OUR STORIES, OURSELVES: Slate brought on a Harvard professor...

THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 2022

...who told us the story we like: Long ago, and far away, a deeply unfortunate shooting death occurred.

Actually, it didn't happen that long ago. It happened exactly ten years ago last week.

As we all know, a very large number of shooting deaths occur in this violence-prone country. That said, the shooting death to which we refer generated a great deal of public attention—indirectly gave birth to a movement.

This deeply unfortunate shooting death took place out in the back, in the dark. To all intents and purposes, there were no real eyewitnesses. Basic parts of what happened that night remain unknown—until we start composing the story that we'll tell ourselves.

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live," the late Joan Didion said. "The man with the candy will lead the children into the sea."

As that first example suggested, some of the stories we tell ourselves may almost suggest a lineage leading back to the realm of the fairy tale. Sometimes, we tell ourselves stories to massively over-simplify things, to create classic angels and demons.

Such simplifications are completely OK in the world of the children's playroom. In the world of journalism concerning important events, such simplifications may do real harm—and our tribe has been drunk with such super-simplification over the past stretch of years.

What actually happened that night, out in the back in the dark? Some basic facts still aren't known, and most likely never will be. In such situations, we flawed human beings often start making up facts.

Last week, when Slate decided to publish a recollection of that tragic event, it called upon a Harvard professor and an assistant state's attorney in Florida. Here's the start of the story they told:

LIGHT AND THOMAS (2/26/22): Trayvon Martin would be 27 this year had he not been gunned down on Feb. 26, 2012, just a few weeks after his 17th birthday. Martin, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by a self-appointed “neighborhood watchman” who notoriously disregarded a 911 dispatcher’s instructions not to pursue the “suspicious” teen.

With apologies for having to discuss this painful event at all, we were struck, in this particular case, by the use of the term "gunned down." 

Later, we wondered why we bother having Harvard professors at all, now that such beings are willing and able to produce such copy as this:

LIGHT AND THOMAS: George Zimmerman’s acquittal on the charge of Martin’s murder in 2013 revealed one such pathway through which acts of vigilante violence could be justified as innocent, or even virtuous. Originally passed in 2005, Florida’s “stand your ground” law served as a model for 23 other states, including Georgia, by the time Martin was killed. Although it was not directly cited in court, the law facilitated Zimmerman’s exoneration by making it nearly impossible to prosecute someone who claimed to have been “in fear for his life” during a lethal encounter, even if he provoked it.

In courtrooms where the defendant is the only living witness, the invocation of “reasonable fear”—fear that appears reasonable to the jury—effectively reverses the roles of victim and perpetrator, often ensuring white or white-passing defendants a seamless journey out of legal trouble (Zimmerman is Latino; his light skinned appearance proved exonerating). 

Why do we still have Harvard professors when they're willing to function like that?

The professor in question is Caroline Light. According to Slate, she's the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Harvard’s Program in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. 

Caroline Light is a good, decent person. Still, let's consider some of the things she has said and implied:

With apologies for having to discuss this, George Zimmerman was acquitted—was found not guilty—of the two criminal charges for which he stood trial. Despite this fact, he remains guilty of an act of "vigilante violence" in the story we in our tribe insist on telling ourselves. 

Why did a jury find him not guilty? Repulsively, the Harvard professor repulsively tells us this:

"Zimmerman is Latino; his light skinned appearance proved exonerating."

Ugly? Astonishing? Wicked? Repulsive? In this way, the Harvard professor crawls inside the skulls of the jury and explains why they ruled as they did. 

She fashions the only type of explanation our elites know how to construct at this point. It's ugly, vile, repulsive work. If you aren't able to make out that fact, then the ugly has crawled inside you.

Back in their initial paragraph, the professor and the assistant DA have dropped a few other suggestions. 

Zimmerman was "self-appointed," the self-appointed commenters say. This suggestive statement is hard to square with the (largely irrelevant) facts.

(For the report in the New York Times, click this. Citing that Times report as its source, the leading authority states it like this: "In September 2011, the Twin Lakes residents held an organizational meeting to create a neighborhood watch program. Zimmerman was selected by neighbors as the program's coordinator, according to Wendy Dorival, Neighborhood Watch organizer for the Sanford Police Department." Dorival conducted the meeting.)

Back to Slate! The professor and the assistant DA say that Zimmerman "notoriously disregarded a 911 dispatcher’s instructions not to pursue" Trayvon Martin. 

In fact, it isn't clear that Zimmerman continued to "pursue" or follow Martin after his exchange with the dispatcher. And no, the dispatcher didn't tell Zimmerman that he should stay in his truck, a flatly false initial claim which was still being stated by major news orgs in their accounts of this matter last week.

Did Zimmerman pursue Martin that night, leading to their fatal encounter? As far as we know, it's possible that he did, and possible that he didn't.

Is it possible that Martin pursued Zimmerman? As far as we know, that is tragically possible too. (Teenagers often make mistakes. A bit more background tomorrow.)

What caused their tragic encounter out in the dark? This is one of the several facts which remain unknown. In fairness, people like the Harvard professor have spent the last ten years building "notoriety" around the claim that Zimmerman just kept "pursuing" Martin.

A fatal encounter occurred that night, with Martin and Zimmerman down on the ground. Of that fact, there is no doubt.

The use of the pleasing phrase "gunned down" invites us to construct a certain picture of that tragic encounter. In fact, Zimmerman was on his back, being pummeled as he lay on the ground, when the (one) fatal shot was fired.

Should he have fired that fatal shot? Tomorrow, we'll show you what Ta-Nehisi Coates said about that very question, all the way back in real time. 

No one can ever be as scripted as a Harvard professor ten years later, but Coates went into substantial detail when he offered his assessments. We assume that you'll be able to believe that his assessments didn't stem from his fragility or even from his privilege.

One additional point: 

As best we can tell, Zimmerman's defense didn't involve Florida's "stand your ground" law. As you can see, the authors offer a jumbled claim about the role played by that law at the trial.  As best we can tell after all these years, Zimmerman's lawyers staged a basic claim of traditional self-defense.

We tell ourselves stories in order to live! In the story our flailing tribe has told itself about this event, the victim was Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf gunned him down from a tree.

The actual story is less simple-minded; elementary facts are unknown. Even though Light is a good, decent person, we think Harvard should be embarrassed to have her as a current professor—but we'll give Light and Homas major credit for the one completely irrelevant fact which amazingly didn't howl.

Evocatively, they say that Martin was "gunned down." Correctly, they say that he was unarmed.

But good God! To their credit, they kept the Skittles out of their story! Very few others did.

Tomorrow, we'll show you what others have said in the past week; we'll show you the story they've told. Also, we'll show you what Coates said about what happened that night—what he said long ago.

Basic facts about what happened remain completely unknown. But according to major anthropologists, we humans are very reluctant to come to terms with the things we don't and can't know.

When we don't know what actually happened, we tend to start making things up! Along the way, we fashion the plupotent stories we tell ourselves—about the main with the candy misleading the kids; about the innocent child with the candy being killed by the wolf in the tree.

He was "gunned down," the professor said. The vigilante's light skin got him off!

Tomorrow: As the Skittles stay in the picture, other key facts disappear


118 comments:


  1. Thank you for documenting this tiny (and utterly disgusting) portion of the liberal atrocities, dear Bob, but in case you care what these readers of your blog think: enough Martining/Zimmermaning. Seriously, enough already.

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    1. Do you receive a fee for keeping track of this blog, making sure it never strays too far into holding right wing media outlets accountable?

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  2. "...who told us the story we like"

    Just to be clear, no one on the left likes to hear about children getting shot.

