The Baltimore Sun’s no-good, terrible judgment!

TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2013

Feeding a frenzy, as facts disappear: The Baltimore Sun has shown terrible judgment in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.

For one example, consider an opinion piece which was prominently featured in last Saturday’s hard-copy paper. It appeared beneath a colorful headline:

“The new lynching,” the large headline said. That inflammatory headline has been cleaned up on-line.

We don’t know the non-journalist author of the piece, but we feel sure that he’s a good decent person. That said, good decent people can get caught up in frenzies, especially so when journalists fail to perform.

We were struck by the facts which didn’t appear in this citizen’s piece, which ran beneath an eye-catching headline.

“I am a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, a retired Marine Corps major general and the progeny of veterans of World War I and World War II who proudly served our country,” the author, Leo V. Williams, said.

Williams, who is black, described his upbringing in Norfolk “during segregation.” Then, he gave his first account of the Zimmerman verdict:
WILLIAMS (7/27/13): Sadly, at a time when I should be reveling in the conversations with my grandchildren about the limitless possibilities that await them in America, I now have to precede that conversation with one that warns them to be exceedingly cautious because somewhere in America, juries have the moral authority to find that taking the life of a human being who has not committed a crime to be not merely excusable but free of guilt, by law ("Trayvon and Brandon," July 23).

This new reality brings tears to my eyes for my beloved country.
Just for the record, juries have always had that moral authority in cases judged to involve self-defense. That said:

In that passage, all we are told about this case is that Zimmerman “took the life of a human being who had not committed a crime.” That is a very limited account of what happened in Sanford. Since we don’t know who assaulted whom that night, it may not even be perfectly accurate.

That was a highly simplified account of what happened. But after Williams recalled the era of lynching, this was his second and final account of what happened in Sanford that night:
WILLIAMS: Today, we set ourselves on a pedestal as the world's foremost example of a country of laws. But in Florida, and other states with "Stand Your Ground" laws, the legal system can give cover to an armed man who murders a boy he "thought" was "up to no good." Sound familiar and retrograde?

I urge someone to help me understand how our "land of the free and home of the brave" has devolved to this reprehensible condition where a mere suspicion can lead to murder, and though the suspicion is proved unfounded, the murderer walks free.

The jury in the Trayvon Martin trial showed us that such an abomination was indeed possible. While it is highly unlikely that those six women thought through this revelation as a consequence, it is toweringly more important than the fate of one troubled man named George Zimmerman.
Was Zimmerman being “beaten up” that night? No less a figure than Chris Hayes once slipped up and said so right on TV. But no such complication was allowed to intrude on this exquisite moral fable, in which an armed man murdered a boy based on a mere suspicion.

We don’t have the slightest doubt that Williams is a good, decent person. But the Sun employs the journalists here, and they shouldn’t have published that account, certainly not under a headline which describes this as a lynching.

Ten days earlier, a Baltimore citizen reported that a Mexican man was chased and beaten with a gun by teens who said they were doing it as payback for the killing of Martin. The Sun just went ahead with this inflammatory headline atop this angry, fact-free fable. (The headline was later cleaned up.)

We’re sorry, but this is dangerous stuff. It’s also terrible, horrible “journalism.”

Does the Sun know any other kind? As this exquisite frenzy rolls on, we’re really beginning to wonder.


  1. Did Bob have the balls to post in the Sun's comment section? No. Maybe with a pseudonym?
    I'm guessing he's CANIGETASCREENAME.

  2. I think columns like this inadvertently promote racism. White readers are apt to draw the conclusion that blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world.

    I also think that Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins promote sexism. Their lightweight columns promote the idea that women are less serious than men about public issues.

    1. Agreed on both points.

    2. "White readers are apt to draw the conclusion..."

      Oh, bullshit.

      On what evidence are white readers and black readers differently informed about this case?

      Most of the misinformed folks I know are white liberals.

    3. There have been surveys that show blacks paid more attention to the story. Given the way it was covered, that could mean they also absorbed more misinformation especially if their sources were primarily from sources on the left.

      Someone who paid a great deal of attention to reporting on this, but whose information came from sources like MSNBC, might not know at this late point that George Zimmerman was on the receiving end of a beat down when he shot Martin.

    4. "could mean" "might not know"

      So -- No evidence.

  3. Whatever crime Treyvon Martin may have committed before he was killed, it didn't merit being shot in the chest.

    1. The world doesn't work on merits.

    2. No but it morally permitted it, since his victim had no way of knowing what would happen, and a reasonable fear that already completed actions or future actions would "merit" it.

    3. Yes, you have to wait till you've been killed. Only then do you have the right to use deadly force against an assailant.

  4. Poo Poo Platter: (We're Changing the Name)

    1) "We were struck by the facts which didn’t appear in this citizen’s piece, which ran beneath an eye-catching headline." Somerby, this post.


    2) "That is a very limited account of what happened in Sanford. Since we don’t know who assaulted whom that night, it may not even be perfectly accurate.

    "That was a highly simplified account of what happened."
    Somerby, this post.


    3) "Ten days earlier, a Baltimore citizen reported that a Mexican man was chased and beaten with a gun by teens who said they were doing it as payback for the killing of Martin." Somerby, this post.

    I am struck by the facts which didn't appear in Somerby's
    account of events in the third quote. That is a very limited, highly simplified account of what happened.
    Indeed, given what has been published subsequently, and even pointed out in Mr. Somerby's commentary thread to a post bemoaning this same incident, it may be as inaccurate, irrelevant, and/or inflammatory as Skittles, people who heard two shots, or the word "coon." Or, to paraphrase Bob, it may be critical to civilization, we just don't know.

    Remember the players in the TV panel Somerby recently described as a vaudeville show, Geragos and Hostin? From CNN's Anerson Cooper? One kept saying, "let's save that footage."

    Well I saved, clipped, and now insert some footage from the very post which preceded this one. The four elements of a press fable according to Bob Somerby.

    "Factual statements which are false
    Factual claims which are unfounded
    Factual statements which are true but irrelevant
    Factual information which has been disappeared, withheld."

    I think elements of all four can be found in that short, short quote Number 3 from this post.

    I will now return to that preceding post, which sparked the name change from Poo Stinks to Poo Poo Platter.

    1. Somerby must be doing something right to have attracted this and the other negative comments that have been appearing lately.

    2. Yeah, it really sucks that this little blog draws attention to the misinformation in the mainstream press. How dare he!

    3. Anon's at 1:13 and 1:27

      Yes indeedy. Just as Somerby notes those liberals willing to overlook the fact free rants of MSNBC because they are on the team,
      his own fans ingore he does exactly what he decries. Because they too are part of the tribal fan base he so meticulously documents and derides.

