A massive improvement over last year!


Charles Blow outlines the case: We wouldn’t want to be on the Zimmerman jury.

That jury faces a hard decision about events which were poorly observed. The jurors know that considerable feeling surrounds the case.

As part of that considerable feeling, many frameworks are being offered which may or may not make sense. We were struck by some of Charles Blow’s frameworks in this morning’s New York Times column.

We thought quite a few of those frameworks made sense and were quite fair. Sometimes, we thought they maybe didn’t and weren’t.

This is one of Blow’s frameworks. To us, this seems a bit odd:
BLOW (6/29/13): There has been testimony establishing that there was some sort of verbal interaction between Zimmerman and Martin before a physical one. Who struck the first blow and why? If Martin struck the first blow, as the defense contends, could that be considered an act of self-defense?

Regardless of who struck the first blow, some testimony suggests that Martin was getting the best of Zimmerman. In that scenario, could the right to self-defense switch personage?
We think that framework is somewhat strange. In that passage, Blow imagines a scenario in which Martin strikes the first blow, then starts getting the best of Zimmerman—and that this has all been done as part of Martin’s right to self-defense!

That framework strikes us as odd. In what way is a person who strikes the first blow acting in self-defense? There may be an answer to that question, but Blow rushes right past the oddness in that framework.

As he continues, Blow tilts the scales back the other way. To his vast credit, he starts being fair to the party he doesn't favor:
BLOW: Regardless of who struck the first blow, some testimony suggests that Martin was getting the best of Zimmerman. In that scenario, could the right to self-defense switch personage? Florida law seems to suggest it can. The law states that the use of force is not justified when a person “initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant.”
As he quotes Florida law, Blow offers the following framework:

Even if Zimmerman initially provoked the use of force against himself (perhaps by striking the first blow), he may still have been entitled to the later use of grievous force.

This second framework, in which Blow quotes Florida law, tilts things more strongly in Zimmerman’s direction than we have heard from TV pundits this week. As he continues, Blow is once again quite fair to Zimmerman, the party he doesn’t favor:
BLOW (continuing directly): Even assuming that Martin was winning a physical fight with Zimmerman, did Zimmerman “reasonably” believe that he was in “imminent danger of death or great bodily harm”? Zimmerman was injured, but how do you evaluate the degree of those injuries? Independent assessments may or may not deem Zimmerman’s injuries severe, but did Zimmerman, in the middle of the fight, believe them to be? Had Zimmerman “exhausted every reasonable means to escape”?
Cable pundits have often complained that Zimmerman didn’t sustain “great bodily harm.” But, as Blow comprehends in this passage, the law doesn’t require a person to sustain such harm. The person just has to have a reasonable belief that he is in danger of doing so.

For better or worse, a person doesn’t have to wait until he’s been grievously injured. Or so Blow says in that framework, once again being quite fair to the party he doesn’t much favor.

Blow’s fairness is impressive. Last year, he often played a different role. He played a key role in the very bad conduct displayed on MSNBC in the first few months after Trayvon Martin’s death.

In a truly horrendous display, Al Sharpton and Lawrence O’Donnell invented a lot of phony facts and bogus understandings. When it came to irresponsible conduct, Ed Schultz wasn’t far behind.

This was a terrible, months-long performance by this “liberal” cable channel. Blow often served as the guest who helped promote the fake facts and bogus understandings.

This morning, Blow is largely behaving the way a journalist should. As he lists basic questions about the case, he even advances a possibility which has been obscured wherever our own liberal tribe’s distortions have been sold:
BLOW: The case, it seems to me, spins on some crucial questions, some of which we may never completely know the answers to.

What was it about Martin in particular that Zimmerman found “suspicious” in the first place? So far, there has been no testimony that Martin was doing anything other than walking slowly and talking on a phone to a girl, as teenage boys are wont to do. Did Zimmerman consider every person walking thusly in the neighborhood to be suspicious? If not, what made Martin different? Was some sort of bias at play, whether an explicit one or an implicit one?

Why did Zimmerman leave his car, armed with his gun, and follow Martin? When the dispatcher realized that Zimmerman was in pursuit and told him, “We don’t need you to do that,” did Zimmerman stop?
In our view, Blow takes a few liberties in this passage. “So far, there has been no testimony that Martin was doing anything other than walking slowly and talking on a phone to a girl?”

So far, there has been no testimony from the defense at all!

It may be there will never be any testimony of the type described. It’s entirely possible that Martin didn’t doing anything that night, in any way, which should have been regarded as “suspicious.” But Blow had his thumb on the scale a wee bit in that passage, which makes it all the more impressive when he finally imagines the liberally unimaginable:

When the dispatcher told Zimmerman, “We don’t need you to do that,” did Zimmerman stop following Martin (and start walking back to his truck)?

Did Zimmerman stop following Martin? That has always been Zimmerman’s story, and some of the evidence seems to support it. Despite this, many liberals seem to think that this question was answered long ago in a way which condemns Zimmerman.

These liberals have been propagandized, in the ways we used to deride when they were performed on the right. In this column, Blow acknowledges the possibility that Zimmerman had stopped following Martin before the confrontation.

He doesn't shout it to the skies. But Blow acknowledges the fact that this basic question still has not been settled. Given Blow’s performance last year, that is a large concession and a massive improvement.

Some major journalists behaved very badly in the aftermath of Martin’s death. A lot of liberals allowed themselves to cast in the role of prejudgers.

In our view, Blow played a disappointing role on cable last year. We don’t think his whole column makes sense today, but it’s a massive improvement over last year. We salute him for his effort.

We’ll offer two bromides as we close:

By definition, progressives can’t invent fake facts, thereby misleading average people. And by definition, progressives have to be fair.

Last year, MSNBC failed those basic tests badly. This morning, columnist Blow is back on a truer course.

Let the testimony continue. We’d still like to know what happened.


  1. "If Martin struck the first blow, as the defense contends, could that be considered an act of self-defense?"

    If Martin survived, injured or killed Zimmerman, and was put on trial for it, yes. He could make that claim and it may be a reasonable one depending on events. In no way does it render Zimmerman's claim to self-defense unreasonable even with the same set of facts.

    No, Zimmerman's injuries did not have to be severe. Nor did he even have to "believe them to be" severe as Blow implies. The only requirement would be that the next one or the one after that could create a serious consequence, or that Martin could find his gun, or any number of other beliefs that would be reasonable and create fear of serious injury or death.

    Zimmerman was not a bold. He was heard whispering to the 911 dispatcher that he did not want to state his address because Martin might overhear. In earlier calls to 911 he said he did not want to involve himself personally and requested police be dispatched.

    We know he was frustrated by numerous burglaries in his neighborhood, which contributed to his suspicions. That is a completely excusable mindset and to argue it isn't a reasonable one or that it should be put aside when the suspicion involves a black person, since blacks have been discriminated against, would be ridiculous but very typical of the batshit insane point of view adopted by the anti-Zimmerman mob.

    Blow is forced to confront facts and make a decision about whether he wants to continue to choose to advance unsupported lies and hope nobody notices or accept them, which he has done to a limited extent and grudgingly. What is happening is that the mob is facing the same dilemma, and we now hear rumblings of "at least manslaughter" which would be just as atrocious as the original corrupt charges.

    The mob would be most pleased if a conviction, even a murder conviction, were won solely as a result of a stupid jury, even if the mob itself believed the burden was nowhere near met. That is the kind of "progressive" people they are.

  2. I don't believe that the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as comprehensive as it is, includes the very strange psychopathology that afflicts Somerby.

    So eager and relentless is he in his mocking assaults upon liberal cable hosts and pundits that he condemns them for daring to form some early judgments about a case where an indisputably unarmed, clearly innocent black youngster is shot dead by a man who took it upon himself to follow and confront this youngster.

    So determined is Somerby to present the facts in the way most damning to the supposedly prematurely condemnatory liberal cable hosts and pundits—by trying to make every single element of the “prejudged” case appear so uncertain and ambiguous that it's not judgeable even now, many months later—that he withholds the most important fact presented by Charles Blow in his NY Times column that Somerby praises for its fairness. Charles Blow says, “During opening arguments, John Guy, a prosecutor, stated that investigators found none of Zimmerman’s blood on Martin’s hands or on the cuffs of his sweatshirt. How will the defense explain that?”