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    1. They certainly like to distort what happened so that it fits in with their off the rails identity politic dogma.

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    2. And you know this how?

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    3. Somerby lies again today. Zimmerman was not being pummeled, this was not the testimony, it is a flat out lie from a moron with no moral compass or integrity.

      The rest of how Somerby frames the facts of the case are equally misleading or false.

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  3. "As we all know, a very large number of shooting deaths occur in this violence-prone country"

    It isn't so much that our country is "violence-prone" but that we, as a nation, own a lot of guns. Because of the guns, when someone gets upset and tends toward violence, that violence is more deadly. We could fix this, as a nation, but there are people who don't want to give up their guns. That, is the problem. Not our tendency toward violence, which is about the same as any other nation's, given that we are all human beings.

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    1. or you could say that our police force is so stupendously biased that blacks tend to be arrested at much greater rates and are convicted by racially biased juries for crimes they have not committed (there are now stats on this due to DNA exoneration rates).

      I see that today's essays are bringing the racists out of the woodwork.

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    2. Check it out Bob.
      The shit you post is drawing economically anxious flies, like 3:42.

      Delete
  4. "This deeply unfortunate shooting death took place out in the back, in the dark."

    For the record, the shooting occurred at 7:16 pm on a suburban street, not is some midnight back alley, as Somerby implies. Martin was walking home from a convenience store in a neighborhood where he had every right to be.

    Seems to me that Somerby is creating some narrative storyline of his own with such remarks.

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    1. It was dark (late February), and it was not in the street. You're wrong, Somerby's right.

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    2. He was on a walkway between two rows of houses. 7 pm is a time when people are out and about, and it was not midnight nor in an alley. Someone did witness what happened, but couldn't see much out of his window. Somerby is using language to tip the scales in his direction, pretending it was dark and isolated. There is typically some lighting on such pathways and there would be lighting from windows where people were still up at 7 pm.

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  5. Somerby says, quoting Joan Didion: "“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

    "By saying this, Joan Didion alludes to the importance of storytelling that convey the good, mediocre, and difficult aspects of the human experience. This quote also relates to the way Didion feels about the relationship between loss/living and writing. Learning about Didion, I found that her life centers around writing, and her works document events that happened to her. For example, when Didion went through a divorce with her husband, he still helped her write her next book, regardless of the marital issues they may have had at the time. Later on, Didion wrote a novel about her husband’s death in 2005. When her daughter passed away a few months later, Didion began working on a novel for her as well. Knowing this, I believe Didion used her writing to sort through her complex emotions, such as her grief." -- Taylor Reschke

    Somerby uses this quote to mean something entirely different. He uses it to imply that humans distort their reality by forcing it into storylines that are somehow comforting or self-serving. Somerby stresses the dishonesty of such stories, not their helpfulness in making sense of important life events.

    Who is correct? I suspect that Didion would not support Somerby's view, since she used writing to process her reality, to face and understand it, not to dull its impact or create a fantasy world to comfort herself. Writers tend to share a need to express themselves through their writing. Given that Didion wrote a great deal of commentary on political and current events, on her times, and that her critics DID NOT accuse her of distoring reality, I doubt Somerby's use of her words is consistent with her own efforts.

    Somerby does this a lot. He finds words he likes because they express his own views, then uses them promiscuously without regard to what the original author meant by those words, implicitly validating his own ideas with the fame of the original author while ignoring that author's intent and likely disagreement with him.

    Joan Didion passed away on December 23, 2021. Somerby began stealing her words shortly thereafter. She is not around to defend herself or her meanings. But her books are available and anyone who wishes can read her actual opinions, undistorted by Somerby's appropriation of them (a kind of literary theft). Some people care about what Didion actually wrote and hate seeing it corrupted this way. If Somerby had any respect for a dead female author, he wouldn't do this, but he doesn't even respect Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie.

    We know that Somerby is here pretending to be liberal while furthering conservative talking points. We know that he regularly attempts to undermine faith in our mainstream media with trivial nitpicks that he blows up into larger flaws. It may also be that he is deliberately trying to undermine liberal icons such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Joan Didion, trying to tarnish the legacy of thought on the left by turning such icons into sleazy reflections of Somerby's own corruption.

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    1. "Trivial nitpicks?" You have no ability to read or to reason. If you embody 'liberal' thinking, we liberals are in really deep shit.

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    2. Yes, I said "trivial nitpicks" and I meant "trivial nitpicks" -- congratulations on your reading ability. I explain why each nitpick is trivial and why it is a nitpick, and often even why it is incorrect statistically speaking or factually, as Somerby's nitpicks so frequently are.

      I have never claimed to embody liberal thinking. I have only claimed that Somerby is no liberal. I have explained why numerous times too. I do doubt that you are a Democrat or a liberal, but if you want to vote for Democrats, be my guest.

      Ukrainians are in deep shit. We are merely talking about politics here.

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    3. Today Somerby is claiming that black people are doing little to advance civil rights, using a crossword puzzle writer as an example. Wouldn't you consider that a trivial nitpick? I would, first because Somerby is factually incorrect about what the current generation of black people has been doing, and secondly because I don't consider black history to be unimportant, the way Somerby clearly does when he calls it silly.

      But the worst thing about his essay today is that he, as a white man, has no business whatsoever evaluating and scolding black people are their efforts to achieve social justice in our country. I think most actual liberals would agree with that opinion.

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  6. Blah blah blah, Bob isn't a real liberal. It seems his motives are dishonest because they are contrarian.

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    1. Bob isn't really a contrarian. He is a conservative pretending to be liberal, trying to confuse people and undermine their faith in mainstream media. In that sense, he is like Mao except that he is writing a whole blog instead of potshot comments.

      His motives are dishonest because he lies about being liberal. A contrarian is someone who rejects or opposes popular opinion. Somerby is supporting popular opinion on the right and opposing that on the left.

      But his dishonest is reflected not only in his claim to be liberal, which he is not, but also in his refusal to state his own opinions, instead attributing them to others, generally fictional beings such as "anthropologists weeping in caves" or "weeping analysts" or "high experts" while simultaneously disparaging actual experts who are supportive of liberal views.

      If would be wrong to call a conservative a contrarian because he doesn't support liberal views -- he is in line with conservative views and that makes him a conservative, not a liberal contrarian.

      You seem to be buying Somerby claim to be encouraging critical thinking, even applied to authorities such as the mainstream media. The problem with this is that he rarely bothers to do any critical thinking any more. His complaints are nit-picks, often wrong, and nearly always in line with conservative talking points. That isn't critical thinking at all. It is critical, but the thinking part is lacking.

      Today, Somerby doesn't bother explaining why he thinks that Harvard professor said something ugly. He just calls her names. That is neither criticism nor thinking. It is rejection of her views with a hint of misogyny thrown in. He is just going through the motions of criticism now, since he has outlined his targets and perhaps expects his conservative trolls here to do his dirtywork for him. But they aren't up to the job, largely because there is no thought behind much of what the right presents to its followers.

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    2. Right, because in order to be a real liberal, one has to believe things that are not shown to be true. This is usually the province of the right but in this case the left, as with what happened in Ferguson, we are not looking at the facts.

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    3. There have been numerous studies showing that liberals have a better command of the facts of current events than conservatives, and especially Fox News viewers do.

      Somerby's idea of what liberals believe is incorrect. He finds an overheated activist making a statement, attributes that to the entire left, and then complains that this is what people always do. That is bogus.

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    4. 12:57 why don't you face the issue directly instead of avoiding it:

      "Such simplifications are completely OK in the world of the children's playroom. In the world of journalism concerning important events, such simplifications may do real harm—and our tribe has been drunk with such super-simplification over the past stretch of years."

