The reach and power of Standard Group Tales!

THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2013

White liberals, please stay in your cars: Occasionally, a professional journalist will reject a Standard Group Story.

On Monday, Will Saletan rejected the current Standard Story in a post at Slate. As he starts, he says he “almost joined the frenzy” about the Zimmerman verdict:
SALETAN (7/15/13): I almost joined the frenzy. Yesterday I was going to write that Zimmerman pursued Martin against police instructions and illustrated the perils of racial profiling. But I hadn’t followed the case in detail. So I sat down and watched the closing arguments: nearly seven hours of video in which the prosecution and defense went point by point through the evidence as it had been hashed out at the trial. Based on what I learned from the videos, I did some further reading.
In fact, this story can be seen as an object lesson “in the perils of racial profiling,” although it isn’t clear why Zimmerman was concerned by Martin’s presence and/or conduct that night.

It seems to us that Saletan expresses more certainty than he can actually have. But this is the way he came to see the case after his evaluation. His piece includes many links:
SALETAN (continuing directly): It turned out I had been wrong about many things. The initial portrait of Zimmerman as a racist wasn’t just exaggerated. It was completely unsubstantiated. It’s a case study in how the same kind of bias that causes racism can cause unwarranted allegations of racism. Some of the people Zimmerman had reported as suspicious were black men, so he was a racist. Members of his family seemed racist, so he was a racist. Everybody knew he was a racist, so his recorded words were misheard as racial slurs, proving again that he was a racist.

The 911 dispatcher who spoke to Zimmerman on the fatal night didn’t tell him to stay in his car. Zimmerman said he was following a suspicious person, and the dispatcher told him, "We don't need you to do that." Chief prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda conceded in his closing argument that these words were ambiguous. De la Rionda also acknowledged, based on witness and forensic evidence, that both men “were scraping and rolling and fighting out there.” He pointed out that the wounds, blood evidence, and DNA didn’t match Zimmerman’s story of being thoroughly restrained and pummeled throughout the fight. But the evidence didn’t fit the portrait of Martin as a sweet-tempered child, either. And the notion that Zimmerman hunted down Martin to accost him made no sense. Zimmerman knew the police were on the way. They arrived only a minute or so after the gunshot. The fight happened in a public area surrounded by townhouses at close range. It was hardly the place or time to start shooting.
We tend to agree with most of that. In particular, we tend to agree with this statement, though we'd add a qualification:

“It’s a case study in how the same kind of bias that causes racism can cause unwarranted allegations of racism.”

We tend to agree with that. Many of the judgments being aimed at Zimmerman reflect the same kinds of “thinking” that have driven the thinking of mobs and tribes all through the annals of time.

Through the sweep of our brutal American history, white racists were allowed to act on their judgments in especially repugnant ways. But the process of simple-minded typological judgment remains the same all over the world when members of tribes make simple-minded snap judgments about members of other tribes.

Time after time, members of the liberal world has been stunningly simple-minded in the past few weeks. We “liberals” can be dumbasses too, and we seem determined to prove it.

Saletan rejects the Group Story, and yet its pull seems strong. In the absence of further information, we would be inclined to reject the basic judgments expressed here:
SALETAN (continuing directly): That doesn’t make Zimmerman a hero. It just makes him a reckless fool instead of a murderer...

Zimmerman is guilty, morally if not legally, of precipitating the confrontation that led to Martin’s death. He did many things wrong. Mistake No. 1 was inferring that Martin was a burglar. In his 911 call, Zimmerman cited Martin’s behavior. “It’s raining, and he’s just walking around” looking at houses, Zimmerman said. He warned the dispatcher, “He’s got his hand in his waistband.” He described Martin’s race and clothing only after the dispatcher asked about them. Whatever its basis, the inference was false.

Mistake No. 2 was pursuing Martin on foot. Zimmerman had already done what the neighborhood watch rules advised: He had called the police. They would have arrived, questioned Martin, and ascertained that he was innocent. Instead, Zimmerman, packing a concealed firearm, got out and started walking after Martin. Zimmerman’s initial story, that he was trying to check the name of the street, was so laughable that his attorneys abandoned it. He was afraid Martin would get away. So he followed Martin, hoping to update the cops.
Was Zimmerman “a reckless fool” that night? It’s possible, depending on what he actually did, which isn't actually known.

But even as he rejects the standard story, Saletan seems to bow to its power. Was Zimmerman “a reckless fool” when he got out of his truck?

Consider what that judgment seems to imply:

According to the Standard Story, Zimmerman became responsible for what occurred when he got out of his truck. This represents a remarkable judgment:

If a black teen has been seen in the neighborhood, you have to stay behind locked doors! With that kind of obvious danger around, you can’t walk through your own neighborhood!

That is a stunning precept. Newsflash: People are allowed to walk through their neighborhoods! People are even allowed to walk through other people’s neighborhoods.

In feudal Europe, you couldn’t do that. In this country, it’s done all the time.

The idea that Zimmerman shouldn’t have walked through his own neighborhood takes us to an uglier time. It takes us to an ugly perception:

Young black males are so dangerous that you can’t even go outside if a young black male is nearby!

As it turned out, getting out of his truck that night led to a disaster. But what exactly makes us judge that he shouldn’t have done it? It’s possible that Zimmerman did something provocative, ugly or even illegal before or during his encounter with Martin.

But in no way has that been shown. In fact, you are allowed to get out of your truck and walk through the world, even if Those People are near.

“Mistake No. 1” may be even stranger. In that passage, Saletan seems to say that Zimmerman did something “morally wrong” when he “infer[ed] that Martin was a burglar.”

Did Zimmerman “infer that Martin was a burglar?” It seems clear that he suspected that Martin was up to no good. Basically, that's what he told the dispatcher.

Assuming that this suspicion was mistaken, is it really “morally wrong” to engage a false suspicion? People are wrong in such judgments all the time. In and of itself, that isn’t normally seen as a moral failure.

Was Zimmerman crazy in forming his suspicion? Like Saletan, we have no way of knowing; that would largely depend on what Martin may have been doing. As Saletan notes, Zimmerman told the dispatcher at one point that Martin approached the car with “his hand in his waistband.”

