even with the figures you’ve given we have a welterweight vs. a light heavy. Relative weight dominates other factors in a fistfight, and with Zimmerman’s past we can be sure he has been in a few fights as an adult. Since some of those fights were with the po-po, we can also be sure he has lost a few fights as an adult, and so he doesn’t live in some sort of liberal-weenie existential fear of losing a fight that would somehow short-circuit his duty to exercise reasonable care in the use of a firearm.

    As for the “stalking”, Zimmerman was the one who followed in his car, then got out of his car and approached on foot. But that doesn’t even matter. He initiated an unnecessary conflict while armed, and he is responsible for his ensuing use of his firearm. Even if we ignore the photos we have of Zimmerman that display no injuries and stipulate that Martin beat him like a rented stepchild, that still doesn’t justify use of lethal force. When one has so violated the norms of society as to place oneself in a position to receive a well-deserved ass-kicking, the proper response is to take your ass-kicking like a man, and try to do better in future. To respond by murdering a teenager is pretty awful.

  48. karrde: If Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson wanted to stop the tide of homicide of young black men, they would not be campaigning against events like the Zimmerman/Martin shooting.

    They would be spending every day of every month talking with community leaders, reminding people that a community that hates and distrusts the police can’t help the police investigate crime in the community.

    Indeed, there’s a great deal of that going on; Sharpton is quote as marching in Detroit and in Harlem. It gets reported in the papers, but people don’t really notice it.

    And in general, I think the problems black people have with the police are because the “hate and distrust” you mention aren’t exactly arbitrary or irrational.

  49. “…it is alleged that Martin had Zimmerman on the ground and was banging his head against a curb… That means, folks, that the police did not believe that a prosecutable offense had occurred.”

    Zimmerman may or may not have received some bruises and scrapes, and Martin is dead. If the local police claim to believe something incompatible with the facts, there is a problem with the local police. It is altogether appropriate for the media to publicize that problem, and for state and federal authorities to exercise appropriate oversight.

    Again, when one finds oneself subject to an ass-kicking that one motivated and engineered entirely by oneself, one ought to suck it up and endure said ass-kicking rather than murdering a teenager. Zimmerman should have avoided the situation entirely, but since he didn’t he is still responsible for his actions.

  50. >It’s interesting that if you ask them, black people will tell you the exact opposite … I wonder where the disconnect comes from.

    I think there’s every reason to believe both things are true, and that you two are simply identifying different ends of a cultural axis that runs from “street” to “assimilated”.

  51. @Jess:

    I think you miss the point, however. The real point here is that people are now talking about modifying or eliminating Florida’s “stand your ground” law. This case is not a reason to do so. Zimmerman’s innocence or guilt is, constitutionally-speaking, for a jury of his peers to decide. The “stand your ground” law has absolutely nothing to do with Zimmerman’s actions.

  52. @Greg
    I never tried to imply the old caste system is still in place. Some want it back I know.

    But would you claim that there are no circles where a man will not lose both family, job, and social connections if he marries a woman of a different race?

  53. They would be spending every day of every month talking with community leaders, reminding people that a community that hates and distrusts the police can’t help the police investigate crime in the community.

    Hating and distrusting the police is a sign you have your head screwed on straight.

    Even among hackers, “don’t talk to cops” has become a piece of accepted wisdom. That bit about “anything you say can and will be used against you” is actual, literal truth.

  54. So, if you do not believe that this case constitutes evidence of systematic racism, than I take it you find it plausible that the authorities would have responded the same way to the fatal shooting of a WHITE unarmed teenager. If so, all I can say is: “Hello in there, esr. What color is the sky in your world? Is it sunny where you are?”

  55. Well, I see the haters and the racists are here in full force today spewing the venom they have been told to repeat by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Can’t we even agree that little Trayvon was killed only for acting out a symbolic reparation in solidarity with all oppressed peoples of the earth?
    When Sarah Palin regularly incites nd encourages gun violence against non-white communities, all citizens of those communities (and especially the little children) should be expected to fear the oppressor class and act accordingly.
    The violent racists on this board need to crawl back to their churches and their AM radios and leave the rest of us alone!

  56. But would you claim that there are no circles where a man will not lose both family, job, and social connections if he marries a woman of a different race?

    Interesting question. I presume it’s meant to be leading, but don’t get your hopes up. Because I can think of a number of cases where this might still happen (it would be even worse on a woman marrying outside of ethnicity and/or religion), but the thing you have to be aware of is that it would only happen to someone who was in a group that is actively resisting assimilation. The dynamics in the US just don’t work the way you seem to think.

  57. @Morgan: “The real point here is that people are now talking about modifying or eliminating Florida’s “stand your ground” law.”

    That may be your highest priority, and that’s fine. I was responding more to the mistaken implication that it is improper for outsiders to take an interest when local police have failed to uphold justice. But since you do support the law, maybe you can clear up some points of uncertainty I have… Does SYG limit criminal prosecution only, or is there a civil/tort component as well? Does the law say anything about a situation in which two lawfully-armed citizens have a conflict, neither feels a duty to retreat, and both parties use lethal force? In my state we do have a duty to retreat from many public situations when armed, and in CCW courses I’ve taken it was explained as a way of preventing multiple “justified” shooters, which would be a legal “bug”.

    “This case is not a reason to [eliminate SYG]. Zimmerman’s innocence or guilt is, constitutionally-speaking, for a jury of his peers to decide. The “stand your ground” law has absolutely nothing to do with Zimmerman’s actions.”

    Based on the information we have, I completely agree with that. But take this a step further. If Zimmerman’s awful behavior is being used to disparage SYG or any other gun freedoms, the answer is not to defend Zimmerman, but to cut him off completely, so that the average voter can see that Zimmerman is to blame for his behavior rather than the freedoms we value. Maybe it’s not nice to put politics before fair-mindedness, but Zimmerman is a coward and a Democrat. We don’t have to be nice to him.

  58. >Hating and distrusting the police is a sign you have your head screwed on straight.

    It depends on the police. Here in the smallish exurban borough where I live, I know the police chief and he knows me. To my local cops, I’m a solid citizen and long-time resident who’s been seen at Borough Council meetings. Even my firearms-rights activism doesn’t bother them; they’re conservatives and interpret it (correctly, within their terms) as a form of patriotism. They’re on my side.

    On the other hand, I am careful around Philadelphia cops when I’m in the city. Their relationship to the people they move among is different. Much tenser and more adversarial. I judge my odds of talking my way out of minor trouble there aren’t bad, because I understand cops (and, on occasion, have been mistaken for an off-duty cop myself) but it’s not a proposition I want to test any sooner than necessary.

  59. Once again, this is brilliant writing and reveals that the internet may yet be the salvation of us. Eric took on an extremely controversial topic and, with concise clarity, got to the very heart of the issue and its malicious undertones.

    A memetic war is raging in this country and the Alinsky-influenced collectivists are playing for keeps. The real race issue here is a race to see who wins over the most adherents to their cause. On one side are the unproductive, who must depend on government largesse for their sustenance and standard of living. On the other side are the self reliant, for whom government handouts are morally repugnant and ultimately just a debilitating bribe.

    On a positive note, the very liberal newspaper in my city is now on the verge of bankruptcy. The old media is dying, because not even the socialist sycophants are buying it.

  60. >So, if you do not believe that this case constitutes evidence of systematic racism, than I take it you find it plausible that the authorities would have responded the same way to the fatal shooting of a WHITE unarmed teenager?

    Almost certainly not. But white unarmed teenagers are statistically far less likely to commit felonious assault and be on the wrong end of a lawful self-defense shooting, so the difference in reaction is rational.

    “Systematic racism” is when cops, or other people, mis-estimate conditional probabilities out of prejudice. To illustrate the difference, let me alter your hypothetical a bit. If your hypothetical “white teenager” were a skinhead wearing neo-Nazi tattoos, and he’d been shot by a black Neighborhood Watch volunteer, then, yes, I doubt the shooter would be charged in that case either.

  61. esr: Here in the smallish exurban borough where I live, I know the police chief and he knows me. To my local cops, I’m a solid citizen and long-time resident who’s been seen at Borough Council meetings. Even my firearms-rights activism doesn’t bother them; they’re conservatives and interpret it (correctly, within their terms) as a form of patriotism. They’re on my side.

    This is honestly not meant as an indictment of you, but that sounds a lot like what Zimmerman had going on–a reputation as a solid citizen, seen at all sorts of civic events, and a sense that the cops were ‘on his side’.

    Can you imagine those cops, if you drew on and shot some kid because you thought (reasonably or not) that he was a threat to you, giving you a wink and a nod and sending you on home? It sounds like that kind of relationship was a problem here.

  62. esr: If your hypothetical “white teenager” were a skinhead wearing neo-Nazi tattoos, and he’d been shot by a black Neighborhood Watch volunteer, then, yes, I doubt the shooter would be charged in that case either.

    If you think the shooter wouldn’t have even been taken into custody, I do wonder what color the sky is on your planet.

  63. Pingback: Al Sharpton: Appointed To Keep Black Voters Angry, Ill-informed » Publications » Family Security Matters « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL

  64. >It sounds like that kind of relationship was a problem here.

    A problem? How?

    If I were to shoot someone in self-defense, are you seriously claiming the local cops should not use their knowledge of who I am to evaluate the likelihood that I had committed a crime rather than a lawful shooting? If so, let’s flip this around and suppose I had a history of DUI convictions and domestic violence – are you arguing that those should be considered irrelevant, too?

    Any cop would tell you that would be crazy. The whole point of having police be a local function and cops part of the commmunities they serve is so that they know who the good citizens and the bad actors are, and can use that knowledge to (among other things) make judgement calls about what to send to the DA.

    This is a reliable heuristic because the kind of crime cops (as opposed to, say, FBI or SEC investigators) worry about is almost always committed by a small cohort of criminal deviants who aren’t very difficult to identify – high rates of drug and alcohol addiction, auto accidents, accident-proneness, and domestic violence.

    If the local cops gave Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense extra weight because they knew him and knew he had a history as a good citizen and effective Neighborhood Watch volunteer, this was not a “problem”. They were behaving exactly as they should in order to maximize their own effectiveness and minimize the odds of siccing the DA on innocent people.

  65. @Greg
    The question was not leading. It is a defining characteristic of caste.

    Stated differently. Do you know a politician or celeberety (male) who would lose his job if he married a woman of the wrong race?

  66. >If you think the shooter wouldn’t have even been taken into custody, I do wonder what color the sky is on your planet.

    If you don’t think you’re going to charge a suspect, you don’t want to put him in custody. It can get legally risky to do that, whatever his race is.

    You appear not to understand much of anything about how cops in the real world operate or the constraints they’re under. No blame for that, it’s a common form of ignorance, but you should be more cautious about predicting their behavior.

  67. >> And you think you know that because . . . ?
    > Wikipedia says:

    Yeah, that’s my point made for me right there. You’re coming to the conclusion the cops (who had direct access to the physical evidence, eyewitness testimony, and Zimmerman) acted improperly based on . . . not a review of the evidence yourself, not a review by third-party experts, not the result of a fair trial, but . . . the Wikipedia summary of the news media reporting of the accusations made against Zimmerman.

    > If you think the shooter wouldn’t have even been taken into custody, I do wonder what color the sky is on your planet.

    Since Zimmerman was taken into custody, what’s your point, sir?

  68. The question was not leading. It is a defining characteristic of caste.

    Stated differently. Do you know a politician or celeberety (male) who would lose his job if he married a woman of the wrong race?

    That fact that you’re even asking means that you are persistent in your lack of understanding.

    Let me be more explicit- the only communities in the US that are so insular and xenophobic that they would penalize a member this way for marrying outside the group do it by choice. This type of isolation from the mainstream culture is entirely self-inflicted.

    The mainstream culture, including access to effectively all the opportunities in this generation and *truly* all in the next or two… is open to anyone who willingly joins. There’s no “caste” because there’s no outside pressure from the rest of society confining you to remain part of the group in which you started. The ONLY way you’d be penalized by trying to leave or enter any given group, is from *members of that group* who are hostile to anything outside. But that’s their choice, and it’s not universally shared or enforced. Simply physically moving somewhere else is usually enough to get away from that.

  69. I have to point out, though, based on a skimming of the comments, that your readership seems to have a large proportion of people who think the following statement isn’t racist: “Blacks tend to engage in spectacular displays of aggression, resembling that of a chimpanzee, (the infamous chimp out) while other races are less inclined to put on a spectacle.”

    Or, perhaps, there’s a large population of people who understand “Don’t Feed The Troll.”

  70. >Since Zimmerman was taken into custody, what’s your point, sir?

    I’m guessing he meant actually jailed, as opposed to being cuffed and taken to the cop shop for interrogation. I’ve already pointed out that if the cop shop doesn’t think they’re going to charge a suspect, jailing him is not legally safe for the cops.

  71. >Can’t we even agree that little Trayvon was killed only for acting out a symbolic reparation in solidarity with all oppressed peoples of the earth?

    I hope this was deliberate satire. I’d hate to think anyone is stupid enough to write this and actually mean it.

  72. @Greg
    So you just confirmed there are no castes in the USA anymore. It used to be different in the old days.

    Remember that I am in Europe and have to rely on TV and movies where USAians always seem to marry by color.

  73. @Mikko
    >Very cleverly misspelled, but you forgot “Hussein”. Yes, the economy was just peachy in September 2008, and Romney will stop the destruction.

    Yes, thanks to the policy’s of the Clintoon In Chief

  74. >It may be dead in Pennsylvania, but please read the following account for a different take:

    I’ll add a couple anecdotes of my own: One of my cousins has a friend who was disowned by his parents four or five years ago for adopting a black toddler. While visiting the same area a year or two ago, we came out of church one Sunday morning after the service to find that the KKK had left a business card under our windshield wiper. This was not in Florida, or Mississippi, or Georgia, but in Iowa. Racism is alive and well in the US, though probably not to the degree Sharpton et al. would have us believe.

  75. >Remember that I am in Europe and have to rely on TV and movies where USAians always seem to marry by color.

    Not any more. While marriage across a white/black difference is still a bit remarkable, it’s no longer vanishingly rare. And the other barriers have effectively collapsed; nobody even looks twice at couples that are mixed among whites, asians, and hispanics.

  76. esr> How’s this?

    Very interesting indeed. Evidently, they were so gung-ho on framing Zimmerman with a racial slur that they missed the racial slur he actually did utter (“fucking coons”). Since your post isn’t about Zimmerman but about media coverage, your point stands affirmed.

  77. @Winter
    > So you just confirmed there are no castes in the USA anymore. It used to be different in the old days.

    Yep. In the old days, that Clarence Thomas is married to a white woman would have been a serious issue. As it is, most people don’t know anything at all about Virginia Lamp Thomas.

  78. Grantham’s mostly nailed the Photoshop issue, but one followup: the quote unquote original photo is a photograph of the banners held during a NYC protest. In other words, the one that Dan Riehl says is the original is a photograph of a printout of a photograph.

    This should be completely obvious; if you didn’t figure it out yourself, you should ask yourself about your own confirmation bias. The Miami Herald article’s photo is credited to Mario Tama. Mario Tama is a NYC based photojournalist; why would he own a pre-shooting photo of Treyvon Martin? Further, the caption on the photo is a giveaway: “A photo of Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie was used on banners and signs carried by protesters in New York City on March 21, 2012.” The article doesn’t otherwise mention the New York City protests. Why would they be mentioned in the caption unless the photograph was from those protests?

    Since I believe in double-checking partisan reporting, I went over to the Getty Images site and searched for Trayvon Martin photos from March 21st. Sure enough, here’s a possible match. You’ll note that it’s taken by Mario Tama. I think that’s most likely to be the source picture, but there are a couple of other possibilities. You can do the search yourself if you like. Those photos were taken in New York City, just as the Miami Herald caption implies.

    So here’s an important question: why was Dan Riehl lying about which photograph was original? And why, over a week later, hasn’t he published a correction?

  79. a commenter wrote–
    Nancy Lebovitz on Tuesday, April 3 2012 at 3:10 am said:

    Funeral director says Trayvon Martin’s corpse shows no signs of damage to his hands, as would be expected from a fight.
    If Martin landed only one punch, then got onto Zimmermann, grabbing his head and pounding it on the concrete, little damage would be expected.

    Note also that the enhanced video of Zimmermann in the police station DID show two gashes on the back of his head. the police report by Officer Ken Smith observed that Zimm had a bloody nose, grass and dirt on his back, and cuts on the back of his head.

  80. @Bryant

    Yeah, I agree that the sourcing of the picture is a larger problem than the bad gamma correction. I think the OP makes a forgivable mistake on what’s problematic about the picture. It’s forgivable mainly because certain digital techniques are regularly used to editorialize reality (Reuters’ altered photos of the Iraeli-Lebanese conflct spring immediately to mind, as does their cropped image of the Gaza blockade incident), but also because the contrast issues inherent in black & white photography isn’t generally understood by people who don’t have any practical working knowledge of it. Reproducing skin tone in grayscale with any accuracy isn’t really possible, because color the information that would normally help you interpret shadows and bounce in a realistic way isn’t available.