    4. If Somerby is factually incorrect, post your corrections. Accusing him of being selective in what he writes is idiotic because all writers make choices about what to include and what not to include. The point is WHY those choices are made and the impact on what is being conveyed by them. You haven't close the loop on this -- you point out he made certain choices (as any writer must of his piece would be VERY long) but you haven't stated how he is misleading anyone and to what purpose.

    5. Yes, Mr. Poo Poo, proving that someone is a hypocrite is one of the easiest games to win. We are all hypocrites. But where does it get you? Isn't it just an ad hominem (and a very mild one at that)?

    6. Somerby:" Did that street attack happen that way? Like the editors of the Sun, we have no way of knowing. By the next day, the Baltimore police seemed to be saying they think that Dudley is wrong in what she says she heard. To see her interviewed, click this ABC report.

      The Baltimore Sun’s editorial couldn’t have triggered that street attack. (We try not to fake our chronologies here.) But Dubliners have been affected in many ways by the moral and intellectual squalor surrounding the Zimmerman trial. "

    7. Sorry CeceliaMc and other members of TeamSomerby. The Baltimore police didn't "seem" to be saying they "thought"
      Dudley was wrong. They said they interviewed other witnesses and the victim and nobody heard what Dudley heard. I linked to this when I corrected Bob the first time, and that fact should have been known when he introduced this selective piece to fit his narrative. Bob made that fact "disappear." And yes, that puts him square into the practices he denounces.

  5. "White readers are apt to draw the conclusion that blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world".
    DinC: Go fuck yourself. You racist cocksucker.

    1. To paraphrase a line from the almost Camus like film "Porky's"

      Please, can't we just call him Creepy Cracker.
      Racist cocksucker is personal?

  6. 200 hundred years of slavery. 100 years of suppression.
    "Blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world"?
    The "real" world in which whites are enslaved and suppressed? By blacks?
    What else are blacks deficient in?
    Surely you jest.
    Or are you revealing your true beliefs.

    1. Anon 1:35 -- Do you think the real world is one where Protestants and Catholics are still fighting a war that's gone on for thirty years? Or where the Spanish are torturing heretics? Or, a place where Germans are currently killing millions of Jews? Do you think the real world is a place where Japanese-Americans are held in concentration camps?

      Like slavery in the United Staes, these things are history, not today's reality.

    2. So, being black excuses a black person from any criticism because accusation of any deficiency is racist, given their historical enslavement? Surely you jest.

    3. Yes, only dark colored people in America have ancestors who were enslaved and slaughtered by the millions. The land mass it occurred on is important, but not very important. As for suppression, other groups in this country have experienced it but in most cases did not avail themselves to or were never offered the same remedies.

    4. You can make shit up "So, being black excuses a black person from any criticism because accusation of any deficiency is racist, given their historical enslavement"?
      "...excuses someone from criticism..." are miles apart from "..;a deficient understanding of the real world".
      DinC (as I quoted him) said that "White readers are apt to draw the conclusion that blacks have a DEFICIENT understanding of the real world".
      Deficient? Of the real world?
      Eat shit.
      You racist bastards do not have the guts to state your true, inner beliefs.
      How about that. You gutless worms.

    5. And you would know our true inner beliefs how?

    6. Yes. "By their works you shall know them." J. Christ.
      Every black person who has ever dared to object to white oppression has been criticized. Some have been killed. A few:
      1) Frederick Douglas
      2) WEB Dubois
      3) Rosa Parks
      4) MLK
      5) Medgar Evers
      6) Malcolm X
      7) Jesse Jackson
      8) Al Sharpton
      9) Barack Obama

      Your heroes have been, to name a few:
      1) Jefferson Davis
      2) Robert E. Lee
      3) Nathan Bedford Forrest
      4) Bull Connor
      5) Orvil Faubus
      6) Strom Thurman
      7) Jesse Helms
      8) William F. Buckley
      9) Barry Goldwater
      10) Trent Lott
      11) Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions

      You can lie -even to yourselves- but you can't hide.

      Speak the truth, speak it ever. Cost it what it will.
      He who does the wrong thing once, will do the wrong thing still.

      Hey Jews, The Germans tried to eliminate you all 70 years ago. Forget about it.
      Never forget; never forgive.
      Don't kill my people.

    7. Never forget; never forgive.
      Don't kill my people."

      And for goodness sakes don't try to exploit them via brain-dead comments via Anon 3:19pm.

    8. To: Racist Anonymous at 3:19

      Never forget and never forgive who? 20th century Polish immigrants? You trying to blame slavery from 150 years ago on a large swath of 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants (whites) based solely on the color of their skin is...what's the word? Oh yeah, pretty racist of you! In fact you could say that hearing such baseless allegations from such luminaries as Al Sharpton leads me to draw the conclusion that blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world.

    9. For all his faults, Barry Goldwater was not a racist. He was an ultra conservative, yes, but what in his life warrants putting him on this kind of list?

      This whole exchange reminds me of a comment Bob made a few weeks back to the extent that calling a liberal "racist" is akin to using the n-word. I don't think this commenter (3:19) has any other purpose here than to use words to hurt others.

      For the record, Obama's objections to oppression have been pretty mild compared to those of the others on the first list. Sort of like adding Underdog or Super Chicken to a list of superheroes. Need I point out that Malcolm X was not killed by whites? His martyrdom is a little more complex than the black/white way this commenter seems to think about race.

    10. You do realize that Jeffrey Dahmer was mentally ill, right?

    11. Not Much Shorter, But Much More Sane 5:18 Anonymous:

      This one asshole (DavidinCA) thinks "[White readers are apt to draw the conclusion that] blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world," therefore white people think there's no such thing as racism anymore except racism against them.

      No it doesn't make sense. When was that ever a requirement?

      Also, even if there is racism in David's comment (I for one think there is) -- it's manifestly unfair to truncate the way you did:

      "White readers are apt to draw the conclusion that blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world." That's what David actually said.

      It's really unfair then for you to pretend he's saying "Blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world."

      So grotesquely unfair that it undermines everything you write here (though the insanity of what you're writing is quite general), no matter what one thinks of DavidinCA.

    12. I did not truncate what he said. I excerpted the exact quote that you did. He did not say "some" white readers. He said "white readers".
      See what you want to see.

    13. Why do you lie, when it's transparently clear?

      Your comment at July 30 1:35 PM, the original post of this thread, questioningly quotes DavidinCA:

      "Blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world"?"