Did that happen? We have no way of knowing. Presumably, though, that would mean that Martin was pretending to have a gun. If Martin did behave that way, was it crazy to be suspicious of his larger intentions?

Why did Zimmerman get out of his car? We can’t tell you that.

What was Martin doing, if anything, that caught Zimmerman's eye? We can’t answer that either.

Here’s the problem: Saletan can’t know these things either! But he seems ready to stampede off into a harsh moral judgment.

Our view? If Zimmerman really was concerned about Martin, it was unwise to get out of the car. Inevitably, the fact that Zimmerman was armed added to the possibility of a disaster.

(Others will say that this may explain why Zimmerman is still alive.)

That said, by normal standards, it simply isn’t a reckless act to walk through the streets where you live. In this case, the decision to do so turned out very poorly. But is Saletan really prepared to say it was morally wrong?

If he is, might he be in the grip of the Standard Group Judgment he says he has rejected?

We don’t know what Zimmerman did that night. But if he simply walked through the grounds trying to see where Martin went, he was engaged in conduct which is thoroughly legal. It is also thoroughly normal to walk around where you live. Or do we want to return to a controlling notion from long ago:

If a young black male has been seen in the area, please do not get out of your car! Be sure to stay behind locked doors until the threat is gone!

That is a repulsive notion. In our view, it reeks from the pages of screeching liberals who want to see Zimmerman burn.

As we’ve mentioned many times, we white liberals just don’t seem to like black kids very much. In our view, we white liberals have made this clear for many years. mainly through our complete disinterest in pursuing or even discussing their interests.

Sorry. But we smell that smell in the recent wave of screeching pseudo-liberal concern.

This country is full of decent, admirable, deserving black kids. We see kids like that every day. because of the way they persevere and advance, we admire those kids a great deal.

This country is full of kids like that. Until a good witch trial blows up, you can’t make white liberals say so.

118 comments:

  1. Bob..Check all those transcripts and tapes and see if Zimmerman ever told the truth by saying Trayvon was talking on a cell phone. Never did he say that, preferring to pretend that walking slowly in a rainy drizzle was "suspicious". Note Z would also have had to shoot Gene Kelly.

    But the key remains that when TM approached Z and asked why he was following him, Z refused to answer and grabbed for his pants pocket (or his gun?). Z admitted that action and the refusal to explain himself. TM hit Z when he grabbed for something in his pants pocket area, an act of aggression. Spin that.

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    1. Sorry but grabbing for your phone to try to call 911 again when someone confronts you in the dark isn't an act of aggression. Nor is it sane to include that detail if you were reaching for your gun.

      Martin had walked up to Zimmerman's truck earlier, with his hands in his pants, causing Zimmerman to suspect he might have a weapon.

      You consider that an act of aggression, therefore you must agree that Martin was the first aggressor. Most of us consider him the first aggressor because he lurked for 4 minutes, then physically attacked Zimmerman unprovoked.

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    2. "Z would also have had to shoot Gene Kelly" -- Because Zimmerman shot Maretin for walking in the rain?

      Why wasn't the jury as clear-headed about that as you are?

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    3. Anon 1:23: You are apparently ignorant of the fact that Z admitted the phone was not where he grabbed, that he believed the police were already "right there", and that there was no need for anyone to call 911...which he did not do even after shooting TM.

      Z included that detail to Hannity because he slipped up and told it to the policewoman immediately after the shooting, when he thought it was seen by a witness.

      Just read the transcript of his Hannity interview, unless you feel ignorance improves your perspective.

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    4. Anon 3:52, Z would have also had to shoot Johnny Ray, even more suspicious than Gene Kelly.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCjTWYoRTzM

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    5. The cops showed up right after he shot and there was no need to call 911 at that point. He "slipped up" and volunteered that information? The contortions get more comical by the day.

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  2. "If a young black male has been seen in the area, please do not get out of your car! Be sure to stay behind locked doors until the threat is gone!"

    I'd like to see some sources where liberals are actually implying this.

    Also, as a gun owner, my feeling is that when you're going to carry you're taking on more responsibilities than a normal citizen, even more so when you're playing Junior LEO. In that sense, asserting that Zimmerman had a right to walk around misses the point. The question is, did he live up to his responsibilities as someone who had self-selected to wield deadly force? Similarly, I think for most people Zimmerman's self-selection as an enforcer makes him more culpable. He may well have drawn manslaughter if it weren't for stand your ground, and I think it would have been justified.

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    1. Somersby cites one above -- Saletan.

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    2. I don't really see it in what Saletan wrote, though.

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    3. That's what the word "implied" means.

      Numerous people have said that Zimmerman should have stayed in his car. They have said that was his mistake -- getting out when he had been told not to. If that is considered a mistake in judgment then the implication is that no one should get out of their cars when young black men are around. It might provoke a confrontation similar to what occurred between Martin & Zimmerman.

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    4. Anon@213: move goal posts much? Lord Saletan is as much a liberal as Mickey Kaus is.

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    5. Manslaughter charge would have failed without any consideration of SYG. No crime was evidenced before Martin's attack on Zimmerman.

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    6. Simple, centuries-old self defense defense sufficed for any crime that could have been charged here. No conviction possible without jury malfeasance or nullification.

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    7. Anonymous on 7/18/13 @ 5:30P,

      Could have been? Manslaughter would have been a viable charge in any non-SYG or commensurate-force state. In Florida, had Z been the aggressor, provoking a fight after the two stood face to face, he would not have been legally permitted to use lethal force.

      Charged is a low bar.

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    8. Not one charge including littering would have been relevant once self defense was established after ZERO evidence showing Zimmerman committed any criminal act prior to his own beating. Why is such a SIMPLE concept so hard to understand? SYG is irrelevant. It involves "retreat" and GZ already proved he had exhausted means of retreat by his injuries, eyewitness and most important, agonized screams for his life. "Regular" self defense sufficed.

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    9. (Zimmerman could have even committed a criminal, negligent, reckless act prior and he STILL would retain right of self defense. Key is retreat. Martin didn't, Zimmerman couldn't.