    That said, what is clear to me is that the so-called “blacker” photo has a lot of hard shadows in it that the brain connects with menace and the sharper angles of a older face. My guess is that the editor, in an attempt to blend away those shadows by overexposing the image and curving the curve the gray channel to equalize the skin color with the shadow. That technique is going to result in a generally lighter skin tone for dark-skinned people and a generally darker skin-tone for light-skinned people.

    It’s manipulative for sure, just not in the way ESR thinks. That is probably why he notes the result is “ironic”, because it doesn’t conform to the realpolitik of the media narrative, or explain why the color photos of Martin don’t seem to be emphasizing his “whiteness”. If you strip the color information from those, you will see the same equalization pattern to blend away hard shadows, though, and harder shadows on the originals. It’s hard to explain without a film 101 lecture, but trying to artificially darken his skin tone while also reducing shadow would look bizarre and unnatural, like someone had spraypainted his face with flat enamel gray paint.

    For a good counterexample (emphasizing shadows to make the subject look older and more meancing) look at the The Atlantic’s 2008 John McCain cover photo, in which the photographer herself explained the shadowing technique in detail while bragging about her similar manipulations of George Bush photos. In the case of Martin, what your probably looking at is the twin pressures of wanting to present Martin as youthful and innocent-looking as possible, and *not* wanting to be accused of trying to pull off some Jill Green-esque trick to make Martin look older and more menacing.

    But the other points made by the OP are spot on. Trayvon Martin is a test about how aware you are of being manipulated, and not a very hard one at that. It is a bit surreal in its textbook execution and viral speed, but I wasn’t shocked by it at all, and in fact have been expecting something like it for awhile. The Fluke story was already dying out, so it needed to be replaced with a fresh one to dominate the news cycle, and distract from chronic unemployment numbers, rising gas and food prices, the SCOTUS manhandling of the health insurance mandate and the bipartisan shutout of a second Obama-backed budget in the house. Once this story peters out, it will be replaced by another, then rinse-repeat until the fall elections.

  81. Grantham, I just don’t trust Eric’s ability to distinguish between good and bad sources. He “knew” that the Martin shooting was going to be an example of manipulation before he started thinking about it. Evidence to the contrary is hard for him to see.

    Here’s another example. The OP cited MSNBC “getting caught editing its presentation of the 911 tape to make it sound like the shooter uttered a racial slur.” MSNBC certainly edited the tape; when Zimmerman said “He looks black,” he was responding to a direct question. But… that’s not a racial slur.

    Interestingly, there was a possible racial slur on the 911 tapes. CNN found it; if you believe CNN’s expert, Zimmerman muttered “fucking coons.” But nobody’s shown that CNN edited that tape.

    Eric accidentally conflated those two. He took the racial slur, on the one hand, and the clear media edit, on the other hand, and smooshed them together to create the belief that MSNBC was caught editing the tape to make it appear as though Zimmerman had used a slur.

    This isn’t a picture of competent social analysis.

    Oh, and the questions about Riehl stand independent of whether or not the left is playing games with the incident.

  82. Thomas Blankenhorn,

    The word goons is not racist, it makes sense in the context, and it is hard to tell whether ZImmerman said coons or goons.

    Yours,
    Tom

  83. Not any more. While marriage across a white/black difference is still a bit remarkable, it’s no longer vanishingly rare. And the other barriers have effectively collapsed; nobody even looks twice at couples that are mixed among whites, asians, and hispanics.

    Mixed-race children are better looking. I’m a generation younger than Eric- I may be an odd sample, but among my circle of friends there is not a single marriage that is completely racially pure (2 people purely of the same race).

    It’s not all roses- there are a large number of immigrant groups that have a hard core ‘purist’ subset that resist assimilation and intermarriage. (Though the ‘purist’ population seems to become a smaller and smaller fraction the longer a group has been here.) You see it most in groups that had sufficient numbers to achieve critical mass and form an ethnic enclave – because shunning the mainstream culture is an expensive luxury that can only be sustained on life support.

  84. @Esr
    Glad to hear the bad old days are fading. As I remarked, that is difficult to observe from beyond the pond.

  85. >MSNBC certainly edited the tape; when Zimmerman said “He looks black,” he was responding to a direct question. But… that’s not a racial slur.

    It was edited to omit the fact that Zimmerman was responding to a direct question from the dispatcher, making it appear that Zimmerman was equating “black” with “trouble”.

    I wasn’t conflating this the “fucking coons” assertion, which I didn’t know about at the time I wrote the OP. I still haven’t heard that portion of the tape myself, and I’ll be skeptical about the assertion until I do. Given the media slant on the story this smells a lot like torturing the noise until it sounds like what the editor wants – especially since we now know that just last year Zimmerman organized protests against police inaction when a policeman’s son shot a black man.

    Now, while I grant you it is theoretically possible that the same man who organized those protests is in the habit of muttering “fucking coons” where people can hear him, it seems more likely that “fucking coons” is a fabrication.

    >He “knew” that the Martin shooting was going to be an example of manipulation before he started thinking about it.

    No. I only developed a strong suspicion of that when Al Sharpton got involved.

  86. @Bryant
    While what was said on the CNN tape is in dispute, NBC’s editing of the the operator’s question (“Is he white, black, hispanic?”) is not in question by anyone with a brain. It was an obvious and grotesque distortion of reality, and I sense you know that. The NYT repeated the lie of omission in their coverage. It’s manipulative and reprehensible, and it’s not a coincidence that these are two outlets with a distinct left-wing tilt to their vanilla news coverage… I’m guessing you know that too.

    I’m not sure if ESR conflated the too, but quibbling about it feels a bit like playing word games with “slur.” What is clear is Eric corrected smells something foul about the way this story was constructed… like an anarcho-capitalist Spiderman, his Bullshit-Senses are tingling. So are mine. So far, the story has contained so many outrageously sloppy reporting, editorializing and intentionally slanted coverage that separating the wheat from the chaff would be a Herculean… it’s neally ALL chaff, from the wild age discrepancies of the photos to the editorial speculations about motivs to the downplaying of actual George Zimmerman hispanic identity, this has been a wall-to-wall fiasco.

    I don’t know what happened that night, and don’t pretend to. I do know that the fake epidemic of white men shooting down black children is politically useful for a certain ideology, even though all statistics point to an politically inconvenient reality: the greatest threat to young black men in the United States is other young black men.

  87. When Sarah Palin regularly incites nd encourages gun violence against non-white communities, all citizens of those communities (and especially the little children) should be expected to fear the oppressor class and act accordingly.

    <citation needed>

  88. When I first heard this story, it hit close to home. I didn’t take it as a racial issue at all, because as a poor young white kid I found myself in similar situations often. I’d be walking somewhere late at night, legitimately up to nothing wrong, and find myself harassed by some random idiot with an authority complex. Occasionally, it did turn into a fist fight and thankfully nothing more.

    I felt I could relate to Trayvon. Out on a run to the store and back and then some wannabe cop with nothing better to do decides I look suspicious and he’s going to follow me. If I’d gotten creeped out enough, I’d have hit him too. I could see myself being shot in the same situation, and it really bothered me.

    And a lot of what’s been brought up about Zimmerman is very disturbing. He wasn’t in fact even a registered neighborhood watch official. He’d had several complaints levied against him and had called the cops an inordinate amount of time. I more and more started to picture an insecure baffoon who ended the life of a teenager for no good reason.

    Then the race-baiters spoke up and any hope of getting to the bottom of what happened was quickly lost. Opinions on both sides were so hotly contested its hard to make sense of what really happened that night. Did Zimmerman really continue to follow him, or was he giving up pursuit when Trayvon became an agressor?

    Clearly, this nights actions need a fair trial. Zimmerman shouldn’t be locked away without proper evidence, but just saying its self defense doesn’t meen the issue doesn’t need investigating. It’ll take a fair trial with real evidence to determine whether or not it was or was not.

    And so what I do find disturbing about the local officials is it seems they have no interest in taking it that direction. Truly, that’s pretty shady. So to scrutinize them is understandable and good. However, what the Al Sharpton’s of the world are doing in exploiting this for their political game is just outright disgusting.

  89. @Tom: Without bothering to listen to the audio, another source claims he may have been swearing about traffic control cones in the area.

    @Everybody: Given that we have plenty of 5-year-old photos of Treyvon as a part of this mess, are there any recent photos to be seen? I’ve not seen any and it makes me nervous.

  90. Sorry to break my comment up over two posts, but I forgot something important I did want to mention. As a 2nd amendment rights and self defense supporter, I hate to say it, but I have seen a lot of politicizing on their end too, trying to demonize Trayvon and glorify Zimmerman as a 2nd amendment hero with as little regard for the reality of the situation as the race-baiters. I found it embarrassing, and a times, a little legitimately racist.

  91. @Garrett

    Here is one

    Here is another.

    Suffice it to say, you won’t be seeing either of these pasted up on TV stories, nor appearing on signs at the Reverend Al’s protests. It doesn’t make him guilty, but gold teeth and middle fingers don’t make for good optics, and good optics is what this is ultimately all about.

  92. Grantham: It doesn’t make him guilty, but gold teeth and middle fingers don’t make for good optics, and good optics is what this is ultimately all about.

    Because if I got shot by some trigger-happy yahoo while out for Skittles, my parents would hand pictures of me in a punk rock t-shirt throwing up the horns and trying to look metal out of a deep sense of civic pride and honesty, right?

  93. Now, while I grant you it is theoretically possible that the same man who organized those protests is in the habit of muttering “fucking coons” where people can hear him, it seems more likely that “fucking coons” is a fabrication.

    When I say that Eric’s in the habit of making up his mind before he looks at the evidence, this is exactly what I mean. Cognitive bias.

    Speaking of which, is there any interest in discussing the false photo of Treyvon that was disseminated by his critics? Or any interest in the questions I raised about Dan Riehl? Or do we just talk about left wing fabrications?

  94. >Because if I got shot by some trigger-happy yahoo while out for Skittles

    Assumes facts not established.

  95. @Jess: Yes, the SYG law protects you from civil as well as criminal liability. With regard to two equally armed people, it doesn’t matter: you have to be actually attacked first and have a reasonable belief that you are in imminent danger of grave bodily injury or death.

    As far as what Zimmerman, as I said, I do not know what occurred. If the media reports are correct, then Zimmerman acted in accordance with SYG. But it is decidedly not up to me to decide that, it’s up 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty. :)

  96. Morgan Greywolf,

    I liked being on a jury both times. :) However, sitting and deliberating in judgement of a fellow man is really emotionally draining, hard work. That said, I would do it again.

    Yours,
    Tom

  97. esr: Assumes facts not established.

    Pardon me. Replace with: “If I got shot by some guy with a gun while out for Skittles, my parents would hand out pictures of me in a punk rock t-shirt throwing up the horns and trying to look metal out of a deep sense of civic pride and honesty, right?”

    Better?

  98. I think we have to be careful what we ask for here. If SYG allows for a killing this easily, then what’s to stop anyone of any color simply baiting someone into taking a swing at them and then shooting them dead at close range?

    “S-Y-G Mothaf***er!”

    I’m not sure that’s the world I want my kids growing up in. I’m in agreement with those who say that those of us who don’t want to see the 2nd amendment diminished need to back off on demonizing Martin and focus on Zimmerman getting a fair trial, but a trial nonetheless.

    Being friendly with police is all well and good, but should not be seen as license to pursue, provoke and _then_ kill suspicious persons when they confront us and respond with some degree of rage. Zimmerman crossed a line when he pursued the suspect and crossed it again when he clearly failed to apologize and defuse a situation. The kid is a jackass giving gun-owners and responsible citizens a bad name.

  99. Bryant,

    No, I’m not interested in talking about Dan Riehl. It just does not sound interesting to me. It sounds like petty nattering to me, and I can barely summon the energy to do more than skim it. It’s clearly not petty nattering to you. I hope you can find someone who agrees with you that it is not petty nattering, but who disagrees with you about something else you said so you can have a lively and interesting discussion. Maybe this hypothetical person can bring out a facet that interests me and I’ll join in. The information about gray-scale, OTOH, was interesting. I’m glad to know that Martin is probably not being whitened as part of the narrative, that it is just a side effect of gray-scale work.

    As regards cognitive bias, Eric fights it pretty well on some subjects and not much on others. He does much, much better than I do, for the most part. But it would be pretty much impossible to do it all the time. I don’t think the human brain can be made to do it all the time. If I can make a ballisitic metaphor, I think there are many people who can hit a 10 centimeter target nearly all the time at 50 meters with a scope. There are fewer who can hit it nearly all the time at 100 meters. There are very few who can hit it some of the time at 1500 meters.

    I think avoiding cognitive bias might be a 10 centimeter target at 1500 meters. You don’t strike me as a good sniper. :)

    Yours,
    Tom

  100. SkipKent,

    It doesn’t allow for that. The statute is pretty complex.

    > Zimmerman crossed a line when he pursued the suspect and crossed it again when he clearly failed to apologize and defuse a situation.

    Assumes facts not in evidence. In fact, your whole comment assumes *lots* and *lots* of facts not in evidence, including the wording of the statute.

    Yours,
    Tom

  101. >I think we have to be careful what we ask for here. If SYG allows for a killing this easily, then what’s to stop anyone of any color simply baiting someone into taking a swing at them and then shooting them dead at close range?

    Um, witnesses?

    SYG wouldn’t have this consequence, anyway. The prevailing standard for use of lethal force against an attacker is still imminent threat of death or serious injury; all SYG does is remove the requirement that you run away rather than defending yourself in place.

    Anyway, I’m not certain I would regard your worst-case scenario as a problem. We don’t have enough selective pressure against stupidity these days. I’m especially in favor of idiots getting themselves killed before they spawn.

  102. esr,

    > Anyway, I’m not certain I would regard your worst-case scenario as a problem. We don’t have enough selective pressure against stupidity these days. I’m especially in favor of idiots getting themselves killed before they spawn.

    I don’t know anyone who is not really, really stupid on occasion, Eric. I’ve been lucky so far, haven’t you?

    Yours,
    Tom

  103. >When I say that Eric’s in the habit of making up his mind before he looks at the evidence, this is exactly what I mean.

    I haven’t “made up my mind”. I have a best guess based on available evidence. It’s “bias” if you refuse to look at the evidence or refuse to accept the implications once you have it. I don’t do those things.

    >Speaking of which, is there any interest in discussing the false photo of Treyvon that was disseminated by his critics? Or any interest in the questions I raised about Dan Riehl?

    I’m interested. I don’t know Dan Riehl from Adam; he’s some guy whose blog I found while googling for pictures. What is your reason for believing he is lying rather than in possession of different (and possibly more complete) facts than you?

  104. It’s for the courts to decide what went down, not random dickehads. Why is this being turned into a race issue? Why do criminals get so much sympathy?

  105. @grendelkhan

    Well, ESR’s right that you are making a lot of assumptions. But on taken on it’s own merits, you are not entirely wrong. Of course the parents of the dead guy aren’t going to hand thugged-out images of him to the press. Given the rose-tinted glasses that ship standard with motherhood, I’d be surprised if Martin’s mother didn’t hand out baby pictures of him as well. Mothers typically only see the faces of their innocent babies, and that rarely stops being true well into adulthood.

    The point is not what Martin’s mom handed the press, but what the press did with the material handed to it. They did not investigate further, did not unearth more recent photos, did not look into Martin’s troubles in school, including being suspended from school for possession of marijuana and what looked to be stolen jewelry and burglary tools.

    The point is, it’s not a mother’s job to investigate potentially incriminating details of her teenage son’s life, in order to present all the information fairly and honestly. It is her job to grieve for the innocent baby that came out of her body. However, it is the job of the press to dig up as much information as they can, and present it as objectively as possible.

    That clearly did not happen here. Instead of restrained and careful reporting, they handed in a passion play that dovetailed neatly with a certain worldview, and distorted or buried anything that might muddy the waters.

    That’s why this story is quickly dying. Sharpton’s latest rally was a bust, Bobby Rush’s hoodie stunt made him look like a childish fool and ABC swift retraction of their “no visible wounds of Zimmerman” video all point to a very short life span. My guess is it will be all but dead in a couple of weeks after the full details leak out, and that it will be the very same journalists who fanned the flames will be the ones to flush it down the memory hole out of sheer embarrassment and fear of backlash. Like Dan Rather’s TANG story, modern journalism is crowd-sourced by the internet, and the story that is emerging is far more complex than the Manichean racial morality fable first trumpted. Instead of the rich, white, paranoid, racist, Republican bogeyman that the race hustlers were praying for, we instead find a hispanic, civic-minded Democratic choir boy with black friends and family members.

  106. Zimmerman crossed a line when he pursued the suspect and crossed it again when he clearly failed to apologize and defuse a situation.

    I’m not aware of the facts of the case, but I don’t understand this. If someone says something rude to me I don’t presume the right to start swinging on them. And if I started a fist-fight with someone and I got stabbed I would only have own idiot self to blame. Just don’t be violent. It is not hard. I do not understand how people can defend someone who starts a fist fight of the non-friendly kind. If you deliberately infringe on other peoples’ safety you deserve death. We don’t need people like this. Line them up on a wall for all I care.

