Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Wreckage So Far, and The Wreckers

The "George Zimmerman Is a Racist" segment in Clinton Mitchell's high school ethics class.

Gallup released a poll yesterday, showing:

  • African-Americans are nearly five times more likely to be convinced that gunman George Zimmerman is “definitely guilty” of a crime than non-blacks.
  • 75% of African-Americans believe that racial bias led to Martin’s shooting, whereas less than half of non-blacks do, though a majority of the public believe that race was a factor in the tragedy.
  • 73% of blacks, about twice the percentage of the rest of the population,  believe that Zimmerman would have been arrested if the person he shot was white.

What we now have, clearly, is  significant, dangerous, and festering racial distrust, not created solely by the Trayvon Martin incident but exacerbated by it. This can only harm race relations, law enforcement, and the nation generally, and yet it is beyond argument that this divide has been encouraged and nurtured. Obviously the potential already existed, and one would think that responsible figures in public life, the civil rights establishment, elected office and the media would take the responsible course and attempt to minimize the shooting’s potential for increasing racial divisiveness in America.

They did not. Once again, they ripped the scab right off racial healing, and did so recklessly, cruelly, ineptly, and in some cases, maliciously. They are still doing it, or passively allowing it to be done by others. This is wrong, and shockingly so. Rational and fair analysts and observers all along the ideological spectrum should be saying so, but they are not. Fairness and honesty should not partisan issues. Playing the politics of hate and divisiveness is a threat to the fabric of the United States of America and in this case, risks unraveling decades of progress in race relations and understanding. There can be no excuse for it, and yet the primary culprits reside among the most influential and prominent institutions in the country. Journalists. Congress. Civil rights organizations. Pundits. Educators. And the President of the United States.

It needs to be said up front that as a result of what seems to be concerted efforts by all of these, the majority of African-Americans hold fervent beliefs that are simply not justified by the facts as we know them, and are the product of bias, rumor, presumptions, and yes, bigotry. The initial narrative, created by Martin’s family and their supporters, was that 1) Zimmerman shot their son based on racial profiling and racism, and 2) that law enforcement officials did not arrest Zimmerman because the victim was black. No facts in the incident support those assumptions, other than the bare facts that Zimmerman is a non-black man and Martin was African-American, and that Martin is dead, shot by Zimmerman. The parents, and they cannot be blamed for this, believed that their son couldn’t possibly have done anything that would result in his death by gunshot, and thus his death had to be murder. The supposition that it was a murder based on racial hatred is the product of their own distrst and bias, however, and they were encouraged by others who for various reasons are empowered by racial discord.

I am not asserting that George Zimmerman wasn’t profiling Martin, only that there is no fair reason to assume, insist or beliefe that he was, unless one assumes that all non-black men profile young black men. That assumption is based on bigotry, not reason. I don’t know what was going through George Zimmerman’s head, but what we do know is that…

  • Nothing in Zimmerman’s background suggests anti-black racism. He tutored African-American children, and odd activity for a racist.
  • In his 911 call, Zimmerman expressed alarm based on how he saw Martin acting, not based on his race or clothing.  He may have been motivated by race or attire, but the call doesn’t show that, although it was manipulated by many to indicate otherwise.
  • Nothing but speculation indicates that Zimmerman shot Martin “in cold blood,” and nothing in his background or known character indicates that he could or would do such a thing.
  • The exact sequence of events leading to Martin’s death and the conduct of both men is not certain.
  • No witnesses have been cross-examined or tested with the kind of scrutiny and rigor necessary to establish their credibility. Neither, for that matter, has Zimmerman.
  • The fact that charges have not been brought can and should be attributed to the current lack of sufficient evidence to sustain a successful prosecution, and nothing else. Assuming that the decision is race-based is, again, pure speculation.
  • The investigation is ongoing.