      That is not a conservative talking point by the way.

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    5. "our tribe has been drunk with such super-simplification over the past stretch of years"

      What kind of over-simplication is this? This IS a conservative talking point.

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    6. @12:57 You say Bob is really a conservative because he tells the truth. It follows that real liberals repeat the liberal narrative, even when it's false.

      Sadly, I'm not just joking. I got called a racist and booted off anther web site by reciting true figures about black crimes.

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    7. David was cancel cultured like he was some common CRT.

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    8. Show me one source that says it is.

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    9. Corby, a/k/a Lily, a/ka Molly - now Kelly? plus all the anonymous comments? And everything so thuddingly stupid that it is painful.

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    10. No, not all the anonymous comments. Not even all the ones with nyms either. Calling someone stupid is not any kind of rebuttal. I would be ashamed to put my nym on such a comment -- too stupid to find an argument against what was said, and yet you call me stupid? Do you even understand how argument works?

      When Corby changed her nym, she stated that she was going to use different names, because failure to use a name was so upsetting to people such as you. Don't blame her now for doing exactly what you asked for.

      Meanwhile, you fail to understand that the names make no difference at all. It is the ideas and facts that matter. Since you express neither, who cares that you call yourself AC/MA or some other name? You have nothing to contribute either way.

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    11. Protecting AC/MA’s right to free speech is identity politics.
      Screw him.

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    12. I remain anonymous here because right wingers like AC/MA are easily triggered and right wingers often get violent when they get angry. Right wingers frighten me and I do not want them to know anything personal about me. Also right wingers are now able to murder people and get away with it.

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  7. "As that first example suggested, some of the stories we tell ourselves may almost suggest a lineage leading back to the realm of the fairy tale."

    Fairy tales are a form of story. That doesn't mean that Joan Didion or anyone else discussing current events is busy telling fairy tales. We humans recognize different genres. Aside from Somerby, we rarely mistake a cozy mystery fiction novel for a news report or opinion essay. If Somerby is having that problem, he needn't generalize it to all of humanity. There are living facilities that will keep him safe and let him watch as much Fox News as he wants.

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    1. fairy tale

      -a children's story about magical and imaginary beings and lands

      -something resembling a fairy tale in being magical, idealized, or extremely happy

      -a fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.

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    2. Exactly, so you must then agree with me that Somerby's implication that the news is creating fairy tales is wrong, and further that Joan Didion was not referring to fairy stories when she described why people create stories (of other kinds, obviously).

      A fairy tale is a distinct type of story with the properties you describe. There are other kinds of stories that are more fact-based.

      When Somerby says "lineage" he implies that all stories started out as fairy tales but then evolved, perhaps retaining some characteristics of a fairy tale.

      I think that is fundamentally incorrect. Stories were told as a form of history too, to maintain important information about who is related to who, what happened in the past, events that tie the members of a culture together. This is termed oral history, not fairy tale. Fairy tales were created to amuse children and perhaps teach values or lessons to them. They are NOT the same as oral history, which is more likely to be the lineage of today's news reports and certainly written history, which is explicitly intended to be factual.

      Or perhaps you were agreeing with me and being helpful by pointing out the differences in support of my complaint?

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    3. My opinion is that Somerby's use of the term here is a combination of definitions #2 and #3.

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    4. Do you think that was what Joan Didion meant when she wrote that sentence that Somerby keeps quoting?

      Calling serious writing a "fairy tale" is a disparaging remark. Note that Somerby is suggesting that all mainstream media writing is a fairy tale because that is what we liberals do. Do you think that is a fair "criticism," aside from being very non-specific and overgeneralized?

      Do you really think the media is dishonest and making things up to be magical, idealized or make readers happy? How happy have the stories about the Ukraine been making you? How happy are you when you read about inflation or efforts to fight covid? Is anyone saying that the Democrats are going to win the 2022 midterms in a cakewalk?

      Somerby needs to provide some evidence of fairy tale, but he hasn't done that. He just keeps repeating his derogatory remarks about the press, over and over, claiming that we only want to hear what pleases us. I find that pretty insulting and definitely not true.

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    5. I think that the stories about blacks being killed by whites are air-brushed to use my own term. The media withholds certain facts and removes some context to maximize the impact of the story.

      In this way, they make the stories somewhat idealized and fabricated, this is where the definition aligns with fairy tale.

      It's certainly not a perfect fit though, I would go with air-brushed or something like that.

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    6. It is part of trial procedure that the victim of a shooting is not the one on trial. That isn't "airbrushing". It is focusing on the defendant and not bringing up the past of the victim in order to make the killing seem more justified. The right ignores this, and so does Somerby. It is why he thought that Chanel Miller's drunkenness mattered to her rape. It is why he thought that Rosenbaum's mental illness mattered to Rittenhouse's guilt. When the mainstream media ignores certain facts (about the victim generally), they are conforming to criminal law and not trying to paint the victim as deserving of what happened to him or her.

      I would consider that good reporting, not idealizing or fabricating anything. The families of the victims always present a positive picture of the deceased, and they try to humanize their loved one. Their public statements are legitimate news and the press reports their statements. It isn't their job to question the content of what the families say about the person who died. Suggesting that the media is doing this airbrushing is incorrect. Look for the attributions to an attorney for the family or an interview with friends or neighbors. That is news because the dead person is missed, had people close to him and deserves to be mourned. That isn't the media speaking -- it is people close to the case. A reader should be able to tell who is speaking in a news story. Somerby rides roughshod over that.

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    7. I still maintain that the media withholds certain facts and removes some context to maximize the impact of the story.

      These facts and context are not necessarily about the victim, that was your adjustment to what I was saying.

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    8. I’ve never once read that a cop was no angel, after they were shot in the line of duty.

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  8. "we flawed human beings often start making up facts"

    And yet Somerby has never examined the extent to which Fox News and similar networks make up negative facts about the victims of such shootings, in order to portray the shooter as blameless (a "good guy with a gun") instead of criminal, and the victim as someone who contributed to his own death by being a bad person.

    This fact-generation is why Somerby complains so much when the left mentions those skittles. They are a fact. Somerby doesn't want them mentioned because they remind us that the victim (the person who was killed) was a child, a boys engaged in an everyday act, walking from the store back to the condo where he was living. Instead, Somerby and Fox will talk about his school problems, his size, and make up shit about him banging Zimmerman's head on the ground (in the complete absence of witnesses, as Somerby notes).

    Whenever there is such a shooting, the right rushes to malign the dead person, a tactic not permitted during trial. Somerby thinks those "facts" are germane, reminding the left that it doesn't know everything. But the fact-manufacturing is arguably more rampant on the right than in the media, serving its own purposes of justifying the violence that occurred. And Somerby joins in.

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    1. You state Somerby makes up shit about Martin banging Zimmerman's head on the ground, then say there were no witnesses. Police reports show Zimmerman had head injuries.

      It's this type of sloppy reasoning Somerby seeks to correct.

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    2. No, there are photos of the injuries and they are not consistent with having someone bang your head on concrete. Zimmerman claimed injuries that were not corroborated by the photos. His word was not sufficient to establish that any head-banging occurred.

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  9. "And yet Somerby has never examined the extent to which Fox News..."

    If he did, would you reconsider his criticisms of NYT/MSNBC/etc.?

    If not, why write this?

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    1. He doesn't. I am capable of evaluating NYT/MSNBC myself, but I have read Somerby's repetitive criticisms, thought about them, and disagree with most of them.

      I don't have to agree with Somerby's take on the mainstream media to point out that (1) he never criticizes the right, and (2) there is some reason for that, (3) his criticisms parallel those of conservatives and contribute to the right's agenda.