  107. > Why is this being turned into a race issue?

    Well, for people like Jesse Jackson and the SPLC, it drives up contributions, which they live off of. For news organizations it drives up ratings, which they live off of. For black politicians, it drives up contributions, volunteer hours and votes, which they live off of.

    > Why do criminals get so much sympathy?

    Mostly, sadly, they don’t. Sentences are too long. Too many crimes are felonies. The criminal justice system has degenerated into plea-bargain kabuki in which prosecutors with too much power and too little accountablity run roughshod. And the root cause is the combination of the sexual revolution and the welfare state causing too much single motherhood which causes too much crime. The entire problem collides with so many sacred cows on the right and the left that we can barely look at it straight. Oi.

    Yours,
    Tom

  108. Roger,

    > I’m not aware of the facts of the case, but I don’t understand this.

    Please don’t wade in without more familiarity with both the facts of the case and the competing narratives. The wildly conflicting available information in this case does not support any of the simple narratives I’ve heard on any side.

    > I do not understand how people can defend someone who starts a fist fight of the non-friendly kind. If you deliberately infringe on other peoples’ safety you deserve death. We don’t need people like this. Line them up on a wall for all I care.

    Oi. You don’t think there are *any* neighborhoods possessing *any* cultures where a fist fight of the non-friendly kind might work pretty well as a survival strategy? Please don’t accidentally advocate for genocide. I know that isn’t what you meant, but it sounds like a logical consequence of what you said.

    Yours,
    Tom

  109. >I don’t know anyone who is not really, really stupid on occasion, Eric. I’ve been lucky so far, haven’t you?

    I’m certainly not stupid enough to get baited into swinging at a stranger who might be armed. I’m also not sufficiently lacking in self-control to draw down on someone merely baiting me.

  110. Mostly, sadly, they don’t. Sentences are too long. Too many crimes are felonies. The criminal justice system has degenerated into plea-bargain kabuki in which prosecutors with too much power and too little accountablity run roughshod.

    I should have been clearer: I meant *violent criminals*. Don’t hurt people who haven’t hurt you. Simple.

  111. Please don’t wade in without more familiarity with both the facts of the case and the competing narratives. The wildly conflicting available information in this case does not support any of the simple narratives I’ve heard on any side.

    I’m not wading in on the case. I don’t know what happened. I was responding to an abstract idea put forward by one of the respondents (that a person is obligated not to verbally “start shit” with other people).

    Oi. You don’t think there are *any* neighborhoods possessing *any* cultures where a fist fight of the non-friendly kind might work pretty well as a survival strategy? Please don’t accidentally advocate for genocide. I know that isn’t what you meant, but it sounds like a logical consequence of what you said.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of tussling. When we were kids we used to rumble all the time. Sometimes you got hurt. But we weren’t punching people in the face while they were pinned against the ground. In a modern society with technology and individual rights we don’t need sympathy for violent criminals who put other peoples’ safety at risk.

  112. esr,

    > I’m certainly not stupid enough to get baited into swinging at a stranger who might be armed. I’m also not sufficiently lacking in self-control to draw down on someone merely baiting me.

    I’m not stupid in that way either. I’m stupid in other ways – which also could have killed me.

    Roger Phillips,

    > In a modern society with technology and individual rights we don’t need sympathy for violent criminals who put other peoples’ safety at risk.

    OK. An awful lot of places and cultures in modern societies aren’t that modern. Any sympathy for people in those places of of those cultures?

    Yours,
    Tom

  113. Any sympathy for people in those places of of those cultures?

    If those communities want to run things that way, that’s their prerogative. Were people coming out of their houses to get involved in this community-friendly rough-up?

  114. Now, while I grant you it is theoretically possible that the same man who organized those protests is in the habit of muttering “fucking coons” where people can hear him, it seems more likely that “fucking coons” is a fabrication.

    Also: how likely is it that anyone in 2012 would use a racial slur that’s three generations out of date? AFAIK, Zimmermann is not someone steeped in American retroculture. Google Ngrams can’t distinguish between “coon” as slang for “raccoon” and a slur for “negro”. But correlation with the use of “raccoon” indicates that “coon” as a slur peaked around 1900 and largely disappeared by 1930.

  115. @Tom DeGisi:

    I’m not stupid in that way either. I’m stupid in other ways – which also could have killed me.

    Yeah, me too.

    @esr:

    I’m certainly not stupid enough to get baited into swinging at a stranger who might be armed. I’m also not sufficiently lacking in self-control to draw down on someone merely baiting me.

    Yes, but might you be stupid enough to bait someone enough to get one of these things to happen? I know I’ve gotten close in the past. But in the instant case, I’m not sure we know that any baiting went on at all, anyway. It could be that one of the actors was really, really bad for no discernible reason, and we don’t yet know if that is true, or which one it was, or whether it was a really unfortunate slow escalation.

    I was actually on a jury once where one guy was dead (shot point-blank) and the other guy was the only witness. I wouldn’t say that I was 100% confident that it wasn’t self-defense.

    OTOH, the survivor had years to get his story straight (first conviction overturned on a technicality; I was on the second jury) and it still had holes you could drive a truck through.

    As I told the other jurors, we will never know exactly what happened that day, but that’s only because, by any objective measure, the defendant never told any story remotely resembling the truth. For me, that was well “beyond a reasonable doubt” and I sleep soundly at night.

  116. @Rich Rostrom:

    > “coon” as a slur … largely disappeared by 1930.

    My anecdotal evidence would beg to differ significantly.

  117. I know ESR gets this, but from the tone of some of these comments it bears emphasis: the citizen who is carrying a weapon has MUCH MORE RESPONSIBILITY with regard to the outcome of a violent incident than other citizens who are not carrying weapons. If you don’t agree with this, then PLEASE do not arm yourself in public. If you can’t take the additional responsibility of being armed and can’t face the public unarmed, then stay home with the doors locked. Don’t burden your community with your fear and ignorance.

    Zimmerman is bigger, older, stronger and has a longer rap sheet than Martin was or had, but this would be true even if none of that was the case: he brought a gun to a fistfight, and now he is a murderer. As an armed citizen who appreciates this nation’s recent restoration of much of the Second Amendment but who hasn’t let triumphalism convince me that it’s now permanent, I don’t see why anyone truly on the side of firearms freedom would seek to burden our cause with the defense of an unsympathetic scofflaw cowardly murderous Democrat.

    Tom DeGisi, thank you very much for your humane and informed observations of the criminal justice system.

  118. To clarify: when I said “weapon” I should have said “firearm”. Specificity is important here.

  119. Greg on Tuesday, April 3 2012 at 10:22 am said:
    It used to be, that being spoken of as “white” meant you were part of the dominant culture, but it wasn’t correctly a racial term (else there’s no way to explain how, forex, Irish, Italians and Eastern European Jews weren’t initially considered white, despite the skin tone).

    Irish, Italians, and Jews were never considered “non-white”. (OK, there was a miscegenation case in the Deep South where an Italian was classed as non-white.) They were never excluded from citizenship or voting. There were two Sullivans in the Continental Congress. Also, recall George Washington’s famous letter to the Newport Synagogue. Heck, a Jew (Judah P. Benjamin) was Secretary of State of the Confederacy.

    Catholic Irish, “Latins”, and Jews were socially excluded, but that’s very far from how blacks (and Indians and Chinese) were treated.

    Although – somewhere I saw the following sentence (it was a quote from either a circa 1890 work or a historical work set circa 1890): “Nah, there’s no white men livin’ out there, just a lot of Swedes.”

  120. >But correlation with the use of “raccoon” indicates that “coon” as a slur peaked around 1900 and largely disappeared by 1930.

    I’m pretty sure it still was in use in the most backward parts of the rural South is late as the 1960s.

    But I almost wrote, previously, that it didn’t seem a likely thing to come out of Zimmerman’s mouth for a different reason. Geographical distribution and ethnicity. I could just barely manage to believe “fucking coons” in 2012, if the shooter had been a Scotch-Irish redneck in rural Alabama, and as far south as the Florida panhandle. But from a Hispanic in relatively urbanized central Florida? Not likely. The culture and the cusswords are different there. It isn’t really the South; it’s more like a strange hybrid of the urban Northeast with the Caribbean.

    (Morgan Greywolf can check me on this; I think he lives in Florida.)

    In reality, “fucking coons” isn’t even the way Southerners talk any more. It’s the way snotty bicoastal liberals imagine Southerners talk, as if everything south of the Mason-Dixon line were one huge Yoknapatawha County in a Faulkner novel that never ends. This is one of my reasons for suspecting it’s an outright fabrication.

  121. Zimmerman is bigger, older, stronger and has a longer rap sheet than Martin was or had, but this would be true even if none of that was the case: he brought a gun to a fistfight, and now he is a murderer.

    Why wait for the courts when we can listen to the ramblings of every local village idiot on the Internet? The courts will decide whether he can be convicted as a murderer. You have no idea what happened. You can very easily kill someone with your fists. You do not have to be as big as they are. If a big guy gets jabbed hard in the thrioat he’s on the ground. A collapse wind-pipe will do that to you.

    Plenty of people have died from a simple king-hit to the head. A mate of mine had reconstructive surgery on his face from being given a quick punch to the face. I keep explaining this to idiots who have only seen violence in “self-defense” classes. There is a huge difference between a semi-civilised punch-on and an attack from a violent criminal. Random street violence should not be considered a trifling matter. Peoples’ lives are ruined over this shit.

    And the fact that he’s a Democrat is totally irrelevant.

  122. >Plenty of people have died from a simple king-hit to the head. A mate of mine had reconstructive surgery on his face from being given a quick punch to the face. I keep explaining this to idiots who have only seen violence in “self-defense” classes. There is a huge difference between a semi-civilised punch-on and an attack from a violent criminal. Random street violence should not be considered a trifling matter. Peoples’ lives are ruined over this shit.

    All this is very true, Roger. If I needed any reason to tolerate your occasional descents into Aspergerish ranting, you’d just have supplied a good big one; this is a refreshing shot of reality for people who get their ideas about violence from TV and martial arts that never even go full-contact. Bravo!

    >And the fact that he’s a Democrat is totally irrelevant.

    It’s irrelevant to what actually happened, but it’s important in light of the political spin now being put on the incident.

  123. If I needed any reason to tolerate your occasional descents into Aspergerish ranting

    Next time you think I’m ranting like an Asperger just come out and say it.

  124. Jess on Tuesday, April 3 2012 at 8:38 pm said: Zimmerman is bigger, older, stronger and has a longer rap sheet than Martin was or had, but this would be true even if none of that was the case: he brought a gun to a fistfight, and now he is a murderer.

    “bigger… stronger”: Martin was 6′ 2″, Zimmerman is 5′ 8″. Martin was lean, Zimmerman is pudgy. (If he weighs 240 lbs, as claimed, his BMI is 36.5, which is “severely obese”.)

    As for “bringing a gun to a fistfight”:

    “USMC Rules of Engagement:
    1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns.”

    When going into harm’s way, going armed is only sensible.

    If Zimmerman had been unarmed he might be dead now. Of course, if he had been unarmed, he probably would not have followed Martin. Which would have been the better course; but the course he did follow doesn’t make him a murderer, merely a fool. The right to carry a gun carries with it responsibility which he failed to meet.

  125. >The right to carry a gun carries with it responsibility which he failed to meet.

    We don’t know that. The evidence is is consistent with a range of scenarios; in some of these he behaved responsibly and in others he did not.

  126. Jess,

    I absolutely agree with your first paragraph about the responsibility of an armed citizen to stay out of fights. James, of http://hellinahandbasket.net, who teaches victims to defend themselves, emphasizes this regularly.

    As for your second paragraph, I see no good reason to believe you are correct in your description of this encounter. The evidence is too varied. Zimmerman’s account is that Trayvon attacked him without physical provocation. That puts the onus on Trayvon. From what I can tell, this matches the evidence we have, without being anything close to conclusive. I don’t know how you can make the strong statements you make given the publicly available information.

    Yours,
    Tom

  127. @esr:

    But from a Hispanic in relatively urbanized central Florida? Not likely. The culture and the cusswords are different there. It isn’t really the South; it’s more like a strange hybrid of the urban Northeast with the Caribbean.

    I hate to say it, but central Florida has its share of rednecks; mostly in the more rural areas though (yes, they still exist). Probably not many in Sanford, though, which is an affluent suburb of Orlando. Much as you say, it’s a strange melting pot of people from the Rust Belt, the Northeast (particularly Boston and NYC), Caribbean islanders, with a few Russians and other former Soviet Bloc immigrants.

  128. @Tom Degisi: The CNN audio to which I linked before is phonetically clear enough to rule out “goon”. The first phoneme is obviously a “k” sound, not a “g” sound. I’m less sure about Garret’s point that Zimmerman said “cone”. “Cone” wouldn’t have been my first guess based on what I heard. But considering it together with Eric’s point that “coon” wouldn’t have been idiomatic for Zimmerman, I’ll backtrack. I’ll take back that Zimmerman “actually” said “coon” and substitute that he “arguably” said it. NBC clearly manipulated the evidence when they omitted the 911-operator’s question. But to say in the first place that Zimmerman said “coon” would have ‘only’ been a close call.

  129. James A Donald on Tuesday, April 3 2012 at 2:04 am said: Blacks tend to engage in spectacular displays of aggression, resembling that of a chimpanzee…

    According to ethologists I have read, chimpanzees gain dominance through non-violent displays (dancing, hooting, showing off) rather than actual aggression. Baboons, OTOH, establish dominance by beating up other baboons.

    I’ve wondered for some time whether there are not similar variances among humans; in particular, variance in the intensity of the status-seeking drive, and a variance in the degree to which an individual seeks to gain status by displays. If such variances exist, they could be unevenly distributed between ethnic and “racial” groups. Which might explain why blacks seem disproportionately drawn to musical performance and other “entertainment” vocations.

    Also. perhaps, why blacks seem to be particularly sensitive to “status” issues and responsive to “status” cues. (It’s an open secret in the advertising trade that the key to selling to blacks is to establish a high-status aura for one’s product.) Not that non-blacks don’t also seek status – but there seem to be differences at the margins.

    (And a lot of unnecessary friction between people with differing priorities and perceptions, who are not aware of the differences.)

    This doesn’t translate directly into violence – until perhaps the toxic influence of redneck “honor culture” (derived from the Scots/English Border country) gets stirred in. Simmer for a generation in slum neighborhoods where passivity invites victimization. A bit of nature and a bunch of nurture…

  130. >Zimmerman’s account is that Trayvon attacked him without physical provocation.

    Correct. I’m not in a position to certify either the truth or the falsehood of that claim, but I’m going to point out some conditionals. I am occasionally a martial-arts and self-defense instructor; I’m used to thinking in these terms.

    If Zimmerman’s account is true, then – coupled with the injuries Zimmerman is known to have sustained – the shooting was justified self-defense, open and shut. The element of lethal threat was present; thus, it would still have been justified if Zimmerman had been screaming racial invective at the top of his lungs, a possibility Zimmerman’s account leaves open. The “Stand Your Ground” law is also irrelevant in this case, because these circumstances would also have justified the shooting under Florida’s older, stricter standard. The shooting only departs from being an open-and-shut case of justifiable homicide if Zimmerman lied.

    I am in no doubt that this was the reasoning of the Sanford police. Unless they chose to disbelieve Zimmerman’s account, they had no grounds to charge him.

    So, the question I ask for the people who want to indict Zimmerman is this: On what evidentiary grounds should the Sanford police have chosen to disbelieve him?

    Remember as you think about this that I’m not judging the truth or falsehood of the claim. I’m asking on what basis the police could reject it. And remember that the argument has to meet criminal-court standards of evidence.

  131. Jess says: “the citizen who is carrying a weapon has MUCH MORE RESPONSIBILITY with regard to the outcome of a violent incident than other citizens who are not carrying weapons. If you don’t agree with this, then PLEASE do not arm yourself in public. If you can’t take the additional responsibility of being armed and can’t face the public unarmed”

    I think this is fairly well stated. It is an important question as to whether an individual is disciplined enough to know when to use or escalate force. The thing is, this requires a good deal of repetitive, standardized training. One of things that has been drilled in to me and I drill into anyone I train/assist is that you give only what is deserved, nothing more. In the civilian world, this can be a muddy thing though. It takes some serious, dedicated work to be able to make the mental call when it is needed, and that work needs to involve scenario-based exercises. More often than not the sight of a gun is a situation-ender in a random situation such as this ZImmerman/Martin situation. It is also not congruent with the law – Zimmerman would not have been able to hold Martin at gun-point until the police arrived legally. Not outside his home. So when he decided to draw it changed the situation dramatically.

    I refrain from speculating on this situation until all the facts come out, but one observation seems clear to me. Zimmerman put himself in a bad situation and the conflict escalated when he drew down. The unknown consequences for him would have had to be analyzed very quickly. During the fight, he had to decide if he was in imminent danger (for the moment I am disregarding whether it needed to progress to that point in the first place – I suspect not). The facts are not yet clearly established as to what exactly happened, so again I refrain from judgement/speculation here. But, once he drew, he had a whole different situation. Perhaps the sight of the gun would have ended the fight. Or perhaps Martin would have had to decide to take Zimmerman’s life if he saw the weapon in time, believing it was his only chance of survival. Untrained in every aspect carrying firearms (mentally, physically, emotionally) is a very bad thing.