Taking all that into consideration, there is no rational reason for anyone to be, in Gallup’s terms, convinced that Zimmerman is “definitely” or “probably” guilty of a crime, or that Zimmerman “would have been arrested” were it not for the races of the two parties involved. People have a right to irrational and unsupported opinions, but relying on unsupported opinions to threaten the lives of others, make wild accusations and mislead the public and public discourse, is irresponsible and ultimately despicable.

Yet the effort to convince African-Americans (and the rest of the public, most of which who are not as predisposed to assume racism without substantive evidence) continues:

  • Jessie Jackson, who seeds racial tensions because he makes his living from them, told a radio audience that African-Americans should wear hoodies to vote in November. There is no evidence whatsoever that Martin’s hoodie played any role in his death; by emphasizing the hoodie, activists like Jackson are spreading a rumor at best, a lie at worst. This is done to perpetuate the idea that Martin was profiled. Here is the segment of the 911 call where Zimmerman mentions the hoodie:

911 dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

Zimmerman: Yeah, a dark hoodie like a gray hoodie. He wore jeans or sweat pants and white tennis shoes. He’s here now … he’s just staring.

Zimmerman gives no special significance to the hoodie; he also mentions that he is wearing pants. What evidence is there that Zimmerman placed special significance on the hoodie? None. Yet Rep. Bobbie Rush appeared in the House in a hoodie, to protest racial profiling. The Miami Heat appeared on the basketball court wearing hoodies “in support of Trayvon.” Since NBA players do not habitually dress up in whatever the last slain youth happened to be wearing, what did the hoodie signify? That Martin had been profiled; that Zimmerman was racially profiling the youth, and killed him as a consequence. How does Zimmerman become guilty of racial profiling based on what Martin was wearing, and that alone? He becomes guilty because a lot of people want him to be guilty, and are sending out dishonest messages to make certain that is how he is seen.

  • The Congressional Black Caucus submitted a resolution to Congress that said in part: “Let Trayvon’s death not be for naught. Let us honor his life by righting this wrong, and seeing that justice is served for Trayvon and his family. George Zimmerman must be prosecuted for his admitted shooting of Trayvon Martin and the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law must be repealed.” This is unethical from start to finish. Congress has no business telling states what laws they should pass, or lobbying for changes in state laws. It is unlikely that the Florida’s Stand Your Ground law applies to what occurred between Zimmerman and Martin, so the CBC’s resolution perpetuates misinformation. For members of Congress to offer a resolution that states that a private citizen be prosecuted for anything is meddling in the justice system; here it is meddling in a local justice system, which is worse, and essentially declaring that citizen who hasn’t been charged  is guilty of a crime before he has had a fair trial. No wonder African-Americans believe George Zimmerman “definitely” committed a crime—African-American members or Congress are telling them so. This is beyond outrageous; I would have to search a thesaurus to find a word sufficiently negative to characterize it. The “crime” being suggested is some variety of murder; the CBC knows that the New Black Panthers, among others, have placed a bounty on Zimmerman’s head, the CBC members have no special knowledge of the facts in the case, and yet they are proposing an official statement in the United States Congress that pre-judges the case! Given the historical craziness in those hallowed halls, there must have been something in the institution’s shadowy past this irresponsible, but I can’t think of it.
  • Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who represents Martin’s district, said Congress should pass the resolution because his death “speaks to the reality that racial profiling still exists in America.” There is no evidence of racial profiling in this case! There are only assumptions and suppositions, based only on the skin color of Zimmerman and Martin. Presuming that all whites profile all blacks is bigotry itself.
  • In Miami, an African-American attorney/teacher is using his ethics class to make sure his students see the Zimmerman-Martin case as an example of racism. From the Miami Herald: “…When their teacher, Clinton Mitchell, shows a photo of Trayvon in a hoodie and asks ‘Suspicious or not?,’ the debate exposes raw  emotion. ‘For me personally, it’s not ethical to judge somebody on just what they wear,” said Daniel Tippenhauer, 17. ‘It’s crazy how he was judged just on his skin tone and a hoodie. It shouldn’t be that way.’ And who says it was “that way,” Mr. Mitchell? You? Zimmerman doesn’t say that the hoodie was why he was suspicious of Martin. The 911 call doesn’t indicate that. Geraldo Rivera speculated that this was true, and Geraldo is about as reliable as the air schedule at the Newark airport. You are teaching your students that Trayvon was “judged just on his skin tone and a hoodie” in the complete absence of facts supporting that contention. That is unethical, bad teaching, rotten conduct for a lawyer during a pending criminal matter, and irresponsible citizenship. I don’t want the blog to be all Trayvon, all the time, so I resisted the urge to devote a separate post to Mitchell’s unethical ethics class, but for the record: Clinton Mitchell is an Ethics Dunce, and a particularly vile one, in my view,