    And how does that square with Somerby's suggestion that Zimmerman might well have “reasonably” believed himself to be in grave danger? Martin never brandished a gun since he didn't have one, and didn't inflict enough physical damage upon Zimmerman to get any of Zimmerman's blood on his hands or sweatshirt cuffs. Where is the basis for Zimmerman's “reasonably believing he is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger”, as the law requires??????

    One of Somerby's constant refrains in his blog is that the media “withholds” facts from their scenarios in order to manipulate their viewers/readers. Has there ever been a more egregious withholding of facts than Somerby's own in this post?

    1. Enter the Dragon, Somerby is relentless in arguing that liberal pundits not present their just-so stories as fact. This seems a very mild neurosis, if a mental disorder at all. You present a number of possibly nonfactual stories yourself.

      All evidence shows Martin to have been blameless when Zimmerman first followed him. You have conflated this with Martin's legal innocence in his confrontation with Zimmerman. We don't know what happened during that confrontation. Somerby doesn't claim that every element of the case is unambiguous, just that the last moments of Martin's life are uncertain and crucial to the legal case.

      The defense doesn't have to explain the lack of blood on Martin. The defense doesn't have to explain anything. It's for the state to explain beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman had a depraved mind in killing Martin. Photos taken that night show Zimmerman with blood on his face from his broken nose. You bleed from the nostrils after a blow that breaks your nose. As for the scalp wound, who knows? In any case, the prosecutor's question is a sly one. Florida does not demand that force be close to commensurate with the damage sustained in a fight. Some states do. Florida isn't one of those. All Florida requires is a reasonable fear of serious injury or death, and some reasonable fears turn out to be mistaken.

      You also misunderstand the law about exhausting means of escape. This applies only to initial aggressors. If, as Zimmerman claims, Martin attacked him, then Zimmerman was under no legal requirement to flee. That's the whole point of stand-your-ground. This is not to say that Martin wasn't legally entitled to attack Zimmerman, even if Zimmerman is telling the truth. Martin might have been just as reasonably and mistakenly fearful of Zimmerman as Zimmerman claims he was of Martin.

      And finally, what "facts" do you think Somerby has withheld? I'll bet that whatever you've got won't make my top ten. Or yours.

    2. @deadrat: The stand-your-ground defense does not, and was never intended to apply to someone whose own behavior provokes the eventually fatal confrontation and who makes no attempt to escape from that confrontation without using deadly force. I know you know that.

      If Martin and Zimmerman had first encountered one another moments before their fight, then you'd have an opportunity to argue that Martin was the aggressor and Zimmerman had no obligation to flee if possible without using deadly force.

      But, in darkness, Zimmerman follows Martin by car and on foot, without ever identifying himself as a neighborhood watch member—even Zimmerman had to recognize that his own behavior would be threatening and unjustifiably provocative to an innocent person, and even threatening and unjustifiably provocative to a non-violent guilty person such as the burglar he suspected Martin to be. Therefore, once there were the first signs of a physical confrontation between them, Zimmerman had a legal obligation to flee if possible without using deadly force. He chose not to do that—he evidently was in his “law enforcement officer mode” and cops don't flee from confrontations—and now must bear the consequences.

      Let me clarify one point: I don't think Martin should have attacked Zimmerman, if that's what he did. But because Zimmerman HAD TO KNOW (and I think you'll concede this, deadrat) that he was being attacked because his own behavior had provoked Martin, he had an obligation to run away the instant he saw Martin approaching him. If he had done so, and if Martin had pursued and overtaken him, and proceeded to bash his head into the ground, then Zimmerman would have been justified in his use of deadly force.

    3. Here's how the right-wing blogs are spinning this: Have you ever heard of MMA --mixed martial arts? It's a fierce kind of fighting that Trayvon Martin was apparently quite passionate about and had been in trouble for on numerous occasions. Apparently he was boasting about it on emails that are now being quoted around the right wing. So all the emphasis on his small size means nothing --some of the world's greatest fighters are slight of build. What means a lot is that the boy was an aggressive fighter who loved to fight and was very good at it. I am a big strong construction worker kind of guy, but I am pretty sure little Trayvon Martin could have beat me up. I am like most guys these days-- I don't know how to fight and I don't want to.
      The blogs are also saying that Trayvon Martin was caught up in drugs and possibly the drug trade as he allegedly tried to purchase a hand-gun.
      I have lived in sketchy neighborhoods down south right on the border between nice neighborhood and not-so-nice neighborhoods there is alot of predatory crime. Believe me if you lived in some of those places with your kids you might well be thankful someone like Zimmerman was willing to patrol, because the police often cannot be there. And it really does make sense for any security in those neighborhoods to be armed, even if voluntary. I have had guns pulled on me by 16 year old thugs high on who-knows what. It just may be that George Zimmerman was not a vigilante, was not racist, and was actually trying to protect his community, and did shoot entirely in self-defense. If so, then the failure of much of the left-wing press and punditry to give George Zimmerman a fair shake will have made a potent martyr story out of George Zimmerman that will plague us liberals for years to come.

    4. Oh one more thing. Apparently a witness was quoted as saying something like the guy on top was going at it totally MMA style. That makes Trayvon Martins' fighting experience relevant to the scene of the crime I should think.

    5. "If so, then the failure of much of the left-wing press and punditry to give George Zimmerman a fair shake will have made a potent martyr story out of George Zimmerman that will plague us liberals for years to come. "

      Didn't they just make this mistake in describing the MinuteMen Movement as Patriots concerned with the security of the nation, as opposed to the paranoid, angry and violent group of dysfunctional and disturbed people they actually were?


  3. One main point made by Charles M. Blow in his column is that we'll never get all the facts because one of the two people involved in the case is not around the testify. I've wondered how I would have reacted if I was in Trayvon Martin's position. Would I have run or would I have tried to "stand my ground" with somebody threatening me. I do know that standing your ground does work. Back in grade school I caught hell for several weeks from a bully larger than me who followed me home from school daily. But one winter day, when he was shouting insults and taunts at him while peppering me with snowballs, I kept packing my snowball until it became an iceball, turning around and hit him in the ear with it. He ran home crying to his mommy and never bothered me again. But guns weren't as easy to get back then. Had the bully been armed with a gun, would he have been justified to shoot me and claim self-defense? More questions to ask. It may be that George Zimmerman under Florida law may be found innocent. But in my book he is not the hero he is to people who believe the trail bogus and that only a "stupid jury" would convict him.

    1. Had the bully been armed with a gun, would he have been justified to shoot me and claim self-defense?

      If you held him down and repeatedly smashed iceballs into his face and head, yes. If he could run away and instead chose to pull out his gun and shoot you, no.

      Zimmerman is not a hero, he is an unfortunate person who found himself in circumstances in which he was forced to defend himself, and is the victim of a corrupt, political prosecution brought about by a racist lynch mob who want to see someone put in prison for carrying a gun legally, or for being the lighter skinned of the two involved that night.

    2. "Unfortunate person" equals wannabe police officer, scared of his own shadow, who carries a gun to make himself feel like a man.

      Not necessarily Zimmerman's fault, the NRA (propaganda arm of gun manufacturers) has been telling scaredy-cats owning a gun will transform them into tough-guy frontiersmen for years. Zimmerman was just another "unfortunate person"* who fell for a marketing campaign.

      "unfortunate person" in this sentence equals "sucker".

    3. Some people who carry guns do use them to save their own lives or others'. Many who don't carry or own them are unable to save lives when attacked or when their homes are burglarized, and end up wishing they did have one. Sometimes it is wise to carry a gun, and it is a matter of debate whether government should deny a person the ability to do so on the basis that others will use guns unwisely or criminally.

    4. Guns don't save lives. People do.

  4. "unarmed, clearly innocent black youngster"

    "Unarmed" here is inflammatory yet completely meaningless because it could be said Martin was armed with fists and a concrete sidewalk. Someone using a lead pipe to inflict a head injury is "armed" in a technical sense of the word but not in a different, meaningful sense than someone using his fists and a sidewalk to do the same.

    In "Clearly innocent black youngster" the only indisputable word is "black." Martin was not "clearly innocent" if he attacked and beat Zimmerman even if he was "innocent" minutes before. "Youngster" is rarely used to describe 17-year-olds even if they aren't strictly excluded.