    Regardless, the wise person trains in empty-hand combat as well as multiple weapon systems. The wiser person trains on when, how, and why to use each.

  132. Sarah on Tuesday, April 3 2012 at 8:10 am said: You really think there’s an industry of people who cynically decided to make money on “racial grievances”? Color me skeptical.

    For several years, “Reverend” Jesse Jackson attacked Anheuser-Busch. He attacked them as racist, and organized demonstrations outside their HQ and at their annual meetings.

    This stopped when A-B awarded the distribution rights to their beer for most of Chicago to two of Jackson’s sons.

    More generally, there is a long history of Jackson-ish “activists” attacking vulnerable businesses. The businesses “settle” by bringing in “minority participants”, or sometimes by hiring “consultants” to “advise” them on racial issues and provide “sensitivity training”. The “minority participants” and “consultants” fund the activists – when they aren’t the same people.

    Another even nastier case is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has turned fearmongering about “race hate groups” into a very substantial cash flow. The Atlantic Monthly, no right-wing rag, ran an exposé on the SPLC in 1994, but they’re still at it.

  133. RE: human, chimpanzees, baboons, ethnicity, etc.

    Well, human are great apes after all. Diversity of culture would seem to indicate diversity in approach to social interactions.

    Regarding The Minority Report – it has been a long time, but was the book that essentially determined there were three, possibly four distinct racial classifications from a genetics perspective? Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid, and perhaps Amerind? Just curious as to references.

    Anyway, this whole thing about blacks tend to respond in x ways, whites in y ways, etc. I’m not sure this is so, it seems like a very overarching and generalized statement. In my observation and experience, reactionary-observation/assumption maybe ought to be based on culture, not skin color/ethnicity/race. I have seen quite a few people of various races/whatever act/react in exactly the same ways, and a common thread was same/similar cultures.

  134. >Regardless, the wise person trains in empty-hand combat as well as multiple weapon systems.

    So true. I always advise my firearms students to train empty-hand. With short blades as well; long blades are a lot of fun but less likely to carry over into a real-world tactical situation. Ideally, I advise doing empty-hand first.

    >The wiser person trains on when, how, and why to use each.

    Amen to that, squared. Ethical, emotional, and (for want of a better word) spiritual preparation are as important as physical training.

    And I don’t mean that in any vague, mush-brained way, either. The U.S. military has found that systematic training in the ethics of violence – helping soldiers learn how to make internally grounded decisions about the rightness and wrongness of lethal force – significantly helps protect them against the adverse mental-health consequences of killing. Knowing and practicing right conduct is self-defence for the soul.

    (Oh. Oh. I can feel it…any moment now Shenpen’s going to pop up with a comment about the importance of virtue ethics. And, in this context, he’s going to be absolutely 100% right.)

  135. >Another even nastier case is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has turned fearmongering about “race hate groups” into a very substantial cash flow. The Atlantic Monthly, no right-wing rag, ran an exposé on the SPLC in 1994, but they’re still at it.

    This is a particular shame. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have been visibly corrupt for as long as they’ve had public careers, but there was a time within my memory that the SPLC were good guys.

  136. >Regarding The Minority Report – it has been a long time, but was the book that essentially determined there were three, possibly four distinct racial classifications from a genetics perspective? Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid, and perhaps Amerind? Just curious as to references.

    No. It was a collection of aphorisms on politics and culture, not a book on human anthropology. Published 1956. Probably the single most famous quote from it is this satirical definition:

    Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

    Which a friend of mine memorably paraphrased as:

    Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be fucking and getting away with it.

  137. @ESR, RE: The Minority Report

    Ah yes, now I recall it, thank you for the clarification. Tripping down memory lane, I remember this work as an early one that influenced me as I began to conceptualize ideas of the elite, racism, and democracy.

  138. @ESR, RE: Blade training;

    It always amazes folks when I show them that Asian/Euro sword arts have a great deal of practicality/relevancy and are not archaic. Ex. if you happen to carry a cane (or other implements), or find yourself in a bad situation and there is a stick or pipe lying around, or any number of other scenarios (including hand strikes), you are a force to be reckoned with (espec. against multiple opponents) if you have this training to draw on.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with Escrima, but its a great Filipino art, fighting with single and double sticks.

    Also, don’t know if you are familiar with Sayoc Kali, but it is a Filipino knife art, and a very good one. And since you can carry various types/sizes of knives in most places, is one well worth learning. I recall that you said before that you had studied Wing Chun – having the knowledge of those principles greatly aid one’s ability in Sayoc.

  139. >I have seen quite a few people of various races/whatever act/react in exactly the same ways, and a common thread was same/similar cultures.

    Culture modulates biology. If you have two populations with a standard deviation’s worth of difference in average IQ, it’s going to make a significant difference in the resources that cultural construction has available. Other traits, such as time preference, could be even more important. Such traits are heritable, and they do vary in ways that correspond recognizably to “racial” groupings.

    For an intriguing recent example, there’s a genetic allele connected with novelty-seeking behavior – and susceptibility to addictions (they’re connected through dopamine metabolism). I saw a paper last week that asserted that this allele varies in frequency on a gradient that correlates with distance of migration out of Africa at the time the ethno-racial group became a settled breeding population. Completely plausible!

    This is the kernel of truth around which racists like JAD erect vast edifices of hatred and lies. But just because such facts can be abused and overinterpreted in evil ways doesn’t make them un-facts.

  140. @ESR,

    Thank you for the information you just provided in a comment on racial matters, this provides for some stimulating research on my part in the near future.

  141. And indeed, abuse of facts, and not liking facts or where they lead does not make them unfacts. Our politicians and academics would do well to remember this.

  142. WRT: finding yourself in a bad situation, something this thread has tweaked in my skull;

    Wisdom from Lazarus Long: “Never threaten a small man, he’ll kill you”

  143. >Ex. if you happen to carry a cane (or other implements), or find yourself in a bad situation and there is a stick or pipe lying around,

    I love sword training and do it for fun, so believe me I’m familiar with this argument. I don’t buy it. The reasons I don’t are (1) there just aren’t handy sticks and pipes lying around in most tactical environments, and (2) I don’t think sword actually transfers very well to a random stick. There are speed and balance issues that are going to screw you up if you expect an improvised weapon to behave like a properly balanced sword and (for example) try to do wrist turnovers or an inside return.

    I think there is exactly one good reason to teach sword, and that is so your fighters will learn to think like swordsmen – fast, confident, aggressive, ready to commit to the killing blow. That’s enough of a reason; it’s to teach the fighter’s mind to be a blade.

    >I don’t know if you are familiar with Escrima, but its a great Filipino art, fighting with single and double sticks.

    Know it some. Even taught it successfully, once. IMO it’s better preparation for improvised weapons than sword is.

    >I recall that you said before that you had studied Wing Chun – having the knowledge of those principles greatly aid one’s ability in Sayoc.

    In fact wing chun fighters often cross-train in escrima; that’s how I learned what I know of it.

    That said, Filipino arts are fun for me, but not optimally matched to my build or combat psychology. They evolved among small, agile people. That’s not me; I’m physically designed to be heavy shock infantry – think Viking.

  144. >Also. perhaps, why blacks seem to be particularly sensitive to “status” issues and responsive to “status” cues.

    I’d say it has more to do with the after-effects of slavery and Jim Crow. I think the motive behind it is one of demonstrating that one is not a slave or a sharecropper.

  145. @ESR, RE: “I love sword training and do it for fun, so believe me I’m familiar with this argument. I don’t buy it. The reasons I don’t are (1) there just aren’t handy sticks and pipes lying around in most tactical environments, and (2) I don’t think sword actually transfers very well to a random stick. There are speed and balance issues that are going to screw you up if you expect an improvised weapon to behave like a properly balanced sword and (for example) try to do wrist turnovers or an inside return.”

    To point 1, yes, agreed. My philosophy is that there might be, so train to give yourself as many options as possible. To point 2, also agreed, but I caveat that with there are certain types of sword arts that force you to train with several types of materials and weight and this goes some way to mitigating that. One benefit though is a knowledge of being able to wield any similar implement with at least a basic idea of effective use.

    “I think there is exactly one good reason to teach sword, and that is so your fighters will learn to think like swordsmen – fast, confident, aggressive, ready to commit to the killing blow. That’s enough of a reason; it’s to teach the fighter’s mind to be a blade.”

    On this I am in absolute and primary agreement. This is THE de facto reason to train with swords. Interesting trivia – Bruce Lee evolved his art, Jeet Kune Do, in part by studying western fencing, albeit more for the footwork than anything else.

    “IMO it’s better preparation for improvised weapons than sword is.”

    This is so, and indeed was borne out of necessity.

    “That said, Filipino arts are fun for me, but not optimally matched to my build or combat psychology. They evolved among small, agile people. That’s not me; I’m physically designed to be heavy shock infantry – think Viking.”

    I myself am one of those very strange people – I have a something of a caveman body – I’m small (5’4″) but my bones are very strong and my muscles are very dense. Pound for pound I am exceedingly strong, much stronger from a natural starting point than most people. Or as my friend, a very tall, lanky, pure ectomorph puts it “f***in’ dwarves” (I think I’m in like the 30th percentile for height but 80th for natural strength, not sure) – I’m predominately a mesomorph, but I have a wasp thin waist and I am also very small, quick, and agile. So I tend toward those styles, but for pure emotional release and joy of battle I vastly prefer that Viking combat – sword and shield, or axe and shield, or even more fun, sword and axe. I love the rush of the technique/power combo. Of course, as I said, I’m weird one – with that body build I have a damn baby face – I’m 31 and look like I’m sixteen. If I wasn’t so short I would grown an epic Viking beard (whenever I’m allowed to) to ameliorate that.

    Anyway, all that said, in addition to meeting you, I think it would be fantastic to have the opportunity to spar with you. I believe we may be well matched, good sir.

  146. Winter on Tuesday, April 3 2012 at 8:18 am said:
    > The USA was a Caste society on a par with India. Caste boundaries have blurred considerably since 1957.

    Official propaganda. There were black lawyers, black judges, black doctors, and so on and so forth, all the way back, and enough of them that back then the black middle class could socially dominate black society in the way that the ghetto underclass now socially dominates black society. Back then they were the high status blacks that got the black girls.

    True, a black lawyer tended to be lower status than white lawyer, and a black doctor lower status than a white doctor, and there were considerably fewer of them, but they were not all that rare, hence not a caste society. That there were fewer black doctors, lawyers, and so forth probably reflected merit.

  147. >Anyway, all that said, in addition to meeting you, I think it would be fantastic to have the opportunity to spar with you. I believe we may be well matched, good sir.

    From your self-description, I think that’s likely, yes. You’d have the speed and agility edge, I might out-power you – like you, I have high strength per cc and I carry more bulk muscle than you do. We’d probably be quite well matched at blades, and how we’d stack up hand-to-hand would strongly depend on training level. How are you ranked in military combatives?

  148. “This doesn’t translate directly into violence – until perhaps the toxic influence of redneck “honor culture” (derived from the Scots/English Border country) gets stirred in.”

    Yes it does. Something that people don’t often think about is that blacks tend to be ethnic southerners. They preserve many of the large cultural differences that existed between the sections, and that got reduced with time post Civil War. This puts them at odds with modern, mainstream Americans.

    In the Old South, if someone affronted you, and he was your social equal (another wealthy planter), a duel resulted. If he was beneath you, you simply shot him. (Those who would like a citation on this should read Mary Chesnut’s diary.) The reputation that the West got for being ‘wild’ was made by all the Southerners that migrated there after the war. It’s something to keep in mind.

  149. @ESR, RE: “How are you ranked in military combatives?”

    That depends on how you look at it, and from what perspective you are asking. If you are asking WRT the US Military, while I know the USMC system (MCMAP, which is the primary “graded” system as traditionally viewed), and the Army’s MAC, I am not qualified to teach them, mainly because we don’t really use it. The primary system I use (SCQD/B) does not really have these kind of rank designators and is rather brutal to spar with it (which makes it GOOD, you learn quickly). I’m not an official instructor in it, but I can teach it. If it was ranked, I’d be “black belt.”

    If you are asking WRT SCA type military exercises, I have never done anything big – never more than two and three man teams really.

    For the rest, I am instructor or senior instructor level (black belt+) in every martial art that I have learned except archery and European swords.

    Also, we tend to use a mix of the various systems we know, depending on the situation. There is no “this is the way we do it” for me. No muscular pattern lock-in to a few systems is a good thing, keeps you adaptable, and importantly, unorthodox. Hence the shock during a sword match when I leap up and punch someone in the face before spin-gutting them (rules permitting of course ;-)

  150. I think I’m in like the 30th percentile for height but 80th for natural strength, not sure

    How do martial artists benchmark strength? This is easy for resistance trainers, but what standards are taken to be meaningful for fighting?

  151. How do martial artists benchmark strength? This is easy for resistance trainers, but what standards are taken to be meaningful for fighting?

    You seem to be asking two related but distinct questions. Strength is strength, regardless of the use to which it is put, and I’ve personally experienced success with high-intensity resistance training for the relevant muscle groups. In martial arts generally, I’d say that subject-specific practice is more about developing a repertoire of techniques and a sort of gestalt of how they fit together.

  152. >Wisdom from Lazarus Long: “Never threaten a small man, he’ll kill you”

    I’m now going to speculate somewhat beyond the evidence. I think perhaps Trayvon Martin was that small man.

    We don’t know a lot about Trayvon Martin, but we do know from his pictures and his Twitter handle what he wanted people to think he was like – a tough buck nigga from the ‘hood. But there’s an uncertainty that comes through to me in the pictures, as though at some level he knew his truculence was writing a check he couldn’t cash. Or couldn’t cash yet.

    I don’t think Trayvon Martin was a hardened thug. Small-time thief, likely, of that women’s jewelry they’d found on him if nothing else. Likely the people who remembered him as a sweet kid weren’t even wrong, just a few years behind reality. I see a dependent manchild with a weak father reaching for “respect” by posturing, and in the process of turning himself bad in the name of being badass. (In the TV footage I’ve seen, Trayvon’s dad is not exactly a model of confident masculinity.)

    So, maybe Trayvon is just buying candy that night, or maybe he’s casing for a bit of burglary – I could believe either. He sees Zimmerman following him, decides it’s time shit got real, and jumps the ofay. Good odds he doesn’t actually have killing or any other clear objective in mind; its all about being in reality the bad nigga of his puerile adolescent fantasies.

    His rotten luck Zimmerman was armed. Fantasy ended – and his life.

    Again, speculation; other scenarios are consistent with the evidence. But if I had to bet on how it went down, something like this is where I’d put my money.

  153. >I’d say that subject-specific practice is more about developing a repertoire of techniques and a sort of gestalt of how they fit together.

    That’s correct. Most hand-to-hand arts definitely emphasize technique over strength. Their ideal is to teach you to defeat strength with technique.

  154. >For the rest, I am instructor or senior instructor level (black belt+) in every martial art that I have learned

    Ah, well, you’re probably better than me, then. But not enough so that we wouldn’t have fun and you might get a surprise or three.

  155. @ESR, RE: “You’d have the speed and agility edge”

    and no epic beard to grab, mores the pity…

    “I might out-power you – like you, I have high strength per cc and I carry more bulk muscle than you do”

    Likely, given some of your previous descriptions about yourself and abilities. How is your endurance-over-time? I can go a long, long, long time before becoming tired and out of breath. My day to day training pretty much necessitates this, but I learned some related critical advantages as a youth.

    My brother (Army) and I grew up in a bad neighborhood. He is a little taller than me but very wiry. We were one of a very small handful of white kids in a bad neighborhood that eventually became a predominately black neighborhood with a few Hispanics and Asians thrown in. A lot of related problems. Neither of us was interested in the gang thing so we looked out for each other. Almost EVERY. F***ING. DAY we were fighting off bad guys. Fighting at the bus stop in the morning, fighting at school, fighting trying to get the 200 meters from the bus to home at the end of the day. Fighting picking up milk from the corner store. You get the idea. Anyway, we learned to use size to our advantage, a lot of those guys were damn big. You learn to be fast, and fight on the inside, close up, they can’t really hurt you by raining down blows that close – but you better be fast so that they can’t grab you. Slip inside and take out the shin, groin, solar plexus, and throat, and call it a day. Or if they had a knife, you’d get inside and open them up first (in those days guns on the street were fairly rare – wasn’t til my teens that firearms became a real problem).

    The other problem for those big guys is that they almost never engaged in a prolonged fight – so you dance out of reach until they slow down, then move in and get it done. This one in particular has served me well in tournaments – wear them out and the go in for the win. That said, sparring is NO fun this way – its hard to learn and improve if this is the only way you fight.

  156. >How is your endurance-over-time?

    That’s complicated. My upper-body endurance is very good – back when I was training for SCA I could throw kill shots all day and not feel it, and today my MMA instructor says frankly that my power and endurance impresses him (this is a guy who fought full-contact karate). Core strength and endurance also good, but both go to hell below my waist where I have partial hemiparalysis. I have good wind but a tendency to overheat fast. So my practical endurance is very task- and environment-dependent.