Then, of course, we have the news media, which misrepresented the case from the beginning, and continues to attempt to try it themselves before it ever gets to trial. Any prosecutor who botched a trial this badly would be fired and disbarred:

  • NBC cut the middle out of the 911 call to make it sound like Zimmerman was a racist, and the altered recording and its transcript was widely cited as proof of profiling. . Yesterday, the network fired an unnamed veteran producer for the “mistake.” It has yet to offer a credible explanation for how the “mistake—which conveniently supported the narrative being pushed by, among others, MSNBC’s pundit Al Sharpton.
  • CNN first announced that forensic experts had determined that Zimmerman had called Trayvon a “fucking coon” on the 911 tape. Now the network says it may have been wrong, and that he probably said “cold”  or maybe “punks.” But as always, the initial mistake had had far more impact than the correction.
  • ABC repeatedly broadcast an overhead video of Zimmerman at the police station, and said the video “called into question” his account of having his head hit violently against the street by Martin, since no wounds were visible. Much later, another photo showed wounds.

Undaunted, CNN was at it again this morning. It showed, every hour, an unidentified, voice-disguised witness who disputed Zimmerman’s story, saying she thought it was Martin, not Zimmerman, who screamed for help, and that they fought on the grass, not the asphalt. Presenting such dubious testimony as evidence of anything is terrible journalism, and in this case is intentionally misleading, again in the service of promoting racial distrust. Who was this woman? Does she have any relationship to Martin, his family, Zimmerman, or his family? How far was she from the incident? Has she heard either Zimmerman or Martin scream before? Was she wearing a “Justice for Trayvon” hoodie? There is no probative value to this interview, yet it was declared “stunning” by CNN. Stunningly irresponsible, I would say.

It must also be said that President Obama, the man who promised to unite the country, also did his part to encourage racial distrust with his ill-considered comments about how the victim looked like him, or the son he never had. That the President of the United States would even discuss the matter presupposed that the incident had a racial element other than the raw fact that the two individuals involved were of different races. Again, that was and is unsupported by the facts as we currently know them. Obama did his part to make this incident into an ethics train wreck that is ripping through racial trust. Like the media, the CBC, the media, Rep. Rush, Rep. Waters, the Miami Heat, the New Black Panthers, Spike Lee and many more, he is accountable for those Gallup numbers, and if an angry Trayvon mourner takes shot at George Zimmerman in an act of vigilante justice (perhaps because he wasn’t up to date on the media retractions of fake evidence showing Zimmerman to be a virulent racist), he, like the rest, is accountable for that, too.

Again, to be clear, George Zimmerman’s conduct began the chain of events that led to an innocent young man’s death.  The question  that has yet to be resolved is whether the collision of bad judgment and bad luck initiated by him added up to a crime under Florida law. For it is not illegal to..

  • Be excessively suspicious
  • Be unnecessarily afraid
  • To follow someone you think is suspicious (though there is now a question whether Zimmerman followed Martin very far before stopping)
  • To call 911 prematurely
  • To do any of this regarding some one who happens to be a different race
  • To do any of this regarding someone who happens to be wearing a hoodie, or, for that matter, a kilt
  • To do any of this while carrying a legally licensed gun
  • To defend yourself if attacked.