    Martin never brandished a gun since he didn't have one,

    At no time did Zimmerman know whether Martin had a gun, and it is not established that Zimmerman ever "brandished' his. Martin inflicted enough physical damage to cause head injuries and break Zimmerman's nose. Whether he had blood on his fists as a result is completely irrelevant.

    Where is the basis for Zimmerman's “reasonably believing he is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger”, as the law require

    Having one's head bashed against a sidewalk is the reasonable basis. As the physician assistant testified, where there is trauma to the head, a series of questions is asked to ascertain whether there are indications of serious injury. Even when there are NO such symptoms, a person is told to be aware of changes (as Zimmerman was told). "Walking Dead" is used by physicians to describe those victims of head trauma who show or experience no immediate symptoms, severe or otherwise, but later die because of undiagnosed brain injury.

    While one is screaming ("life or death" screams according to the prosecution witness) for his life and having his head bashed against concrete, he has no time to check his pupils or ask himself a series of questions after every blow as to whether he may be in the process of being killed or gravely injured.

    There could be alternative explanations for all of this. Perhaps the "downward movement" of Martin's fists was tickling. Perhaps Zimmerman's life or death shrieks for help were because he doesn't like being tickled (or even less plausibly, perhaps it was the one "raining punches" who was screaming for help). Perhaps Zimmerman is very quickthinking and when he told the first cop at the scene that "I was screaming but no one helped me" he was not bewildered, as testified, but scheming and lying. Perhaps the wounds were self-inflicted as Zimmerman further carried out his scheme by banging his own head against the concrete just enough to injure and draw blood but not enough to allow him to risk giving his "victim" access to his gun by becoming disoriented or passing out. Then he broke his own nose.

    Which fact has Somerby withheld?

    1. One simple question: did Zimmerman attempt to flee the scene at any point? If not, then he didn't conform to the requirements of the law regarding deadly force: that the person "has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger".

      My citation of the fact that Martin was unarmed (including with your "lead pipe") was intended to convey the notion that Zimmerman had no reason to believe he couldn't simply run away if he felt threatened. You fancifully hypothesize serious head injuries suffered by Zimmerman even as you concede he had no immediate symptoms (nor later ones!!). What is that an indication of other than your desperation to portray a murderer as a victim? The same possession of faculties that enabled Zimmerman to shoot Martin to death would have enabled him flee any fight between them. The opportunity Zimmerman had to extract, aim and fire his gun, would equally have allowed him to remove himself from the confrontation instead, a confrontation he himself provoked--so unnecessarily, and without justification, provoked.

    2. Enter the dragon, One simple answer: Zimmerman was under no legal constraint to attempt to flee the scene at any point. That is, if he didn't initially provoke an attack (for which there is precisely no evidence, despite your just-so story) That's what stand-your-ground means.

      What is it an indication of that you call the defendant a murderer? That you think that what happened is that Zimmerman was able to cooly "extract, aim, and fire his gun"? That's the thing about guns, careful extraction and aim aren't required to kill with them. A panicked pull is all that's required.

    3. One simple question: did Zimmerman attempt to flee the scene at any point?

      He isn't required to show he exhausted reasonable means to escape if he was not the initial aggressor, and there is no evidence he was.

      He tried anyway. Good's testimony was that the person on the bottom appeared to be trying to get away. Good and Lauer's testimony indicates that Zimmerman was screaming "life or death" shrieks and pleas for someone to help, indicating another effort to get away, along with the first officer who arrived describing a bewildered Zimmerman saying he was crying for help but no one came.

      One might conclude from such screams that the jury will hear again, that Zimmerman might, just might, have been unable to get up.

      I did not concede Zimmerman had no immediate symptoms. I just did not include first responders' and the physician assistant's testimony that he complained of dizziness.

      The fact that he had no later symptoms does not mean that he did not reasonably fear Martin slamming his head against concrete could lead to serious injury or death. He is not obligated to evaluate himself after each blow, and wait for the next one to make a decision. He need only reasonably FEAR the next one could seriously injure or kill him.

      That you believe Zimmerman had any belief he could have fled as Martin rained blows on him and he shrieked desperately for assistance is bizarre.

    4. Everyone, and I mean including Zimmerman himself, recognizes that if Zimmerman had not followed Martin in his car, and then on foot, the fatal confrontation would never have occurred. Therefore, Zimmerman's acts led to that confrontation, and as a consequence, Zimmerman had a responsibility under the Florida law to prevent that confrontation from escalating, by any means including running away from the scene, in order for him to retain the right to use deadly force if it later became necessary to do so. So the question is: did Zimmerman have an opportunity to escape from the encounter which he did not use?

      Happily, we don't have to rely upon possibly anti-Zimmerman law enforcement/prosecution accounts, or inherently unreliable and often conflicting eyewitness testimony in order to answer that question. We have Zimmerman's own words—I strongly recommend that you watch Zimmerman tell his story to Sean Hannity. It will settle the issue.

      So what does Zimmerman say? He says that Martin suddenly appeared and said to him, “What's your [expletive] problem?” Zimmerman said, “I don't have a problem”, and reached into his pants pocket to get his cellphone. The case against Zimmerman is made right there. Martin's use of the expletive indicated aggressiveness, as did the mere fact that he had appeared out of nowhere to confront Zimmerman. Because Zimmerman knew that his own acts had precipitated this encounter, he was obliged to immediately try to flee if he wished to retain the right to use deadly force should it prove necessary. He had ample time to react by running away, but instead he stood there and reached for his cellphone. From that moment on, any use of deadly force by him was unlawful, no matter what happened next.

    5. I love the shoddy reasoning -- Zimmerman following Martin somehow justifiably "provokes" the attack in your mind and forever extinguishes Zimmerman's ability to *at any point* use deadly force against Martin, but Martin doing an MMA-style "ground & pound" on Zimmerman isn't enough to provoke Zimmerman into a reasonable fear of his life. That's it -- once you follow someone (which, btw, is not illegal) you have forever given up your right to self-defense if the encounter escalates. Don't quit your day job for a career in the law.

      Also, you sure are full of what Zimmerman should & should not have done -- how about Martin? If Martin had run home after noting the creepy-*** cr*cker following him (he was young, in good shape & only 400 feet from his dad's house according to Rachel Jeantel v. the overweight, out of shape Zimmerman), none of this would have happened -- didn't Martin have a duty to retreat instead of confronting Zimmerman?

    6. Enter the dragon, It's certainly true that if Zimmerman hadn't followed Martin, the events that happened wouldn't have happened, but that fact doesn't illuminate the legal responsibilities. Florida law says exactly the opposite of what you claim. As long as Zimmerman was in a place he was legally allowed to be and was committing no crime, he had no legal responsibility to flee. That's what the stand-your-ground provision means. Zimmerman had no legal responsibility to prevent the confrontation from escalating, and I challenge you to quote Florida statutes that say otherwise.

      It's not enough that absent Zimmerman's actions, the confrontation wouldn't have taken place. The same could be said of Martin's actions. Only if Zimmerman provoked Martin to violence, does the law demand a duty to retreat before using lethal force. And legal actions do not constitute provocation. This is not to say that Zimmerman didn't provoke Martin; we just have no disinterested witness to tell us. If Zimmerman threatened Martin, that would have been simple assault and a provocation. In that case, Zimmerman would have lost SYG and gained a duty to retreat.

      But your claims do not comport with Florida statute.

    7. @Anon 10:18 PM It amuses me to see people who are still struggling with “All men are mortal. Socrates is a man...” assailing others for “shoddy reasoning”.

      First, I'm simply interpreting Florida law—and since the experts on such interpretations, the legal authorities in Florida, are charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder, those whose life's work it is to interpret the Florida law must share much of my reasoning about the impermissibility of Zimmerman's behavior. (Though I think second-degree murder is too extreme an indictment given the circumstances.)

      In your brief two paragraphs you managed to garble virtually everything I said. First of all, while following someone is not illegal, if it is so excessive and threatening that it leads to a confrontation, then, in Florida, it is the follower's obligation to take all possible steps to try to prevent the confrontation that he himself caused from escalating IF he wants to preserve his right to use deadly force should it escalate despite those steps. I didn't say that once he followed Martin, even excessively and menacingly, he forever surrendered his right to use deadly force. If---when Martin appeared suddenly, and aggressively confronted him, and cursed him, and it was obvious that blows might be struck by Martin---if Zimmerman had retreated, and Martin had pursued him and tackled him, then Zimmerman would have preserved his right to use deadly force should that have become necessary during the ensuing struggle.