      You deleted "White readers are apt to draw the conclusion...," thereby allowing yourself the pretense that DavidinCA was asserting that disgusting conclusion himself.

      This misleading ploy was surely your intention, as you immediately went on to ask, rhetorically, "What else are blacks deficient in?"

      It's despicable.

      Whatever else can be said about DavidinCA (and I have attacked his arguments many times in these threads over the preceding months (years?)) -- whatever else can be said, it is just scurrilous and false to pretend, as you did in your 1:35 post, that he asserted "blacks are deficient" in anything.

      Please drop it; you are doing yourself no favors.

  7. "I think columns like this inadvertently promote racism. White readers are apt to draw the conclusion that blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world."

    Love your new tribe. Such charming people.

    1. David in CA is a longtime commenter here -- not someone attracted by the recent controversy. He is our token conservative. Calling him "new tribe" implies that he is new, like the many antagonistic commenters attracted by the Zimmerman issue, and that he shares the views of others here, which he mainly doesn't. That said, he is neither as ugly nor as bigoted as some of the drop-ins visiting this blog in the last week or two. As a long-time reader of this blog, I do resent these drive by potshots at people who at least care about the ongoing issues discussed here sufficiently to read and comment on them all, even when the subject is not white racism.

      David, in his awkward way, is referring to the likelihood that black readers will be misinformed by the erroneous columns presented by our mainstream media and may thus create a misunderstanding among whites that they do not have as firm a grasp on the facts of the case as readers of his own preferred media (don't know what that is, but maybe the right-wing blogs). Personally, I cannot stomach the conservative sites because of the truly racist comments (you have to really try hard to read racism into David's remarks). But I cannot see much harm in David's suggestion that when African American readers are fed misinformation it will contribute to a deficient understanding of the real world. That would be true for all of us. My point here is that I believe you have a deficient understanding of this blog and are here mainly to stir up trouble and call names. Wouldn't you find it more fun to do that on one of the many conservative blogs where your comments would be greeted with relish, confirming as it would their stereotypes about those who seek out racism in the far corners of the blogosphere in order to eradicate it and any other lurking evil therein.

    2. Far from representing Somerby's supposed new tribe, David in California is a reliable OPPONENT of most liberal dogma.

      You may not like Somerby, you may not like that he says mean things about TV and print "liberals," but you can't pretend he isn't a liberal himself -- not without being laughed back to wherever *you* blew in from, 2:36 Anonymous.

      But that's all neither here nor there.

      As with so much that passes for commentary at this site, the ultimate rejoinder to your stupidity is to recognize that it is such a common logical fallacy that it has had a name for ages: the ad hominem attack.

      That someone you dislike holds an opinion proves nothing about that opinion.

      I dsagree with my namesake above -- I do find a whiff of racism in David's comment.

      But so what?

      If David's comment is indeed racist, if indeed racists in general agree with Somerby on this matter -- that Zimmerman has been fouled by an ignorant or agenda-driven press -- that in itself says NOTHING about the accuracy or value of Somerby's comments.

    3. So Anon 2:36 worries that blogs can misinform people enough so as to instill corruption, but the national media, not so much...

    4. How can you people simultaneously argue that people of color have and still experience disheartening prejudice in daily life AND argue that it's racist to surmise that they would be the most vulnerable to media malfeasance via a contrived media narrative?

    5. AnonymousJuly 30, 2013 at 2:45 PM -- thanks for defending me. I'd like to believe that my preferred coverage of this case came from whoever's presentation was most in line with the facts. IMHO the four sites that gave the most fact-filled, accurate presentations were liberals Bob Somerby and Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft, and conservatives at and at

      Incidentally, bringing up slavery is a way of supporting racists. The racist says blacks are inferior in some respect. The person who brings up slavery, in effect says, blacks may be inferior but they have an excuse.

      Here's question for my critics: There are lots of black reporters, commentators and pundits. Which of them do YOU believe gave particularly fair and accurate presentations of the facts of this case?

    6. In the middle of one of these racial passion plays, it takes enormous courage for a black person to step forward and say, "Yeah, I heard him say he mugged the cop," "If I had been Bernie Goetz, I would have shot them, too," or "I know George, he's my friend."

      That's Ann Coulter in her latest, recognizing black people who have had the courage to speak out truthfully in cases like this. When Coulter is offering a more progressive take than anything you'll see on MSNBC, it's time to admit there is something very wrong.

  8. "Al Sharpton leads me to draw the conclusion that blacks have a deficient understanding of the real world"

    Like I said before, such charming people.

    1. Yup, racism is ugly.

      But that some racists may be among those who agree with Somerby doesn't refute his case against the press.

      You pretend it does, hoping to slime Somerby by association with the ugliest of folk who may agree with him.

      That disgusting tactic doesn't make you look very "charming" yourself.

      Actually, you come off as a douchebag.

      Now, ain't I the charmer!

    2. "Don't kill my people"

      Now that's ugly!

    3. Lll let me get this straight, Anon 4:07, you're offended when someone suggests that they might have judged all blacks by what Al Sharpton says, but still think it's race baiting when Somerby excoriates the media for repeating the same inaccuracies?

    4. Who said that? David in CA didn't.

  9. " you come off as a douchebag."

    I love how the comment section reflects the blog.

    1. I love how blissfully ignorant you are that you're a douchebag.

  10. Honestly, Somerby himself should be ashamed at his pretense to be some sort of media critic when he write something this sloppy and dishonest. For starters, he didn't bother to simply Google for the name "Leo V. WIlliams," which would have shown him numerous links to his biography and military career, such as this one:

    If he had done so, he wouldn't have embarrassed himself by writing, "We don’t know the non-journalist author of the piece." It's easy to know who Leo V. Williams is.

    It's also easy for someone who isn't simply ranting to realize that Williams' opinion piece (which appears online in the Baltimore Sun's "reader's respond" section) is basically a letter to the editor -- which means that Somerby has gone from pretending to be a critic of media pundits and journalist to being simply someone who rants about every letter to the editor and other citizen comment with he happens to disagree.

    Somerby writes, "But the Sun employs the journalists here, and they shouldn’t have published that account." Does he seriously wish to claim that media outlets like the Sun should only publish letters to the editor which conform to some preselected point of view?

    I can easily dig up dozens, no hundreds, of letters to the editors which have been published by individuals who support George Zimmerman and the jury's "not guilty" verdict. If Somerby were at all serious about criticizing inaccuracy in the media, he would at least acknowledge that newspapers do publish letters to the editor from people with varying points of view. And when he does media criticism, he should focus on the writings of _journalists_ and not cherry-pick letters to the editor with which he disagrees so he can launch yet another tedious rant against people who dare see things differently than he does.