There are things that Zimmerman might have done that would make him guilty of a crime, but the simple fact that he shot Martin does not, by itself prove any of them. Yet a vast majority of African-Americans believe it does, and this is not because of any mass cognitive deficit, but because they have been incompetently, irresponsibly, recklessly, and unethically led to do so…and are still being so.

In an editorial about Marion Barry’s latest disgrace, a racist rant against Asians in D.C., the Washington Post ended with this sentiment:

“In our view, stirring up racial hatred should never get a pass.”

I desperately agree. But so many in so many high places are accountable for stirring up racial hatred in the Trayvon Martin shooting that it appears now that a pass for them is likely, especially since one of their member is the President of the United States.

And the ethics train wreck rumbles on.


Note: Bruce Clark has an excellent overview related to this post here.

41 thoughts on “Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Wreckage So Far, and The Wreckers

  1. I may take a shot (pardon the expression) at a piece on Clinton Mitchell… need to sort out my thoughts first.

    And “Geraldo is about as reliable as the air schedule at the Newark airport” is one of your best lines… says the guy who’s shepherding a gaggle of students through there in a couple of months.

  2. I just wanted to add that I thought it was a very bad decision for Zimmerman’s father to go public with what one would assume is his son’s account of what happened that night. I find it very unlikely that those who believe Zimmerman killed this young man in cold blood were swayed in the least by what Zimmerman’s father said. In fact, I will go further and say that it only added fuel to the
    fire. Also, if this goes to trial, there is great potential that Zimmerman’s father did much more harm than good by going public with
    the statements of what happened that night.

    • That’s because Zimmerman’s father isn’t a professional race baiter, Sue. Just a good father who tried to stand up for his son against the blaring diatribes. As more and more has come out- and as the case against George Zimmerman has correspondingly diminished- the shriller have become his pursuers. That’s because the Left has grabbed this case like drowning man to a life preserver and has committed itself to the cry of Guilty Racist White Guys With Guns with the election looming. This way, they can shore up their Black Community and anti-gun voting base. Politics, not justice.

      But they’re taking a serious risk by this nearly unprecedented lynch campaign. While they may well inflame these divisions up to election time, they may also rally the other side… particularly if it becomes established that Zimmerman was justified in his actions. But they see this risk as acceptable, given all they’ve staked in the current administration and the very real possibility of its downfall in November. Ethics plays no part of their central purpose; the acquisition and maintenance of power. To that end, both Martin and Zimmerman are needed casualties.

      • That’s because the Left has grabbed this case like drowning man to a life preserver and has committed itself to the cry of Guilty Racist White Guys With Guns with the election looming. This way, they can shore up their Black Community and anti-gun voting base. Politics, not justice.

        There is no doubt that, had Trayvon Martin been shot under the exact same circumstances by a government cop, the media would be nearly silent about it.

        • Perhaps, Michael. But I’m hearing some rumblings coming out of the more radical elements that police will be targeted in their scheduled demonstrations across the country. The Sanford PD came under intense criticism for not knuckling under to Jackson/Sharpton/Shabazz in arresting Zimmerman. Right now, it appears to be a game of political pressure as far as police departments are concerned. But the dam could break. What happens when the next gang of “hoodies” attacks a white or Latin guy and the police are there to intervene? I remember the riots of the 1960’s and how they came about. I’m seeing parallels here. I’m also aware that some of the agitators were “veterans” of those days.

          • Gregory, can you elaborate? Which part do you disagree with? The BART shooting was very different: the victim was subdued, he posed no immediate threat, the shooting had many witnesses and it was on videotape.I don’t see a legitimate parallel, so I don’t understand the point of the link. I did find the verdict puzzling in that case. I assume the jurors decided that it had to be an accident, because shooting the victim intentionally with so many people around made even less sense than the “I thought it was a taser” explanation.

            • …by a government cop, the media would be nearly silent about it.