      As for Martin, if he did what Zimmerman said he did in his Hannity interview, then, had he lived, he should have been charged with a serious crime. Zimmerman's following Martin in the way he did, while a provocation, did not justify an attack by Martin upon Zimmerman. And furthermore, if Martin did attack Zimmerman, even if Zimmerman had not retreated (and therefore, because of that failure to retreat, had lost his right to use deadly force), Zimmerman still had a right to defend himself by other means.

    8. Enter the dragon, At 9:16P you claim that the very fact that Zimmerman's following Martin enabled the fatal confrontation means that Zimmerman lost his legal right to use deadly force. At 1:49A, your claim is premised on the condition that the following was "excessive and threatening." Leaving aside the fact that it's hard to see how following someone can be excessive or threatening without the additional action of making a threat, you're right in your revised hypothetical. Had Zimmerman made a threat, he would have lost the protection of SYG, and he would have had to make a good faith effort to surrender or flee before he regained the right to use lethal force.

      Your original claim is incorrect under Florida law, and your revised one is correct. I would expect that the prosecutors in the case would agree with that statement. Their indictment of Zimmerman is not based on an interpretation of the law, but on having convinced a grand jury that there was probable cause to believe that Zimmerman broke the law

    9. @deadrat, I commend you for your rigor! Not realizing that my 9:16 PM post would be read by you as a legal brief, I abbreviated my thought, assuming the omitted words, which I later included, would be understood. A big mistake!!!

      Now, may I suggest, deadrat, that you're failing to grasp a critical notion: Martin's reaction to Zimmerman's behavior is, in part, what makes one assess Zimmerman's behavior as threatening. Zimmerman, by following Martin in the manner in which he did—persistently, relentlessly, first by car, then on foot, not wearing a uniform, never identifying himself, by word or by badge, as a member of the Neighborhood Watch in order to allay the natural concern a followed person would experience walking alone in the rainy darkness—entered into a gray area where he might have been sufficiently menacing as to have violated the law, or he might not have been. A key element in making that determination is the reaction induced in the one being followed. The instant the follower perceives that he has induced fear in the one being followed, then the following crosses the line and becomes a threat, unless the follower can prove the legitimacy of his following the other. Obviously, since Zimmerman had only the flimsiest of surmises to justify his following Martin, he can't possibly prove its legitimacy. And so the instant Martin suddenly emerged from the darkness with fear-induced aggressiveness, Zimmerman knew that his own behavior had crossed the line and become a threat to Martin. And certainly for the purposes of stand-your-ground, Zimmerman's objective behavior, together with the fear induced by it in Martin, constituted enough of a threat to require him to retreat in order to preserve his right to use deadly force.

      But please don't think I approve of Martin's responding to Zimmerman's behavior by attacking him, if Martin indeed started the fight. If he'd survived he should have been prosecuted for the injuries he caused to Zimmerman. And all Zimmerman would have needed to do to preserve his right to use lethal force was quickly back off when he saw how Martin had reacted to his following him, i.e. once Zimmerman understood he had provoked Martin.

    10. Enter the dragon, You've got a story for everything, don't you? First you say that had Zimmerman not followed Martin, events would not have transpired as they did. "Therefore" Zimmerman was the aggressor and loses the protection of SYG. When I point that this doesn't comport with the law, you claim that the error was in omitting words (excessive, aggressive) which you thought would be understood. Apparently, it's my fault for treating your writing as a "legal brief." But that's what we're talking about here, the law, an exercise in language to capture human behavior.

      So now we've got your new story, in which you compensate for your earlier omissions with questionable additions. You claim to know Zimmerman's "manner" -- persistent, relentless. You know what Zimmerman knew, and you know his "objective behavior," and you know it "certainly." You also know the actions and mental state of Martin who supposedly "suddenly emerged from the darkness with fear-induced aggressiveness." You've even retroactively amended Florida law. Apparently, it's the reaction of the followed that determines the legality of the follower and transfers to the follower a legal duty to prove his "legitimacy."

      There's no reliable evidence for any of your just-so story. Was Zimmerman "relentless"? He says he turned back to his car when the dispatcher told him to stop following Martin. But he's hardly a disinterested witness. It's a tragic irony that Zimmerman killed the only rebuttal witness to his account, but that doesn't mean we know what happened.

      Florida law does not make the reaction of the followed the "key" element. Florida law makes the key element the reaction of the mythical reasonable person in the same situation. By itself, the subjective feeling of someone in response to the legal actions of another is not likely to satisfy that element. Florida law does not contemplate a legal duty to perceive the fear of another or prove the "legitimacy" of one's legal actions.

      The stand-your-ground provision of actual Florida statute demands three conditions for Zimmerman to avail himself of the law's protection. He must be in a place he's allowed to be, he must not be committing a crime, and he must be in reasonable fear of injury or death. Notice that the law doesn't mention wearing a uniform, announcing oneself as a member of the Neighborhood Watch, the need to allay natural concerns of others, or justification for following someone in a public place. These are provisions you simply made up.

      This does not mean that SYG couldn't apply to Martin as well. Perhaps Zimmerman threatened Martin verbally or physically. Perhaps a reasonable person would have perceived such a threat no matter what Zimmerman had said or done. The law requires reasonable fear, which includes reasonable mistaken fear. For example, suppose Zimmerman said "I've got a gun!" and then reached for his cell phone. Note that if SYG applied to Martin, contrary to your assertion he wouldn't have been prosecuted for injuring Zimmerman, even if he had thrown the first punch.

      Your entire thesis rests on what you call "Martin's reaction to Zimmerman's behavior." Even disregarding the elaborate fairy tale you've woven about Florida law, in the last moments of Martin's life, we have no reliable evidence about either of these things, neither Zimmerman's behavior nor Martin's reaction. May I suggest that's the critical notion you fail to grasp.

    11. Wow, deadrat! I didn't think my suggestion that you “failed to grasp a critical notion” would unleash such an angry torrent from you!

      To respond:

      You say, “When I point that this doesn't comport with the law, you claim that the error was in omitting words (excessive, aggressive) which you thought would be understood. Apparently, it's my fault for treating your writing as a "legal brief." But that's what we're talking about here, the law, an exercise in language to capture human behavior.”

      Actually, if you look at my posts from before the 9:18 PM post (where I omitted some words), I included descriptors that indicated that Zimmerman hadn't simply followed, but followed in a menacing way. At 4:46 PM yesterday, IN A POST ADDRESSED TO YOU I said, “But, in darkness, Zimmerman follows Martin by car and on foot, without ever identifying himself as a neighborhood watch member—even Zimmerman had to recognize that his own behavior would be threatening and unjustifiably provocative to an innocent person, and even threatening and unjustifiably provocative to a non-violent guilty person such as the burglar he suspected Martin to be. “

      And remember, to quote you addressing me, “ At 1:49A, your claim is premised on the condition that the following was "excessive and threatening"...you're right in your revised hypothetical. Had Zimmerman made a threat, he would have lost the protection of SYG, and he would have had to make a good faith effort to surrender or flee before he regained the right to use lethal force.”

      So, to summarize, I actually made a claim at 4:49 PM, addressed to you, that conformed to what you consider correct, and when I abbreviated that claim at 9:18 PM , I had reason to think it would be “understood”.

      The next section of your post questions many of my characterizations without showing they're wrong or unreasonable inferences, so there's nothing to respond to. And it's not my “new story”, it's the one I've been recounting since 4:49 PM yesterday.

      The most disappointing section of your post starts, “Florida law does not make the reaction of the followed the "key" element.“ deadrat, obviously Florida law doesn't go into detail about how SYG applies when the provocation is following someone, or, as far as I know, even exactly when following someone in general becomes illegal. What I was presenting was what struck ME as a key element that would convert legal following to illegal, especially in the context of SYG responsibilities. I was actually trying to offer some original analysis. But you've chosen to be relentlessly legalistic in your posts, and refuse to look beyond the minutiae of statutory provisions. Think about it, deadrat: How would persistent following move from harmless to illegal—primarily, it seems to me, because the followed person became frightened and felt threatened, visibly so, and the follower perceived that fear but continued to follow anyway, without any legitimate, objective reason to continue following. Persistent, visibly fear-inducing following of someone without legitimate reason seems an especially suitable standard for provocation requiring retreat in stand your ground.