      I will go away when Somerby stops calling himself liberal and referring to "us liberals" in his essays. At that point, he will be just another conservative voice and most liberals are capable of discounting such voices, recognizing their motives. Somerby used to have some credibility as a media critic. That disappeared a long time ago, but his facade lingers. I wouldn't want any unsuspecting liberal or political novice to be taken in by Somerby's daily deceptions.

      At the very least, it would represent an insidious seepage of "facts" presented by Fox into the discourse of the left, polluting discussion with misinformation and disinformation and undermining faith in the left's knowledge sources. In this time of lack of faith, I think it is important to defend truth. In this case, I am defending what I consider to be true and accurate from an assault by Somerby, who is at the very least a huge liar when he refers to himself as any kind of liberal.

      That's why I write what I do in response to Somerby's distortions of reality.

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    2. Okay I suppose that's fair.

      There are myriad sources that criticize and fact check the right wing media.

      I come here because I like the philosophy of criticizing things you support, to make them stronger and better.

      But if you don't agree with his criticisms then you would never be able to have that outlook.

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    3. How does anything Somerby writes tend to make any leftist belief stronger or better?

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    4. It would be in an indirect way. If readers see his point and agree that the media should be more balanced and stick to the facts rather then sensationalize and broaden and exaggerate the rift between the left and the right, maybe those readers will take a bit of his philosophy and put it into practice. If they have a career in media or journalism, there could be an actual impact.

      Why does anyone blog about anything? Creating change doesn't come easy but all we can do is try.

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    5. I don't think that Somerby makes the case that the media is doing this: "rather then sensationalize and broaden and exaggerate the rift between the left and the right". He tries to make such a case, but it is not very convincing, in my opinion.

      In contrast, the right has an entire campaign going about stopping the teaching of CRT in public schools, when there is no evidence whatsoever that CRT is being taught. That strikes me as a huge factual problem, yet Somerby has several times argued that parents should be able to say what happens in school (when they already have the right to opt their child out of assignments) and Somerby hasn't ever called out that factual problem in his essays about the left being unfairly upset about banning of books.

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    6. I'm not here to defend the Right.

      But I can see how Somerby's criticisms of the Left can sometimes be seen as a tacit form of supporting the Right.

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    7. It is tacit because he doesn't acknowledge it. If you read anything on the right, you will notice that Somerby tends to raise the same points at the same time as other right-wing sites. He clearly watches Fox News and that influences what he writes here. It isn't only that he criticizes the left, but he echoes and explicitly supports the right, telling his readers that Fox News has better facts and that we should be trying to understand the views of The Others. And notice that he defends the heroes of the right, including Kyle Rittenhouse, Roy Moore, and so on.

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    8. "Fox News has better facts"

      Nope, he didn't say that. And I suspect you know that.

      Also criticizing poor coverage of Rittenhouse is not defense of him. I suspect you know that as well.

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    9. Yes, he did say it:

      12/1/2021 "When it came to matters like this, people who watched the Fox News Channel were offered much more information than we more advanced people were."

      "Almost surely, the contents of her report will be more familiar to The Others—to those who watch Fox News—than to those in our liberal tribe. "

      3/8/12 "Welcome to the Balkans! As in the Balkans of the 90s, so too on the cables during this era. The two different tribes speak different languages—are allowed to hear different facts.

      On Fox, you’re allowed to know what Palin meant; obvious examples are cited. On MSNBC, you sit there and watch your tribal chieftains as they pretend to be bollixed."

      6/7/2013 "Maddow played her penguin tapes and told you what she thinks about you: She thinks you are a bunch of marks who mainly exist to get clowned.

      Fox News will continue to fight extremely hard. MSNBC doesn’t plan to resist."

      12/15/21: "Concerning Ingraham and Hannity on the evening of January 6, we will tell you this:

      They offered frameworks and points of view with which you may not agree. In our opinion, the principal framework to which we refer—it involves the widespread looting and arson of the previous year—isn't completely crazy.

      In our view, they have a point.

      That framework isn't completely crazy, but it isn't our tribe's Storyline. And at tribally segregated times like these, you know where that leads—to a Babel of "logic" and "facts."

      Can we believe our own tribe's facts? Can we trust our own tribe's logic?"

      and so on...

      Delete
    10. Somerby has criticized coverage, but he has also defended Rittenhouse. He wrote an essay suggesting that Rittenhouse's youth meant he should be forgiven because teens do foolish things. That has nothing to do with coverage. He also has argued that Rittenhouse should get off because Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse down the street and was mentally ill (and thus scary, I guess). That has nothing to do with coverage either. Somerby also refused to consider any evidence that was not allowed during the trial. Given the bias of the judge, that tends to favor Rittenhouse.

      Somerby's defenses of unsavory people often has little to do with the news coverage. With Roy Moore, Somerby argued that because he also dated women over age 18, his dating of younger women shouldn't be the focus of attention. He objected to use of the word pedophile when the girls were preteen (a frequent argument by men who like younger women), and he claimed that if the mama approved of the dating, then it must be OK, regardless of the impact on the girls involved. He ignored the stalking and corroboration by Moore's adult associates in the DA's office. None of that has anything to do with media coverage.

      Delete
    11. There is a lot nonsense coming from the right, their stats on murder rates are made up bs. One thing that is factual, white suicides dwarf the black murder rate. It is not even close. Why are so many white people murdering themselves, why are they so sad?

      Delete
    12. Just to clarify. Rosenbaum was taunted into following Rittenhouse, in fact, it was Rittenhouse that chased Rosenbaum down the street earlier, while taunting him, and then it was only as Rittenhouse was confronted by another person with a gun that he then pointed his gun at Rosenbaum and made some kind of threat while backing away, which is why Rosenbaum was following him, not chasing him.

      Delete
  10. "Why did a jury find him not guilty? Repulsively, the Harvard professor repulsively tells us this:

    "Zimmerman is Latino; his light skinned appearance proved exonerating."
    Ugly? Astonishing? Wicked? Repulsive? In this way, the Harvard professor crawls inside the skulls of the jury and explains why they ruled as they did. "

    Instead of objectively considering whether this suggestion by a professor might have some validity, Somerby calls it and her a bunch of names. He doesn't try to refute her contention at all. It is name-calling all the way down.

    Why might a professor suggest that racial bias can operate in a trial? Because there is a large literature demonstrating that this is true and has happened in the past. Because jurors are people, we do not need to interview each juror to assert that biases which are known to exist in our society and to affect similar cases that HAVE BEEN studied, to know that it may have affected this particular jury. And that is especially true given that the trial occurred in Florida, a part of the country that wears its racial biases on its sleeve, not bothering to hide them.

    Yes, this is ugly, but not because a Harvard professor said something Somerby dislikes. It is ugly because racism itself is ugly. The knee-jerk reaction to deny any imputation of racism, this time on behalf of people Somerby doesn't know himself, is surely wrong and entirely self-serving. It is the same motive that is now causing Republicans to try to ban teaching about race and racist historical acts in our schools. The need to deny that race is a factor, to maintain that white people are all kiond, good, decent people and not at all racist, despite facts to the contrary (including this particular shooting) is part of the conservative agenda and Somerby is marching right along with it.

    Somerby himself has said some incredibly ugly things recently. He is clearly not the best person to be judging Harvard professors or anyone else on this topic where his own vulnerability is obvious to all just by reading his essays.

    Racism is real -- not some fairy tale manufactured by Joan Didion in order to live. Racism affects the daily lives of minorities and prevents them from pursuing their goals in the same way as white people do, and take for granted as their right (e.g., feel entitled to do). It needs to be corrected and that requires that it be acknowledged.

    Somerby is not a dumb man. If he doesn't recognize this, there is some reason for it. I suggest that he is blinded by his own desire to think of himself as good and decent, and cannot admit his own past racist impulses because it would be too tragic to consider how he interacted with those deserving, beautiful black children in his own classrooms over the many years when he was a teacher in the Baltimore schools. These essays now are pretty obviously self-serving of Somerby's ego and that should be embarrassing to him, if he would admit even a sliver of reality to penetrate his defenses.

    It sucks to be Somerby, but that is no reason to malign a Harvard professor who is closer to the truth than Somerby will ever be.

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    Replies
    1. The Harvard prof asserts that Zimmerman's skin color "proved exonerating." She didn't say racial bias "could operate" in the trial; she said it did operate. Somerby merely points out the lack of evidence for her claim.

      And for that, you castigate him. I guess the truth hurts.

      Delete
    2. Somerby tends to make crisp, clean points.

      Then commenters attach motive and draw larger conclusions from his points that simply aren't present in his writing. Then they disagree with those larger conclusions and rant about them.

      Hope you are having a good day, Krazy.

      Delete
    3. Yes, and if you don't believe race operated, then you and I don't live in the same world.

      Somerby doesn't understand what her evidence was. He says she had to have interviewed each juror to know the contents of their minds. That isn't how research about racial bias during trials works.

      This was all explained above, but you choose to side with Somerby in his ridiculous demand about what can be evidence. That is your right, but don't confuse it with the truth.

      Delete
    4. We always get back to this same point. If you believe that Somerby's points are crisp and clear, how does one convince you of anything? What is the point of trying to discuss with someone who can read Somerby and think such a thing?

      The only point about today's essay is that he thinks the professor needed to have interviewed the jurors to know why they made their decisions. There is nothing at all crisp or clear about any of the rest of Somerby's essay today. It is repetitive, name-calling garbage, filler surrounding his negative remarks about a Harvard professor who claimed that race affected the verdict in Zimmerman's trial.

      It is a feature of how we investigate race that we do not simply ask people "are you a racist?" and expect a definitive answer. We use indirect evidence based on their actions and we draw upon social psychology studies of how jury deliberations work in situations involving race, and statistics about convictions of white versus black people under similar circumstances. Somerby takes none of that into consideration, but the professor surely did because it is part of what a professor does in their work.

      Somerby's insistence that only one type of evidence, known to be particularly unreliable, be the basis for this professor's statement is unreasonable. Further, he is not an expert and has no standing to assert that she was wrong, based on his own knowledge or background. Yet he doesn't hesitate to call her a bunch of names.

      And you consider this clear and crisp! I don't know how to go forward when you are so willing to accept an incredible demand from Somerby while he is clearly out-of-bounds and wrong about this matter.

      And that is why people are becoming polarized. There is no common sense in what Somerby has done today, but you find it compelling. I have explained, but you still find Somerby's point correct. I have nothing more to say to you.

      I don't know whether this is a partisan divide, or a matter of a widening gulf between those who are educated and those who are not, especially about social issues. But one group thinks racism is a problem and the other does not and will not. I don't know how we go forward to achieve a just society under those circumstances.

      Delete
    5. Maybe there is no point in you discussing anything with me.

      If pressed, I would say the point is sometimes we learn something from each other.

      But if I have to believe none of Somerby's points are meaningful or accurate to even open up discourse, yes consider me unqualified.

      Delete
    6. This isn't only about me. I find most of what mh writes as criticism of Somerby to be valid. You don't seem to listen to either of us, or the other people who disagree with Somerby here.

      If Somerby were just a guy with a different opinion, I wouldn't have such a visceral dislike of him and I wouldn't find nearly everything he says objectionable. He is writing this stuff here deliberately, it is motivated, it has a consistent anti-liberal, anti-press, anti-intellectual, misogynist viewpoint.

      If you find that consistently compelling, you and I have nothing to say to each other. But if that isn't who you are, you really need to examine your own thought processes because Somerby is way over the line in his essays here.

      You don't generally express your own thoughts here, other than to criticize other commenters. You are welcome to leave my comments alone -- I don't choose to interact with you and so this is kind of a one-way dialog.

      Believe what you want. Just know that what you are believing in Somerby's essays has nothing whatsoever to do with what liberals tend to believe. If you keep that in mind, then you can take Somerby on his own terms, for whatever that is worth to you.

      Delete
    7. Your attempts to rewrite history are noted. You've got your thumbs on the scale pretty hard there.

      I'll continue to share my thoughts and to point out where your are using logical fallacies.

      Delete
    8. Rationalist, Kelly/anon/Corby/Lily is demented. I admire your politeness toward her, but she is obsessed. I've always been a democrat, but it is discouraging to read this kind of response to TDH's valid and well-reasoned posts (though I think he could let go of the Joan Didion cites).

      Delete
    9. And is Somerby also obsessed for the way he goes after Maddow? Just curious about your use of that word.

      Delete
    10. I've always been a Republican, but with horrible people like Somerby and AC/MA now adopting my tribe's viewpoints, I am discouraged to continue to vote for Republicans. I shall now only vote for Dems.

      Delete
    11. anon 8:05, you could say TDH is "obsessed" with Maddow. I think he goes overboard, e.g., her story about how she got her first tv, and other things. For the most part, he expresses legitimate grievances - she's pretty bad. On the other hand Corby/Iris/Lily/anon posts using different names and sometimes as anon (she admits it), pretty weird and seems dishonest and she is obsessed that TDH is the equivalent of a RINO - falsely claiming to be a "liberal" - and she distorts or makes up the facts all the time, and seems to spend hours every day with her off the wall diatribes.

      Delete
  11. Blah blah blah blah. Accusations of racism.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thinking is hard. I can see why you might give up on it.

      Delete
    2. Thinking about the vapid commentary which is common on here does make one want to give up.

      "Blah blah blah blah. Accusations of racism." is a decent summary for most of it.

      Delete
    3. Blah blah blah is trolling. It contributes nothing to a discussion. If you think it is a "decent summary," that suggests you have little interest in discussion either.

      Delete
    4. Blame Bob for me calling the Right “bigots”. He’s the one who told me to listen to them.

      Delete
    5. 12:40 why do people of color do so poorly in American society when compared to white people?

      Delete
    6. Rhymes with "blight dupremacy".

      Delete
  12. "Did Zimmerman pursue Martin that night, leading to their fatal encounter? As far as we know, it's possible that he did, and possible that he didn't."

    Despite Somerby's quibble over what the dispatcher told Zimmerman to do, he had to have both stayed at the scene and gotten out of his truck in order for the interaction with Martin to have occurred. He had no other business in that neighborhood (by his own admission) and was clearly pursuing Martin by remaining on the scene and getting out of his vehicle. No confrontation would have been possible had he driven away, continuing his errand that night.

    Somerby may quibble over the word "pursue" but Zimmerman obviously, by his location and his own admitted actions, made himself available to Martin. He was told to let the police handle things.

    How can Somerby ignore these facts? It is not "possible that he didn't" given these facts.

    Somerby likes to claim that anything is possible. That claim permits him to argue anything he wants, draw any conclusion he wants regardless of facts. No conclusion can be ruled out when any assumption is allowable. That makes it impossible to apply logic to any argument Somerby advances. But reasoning does work that way. One cannot invalidate facts at hand by simply saying "well, anything is possible."

    According to Somerby, it is possible that a jury might magically manage to recruit a full panel in which not one single person is racist. But that isn't the issue. The question is how likely would that be to happen in the world as it exist? When there is a verdict that so confounds the facts presented that some additional factor must obviously be involved, then it is fair to consider that racism was present. It has happened in many past trials involving race as an obvious contributor to the situation. Only by denying the existence of race in the interaction between Zimmerman and Martin, can Somerby deny that race may have been a factor in Zimmerman's trial. How realistic is Somerby's denial of the existence of racism in juror deliberations? Not very, but since Somerby believes that anything is possible, he prefers to believe his own unlikely judgment, and that justifies him calling a Harvard professor a bunch of ugly names when she disagrees with him on the basis of her own expertise.

    One need not interview and evaluate the racism of each juror to know that a verdict doesn't fit the facts at hand. Somerby prefers to exonerate the jurors and ignore the facts, and since "everything is possible" and "he can't possibly know things himself," he will hang onto his preferred judgment regardless of any conflicting evidence.

    That is sticking his fingers in his ears and chanting la la la la I can't hear you. And Somerby is both wrong and himself racist for doing so. And more than that, he must know at some level that he is wrong, since he keeps returning to this topic over and over, suggesting that his defense isn't convincing, even to himself, because he is driven to keep shoring it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The six-person jury voted unanimously to acquit. So all six must have been racists, right? And Somerby's a racist for pointing out that the Harvard prof doesn't provide any evidence that the jurors were racist, right? And I'm a racist for pointing this out, right?

      It's racists all the way down.

      Delete
    2. Crisply and cleanly argued.

      We'll see the context stretched and goal posts moved to undermine your simple point. Or perhaps an appeal to emotion, or some combination of the above.

      Delete
    3. Zimmerman was a "Karen" who interfered with a black teenager who was walking home from a conveneince store. You don't find that racist? A jury decided it was OK for Zimmerman to shoot the kid under murky circumstances (as Somerby admits). That outcome would make no sense at all, if you didn't know that Zimmerman was white and the kid was black. Once you hear that fact, it makes it clear why an interaction wound up in a death and why the verdict was as it was. The stop, the interactions, the shooting, the verdict, all make no sense without that information about race -- you don't have random white kids shot by white men without that element. Of course this is about racism.

      I think you are racist for arguing in support of Somerby's oddball complaint against this professor, who does have a right to her opinion, as do you. But don't expect people not to call you racist when you behave in racist ways and say racist things. It is getting harder to be a closet racist these days, which is as it should be. The howls of people who wanted to just be racist in their lives without ever being called out on it don't seem to deserve much sympathy, in my opinion.

      There would not have been an acquittal without all 6 voting not-guilty. The verdict must be unanimous, so the number (out of 6) agreeing is not informative. To argue that Zimmerman did not have the sympathy of the jurors and that Martin did, would be ridiculous. Of course there is racism involved.

      You've seen Zimmerman. He isn't a particularly appealing man. Martin is cute and a teenager, and yes, he bought some skittles. Why wouldn't Martin be more sympathetic to a jury and Zimmerman less so, if race were not a factor? Zimmerman's life since the trial has continued to show him as a fairly unlikeable guy, getting into other trouble because of his own actions. Of course race is involved in his acquittal.

      Delete
    4. And there's my prediction fulfilled on all counts. I'm sorry this is just a dumb post.

      "A jury decided it was OK"

      Last I checked defendants are innocent until proven guilty. A "not guilty" verdict is far from an endorsement of their act. Good god.

      Delete
    5. That outcome would make no sense at all, if you didn't know that Zimmerman was white and the kid was black. Once you hear that fact, it makes it clear why an interaction wound up in a death and why the verdict was as it was. The stop, the interactions, the shooting, the verdict, all make no sense without that information about race -- you don't have random white kids shot by white men without that element. Of course this is about racism.

      First of, Zimmerman isn't white. And it's not a close case here: he is immediately very visibly non-white. But more importantly here, this is a very rare case. You say you never see this sort of thing with white teens: well, aside from this one single case, where have you seen anything like this? I doubt you could name a single case that is reasonably similar.

      Delete
    6. The stop, the interactions, the shooting, the verdict, all make no sense without that information about race -- you don't have random white kids shot by white men without that element. Of course this is about racism.

      Think again, race-baiter breath.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBUUx0jUKxc

      Delete
    7. anon 4:39 take a look at him - he doesn't have a "white" complexion. He's a Latinx.

      Delete
    8. Kelly,

      I think Zimmerman was a scumbag and I would have loved it if he could have been convicted. But I can also acknowledge when Somerby makes perfectly logical, rational points about this case and the commentary around it.

      Did I just make you expel brain matter out through your ears? I’m saying it’s possible to be sympathetic to one point of view, and still acknowledge the validity of arguments that tend to undercut that view, especially when those arguments are not well thought out.

      That’s what Somerby does. It’s called reasoning.

      Delete
    9. The point is the video shows a random young white man stopped, shot and killed by police that later received a non guilty verdict. This happens almost every day.

      Delete
    10. Krazy Kat,

      I don't see the same validity in some of the things Somerby says as you do. I don't think Somerby's points are "perfectly logical, rational points." When I find fault with what Somerby says, I give reasons. I find that the folks here who are happy with Somerby rarely engage the reasons I give for disputing him.

      Somerby doesn't engage in much reasoning these days. For example, today, he seems to object to mentioning the skittles, yet there is no reason not to. It is factually correct that Martin bought some and that he went to the store near his house to get them. It is why he left the house. The skittles do humanize him, but they are factually the reason why he was on the street when Zimmerman encountered him. In contrast, there is no evidence that he was casing houses or planning to rob any of them. That is all supposition. So Somerby's objection to mentioning the skittles makes no sense at all. It is not "reasoning" to object to it on the grounds that the press is trying to make Martin seem more innocent, when in fact, that is what he had on him and what he did. Perhaps he actually was innocent in that regard. In that case, Somerby is trying very hard to make Martin appear guilty of something and Zimmerman more innocent. That is the same reasoning that Somerby is using and it works both ways.

      There is nothing well thought out about accepting a supposition in place of evidence (the evidence of the skittles purchase and his family's account of why he went outside). Calling this a valid argument is incorrect, since accepting a supposition in place of facts is not valid at all. It shows prejudice, a preference for the unsupported supposition.

      If you want to call this "reasoning," I think you are distorting the meaning of that term.

      Delete
    11. Concluding that the Zimmerman jury were racist is not a stretch. Racism has always been foundational and fundamental to American society. There is a little we can do about individual racism, but the real concern (for those who are concerned) is the issue of systemic and institutional racism.

      There is nothing direct about Somerby and his "points', he is notoriously coy, he uses the word "seem" more than anybody else. The crisp clean notion is just utterly and laughably wrong.

      Delete
    12. 6:46,
      And some people STILL want "De-fund the police" to be a bad slogan.

      Delete
    13. anon 8:34, you do realize that there was a black person on the Zimmerman jury, don't you? Do you also know that there was a witness whose testimony was that he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, when both were on the ground punching down on Zimmerman. That's a pretty key fact, and is never mentioned by those who going around claiming Zimmerman "murdered" Martin. The standard is the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I know I wasn't at the scene and am pretty sure you weren't either. Some of the facts are unknown (except by Zimmerman) - particularly how it came about that the two were on the ground with Martin on top. It's not like Zimmerman just gunned him down (like the idiotic professor described it). Proof beyond a reasonable doubt has the effect, logically, of guilty people being found not guilty, that's our system. In some countries the accused have the burden of proof - is that what you want? Are you able to acknowledge that you just don't have all the facts?

      Delete
    14. Is the penalty for being in a fist fight death?

      The facts you describe don't change my opinion. Of course Zimmerman murdered Martin. He sought him out and he shot him and now Martin is dead and Zimmerman is alive. That would not be true if Zimmerman had minded his own business and gone about his errands that morning.

      I believe Zimmerman walked because the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence to prove charges against him. I don't believe Zimmerman is innocent.

      No one is saying that Zimmerman just gunned Martin down, not even that professor. She is saying that race was a factor in what happened and in the jury decision, and I agree with her.

      You aren't paying attention to what people are saying here, and that is annoying.

      Delete
    15. AC/MA I am wondering why you continue to lie about this case.

      There was no testimony that Martin was punching Zimmerman.

      There was no one black on the jury.

      I am wondering why you lie so much.

      Delete
  13. "Is it possible that Martin pursued Zimmerman? As far as we know, that is tragically possible too. (Teenagers often make mistakes. A bit more background tomorrow.)"

    It is not possible for Martin to pursue Zimmerman if he was in his truck and driving away.

    Tomorrow, Somerby will tell us bad things about Martin so that we will know that he was scary and thus deserved to be killed. Whatta guy!

    ReplyDelete
  14. "But good God! To their credit, they kept the Skittles out of their story!"

    Why should the skittles be kept out of the story when it is a fact of the case?

    Rittenhouse got to mention his first aid bag and his enrollment in "nursing school".

    The cop who shot Michael Brown got to mention how big and scary he appeared, how menacing, and it was the right who brought up his petty larceny of a pack of cigars, which had absolutely no bearing on his later stop for jaywalking.

    Why does Somerby think he gets to decide which details are OK and which are fantasizing on the part of the press? It does seem to me that Somerby decides who he thinks is at fault and then complains when the press prints something that is inconsistent with his own evaluation. But who appointed Somerby the arbiter of which details are important and which are puffery or flummery?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So if it was reported "a kid was shot down in cold blood by a racist white man after buying skittles" you'd be fine with that? I imagine you would. You apparently want the media to be leftist propaganda, not accurate and full reporting.

      Delete
    2. It's not a matter of which facts are "ok," it's which facts are relevant to the story. It makes no sense to talk about skittles, it makes a lot of sense to talk about Michael Brown's size, because the presence of the skittles make no difference in his shooting, but Michael Brown being a very large man absolutely is relevant to whether Officer Wilson's claim that he felt Brown posed an imminent threat to his life.

      Delete
    3. Right. If you mention that the kid had just purchased skittles, like any young kid, it might tend to humanize him by adding a relatable detail. The last thing we would want to do is humanize the victim who is dead after all and cannot speak at the trial. The less we know about him the better, I say.

      Delete
    4. The Skittles aren't objectively relevant. And at this point just as a matter of taste their mention is trite and unoriginal. It's meant to lather on an element of innocence. Humanizing him with irrelevant, relatable details is not the job of journalists. You have to be really careful about that. Look at Martin's lawyer Crump, an ambulance chaser. The humanization with relatable irrelevant details may be helping him. The details themselves may originate from him. I would be wary of relatable, humanizing details repeated ad nauseam by elite partisan thought leaders.

      Delete
    5. The skittles are relevant because they explain why Martin was out of his house, walking in the neighborhood. Zimmerman thought he was casing places to rob and that he didn't belong in the neighborhood. The skittles explain what he was doing, and that makes them relevant. Omitting them helps Zimmerman and hurts Martin by making Zimmerman's assumptions believable.

      Calling a black lawyer who handles black shooting cases an "ambulance chaser" is pretty racist, in my opinion. Why wouldn't a family want an attorney who understands their culture and has experience with this sort of case? But this kind of characterization of the attorney is prejudicial and displays animosity toward the family and the idea that they are entitled to bring a case and choose their own legal representation.

      Delete
    6. Everything is racist in your opinion - because you are crazy. By your imbecilic logic, no black lawyers could ever be ambulance chasers. Very naive. Skittles don't explain anything. A serial killer could have Skittles on him for after he commits a murder just as a nun could have them on her on her way to feed the poor. Possession of Skittles is not at all relevant and are indicative of nothing.

      Delete
    7. Who are you to decide what is objectively relevant? The jury got to hear about his purchases prior to being murdered did they not.

      Delete
    8. They are not relevant to him being out or him not casing houses or anything he was or could have been doing. How are they relevant?

      Hey thieves - carry a bag of Skittles on all your jobs - they will exonerate you because they are relevant! They prove you are innocent. Because ...





      ???

      Delete
    9. Why say mean things about a dead kid? Zimmerman's suspicions don't justify shooting Martin. He wasn't breaking into anyone's house that day. He wasn't doing anything illegal until he was hitting Zimmerman, but we don't know anything about the circumstances of that fight, other than that Zimmerman stopped and picked it and apparently got more than he bargained for.

      Delete
    10. 7:29, oh, I, see, you're confused. You apparently are under the impression that Martin, the murder victim, was on trial. When did you first dream up your fantasy that Martin was a thief? When did that happen?

      Delete
    11. When Iris said "Zimmerman thought he was casing places to rob and that he didn't belong in the neighborhood. The skittles explain what he was doing, and that makes them relevant."

      The Skittles don't prove or disprove he was or was not casing houses (a thief). They have no relevance to the issue whatsoever. Jack the Ripper could have Skittles. MLK could have Skittles. The Skittles are not relevant at all.

      Just joking. I'm racist and hate blacks.

      Delete
    12. 7:55 the issues being discussed is the relevance or lack of of the bag of Skittles.

      Delete
    13. Hey armed bigots - carry your fear of black people with you all the time - it will exonerate you because you were scared! It will prove you are innocent. Because ...

      Delete
    14. 8:24,
      There is some relevancy to the skittles, but they're not as relevant to the case as Zimmerman being a bigot.

      Delete
  15. I have read Daily Howler for more than 20 years. His meta-journalism is a refreshing voice in the liberal world. Thanks to Daily Howler, I am a more critical consumer of all media. I believe that race is still a major problem in the U.S., regardless of some of the gray areas in the Trayvon Martin killing. To be a liberal, must I mention "Skittles" or "crossing state lines" when discussing race? These things have become orthodoxies in the liberal world. The site provides understanding—a way to filter media to know better when we are being played.

    In the coming days and weeks, the media will be giving various narratives on the war in Ukraine. The central narrative will be on the justness of what America is doing and the evil of Putin. Russians will receive the opposite story. These competing stories are framed as the truth, but the truth is not their purpose. The purpose is to establish faith in the believers. Or a way for other believers to have faith in you. When I mention Skittles and the hoodie, you know I share your beliefs. You can assume that I believe that justice was subverted because of a racist jury. For liberals, even considering the jury was correct is blasphemy.

    Calling orthodoxy into question is what Daily Howler does best.

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    Replies
    1. "For liberals, even considering the jury was correct is blasphemy."

      You frame this as a matter of competing opinions but there are also facts to be considered. Long ago, Somerby explained that the mainstream media disappears facts but the right-wing media invents them, providing disinformation to viewers.

      Lately, Somerby has begun believing some of the disinformation from the right, he has abandoned his efforts to explain his criticisms and he has been making increasingly outrageous statements against widely held liberal values. Most liberals see a change in Somerby since his early analysis of Al Gore's mistreatment.

      I would agree that Somerby once provided a valuable service with his critiques of press reporting, but I think those days are long gone.

      As for Zimmerman, I think the jury had insufficient evidence to convict him of anything, but that doesn't make him innocent. I doubt that jury would have convicted him even with greater evidence, and I am not about to believe in a non-racist jury in Florida. I consider Zimmerman's actions to be racist and I consider the shooting to have been preventable had Zimmerman not been racist. In that sense, justice was not done. Because it is the prosecutors job to give the jury evidence, the jury is not at fault in their verdict, in my opinion.