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    10. Anonymi, Well, apparently it's not simple. Or even that SIMPLE.

      No matter who was at fault in starting the altercation, both parties had the right to defend themselves. However, the one who provoked the altercation would not have been legally allowed to use lethal force. The other one could if he had a reasonable fear of death or great injury.

      In Florida, when one occupies a place he's allowed to be, is not committing a crime, and finds himself in reasonable fear for his life or of great injury, he has no duty to retreat. If one provokes a fight (which is usually a criminal act), then he loses the right to use lethal force for self-defense unless he retreats (or surrenders in good faith) and finds himself still under attack.

      So if you're doing no more than walking around in a public place and you're attacked so as to put you in reasonable fear for your life, retreat won't some up. It's not an issue. If you provoke a fight and you're losing badly enough so that youi employ lethal force, retreat will be an issue because you have to retreat (or surrender) first before meeting a continuing attack with lethal force.

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    11. Seeing as Martin, according to Jeantel, made it to his father's place and then would have had to back track to meet Zimmerman, please provide some evidence that it was he who provoked the fight.

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    12. OK, now what kind of statement did Jeantel make? Anybody. It a type of statement, generally inadmissible as evidence. Now let not see just the same old hands.

      That's right. It's hearsay.

      Even granted that Martin made it back to where he was staying --still not his father's place, but never mind -- and then "back tracked" to meet Z, none of those legal actions constitute provocation. If you're talkin' to me Travis Bickle style, then I don't know who provoked the fight. Neither do you because you weren't there. And Jeantel's report won't help because she wasn't there either.

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  3. Quaker in a BasementJuly 18, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    If a young black male has been seen in the area, please do not get out of your car! Be sure to stay behind locked doors until the threat is gone!

    And if you happen to be a young, black male? Please do not do anything that might make a white person feel uncomfortable. Do not run. Do not walk too slowly. Do not avoid eye contact. Do not stare. Do not attempt to visit a store after dark. Do not go outside if it is raining. Do not attempt to return to the apartment where you are a guest.

    Bob, you keep repeating that Mr. Zimmerman was acting completely rationally by walking through his neighborhood. What about Martin?

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    1. Somerby said right in this very post that Martin was as well. The problem is that instead of walking home, Martin decided to double back and start a physical altercation with Zimmerman.

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    2. What about Martin's rational behavior?

      Do not go off the sidewalk onto lawns to look into other people's windows, do not cut across yards or run onto other people's property. Do not walk up to others and glare at them with hands in waistband in an attempted stare-down. Do not go up to them and ask "Do you have a problem?" or "Are you following me?" (Jeantel's testimony). Do not smoke pot on the street while loitering in the rain or hang around outdoors in an intoxicated state behaving strangely (public intoxication). Do not call other people "creepy-assed crackers" while talking to your friends on cell phones while walking down a shared neighborhood street -- it is a derogatory racial term. Do not assume that someone addressing you is homosexual and trying to pick you up and thus deserves to be whupped (Jeantel's term). If you return to your home, do not go out into the rain again to confront someone you dislike.

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    3. Anonymous 2:11, could you get a name, because your blatant stupidity is a negative reflection on the rest of us?

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    4. You could solve that problem by using a name yourself -- Anon 3:47

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    5. Hey anonymous 3:47 Tell us what is so stupid about 2:11. Is anything he said false?

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    6. Jerilyn's meritsJuly 18, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      Anon@439: yes, by Anon347 using a name, that will force Anon211 to use one.

      What a maroon.

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  4. We should get one thing clear. The pointed question, "Are you following him?" followed by, "Okay, we don't need you to do that" is more than just a dispassionate comment. Smart questioning may have elicited technically-valid testimony from the dispatcher that it was ambiguous, but without doubt, while it was not an "order" as some have mistakenly said, it was a strong request by the police department in the perception of the caller, a nice way of saying, "Please do not follow him."

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    1. And are you saying Zimmerman did not in fact stop following him at that point? If so, do you have citation/evidence of that?

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    2. Yes Marcus, Z's defense team, which even dropped that ridiculous assertion by the end of the trial because Z's movements,location, and statements made it obvious he continued to follow.

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    3. Yeah, but the fatal altercation happened after he had discontinued following and returned back to his car. This implies that Martin doubled back on him and attacked him at his car. That is a classic attack maneuver. Given that Zimmerman had not threatened Martin with physical assault and had already disengaged, Martin's behavior was clearly aggressive and predatory.

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    4. M Carpenter: the altercation did not occur "at his car." you really need to watch the following to get a better idea of what actually happened (although some of it is inaccurate based on Z's own call to the dispatcher): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VakGZgJxTi4

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    5. Thanks Mike L

      I was wrong about that. Wish I would of watched that before.

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    6. However, the fatal altercation did occur after Martin had told Jeantel that he had reached his father's place. The altercation occurred about four townhouses back in the direction from which Martin had come. Therefore, Martin would have had to have double backed in order to confront Zimmerman. Martin is at the very least the idiot most responsible fore the tragedy not Zimmerman. If he had gone into his father's place none of this would have ever happened.

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    7. "Martin would have had to have doubled back in order to confront Zimmerman." You're making some assumptions here of course. You're assuming that Jeantel is telling the truth, that Trayvon was telling HER the truth (maybe he told her that so she would stop worrying), and you're assuming that Jeantel interpreted what he said correctly -- maybe he really just meant that he was so close to being home that he was "practically" home.

      Also, based on where the fight occurred and the body was found, Zimmerman was almost certainly lying in that reenactment video. It's almost inconceivable that he did not actually pursue Martin further than he said, down the base of the "T" that the two sidewalks formed.