      You say, “Notice that the law doesn't mention wearing a uniform, announcing oneself as a member of the Neighborhood Watch, the need to allay natural concerns of others, or justification for following someone in a public place. These are provisions you simply made up.” This is really beneath you, deadrat. Obviously, no law required to cover the infinite situations that crop up in life could have specifics like that. That's what it means to “apply” the law. Your saying these were “provisions I simply made up” instead of recognizing I was trying to apply the law to this situation, leaves me shaking my head.

    12. Enter the dragon, Here's a teachable moment for you. There are indeed people who can move me to anger sufficient for me to release an angry torrent of words. None of them posts comments on TDH. My supposed anger is just another story you made up, much like your narrative of the Zimmerman/Martin events. Indeed you impute a mental state to me in much the same way you do to Zimmerman: "He had to recognize…." Why did he have to do that? Because you say so? Because you would have recognized?

      I question your characterizations without showing they're wrong, because it's as impossible for me to show that they're wrong as it is for you to show that they're right. Yours aren't unreasonable inferences. They're merely inferences made in the absence of reliable evidence, what the law calls speculation, which is also what the laws calls inadmissible.

      Florida law doesn't go into detail "when provocation is following someone" for the good and sufficient reason that merely following someone in a public place isn't provocation. it's difficult to see how Zimmerman's following Martin can be "aggressive" or "excessive" absent some aggressive act like invading personal space, making a menacing movement, or issuing a threat. If you can find something in Florida law that permits entirely legal actions to serve as provocation for a fight, please let me know.

      As far as you know, you say, Florida law doesn't say when following someone "in general" becomes illegal. But as we've seen, as far as you know doesn't take you very far. Florida law makes following a component of stalking, but only in the context of a pattern of behavior, which doesn't apply to the case at hand.

      I'm amused that you seem to think that your "original analysis" adds value to the discussion, while you contemn my "relentless" refusal to abandon the statutes. But like all court cases, this one is about the law. You ask me when persistent following becomes illegal. The answer is given by Florida statute, which says following becomes illegal when it's part of pattern of behavior intended to harass, annoy, or induce fear. Now it seems to you that following should become illegal when the person followed is frightened visibly to the follower who has no "legitimate, objective" reason to be following. But lots of things that aren't so seem to you. The law does not contemplate that legal actions constitute either illegality or provocation or demand that citizens have legitimate reasons to perform legal actions. People must be reasonably frightened of another before they have a valid claim of assault. Neither has it escaped my attention (although it apparently has yours) that there's no evidence that Martin was frightened (instead of say annoyed or angry) and no evidence that Martin's emotions were visible to Zimmerman.

      You're trying to apply the law to the situation, eh? Well, you're doing it wrong.

    13. You've got to give EtD a break, deadrat.

      We've all experienced this phenomenon: when a person's argument is logically dismantled, they may resort to plays on the emotions -- in this case EtD's hilarious claim that your earlier response was "such an angry torrent," though there was nothing in your post betraying anything other than calm rationality.

      It's too bad for EtD that his argument is in tatters, but that's how is goes sometimes when you're wrong on the internets.

    14. I love Enter the Dragon! He's a clear example of what Bob's whole article is about.

      I wonder how Bob feels knowing that etd's are his core audience.
      Not that it's Bob's fault.

  5. It's possible two victims were created that night, and neither one acted illegally or perpetrated any criminal act or immoral act.

    It's possible the only "culprits" are other factors we know contributed to the outcome: unintended consequences of gun laws, timing and dumb luck, previous crime arousing a level of suspicion in residents that would otherwise not exist, decisions by planners on where to place street signs and house numbers.

    There is a despicable impulse on the part of some self-described "progressives" to use this tragedy as an opportunity to punish someone for availing himself of a gun, which is the best or worse decision a person can make depending on whether any consequences are the intended or unintended kind. Carrying a gun is not wrong or unreasonable and it is no one's moral obligation not to "take part" if the law allows it. Suspecting a young black or white male in the context of numerous burglaries and calling police is not wrong or unreasonable, nor is dedicating one's time to calling police numerous times out of frustration over those crimes.

    It might not be unreasonable to pounce on someone in the dark and inflict serious injuries, if you're surprised from behind, did not think you could escape, and had not sized them up and determined the short, fat, frightened creepy ass cracker needed a good beating.

    There might be two victims and no human perpetrators in this case.

    That doesn't mean it isn't extremely useful toward most modern "progressives." The means of exploiting the event and taking the other of the two lives involved is toward a justifiable end of eliminating gun laws we don't like, sticking it to the white(er) man, and feeling pleasure and a boost in self-esteem from declaring how bad we think racism is. After this, they'll get back to opposing police and prosecutorial corruption. Sometimes. Depending, of course, on the colors of the accused and the victim.

    1. It may not be so simple. I've talked to conservatives who take the prosecution's side in this, and liberals who favor the defense. By my observation hardly lockstep.

  6. Blow wrote
    The case is simple: if Zimmerman had not pursued — some say stalked — Trayvon Martin that dark, rainy night, Martin would still be alive. That’s the logical argument.

    I don't think it's logical. It's like an old joke: Cars A and B are approaching each other on Main St. Car A rams car B head on in Car B's lane. Driver A blames Driver B, saying, "I turned onto Main St. 3 blocks ago. Driver B could have o turned off onto a side street before I got there."

    Blow seems to think that the law of self-defense gives you the right to attack someone who's following you, even though the follower has not threatened you in any way. That belief would explain his discussion of whether the right to self-defense could later switch personages.

    I think many people would agree. My wife, an intelligent liberal, more or less agrees with Blow. She told me that Zimmerman bears some responsibility simply because he was following Martin. IMHO that belief makes no legal sense. It's perfectly legal to follow someone for few minutes. It's not legal to attack someone.

    In fact, even if Zimmerman had been following Martin because of racism, that wouldn't change the legal situation as I understand the law.

    Incidentally Rachel Jeantel testified that Martin told her he suspected that Zimmerman might be gay. That suggests that Martin may have attacked Zimmerman in an effort to beat up a gay man. How would politically correct liberals feel about supporting Martin in that case?

    1. DAinCA, You don't exactly have a good track record on thinking logically. And as of this post, on having a sense of humor. Where is that an old joke?

      Blow should probably not used the word "pursued," and he certainly shouldn't have brought up "stalked." But his meaning is clear. If Zimmerman hadn't followed Martin but stayed in his car (or taken any number of other reasonable actions), a tragedy would have been averted. That doesn't mean he's legally responsible for the outcome.

      You seem to think you know what happened. Have you talked to the prosecution yet? They'll be interested in any help you can give. Blow doesn't think that the law allows you to attack someone following you; he quite correctly thinks that the law allows you to attack someone who has threatened you, and he asks whether Martin might have reasonably felt threatened.

      It's possible that Zimmerman bears some responsibility other than legal. It is legal to follow someone even if you're a racist. And it's legal to attack someone under the conditions specified by statute.

      And no, even if Martin made some remark about Zimmerman's being gay, that wouldn't suggest that Martin decided to commit a hate crime. That's no more believable than your assertion that you're married to an intelligent liberal.

    2. It's possible that Zimmerman bears some responsibility other than legal. It is legal to follow someone even if you're a racist.

      Responsibility? For what?

      Let's even stipulate that Martin being black was the one factor but for which GZ would not have called 911. It has been a long time since Lawrence O'Donnell and Christ Matthews have lived in a lower income neighborhood plagued with burglaries, if they ever did. They have the luxury of not being required on a daily basis to apply street sense(according to Jesse Jackson, sometimes race comes into play) in order to evaluate how a situation might affect their safety. They don't have their suspicion piqued by facts involved in recent crimes committed in their neighborhoods.

      It is legal to call 911 on someone (or "follow" them or walk in the same direction as they did) even if you're racist. It is legal and can also can be moral to behave the same way even if race is a factor in your decision.

