Unethical Quote of the Week, Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck Division: Dr. Boyce Watkins

“Sybrina’s words have opened the door for millions of people to understand when George Zimmerman is let off the hook with either an acquittal or a plea bargain for a lesser charge.”

Syracuse University Professor Boyce Watkins, in a blog post complaining that the comments of Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother stating that she thought the shooting of her son was “an accident” were devastating to the chances of convicting George Zimmerman of second degree murder.

Unmasked at last!

I must confess, I love this quote and the post that generated it. I love it because a race-baiting scholar who later defenders cannot credibly claim didn’t write what he meant, has confirmed what I have argued in multiple posts, in the course of also validating my assessment that Fulton’s comment was itself unethical, though not for the reasons Dr. Watkins objects to it.

In the rest of his post, Watkins confirms my assessment of Fulton’s irresponsible and despicable willingness to stir up hate toward Zimmerman. Later, after she retracted her “accident” comment, Trayvon’s mother did an about face and said, on MSNBC, a.k.a. lynch mob central, “George Zimmerman stalked my son and murdered him in cold blood.” I had missed that one: thanks, Dr. Watkins! Can I finally  hear no more from Fulton’s defenders about how exemplary the conduct of Trayvon’s parents have been? Can I get consensus now that these people are interested in vengeance, not justice?

As James Taranto pointed out (my thanks to him for flagging the post), what Fulton thinks about the incident shouldn’t effect the trial at all, since she has no knowledge of what really happened—just as her original claim that her son was murdered shouldn’t matter at all, nor her latest claim that Zimmerman stalked and killed him in cold blood. Her comments tell us a lot about Fulton, and the thinking of the activists, like Dr. Watkins, who want to manipulate the justice system and the tragedy for political gain. But if what the mother of the murdered victim says has any impact on whether or not Zimmerman is convicted, we are looking at a kangaroo court in George’s future.

Dr. Watkins’ quote above, however, is a masterpiece of candor in the exposition of evil. He doesn’t want African-Americans and other citizens to understand why Zimmerman was acquitted, if he is! He doesn’t want them to understand reasonable doubt, and how “knowing” someone committed a crime is not good enough, the prosecution has to prove it—and so far, this case can only be proven based on speculation, which isn’t proof at all. If Americans don’t understand that Zimmerman could still be guilty, but that a properly functioning justice system could legitimately and justly find him not guilty by reason of reasonable doubt, then they will attribute the verdict to racism and injustice, and protest, and demonstrate, and with luck, even riot, as Watkins dearly wants. That moment of honesty from the plaint Sabrina Fulton, Watkins thinks, jeopardizes that, and he thinks it will be bad for those, like him, whose influence and power is rooted in how much blacks distrust whites, and whose political strategy depends on citizens believing their government and justice system is corrupt. Ignorance is such a help when one wants to promote hopelessness and anger. The last thing one wants is understanding.

What a frightening, cynical, despicable and honest statement! Yet for anyone following the efforts of the demonstrators and the media in this case who was willing to see what was going on no matter how badly it reflected on their own ideological illusions, it should not have come as a surprise. But it was a surprise, wasn’t it? For that, though we owe Dr. Watkins our disdain and revulsion, we also owe him our thanks. The ugliness of the mob’s leadership was never very well disguised, but he ripped off the whole mask.

2 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Week, Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck Division: Dr. Boyce Watkins

  1. Jack, please try and reserve judgement. While we’re on opposite sides of this issue, I’ll be the first one to commit to backing your position if a fair trial is held, and facts come out that lead to an acquittal. I don’t believe that this will be the case. However, i do believe that it’s an exercise that we must engage in. I also suspect that more blacks than you think will be willing to take an objective look at this case, and try to understand the facts and the law. We’re all making assumptions based on what our gut feelings and varied levels of intelligence, instincts etc. tell us. Have faith that we can get through this by honestly seeking the facts regardless of who says what beforehand. And as it relates to Trayvon’s mother, she’s a mom first. A grieving mom at that. I don’t put much stock in her comments one way or another, but do feel like she felt pressure to walk balk her statement. Or, perhaps an untrained media speaker simply didn’t accurately convey her true meaning. Who knows. But I’m not sure she meant any ethical harm in words, but can see how it might end up doing just that.

    This blog is important because because it has a limited amount of nonsense, and a lot of sincere thought, regardless of if I agree or not. That’s what makes it worth reading, and commenting. I’m trying to do my part to keep it positive and to add a perspective that might not be represented in the same manner or with the same numbers as the majority of your audience. We have to simply wait and see, now more than ever…..

    • Thanks, UB.

      I’m reserving judgment on quite a lot, including Zimmerman’s legal guilt or innocence. I think there is no question that he is the one to blame for the tragedy, which is very different from saying that he must therefore be guilty of a crime. Too many commentators, including the parents, have not considered this distinction. I strongly suspect that Zimmerman knows that this the death was, ultimately, his fault.

      I understand the urge to give every last bit of sympathy and benefit of the doubt to Fulton or any grieving parent, but when a person steps into the sphere of public protests and declarations, even a mother forfeits these. She has done tangible harm, and she is accountable. Her flip-flops may be the result of naivete, inexperience, or failure of articulation, but public position-taking in the era of the internet and cable news isn’t a job for amateurs, and if you venture into the that sphere, as she has, and do damage because you are not qualified or prepared to be there, you are 100% responsible for the impact of your statements. Call it the Cindy Sheehan rule.

      Of course many African Americans and many non-black advocates for Trayvon will understand why Zimmerman got off, if he does. Many understood the Casey Anthony case, too. But I can’t withhold judgment on Dr. Watkins’ intentions, or his contempt for the public and belief that they need to be manipulated.

      One key point: I’d say new evidence has to emerge for there to be a conviction. If the evidence we’ve seen is all there is, there is no way guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can be established, which is why I find the charge suspicious. If Zimmerman is acquitted, he will have been in jail for a year for no provable crime, and perhaps the state thinks that will mollify the current hot-heads. I admit, at a visceral level I can appreciate the argument that some special justice is required in a case like this, and if Zimmerman gets a year in jail as his punishment for being irresponsible and ending a young life, I won’t be weeping for him. Nonetheless, that’s not our system, and it is unethical for a prosecutor to seek to make it work that way, if that’s what she is doing.

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