      "Martin is at the very least the idiot most responsible for the tragedy, not Zimmerman." This is completely a matter of opinion, and I am guessing that it most likely reflects an assumption that no one (except Zimmerman) can possibly know the accuracy of: the assumption that it was Martin who made the first threatening-seeming move that started the actual physical altercation. (I personally believe Martin did make the first move because he seems less scared than Zimmerman during the call, but that's a subjective interpretion and extrapolation, and therefore pure speculation.) And there are many reasons that many people (maybe most?) think that Zimmerman was more responsible than Martin was:

      1. they don't think there was enough basis for his suspecting Martin was a criminal in the first place (and this is assuming Zimmerman's account of what M was doing initially is even accurate)

      2. they think he shouldn't have followed M in his car (and he obviously wasn't very stealthy about it either since M clearly knew that someone was following/watching him)

      3. shouldn't have gotten out of his car

      4. shouldn't have chased after M on foot, even more so since he was armed (many people think you have to be even LESS risk-taking when you're armed, knowing that if an "incident" occurs the odds that someone dies goes way up when a gun is involved)

      5. should have stopped IMMEDIATELY when asked to do so (it seems pretty clear from the background noise on the call that he continues his pursuit for at least a good 10 seconds after being asked to stop; and the fact that he was still apparently hanging around the part of the "T" where the fight occurred by the time Martin doubled back seems to indicate that he did not immediately head back to his truck even after ending the call with the dispatcher)

      There may be even more things Z did/said that would make people think he's more responsible for this whole thing than Martin is. This is just my own list. But the question of "who's more responsible" is purely a matter of opinion, anyway - has nothing to do with fact, and has nothing to do with what the law says.

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    8. ...oh, and a lot of people have said they think Zimmerman should have, as early as possible, identified himself as part of the Neighborhood Watch and said that he was just doing his job, making sure nothing was amiss. (this might be asking for a bit too much "presence of mind," though, given the circumstances/assumptions/emotions.)

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  5. "We don’t know what Zimmerman did that night."

    Let me help you out here Bob.

    With depraved indifference to human life, Zimmerman took his Kel Tec 9mm pistol and stuck it against Trayvon Martin's chest and deposited a hollow point bullet through Martin's heart and lung. Later on Zimmerman received 2 bandaids to treat his injuries.

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    1. What if he had to get 36 stitches to the back of his skull? Would that have justified his actions in your eyes?

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    2. What if you knew the top pathologist in the country said first responders were negligent in not taking him to the hospital after he declined due to being too poor to carry insurance?

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    3. Anon @ 2:52

      Heck, if I had known that I would have blamed Obama for not pushing through universal health insurance when he had that veto proof mandate.

      Too poor for insurance. Not too poor to be packing a 9mm with hollow points.

      rick

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    4. anon 2:52

      I actually think Dr. Vincent Di Maio was a very professional witness and I agree that they were negligent in not taking him to a hospital. Of course Zimmerman didn't want to go for obvious reasons. It would have been nice if they had taken him to a hospital and did some toxicology tests, but of course he wasn't the suspect, the dead boy was.

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    5. OK, mm. If Zimmerman had no legitimate reason to shoot Martin please explain his broken nose, the multiple lacerations on the back of his head and the fact that the only injuries on Martin were the fatal gunshot and abrasions on his hands. Also please explain why Zimmerman had grass stains on the back of his shirt if Martin wasn't on top pummeling him.

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  6. GOD BLESS YOU BOB SOMERBY AND GOD BLESS AMERICA

    Ben Shapiro:

    The left is committed to changing America in basic ways. But in order to create enough support for changing the greatest and most tolerant nation ever to grace the planet, the left must portray America as an evil, nasty place.

    Doing that requires promoting the lie that non-black Americans hate black people, and would dig their old white sheets and burning crosses out of storage if given half a chance. Both the media and the Democratic Party are complicit in that propaganda effort.

    Building on the fact that America used to be a racist place, and ignoring 50-plus years of American transformation, the left has convinced many Americans, both black and white, that America is a grotesque and monstrous place.

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    1. Nail on the head. "Black mothers wonder if they can let their sons go to the 7-11 in America."

      If they do wonder, it's because Al Sharpton and the anti-progressive American left have done everything they can to keep black mothers and all blacks anxious about their existence in America, and blind to any progress.

      Cruel, self-serving, and grotesque.

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    2. Yes, their own observations of actions in their own neighborhoods prove how wonderful things have become were it not for the Rev. Al and all those outsiders agitating them.
      Its been that way since back in '54 when that other Rev. started agiotating about the colored lady on the bus in Montgomery.

      rick

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    3. I doubt that the black mothers worrying about whether to let their sons go to the 7-11 are parenting sons like Trayvon.

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    4. Indeed Anon 3:45, those black boys like Trayvon with 2 tattoos, one of his mother's name and the other of his grandmother and great-grandmother are so very very sinister, even dangerous when preoccupied on their cell phones and armed with 100 yards of sidewalk.

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    5. And yet Trayvon's mother kicked him out of the house and sent him to his father's. Go figure.

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    6. In 54 it was easy to find colored ladies being told to get to the back of the bus.

      In 2013, it's so hard to find black boys being "gunned down for no reason" that Reverend Al had to use a Hispanic as a scapegoat, a person in the process of committing a violent crime as a "victim" and employ liars in the media to sell it.

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  7. Zimmerman may have not acted wisely in following Martin and having a gun with him. However, these are not crimes. This is what happens when someone carries a gun and he thinks it makes him braver than he would be without one. Trayvon Martin possibly got mad at Zimmerman for following him and stopped and turned to confront him. Obviously, they had a confrontation. We will never know how it started based on the evidence that we have. Trayvon possibly did not know that Zimmerman had a gun. There appear to be bad decisions all around made by both Zimmerman and Martin, which the evidence shows was not a crime by either, but someone is dead because neither of them thought very much before acting.

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    1. If someone wants to say that Martin is dead because Zimmerman had a gun, they must also admit the possibility that Zimmerman is alive because he had a gun.