              The Oscar Grant is the last case that I can remember that received equivalent attention by the media. In his death the shooter was a “government cop.”

              I think this is less an issue of election year cycles and something bizarrely attractive about the case that raises such intense emotional response from both sides. Politicians and the like may use it to promote their personal agendas but the tragic loss of life will always garner attention.

  3. I am sick of the race part of this and how far that escalated. My view of this is still the question of George getting out of his pickup and using excessive force. He called 911. The police were on their way. The dispatcher should have told George to stay in his vehicle and just observe. The physical confrontation should be the objective to the investigation. Was a weapon necessary? I don’t believe George shot him because he was Trayvon was black. He may have pursued him because he looked black,but he didn’t kill him because he was black. He killed him because George had a brain fart.

    • Th 911 tape suggests that GZ didn’t follow for long, but stopped.

      That’s exactly right—the issue is excessive force or self-defense. The race issue is all speculation, hate and slander at this point, but its been carried far enough to ruin George Zimmerman’s life.

      • I must say Jack, I’m disappointed in those that want to gloss over the racial aspect to this case. Or look for any reason other than race to hang on to. Or call people race baiters and agitators. By doing so, you’re asking black people, human beings, to put aside this countries racial, and in most every instance (and I’ll stand by this statement) a personal experience on the wrong end of a gun, most usually in the hands of a police man.

        It’s still within our lifetime that it was quasi legal to kill a black man for any reason or no reason at all. Investigations were slow, and shoddy if done at all. Do you actually dispute these facts? I don’t believe you will, for you most certainly are an educated man. I’m going to assume, perhaps wrongly, that you’re better at parsing the legal issues, and have less issue than I, as it relates to the failure to arrest, failure to properly investigate, and failure to communicate. Sure, i know you can eloquently argue about the speed of the justice system, the nuance of the stand your ground law, and the many reasons why we should simply let justice run its course.

        Now try explaining to me why blacks don’t have a right to be angry about this? We see time and again a life lost, and little if anything done. We also see the flip side, and are not treated the same by the police. I really wonder how many blacks have claimed self defense or tried to invoke the stand your ground law?

        Intellectually speaking, I can understand the reasoning behind not rushing to judgement, and how unfair this whole thing will be to Zimmerman if he turns out to be innocent. (Which I seriously doubt) And while two wrongs don’t ever make a right, I’m over caring about how unfair poor Zimmerman could be. I’m tired of seeing those that look like me killed for whatever ultimate reason, and little being done. Remember Rodney King and the LA Riots. It wasn’t the videotaped beating that caused the riots. it was a weak attempt to try and tell us that our eyes had failed us. While you see the Sharptons of the world leading us on a bath towards unrest, I see justice delayed, denied or forgotten a way more likely cause.

        And lastly, black folks can think for ourselves. What makes you think that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton carry more sway that personal anecdotal evidence? Think again….

        PS- Turn on your “snark meter”!!!

        • Snark Meter: ON

          “Which I seriously doubt.” On what basis can you seriously doubt this, in the absence of evidence? We recently learned that Zimmerman filed a complaint against white police for abusing a homeless African-American. How does that fit the narrative?

          George Zimmerman is not responsible for past racial history in America, and it should have no bearing on how his case is assessed, which should be exactly as any citizen’s case is assessed. Including yours and mine.

          How can that statement even be controversial?

          • Right or wrong, I’m being sincerely honest when I say i see little chance that Zimmerman simply killed the kid in self defense. And even if there was a fight, I just don’t believe that 17 year old kids attack adults. I also don’t see Trayvon as exceptional one way or anther. Leaving race out of this, my belief and that’s all it is, is that Zimmerman had alternatives short of killing the kid, and should be held to account for taking a life.

            Now back to race: Zimmerman has no responsibility in trying to right the past wrongs in racial America. He’s simply the latest poor bastard caught up in the system. It may not be right, but it’s real. And the”race baiters had nothing to do with it. When he chose to exercise his right to bear arms, he planted both feet squarely on a path that he never saw coming….