    3. Anonymous, I suspect you missed the phrase "other than legal" in my comment. Which means you're responding to something you think I wrote rather than what I actually wrote. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    4. I thought you probably meant he might bear a moral responsibility if not a legal one and was asking what he would bear that responsibility for, if he does.

      Is he a "racist" if race played a part in his suspicion of Martin? Is he also a "sexist" if his suspicions would not have motivated him to phone 911 if the person he saw was female, and that suspicion of a male was based on a combination of statistics and recent events in his neighborhood? An "ageist" if he would not have suspected an octogenarian for the same reasons?

    5. Anonymous on 6/29/13 @ 4:56P, I do believe that Zimmerman bears some ethical (moral, if you like) responsibility for the events that led to Martin's death. As I replied to DAinCA, this burden accrues to those who wield firearms as a matter of course -- extraordinary care in situations that might lead to violence and the duty to train oneself to handle both confrontation and weapons.

      I don't know whether Zimmerman was a racist, sexist, or ageist that night, and not only because you put scare quotes around the words. If Zimmerman allowed prejudice to drop a heightened sense of caution, then he bears some ethical responsibility for his bad judgment. But I don't see how anyone by Zimmerman could know that.

  7. deadrat -- Glad you agree that Z's actions (according to his version) don't mean that he had any legal responsibility. But, Blow seems to imply (and my wife tends to agree) that Z's admitted actions convey some moral responsibility. I don't agree. I think Z had a legal right and a moral right to follow M.

    deadrat wrote: he quite correctly thinks that the law allows you to attack someone who has threatened you, and he asks whether Martin might have reasonably felt threatened.

    Feeling threatened is different from actually being threatened. The text of Z's phone call is evidence that Zimmerman didn't threaten Martin. Furthermore, AFAIK there's no evidence that Martin felt threatened.

    P.S. My wife was a researcher at Stanford Research Institute and later on the faculty of New Jersey Medical School. She co-authored over 100 papers published in medical and scientific journals. She's a card-carrying member of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. She's never voted anything but Democratic. I understand that "on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog". So you'll just have to take my word for it.

    1. DAinCA, I believe that if you're going to walk around armed, you have an ethical responsibility to be extraordinarily cautious about the situations you find yourself in and to be properly trained both in the use of firearms and in responding to confrontation. These are not legal constraints. YMMV.

      Feeling threatened is certainly different from being actually threatened. The law in Florida, however, demands that you reasonably feel threatened whether you are actually threatened or not. You may feel reasonably threatened yet be mistaken.

      Zimmerman's phone call is immaterial to the events in the last moments of Martin's life, about which we have no disinterested testimony. As far as you know -- and that's never very far, is it? -- there's no evidence that Martin felt threatened, but that's because Martin isn't around to tell us how he felt.

      As for your postscript, I have no reason to take your word or leave it. So I'll remain officially agnostic on the matter, just as I am in several aspects of the Zimmerman/Martin incident.

    2. There is some evidence of how TM felt about being followed by GZ. Rachel Jeantel testified that TM said GZ was creepy ass cracka and might be a rapist. (This is according to a commenter at the Talk Left blog.)
      I took that comment to mean that TM thought GZ might be gay. On reflection, it might have been a real fear. Or, it might have been a general pejorative. Or, Jeantel's testimony might be incorrect on this point.

    3. There is also some evidence that GZ was just as encouraged to follow and provide information before he was eventually discouraged. A list of the dispatcher's instructions and questions minus GZ's input:

      Just let me know if he does anything, ok?

      Yeah we've got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does anything else.

      So it's on the lefthand side from the clubhouse?

      He's running? Which way is he running?

      Which entrance is that that he's heading towards?

      (Finally the dispatcher asks, "Are you following him?" GZ answers "yes," is told, "We don't need you to do that," and responds, "OK.")

  8. Zimmerman was not a police officer. His authority was exactly squat. He had no business confronting anyone. All he had to do was wait in his car until the police arrived.


    1. Sorry, your point is 180 degrees away from the truth about the law:
      We all have a right to peaceably confront anyone.
      Even you.

      I'll just put you down in the Convict-GZ-for-Illegal-Exit-of Vehicle-While-Black-Person-May-Be-In-Vicinity crowd.
      20 years to Life is certainly appropriate.
      You should be proud of who you are. No doubt, you are.

  9. Zimmerman had no authority to require answers to his questions or obedience to his commands, and, of course, it would have been illegal for him to threaten anyone. But he had the right, the same as any citizen, to confront someone in a public place.

  10. Mr. Somerby never ceases to amaze me. He has provided a very reasoned, objective, and fair analysis of a tragic event which has resulted in significant damage to the lives of two families. Most of the media has chosen to use any level of disinformation to sensationalize.

  11. Shooting Trayvon's foot or arm is *maybe* excusable. But shooting to kill? After he had knowingly tailed him on a dark rainy night, knowing he was going in armed?

    Maybe he went in trying to goad Trayvon deliberately to finally kill one of those "damn punks", maybe he did not. Either way, he went in as a completely irresponsible gun-owner.

    If we had a proper justice system, Zimmerman would spend the rest of his life making financial restitution to Trayvon's parents. But of course we have the horrific legal system that is... but that's another story.

    1. Anonymous on 6/29/13 @ 11:05P, You assume that Zimmerman was cooly in control of the situation and paused to consider his shot before taking it. We don't know that for a fact any more than we know whether Zimmerman goaded Martin into an attack.

      Unfortunately, the Florida law sponsored by the NRA and ALEC gives the widest possible latitude to shooters, both the responsible and the careless. This is not a bug in the sponsors' eyes; it's a feature.

    2. Zimmerman told investigators that he thought he had 'shot wide'.
      It's in the evidence videos.
      You guys ARE actually reviewing the evidence, aren't you?

      deadrat: being not accurate again.

  12. One big problem with this case isn't that so many people are woefully ignorant of the law, it's that what they think they know is wrong. The other main problem has to do with the evidence - there are a lot of people asserting as "fact" things for which there is no evidence or that the available evidence contradicts.

    In order to convict Zimmerman the jury must unanimously agree that his claim of self-defense is unreasonable. If there is any reasonable doubt then the jury must acquit him.

  13. Somerby,

    You should start writing a weekly column mocking some of your more intellectually challenged commenters. Ex: Enters the Dragon, who makes assumptions of facts not in evidence (See his/her claim of Zimmerman's intent to confront) and isn't even bright enough to put together the facts that it was raining, and that Martin was found face down in wet grass with his hands under him when questioning the lack of blood on Martin's hands. Such commenters are just disingenuous and motivated by bias as the media figures you cover so well, albeit with less obvious power. Collectively, though, they still wield a narrative-shaping influence.

    1. My God, lovelalola, are you unfamiliar with trace evidence? Do you seriously believe that even microscopic amounts of blood would be washed off his hands, and off the textile fibers of his sweatshirt cuffs? Especially from simply lying inert in wet grass, as opposed to being scrubbed. Remember Lady MacBeth and the problems she had?

      Try to use a tiny bit of intelligence before criticizing.

    2. Enter the dragon, If it's Lady Macbeth you're referring to, she didn't have any forensic problems: her hands were literally unstained. Her conscience, not so unsullied, told her the opposite.

      By the way, Macbeth is just a story, although it references historical figures and events. Kinda like your narrative about Zimmerman/Martin. Shakespeare did a helluva job, though. I especially like Act II, Scene I where CSI technicians enter stage left to examine the dagger that Macbeth sees before him.

    3. ETD pretending he's knowledgeable about trace evidence?
      The moron in this one is strong.
      Self-awareness? Not so much.

  14. I'm accustomed to the right wing making something out of nothing with the media's help to create a trial by media. Howard Dean, John Kerry and Al Gore were characterized in a negative light until the labels stuck through repetition. The media's pronouncements were dishonest, disrespectful, belittling and immature.

    MSNBC's talking points carried so much bias, as I listened, I would repeat to myself, "They don't know that." Instead of introducing facts the commentators created a narrative that was overly sympathetic to one side, while they remained skeptical of the other.

    Trayvon and Zimmerman are a tragedy of racism, but that is not as destructive as reporters who jumped to conclusions while they filled the rest of their stories with insinuations. Trial by media should be a crime.