      Your use of the phrase "makes him braver" implies that Zimmerman may have engaged in behavior he wouldn't have if he had felt less brave. There is also the possibility that knowing about the crime in the neighborhood made him feel more threatened and having a gun did make confrontational or act out some macho fantasy but rather made him feel safer in his home, just as his actions with the neighborhood watch were intended to address that issue of safety. When considering who may have been the aggressor, the presence of a gun does not necessarily indicate bravery, hostility or a desire to provoke others. Remember that many women carry guns in order to protect themselves and to ensure their safety in situations where they know they do not have any other means of deterring a threat. Nor does absence of a weapon make Trayvon Martin non-aggressive, especially if you include the evidence that was not presented at trial, such as his cell phone contents and Jeantel's version of their conversation, and his prior behavior problems. If Zimmerman had the skittles in his pocket instead of Martin, it wouldn't change a thing about this case but it would change the perception of Martin as a child incapable of committing any sort of aggression on another person -- a fiction presented repeatedly by the media.

      In light of events, I cannot agree that it was a "bad decision" for Zimmerman to be carrying a gun. It seems to me, he needed it. What other bad decision did Zimmerman make? Trying to protect his neighborhood by watching for potential burglars? Walking on the sidewalk in his own community? There isn't even any evidence he fought back after being punched by Martin -- something that indisputably happened. I believe Martin is dead because he acted like a punk and attacked someone who was armed and defended himself. School bus drivers don't carry guns but citizens in high crime areas may, and Trayvon didn't think much about that. It is hard for me to see what Zimmerman should have done or thought differently, except for his incompetence as a defendant after being arrested for a crime he shouldn't have been charged with.

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    2. Agreed Snipes, which is why the behavior of most of the left has been awful (I don't care about the behavior of the right - I expect them to be deceitful wackjobs...I expect better of my own side).

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    3. So Marcus, you feel like being aligned with "wackjobs" sets you apart from others...I think you're right.

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    4. Anon your comment is so telling: basically facts and reality don't matter to you - your truth is shaped by whatever happens to be the opposite argument of the tribe you stand against. Basically you are the exact case that Somerby has been railing against all these years since TDH began.

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    5. I think Alan Sniper is spot on here: bad, foolish decisions -- in, perhaps, little things -- by both Martin and Zimmerman led to this tragedy. Zimmerman should have stayed in the car because by his own admission he thought that Martin was up to no good and not because one should fear black teenagers in all situations. Context is everything. It's self-referential: Zimmerman thought that Martin was dangerous and given that his actions were foolish. Then on the flip side, Martin was clearly foolish as well in engaging a stranger in a fight. Although, we should bear in mind that, inconveniently enough, Martin is not here to tell his story. Is it possible that he had a good reason to confront Zimmerman? I guess we'll never know.

      And, Marcus, you're right, too. The left has gone a bit nutty in their insistence that it couldn't be anything but racism. However, as usual, they are easily topped by bat-guano insane right-wingers -- and I am talking about the commenters on this site and others -- who gleefully claim that Martin got what he deserved. After all, the boy had tattoos and he'd been busted for pot possession...

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    6. "The left has gone a bit nutty in their insistence that it couldn't be anything but racism."

      It is possible to think Zimmerman is responsible without attributing it to racism.

      When Martin walked past his vehicle and Zimmerman sat quivering in his car on the phone with the dispatcher, he could have acted like a human being and rolled down his window and asked him if he was lost or needed help. Maybe an actual human dialog would have resulted and Zimmerman would have understood the reality of the situation. Maybe when Martin asked him "why are you following me?", he could have identified himself as a neighborhood watch person and explained his concerns. I lived in neighborhoods with neighborhood watch programs, and there was always some kind of identification on the cars and people volunteering. It makes sense for safety reasons. Again, maybe we could have had an actual human interaction. But no, in his mind, Martin was a fucking punk and deserved no benefit of doubt.
      Even after he shot him dead, Martin continued to be "the suspect" in Zimmerman's mind. This was 7 pm at night for Christ's sake. People are still up and about, eating dinner, watching television, walking the dog, whatever. Once he made the call he could have let it be and let the police handle it. Martin wasn't in the process of committing a crime that demanded immediate action. He wasn't in to the middle of breaking into a house, he wasn't assaulting someone, he was walking in the rain.

      And don't tell me he didn't draw his gun before the encounter. It defies logic. His story defies logic. He's laying on his back getting his ass kicked, totally helpless with zero ability to fight back and then he suddenly turns into Quick Draw McGraw and instantly somehow manages to whip his pistol out from the concealed holster behind him while on his back. Even a trained policeman couldn't have gotten his gun out that fast. The gun was already out.

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    7. "And don't tell me he didn't draw his gun before the encounter. It defies logic."

      You don't assume facts not in evidence simply because the story seems more logical with your fantasy included. You don't have to be "Quick Draw McGraw" in a fight where the other person has no gun -- there is no time element involved because you are not outdrawing anyone. "Whip his pistol out" doesn't apply either. He just needs to get it out. Martin was on top of him, so aiming is not even an issue. You have no idea what a trained policeman could or couldn't have done. Further, it doesn't matter whether the gun was out or not. Martin was hitting him. That is assault and a reason to fear for his life, no matter where the pistol was. It defies logic that anyone, even a teenager, would attack barehanded a man with a drawn pistol. So your suggestion also defies logic.

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    8. "....it doesn't matter whether the gun was out or not...."

      Clearly, to you it doesn't matter. To me it does. And apparently Zimmerman thought it mattered as evident in the telling of his vague, incoherent and logic defying story he told the police.

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  8. "As we’ve mentioned many times, we white liberals just don’t seem to like black kids very much.".
    White conservatives seem to like them----. More? Less? About the same? Fill in the blank.
    White liberals don't seem to like them.
    White conservatives? You tell me.
    It could be only me but it seems that black kids face a daunting task moving through a society where almost no one (outside of their families) like them.
    Ah, it doesn't matter.
    300 years! 300 years! Forget. Close your eyes. You will forget.
    I am tired of this discussion. No minds are being changed. Nothing new is being added. We are tribes.
    I leave you all with this: Martin is dead. Zimmerman killed him.

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    1. "I leave you all with this: Martin is dead. Zimmerman killed him."

      Thank you. And the object lesson is that future Martins should think twice before assaulting possibly armed citizens, no matter how wimpy they appear to be.

      White liberals are about 14% of the voting populations. What does that leave? Non-voters and people in other classifications, including moderates, independents, liberatarians, republicans, and yes, conservatives.