  157. Roger Phillips asks: “How do martial artists benchmark strength? This is easy for resistance trainers, but what standards are taken to be meaningful for fighting?”

    I like this question, its a good one. Someone already spoke of technique, and it is right – all the strength and power does no good if you take a hit to the middle shin, groin, throat, get your hair grabbed, or lose your eyes.

    Strength is important to some styles though, such as grappling. And it is important in hard styles – styles that involve mainly fist/foot strikes – if one is weak, their strike is useless. Soft styles on the other hand make use of redirecting force and attacking vulnerable areas/applying painful holds, so strength is less critical. It is very hard to measure for a martial artist, and I fear I cannot provide a satisfactory answer.

    Bruce Lee had a formula – speed + strength + velocity = power (I think that is how it goes) so speed is a further factor to martial strength.

    For me, personally, strength is measured in endurance – how long can I run, swim, carry my gear and buddy, climb, etc. Hard calisthenics, heavy weight training, and endurance cross/circuits are all utilized to further this, and currently my marital strength derives from those things in addition to practicing techniques with weighted vests, dumbbells, and wrist/ankle weights. Also, clapping pushups, and pushups using a “knife-hand” help build these things.

    You’ve given me an interesting problem to chew on – how to measure and quantify martial strength and for what criteria, so thank you. Such a study could be very useful.

  158. Since race is being bandied about in this thread, I’ll throw in a personal experience. I hate this shit, I really do, I have met scum and saints of all stripes. But none of this affected me outside of my funtimes neighborhood I described earlier, not until I was 18. I enlisted in the Navy at 18, and I listed my race as white. But when the background stuff started, I ended up having to redo EVERYTHING because I was supposed to have marked Hispanic. Now mind you, I look as WASPy American as it gets – I’m white (ok I tan a little easier, but I spend a lot of time in the sun, so whatever), I had blond hair as a kid (since turned brown) and blue eyes – the amusing thing is I was the first one ever in my currently-living family to be blond and blue – the rest are all dark. No one in my family spoke anything other than English.

    But, as it turns out, my Grandfather was an immigrant from Portugal (never knew him) and my biological father was half-Portuguese. I did not know this until the investigation, so when it came out they said I put false data down and had to reclass and refile. I asked why, they said I had to put Hispanic, and I was confused – they told me about the Portuguese thing, and I responded that I thought Portuguese were white. They said no, anything from the Iberian Peninsula is Hispanic. I looked into it and different government agencies classify Portuguese differently – some call them Hispanic, some not. When I told the feds this, they said, well I should put Hispanic anyway – its better for the Navy and better for me – you can guess why. Bullshit.

  159. ESR: “So, the question I ask for the people who want to indict Zimmerman is this: On what evidentiary grounds should the Sanford police have chosen to disbelieve him?”

    It will surprise no one that I find the harrowing account of the furious attack of the tiny high-schooler implausible. (Has Zimmerman actually gone on the record with this whopper? Or has it just been his family?) This is probably privilege talking, since I’m 6′ 230 lbs. and it has been decades since I physically feared anyone Martin’s size. It’s a good thing no one on this site believes in privilege.

    However, I’ll stipulate that it all happened exactly as Zimmerman’s most ardent partisans allege: Zimmerman was standing by his car, preparing to get in and drive away, when suddenly Martin appeared literally out of the blue sky, knocked Zimmerman to the ground, and began dribbling Zimmerman’s head like a basketball on the cement. In his last precious moments of consciousness before swimming toward the light, Zimmerman drew his previously-concealed sidearm and plugged Martin in the chest.

    Can I also stipulate that no credible witness or video footage can verify or contradict this tale? I really think that if one existed her story would have been leaked by now. Let’s be real, she would have been the star of three press conferences by now. Because even with all of the foregoing, Zimmerman’s story is not “I didn’t shoot Martin”. It is, “I shot Martin in self defense.” That is an affirmative defense, and juries determine the validity of those. Police might like to do so, but that’s because police like to do all sorts of things they shouldn’t. The judgment of affirmative defenses is not the duty of the police. They gather evidence. When a suspect confesses to a shooting, as Zimmerman did, he can’t turn around and file a suit for unlawful arrest. His burden of proof may only be discharged during a trial. If the police were concerned about unlawful arrest complaints from a suspect who had confessed, they are quite incompetent. Prosecutors have the discretion of whether to go to trial in these cases. When their decision is that a lethal shooter will not be charged, they owe the public a detailed explanation, and frequently they provide that.

    So, not on evidentiary grounds: there is no evidence either for or against Zimmerman’s claims. He admits to killing the only witness who could have been in a position to contradict his testimony. On procedural grounds, this case, including Zimmerman’s alleged claims of self-defense, should have been investigated thoroughly and turned over to the prosecutor. Since that didn’t happen for a month, it was reasonable for the media, the race entrepreneurs, and the agencies charged with oversight to inquire as to the status of the investigation. I’m glad they did.

  160. @James A Donald
    “Official propaganda. There were black lawyers, black judges, black doctors,…”

    I did not expect that you understood the concepts, and again, are not disappointed.

    A caste society is a segregated society. It is Apartheid. The point is not whether there were black doctors or lawyers, but would they have had white clients.

    Actually, the acid test in exogamous societies is marriage: Can you marry and have children across the boundary if you “assimilate” and still keep your position in family and society.

    If you can show me that you could in the 1910s, 1930s, 1950s, then you are right, there was no caste society in the USA in the 20th century.

  161. You’ve given me an interesting problem to chew on – how to measure and quantify martial strength and for what criteria, so thank you. Such a study could be very useful.

    You might be interested in Doug McGuff’s Body By Science; it provides the theoretical basis for the claim that both momentary strength and long-term endurance are best improved through resistance training, as endurance is largely a function of how long the “slow-twitch” motor units can run before they’re exhausted and how quickly they recover. (Extended moderate muscular exertion is akin to a basketball game, with motor units being swapped out all the time so that tired ones can rest while the requisite number are always “in play”.)

    Short-term endurance (e.g., sprinting or formal sparring) is largely a function of training muscular metabolism so that the various ATP sources can each last long enough for the next stage can get fired up and keep the ATP coming. The Tabata protocol can help with this, though its training is very specific to both muscle groups and duration, and the actual training is rather unpleasant.

  162. “How do martial artists benchmark strength?”

    By survival?

    Actual sparring (or combat) outcomes can tell you about effectiveness, but as noted, that’s not the same thing as strength. In a serious street fight, I’d much rather take on an average guy my size (6’0″, medium build) than a particular 17-year-old girl I know.

  163. It will surprise no one that I find the harrowing account of the furious attack of the tiny high-schooler implausible.

    According to the police Martin was over 6 feet tall.

  164. @Roger Phillips
    There is a nice book by Terry Pratchett, “Thief of time” (actually, they are all nice). It mocks the “fighting monk” genre.

    A main character is Lu-Tze is a small, 800 year old monk who is feared by everyone. He actually never lays a hand on anyone in combat, but gets what he wants anyhow.

    There is more to “winning” than physically twisting arms or banging heads.

  165. >any moment now Shenpen’s going to pop up with a comment about the importance of virtue ethics

    :) To be fair I always thought of virtue ethics within a bourgeois framework, not in a military one – despite that I know well enough that the whole concept originates in the military framework of Ancient Greece.

    What I would be interested in in military ethics-training is the following. As far as I know most soldiers fight not for patriotism or honor or democracy other such big ideas but simply for protecting their buddies in their squad. They bond extremely closely on a small-unit level and this is pretty much the biggest basis of morale – the typical soldier doesn’t run away from a dangerous situation mostly because he does not want to leave his buddies in trouble, not because of some bigger ideal. All those big ideals tend to evaporate in the field and it all boils down to your buddies, you, and the fsckers who shoot at your buddies.

    The problem I see is how can a soldier evaluate if a given war is ethical? I mean especially in the cases when it is abroad. You cannot turn every boot into a just-war-theoretician. And probably the higher-ups don’t want them to be too much of it, too, as it would be dangerous to obedience in edge cases.

    So if he cannot really determine if a given war is just, can the protect-your-buddy ethics override that? I mean does this kind of stuff work: “Yeah it is not at all sure whether my buddies and I even should be here, it is not at all sure if we are aggressors or not, but I will still shoot the fscker who shoots at my buddy, even when I kind of sympathize with his situation and if I was born here I would probably do the same.” Does that work?

    (BTW is that problem resolved that I try to comment in an older thread and it pops up here? We will see when I hit “post” as this is no longer the newest thread anymore.)

  166. Winter that’s interesting, and I agree. I’m not sure if you’re disagreeing with me.

  167. >The problem I see is how can a soldier evaluate if a given war is ethical?

    That is actually not a central problem in military ethics, especially not in systems like the U.S.’s where civilian control of the military is assumed. The kind of ethical training that is useful to a soldier in the field has more to do with distinguishing right conduct towards enemy troops from right conduct towards noncombatants, what sorts of things one may ethically do in pursuit of a given mission objective, how one should weigh collateral damage, and the distinction between lawful and unlawful orders.

  168. Jess,

    You overstate your case in practically every sentence. Not credible.

    > Can I also stipulate that no credible witness or video footage can verify or contradict this tale?

    No.

    Yours,
    Tom

  169. For a post ostensibly about how race is irrelevant, there seem to be an awful lot of comments that indicate precisely the opposite.

  170. @TomM
    The fact that there *is* a post stating race is irrelevant shows it is relevant.

    Most countries do not have discussions about race being irrelevant. They have discussions about other types of discrimination being irrelevant.

  171. Jess,

    A prosecutor or defense lawyer can only stipulate things that help the opposing lawyers case.

    In addition there is evidence, including witnesses whose credibility has not been confirmed or impeached, that matches many elements of Zimmerman’s story.

    As I understand it Zimmerman was questioned by police for five hours. People speak as if nothing was done. A five hour interrogation is not nothing, and it’s not a fig leaf and it’s not cursory.

    Yours,
    Tom

  172. Eric,

    I want to (and I think I do) agree with you on every single point, but unfortunately you were a bit sloppy. I am not sure, but I think you are emotionally engaged in this event.

    Maybe I am wrong about this, but then I think it brings us back to where you and I have always had to agree to disagree however nuanced those disagreements may be.

  173. @Christopher Smith, RE: This comment

    Ah, thank you for the book ref, that’ll go on the reading list. I am familiar with “twitch motor units” and how/why to train them, but a more focused knowledge would be beneficial.

  174. I’m now going to speculate somewhat beyond the evidence.

    Additional speculation: It wasn’t particularly cold that day. At the time of Zimmeran’s 7 p.m. call to the SPD it was about 63F, maybe a little drizzle, but the rain wouldn’t have lasted long — a few minutes at the most. Probably off and on given that it was Februrary. (You can see the weather data for that day).

    Maybe Trayvon was wearing that hoodie to keep the rain off his head, but maybe not: a common signal used among drug pushers, especially IV drug pushers, is that “hoodie up” == “I’m carrying” and “hoodie down” == “I’m not carrying.”

    Just a thought.

  175. @Winter
    As I understand castes, in India at least, they are by occupation as much as anything. Certain occupations are reserved to one caste, others to another caste. Every caste gets its piece of a job. It’s like union featherbedding.

    If nobody benefited from the caste system, even in the short term, it wouldn’t last.

  176. @esr

    I think the “racial-grievance factory” is actually a special case of a general problem. There is an advocacy, bureacratic, and commercial complex in every policy area. President Eisenhower didn’t tell us the half of it.

    This has only gotten worse as the federal government has expanded. Now with $trillions flushing through Washington D.C. every year everybody and his sister is trying to dip something out of the stream.

    If there is a niche, something will fill it.

  177. @Bob
    “As I understand castes, in India at least, they are by occupation as much as anything.”

    Caste systems can be quite complex. And the USA is neither South Africa nor India.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste

    There are two fundamental aspects that also apply to the USA in the (early) 20th century: Caste membership is strictly by birth, and cross marriages are forbidden.

    Other things, like the “untouchable” nature of some castes and work divisions etc are less easy to transport.

  178. @ Jess

    >When a suspect confesses to a shooting, as Zimmerman did, he can’t turn around and file
    >a suit for unlawful arrest. His burden of proof may only be discharged during a trial. If the
    >police were concerned about unlawful arrest complaints from a suspect who had confessed,
    >they are quite incompetent.

    Not quite correct, and this is the one place where even if Zimmerman were 100% justified under a stricter “duty to retreat” self-defense law, that the Stand Your Ground still comes into play. From everyone’s favorite source of truth, wikipedia:

    “776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

    (1) 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, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

    (2) 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.

    (3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).”

  179. When a suspect confesses to a shooting, as Zimmerman did, he can’t turn around and file a suit for unlawful arrest.

    The word “confess” generally carries with it the connotation “confess (to sin/crime)”. There is no crime or sin of “a shooting”. Some shootings violate the laws of God or man. Others do not. So telling the police he shot in self-defense is not a “confession”. Cops are not supposed to arrest someone who has “confessed” to a non-crime.

    Is it your position that anyone who kills in self defense must be tried, even if there is incontrovertible video evidence that they were indeed acting in self defense? That prosecutors must waste the taxpayers’ money to hold trials in such cases?

  180. Interesting info about the NBC edit of the 911 call:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/nbc-issues-apology-on-zimmerman-tape-screw-up/2012/04/03/gIQA8m5jtS_blog.html

    excerpt:
    That apology addresses the “Today” show’s failure to abridge accurately the conversation between Zimmerman and the dispatcher in this high-profile case. This is how the program portrayed a segment of that conversation:

    Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

    And here is how it actually went down:

    Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

    Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

    Zimmerman: He looks black.

  181. >That apology addresses the “Today” show’s failure to abridge accurately the conversation between Zimmerman and the dispatcher in this high-profile case.

    It doesn’t actually address a damn thing, actually – it’s a classic passive-voice “mistakes were made” evasion that doesn’t acknowledge any responsibility for smearing Zimmerman and inflaming racial hatred, tells us nothing about who made the “mistake”, doesn’t say what disciplinary action if any was taken against that person or persons, and doesn’t set forth any procedures intended to prevent a repetition. It admits no wrongdoing, and there was very clear wrongdoing.

    Zimmerman should sue NBC for megabucks, both for actions defamatory to him and for a massive breach of public trust.

  182. Thanks for the relevant info, tmoney. This excerpt says to me that SYG is, on balance, a bad idea. Start with the fact that it appears to invoke justification while specifically prohibiting an important mechanism for determining justification: trial by jury. It states in the first section that a justified shooter is immune from arrest, detainment, indictment, and trial and in the second that mere probable cause may pierce this immunity from arrest or detainment. Is it so difficult to write a law in which consecutive sentences do not contradict each other? If the police determine they have probable cause to suspect unlawful use of force, are they within the bounds of the law only until a court finds that self defense or some other factor made the use of force lawful? Will they then be sued for every successful justification defense that actually sees trial? How many such trials do we expect to take place once everyone knows the score?

    In practice, I can certainly imagine that this constraint would discourage police from adequately investigating putative acts of self defense. Zealous investigation has only bad potential outcomes for police here. (To be fair, I have in the last week heard “liberal” law theorists making this very point; it speaks to the impoverishment of my particular mental echo chamber that I just dismissed them as “damn libs hate armed citizens”.) I would think that everyone whose first thought is for the difficult, so hard, really taxing job the police already have to do, would question the wisdom of making that task even harder, if not logically impossible.

    Before reading this excerpt, I had thought that in jurisdictions in which prosecutors, being political animals, maintain a special grudge against the use of lethal force in self-defense, SYG might on balance contribute to a more just society. If we restrict our consideration to the criminal side, in the most extreme such jurisdictions, that might indeed be the case. If we actually hold any interest in justice, however, the civil suit limitations are just bananas. We know that the very wealthy are effectively immune from criminal prosecution for all but the most horrific of crimes. (I’m not complaining about this, only observing.)

    Civil suits are really the only mechanism that keeps that segment of the wealthy who have less savory habits and inclinations within the bounds of civic society, and are actually of bedrock importance to some libertarian theories of justice. (As in, you don’t need the publicly-provided police, if you still have a functioning torts system. Not saying I agree with this, but it does suggest that undermining the impact of civil penalties in this manner is a bad idea.) Plus there is the 7th Amendment; previously it was possible for a defendant to win a criminal trial and lose a civil trial that considered the same alleged act (the standard of evidence being different), but this law seems to imply that the criminal court will overrule the civil court? Or does the court that “shoots first” win? The law as quoted says “any civil action”, which doesn’t seem limited to the action at hand.

    Ignoring its logical flaws, what are SYG’s chances of being upheld in its entirety? I would think that if we see a rash of unarmed teenagers killed under its aegis (teenagers being less likely to be lawfully armed), there could be some equal-protection challenges. I know, the 14th Amendment is the bogeyman of retrograde conservatives across the nation, but it did come in handy in the Heller verdict so I say let’s keep it around. If that doesn’t happen, I’d expect most of the states who have SYG already to keep it on the books, because the people who lose the most by it don’t employ many lobbyists. However, I’d expect most states who don’t have an SYG of the sort we see in Florida to delay quite a bit more before passing similar laws. Legislators in other states have already seen this law’s sponsors walking it back in press conferences, wisely seeking to dissociate from the publicity disaster that is George Zimmerman. They’re in no hurry to step into that spotlight themselves. As an armed citizen who treasures his freedom but knows that others do not, I’d like to see the entire firearms freedom movement attempt some dissociation too, but people think in tribal fashion so I know that ain’t happening.

    It is rather too obvious to mention, but IANAL. I’m also not representing any porn companies in any file-sharing lawsuits.

  183. >I just dismissed [complaints about SYG] as “damn libs hate armed citizens”

    Still, in my considered opinion, the most appropriate reaction.

  184. @Monster: “Is it your position that anyone who kills in self defense must be tried, even if there is incontrovertible video evidence that they were indeed acting in self defense? That prosecutors must waste the taxpayers’ money to hold trials in such cases?”

    That is not my position; I apologize for the confusion. Prosecutors do indeed have discretion not to charge, for any reason really. A good reason for them not to charge is when they expect that a suspect can meet the burden of proof for an affirmative defense. Videotape would qualify, and eyewitness testimony might as well.

    From a public relations standpoint, after a prosecutor declines to charge a suspect who claims to have acted in self-defense, she really ought to explain that decision to the public. Apparently five weeks is not long enough to wait before asking after such an explanation, even though the prosecutor is reported to have overruled the lead investigator’s manslaughter recommendation on the night of the shooting. Perhaps a year would be long enough? It really doesn’t take that long for memories of any incident to become quite unreliable. Also, it is cruel to victims and their families to string them along indefinitely. Martin’s family doesn’t seem to have received any reassurances from the prosecutor’s office before this whole circus blew up.

  185. Bottom line for me is this.

    The police told Zimmerman, “Don’t pursue him”. The unspoken continuation being, “Because you or someone else could get hurt or killed as a result.”

    Zimmerman was an idiot the moment he left his car, knowing he himself was armed and pursuing someone else he had no legal right or responsibility to pursue.

    It’s “Neighborhood Watch” after all, not “Neighborhood Chase” or “Neighborhood Jr. Police Officer” or what-have-you.

    Because of Zimmerman’s utter lack of judgement and restraint, someone got killed.

    Regardless of the letter of the law, he is entirely responsible for the death of Mr. Martin. He is responsible for putting gun owners in a very bad light and the D.A. and his local police department in a very bad position.

    Whether or not he should be in jail or what-have-you is a legal question I am not qualified to answer.

  186. Regardless of the letter of the law, he is entirely responsible for the death of Mr. Martin.

    It’s attitudes like this that have stolen all the ethics from our society. Furthermore I find it enraging that you feel licensed to prejudice Zimmerman’s trial with your ignorant bullshit.

  187. The police told Zimmerman, “Don’t pursue him”.

    I believe the operator’s actual words were the more passive, “We don’t need you to follow him,” not the command: “Don’t pursue him.” There’s need to distort reality any more so than it already has been in this imploding media carnival. The big problem so far seems to be that reality isn’t “real” enough to tell the story outlets like NBC and ABC wanted to tell, so they’ve been editing tapes, selectively presenting images and evidence and using sneaky paraphrasing to make up the difference.

    As ESR mentions above, NBC bullshit apology was missing any useful information about who the fact checkers were, who greenlit the edit, etc. Regardless of the outcome of the Zimmerman investigation, they are trying to flush a deeply evil decision down the memory hole. It’s unfortunate that their competitors in terrestrial news are letting them off the hook for it. If I was sitting at the news desk of ABC or CBS, I would push to *bury* them for it.

  188. esr on Wednesday, April 4 2012 at 12:58 am said: So, maybe Trayvon is just buying candy that night, or maybe he’s casing for a bit of burglary – I could believe either.

    It’s a cold, rainy night, in a strange city. He’s just buying candy.

    He sees Zimmerman following him, decides it’s time shit got real, and jumps the ofay.

    “Ofay” actually signifies a “negriphile” white. It appeared in the 1920s as slang for whites who got a charge out of hanging out in black neighborhoods. Bear in mind that outside the South, blacks were still regarded as exotic. Sensual, animalistic, passionate, artistic (music, dance, song), violent, authentic – like gypsies, Italians, Mexicans, hillbillies, or Irish. This attracted white-bread WASPs dissatisfied with mainstream white culture, enough for there to a be term for such.

    Good odds he doesn’t actually have killing or any other clear objective in mind; its all about being in reality the bad nigga of his puerile adolescent fantasies.

    Martin had no record of actual violence. It does not seem plausible that he would seek out Zimmerman and attack him when he had never come close and was walking away. My (poorly informed) guess is that there was a controntation first. Possibly Zimmerman did not turn back, but
    closed with Martin. Or Martin did follow him back, and closed with Zimmerman.

    In either case, there was an exchange of provocative speech. Martin would be very ready to take offense, Zimmerman (by some accounts) liked to assert himself. Martin decided he wasn’t going to be pushed around by a fat little slob. (He was 6″ taller than Zimmerman.) He attacked.

    Zimmerman has (IMO) denied there was an exchange because he knows he should not have followed Martin or confronted Martin, and that what he said to Martin was out of line.

    Bottom line: wannabe cop confronted wannabe thug, pushed his buttons, got jumped, shot him in self-defense.

  189. Roger,

    > It’s attitudes like this that have stolen all the ethics from our society. Furthermore I find it enraging that you feel licensed to prejudice Zimmerman’s trial with your ignorant bullshit.

    Exactly.

    Yours,
    Tom

  190. One thing that I don’t think I’ve seen discussed is the statement by Martin’s girlfriend that she told him on the phone to run away. Perhaps she did, but perhaps he then decided that he needed to prove his manhood (to her and to himself) by turning back attacking Zimmerman. Or, perhaps she actually egged him on and is lying about what she said.

    Also, some have made much of an unarmed martin attacking an armed man, but did Martin know Zimmerman was armed? Was Zimmerman carrying openly?

  191. A pretty simple indicator of whether someone is misinformed about the case; do they treat the Skittles as a fact, or as an unfounded rumor?

    See, there is no actual evidence that has been presented by anyone that Martin had any Skittles on his person when he died. They weren’t mentioned in eyewitness statements, they weren’t mentioned in the police report, they haven’t been sourced to anyone in a position to know. It’s a completely unverified claim that has merely been repeated over and over by the media.

    If someone mentions the Skittles as fact, you know they’re blindly parroting rumors; apply an appropriate discount to anything else they say about the case accordingly.

    (Another indicator — see if they claim Zimmerman “called 911 dozens of times in the last year” or the like. Actually, he called the police, including non-emergency calls, 46 times since 2001. This at least had an excuse in the beginning in that the original release from the police had a typo.)

  192. >“Ofay” actually signifies a “negriphile” white.

    Interesting. I’ve never encountered that usage. I learned the term from 1960s Black Panther propaganda in which it was definitely intended as an insulting term for any white. On-line slang sites such as Urban Dictionary seem to confirm that.

  193. Several commenters above seem to be under the impression that the police were friendly to Zimmerman, that he was in their good graces, that they were inclined to do him favours, let him off the hook, give him the benefit of any doubt, etc. Not only do I wonder why they would think any such thing without any evidence for it, but what evidence I know of would seem to indicate the exact opposite. 1. He was a wannabe cop, so real cops would naturally tend to be hostile to him; 2. If he’d called them and made work for them so often they would tend not to like him; 3. He had a history of confrontation with a cop; 4. If they were racist then they’d be likely to be against him on racial grounds. So why the assumption that if they let him go it was because they liked him and not because they didn’t think they had a legal way to hold him?

    Also, why do so many people refer to Zimmerman by his surname but Martin by his first name?

    Nancy referred to the lack of blood on the video, which was taken more than an hour after the fight, and after he’d been treated by paramedics. First of all, why expect blood? Broken noses often don’t bleed. But in any case how is the video inconsistent with how he would look and carry himself after having been treated and after having had all that time in the police car in which to calm down and collect himself?

  194. >I thought “ofay” was pig latin for “foe”

    Until yesterday I thought so too, but one page I found on the term says that recorded usage of “ofay” predates Pig Latin (which is only attested from the 1920s) by several decades, being recorded back to the 1890s at least. The OED described the Pig Latin etymology as an “implausible guess”.

  195. LS on Wednesday, April 4 2012 at 12:34 am said: In the Old South, if someone affronted you, and he was your social equal (another wealthy planter), a duel resulted. If he was beneath you, you simply shot him.

    You’ve probably heard of the Brooks-Sumner affair of May 1856. For those who haven’t: abolitionist Sen. Charles Sumner (Free Soil-MA) made a vitriolic speech attacking Sen. Andrew Butler (D-SC). Rep. Preston Brooks (D-SC), who was Butler’s nephew, responded by confronting Sumner at his desk in the Senate and beating him senseless with a cane.

    I once reviewed the debate in the House about what should be done, and learned of a surprising parallel. (The Congressional Globe is available on-line.) Some argued that since it did not happen in the House chamber, it was not the House’s business. Rep. Clingman (Whig-NC) said: “I refer the Chair to a decision of the House, made only a week since, in a similar case.” What was he talking about?

    A week earlier, the House had considered action in the case of Rep. Philemon Herbert (D-CA). Herbert was a “hot-blooded Southern gentleman” from Alabama. He got into a brawl at Willard’s Hotel, in which he shot and killed the Irish headwaiter of the hotel restaurant.

    (Neither Herbert or Brooks were punished by the House. Herbert was indicted for manslaughter, but acquitted by a sympathetic DC jury. He later moved to Texas, served in the Confederate Army, and died of wounds during the Civil War. Brooks also escaped censure. Many Southerners sent him canes to replace the one he had broken over Sumner’s head. He resigned, was immediately re-elected in a special election, and re-elected again in November, but died in January 1857.)

  196. > I don’t think Trayvon Martin was a hardened thug. Small-time thief, likely, of that women’s jewelry they’d found on him if nothing else.

    On the evidence, not a thug, but wants people to think he is a thug.

    And then Zimmerman, a man four inches shorter than Trayvon Martin, starts acting like the little man is a cop, and the big man Trayvon Martin, is a suspect, thus disrespecting Trayvon Martin

    The outcome was predictable.

    Here is a hint for anyone who gets asked by local what he is doing, or is treated with suspicion by a local. Someone checking his own neighborhood for crimes is probably either armed, or has someone watching him who is armed, because someone who is looking for crimes in progress, expects to find them.

  197. esr on Wednesday, April 4 2012 at 8:27 pm said:
    >“Ofay” actually signifies a “negriphile” white.

    Interesting. I’ve never encountered that usage. I learned the term from 1960s Black Panther propaganda in which it was definitely intended as an insulting term for any white. On-line slang sites such as Urban Dictionary seem to confirm that.

    I don’t recall where I saw that definition – it was decades ago. Google Ngrams shows noise level usage through 1925, slight usage in 1926-1928, a huge spike in 1929, and slight usage until a spike in the late 1960s – which is consistent with both our observations.

  198. I like the lady with the pink cowboy hat. Sure she is batshit crazy, but I think she’s got style.

  199. “Google Ngrams shows noise level usage through 1925, slight usage in 1926-1928, a huge spike in 1929, and slight usage until a spike in the late 1960s – which is consistent with both our observations.”

    I think it is more consistent with the usage showing up among whites in the ’20s. It was the Jazz Age. Swells went slumming to Small’s Paradise in Harlem. They got it from the blacks, who had used Pig Latin under the white people’s radar for decades before that. Much more likely, I think.

  200. PapayaSF on Wednesday, April 4 2012 at 7:58 pm said: Also, some have made much of an unarmed martin attacking an armed man, but did Martin know Zimmerman was armed? Was Zimmerman carrying openly?

    No. He had the gun in a pocket. He said he had to get it out after he was attacked. According to what I’ve read, he fired one shot, the chamber was empty, and the magazine was full. IOW, the gun did not feed a new round from the magazine to the chamber: “failure to feed” (FTF). The Keltec PF-9 carrried by Zimmerman is known for FTF when fired with a weak grip.

  201. And now we know the whole fuss over the imagined raccoon reference was for nothing. All he was doing was complaining to himself about how cold it was.

  202. All he was doing was complaining to himself about how cold it was.

    Yes, and ABC did a similar walkback of their “proof” that Zimmerman was uninjured, after they sharpened up the video. Inciting race riots for fun and profit is proving to be a trickier trade than it used to be when the entire world is fact-checking your work 24 hours per day.

    My bet is this: within a week, the focus of this story will have shifted fully away from George Zimmerman and towards the Sanford Florida police department. NBC and ABC will pound away at how the cops failed BOTH Zimmerman and Martin by their failure to promptly disclose the full details, and where therefore were also responsible for the sloppy reporting and lynch mob mentality of the press. These snakes know how to slither.

  203. Not that I ever saw how what he said was relevant. It’s not a crime to say what they claimed he said. He had every right to mutter it to himself, just as he had every right to follow Martin, and to ask him what he was doing, and Martin had no right at all to respond with violence. (Nor would the 911 operator have had the right to order Zimmerman not to follow Martin, had the notion of giving such an order occurred to him or her. So the fact that s/he didn’t give such an order isn’t really relevant anyway.)

  204. “How do martial artists benchmark strength?”

    Strength in martial arts is just like normal strength, with only a few exceptions (like training for grip strength). Go to a gym, do some basic lifts, and compare yourself to what an experienced weight lifter would do, given your body weight.
    http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.html

    If you go into any competitive mixed martial arts gym, a gym that actually trains fighters for the UFC, everyone lifts weights. Most have been lifting weights for several years.

    The charts on ExRx are pretty telling: a year of lifting can double your strength. That’s a very noticeable advantage in martial arts, especially when grappling.

  205. I want to comment on Nancy’s assertion that Zimmerman looked like he had never been in a fight.

    You clean up quick.

    Just look go to Ariel Helwani’s YouTube channel. He’s a mixed martial arts reporter who regularly interviews fighters, post-fight, typically within 15 minutes after the fight.

    The fighters are not bleeding, they are walking normally, they are talking normally, they are acting normal in nearly every way, and they do not even seem out of breath. Except for a few bruises, you would not even be able to tell that some of them were in a fight. And that’s for the losers.

  206. Every time someone lists Zimmerman’s trivial provocations, they implicitly admit what they explicitly deny – that the six foot one Martin attacked the five foot seven Zimmerman.

  207. How much younger and lighter would Martin have to have been before all the Neighborhood Watch fans would admit that he was not a threat to Zimmerman? 15 and 135 lbs.? 12 and 110 lbs.? 9 and 85 lbs.? I mean, I get it, he’s black, but how insecure are you? Just draw a line somewhere so I can better understand.

    Please, James, enough with the heights. There is a reason they have weight classes and not height classes in many martial sports. They weren’t playing basketball.

  208. > How much younger and lighter would Martin have to have been before all the Neighborhood Watch fans would admit that he was not a threat to Zimmerman?

    Martin was six foot one and all muscle. Zimmerman was five foot seven and all fat.

    > There is a reason they have weight classes and not height classes in many martial sports.

    And that reason is that everyone in a martial sport is mostly muscle. Zimmerman’s weight was an encumbrance, not an asset.

  209. And now we know the whole fuss over the imagined raccoon reference was for nothing. All he was doing was complaining to himself about how cold it was.

    I followed that link Eric put up. Still sounds like “coons” to me…

  210. Jeff Read,

    And I was watching CNN last night when they decided it sounded like ‘cold’. Still sounded like ‘punks’ to me. Does it make any difference that the guy who uttered it said it was ‘punks’?

    Yours,
    Tom

  211. Jeff Read on Friday, April 6 2012 at 9:56 am said:
    > I followed that link Eric put up. Still sounds like “coons” to me…

    That is an indicator you read books about racism based on on books the authors read in the 1960s based on real life experiences in the 1930s.

  212. > That is an indicator you read books about racism based on on books the authors read in the 1960s based on real life experiences in the 1930s.

    The key piece if data is whether or not some one told Jeff the word was ‘coons’ before he heard the audio. It’s because people are suggestible when it comes to hearing disputable verbal data the first time, and then memory kicks in and you get a reinforcing loop.

    Yours,
    Tom

  213. I think the “coons” thing is like those animations where you can perceive the object and spinning in either direction. Except with the “coons” thing it was even easier for me to hear it as “punks”. It seems like the only reason to keep bringing it up is to further sell one particular version of events.

    I mean, I get it, he’s black, but how insecure are you? Just draw a line somewhere so I can better understand.

    Maybe you have more experienced than me (if so then enlighten me), but my experiencei n school was that a taller guy always had a huge advantage – if only because if the reach. As an average-height male it was hard to get inside a lanky guy’s defenses because he could always keep me at a large distance. Guys who were faster than me also completely dominated me. I didn’t and don’t do martial arts (maybe Zimmerman did). I don’t understand how you can judge the outcome of a fight between two grown men just based on the fact that you think one is too skinny. How many pounds of muscle do you think it takes to do damage with a closed fist?