            • I don’t see any theory I’ve heard so far as plausible. I don’t see a guy like Martin shooting without what he believed was provocation. I don’t see Martin attacking unless he perceived a credible threat.

              I wouldn’t carry a gun for exactly the reasons you suggest, but that is a risk and judgment matter, not a criminal one. For us to demand an arrest, we have to know there was a crime…not just a tragedy, or a bad result. When “It may not be right, but it’s real” is the issue, and I agree with you that it is here, my side is predetermined. Real doesn’t trump right. I think Casey Anthony is the scum of the earth, but she couldn’t be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and if we are going to remain civilized, she has to be free, and the verdict has to be respected.

  4. unfortunately for GZ he played right into the Left’s hand so to speak, with all the years listening to Rev. Wright in Chicago Obama only needed this to bring his and his fellow zealots some credence from their view to how “everyone puts them down, and they are still subject to more looks than the average white man”

    That was one of the comments on a talk show about how the black community feels about all of this.

  5. I also think it’s inappropriate to focus unduly on race in this matter. I think it does surprise many Americans that this man was not charged and for many it is understandable that they would ask if race had anything to do with it. My number-one objection to many of the posts on this site is that it presumes that blacks and whites enjoy similar status in this society and that it’s “bigotry” for blacks to distrust whites and that it is no different than white distrust of blacks. It erases an entire history and the enduring inequality that is everywhere. You don’t need to blame Sharpton or Jackson or the Congressional Black Caucus for influencing how blacks see this case. I think many blacks would be insulted by the suggestion that these parties hold that much sway over them. If there had not been one shred of media attention or one protest, blacks would look at this situation differently, and it’s ignorant to call that take “racist.” I think it’s risible for class that’s enjoyed all the privileges of our society to turn around and call a group that has historically endured oppression “racist” for fearing racial implications in circumstances where a black person suffers some harm at the hand of a white person. Of course, we must evaluate all the facts before claiming “knowledge” that race played a factor (and statements by Sharpton, Jackson, and Rep. Wilson are ridiculous, overblown, and irresponsible), but it’s understandable for blacks to be more suspicious (and I think, more sensible and realistic) in these situations than whites.

    • Well… my whole comment got erased again!!

      Condensed version: Walrus; the race baiters have your mind right where they want it. “Privileged”? Look under a highway bridge sometime and see who’s privileged. Then look at the crime stats- particularly those where a black person was the victim- and note the race of the perpetrator. “White bigotry” didn’t do this. And until black Americans face up to the fact that their problems are largely of themselves, those problems will continue. Blaming a whole race of people is easier than admitting that, but it won’t save you when some Trayvon clone blows you away for your pocket change.

    • Of course it’s “understandable.” It’s also “understandable” that someone raised to be a virulent racist in a white supremacy household is virulently racist—should he get a pass from society? It’s completely “understandable” that Jews and Palestinians hate each other—does that make the endless violence acceptable?

      With America’s race history, I can understand why any black bigot decides he can’t trust me, and treats me as an enemy: it still isn’t fair to me, just to me, or reasonable for me to have to smile and like it. There will be no progress on race as long as some groups insist on a permanent double standard that relies on the other group’s guilt. “You can’t hate me, and I’ll hate you for hating me, and I’ll also hate you because your grandfather MAY have hated me, but even though I hate you, you’re not allowed to hate me for hating you, because while I have a right to hate you for anything you have done, for you to hate me for any reason, including hating me for hating you without reason, is racism, whatever the reason. Your hate, for any reason, is racism; mine is never racism. Got that?”

      Yeah, I got it, and I hate it. This country only works if we hold everyone to the same, color-blind, gender-blind, class-blind standards. Special status undermines unity and democracy, and rots the ethics of the group holding the privilege. There are always reasons why groups think double standards are justified, but eventually the prime reason is that it gives them power and allows them to take advantage of it. That’s why Jackson et al are invested in seeing the Martin affair as proof of racism—it justifies holding on to a double standard. But that double standard gurantees racial tensions will continue.