    1. gewall, I agree that that the media coverage has been atrocious. However, we can't criminalize bad media coverage because the 1st Amendment guarantees free speech, even when that speech is dishonest, disrespectful, belittling and immature.

      I assume your reference to a "tragedy of racism" is meant to imply that Zimmerman was motivated by racism. There's no evidence to support that. Consider that Zimmeran was raised in a racially integrated household and himself has black roots through an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather - the father of the maternal grandmother who helped raise him..

      At this point in time, there's one bit of evidence relating to racism. That's Martin referring to Zimmerman as a “creepy-ass cracker”.

    2. If by tragedy of racism you mean a person who was not charged and would not have been charged but for a racist lynch mob (including a president and a lying media) who pressured officials to prosecute a case with no evidence of anything but self-defense, then yes, the case is a tragedy of racism.

    3. Based on the "factual" content of your replies, it is clear to me that you bought into the propaganda as well.

      Good that you are trying to extricate yourself, but I have little hope. Your comments are not encouraging in that regard.

      But don't give up.

  15. One thing we do "know" is that only one of them had a weapon.

    1. Fists are weapons, concrete is a weapon.

      At least you subtly claimed your ignorance by putting quotes around "know".

  16. Deadrat

    Their indictment of Zimmerman is not based on an interpretation of the law, but on having convinced a grand jury that there was probable cause to believe that Zimmerman broke the law

    That is the normal procedure, but in this case there was no grand jury because politicians were afraid there would be no indictment for a crime, given lack of evidence.

    1. Anonymous on 6/30/13 @ Noon, Yes, I'm wrong about the grand jury. You're right about that and I believe about the reason for not convening one. As I understand things, grand juries are required for first degree murder indictments in Florida but aren't the normal procedure otherwise. For lesser degrees of homicide and other criminal complaints, the states attorney files an information with the court.

      In any case, an indictment generally doesn't rest on interpreting the law but on alleging that the facts fit the current understanding of what the law is.

      Thanks for the correction.

  17. Zimmerman should have never left his truck because there might have been a black person around. In Florida, it is against the law to exit a vehicle if a black person may be in the vicinity. No wonder Travon attacked him.

    And why the hell was Zimmerman carrying a gun anyway? it's not like he had to fear someone may jump him!

    A Proud Progressive!

    1. Finally, someone's making sense.

    2. I don't know how exactly a MMA-training, gun-toting busybody ended up killing a black teenager on his way back home from the store.

      But I do know this: Anonymous 12:21PM absolutely KILLED those strawmen dead. POW! Well done sir, well done.

    3. I don't know how exactly a MMA-training, gun-toting busybody ended up killing a black teenager on his way back home from the store.

      The black teenager started a fight after he went to the store, was beating the hell out of the gun toting busybody, and the gun toting busybody defended himself. I thought we covered this.

    4. Thanks, 5:02. I mean, that is really the gist of the prosecution's case.

      @8:01 he was employing a rhetorical device. And no one knows EXACTLY what happened. Not even GZ.

  18. An interesting question to consider is this: if Zimmerman had in fact taken all possible steps to prevent the incident he provoked from escalating (thus preserving his right to later use deadly force if necessary), if he had in fact retreated as quickly as he could when Martin suddenly emerged from the darkness, but Martin had pursued and tackled him, and a struggle then ensued that exactly replicated the one that actually occurred, would Zimmerman have been justified in his use of deadly force?

    I ask that question a)because of admissions made by Zimmerman in his session with Sean Hannity that contradict accounts by Zimmerman partisans in this thread, and b)because of serious conflicts between some of the most crucial portions of Zimmerman's account on Hannity and the forensic and photographic evidence. The import of (a) and (b) is to dramatically reduce the brutality of the attack upon Zimmerman and therefore the risk of serious injury or death to Zimmerman from the attack.

    (a)Zimmerman's defenders claim that Zimmerman was having his head pounded on the concrete sidewalk and was helpless to do anything but shoot Martin to stop it. It's too bad for Zimmerman zealots that Zimmerman himself says ( to Hannity) that he shimmied (Zimmerman's word) from the concrete to the grass abutting the concrete, and that when he did, Martin stopped hitting his head on the ground: “After he couldn't hit my head on the concrete anymore, he started to try to suffocate me and I continued to push his hands off my mouth and my nose...” So the supposedly grave peril to Zimmerman caused by Martin hitting his head on the ground HAD STOPPED well before the use of deadly force, as explicitly recounted by Zimmerman himself.

    (b)Now let's assess the very interesting claim by Zimmerman that Martin “started to try to suffocate me and I continued to push his hands off my mouth and my nose” and that Martin delivered about “a dozen” blows to the face of Zimmerman, “continuing to hit my nose” after the initial one that broke his nose. A widely available photograph taken of Zimmerman after the incident shows blood dripping from his nose and covering his mouth. If Martin had delivered a dozen blows to Zimmerman's face and nose, and especially if he had tried to suffocate Zimmerman by covering his nose and mouth, then a great deal of blood would have gotten on Martin's hands and sweatshirt cuffs. Forensic analysis reveals not a trace of Zimmerman's blood in either location.

    One other note: Zimmerman's mental functioning was normal during and after the incident (good recollection of events from that evening, ability to respond appropriately to police questions, etc.) which indicates only minor head injury, certainly not the kind of trauma that would have justified the use of deadly force. In any case, whatever degree of injury was sustained from it, the head-banging portion of the attack had ended well before the firing of the gun, so it's irrelevant. And the claims of a “dozen blows” to the face and nose and suffocation by covering Zimmerman's nose and mouth are not consistent with the forensic and photographic evidence, and likely didn't even occur.

    Actually we learn explicitly from Zimmerman's account what really caused him to shoot Martin: the fact that in the course of Zimmerman's “shimmying” over to the grass, his gun was exposed and seen by Martin, who made an effort to seize it, as did Zimmerman. I think we'd all agree that if we're wrestling on the ground with someone and we suddenly observe he's armed, we'd like to take possession of the gun in our hand before the other guy does. The fact that Martin was scrambling to do just that does not indicate he planned to shoot Zimmerman, so that even if Zimmerman had retained his right to employ deadly force, I don't think its use would have been justified given all the circumstances outlined above.

    1. Enter the dragon, We're gonna go over this until you get it right. Everyone wishes that Zimmerman had taken all possible steps to prevent the incident that he most likely didn't foresee. Nevertheless, the fact that he didn't does not preclude his legally using lethal force. Again (and you might want to take notes here), the SYG provision requires three things: 1) being in a place you're allowed to be (so no trespassing), 2) not committing a crime (so no shooting someone who fights back when you're committing robbery), and 3) reasonable fear of serious injury or death.

      What's not clear about that? If you provoke an attack, i.e., if you're the aggressor in a fight, you may defend yourself but you may not use deadly force unless and until you've made a good faith attempt to surrender or flee and the person you provoked continues to attack you. But the loss of your right to use lethal force is predicated on your being in the wrong to begin with.

      Now to your question: Had Zimmerman retreated and Martin attacked, could Zimmerman have been justified in using deadly force? You should be able to answer this one from your notes. No? Anybody? Now, let's not see just the same hands.

      Your ruminations about the seriousness of Zimmerman's peril are beside the point. Some states require force commensurate with the peril as determined after the fact. In those states, you're likely to go to prison for bringing a gun to a fistfight and firing to kill. Not in Florida. The standard is reasonable fear of serious injury or death, and people are routinely, reasonably, and mistakenly fearful. That doesn't mean that Zimmerman was justified in shooting Martin. If we had videotape from several angles, a jury might well come to the conclusion that Martin's actions wouldn't have provoked fear in a reasonable person.

      Your imaginings about the fight could turn out to be correct, and the jury can factor that into their decision. However, although it's reasonable to conclude that Martin might have been trying to disarm Zimmerman with no plan to turn the weapon on Zimmerman, it's absurd to conclude that a reasonable person wouldn't fear the opposite.

    2. Dragon, gravity will dictate where the blood flows, when prone the blood will flow to the back of the throat, down the esophagus and into the stomach. When upright the blood will flow out the nostrils and to the back of the throat. Exhaling strongly could force blood out of the nostrils.

      I could be wrong, but the prosecution hasn't presented blood evidence as of yet. You don't even know what has been tested. How you reach conclusions for evidence not presented escapes me.