    1. Are you the Sheldon Rampton? Of C4M&D fame? 'Cause if so, that's a pretty embarrassing comment you posted @ 11:27P. Come to think of it, even if you are just a Sheldon Rampton, it's still embarrassing.

      For starters, when Somerby writes, "We don’t know the non-journalist author of the piece,..." he then goes on to say, "but we feel sure that he’s a good decent person." This is a common Somerby trope, to make clear that he's not demonizing a person when he rips apart that person's writing for its failures of understanding and logic. Sure, it's easy to know LVW's bio by checking, but Somerby means he doesn't know LVW personally but he's still sure the man is a fine human being. A fine human being, if mistaken, as Somerby will proceed to demonstrate.

      I hope you haven't gone to the trouble to "dig up dozens" of letters to the editor that support Zimmerman, as you would have wasted your time after completely missing the point of Somerby's blog entry. The point here is not to criticize a letter writer's opposing opinion, but to criticize journalists' decision to print unchallenged a recitation of fiction as though it were fact. Especially under an inflammatory and inapt headline.

      I trust you will post an apology for calling Somerby's work shoddy. The shoddiness is on your side. And I trust you will post an abject apology for calling Somerby dishonest. If you don't, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask John McPhee to give you a stern talking-to.

  11. Bob, check this out (from Wiki regarding Bernhard Goetz):
    Prior to the criminal trial, the media reported that Cabey had been shot on the fourth shot and then again on the fifth shot, with Goetz saying, "You don't look too bad, here's another." or "You seem all right, here's another."[24] This sequence of shots was discredited at the criminal trial when it was revealed that Cabey was shot once in the left side; however, some media still reported[25] this sequence long after the criminal trial.

    What does that remind you of?...two sticking to a fake "fact" for "long after the criminal trial." And if you click on the "25," it links to an example of what it's talking about; guess what media source serves as the example? Your beloved New York Times.

    1. By the way, that entire Wiki article about the Bernie Goetz shooting is absolutely fascinating from start to finish, especially in light of recent events.

    2. The parallels you're trying to make between reporting of the Bernhard Goetz trial and the George Zimmeman trial are pretty forced. For one thing, Goetz did fire five shots. The first shot that he fired at Cabey missed, but he fired it. For another thing, the New York Times issued a correction about the error in its 1996 editorial, which appears on the very page that you link to. Rather than being an example of the media sticking to a false story, therefore, this is an example of the New York Times publicly issuiing a correction.

      Another "fact" has continued to circulate about the Goetz shooting, namely the claim that he told Caby, "You don't look too bad, here's another." It appears that Goetz never actually uttered those words. However, the source for this fact was Goetz himself, in his statement to police, so it's clear that he was at least thinking those thoughts.

      In sum, therefore, the "errors" about Goetz are pretty trivial and don't mislead about the substance of what he did. Goetz did fire twice at Caby and thought that both bullets hit their target until police forensics showed otherwise. His intention in shooting Caby a second time was not defensive but rather motivated by a desire to cause harm. The final shot that he fired at Caby was clearly unnecessary and therefore not permitted by law. By that point Caby was sitting, was presenting no threat to Goetz, and Goetz had already shot and incapacitated the other three men. Shooting that last shot at Caby was simply gratuitous violence, which is what the jury agreed when it awarded Caby millions in damages.

  12. Yes, I'm "the" Sheldon Rampton. I stand by what I wrote. It was ridiculous for Somerby to pretend that the Baltimore Sun had some obligation to not publish Leo Williams' opinion letter. As anyone who has spent 5 minutes in a newsroom would know, opinion pieces and letters to the editor are _opinion_ pieces that news outlets publish as a way of sharing the diversity of opinion that exists related to topics in the news. They are not themselves journalistic reports, and a newspaper that refused to publish an opinion piece by someone of Williams' stature simply because of the objections that Somerby raises would be irresponsible.

    I also find it striking that Somerby's rant doesn't actually identify a single specific error of fact in Williams' op-ed piece. Somerby merely objects to Williams' opinions and complains that Williams doesn't discuss the question of whether Zimmerman was getting beaten up on the night he killed Trayvon Martin. Somerby's objection is therefore not even fact-checking. It's just a complaint that Williams doesn't share Somerby's bias.

    We all know (including, I'm sure, Williams) that Zimmerman suffered injuries that night. There is, however, legitimate disagreement about the extent of those injuries and whether Zimmerman was indeed fearful for his life in a way that would justify killing Martin. Moreover, there is legitimate disgreement about who provoked the confrontation. It is entirely possible for someone to be fully aware of Zimmerman getting hit by Martin and still reach the interpretations that Williams reached. In fact, one of the jurors in that case has publicly stated that Zimmerman "got away with murder," an interpretation that is quite similar to the statements by Williams with which Somerby takes issue.

    In short, nothing that Williams wrote is refuted by Somerby's rant. Moreover, Williams had every right to express his opinion, and the Baltimore Sun had every right -- indeed, a responsibility -- to publish it. Somerby is simply objecting because he happens to disagree with Williams' opinion in the matter.

    I would consider this reasonable commentary on Somerby's part if Williams were a journalist or regular op-ed contributor for the Baltimore Sun. However, it is censorious and wrong for him to go on a rant over every letter to the editor with which he happens to disagree.

    1. Look, idiot, when an opinion piece mis-states facts, a newspaper fails its civic function when it chooses to publish the piece.

      The false cover of "diversity of opinion" does not justify the practice of presenting false facts.

      We are entitled to our own opinions, yes -- but not our own facts.

      The Sun erred greatly and did a disservice to the public by publishing this "opinion," particularly without noting that the facts it contained were false.

      Pointing that out that failure on the part of the Sun is good work indeed by Somerby.

      It's your defense of the paper that's unreasonable -- revolting, actually..

    2. I also find it striking that Somerby's rant doesn't actually identify a single specific error of fact in Williams' op-ed piece.

      Maybe so, but Bob has written a huge amount on this topic. Some of his earlier posts have identified factual errors that were repeated in Williams' op-ed piece.

      Anyhow, Mr. Rampton, regardless of what Bob did or didn't point out, don't you know, of your own knowledge, that Williams' op-ed included many errors?

    3. >>>>>Yes, I'm "the" Sheldon Rampton. I stand by what I wrote.<<<<<

      Of course you do. Just a couple of posts previous to this thread Bob Somerby explained the intellectual and moral cul-de-sac those of your ilk have found themselves in the Zimmerman/Martin matter. He wrote:

      >>>>>We got to see how easy it is to get folk to believe, and then to repeat, certain types of false claims. We saw the urgency with which many people long for the chance to repeat false claims, as long as they're morally pleasing.

