Part 2—Our brave new liberal ethics: When you’re on duty as a great uncle, at best you’ll get glimmers of the day’s news. That said:
Last Saturday morning, while children were sleeping, we perused Charles Blow’s latest New York Times column concerning the Trayvon Martin case.
One day later, also quite early, we read Brent Staples’ review of the Martin case, a New York Times “Sunday Observer” column. And at some point, we managed to scan this post by bmaz, a legal commentator at Marcy Wheeler’s emptywheel site.
In this way, we got a glimpse of the emerging ethics of the brave new emerging liberal world. All in all, we weren’t impressed.
Our first glimpse came from Blow’s column.
Blow was reviewing a major event; George Zimmerman had now been charged with a crime by prosecutor Angela Corey. In the middle of his piece, Blow waved the American flag:
BLOW (4/14/12): On Wednesday, Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder and he was taken into custody. On Thursday, Zimmerman appeared in a Florida courtroom, and Corey released a simple but chilling affidavit for probable cause that painted a disturbing portrait of Zimmerman as a man who “profiled,” “followed” and “confronted” the boy.“America should be proud,” Blow said. “The facts should come out in court and under oath and not just over airwaves and in newspapers,” he patriotically added.
This is a moment when America should be proud. The wheels of justice are finally turning. The State of Florida has taken up the cause of the dead boy. His life is no more, but his legacy will live forever.
The state will vigorously prosecute, and Zimmerman will be vigorously defended as is his constitutional right.
The facts should come out in court and under oath and not just over airwaves and in newspapers. Truth will be sought and, hopefully, found. And whatever the verdict, it will be based on the presentation of evidence and the interpretation of the law, as it should be.
Unfortunately, we had already read the opening to Blow’s column. Right as he started, the gentleman made the highlighted factual statement:
BLOW: America has heard the calls for justice from a Florida family.Will the facts come out in court? Not necessarily, no; there may never be a court case. More on that below.
A boy’s blood had been spilled on a rain-soaked patch of grass behind a row of mustard-colored condominiums by a man who had pursued him against the advice of 911 dispatchers. That man carried a 9-millimeter handgun. The boy carried a bag of candy.
Yet it seems, largely on the weight of his own word, the man who killed the boy was allowed to walk out of the police station that night without even a charge.
But before the facts could possibly come out in court, Blow had asserted a fact in a major American newspaper. Is it true? Did George Zimmerman “pursue [Trayvon Martin] against the advice of 911 dispatchers?”
That’s what Corey says in her affidavit; Zimmerman says it isn’t the case. But so what? Blow simply asserted this claim as established fact right there in one of the country’s top newspapers!
Before the facts could come out in court, Charles Blow simply asserted a fact! A key fact not yet in evidence!
But then, so it has always gone when folk like Blow wave the American flag in support of their outlooks and preferences.
Did Zimmerman pursue Martin against the advice of dispatchers? Like us, Blow doesn’t know. But many people believe this is an established fact, thanks to the work of our brave new liberal super-patriots.
In some cases, the journalistic conduct has been worse than that displayed by Blow in his second paragraph. Two days earlier, readers of the New York Times had read this account of that fact:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/12/12): Angela Corey, the special prosecutor, declined to discuss details of the case but said that if the Stand Your Ground law is invoked by the defense, “we will fight it” with evidence that the shooting was unjustified. In this case, Mr. Zimmerman exited his car to follow the teenager despite a 911 dispatcher’s warning: “We don’t need you to do that.”Blow’s factual claim hasn’t been established; to all appearances, the editors’ claim is simply false. But this is the way it always has been in the case of unpopular defendants. In such matters, the hacks and the shills have always stepped forward to give us false glimpses of “facts.”
It’s very hard to keep up with the news when you’re the great uncle, or even the parent, of a six-week-old baby. In this case, we cited the factual claim in that editorial to a North Carolina resident who has been very busy of late. Was Zimmerman told to stay in huis car? That’s the way she has heard the facts described, she told us.
And no, this isn’t her “fault.”
Will the facts come out in court? Not if Zimmerman pleads to a lesser charge—and folk like Blow, as they wave the flag, are tipping the scales in that direction. On our One True Liberal Channel last week, you were told that Corey is a hero because she filed that charge against Zimmerman. But uh-oh! From flag-wavers like Blow, you’ll never hear about what Alan Dershowitz told guest host Michael Smerconish on last Wednesday’s Hardball:
DERSHOWITZ (4/12/12): Most affidavits of probable cause are very thin. This is so thin that it won’t make it past the judge on a second-degree murder charge. There is simply nothing in there that would justify second-degree murder. The elements of the crime aren’t established. Basically, what’s in the affidavit is what’s in the public domain, with the exception of the few little things that were put forward by your previous commentator.To watch the full segment, click here.
It’s not only thin. It’s irresponsible. I think that what you have here is an elected public official who made a campaign speech last night for reelection when she gave her presentation, and overcharged, way overcharged.
But it’s worse than that. It’s irresponsible and unethical in not including the material that favors the defendant, unless it’s not true. But if it’s true, as we now have learned from other information, that the grass stains are in back of Zimmerman’s shirt, that there are bruises on his head, you must put that in an affidavit. The affidavit has to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Not being legal experts ourselves, we can’t really evaluate Dershowitz’s judgments and claims. (Unless we're mistaken, the police report said Zimmerman had grass on the back of his short, not grass stains.) But if Corey’s alleged extreme over-charging forces Zimmerman to cop to a lesser offense, no facts will ever come out in court. And please note:
Dershowitz said Corey was irresponsible, perhaps even unethical, in her affidavit. But you won’t be apprised of such concerns from flag-wavers like Blow.
The flag-wavers have always told it just one way. This unfortunate pattern continues today, as we can glimpse from Blow's column.
One day later, Staples presented his own assessment of the case—and in our view, the mind-reading was rather general. (Note the way Staples is able to tell us what Zimmerman “saw” that night.) Are you sure that our emerging “liberal” practices are different and better than those of the American past, when shoes of presumption were on other feet, when high-ranking players tended to invent and embellish their facts to attack people of color?
Blow was busy dishing the bathos about “the boy” with the candy, the boy who was killed by the man. All through the annals of American history, the hacks have tugged on your heartstrings this way as they feed you their version of “facts.”
In fact, there is an actual, non-metaphorical “boy” in Corey’s line-up of cases—that 12-year-old child whom she is currently charging with murder. (He's the youngest person ever charged with murder in American history.) But you’ll never hear a word about him when people like Blow start waving the flag. That might undermine your faith in the (slightly crazy) prosecutor whom we liberals are now urged to trust.
Is Angela Corey proceeding correctly? Not being legal experts ourselves, we can’t really tell you. But on Saturday, we got a glimpse of old-fashioned liberal values when we read this post by bmaz, who actually seemed to be concerned about the way Corey is acting!
But then, bmaz seems to think that the accused deserve justice in our system too! Remember when liberals believed such things? Back before Florida’s biggest crackpots began to perform on our side?
Like Corey, Blow seems to lean one way when he dispenses his justice. His headline—“Justice for Trayvon”—strikes us as an inverted version of the same old familiar shit.
Blow is parading down the street; as he does, Old Glory flaps in the wind. But uh-oh! People who didn’t have the time to study this case heard two facts from the Times last week:
The editors gave them a “fact” which was false. Blow’s “fact” was merely unfounded!
Tomorrow: A glimpse of Chris Hayes