      • Yeah, got it. But that’s a sleight of hand. I am not talking about blacks hating whites. I’m talking about blacks’ *fear* and *distrust* of whites –fear that whites won’t see them as fully human. I’m talking about a black man who fears that his white girlfriend’s parents will disapprove of him, or that he will be snubbed at a social club, or that if he stays on the sidewalk as a white person approaches that person may cross the street. The fact that he fears these situations doesn’t make him a bigot or hate-filled (toward his girlfriend’s parents, or the member of a social club, or a passerby). Wanting to truly enjoy the same life that whites can enjoy, without race entering in, is what I am talking about. I think it’s a mistake to make these matters about the extreme. I don’t think most Americns think the city of Sanford or the State or the criminal justice system consists of white supremacists; the concern is that race may unconsciously or presumptively enter in. That blacks get treated differently because people see them differently and presume things (not because they hate them). So, you can be upset that blacks may distrust you, but I wouldn’t respond by saying he needs to purge his heart and soul of hate; he perhaps needs to have a little more faith. Slowly, he may.

        • I used hate, but distrust and fear would fit too. Fearing and distrusting those you don’t know based on race is bigotry. If it makes it seem more acceptable to call it “understandable” bigotry, OK. I’m pretty sure all bigots can rationalize their feelings, though.

        • This reasoning would apply equally to the attitudes of the Chinese minority in Malaysia (and to the treatment of the Chinese minority by the Malay majority).

  6. Unfortunately, Jack, the real story will never be honestly investigated. Too many authorities-BLACK AND WHITE, have screwed it up. George won’t get the true justice he deserves. He has already been tried and is damned. For that I am ashamed of the system. The “stand your ground” law should be on trial here, not whether George is racist (and I don’t think he is). But if cooler heads prevailed and not prejudice, I think George could have been fairly tried. But I fear his life is over.

      • The 2nd Amendment is always going to be on trial in the U.S. All the other amendments have been and will be. That is our democracy. I have guns and believe people have the choice to own them. I also believe people have the right to speak against guns. That is our democracy. What I don’t believe is that we should prevent people from expressing their views about their beliefs by demonizing them. I believe there are people who have forfeited their rights for various unlawful acts. The Stand Your Ground has nothing to do with going outside your property and using deadly force because you think a law has been violated. Why have law enforcement if we allow citizens to administer justice as they see fit? I believe in protecting yourself and property. But going out because you have a permit to carry doesn’t allow you to administer justice. It looks as though George didn’t have faith in the system. That…. because he had that permit he had the authority to administer justice. You have that permit to protect yourself, if you think you are in danger of losing your life. I don’t think George felt his life was in question. Like I wrote….he had a brainfart and it cost him his freedom. I think that is sad. I believe in the 2nd Amendment but because of that freedom there are going to be consequences. Not because lawful citizens own guns but because people make wrong choices.

  7. Michael,

    I don’t understand your position that Zimmerman was “administering justice.” That would seem to require rejection of most of the available details.

    The component of the “Stand Your Ground (SYG)” model that the Sanford PD chief mentioned is the requirement for the authorities to have compelling evidence that contradicts the self-defense claim before charges could be filed.

    Without SYG, a person in the position of armed self-defense is forced to make a “judged by twelve, carried by six” decision, knowing that “judged by twelve” may result in a guilty verdict or being bankrupted by the process. This is the essence of “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t.”