  214. Maybe you have more experienced than me (if so then enlighten me), but my experiencei n school was that a taller guy always had a huge advantage – if only because if the reach.

    It’s not just reach. The worst kept secret in professional boxing has always been that beanpoles are almost always the real power hitters, due to leverage and angle. What was interesting about more compact power punchers like Mike Tyson and Jack Dempsey was the extent to which they used their legs and hips to make up for their lack of length, thereby converted their full weight into punching power. But with a straight punch delivered in typical boxing form, physics demands that the longer limb will get the most bang for the buck, whereas a shorter stockier guy punching “uphill” with shorter arms is going to generate much less power.

    Not saying that this was the deciding factor in the Sanford scrap. There’s no fight tape to review, just a bunch of wild theories and presumptions, and grandstanding from the usual hustlers.

  215. @Milhouse “Not that I ever saw how what he said was relevant. It’s not a crime to say what they claimed he said. He had every right to mutter it to himself, just as he had every right to follow Martin, and to ask him what he was doing, and Martin had no right at all to respond with violence.” No-one has claimed otherwise. The claim was rather that if he had said it, it would imply he is racist and had race on his mind at that time, which if true would call into question his actual motivations for starting the confrontation and for shooting him, and whether Martin initiated violence at all. All of this can be understood [thus explaining why it is relevant whether or not he said it] without even using a “hate crime” theory of it making his actions worse, let alone classifying the words themselves as a crime.

  216. > The claim was rather that if he had said it, it would imply he is racist and had race on his mind at that time, which if true would call into question his actual motivations for starting the confrontation and for shooting him

    But, people not only objecting to Zimmerman’s indecipherable mutterings, but are also objecting to the fact that Zimmerman followed Martin at all, objecting to the fact that Zimmerman suspected Martin of committing a crime, and showed this suspicion, which objections imply that Martin was justified in attacking Zimmerman, justified because Zimmerman had disrespected Martin, had failed to show the respect that is due to blacks from whites.

    You say he “started the confrontation”. How did he start the “confrontation”? He started it by following Martin, which we know enraged Martin. He “confronted” Martin by acting as if Martin’s behavior was suspicious. In so doing, Zimmerman failed to show the respect that whites are supposed to show to blacks, probably because it never occurred to Zimmerman that Zimmerman was supposedly white. By and large, mestizos don’t show the respect to blacks that whites show to blacks.

  217. @JAD “He started it by following Martin, which we know enraged Martin. He “confronted” Martin by acting as if Martin’s behavior was suspicious.”

    Martin’s behavior: “It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about.”

    It is _not_ acceptable to “act as if [someone's] behavior is suspicious” when they’re just walking around, doing nothing wrong. Doing so _is_ confrontational, regardless of the race of anyone involved. That’s not “the respect that is due to blacks from whites”, that’s the respect that is due from one human being to another. And if he were motivated in doing so by Martin’s race, that would be important – without bringing in any ‘hate crime’ theory – because it implies he had _any motive at all_ other than genuinely thinking his actions were suspicious.

    If I had heard of this incident without any reference to race, my thought would probably be “asshole thinks he’s Batman” regarding Zimmerman’s actions.

    Following someone around with no legitimate reason is _not okay_ – and Martin’s actions as described by Zimmerman are _not actually suspicious_. Racism would just change the likely reason for following him from “Zimmerman is a paranoid loon” to racial bias. And if people find it hard to imagine someone reacting the same way to a white kid, that’s the conclusion they’re going to jump to.

    “Here is a hint for anyone who gets asked by local what he is doing, or is treated with suspicion by a local.” – someone who does in fact have a legitimate reason to be where he is isn’t going to think of the people around him as “locals” who therefore have the right to demand an explanation why he is in their neighborhood.

  218. Following someone around with no legitimate reason is _not okay_ – and Martin’s actions as described by Zimmerman are _not actually suspicious_. Racism would just change the likely reason for following him from “Zimmerman is a paranoid loon” to racial bias. And if people find it hard to imagine someone reacting the same way to a white kid, that’s the conclusion they’re going to jump to.

    Unless you interfere with them, you can *follow* someone all you want. An individual is perfectly entitled to walk around wherever they want in their own neighborhood. It may be RUDE, but that’s the worst of it. In some neighborhoods, any outsider spotted *will* have one or more busybody grandmothers tailing them. It’s happened to me, and I never once felt any urge to knock granny down and pound her head into the ground.

    “Here is a hint for anyone who gets asked by local what he is doing, or is treated with suspicion by a local.” – someone who does in fact have a legitimate reason to be where he is isn’t going to think of the people around him as “locals” who therefore have the right to demand an explanation why he is in their neighborhood.

    And I will wager that you have never lived anywhere that wasn’t essentially a transient space. You need to get out more- try hanging out in a townie bar and see what happens. Might learn something.

  219. > It is _not_ acceptable to “act as if [someone's] behavior is suspicious” when they’re just walking around, doing nothing wrong. Doing so _is_ confrontational, regardless of the race of anyone involved.

    Bullshit. It is not confrontational when a white acts like that to a white. Any outsider shows up where I live, someone will ask him what he is doing here, and expect a courteous explanation, and get a courteous explanation.

    It is only “confrontational” when a white acts like that to a black.

  220. Well, I’d say it’s confrontational to a jerk, or a thug, or to a wannabe thug, regardless of the races involved.

  221. > Well, I’d say it’s confrontational to a jerk, or a thug, or to a wannabe thug, regardless of the races involved.

    But Zimmerman would only be acting like a jerk or a thug if he was a white man acting like that to a black man. If you were wandering around my near my home, someone would start keeping an eye on you, and eventually ask you what you were doing, and you would think nothing of it, you would courteously explain why you were here and what you are doing, just as everyone does, because you are white, and white people do not expect to receive the respect that black people expect to receive.

    Further, blacks only expect to receive respect from whites. Mestizo’s don’t give them respect and are not expected to give them respect. In that Martin demanded that Zimmerman give him the respect he would have received from a white man, Martin, not Zimmerman, violated social norms. If Zimmerman had been white, Zimmerman would have been violating social norms, but Zimmerman was mestizo, so it was Martin that violated social norms.

  222. I meant that Zimmerman’s actions would have been perceived as confrontational to a jerk or thug, not that he was acting like one. If I had been walking through a neighborhood and some neighborhood watch guy (or busybody) had asked me what I was doing, I’d have said “Walking to _____” or whatever and not taken offense.

  223. “Bullshit. It is not confrontational when a white acts like that to a white. Any outsider shows up where I live, someone will ask him what he is doing here, and expect a courteous explanation, and get a courteous explanation.”

    You live somewhere small enough for you to be able to identify who is an “outsider” by sight, then. If someone in _my_ neighborhood asks what I am doing there, my first thought is going to be “who does this asshole think he is?”, and my reaction and my tone in giving an explanation – if I choose to give one at all – is going to be influenced by that. That would also be my reaction to you, if I lived where you do.

    It is confrontational to treat someone as an outsider in this way when they’re not – and, by extension, to do so when you lack the capacity to correctly identify if someone’s an outsider. (actually it’s confrontational regardless, it’s just that if he actually _was_ an outsider than confronting him would have arguably been legitimate)

    Note: The media accounts I have read clearly state that Martin was indeed living in that neighborhood at the time. I assign a low probability to the idea that they would make something up of that magnitude and no-one would have called them on it.

  224. > You live somewhere small enough for you to be able to identify who is an “outsider” by sight, then.

    As did Zimmerman: 260 households.

    > The media accounts I have read clearly state that Martin was indeed living in that neighborhood

    Trayvon Martin’s school district is a long way from his father’s house, a long way from the place where he was shot, therefore he did not normally live with his father. Most blacks don’t. So Trayvon Martin was an outsider, or would reasonably be mistaken for an outsider by locals. Therefore, he could reasonably be expected to be watched with concern, and perhaps asked what he was doing, to which he could have and should have courteously replied “I am visiting my father, who lives at …”

  225. We don’t really know how Zimmerman approached Martin. There have been accounts of Zimmerman having a short temper, and other indicators that he may not have been a polite person. For all that Eric complains about the evil Liberal media framing the story in a way as to demonize Zimmerman, every alternate narrative I’ve seen is also very self-serving, only to the other side of the political spectrum.

    No one really knows what happened that night. Except Zimmerman, and his account will be naturally self-serving.

    I do agree that Liberals often exaggerate matters of race. Real racism is in sharp decline in the USA. But even if Zimmerman was not a KKK member, he seems to me at least overzealous. When an adult guns down an unarmed teenager and is not arrested, all reasonable persons should want to see the matter investigated in a through manner. Regardless of the races of the involved.

    By the way, racism may not be as prevalent as Liberals claim, but it’s also not non-existent, like you Libertarians claim. I can’t browse the Internet about comments on “hot” topics without finding someone with a handle like “Valhalla Warrior” spewing racist comments on current topics. But maybe that is the nature of the Internet: to be the last refuge of weirdos of any kind, including racists.

    Oh, and MSNBC editing the tape? Stupid, very stupid, but not necessarily a evil conspiracy orchestrated by evil genius Obama. NBC News and MSNBC have been playing the tape correctly from day one and, days later, the Today Show comes along and edits the tape like no one watching would notice. If that is a conspiracy, then it’s the dumbest conspiracy I’ve ever seen. If that is the level of intelligence you will find in Liberal conspiracies, then you Libertarians can be at ease.

  226. > We don’t really know how Zimmerman approached Martin.

    Indeed we don’t. But we do know that many, probably most liberals and blacks think it was horribly racist and disrespectful for Zimmerman to approach Martin uninvited at all, that such grossly disrespectful misbehavior deserves violence, whereas there is supposedly nothing racist or disrespectful about a black approaching a white uninvited.

    We also know that Martin thought like that.

  227. I don’t think it was racist or disrespectful for Zimmerman simply to approch Martin. It might as well have been, but we don’t know how he did it. It’s facile to accuse Zimmerman of racism without knowing all the facts.

    But I do think it was unwise as hell. I don’t want armed civilians patrolling my neighbourhood at night and approaching lone teenagers. No matter the race of the patrollers and teenagers. That is a recipe for disaster, if ever I saw one.

    To make matters worse, I think Zimmerman was enabled by an attorney’s office too willing to dismiss a case, probably for finantial reasons. I don’t think race must enter the equation at all.

  228. > I don’t want armed civilians patrolling my neighbourhood at night and approaching
    >lone teenagers. No matter the race of the patrollers and teenagers. That is a recipe for
    >disaster, if ever I saw one.

    It’s only a recipe for a disaster in a society where a violent reaction to such a situation is considered acceptable or at the least expected. Neither person had a right to lay a hand on the other, no matter how smart assed or offensive their language.

  229. > I don’t want armed civilians patrolling my neighbourhood at night and approaching lone teenagers.

    Any neighborhood where you rely on the police to keep you safe, you are not safe. Zimmerman has interrupted two crimes in progress and solved a third.

    > I think Zimmerman was enabled by an attorney’s office too willing to dismiss a case, probably for finantial reasons.

    If Zimmerman had been black the case would have been dismissed without a second thought, and no one would have paid the slightest attention, or given it a moments thought. Compare and contrast the Taco bell shooting

    The problem is not that anyone really doubts that Zimmerman was attacked, since they keep coming up with rationalizations that would justify such an attack. What they think is that blacks attacking whites is legitimate. But even if social norms are that blacks attacking whites is legitimate, social norms are that black attacking mestizos is not legitimate.

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  231. I have listened to the entire 911 GZ audio. I’d like to address all the speculatory comments about what TM should have done and the credibility of the claim of self-defense by GZ. I agree with the entry in terms of the media coverage and the ham-handed interest opportunism taking place.

    What we do know (all prior to the shooting):
    1) GZ followed/tracked TM for 4+ mins. w/o questioning TM.
    2) At the time GZ was fixated on what TM may have been carrying in his hands or concealing in his waistband.
    3) GZ thought that TM was behaving in an extremely anti-social and suspicious manner.
    4) GZ knew that TM was a kid.
    5) TM was on his cell phone w/a female friend during the tracking.
    6) TM stopped, backtracked and stared into GZ’s car; GZ did not verbally respond or question TM at this point.
    7) TM ran.
    8) GZ exited his truck and started to follow TM after TM started running.

    Some (mild) speculation:
    1) TM was concerned for his safety.
    2) GZ was not trained to deal w/uncertain situations while armed, nervous and certain he was following a criminal committing (or about to commit) a crime.

    All in all, it was a recipe for disaster. Shit show à la carte. Enjoy!

  232. > All in all, it was a recipe for disaster. 7

    And why was it a recipe disaster? There is nothing odd or unusual about locals paying attention to outsiders and keeping and eye on them, when it is white locals watching white ousiders.

    Every time I hear that Zimmerman was behaving badly in watching this guy, the implication is that whites should behave respectfully to blacks, and if they fail to show adequate respect, then it is perfectly legitimate and reasonable for the black to attack the white, which implicitly admits what is explicitly denied: That the six foot one inch Martin attacked the five foot seven Zimmerman, resulting Zimmerman being demoted from mestizo to honorary white, because while mestizos are politically correct relative to whites, blacks are politically correct relative to mestizos.

  233. If the sequence of events that Jiro posted is correct, then TM seems to be perfectly justified in defending himself against aggression. Seriously, he followed the correct order of action taught by self defence experts. Run, and only fight if you have to. Or at least, it appears that way to me. If I was walking along and someone started following me, and if I ran, and they started chasing me, and if they appeared to not be friendly, and they caught up, I’d want to defend myself too…

    Of course, I, and none of you lot either, know what happened that night.

    I’ll also note, no one has reassured me that if TM was “white”, the same sequence of events would have occurred. I especially mean that the police would have still not charged GZ.

  234. I’ll also note, no one has reassured me that if TM was “white”, the same sequence of events would have occurred. I especially mean that the police would have still not charged GZ.

    Obviously the same sequence of events would not have occurred, in that TM would not have thought himself justified in attacking Zimmerman, and if he had attacked Zimmerman, no one would have thought him justified in attacking Zimmerman.

    But, Zimmerman having shot TM and not being charged, compare with the taco bell incident, or any of a thousand incidents where blacks shoot people on rather thin claims of self defense.

    For the evidence that TM attacked Zimmerman:

    1. Zimmerman said so
    2. Witnesses place Zimmernan on the ground with the crap being beaten out of him by TM
    3. Zimmerman is five foot seven, TM is six foot one

    And, four the biggest one of all:

    4. All you guys are continually coming up with clever rationalizations as to why TM would have been perfectly justified in attacking Zimmerman, and Zimmerman horribly racist to defend himself, which rationalizations you would never apply if both were white. (Not that Zimmerman is white, but he gets demoted from Mestizo to honorary white, because you cannot imagine minority on minority violence, even though it happens all the time)

  235. There are two distinct things that I think need to be separated. The first, what happened, the second, what happened after.

    The first, no one really knows what happened exactly (except probably GZ). If Jiro’s post above is accurate (and I have no reason to doubt that the sequence is true enough), then the question becomes, what happened after GZ caught up with MT. I think that MT would be justified in thinking that GZ was hostile. That does not equate to having permission to ‘beat the crap out of him’. Whether or not that meant that MT attacked GZ, we can’t know. It is perfectly possible that GZ started the confrontation (after all, he was following MT, not the other way around). Here, race is quite irrelevant, as is culture, “respect” and so on. I’ll note, that there is nothing in what I’ve said that says that GZ is racist.(I asked up thread if he would have followed MT if MT was “white”. No one answered. I don’t know if anyone asked this question of GZ.)

    Your “evidence” by the way is quite useless. 1) Of course GZ said he was attacked. But we can’t ask the other person involved, can we. If we believe what people say, we’ll have to believe that people have been abducted by aliens. 2) Witnesses are really not evidence of anything. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to find out why. 3) I was attacked plenty of times in high school by shorter people. I.e. irrelevant. Your fourth, “biggest one of all”, is not evidence at all. I also addressed it in this post.

    The second distinct thing, and here we get to the important part of the story (not that this killing (in self-defence or otherwise) is not important), is what happened after. Here, race is important. I would say that if MT was “white”, that the police would have treated GZ differently. Possibly GZ would have been charged. If GZ was “black” and MT was also “black” it might have gone either way. If GZ was “black” and MT “white” or “Mestizo”, then GZ would have been charged for sure. That’s where the racism is.

    I’ll say it again, the racism is not (necessarily) in “what happened”, but in “what happened after”. (I’ll recant if someone can explain to me why I’m wrong. But so far people are focussing on the wrong part of the story. I’ll also insert the same disclaimers from my first comment.)

    Finally, other incidents in other places are quite irrelevant to this incident in this place. It is perfectly possible for injustice to occur in multiple places at once.

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  237. > And why was it a recipe disaster? There is nothing odd or
    > unusual about locals paying attention to outsiders and
    > keeping and eye on them, when it is white locals watching
    > white ousiders.

    It was a recipe for disaster simply because the possibility for misunderstanding was multiplied by the actual circumstances. Night, raining, suspicious mistrust between two parties that are not familiar with each other.

    > Every time I hear that Zimmerman was behaving badly in watching
    > this guy, the implication is that whites should behave respectfully
    > to blacks, and if they fail to show adequate respect, then it is
    > perfectly legitimate and reasonable for the black to attack the white,
    > which implicitly admits what is explicitly denied: That the six foot
    > one inch Martin attacked the five foot seven Zimmerman, resulting
    > Zimmerman being demoted from mestizo to honorary white, because
    > while mestizos are politically correct relative to whites, blacks
    > are politically correct relative to mestizos.

    I hope you aren’t saying that I said Zimmerman behaved badly. I said no such thing, I have no proof at this point that he did or didn’t. Also, I purposely left race out of it.

    You cannot currently prove anything you are saying. You can takes GZ’s word for it, but there is no current proof that I know of. Even if he sustained injuries, that does not mean he was or wasn’t attacked first. It just means he sustained injuries.

    I am not qualified to address nor am I even interested in your skin tone/ethnic categorizations.

    I’ll give you a hint: I don’t get squeamish when I read the Second Amendment.

    From the beginning, the legal and investigatory obstacle course caught my attention. I am concerned that stand your ground is being abused (excluding this incident) or is poorly formulated and there may be blow back from that in terms of fodder for people who get tummy aches reading the Second Amendment. Getting the facts straight on an incident that is getting national attention seems kind of important.

    Being reactionary to reactionary behavior is still reactionary.

  238. > Here, race is important. I would say that if MT was “white”, that the police would have treated GZ differently. Possibly GZ would have been charged. If GZ was “black” and MT was also “black” it might have gone either way. If GZ was “black” and MT “white” or “Mestizo”, then GZ would have been charged for sure. That’s where the racism is.

    That is PC madness. It has not been like since 1910, in parts of America it has not been like that since 1890.

    You say ” If GZ was “black” and MT “white” or “Mestizo”, then GZ would have been charged for sure.”, but in the taco bell incident, the black was not charged.

    You are applying one standard of treatment for blacks, and a lesser and inferior standard of treatment for whites. Nothing Zimmerman did would be treated by you as grounds for concern or violence if MT had been white.

    As with affirmative action, you think that this is reverse racism, the opposite of racism, but it is just plain racist. You, not I are the racist, just as those giving black affirmative action degrees are the racists.

    It used to be, until around 1900 or so in America, that private violence done by, or supervised by, property owning white males was pretty much tolerated, and private violence by propertyless people and unsupervised blacks was severely punished. This was in fact a rational policy, since property owners have rational incentives to use force in a proper and virtuous manner, and white males were in those days socialized to use force in a proper and virtuous manner, to protect, rather than predate.

    Now, affirmative action style, we have the reverse system, where violence by the underclass, especially the black underclass, is tolerated, while violence by the propertied is subject to severe repression.

    What you practice is not reverse racism, but just plain racism, and it is a lot worse than the “racism” of the pre 1900 system, since that “racism” had a rational basis in the evident good behavior of the favored groups.

  239. Great rant! :) Except you are way off target. I didn’t call you a racist. (Though I will now you’ve raised the issue. Racist.) I didn’t mention reverse racism, I agree racism is racism. It’s racist for a “black” person to say that all “white” people are *whatever*, the same way that it’s racist for a “white” person to say that all “black” people are *whatever*. It’s also racist for a “black” person to make the same comments about “black” people. I would say that yes, you can be racist against your own “race”. Just like it’s possible for women to make sexist comments about women…
    Oh, and I think that you are racist because of your bullshit up thread, and other comments since.

    Racism, attributing to the social construct “race” attributes that are actually a result of other reasons. So, I would say that culture, poverty/wealth, and other factors are more important than the colour of one’s skin, or the shape of one’s nose. (Why yes, “race” is socially constructed. All the bullshit about what “Hispanic” means, and the fact that a 1/4 “black” person is still “black” demonstrates the point nicely.)

    I’m going to leave this thread now. I think I”ll unsubscribe from follow up emails as well so I don’t have to read your reactionary tripe any more.

  240. > I agree racism is racism. It’s racist for a “black” person to say that all “white” people are *whatever*, the same way that it’s racist for a “white” person to say that all “blacks ..

    You evidently don’t agree that it is racist to have one standard, an easy standard, for granting university admission and subsequently a degree to a black, and a different standard, a tougher standard, such as ability to actually do the work, for granting a degree to a white.

    You evidently don’t agree that it racist to tolerate black violence and underclass violence that would not be tolerated from whites or middle class.

    Any idiot can see that law enforcement, like universities, applies one rule for whites, and another rule for minorities. For example Mexicans in California do not need insurance or a license to drive. If you visit a Mexican town in California, it is pretty obvious that they are not burdened by building and pollution burdens that whites are burdened by. There have been a number of incidents of racist violence by gangs of blacks against whites, where the gang continued to hang around when the police turned up, in the confident and correct expectation that the police would do nothing.

    And the Trayvon Martin incident revealed an attitude that blacks deserve respect merely for being black, and if they don’t get adequate respect, are entitled to beat people up.

  241. “….the distinction between “white” and “hispanic” is a rather silly one to be insisting on in 2012, especially for anybody named “George Zimmerman”. But I’m not him – apparently George thought his hispanicity/non-whiteness was important enough to put on his documents.”
    Wikipedia listed Spanish American Liberators and their countries include: Gregor MacGregor and Carlos Soublette (fr.) of Venezuela, New Granada, and Quito; Jose Rondeau (fr.) and William Brown of Rio de la Plata and Paraguay; and, Bernardo O’Higgins of Chile and Peru. A great many of the ‘spanish’ surnamed immigrants to this country have native South American lineage rather than a pure ancestral trail leading to old Spain. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget currently defines “Hispanic or Latino” as “a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race”.

  242. I wrote:
    > For example Mexicans in California do not need insurance or a license to drive. If you visit a Mexican town in California, it is pretty obvious that they are not burdened by building and pollution burdens that whites are burdened by.

    It occurs to me that Michael would not comprehend that by “burden” I meant “regulation”. He probably imagines that people love being regulated, and the Mexicans sadly say, “Oh if only the good and benevolent government would prevent me from expanding my house the way it prevents white folk from expanding their houses”

  243. @JAD “He probably imagines that people love being regulated, and the Mexicans sadly say, “Oh if only the good and benevolent government would prevent me from expanding my house the way it prevents white folk from expanding their houses””

    Nice straw man. I don’t think _anyone’s_ that insane. If anything, the assumption would be they wish the government would prevent the asshole who lives next door to them from expanding _his_ house.

  244. Oh, and… “Nothing Zimmerman did would be treated by you as grounds for concern or violence if MT had been white.” Don’t presume to tell people what they think. (I don’t think anything we _know_ he did is grounds for violence, but I think it is grounds for concern – regardless of race – and for the question of what we _don’t_ know he did. And we don’t know who initiated violence, either).

  245. @JAD “You evidently… You evidently…”

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Maybe he doesn’t think those things are true, maybe he thinks they’re racist, WHO KNOWS as he hasn’t commented on either issue, has he?

  246. > I don’t think anything we _know_ he did is grounds for violence, but I think it is grounds for concern

    But it would not have been grounds for concern if his suspect had been white. If any white guy passes through a gate into a gated community, he is entirely unsurprised and not at all offended if someone asks him his business. It was grounds for concern because Zimmerman was failing to display the respect that whites should give to blacks. Probably the reason he failed to show appropriate respect was because he did not know he was about to be declared “white”.

  247. “But it would not have been grounds for concern if his suspect had been white.”

    I disagree. Can we leave it at that, and maybe you privately think I’m an idiot, instead of you accusing me of lying about my own thoughts?

  248. > > “But it would not have been grounds for concern if his suspect had been white.”

    Random832 on Wednesday, April 11 2012 at 8:32 pm said:
    > I disagree

    I observe that white people are not surprised or concerned when locals pay attention to them and ask them why they are present. They answer politely, feeling they have to justify their presence, feeling that it is normal for a local to come after them. All of them. Every single one.

    Reflect on your own past. You walked into a small gated community, you entered a private road, you walked into recreational facility where you were not a guest. What happened? Chances are that someone came up, and you did not feel concern or indignation.

    Therefore white people do not feel what you say you feel. The concern, the feeling, is not that it is wrong to scrutinize someone, but that it is wrong to scrutinize a black man. It is perfectly OK to scrutinize a white man.

  249. “Reflect on your own past. You walked into a small gated community, you entered a private road, you walked into recreational facility where you were not a guest. What happened? Chances are that someone came up, and you did not feel concern or indignation. ”

    I think we have different images in our mind of the “gated community”. There are some apartment complexes near where I live where there is theoretically a gate that closes at night, but in practice it does not and the gate is always unmanned. An acquaintance of mine, who does not drive, lives in one. I also had the impression that Zimmerman did not observe Martin entering the community. Challenging his entrance would be the function of the gate guard (or, if there was none, then it wasn’t a real gated community), not a random resident to question someone on a street inside. Once inside, one should in my understanding be assumed to be legitimately present – that’s what the outside fence and gate are FOR.

    So I think that _in_ a gated community [rather than at the gate of one], there should be even _less_ cause to be suspicious of someone unfamiliar than in an ordinary neighborhood. (That the residents of gated communities tend to be selected to be more paranoid than average offsets this in practice)

  250. Just in case people don’t click it based on the headline, Jiro’s article is about a case where a black man is serving life in prison for shooting a white man who attacked him on his own property, and the “failure” mentioned in the title is the failure to protect his rights equally as for white people.

    I guess if you’re black you still have a duty to retreat in Georgia.

  251. > Just in case people don’t click it based on the headline, Jiro’s article is about a case where a black man is serving life in prison for shooting a white man who attacked him on his own property, and the “failure” mentioned in the title is the failure to protect his rights equally as for white people.

    Jiro shot a man who was allegedly attacking him – a man that did not have a gun, and who allegedly attacked Jiro while Jiro was pointing a gun at him, after Jiro had drawn his gun and taken aim. Perhaps the jury did not believe Jiro. I surely would not.

    If Jiro’s story is true, his conviction would most unjust, and would be clear and compelling evidence of racism – but it is a most improbable story. A white man without a gun will not attack a man who is holding a gun on him from range. Whites just don’t do that. Ever. And even blacks rarely do it.

  252. > > “Reflect on your own past. You walked into a small gated community, you entered a private road, you walked into recreational facility where you were not a guest. What happened? Chances are that someone came up, and you did not feel concern or indignation. ”

    > I think we have different images in our mind of the “gated community”.

    I notice you are not answering my question.

    If “gated community” is too complicated a question, how about “private road”?

    > or, if there was [no guard on the gate], then it wasn’t a real gated community

    The benefit of a gated community with no guard on the gate is, if the community is small enough, that outsiders have no excuse or right to be there except on invitation of one of the residents – the benefit is precisely that visitors can be challenged by residents.

  253. “I notice you are not answering my question.” – the implicit answer was “No.” (in fact, it has not happened, but if it did, “did not feel concern or indignation. ” would NOT be an accurate description of my reaction.) I didn’t know you were so dim as to need that spelled out so explicitly.

    I’ll also mention that, sometimes, “fake gated communities” don’t actually consist of private roads. They’re not actually places where outsiders don’t have a right to be, and your point seems to be failing to be intimidated by an open gate and an empty guardhouse is a crime.

  254. I guess if you’re black you still have a duty to retreat in Georgia.

    If the story accurately reflects the facts then it’s an outrage. But the story stinks to high heaven. Here’s another of Eric’s “IQ tests”; anyone who reads that story and sees no reason not to take it at face value fails.

    Just one example: McNeil’s appeal was rejected 6-1. The article quotes extensively from the one dissenter, but it doesn’t even bother to summarise the six judges who upheld the verdict, or even give us the tiniest clue as to their arguments. To me this is sufficient to prove that the story is advocacy and not reportage, and should be treated as such. It might very well be advocacy for a just cause; but advocacy is what it is, and therefore it is dangerous to rely on it for facts.

  255. James A Donald on Thursday, April 12 2012 at 2:02 am said:
    > > “Reflect on your own past. You walked into a small gated community, you entered a private road, you walked into recreational facility where you were not a guest. What happened? Chances are that someone came up, and you did not feel concern or indignation. ”

    Random832
    > in fact, it has not happened,

    Then you are reluctant to walk into a gated community, reluctant to go on a private road, and reluctant to go into a recreational facility where you are not a guest.

    Which implies that if challenged you would, like most people, treat the challenge as normal and explain your presence politely and respectfully.

  256. The supreme court summary tells us:
    “Indeed, from the evidence presented, the jury was authorized to conclude that McNeil decided to confront Epp with the specific purpose of “whip[ping] his ass” before Epp even knew that McNeil was on his way to the scene; ?that McNeil had time to stop in his driveway, retrieve a gun from his glove compartment, take the gun out of its case, load it, exit from his car, and “argue loudly” with Epp for a few minutes before firing the first shot at him; ?”

    The jury concluded that McNeil had caused the confrontation in a stereotypically black fashion, not on the basis of supposedly racist black stereotypes, but on the basis of evidence presented, hence concluded that this case was not covered by the stand your ground laws, nor constituted self defense.

  257. “Then you are reluctant to walk into a gated community, reluctant to go on a private road, and reluctant to go into a recreational facility where you are not a guest.”

    By “recreational facility”, I assume you mean the “clubhouse” mentioned in the 911 call. The only context it was mentioned in was as a landmark when Zimmerman was giving directions for the dispatcher.

    I don’t randomly do things with no reason. If I did _in fact_ have a reason to be in a gated community or on a private road (Martin was staying with someone who lived there), I would be offended if anyone other than the actual security staff challenged my presence, and nothing you say will make that untrue.

  258. So it turns out that the summary “a black man is serving life in prison for shooting a white man who attacked him on his own property” is seriously one-sided, and the commentary “I guess if you’re black you still have a duty to retreat in Georgia” is out-and-out dishonest.

    The jury did not believe that Epp attacked McNeil, in which case of course he had no right to shoot Epp, and the question of a duty to retreat doesn’t arise. Six out of seven appeals court judges found that there was enough evidence for the jury to have decided not to believe McNeil. In particular, they may well have been influenced by McNeil’s lie to the police that Epp had pulled a knife on him. I see no reason to reject their analysis, and the Salon writer’s advocacy is neither here nor there. There is certainly no reason in the world to inject race into this story, and to suppose that the jury or the appeals court would have come to a different decision had the races been reversed.

  259. PS: I meant to say, this illustrates the danger of reaching conclusions on the basis of a column written by an advocate for one side rather than by a reporter.

  260. PS: I meant to say, this illustrates the danger of reaching conclusions on the basis of a column written by an advocate for one side rather than by a reporter.

    But you repeat yourself. ;)

  261. Greg, I don’t mean someone whose job title is “reporter”, but someone who is acting as a reporter. My point is that the Salon article cited was a blatant piece of advocacy, which didn’t even pretend to be honest news reportage. The most obvious example was the fact that it quoted extensively from the one dissent, but didn’t bother even giving a clue as to why six out of seven judges voted otherwise. Any news report with even delusions of honest reportage would have given their reasons. But a brief for the appellant can obviously not be expected to contain information that harms his cause. Nothing wrong with that, but from the point of view of someone who knows nothing about the case, if your only source of information is a brief for one side then you can’t be confident that you know the facts (unless you have independent reason to absolutely trust the brief’s writer).

  262. Yes. I was being snarky about the current state of “journalism”. Despite its pretensions, it’s all just advocacy reporting. And overwhelmingly advocacy for one particular side. Nowadays there are people who do reporting, in a functional sense. But they tend not to enjoy the title of reporter, in a gatekeeper-controlled credential sense.

    Journalists tend not to *know* anything. If you ever see an example of “journalism” that’s in a domain you have detailed knowledge of, the horrifying inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and unsupported, frequently directly counter-factual conclusions aren’t an accident. But they do have ideals, aspirations, and no shortage of ego (which is actually what you’ll be reading about).

  263. > And the other barriers have effectively collapsed; nobody even looks twice at couples that are mixed among whites, asians, and hispanics.

    As a data point, there was a couple in my cohort of friends who everyone just thought was “just another couple”, until the day they posted to LJ about why they celebrate the anniversary of “Loving v Virginia”, at which point a lot of us said “What? Wait? She’s black?” I recall myself pulling up a picture of her on Flickr, doing a close critical look at her facial features and skin tone, realizing that she was always a sort of deep yellow-tan instead of the standard Seattle “healthy shade of pale”, and realized “huh, yeah, I guess she is”. At which point everyone collectively shrugged, and continued not giving a shit.

  264. For that matter, white/black couples no longer attract notice either. In 2003, when George Bush and Condoleezza Rice took a secret trip to Iraq to visit the troops,

    Bush slipped away from his home without notice Wednesday evening with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, both of them disguised with baseball caps. Bush told reporters that they looked like a “normal couple.” Bush then flew to Washington to pick up aides and a handful of reporters sworn to secrecy.

  265. The most absurd part of this episode is that both Zimmerman and Martin are Black, at least according to the “one drop of blood” standard.
    The media don’t like taking about “Black on Black” crime, so Zimmerman has been relegated to being “White.” Only God and Zimmerman know if that’s any better.

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