      Eventually, we even got to see how doggedly many “liberals” will fight to defend the right to make false claims!

      Rampton writes:

      >>>>> of the jurors in that case has publicly stated that Zimmerman "got away with murder...<<<<<

      "Maddy," juror B-29 did utter those words but she did so in a halting response to the inveterviewer, Robin Roberts, and if you watch the least edited version of that particular Q&A it is apparent that "Maddy" is repeating back Roberts' forumulation before hypothetically telling people who would claim "George Zimmerman got away with murder" that Zimmerman will still have to answer to God. See that exchange beginning at 3:33 here. In her own words earlier, this is what "Maddy" says Zimmerman was "guilty of:"

      >>>>>"Maddy": It was hard. A lot of us wanted to find something bad, something we could connect to the law because all six of us- well let's not speak for all six of us- for myself he's guilty because the evidence shows he's guilty.

      Robin Roberts: He's guilty of?

      "Maddy": [1:15] Killing Trayvon Martin. But we couldn't prove that intentionally he killed him. And that's the way that the law was read to me.

      So Sheldon Rampton, save your quote of juror B-29 for the uninformed at your next "We're the good and caring people, not like those bucked-toothed white hillbillies and white Hispanics down south" convention.

    4. Gotta say, I'm kind of in agreement with Sheldon on this (except maybe about the headline). There are no KNOWN "false facts" in the letter (that I'm aware of). If there were something that was absolutely KNOWN to be false in it, then I would agree that the paper shouldn't publish it, or maybe include a note correcting the falsehood, or maybe contact the letter writer and have him/her rewrite it without the falsehood. I assume that one of the "false facts" Anon 11:37 has in mind is "taking the life of a human being who has not committed a crime." Anon 11:37 probably thinks Trayvon Martin HAD committed a crime -- by attacking Zimmerman. But as should be clear by now, no one can say they KNOW how the fight started (or whether Martin believed Z was trying to reach for a weapon and therefore might have been justified in defending himself). Since we don't KNOW that, then it seems to me the newspaper shouldn't censor a letter writer voicing his opinion that Trayvon Martin had NOT committed a crime.

    5. It goes without saying, of course, that the letter is, however, highly misleading, if you don't know the facts it leaves out.

    6. OK CMike, so what you're saying is that yes, the juror did express the opinion that Zimmerman got away with murder, but since that opinion was expressed "haltingly" we should ignore what she said. Gotcha.

      And then there's something ridiculous about hillbillies that I'm not going to pretend is worth parsing.

      As for the headline, Mike L, I think it's a bit precious to make an issue of it. If you do a Google search for the words "lynching" and "George Zimmerman" you'll get 354,000 results in which the predominant claim is that the media lynched George Zimmerman. Evidently this use of the term "lynching" as hyperbole is not a concern for Somerby, but he _is_ concerned when Williams, a black citizen of considerable personal stature, happens to use the word over what he perceives as an unjust verdict. Perhaps you can explain for me why Somerby's outrage over this particular term has been so selective.

    7. Regarding the headline, your argument is kind of a "two wrongs make a right" argument. I just think it was unnecessarily inflammatory for a newspaper to headline such a letter that way. As to why Somerby's outrage is selective I can't say with certainty, but my guess is because his blog has become more about chastising his own "tribe" about their coverage of stories, not the other "tribe."

    8. Sheldon Rampton writes:

      >>>>>OK CMike, so what you're saying is that yes, the juror did express the opinion that Zimmerman got away with murder, but since that opinion was expressed "haltingly" we should ignore what she said. Gotcha.<<<<<

      No, I don't think the juror was expressing her opinion that Zimmerman got away with murder. Watch the interview, she says Zimmerman was guilty of killing Martin, which is uncontested, and indicates that she thinks killing someone, someone's young son, is a horrible wrong but that she was persuaded that what Zimmerman did was not criminal according to the law. But you know all that by now and have decided to go with your, "one of the jurors in that case has publicly stated that Zimmerman 'got away with murder.'"

    9. CMike, so how do you interpret the juror's words when she said, "for myself he's guilty because the evidence shows he's guilty"? It sounds to me like she thinks he's guilty but not guilty _beyond reasonable doubt_.

      Mike L., regarding Somerby's selective outrage, my interpretation is simpler than yours. I think he has decided to take Zimmerman's side in this case.

    10. Sheldon Rampton writes:

      CMike, so how do you interpret the juror's words...

      She thinks killing is bad and that George Zimmerman most certainly killed Trayvon Martin and therefore was guilty of that, however she came to understand while deliberating that as a matter of law that Zimmerman did not murder Martin. And then she decided Zimmerman was not guilty of manslaughter according to the law though, "A lot of us wanted to find something bad, something we could connect to the law..."

      At this point we're going in circles.

    11. Maybe, but then, you "visit this blog very occasionally and [are] not a regular reader." I've read every post for nearly 10 years. I would say Somerby goes after members of the other "tribe" maybe 10% of the time, and the mainstream media and ostensible members his own "tribe" the other 90%.

    12. Mike L, when you write that you've read every Somerby post for years, I am reminded of Nietzsche's quip about Christianity: "It is only those who never -- or always -- attend church that underestimate the dishonesty with which this subject is still dealt in Protestant pulpits; in what a clumsy fashion the preacher takes advantage of the his security from interruption; how the Bible is punched and pummelled and how the people are treated to every form of the art of false reading." Analogously, I think you would have to either never read Somerby or always read him to realize how tendentious and misleading he can be himself.

      As far as I can see, everything Somerby has written about the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case is tendentiously geared toward selective outrage against perceived unfairness to Zimmerman. His selective outrage about the use of the term "lynching" is just one example of that bias.

      I bookmarked Somerby's blog back when he was writing about media distortions of Al Gore, and I thought he wrote some pretty good critiques back then. Unfortunately, a lot of what I've seen him write since then consists of repetitious, tendentious diatribes, which is why I only read it occasionally. And I think it's a genuinely dishonest bait-and-switch for him to attack the Baltimore Sun simply because it published a letter to the editor by a retired black general who believes that George Zimmerman got away with murder. The overwhelming majority of black Americans believe that. You really ought to be questioning something when Somerby tries to argue that it is "irresponsible" for a newspapers to publish an opinion which is held by more than 80% of black Americans. What this demonstrates is that Somerby has gotten so lost in is own narrative that he is having trouble recognizing that other perspectives exist and are entitled to express themselves.