    • I don’t believe George was “administrating justice.” But I believe people can and will use the SYG law off of their property and claim self-defense. Is there a set distance between the shooter and the supposed perp? For instance: If some one shoots an unarmed person from more than 10 yards. Is the perp in range to hurt someone or property? If they are not in range of a commited crime or commiting a crime, is the SYG law still ineffect? Before too long, gangs and other people will use the law and claim self defense off their property. From what I understand, George followed Trayvon for at least some time while in his truck. The locked truck, in my view, provides some cover if one is in a position to be assaulted. George alarmed the police through the use of his cell phone and was still in contact with dispatch when he approached Trayvon. Did George identify himself to Trayvon at all?-Don’t know.- Last, but not least, was Trayvon commiting a crime that the use of force was necessary?-Unknown, but in my opinion …no.- Could George have stayed in his truck with the doors locked and informed the police of any crime.- Yes.

      I ‘m not entirely sure, but I think the SYG law was enacted to defend yourself and your own property in an immediate threat. NOT to go around without proper authority and shooting anyone who looks suspicious. George messed up or he was poorly trained. And because the way society is acting, George was found guilty and sentenced with out the facts and a fair trial.

      • I ‘m not entirely sure, but I think the SYG law was enacted to defend yourself and your own property in an immediate threat. NOT to go around without proper authority and shooting anyone who looks suspicious.

        Assuming all available details are viewed objectively (and taken as true) this is not a case of someone arbitrarily shooting someone who looks suspicious. There is little debate that Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman were engaged in a physical altercation, only how it started.

  8. Michael, you have way too many contingencies in your hypothetical. First, it is a fairly well established rule in US law that one does not use deadly force to protect “merely property”. The concept is that no amount of property, whatever value, is the equivalent of a human life. [Most experienced cops can probably give you names of people who belie this concept, but that is another story.] In the1970s, maybe even before that, courts began telling citizens that their right to defend themselves carried the responsibility to avoid having to do so. It got to the point that one was expected to retreat, within their own home when it was invaded, on the basis that maybe the intruder was only seeking property, not intending harm. This was not well received by citizens, by and large, and laws came into existence that established one’s right to defend themselves without having to retreat; one was allowed to stand their ground. “Your ground” is where you happen to be when attacked; it can be in your home or it can be outside. FYI, 10 feet is not a comfortable distance in a confrontation that has potential to go physical.

    In the current case (Zimmerman-Martin) the only solid fact as to what happened is that Mr Martin is dead; it is most likely from a gun shot wound. As far as I know, the report of the autopsy has not been released and neither has an actual statement from any of the witnesses to the events surrounding that death. Without hard facts, we are left with conjecture… and a whole lot of political hot air. We have already seen where things we were told early on turned out to have been something else, like the edited 911 transcript or an “expert’s” interpretation of garbled words in the phone call.

    Bottom line: a person is allowed to defend themselves and that defense can be deadly force if the person reasonably believes their life is in danger. “Reasonably believe” is the crucial term here. If it truly exists the homicide is justifiable, otherwise it’s a crime.

    • Mike, My point is that George called 911, but he left his truck. The truck provides protection if the doors are locked. Next question- was there any conversation between George and Trayvon? Did George identify himself and did he ask Trayvon what he was doing? Where did the physical altercation take place? Was it on someone’s property or was it in the street? Did Trayvon blindside George? All that was found on Trayvon’s person was a bag of Skittles and a bottle of tea. Besides Trayvon’s size, did Trayvon have the capability of doing physical harm from where he was standing? That is unknown. You’re right, we don’t know anymore than Trayvon was killed by a gunshot. Does SYG mean that you can be off your property, kill in cold blood and claim self defense without evidence? Is this a case of SYG? I don’t like the “race” angle. I don’t like the media being this involved. I stand by my opinion that George was poorly trained as a neighborhood watch volunteer and he is as much a casualty as Trayvon is.

  9. Michael Boyd said:
    Does SYG mean that you can be off your property, kill in cold blood and claim self defense without evidence?

    Of course not. At this point in time, I cannot imagine an informed, objective individual entertaining this as a possibility any longer.

    It is my opinion that the characterization of Mr. Zimmerman’s actions as pursuit, rather than to observe, follow, or in the most extreme, surveil, is not supported by the details available. That characterization makes all of the difference.

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