    3. Anon 4:59 PM, see my answer to Anon 2:56 PM, just below, to see why your argument is invalid. As for the blood evidence not having been presented yet, I was basing my comments on the article Somerby cited, by Charles Blow in the NY Times. Blow quoted the prosecutor's opening remarks in which he said not a trace of Zimmerman's blood had been found on Martin's hands or sweatshirt cuffs.

    4. Actually, Anon 4:59 PM, I meant see my answer to Anon 2:59 PM.

    5. I wonder why trials are held when all one needs to do is judge based on the prosecution's opening statement.

      yeah, that's real intellectual integrity working there.

  19. dragon is off his meds.
    FL law does not require injury before you defend yourself.
    Suffocating is better than having your skull crushed?
    A man jumps you, knocks you down, climbs on top of you and continues to strike you, attempts to suffocate you, goes for your gun....and what? You are supposed to wait to see what he does with your gun?

    Goodness sake, etd, your post is just silly.
    With all due respect, of course. All DUE respect, no more.

  20. And your forensics knowledge is laughable. When you are lying on your back, where does the blood go from your broken nose?

    (cue Jeopardy theme)
    "What is down your throat?"

    We have a winner!

    No, not you dragon.

    1. Funny, Anon, but stupid. You've got your facts wrong, and your forensic analysis is 30 years out of date. Zimmerman was standing when his nose was broken and it took a few seconds before he was wrestled to the ground, more than enough time for blood to be present in sufficient quantities (for forensic purposes I'll get to in a moment) on the skin near Zimmerman's nose and mouth. IF Zimmerman was telling the truth about being punched a dozen more times, including in the nose, and especially about being suffocated, with Martin's hands repeatedly and forcefully placed over his nose and mouth, then some blood would surely have been transferred to and detected on Martin's hands and sweatshirt, and then genetically analyzed, thanks to PCR, which requires infinitesimal amounts of genetic material.

      But you did give me a good laugh, so that's to your credit.

    2. Blood needn't come out at all with a broken nose. Usually doesn't. Remember Marcia Brady.

      Repeated blows? When then, yes, the nose being repeatedly traumatized would result in hemorrhaging and blood loss.

      With the victim on his back, the blood will enter the throat. That is one reason why nose bleeds are treated by bending forward. You don't want to choke to death on your own blood. That's how Atilla died.

      You keep making unforced errors in your search for a gotcha.
      Do your prejudices drive you so hard?

    3. You say,"Blood needn't come out at all with a broken nose. Usually doesn't."

      From the Better Medicine website, "A broken nose is usually accompanied by bleeding, which can be difficult to stop."

      Who was making an unforced error in search for a gotcha?

      Explain something to me, if you don't mind. Forget the law for a moment. Why are you bent on defending someone who, when confronted with an angry, ready-to-fight Martin, allowed the fight to take place knowing there was a good chance he'd be injured by Martin and put in a position where he'd feel compelled to use his gun?

      It's not my prejudices driving me, it's my outrage at Zimmerman's allowing the fight to occur, knowing what he was likely to do to a young man he knew nothing about.

    4. Zimmerman was standing when his nose was broken and

      How do you know the first punch was the one that broke his nose? How do you know that he bled from the nose from that punch, even if it DID break the nose, and not from subsequent trauma?

      Why are you bent on defending someone who

      The MUCH better question is, Why are you hell bent on imprisoning someone who didn't break the law?

      Because you think people who don't break the law should be imprisoned anyway in order to advance your agenda. The modern progressive mindset typical of people who are completely ignorant of (fairly recent) history.

    5. My use of usually was inappropriate. I pondered using frequently.

      My mistake.
      See how easy that is?
      What do you do when you make a mistake?

      I just follow the evidence.

      What do you follow?

    6. Zimmerman's allowing the fight to occur, knowing what he was likely to do to a young man he knew nothing about.

      Zimmerman had no warning the fight was going to occur. He was on the ground in no time. Doubtful the possibility ever entered his mind when he went looking for an address with the knowledge police were on the way, otherwise he would likely have had his gun in hand, and he obviously did not.

    7. Anonymous says,“My use of usually was inappropriate. I pondered using frequently.

      My mistake.
      See how easy that is?
      What do you do when you make a mistake?

      I just follow the evidence.”

      Interesting. You acknowledge your use of 'usually' was inappropriate. You say you pondered using 'frequently'. Anonymous, it's evident from your tone that you consider yourself brilliant, and everyone else varying degrees of dull. Yet you, the allegedly brilliant one, don't even realize how you indicted yourself with your own words. You were trying to choose between two words that represent significantly different differences of degree, PONDERED using one word, but ultimately chose the other. Don't you realize that the way you made your choice demonstrates that far from “following the evidence” you were plucking your word choice out of the air. You weren't consulting medical information sources to see which word was more accurate. You were 'pondering'. It's obvious that up till this moment you have no solid data supporting the choice of either word. You didn't offer it earlier, you didn't offer it now. Basically all you have is impressionistic knowledge based on Marcia Brady and a few others. Dopey anecdotal evidence. Not only that, but you can't even reason correctly. I cited a medical source that says broken noses usually bleed. 100%-usually bleed's %=? don't bleed. Yes, the remainder MAY be 'frequently', but if 'usually' is 98 %, then the remainder is certainly not 'frequently', but 'rarely'. So you're using erroneous logic to reach yet another unsupported conclusion: you can't deduce your 'frequently' from the data I cited.

    8. Are you spending so much time on Anon's "usually" because you can't answer the original points that 1. blood is swallowed when the victim of a punch in the nose is prone, and 2. You don't know when Zimmerman's nose was broken?

    9. Unlike you, Anon, who invent your data to suit the circumstance, I actually feel compelled to cite evidence. And in this case we have Zimmerman's own testimony in the Hannity interview. HE, not I, said his nose was broken from the first blow. How did he know? He didn't say but he did remark that that first blow was excruciatingly painful, and if you've ever had any kind of broken bone, Anon, then you're aware that on almost all occasions you recognize you've got a break immediately, long before consulting a doctor or getting x-rays, because of the exquisite pain, far beyond that accompanying the normal bumps and bruises of life. So it's likely that's how Zimmerman knew. Plus, I imagine that the subsequent blows were not as forceful, and so less likely to be the one to cause the break. And strategically, when in a fight, one summons maximum strength when dealing the first blow, since that one act may well determine the outcome of the contest. I imagine Martin did that here to Zimmerman. And because Zimmerman's nose was broken with the first blow (and I'm not at all convinced there WERE other blows based on what follows)and it took a while before Zimmerman was wrestled to the ground, there was ample time for enough blood to flow, and then to be transferred to and detected on Martin's hands and sweatshirt cuff with later forensic testing if Martin had done to Zimmerman what Zimmerman claimed in the Hannity interview. The fact that not even the most miniscule trace was found certainly makes one question if Martin struck any further blows to Zimmerman's face and nose (as claimed)or Martin placed his hands forcefully over Zimmerman's nose and mouth in an attempt to suffocate him (as claimed).

    10. Dragon dude, I'm impressed that so many people seem compelled to debate things with you, even though you don't show a lick of sense.
      So far, this trial is doing a fairly good job of answering al the questions that people have endlessly speculated about. I feel fairly confident that it'll continue to do so in the coming weeks.

      How about you just watch the trial for a change, eh?

    11. It is pretty amazing the conclusions dragon jumps to and the lies he tells.
      And dragon's 'expertise' is just plain stupid> I would be interested to see some evidence of the first punch being the hardest and subsequent ones less so. Makes you wonder how knock-out punches happen in fights once the first punch has already been thrown.
      Really laughable stuff from etd.
      The other commentator is right, don't engage the nutball.

    12. Enter the dragon reports, "I imagine Martin did that here to Zimmerman." (Emphasis mine.)

      Pretty much sums things up for me.

  21. 'Talk and die patients' describes a small number of patients who present with a mild head injury (Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] 13-15) and then subsequently deteriorate and die from intracranial causes. The incidence of 'talk and die' patients was 2.6% (15 out of 569) overall

    Injuries that appear minor based on little or no bleeding on the head and no other symptoms can be deadly. This will come up.

    1. Natasha Richardson, actress and wife of Liam Neeson, died due to a 'minor' head injury.

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