    13. will be back later to respond.

    14. The Sheldon Rampton,

      If you think Somerby doesn't realize that "other perspectives exist" or that people aren't entitled to express themselves as they wish, then you're not paying much attention to what Somerby writes.

      Somerby's objection is to journalists -- presumably they still have those at The Baltimore Sun -- who would countenance, unchallenged, the publication of falsehoods in their newspaper, no matter the source. LVW is not expressing an opinion when he says that a "reprehensible condition" obtains "where a mere suspicion can lead to murder, and though the suspicion is proved unfounded, the murderer walks free." There is no evidence that "mere suspicion" led to Martin's death and fairly substantial evidence that the cause included an altercation. Martin was not on trial, so the foundation of Zimmerman's suspicions were never even an issue, let alone one settled and proved. There are no murderers at all in this tragedy, and certainly none today walking free. These statements are called "untruths," and journalists ought not put them in print, certainly not without critical commentary and especially not under the grotesquerie of the rubric "lynching."

      Here are some opinions:

      "Racism played a role in Zimmerman's decision to suspect Martin."

      "Prejudicial suspicion put in motion the events that led to Martin's death."

      "The law and its application in the recent trial unfairly allowed Zimmerman to escape all culpability for the killing of Martin."

      "Zimmerman got away with murder."

      If you can't tell the difference between statements of opinion and statements of fact, I'll suggest that the fault lies not with Somerby.

      And where's that apology for calling Somerby "shoddy" because he stated that he didn't know Williams personally?

    15. "I think you would have to either never read Somerby or always read him to realize how tendentious and misleading he can be himself." I think you meant to say, " NOT realize how tendentious and misleading...." (if not, I don't understand how that's analogous to the Nietzsche quote, and I wouldn't know what you're trying to say). I’ll assume you meant that I do NOT realize how tendentious and misleading Somerby is because I always read him.

      I would make two points: 1) I am aware of somerby’s tendentiousness. 2) Tendentiousness is not necessarily a bad thing. Media Matters is tendentious: they only go after one side. Krugman is tendentious: he only criticizes those who are not liberal or not liberal enough essentially. The question shouldn’t be is someone tendentious; it should be is their particular tendentiousness needed/warranted/justified. I would say Somerby’s usually is. The things he says are usually not said or not said effectively enough anywhere else IN THE LIBERAL WORLD.

      You also claim Somerby is “misleading.” I would agree that he can occasionally be misleading, but probably not in the way you might think. For instance, there’s not a single thing about his post above that is misleading. He never claims that the letter he discusses contains falsehoods. He claims 1) that it asserts things as fact that are not known (and are unlikely) to be fact, and 2) that it leaves OUT crucial facts in order to create a simplified and misleading narrative. I would say those two things are undeniably true. Beyond that, he claims the newspaper was irresponsible for publishing the letter. Since that’s wholly a matter of judgment, and not fact, you can’t really say it’s “misleading.” Where I think Somerby is sometimes misleading is when he makes some sweeping claim about, say, the entire “press corps,” or the entire New York Times. Entities such as those are simply too large, complicated, and varied to fit any of Bob’s simple conclusions about them. But in terms of the specific, narrow criticisms he makes about a particular person, claim, or set of claims, I would say Somerby is the most scrupulous, honest, meticulous, thorough, and persuasive writer I’ve ever come across.

      Regarding our original topic, we’re both engaging in pure speculation regarding WHY Somerby has written what he has about the Zimmerman/Martin case. But let’s say you’re right, that it’s because Somerby is taking Zimmerman’s side. So what? Based on what you’ve written, you appear to have taken Martin’s side. I don’t see a problem with doing either, as long as nothing you say is false, misleading, unnecessarily inflammatory, etc., and you’re not taking a side for bad reasons (for example, merely because of race; or because, say, you’re just trying to advance your career; etc.). If someone honestly thinks the facts warrant a certain conclusion about the case, I don’t see a problem with “taking a side.” If one side in a debate said the earth was flat, should we treat both side's views as equally valid?

    16. I appreciate Sheldon Rampton coming here to respond to Bob's article.

      Just one little point on juror B29. I think too much is being made of the ambiguous "got away with murder" quote when the real interesting statement she made was as follows:

      "That's where I felt confused, where if a person kills someone, then you get charged for it," Maddy said. "But as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can't say he's guilty."

      I'd really like to know how she ended up confused on this critical point. Who was it that read "the law" to her in this misleading way? How is it possible that she can't even read the juror instructions herself?

      In order to convict of manslaughter by act, it is not necessary for the State to prove that George Zimmerman had an intent to cause death, only an intent to commit an act that was not merely negligent, justified, or excusable and which caused death

    17. Mike L, as I've stated several times in various ways now, my primary objection to Somerby is that he has gone into histrionics of outrage because the Baltimore Sun published a letter to the editor by Leo Williams, for no reason other than that Somerby disagrees with WIlliams' opinions. If Somerby simply wanted to flog the case for George Zimmerman, well, plenty of people are doing that and he's welcome to do so also. However, he crosses a line when he presumes to lecture newspapers on what type of people and opinions they should be allowed to publish. Even a cursory reading of the Baltimore Sun will show you that it has published plenty of pro-Zimmerman commentary similar to Somerby's own writings, yet Somerby selectively attacks them for publishing a single letter to the editor by a retired black general who thinks Zimmerman got away with murder. Somerby tries to present himself as some kind of media critic, but I think news media run in accordance with Somerby's whims would be poorer, not richer.

  13. Thanks, anonymous, for your contribution to civility by calling me an "idiot." I have nothing further to say to you.

    And no, I don't know of my own knowledge that Williams' letter to the editor "included many errors." As I've already pointed out, Somerby himself does not point to any actual errors in WIlliams' piece. He merely complains that Williams didn't address some points that Somerby things he should have addressed. Williams' commentary is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of what happened. He believes that Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin and got away with it. That is a reasonable belief.

    The fact that Bob has written a huge amount on this topic is not an excuse for him to stoop to the level of cherry-picking a letter to the editor with which he disagrees and then ranting against it for no reason other than that it happens to present a different interpretation of the facts than his preferred interpretation.

    What's next? Is Somerby going to start looking for comment threads on newspaper websites in which someone says something he doesn't like and write whole blog posts criticizing individual comments that he thinks the newspaper should have deleted?

