That’s why we’re appalled by his conduct: What did George Zimmerman do that night, in the dark, without any witnesses watching?
Alone among observers, we’d have to say we don’t know. We can imagine a very wide range of possibilities.
Others imagine just one.
That said, Chris Hayes said a very odd thing on his cable show Monday night. Hayes played videotape of Zimmerman explaining what happened. Then, he offered this:
HAYES (7/1/13): We’re talking of course about Day 6 in the George Zimmerman trial. That account that George Zimmerman gives there in that taped interview differs from some of the other testimony we’ve heard and what other eyewitnesses may have heard.To watch that full segment, click this.
But I kept thinking, “OK fine. Maybe everything you’re saying about that is right. Maybe he jumped you.” But it’s like, “You followed him! You followed him! You precipitated this whole thing.
“So if it ends up coming to be the case that you precipitated him and you tracked him for no reason other than he was a suspect in your mind and then it went down the way you said, and this dude beat the crap out of you because you were following him, then you get to shoot him and what?”
That strikes us as a remarkable statement by Hayes. Because we assume that Hayes is perfectly bright, we think it demonstrates the moral squalor many high-paid professional liberals have brought to this discussion.
Please note what Hayes does in that statement. Implicitly acknowledging that he doesn’t really know what occurred that night, he accepts a hypothetical:
Hayes imagines that everything Zimmerman said about the encounter is accurate. Even making that assumption, he seems to say the altercation is still Zimmerman’s fault because “you precipitated him.”
“You precipitated him?” Chris Hayes is perfectly bright—and at that point, he’s no longer speaking English. Does that show how far we’re willing to go to stick to the tribal line?
Let’s consider Hayes’ overall statement in two different ways. First, consider the confrontation as Hayes describes it in his own words:
In the account directly given by Hayes, Trayvon Martin “jumped” Zimmerman that night, then “beat the crap out of him.” But somehow, the incident remains Zimmerman’s fault because he had followed Martin.
Please understand what Hayes is saying. He is saying that if Person A follows Person B for a short while as he walks through Person A’s neighborhood, then Person B is allowed to jump Person A and beat the crap out of him.
Obviously, that can’t be something Hayes believes. Why then is he saying it?
Now, let’s consider Hayes’ statement from another perspective. Let’s consider his implicit concession about Zimmerman’s account: “Maybe everything you’re saying about that is right.”
We tend to agree with Hayes’ insinuation. Based on what we’ve heard so far, we think it’s entirely possible that the events of that evening happened as Zimmerman said.
We can imagine other scenarios too, but we agree with the gist of Hayes’ concession—Zimmerman's account may be accurate. But good lord! If everything Zimmerman has been saying is right, then Martin assaulted him as he was walking back to his car to meet the police.
If everything Zimmerman has been saying is right, Martin doubled back to create a fight with someone who was simply walking back to his truck. He proceeded to beat the crap out of that person, to the point where Zimmerman thought he was going to black out.
(That’s what happened if “everything Zimmerman is saying about that is right.”)
Is that what happened that night? Like Hayes, we don’t know! But according to Hayes, the confrontation was Zimmerman’s fault even if that is what happened!
The confrontation would still be Zimmerman’s fault because “he precipitated the whole thing.” Less coherently, it would still be Zimmerman’s fault because he “precipitated Martin.”
Surely, Hayes can’t believe such a thing. Why then did he say it?
Watching pundits behave this way, Jeralyn Merritt has been unimpressed at TalkLeft. Recalling the Salem Witch trials and imperial Rome, Merritt wrote the following in a short Independence Day post:
“It is beyond shameful that on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, our national and cable news channels, instead of paying respect to the rights and individual freedoms we all enjoy today, choose to fill the airwaves with guilt-mongers, who out of ignorance or to promote their personal partisan agenda, unite to declare a man guilty before his defense has even begun to present its case.”
As a general matter, we don’t think the cable coverage has been that bad. But we think Hayes behaved abominably on Monday’s program.
We will do another post about the work of Hayes’ panel. But if you watch that evening’s segments, you will definitely see Hayes displaying the new, caffeinated “showmanship” he discussed with Salon last week.
You will see the mild-mannered fellow putting a new excitement on display. Is he willing to send a person to prison to bump himself up in the ratings?
We’ll have to guess that the answer is yes. What Hayes said made no earthly sense, and Hayes is perfectly bright.
This is ugly behavior. It reminds Merritt of Salem Village. More often, it has made us think of old-world Southern injustice, the kind we all say we hate.
We have decided who we loathe. Now we pick and choose and invent our facts, trying to put him in prison.
Logic may be abandoned too, as Hayes made plain Monday night.
Still coming: The rest of the panel
To watch the two segments that night: Hayes and his three-member panel did two segments about the trial. To watch the first segment, just click this.
To watch segment two, click here.