      I disagree that liberals walk around making knee-jerk judgments based on liberal common wisdom that is signaled by things like mention of skittles (which were present and the reason why Martin was out of his house). Skittles are a fact of the case, not a liberal buzz-word.

      Somerby does question liberal orthodoxy, but because he never expresses liberal views, never challenges right-wing orthodoxy, and frequently criticizes the left based on right-wing talking points, there is no reason to consider Somerby any kind of liberal himself. Saying that such challenges are what this blog "does best" is faint praise since it doesn't do that job very well at all. Somerby's arguments lately are either factually incorrect, illogical, poorly argued or not argued at all but simply asserted. That is a shadow of his old self, but we all grow old or burnout. I think it is time for Somerby to quit while he is ahead. Lately he is just attacking for the sake of attack and that isn't interesting or helpful for anyone.

      Delete
    2. Love Bob. Performs an invaluable service. However, methinks he goes too far to show he's unbiased. Consider this sentence: "In fact, Zimmerman was on his back, being pummeled as he lay on the ground, when the (one) fatal shot was fired." Bob's entire focus is that we can't possibly know what truly transpired. Why so confident with this assertion? Again, big Bob fan. I think of Rachel pretty much how he does. However...

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    3. It's an odd case, by which I don't mean to suggest Bob is wrong. How was somebody who was getting his head smashed against the pavement suddenly recall he has a gun, get it out and shoot the party who is beating on him? Yet some things can be surmised from the ballistics and the injuries.

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    4. Iris, can you be a liberal and still believe that Zimmerman acted in self-defense? I appreciate your comments, but you still have the jury and Zimmerman acting with racial motives. I am not trying to convince you otherwise but is there room for doubt? If I am going to attribute motive, Zimmerman probably thought he was acting bravely, maybe even heroically. (Same with Rittenhouse.) Please don't misunderstand; I am not saying they are heroes. Just it may be too easy an answer to conclude that Zimmerman's motive was racial. More importantly, you and I can debate Zimmerman's motives, but the press should be very cautious when making such speculations.

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    5. "Zimmerman probably thought he was acting bravely, maybe even heroically. (Same with Rittenhouse.)"

      This is what happens when you deny/ make excuses for bigotry. Acknowledging bigotry when we see it is a win for society.

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    6. It is possible that Zimmerman acted based on a racial motive that he himself was not aware of. He can think of himself as being brave, without realizing that his interpretation of the danger posed by Martin was racist. I think @8:16 may mean something different by racial motive than I do, or than psychologists do. Looking at a black teenager and seeing him as a house breaker instead of a kid is racist. Being extra frightened of a black person compared to a white person is racist. If you limit your understanding of racism to "Zimmerman must hate black people," you are using too restricted a definition of what racism is and how it affects people's thinking.

      I'm sure Zimmerman had lots of self-serving notions about his own importance, bravery and duties, to have enacted the role of saving people's homes that he seems to have adopted. That doesn't justify what he did, in my opinion.

      But I also have to ask why Zimmerman was driving around with a gun. That is another part of this situation that is institutional, part of Florida's laws, that contributes to these sorts of gun deaths. If Zimmerman had no gun, he might have let the police investigate instead of doing whatever he did that put him into close proximity with Martin. Martin, being accosted by an unknown white man, was more certainly defending himself than Zimmerman. I don't understand why the self defense motive is being applied to Zimmerman, who was the obvious aggressor. Martin's crime was that he had no gun, but why should an adult be able to put a teenager into a situation where he needed one to defend himself?

      Rittenhouse is not being well served by his verdict. He needs drastic intervention now or he is going to have an unfortunate life, much like Zimmerman's, especially once he is no longer the poster child of the alt-right. When a bear or a mountain lion learns that killing humans is easy, it must be put down because the act will be repeated. Rittenhouse is in that same position and there appears to be nothing to help him learn not to behave like a psychopath.

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  16. When I was young, the New York Times was accurate and unbiased. Today, they are neither. What a loss to the country! IMO there is now no news organ that's reliable and unbiased.

    If there were a trustworthy news source, the country would be less tribal. A big part of today's schism is that people have different beliefs about what the real world looks like.

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    1. Here is the "biased" New York Times fact checking President Biden's state of the union.

      We fact-checked President Biden's claim during the #SOTU about strong U.S. job growth.

      During his SOTU address, Biden said that “over 6.5 million new jobs” were created in 2021, “more jobs created in one year than ever before in the history of America.”

      The biased New York Times' verdict:

      "partially true"

      Why, "partially true" you might ask?

      Sit down and hold on to your dentures.

      "Biden is correct on the numbers. But the government only started collecting this data in 1939"

      Bwahahaha,

      Hey David, go fuck yourself by the way.

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    2. The New York Times is a propaganda arm for corporations, like the rest of the MSM.

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  17. Anybody remember the Maher shows were he and his panel first repeated a lot of nonsense about the case that was going around at the time: then had to have Zimmerman's brother on to set at least some of the record straight.
    Never mentioned in the liberal version: Martin had been kicked out of school and his house. They found a backpack with a bunch of screwdrivers and watches, strongly suggesting he was a thief. The fact that he may have been casing houses has at least some circumstantial evidence to back it up. In any event, he was not the innocent eight year old whose photo was wallpapered over most of the media.
    Morning Joe has been big on skittles. But MSNBC often misrepresents basic facts in these cases tying to please it's demographic. Money makes the world go round.

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    1. Just because you are kicked out of school or had unaccounted for stuff in a backpack (no theft allegation much less conviction ever made), doesn't mean you have no right to walk around a neighborhood where you are currently living. None of this excuses Zimmerman's actions. In fact, Zimmerman knew nothing about any of that stuff. Unless Zimmerman assumes that any black kid walking around is up to no good, nothing Zimmerman did makes any sense at all.

      Thieves don't case houses by walking around in broad daylight looking suspicious. Whatever Martin was doing (one suggestion of supposed guilt was that he was letting himself get wet in the light rain). All this stuff about Martin came out after he was already dead -- Zimmerman didn't know about any of it. It was his good luck to shoot a kid with enough bad behavior to make him seem prescient, I guess.

      He wasn't carrying around skittles. He went to the store specifically to buy skittles and then was on his way home. That much was corroborated by witnesses. It does establish what he was doing while he was out of the house. Speculation about casing houses is just that, speculation without any foundation. It is not fact and it does not justify anything Zimmerman did.

      Reasoning from assumptions about guilt based on nothing more than skin color and a hoodie, is racist because there is no basis for it other than stereotypes. Whatever Martin turned out to be after investigation was irrelevant because Zimmerman picked him out based on his looks, while driving through the neighborhood to run an errand. Zimmerman wasn't on his neighborhood watch duties at the time -- he was driving to a hardware store, by his own admission. He noticed the kid and decided to stalk him because he assumed, based on his looks, that he was up to no good. And that's racist.

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    2. Never suggested Martin had no right to walk around his neighborhood, obviously. I was pointing out he was likely a thief his school didn't want to deal with so they kicking him out, which is of course, true. When it came out is irrelevant, it supports the possibility he was casing houses, which is a POSSIBILITY, and Zimmerman saw himself as a neighborhood watch hero, so that may be why he took noticed. If he saw himself as a neighborhood watch guy he would not have assigned himself duty hours. If he saw something he thought was a problem he wouldn't say "I'm not on duty." It was 7, not broad daylight. They don't have regular hours anymore than thieves do who are peeking in peoples windows.
      The rest is just racism on your part. You have
      nothing to support Zimmerman was a racist, if there was we would have course heard a LOT about it. You have no idea what was in Zimmerman's head, but you certainly do let us know what's in yours: hatred of (close enough, I guess) whites.

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