    And by the way, Somerby likes to complain about "tribes" that become so insular that they can't listen to others. I'd say that this blog post of his is a striking example of his own insularity as well as the insularity of some of his followers. No one here, including the jerk who called me an "idiot," has actually pointed to a specific error of fact in Williams' piece. You just assert that it has errors and is so irresponsible that the paper should never have published it. I cannot help but conclude that you are oblivious to the possibility that other people might have legitimate opinions which differ from yours, and you think that "responsible" journalism should entail censorship of others' views.

    1. Sheldon,

      You're the one cherry-picking here. You have outed yourself as a reader of this blog. So, why have you waited until now to offer your objections? Do you agree with Bob's interpretation that the media has been spreading lies about this incident? If you do, how can you believe that calling this a murder is a reasonable belief?

      And I like this: "including the jerk who called me an 'idiot.'"

    2. Unlike you, "anonymous," I have identified myself by my real name. I have not "outed myself as a reader of this blog." I visit this blog very occasionally and am not a regular reader.

      I agree that there has been a great deal of misinformation and hyperbole (on all sides) about this incident. Nevertheless, I believe that calling this a murder is a reasonable belief. It is not the _only_ reasonable belief, but it is _a_ reasonable belief. One of the jurors who sat through all of the evidence presented in court reached that opinion, even though in the end she voted not to convict.

      And if you're the same anonymous coward who called me an idiot, then yes, you are a jerk.

    3. No, I am not the same person who called you an idiot. I liked it because I thought you were joking, but, well, that's called into question now, isn't it?

      How is "lynching" applicable to both sides? I can see it for the mob who wants to put away Zimmerman, even though a jury acquitted him, but how is letting a possibly guilty man walk a "lynching?" Isn't it irresponsibly fanning flames?

      Bob, not Bob

  14. Anonymous, I guess you should actually try reading Williams' letter to the editor (which is the topic of this blog post by Somerby) if you want to understand how he uses the term "lynching."

    Do you even understand the history and meaning of that term? Historically, it refers to the extrajudicial murder of black people, often by hanging. Here's a Wikipedia article about it:

    Williams uses the term to refer to Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin. He believes that Zimmerman got away with murdering a black person for not good reason other than that he thought Martin looked suspicious. WIlliams' use of the term is therefore at least consistent with many of the characteristics of lynching as it has been historically used. It involves killing someone. It involves unjustified killing. It involves racial prejudice. And the person who commits the killing goes unpunished. You may dispute the validity of this use of the term, but you ought to be able to at least have no problem recognizing what Williams is intending to say.

    Saying that _Zimmerman_ has been "lynched" is actually much more of a stretch than saying that Trayvon Martin was "lynched." For starters, Zimmerman has not been killed. The trial trial he underwent was judicial, not extrajudicial. Since his acquittal, no violence has been visited upon his person (although if I were him I'd be worried). If and when extrajudicial murder is carried out against Zimmerman, then you will be able to claim that he has been subjected to a lynching, but so far that has not in fact happened.

    1. You talk about reading, yet ignore that I signed my post.

      You prove my point with the "although if I were him I'd be worried" crack. Nobody says Zimmerman has been lynched, but there is worry that a "lynch mob" might be forming. Lynching has always had a group element associated with the word.

      Even the fake facts presented by the news media cannot possibly be twisted into calling that sad death a lynching. If one were to believe that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin (which the evidence does not show), and that, by itself, made it a lynching, then NYC police have been lynching people for years.

      I think you are the one taking sides here.

      Bob, not Bob

    2. Oh, and since you like Wikipedia, here's a link for you:

      Bob, not Bob

    3. I didn't think it was important for me to acknowledge that you have claimed to be someone named "Bob, not Bob." I guess that's my bad if you think it is.

      Saying, "If I were him I'd be worried" was not a crack. I think Zimmerman has good reason to fear retribution. A lot of people believe that he got away with murder, and I would not be surprised if someone acts on that belief. However, the mere fact that he has been criticized and had to go on trial to defend himself was not a "lynching."

      I find it remarkable that you write, "If one were to believe that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin ... and that, by itself, made it a lynching, then NYC police have been lynching people for years." Are you really so oblivious that you do not realize that this is exactly what black people believe has been happening? They do not see the Trayvon Martin case as an isolated incident. They see it as part of a pattern of racial profilings in which black men are deemed suspicious and killed simply because of the color of their skin: Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant. From their point of view, therefore, a pattern of racial profiling by police in NYC and elsewhere does not _disprove_ the thesis that Martin was "lynched." To the contrary, the "lynching" of Martin is simply one more instance of that happening.

      I understand that you don't share that interpretation of the facts. It amazes me, though, that you seem not even to understand that this is how other people understand the events in this case. If you cannot comprehend their thinking, you cannot pretend you have refuted it.

      As for Blackstone's formulation, I understand the thinking behind it and agree with it. It seems that juror B29 also agrees with it. She seems to believe that it is better for Zimmerman to go free (even though she thinks he is probably guilty) than it is for her to convict him when she is not certain of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It is entirely possible, in other words, for a reasonable person to believe both that Zimmerman is a murderer and that the jury's verdict was appropriate.

    4. Sheldon,

      I appreciate your reply, and I do understand how other people understand this incident in context. But it is quite unfortunate that they are misled to believe that this incident is part of this pattern. If a group wants to make an example of someone, or something, it had better get their facts straight, or they will do disservice to the cause they are trying to support.

      The biggest reason I bring up Blackstone is that I wonder why the large number of people so emotionally invested in this case aren't as invested in the massive number of innocent people (disproportionately black) that are behind bars in this country (USA) right now. Is the tragedy really one man not being punished, or that so many innocent are?

      Bob, not Bob

    5. Bob, what evidence do you have to support your notion that people who are emotionally invested in this care are not also concerned about innocent people who are behind bars in this country?

    6. I would love to be wrong, but I see no demonstrations.

    7. Well, as Anonymous just commented to me, "You must admit that is pretty thin evidence."

    8. SR,

      Scores of black people have been killed for no reason other than racial animus, but who were not lynched. That's because lynching is a particular horror, a communal celebration of killing and torture to preserve a despicable society in defiance of the institution of the law and with the connivance of officials of the law.

      To apply the term to Martin's death is ignorance; to apply the term to Zimmerman's trial is grotesque.

    9. deadrat,

      I stand corrected. Although I did not say Zimmerman's trial was in any way a lynching, I did say that there were worries that a "lynch mob" could form to go after Zimmerman. But you are correct, there is not the larger social context to make that an accurate analogy. And if anyone calls the trial (even if he had been found guilty) a "lynching," that would be grotesque.