      Who likes black kids: (1) their teachers, (2) their family members, friends and neighbors who know them, (3) their doctors, dentists, coaches, music teachers, day care providers, and others who come into contact with them in various capacities, (4) people who market to their demographic, (5) white kids of a similar age who admire their culture, (6) people who are actually post-racial, not just pretending to be, (7) people from cultures where many members are black, including Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe, (8) people who live according to religious values that preclude racism, (9) people with a live-and-let-live philosophy who don't care about race, people with a lot of experience living in a diverse culture who accept race as one of many attribute a person may have. Add that up and it is a lot of people. That is what gives me hope that things have changed and will continue to improve for black kids. People who care about black kids individually are changing the world -- not White Liberals who think civil rights is about a hopeless attitude that racism is so deeply embedded in our culture we can never escape it and thus everyone must be called a racist and it is the only possible explanation for any event involving black and white people.

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  9. Our Bob truly hits bottom with this one. The contrarian impulse is apparently so irresistible -- I'm so very superior to liberals, and especially MSNBC liberals! -- it overwhelms sense altogether.

    Consider these Saletan passages, quoted with evident approval:

    "But the evidence didn’t fit the portrait of Martin as a sweet-tempered child, either."

    And this pertains to the case in what way? Are murder victims now required to be angelic, to get convictions? And how exactly did Saletan arrive this remarkable insight?

    "And the notion that Zimmerman hunted down Martin to accost him made no sense."

    So, according to Saletan, the actions of the accused now make sense, to get a conviction or show criminal intent Can we now look to tons of vacated convictions, thanks to this new approach to jurisprudence, because the actions of the perpetrator "didn't make sense"?

    "Zimmerman knew the police were on the way. They arrived only a minute or so after the gunshot. The fight happened in a public area surrounded by townhouses at close range. It was hardly the place or time to start shooting."

    Hardly the place or time to starting! So, obviously, the shooting couldn't have taken place! Or, if it did take place, no theory of homicidal intent or reckless criminal behavior is possible! But it was hardly the time or place to shoot anyone!

    And this is the analysis that Bob holds up for general admiration? But wait! Even Saletan goes too far, in Bob's book! Even saying that Georgie was a "reckless fool" verges on slander!

    Is there a clinical term for this derangement syndrome?

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    1. The relevance of Saletan's statement that Martin was not a sweet-tempered child" is that Martin may have contributed to his own death or may even have instigated the confrontation by attacking Zimmerman, forcing him to defend himself.

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    2. Are murder victims now required to be angelic, to get convictions?

      There were no murder victims in this case. The closest anyone came to being a murder victim was George Zimmerman.

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    3. beacon of freedomJuly 18, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      Anon@319:

      Here's Ann Coulter's take - "Perhaps, someday, blacks will be treated as volitional human beings. But not yet."

      Agree?

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    4. She's right. White liberals treat black as anything BUT volitional human beings. This case is more of the same. Some don't even know they're doing it.

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    5. Anon@319: Severe reading comp problem.

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    6. This is the horror of being a white straight male among liberals. ONLY white straight males are treated as volitional. Everyone else is treated as our helpless victims. We are the only ones who are responsible for our actions. And not just responsible for our actions. We're responsible for everyone else's actions too. If Trayvon Martin doubles back and fatally confronts George Zimmerman, it's all George Zimmerman's fault for not staying in his vehicle or for not asking the right questions or for the crime of walking through his own neighborhood.

      Also, we're bigots for not treating women and minorities like they're equal to us and also bigots when we do because we control everything.

      Jesus, you'd almost think we were a bunch of Jews or something.

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  10. This country is full of decent, admirable, deserving black kids.

    Amen. So many people would be better role models than Trayvon for black children. I'd like to see a world where David Blackwell was lauded in the black community and Trayvon Martin wasn't.

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    1. "I'd like to see a world where ...."

      Just make it up like you do everything else.

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  11. Zimmerman should have stayed in his car, because the guy he thought might have been up to no good was running away. Zimmerman's mission of neighborhood watch was accomplished.

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    1. The point of neighborhood watch is not to cause potential burglars to run away.

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    2. Right, it's to scare the begeebus out of innocent kids who may run away and give you an excuse to kill, kill, kill!!!

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    3. If Trayvon had actually run away, he wouldn't be dead.

      It is to apprehend burglars so that the number of crimes in an area can decrease. It is secondarily to deter such crimes by making the possibility of being caught in the act seem more likely. Both of these goals require identifying suspicious behavior so that police can investigate. In a multi-racial environment, harassing black kids does nothing to achieve neighborhood watch goals, unless the kids are also burglars.

      What is your evidence Trayvon was (1) scared, (2) innocent, (3) likely to run away? If Zimmerman's main goal was to "kill, kill, kill" wouldn't that have been better achieved by simply gunning down Trayvon? Why call 911 at all? Why even get out of his car? There is a standard technique for drive bys that involves a lot less risk. Does the neighborhood watch manual have a section on scaring the begeebus (can't say Jesus?) out of innocent kids and then killing them? Does it have any info about how to tell which kids are innocent so they can be singled out for special treatment?

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    4. Trayvon didn't need to run away. If Trayvon had stayed wherever he was and chatted on the phone he wouldn't be dead either. Trayvon is dead because he attacked Zimmerman

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  12. At long last, everyone, can we now admit, based on the quick acquittal and the totality of the evidence, that the Zimmerman/Martin affair will go down in the history books, along with the Tawana Brawley matter and the Duke Lacrosse case, among many others, as one where the media and the pundits recklessly jumped to the wrong conclusion?

    They thought this was a story about an evil racist white man named Zimmerman who gunned down a carefree 12 yr old black boy eating Skittles.

    In fact, based on the evidence, the real story of that night was that a racist and homophobic 17 yr old young man ambushed a scared latino man who, if not for the fact that he had a pistol, would probably have been left brain damaged, comatose, or dead.

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    1. add, ambushed and brutally assaulted a scared latino man ...

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    2. A lot of facts in there. You sure you're not a racist?

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    3. Finally an element of truth from Majneb...Yes, Zimmerman was scared. I noticed the odd tremor in his voice near the end of his talk to the dispatcher while he was still in the vehicle. I mentioned it to some online people like you, who at that time were still claiming that the "F-ing coons or punks" was nothing but static.

      But if you listen carefully, it is classic stage fright. Z had already decided this was his moment be a hero. He was going into battle and the prospect was terrifying.

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    4. He wasn't going into battle. He was keeping an eye on the SUSPECT (who was as it turns out a violent criminal) and knew the cops would be there momentarily.

      Perhaps he would have felt good about being responsible for catching ANOTHER thug (remember, his work led to the arrest of previous thugs) but I wouldn't begrudge him that.

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    5. Can you please tell me of what violent crime Trayvon Martin was ever charged with, let alone convicted?

      And can you tell me how Zimmerman knew that Martin was a violent criminal instead of a kid walking back home?

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    6. What someone did in the past is irrelevant if they attack you and start bashing your head on the pavement.

      And the possibility that is EXACTLY what happened is something that couldn't be excluded by the witnesses, the evidence, and ultimately, the jurors.

      Can you tell me how you know that couldn't be what happened?

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    7. "But if you listen carefully, it is classic stage fright. Z had already decided this was his moment be a hero. He was going into battle and the prospect was terrifying."

      Either you have the ability to read people's minds or you are a narrow-minded twit.

      So, I'll ask you too. Seeing as the prosecution's start witness had stated that Trayvon told her he had reached the place where his father was staying, how is it that the actual confrontation took place several townhouses back in the direction from which Trayvon had come if it was not now Trayvon who was stalking Zimmerman? Hm?

      Good luck, schmuck.

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  13. The principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' trumps all this discussion of 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' since no compelling evidence was presented to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what happened that night.

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    1. This is mistaken. Murder 2 and Manslaughter were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Some other facts are indisputable: (1) Martin is dead and Zimmerman shot him; (2) Martin assaulted Zimmerman and broke his nose; (3) Martin had the opportunity to go home and avoid the conflict but did not exercise it. Many others remain "undetermined" largely because we have Zimmerman's word (often substantiated by witness or physical evidence) but not Martin's version and many people will not accept Zimmerman's statement. There is now no way for Zimmerman to establish his innocence, so the media gets to call him "not guilty but not innocent" which ignores our principle of innocent until proven guilty. As long as people dispute his statement, he will remain guilty in many people's minds. That strikes me as pretty unfair.

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    2. Problem with that is none of what led to the fight matters with regard to self defense. The moment of the gunshot matters, and anything from "probably not self defense" on up to "definitely self defense" means NOT GUILTY of any crime that the prosecution might have imagined in their corrupt heads.

      No crime happened and no evidence of crime existed so it would never be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But none of that matters anyway, given that this was a clear, VERY simple case of self defense.

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    3. How unfair to have killed an innocent kid and be thought a killer. And it never occurred to me that Trayvon should end his deadly cell phone conversation and lead a suspicious character and a now known killer to the 12 year old alone there. Your insights are really something else.

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    4. Coates:

      An capricious anti-intellectualism, a fanatical imbecility, a willful amnesia, an eternal sunshine upon our spotless minds, is white supremacy's gravest legacy. You would not know from reading Richard Cohen that the idea that blacks are more criminally prone, is older than the crime stats we cite, that it has been cited since America's founding to justify the very kinds of public safety measures Cohen now endorses. Black criminality is more than myth; it is socially engineered prophecy. If you believe a people to be inhuman, you confine them to inhuman quarters and inhuman labor, and subject them to inhuman policy. When they then behave inhumanely to each other, you take it is as proof of your original thesis. The game is rigged. Because it must be.

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    5. He killed a violent criminal, not an innocent kid.

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    6. Trayvon had 4 minutes to go wherever he wanted. He didn't have to lead anyone anywhere. Weak try though.

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    7. "Trayvon had 4 minutes to go wherever he wanted. He didn't have to lead anyone anywhere."

      Maybe he could have if Zimmerman wasn't blocking his path.

      How do you know that Trayvon Martin wasn't paralyzed with fear, afraid to move because he knew Zimmerman was still out there. After he ran away from Zimmerman he tells the girl he thinks he lost the guy following him - the guy that was creeping him out. Then a little later he says something like "Oh shit, he's back" Zimmerman clearly did not stop following. That's why he kept changing the location of where he wanted to meet the police. Because he didn't know where he would be. This isn't a large neighborhood. Christ, it's three measly blocks. But he ends up telling the police to call him on his cell phone when they got there, because he wasn't about to let that effing punk get away.

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    8. Excuse me, mm. But what evidence do you have that Zimmerman was blocking Martin's path?

      According to Jeantel, Martin had made it back to his father's place. But, again, the confrontation took place several townhouses back where Trayvon had come from. If Trayvon was a frightened kid why did he not simply go into his father's fiance's condo?

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  14. I think Bob summed it up incredibly well in this post. I am grateful for his work in general, but particularly on this issue. Probably his experience as a teacher and a comedian sharpened his ability to cut through the bullshit, but he has also got the same passion and a logical fastidiousness that I admire in Glenn Greenwald.

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    1. Absolutely! [genuflects and does the sign of the cross].

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  15. If George Zimmerman wasn't armed he would not have pursued Mr. Martin. If, in fact, Zimmerman believed that Martin was a threat he would have remained in his truck, as was suggested by the dispatcher who said, "We don't need you to do that." Police would prefer that civilians not engage "suspects;" engaging a suspect increases the possibility of a violent confrontation.

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    1. Police were not adequate in that neighborhood without help from watchmen like Zimmerman and if Martin had been burglarizing homes that night only Zimmerman keeping him under observation would have enabled police to have a chance of finding him. Trayvon engaged Zimmerman according to Jeantel. Did you have a point?

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    2. "remained in his truck, as was suggested by the dispatcher"

      My god, it's bull of bullshit!

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  16. Quaker in a BasementJuly 18, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    If a young black male has been seen in the area, please do not get out of your car! Be sure to stay behind locked doors until the threat is gone!

    Don't be ridiculous, Bob. Anyone can tell you that the proper response is to assume that the young man is connected to anything bad that has happened in your neighborhood and to immediately report him to police as suspicious. That's the perfectly reasonable thing to do.

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    1. Yes, if Zimmerman sees him standing on someone's lawn, staring at the place in a neighborhood that has had a rash of burglaries that is suspicious. If the young man comes at you with his hands under his belt like he's holding a gun and then runs away, that is suspicious too. The fact that Martin appears to have made it home yet backtracked to confront Zimmerman is also suspicious as hell.

      Exactly is your problem, anyway? Exactly what would you have to see in order to drop you narrative?

      If you want to get me to change my mind you have to make some effort to show why what you believe makes sense. I've done that for you. Why can't you do that for me?

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    2. Quaker in a BasementJuly 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      Why can't I do that for you? Because I have neither the inclination or patience for such unpromising effort.

      Delete
  17. So all Zimmerman did was "walk through his neighborhood." Took a little stroll. Stretched his legs. Went for his evening constitutional, if you'll excuse the pun. And the "liberal world" is furious about it!


    Let's all carry guns at night while we follow strangers around, ranting about punks who always get away with it. It's just a healthy exercising of our constitutional rights, and without being able to freely do that, we will have reverted to feudalism. Plus, it's good for "those people," because if you take the right of people to follow them around with guns, it will spur resentment of them!

    It's like Bob got a transcript of an LSD party held by Young Republicans on a southern campus, and posted it verbatim. He's become a loon.

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  18. "It's like Bob got a transcript of an LSD party held by Young Republicans on a southern campus, and posted it verbatim."

    Now that's funny.

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  19. Yeah - his latest pearls of wisdom effectively amount to "some of my best friends are black (kids) "

    The guy has always been like a toothache - but this case seems to have brought out the worst in him.

    Send that resume' to Fox - blogger - they'd love ya.

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  20. Okay, but I think you have to ask: why didn't Zimmerman just talk to Martin?

    One of the things I dislike about the commentary on this case is how Zimmerman and Martin are portrayed as two adults making decisions. Zimmerman is the adult. Martin was 3 weeks past 16. One would think Zimmerman would be aware of the differences between 17 year olds and adults because I have been told repeatedly that Zimmerman volunteered in some capacity with children.

    A 17 year old isn't SIX, but he isn't THIRTY either. I deal with teenagers a lot in my work and they just don't engage strange adults in conversation.

    Martin's phone conversation with his friend strikes me as fairly typical, making fun of the adult, the adult as 'the other". We just aren't in the same world as they are.

    I think the onus is on the adult to initiate an exchange of information. Had Zimmerman simply asked Martin where he lived (he could have done this FROM his car!) the whole thing might have been avoided. You know, POLICE are pretty good at it, here, anyway. They talk to teenagers! They don't expect the teenagers to clear up misunderstandings or volunteer information.

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    1. "why didn't Zimmerman just talk to Martin?"

      We, including you, don't know that he didn't!

      "I deal with teenagers a lot in my work and they just don't engage strange adults in conversation."

      Do they ever attack you? Do they ever get you down on the ground and bash your head on the sidewalk a bit?

      Because as far as you know, that's exactly what may have happened in this case.

      The jury definitely decided they couldn't send a man to jail because they couldn't exclude the real possibility he was defending himself from such an attack.

      Maybe, while the jurors were also quite aware that adults and children are different, that wasn't the deciding factor in wondering whether self-defense was possibly necessary, even against a mere teenager.

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  21. And part of this is the ridiculous narrowing of options that Zimmerman supporters are engaging in.
    It doesn't have to be a belligerent challenge on WHETHER TO STAY IN THE CAR or not.
    Zimmerman had lots of options. He could stay in the car and talk to the kid, he could get out of the car and talk to the kid, he could wait for police who might be more capable than he is of talking to the kid!
    We tell little kids "use your words!" to avoid a fight. One would think a 29 year old would have the capacity to ask a question without a police escort.

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    1. And Martin, he had options too. We don't really know how he chose to exercise those options.

      One possibility that contradicts no evidence and that is supported by much evidence is that he decided to attack that "cracker" and that he was getting the best of Zimmerman, smacking the back of his head on the pavement.

      Maybe the little kid should've just "used his words" and gone home.

      We don't know.

      But the jury certainly decided they couldn't rule out that Zimmerman might've been right to defend himself.

      The jury, looking at the evidence and arguments and law, decided they couldn't send a man to jail on these charges.

      Maybe they were on to something there, those jurors.

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    2. Once again it's the presumption that Zimmerman is somehow responsible if he doesn't behave perfectly. Once again it's the (presumed or half) white man who's completely responsible and the poor frightened black kid who doublebacked to attack him bears no responsibility for what happened. Only white men are responsible because they refuse to treat women and minorities as equals.

      Haven't we had enough of this shit yet?

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  22. I believe Zimmerman told police he was "afraid" of Martin before he got out of the car. Assuming he's telling the truth, he went looking for him in that frame of mind, with a gun at the ready. He was wasn't out walking his poodle. Police were on the scene within minutes. If he was afraid, he should have stayed in the car. If Trayvon was afraid, he should have skedaddled on home, like his fat girlfriend told him.

    I don't how the discussion got to be so exclusively about rights and legality. But then, it always does. To borrow from critic Lionel Trilling, along with the right to do X or Y goes the "moral obligation to be intelligent."

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  23. Someone please explain to me why white men or at least presumably white men have to behave perfectly or they're responsible for anything bad that happens but women and minorities don't. If women and minorities want to be equal then why aren't they responsible for their bad decisions whereas we are?

    Seriously, why do white straight male liberals put up with this shit?

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    1. And not just put up with BUT ENDORSE!

      It's insanity.

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    2. As I read it, it's not "white men" who have to be "perfect". It's people carrying guns.

      Plenty of rational people bring to this case misgivings about guns and gun ownership - particularly in terms of civilian ownership of guns. Given that, I believe there's a potential to feel that Z needed to act more responsibly *because* he was carrying a gun.

      I don't see this point being wholly or even largely about race.

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