    10. Bob, gosh that sure would be grotesque, now, wouldn't it? And as I pointed out, all you have to do is Google "lynching" and "George Zimmerman" to find hundreds of thousands of web pages with titles such as "The media lynching of George Zimmerman." Of course, you wouldn't know that at all if you just read Somerby. As far as Somerby is concerned, the only time that it is inappropriate to use the word "lynching" is when a retired black general uses the term in reference to Zimmerman's vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin.

    11. Sheldon,

      First you misread (or did you?) my comparison of emotional investment between the outcome of this case and unnecessary incarceration, as any "concern" about incarceration. Now, you do not seem to notice the difference between calling the trial a lynching, and characterizing the group conduct about the outcome as a lynching. Which, by the way, I withdrew. And then insult the breadth of my reading habits. Do you have a point?

    12. Bob, I didn't misread what you wrote. I simply pointed out that you don't have any knowledge whatsoever about how people who are emotionally invested in the Trayvon Martin case feel about "the massive number of innocent people (disproportionately black) that are behind bars in this country." You don't know what they think about it. You don't know how often they think about it. You don't know how intensely they feel whatever they feel. You simply invented their emotions so that you could construe an argument that their priorities are misplaced.

      Go ahead, prove me wrong. Show me your data to prove that you didn't just make something up out of whole cloth.

      You have also misread what I wrote about lynching. My point is simply that Somerby has a selective sense of outrage when the term is used. He thinks it is so outrageous for a black retired general to use that term in any way whatsoever in connection with Zimmerman's extrajudicial killing of Trayvon Martin that the Baltimore Sun should have censored his letter to the editor and never published it. Yet Somerby has never expressed the slightest bit of dismay at the much more widespread use of this term by Zimmerman's supporters, who claim that he has been the victim of a "media lynching." Moreover, you can find examples of comments on Somerby's own blog in which supporters of George Zimmerman complain that Zimmerman has been lynched, and Somerby has never either disputed their use of that language, nor has he censored their speech the way he wishes that the Baltimore Sun had censored the speech of Leo Williams. This is hypocrisy on Somerby's part.

      As for whether I insulted "the breadth of your reading habits," I did no such thing. I don't have any idea what you read other than that you say you read everything Somerby writes. Based on that fact, and your commentaries here, I have reached the conclusion that you are so caught up in his narrative that you don't see his own hypocrisy and contradictions. You may be very well-read in other respects for all I know.

    13. Yes, I see the hypocrisy and contradictions. They are there on all sides. It is part of human nature. We try to look through these things for truth, which is not an easy thing.

      My opinion is that the heat generated by the people that think the acquittal was a tragedy is more based on a desire to punish, not from a sincere wish to improve the standings of people of color in our culture.

      In the eighties, we used to march, chanting "down with racist Reagan," because there was a large group who thought that the leaders of the USA were harming innocents. I think it is sad that we now have demonstrations to try to punish the guilty, instead.

      Maybe you don't see it, but I see a lot of hate directed toward Zimmerman, even when so much of the early stories about the case turn out to be untrue. It seems that there is a want to hate this man, damn the evidence.

      You said that William's take is a legitimate opinion, in part, because 80% of black people feel this way. Can I compare the number of people in this country who were convinced that the Iraq war was the right thing to do? There were plenty of op-eds supporting that position, and both positions certainly have the right to be published, but do we need to respect them?

    14. So do you still agree with Somerby that it was "irresponsible" for the Baltimore Sun to publish an editorial by a black man whose opinions about the Trayvon Martin case are shared by the overwhelming majority of black Americans?

      And you still haven't explained to me why Somerby only objects to the term "lynching" when a black person uses that term to discuss the killing of a black teenager? Why doesn't he object to the use of that term when it is used to portray George Zimmerman as a victim? And why do you yourself feel comfortable using the term "lynch mob" to characterize protesters who believe that Zimmerman got away with murder?

      I think it is remarkably arrogant and dishonest for you to claim that "the people that think the acquittal was a tragedy is more based on a desire to punish, not from a sincere wish to improve the standings of people of color in our culture." The specific topic we are discussing here is an letter to the editor by Leo Williams, a black man who "thinks the acquittal was a tragedy." Have you even read Williams' editorial? The majority of that editorial consists of Williams' concerns about the standings of people in our culture. He expresses concern for the future of his own black son and his fear that his son could be killed simply because someone thinks he "looks suspicious," as was the case with Trayvon Martin. He states expressly that he fears that Zimmerman's acquittal will legalize a situation where "mere suspicion can lead to murder" and that this consequence "is toweringly more important than the fate of one troubled man named George Zimmerman."

      In short, Williams explicitly states that punishing Zimmerman is far from the top of his concerns about this case. Do you think he is lying? Do you think you have some special ability to read his mind so that you know he is lying? What is your basis for claiming that his concerns are other than what he has expressly stated?

      Finally, what right does Somerby have to accuse a newspaper of irresponsibility simply because that newspaper publishes a letter to the editor by Leo Williams?

  15. "No one here ... has actually pointed to a specific error of fact in Williams' piece."

    Here it is for you: the racism. The whole piece relies on this central fact. But where is it shown, any fact at all, that Zimmerman was acting out of racial animosity?

    1. That is not an error of fact. It is Williams's legitimate opinion that Zimmerman would not have viewed Martin as a "suspicious," "fucking punk" if Martin were white. He undoubtedly reached that opinion both through what he knows about the facts of the case and from his own life experiences. You may not share that opinion, but can you disprove it?

      I imagine that Williams also believes that if a black man had shot a white youth to death in similar circumstances, the police would have questioned his story more vigorously, would have investigated more aggressively, would have arrested him, and would have decided more easily to prosecute. I imagine he also believes that if the races were reversed, the jury would have been more likely to convict. In short, he believes that the Trayvon Martin case is part of a pattern in which young black men are viewed with greater suspicion and their lives are considered less valuable than young white men. Again, you may disagree with this opinion, but what "errors of fact" can you find in it? Opinions and facts are two different things, and Williams is as entitled to his opinions as you are.

    2. You must admit that that is pretty thin evidence for believing someone is a racist.

    3. Perhaps you would feel differently if your life experiences were different. That's the thing about opinions.

    4. Come on, do you actually need to have the irony spelled out for you? If someone comes to a conclusion about an individual based upon "life experiences" of people just like them, what do we call that?

    5. I think we call that "human nature." Do you think you don't come to conclusions based upon your life experiences?

    6. So why don't you think Zimmerman was using "human nature" to suspect a young black male in a hoodie because of Zimmerman's "life experiences?" If he did that, I would call it racial profiling.

    7. So what's your point?

    8. You forgive one, but not the other.

  16. So are you saying that you think Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin?