Unethical Quote Of The Month (Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Division): President Barack Obama

 “I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?”

—-President Barack Obama, in hisunscripted remarks yesterday regarding public reaction to the George Zimmerman acquittal.

"That was fun! Let's do it again!"

“That was fun! Let’s do it again!”

The chorus of Hosannas following President Obama’s latest foray into inappropriate Presidential interference with local law enforcement—a virtual trademark of his leadership—were as predictable as it was wrong. As for the President’s remarks, they were more than wrong: they were reckless, foolish, irresponsible and dangerous.

That race relations is an appropriate topic for a Presidential address is not in question, nor is it to be denied that many of the comments and observations in President Obama’s remarks yesterday were valid, nuanced, perceptive and worth making—at another time, in connection with another case, and certainly not in connection with this case, at this time. That this is true should be obvious, and it should have been especially obvious to President Obama. That he went ahead and made those statements anyway suggests either a stubborn arrogance or sinister motives. Third alternative is stupidity, and the President is not stupid.

The excuse that will be given for the above statement will be that Obama was just raising a hypothetical, not making a pointed comparison with George Zimmerman’s defense. That excuse will be disingenuous or naive. The “narrative” in the black community and among Zimmerman-targeting activists is that Zimmerman was a racist feeling inherently “threatened” by Martin only because Martin was black, and that his shooting Martin was approved by Florida law on that basis. The protests over Zimmerman’s acquittal also continue, in abject ignorance of the facts, to hold that Zimmerman was exonerated under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Both are untrue and unequivocally untrue, yet the President of the United States chose to give them legitimacy and his royal approval.

A fair trial including the airing of evidence and testimony by the State and Zimmerman’s defense determined that Zimmerman felt threatened, not because Trayvon Martin was a black youth, but because Trayvon Matin had gained the advantage in a physical altercation initiated by Martin that had resulted in Zimmerman’s head being bashed repeatedly against the concrete. By dishonestly and misleadingly framing the case the way he did yesterday , President Obama…

  • Used his high office and status to supported the unsupportable and false narrative that Martin was targeted because he was black. There is no evidence that he was, yet the protesters are acting on the assumption that this is fact.
  • Pronounce George Zimmerman a racist and guilty of murder, as he would have been found if the facts were as Obama falsely represented them here.
  • Impugned the integrity of the jury, and suggested that it had racist motives, by suggesting that it would not have decided the case the same way on the same evidence had the races been reversed.
  • Gave support to the 100 city “Justice for Trayvon” demonstrations planned by Al Sharpton, which are based on Sharpton’s assertion that Martin was hunted and murdered because of his race. The administration has courted Sharpton before in this matter, and Sharpton is a lying, race-baiting, dishonest and  divisive huckster who debases the Presidency by any association with it.
  • Contributed to the widespread confusion and ignorance of the public regarding the facts of the case.
  • Once again interfered in a local law enforcement matter, implicitly accusing local authorities of racial bias

That isn’t all. As he did when the case broke into the national news, the President claimed personal identification with Martin, and thus Martin’s actions. Is Obama saying that he would have initiated a fight with Zimmerman, as the jury found that Martin probably did? That would be illegal. A listener so inclined could easily take the President’s stated solidarity with the victim as an endorsement of the victim’s conduct, which included pre-emptive assault and battery. Thus the President’s reckless and indulgent remarks risk getting someone else killed. He also conceivably undermined the potential prosecution by his own Justice Department, should it choose to follow the NAACP’s dictates and bring a federal civil rights case against George Zimmerman. Obama’s previous, similarly ill-advised comments about the military’s sexual harassment scandal are doing just that in the prosecution of those cases, and the same thing could happen with a Zimmerman prosecution.

President Obama doesn’t learn, and apparently doesn’t care.

Out of the many examples through his years in the White House of the President delivering his pronouncement on matters a President should never involve himself with, this is easily the worst. He is risking violence, promoting racial unrest, attempting to use his power to unduly influence the justice system, impugning the integrity of the honest citizens on the jury, and adding his power and position to the persecution of George Zimmerman, because the race-grievance industry foolishly chose to make him the face of racism and when the facts didn’t support the “narrative,” lacked the courage of Emily Littella to say “never mind.”

The President already had an executive class seat on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, and voluntarily bought another ticket.

______________________
Facts: Washington Post

Source: Washington Post, New York Times

71 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month (Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Division): President Barack Obama

  1. The link you provided for it doesn’t seem to link to anything sourcing that quote (it links to a Washington Post list of e-books). That said, transcripts at http://www.scribd.com/doc/154792826/President-Obama-on-Trayvon-Martin-and-Race-as-transcribed-by-the-White-House and http://www.ebony.com/news-views/obama-tackles-trayvon-racial-profiling-full-transcript-405#axzz2ZW9EioNm do include that quote. I don’t think, however, given the context, that he was representing the facts of the case as *anything* — I think, from context, that he was saying, “No, the Stand Your Ground law wasn’t used here — wasn’t relevant — but if things had been different, it very well could have. Shouldn’t we take a look at the law and its unfortunate implications? Shouldn’t we consider whether it’s right to let people get off for shooting someone just because they *feel* threatened?”

    For what it’s worth, I think Florida’s gun statutes are absurd in many ways (and I _live there_!), so I may be being a bit overly charitable on that point…

    • 1. Fixed the link. I have no idea how that happened.
      2. When a hoard f protesters and commentators keep representing the facts as Obama misstated them, one cannot argue that he didn’t mean bolster to that view of the case.

      • The full quote, or paragraph, anyway, is:

        “And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed,could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr.Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”

        The important part here is the “if”. People _aren’t_ misrepresenting Trayvon as armed. They _aren’t_ representing him as of age. They _aren’t_ representing him as having shot Zimmerman… etc., etc.

        So yeah, I think my interpretation is justified.

        • Come on, Alexander—Bob—Charles. The hypothetical is deceitful. It purports to be—or will be taken as—a “what if the colors were reversed?” example, but it doesn’t retain the same facts, and so is intentionally misleading. Would Trayvon have been found not guilty if Zimmerman were pummeling him and beating his head against the concrete until Martin fired the fatal shot? I suspect so. But that wouldn’t have bolstered the myth that this was racial profiling, and that Trayvon was the victim of racist justice.
          The President is perpetrating a false narrative—that Zimmerman shot Martin, not in self-defense, but because he felt “threatened.” The trial found otherwise, and it is wrong, dishonest, unfair and irresponsible for the President to intentionally imply otherwise, which is exactly what his hypothetical does, and worse, was intended to do.

          • Jack, with (much) respect, I think you’re continually missing the point. The verdict is not in question. The situation in which the case arose is what’s in question, and rightly so, because the equal reversal of facts is absurdly unlikely. How often do you think you’d find the races reversed in this case? Does it even make sense to say we “profile” a majority culture person? (Yes yes I know Zimmerman is Hispanic).

            Maybe an analogy is useful. I was with my ex-mother-in-law in rural Maine last summer. Coming out of the post office, she was hailed by someone asking her to sign a petition for voter ID “in order to prevent voter fraud.”

            I’ll bet you even money the state of Maine never even had a single case of “voter fraud.” You know full well that the full court press on “voter fraud” was a blatant political ploy aimed at particular groups of people in particular geographies, largely black and poor and Southern.

            To argue that voter ID makes sense, and yet to completely ignore the differential impact of such a law, was (as I recall, correct me if I’m wrong) ruled illegal, or otherwise out of bounds.

            The point we’re all making is that the combination of SYG, ease of gun use, profiling of minorities (how can you profile majorities?), and the history of racism in this country adds up to disproportionate impact on black people.

            No argument about legality of any of that – the question is about the disproportionate impact of all that stuff being legal.

            • The situation in which the case arose is what’s in question, and rightly so, because the equal reversal of facts is absurdly unlikely.

              You are an ignorant cunt.

              Because a case with a black shooter, a white victim, and a claim of self defense on the part of the black man had the exact same outcome as this case.The point we’re all making is that the combination of SYG, ease of gun use, profiling of minorities (how can you profile majorities?), and the history of racism in this country adds up to disproportionate impact on black people. No, the only point you are making is that you are thundering morons who’s brains are working on a mere 3 braincells, and they don’t get along.

              I will say it again, your raging fucktard – Stand. Your. Ground. Had. Nothing. To. Do. With. The. Zimmerman. Case.

              Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

              Zimmerman was on his back. Stand your ground laws means you don’t have to retreat, but Zimmerman could not retreat at all, regardless what the law said.

              And I would point out that in states with a robust Stand Your Ground law, it is MINORITIES that benefit the most from it, invoking it more often than whites.

              But you’re so fucking married to this ignorant bullshit you ignore the fucking facts and continue parroting outright lies.

              And I would be interested in what Jack would see if he looked at the IP addresses from some of the comments here – I suspect a few folks might share addresses, if you know what I mean.

              • AblativeMeatshield,

                You almost convinced me calling me a fucktard – but then I saw the flaw in your logic.

                You give a single counter-example to my claim of racially disproportionate violence. Let me give you some real data.

                A study by the Urban Institute shows that just one per cent of cases in which a black person shoots a white person is ruled justifiable. When the races are reversed, in states without Stand Your Ground laws, that number climbs to 9.5 per cent; in states with such laws, it reaches almost seventeen per cent.

                Still claim there’s nothing going on here?

            • Charles:

              “The situation in which the case arose is what’s in question, and rightly so, because the equal reversal of facts is absurdly unlikely. How often do you think you’d find the races reversed in this case?”

              What? Zimmerman’s great-grandmother was black—that makes him black if he chooses to identify as black…and if Al and Eric and Barack’s agendas found him convenient to be black, the situations easily could be reversed. The evidence shows that Zimmerman called 911 about white strangers too. The evidence shows that there IS no evidence that Martin was racially profiled, but rather only profiled as a young, male, stranger who appeared (to Zimmerman, who was hair-trigger suspicious) to be up to no good. The argument that just because Zimmerman is lighter skinned than Martin, he was out to get him simply because he was black is pure, pure, pure speculation, convenient speculation, and I would say, bigotry. Call yourself white (or Hispanic) you’re a racist. Call yourself black—with the same genes, you’re not.

              “Does it even make sense to say we “profile” a majority culture person?”
              Of course. Watch “Criminal Minds.” They profile serial killers as white and male. Zimmerman was profiling Martin as young, in suspicious garb (face covered) and a stranger. Trayvon could have been white, and nobody has shown that Zimmerman wouldn’t have behaved exactly the same. Richard Cohen of the post wrote that he was “certain” Zimmerman racially profiled Martin. Without evidence. Certain. Because…why? He’s sort of whitish. Bigot.

              The point we’re all making is that the combination of SYG, ease of gun use, profiling of minorities (how can you profile majorities?), and the history of racism in this country adds up to disproportionate impact on black people.

              And the point I am making is for you or the President to make that point here, based on this case, where SYG was not in issue, where both parties were minorities and black, and Zimmerman was not shown to be, but merely assumed to be, racist. means that this is not only not the right case to make these points, but affirmatively the wrong, unfair, misleading case to make it.

              The President is pretending that a situation in which a part black man with no record of racism followed an individual under suspicion that was not inspired by that individual’s race ended up in a fatal confrontation after he was attacked by the man he was following and was found by a jury—properly—to have acted in self-defense is an appropriate teaching moment about SYG—which wasn’t involved, racial profiling—which wasn’t present,the inability of minorities to get fair treatment from the justice system—in a case where the justice system found a minority defendant not guilty!,, racial inequities of the justice system—in a case where virtually all legal experts agree that the result was dedicated by the evidence, and bigotry—where the only bigotry in the case has been that focused on George Zimmerman, assuming that he was a racist because, well, Al Sharpton wants him to be.

              How is that fair, responsible, or Presidential?

              • Jack,

                Well, we have apparently failed to convince each other. That’s OK, that’s more the rule than the exception. But I will say this whole dialogue has helped sharpen my thinking, thanks for that.

                I won’t add more words, but I did succeed in getting my ideas down to one sentence:

                “The problem is not that something illegal happened; the problem is that everything that happened was legal.”

                Best I’ve got.

                Thanks.

                • The problem is not that something illegal happened; the problem is that everything that happened was legal.

                  No, the problem is that you fucking ignore that something illegal DID happen, and that is what made the shooting legal.

                  Trayvon. Attacked. George.

                  That is the part of this you fucking refuse to accept.

          • Why wasnt Computer Voice Recognition used to determine who was the voice screaming on the 911 call? ….come on now NASA ,N.S.A. the FBI and the CIA use this technology every day …

            • Phones are horribly poor at transmitting sound. (I know that sounds crazy, but think of how horrible the music sounds when you’re put on hold. We get away with the poor quality because our brains are great at picking out words.) Take the poor transmission and throw in the modulation of screaming and we end up with voice recognition that is somewhere between unreliable and complete useless.

  2. Don’t drag Emily Litella into this slop! And why all the uproar about Violins on Television?

    President Obama should be appalled about making Puerto Rico a steak.. Next thing you know, they’ll want a baked potato with sour cream!

    • Graduating with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard, and being editor then president of Harvard Law Review are pretty good pieces of evidence of an intelligent person.

      I don’t have a Harvard law degree.. Do you?

      • My father tells a story of a man who graduated with high honors in mechanical engineering that he once worked with. Seems that the man had a degree from a very well-regarded school, and was constantly reminding people of where he’d graduated…

        It took my father (who also had a degree from another school well-regarded for it’s engineering program) a month to realize the man was – beyond all mortal ability to describe – an idiot. Couldn’t pronounce basic terms, used the wrong values for constants, couldn’t even convert units properly.

        A fancy degree does not make a person smart. Orly Taitz, as an exmple, has both a law degree and a degree in dentistry, and is a blithering idiot.

        What is more, we actually don’t know how well Obama did in college – his college transcripts are so secure even Snowden and Manning don’t have them, and those two could apparently steal fucking any information on the damned planet.

        • Obama may not be a genius but he sure is crafty… he is in the midst of multiple scandals, possible constitutional crises, etc… and he has almost everyone of us distracted like a bunch of cats chasing a laser beam. Statesman, no. Survivor, yes.

  3. As an aside, the DOJ has ordered that Zimmerman’s gun not be returned to him, as they consider it evidence in their continued abuse of their authority investigation of Zimmerman.

    The author Brad Thor has publicly said that since Zimmerman’s gun won’t be returned, he is willing to buy George whatever handgun he would like, and as much ammunition as he would like. And Brad has also said that if George would like an AR-15 or a shotgun, he’s willing to buy Zimmerman one of those too.

  4. No comment from the prez on the ongoing slaughter of innocents in Chicago and no comment on this one: Back in October, 2011, a 13-year-old white girl, Kelli O’Laughlin, walked into her home after school and interrupted a burglary in process. Had there been a George Zimmerman in the area or had the neighbor who had seen him and was able to describe him called the police on someone “suspicious” in the neighborhood, maybe the poor little girl would still be alive.

    “…. A spokesperson for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said Kelli’s cause of death was “multiple stabs and incised [knife-like] wounds.” The suspect has been described, based on a witness description, as a black male with a dark complexion, 30-35 years old, between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-9 with a medium build. He was reportedly seen in the Indian Head Park area wearing a dark hoodie and carrying a patterned backpack.”

    This guy was a real prince, too. He used the girl’s cellphone to taunt the mother, who was the one who discovered her daughter.

    Listening to one of the Chicago’s bigger radio stations after the GZ verdict, a woman tried to make this an example of the what-ifs had the racial tables been turned and the very liberal show host cut her off as a racist. Go figure.

  5. I have read a number of comments, and selected quotes, since Obama made those remarks. And just now, I finally watched the video itself.

    And I have to say, watching the actual video struck me as quite different than what I’d been reading about in the transcripts and commentaries.

    First of all, his talk is not at all about Zimmerman, the verdict, or local law enforcement. As you say, he’s a trained lawyer and not stupid. Instead, it was commentary about a national uprising of feeling among many people – a fact in its own right, and one that deserves commenting on and worth making, as you yourself said.

    But, you say, “not in connection with this case, at this time.” Which struck me immediately as the same thing the NRA said about the gun debate at the time of the shootings in Sandy Hook. Why? Isn’t it precisely the time to talk about what everyone else is talking about? (Never waste a perfectly good crisis, etc.) If not now, when?

    Still, it pains me that nobody, including Obama, has been articulate enough to clearly say one simple thing: the issue with the Martin/Zimmerman case is NOT that the trial was unfair – by all appearances, the verdict was just and valid.

    The trial itself, based on the law, was all about what happened in the space of a few seconds, where Zimmerman presumably felt justifiable fear and fired in legally justifiable self-defense.

    What was NOT on trial, and what is causing all the ruckus, is that the law permitted an armed, non-police officer individual to track and report on another person, to the point where the other person noticed – and things happened. All that was completely legal, and had no place inside the courtroom.

    The hubbub that Obama is leaning into is that the laws completely permit the creation of a highly dangerous situation by Mr. Zimmerman. He chose to be a vigilante, he chose to carry a gun, he chose to follow Martin, he chose to forge ahead even when police said he needn’t do so – all those choices were completely legal. And together, they add up to behaviors that, in the state of Florida, will almost guarantee an overwhelmingly white-on-black set of circumstances. I mean, how many black vigilantes with guns are following around white guys?

    Which is what all the hubbub is about. Not about the trial; about what was NOT on trial, and why the factors that drove the confrontation in the first place were completely outside the reach of the law.

    Obama simply says, 400 years of experience makes black people gun-shy about such racially disparate outcomes. That’s a fact, it does. How could the first black president not say something about being black at a time when the issue is so clearly raised? The mystery is how infrequently he has chosen to do so.

    Anyhow, that’s how it’s striking me. By the way, the dialogue in this column has been some of the more constructive out there, it’s been helpful to me in thinking it all through.

    • This was the most beneficial comment on here. It’s much more about how screwed the “stand your ground” law is then whether he is innocent or guilty. He is innocent by right but only because he was allowed to do such things according to floridas laws. I appreciate your intelligence. I wish there would be less ignorance in this world.

          • The case was argued on the basis of self-defense, not Stand Your Ground. Martin was not, in fact, shot in a stand your ground scenario—the self defense argument precludes it. Zimmerman waived the affirmative SYG defense before trial. SYG was not mentioned during the trial, that I can find. Everyone found the judge’s mention of the words, not the statute,…two sentences in a 27 page set of instructions, as puzzling—I think it was clear error, since the fact pattern doesn’t involve the duty to retreat. Here’s the judge’s instructions.

            • I don’t see any preclusion. Also, the 27 pages is pretty irrelevant. If the Justifiable Use of Deadly Force is met, then the other instructions don’t matter.

              If the jury believed Zimmerman was being beat and feared for his life, but that he could have gotten away or reasonable should have tried to get away and didn’t, then the SYG language would flip the verdict.

              • Uh it wouldn’t have flipped the verdict. The verdict would have been the same but for the reason that he would have been under no obligation to seek an avenue of retreat while having his life in reasonable threat.

                • What I was saying was that assuming the jury believed certain things about the situation (which were definitely in the range of possible beliefs), the SYG language would determine whether the verdict was guilty or not guilty. This specific jury might not have ended up with those beliefs, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a factor in the trial. It also could have affected the jury earlier on in deliberations. Since the possibility of retreat was irrelevant (under SYG), they didn’t look into it.

                  SYG was relevant to this trial, whether or not it affected this jury.

                  • I think that’s fair. I, like some other commentators, wasn’t originally aware that the judge had slipped the phrase into the instructions—the law was not at issue in the trial itself. It could have played some part, though I doubt it. The elements of the crime charged weren’t proved, and that really didn’t involve SYG.

                    • I agree with that. If the result of this instruction had been conviction instead of acquittal, I think it would have been worth being reversible error. I doubt it would have been considered that by an appellate court, but that’s more a problem with the system.

                    • There were so many errors by the judge that reversal was a near certainty. Allowing the jury to consider manslaughter when the defense never had a chance to put on a defense specific to that charge was one. The back-and-forth with Zimmerman about whether he was going to testify was another. I’d say the evidence of Martin’s proclivity to violence may have been erroneously excluded. Lots of stuff.

    • And I have to say,”So”? So you and President Obama think everyone needs to be cowering in our houses or we should be arrested? If I see something or someone suspicious in my neighborhood, I am just supposed to hide unless they are the right race and I am the right race?. I find your intimation that only police officers should have guns very suspect as well.

      If I see someone or something suspicious going on in my neighborhood, I am going to say something and I have.. Perhaps you don’t know your neighbors and neighborhood, but don’t speak for everyone. If I see someone looking around my neighbor’s house or yard while they aren’t home, I will say something “Are you looking for someone”, “why are you in that back yard?”, I will photograph, and I will call the police. I have walked behind many a suspicious car parked on my street and photographed the license plate. That is at least as controversial as what Zimmerman did. Does that make me a vigilante? I think you have a rather distorted view of what a vigilante is. If I had a CCW license, I could be armed and do this, so what Mr. Green? I find it rather horrifying that someone would think this is the type of behavior that needs to be outlawed.. I see people stealing property. I see people abusing children. I see people being assaulted. Am I just supposed to ignore it? What type of person thinks that way?

      • Michael,

        To answer your question, “who thinks this way?” Not me. Probably not Obama either. I really have no idea.

        I completely reject every thing you’re claiming I said, or any inference thereto. You’re making stuff up. I’m not going to waste time refuting non sequiturs here. You’re welcome to express your own opinion, but don’t waste others’ time by putting up straw dogs to attack.

        • I’m sorry, I thought you wrote

          “What was NOT on trial, and what is causing all the ruckus, is that the law permitted an armed, non-police officer individual to track and report on another person, to the point where the other person noticed – and things happened. All that was completely legal, and had no place inside the courtroom.

          The hubbub that Obama is leaning into is that the laws completely permit the creation of a highly dangerous situation by Mr. Zimmerman. He chose to be a vigilante, he chose to carry a gun, he chose to follow Martin, he chose to forge ahead even when police said he needn’t do so – all those choices were completely legal. And together, they add up to behaviors that, in the state of Florida, will almost guarantee an overwhelmingly white-on-black set of circumstances. I mean, how many black vigilantes with guns are following around white guys?”

          My point is that what is wrong with non-police officer individuals being armed? What is wrong with them taking notice of suspicious activity in their neighborhood (isn’t that what a neighborhood watch is for?), saying something about it, or documenting it? My point is that what about such behavior makes someone a vigilante (as stated above in the quote)? What is quoted above strongly suggests that Obama is saying that it is wrong and that you think so too. This hubub and ruckus (protests, NAACP actions, and Presidential statements) is a movement to make these actions illegal, or at least make them illegal for people who aren’t the right race.

          My question remains, who thinks this way?

          • Again, Michael, as to “who thinks this way?” I don’t know. Let me clarify.

            I do not think there’s anything wrong with non-police offers being armed. Though you seem to think I do.
            I do not think there’s anything wrong with non-police offers taking notice of suspicious activity. Though you seem to think I do.
            I do not think there’s anything wrong with someone saying something about it, or documenting it. Though you seem to think I do.

            You also claim that “strongly suggests that Obama is saying that it is wrong.” I don’t see him making that claim, can you show me where he does?

            You say “the hubbub…is to make these actions illegal, or at least make them illegal for people who aren’t the right race.” Are you kidding? Show me a presidential statement or one by the NAACP that says anything remotely close to “white people shouldn’t be allowed to carry guns, or take notice of suspicious activity, or saying something about it or documenting it.” Where?

            I put your question back to you – who thinks this way? I don’t. Obama doesn’t. The NAACP doesn’t. I don’t know who does, and apparently neither do you.

            You are making stuff up, which serves only to inflame the dialogue unnecessarily.

            • Perhaps you missed the part about the quotation marks, you wrote
              “The hubbub that Obama is leaning into is that the laws completely permit the creation of a highly dangerous situation by Mr. Zimmerman. He chose to be a vigilante, he chose to carry a gun, he chose to follow Martin, he chose to forge ahead even when police said he needn’t do so”

              If there is nothing wrong with it and neither you nor Obama think that way, than these protests against the trial verdict are wrong and Obama has an obligation to state THAT. Since he hasn’t, that suggests he agrees with them.

              YOU wrote
              “What was NOT on trial, and what is causing all the ruckus, is that the law permitted an armed, non-police officer individual to track and report on another person, to the point where the other person noticed ”

              Again, if there is nothing wrong with this, than these protests, and calls for a civil rights investigation are wrong, and the President should say so.

              If you don’t feel this way, why did you choose to call Zimmerman a vigilante. If everything he did was legal. If neighborhood watches are fine, what makes Zimmerman a vigilante?

              • Michael,
                Would it help if I withdrew the word “vigilante” and substituted “neighborhood watch?” Done.

                As to the rest, gosh darn it Michael I never said the verdict was wrong! I specifically said the verdict was justified! So did the Goshdarn President! Here’s what he said, quote, verbatim, from the transcript:

                “There are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.
                The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.”

                You say if there’s nothing wrong with this then the President should say so. HE JUST DID!!!!!!! Read the transcript.

                The issue that he is TRYING to raise is NOT about the verdict, but about the state of our laws being such that they permit the COMPLETELY LEGAL KILLING of an unarmed kid in the rain at night wearing a hoodie. In fact, that that pastiche of laws encourages the creation of just those kinds of situations.

                Get that? NOBODY is arguing it was illegal. We are arguing that something SHOULD HAVE BEEN illegal about what happened, and unfortunately nothing was. That’s what the hubbub is about.

                (As to the Justice Department and civil rights violation, I’ll share a bit of your cynicism there. I’ll be there will be no suit brought for civil rights violations, because I don’t think a case can be made of racial intent in the mind of Zimmerman, but the politics of the case require that due diligence be given to exploring the possibility. Nothing wrong with that, sometimes you need to see the full process on show to convince people that there’s no case to be made. You don’t do that by pronouncing it ex cathedra. But I agree (presumably) with you that no case will be brought.)

                [One of the environmental factors at play here is the SYG law. Yes yes yes I know it wasn’t part of the suit – read the above. But it’s part of the environment that leads to instances like this.
                If anyone’s interested, NBER a year ago completed a tentative study on the effects of SYG laws across the country. It makes for interesting reading.
                http://www.nber.org/papers/w18187

                • And this is what is wrong with the President’s comments, your reaction to it, and the deceptive “narrative” in the media and among exploitive activists:

                  “The issue that he is TRYING to raise is NOT about the verdict, but about the state of our laws being such that they permit the COMPLETELY LEGAL KILLING of an unarmed kid in the rain at night wearing a hoodie.

                  Our laws do not permit that, and this case is irrelevant to that point anyway. Our laws permit everyone to use deadly force when they are in a position where they reasonably believe their life to be in danger. Hoodies have nothing to do with it; whether the assailant is armed has nothing to do with it; the rain has nothing to do with it.

                  As for the President supporting the verdict—come on.

                  Talk about damning with faint praise. “The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner.” (In fact, the judge was so pro=prosecution that a conviction almost certainly would have been reversed.) Professional doesn’t mean wise. “The prosecution and the defense made their arguments.” Well, uh, yes—so did the two sides in the rigged, racist trial in “To Kill A Mockingbird.” “The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant”-WHAT??? In a criminal case, reasonable doubt isn’t “relevant,” reasonable doubt is everything. “Relevant” suggests that the jury could have considered it and discounted it. Wrong. They were bound by it.

                  “and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.” Translation: “Yup, stupid and racist and unjust though it may be, that’s how the system works.” There isn’t a hint in the President’s remarks that he believed the verdict to be correct, as you, in contrast, have clearly stated. And that was obviously his intent—and disgracefully so. It would have been courageous and statesmanlike for Obama to say, “If I had been on the jury, much as a I find Mr. Zimmerman’s actions reprehensible and reckless, I would have voted to acquit.” Why didn’t he?

                  • Beat the dead horse Jack. The world-view that demands something had to be illegal or racists or wrong refuses to accept rationalism.

                    It makes me sick, I seriously considered taking a hiatus from the blog until Zimmerman is forgotten, because I could not get over how willfully obtuse and dangerously counter-republican (system not party) people were being just to say with bleary eyes in a Kumbaya tone “we did good for race relations and we can stop ordinary people who are concerned by people acting suspiciously in their neighborhoods vigilantes”.

                • And Michael R keeps pointing out and questioning inconsistencies that you REFUSE to answer.

                  You have asserted:

                  The Laws are WRONG in that they allowed this situation to go down like it did.

                  You described the situation (in somewhat suggestive language), in a step by step process.

                  Michael R has simply asked you what exactly in the situation that night should be Illegal?

                  “He chose to be a vigilante,”
                  Loaded language. What should be illegal about observant citizens?

                  “he chose to carry a gun,”
                  What should be illegal about the 2nd Amendment?

                  “he chose to follow Martin, he chose to forge ahead even when police said he needn’t do so”

                  9-1-1 dispatchers are not authorities. I’m not certain why your side of this argument continues to assert that police told Zimmerman anything of the sort. Please, re-read the full 9-1-1 transcript, the dispatcher does say “we don’t need you to continue” all the while continuing to ask Zimmerman questions that subtly insist for following to continue. Also, you will not from the transcript AND the audio, that Zimmerman DID STOP FOLLOWING.

                  Now that that lie has been debunked for the umpteenth time; what exactly should be illegal about good people observing and maintaining observation of someone in their neighborhood behaving suspiciously?

                  And before you say “Zimmerman isn’t a good person or Martin wasn’t behaving suspiciously” just answer the question as asked, since we know making it illegal for one makes it illegal for ALL.

                  “– all those choices were completely legal. And together, they add up to behaviors that, in the state of Florida, will almost guarantee an overwhelmingly white-on-black set of circumstances.”
                  What?????
                  RACE….HAD…..NOTHING….TO…..DO….WITH…..IT

                  “The hubbub that Obama is leaning into is that the laws completely permit the creation of a highly dangerous situation by Mr. Zimmerman. “

                  Laws (or lack thereof) allow EVERY HUMAN to create a PLETHORA of any MANNER of DANGEROUS situations, and not just in situations where a resident noticed a suspiciously behaving individual. If the laws truly allow for this behavior it would happen ALL the time. But it doesn’t, because citizens can be relied upon to generally behave reasonably, so again, what exactly should be illegal about Zimmerman’s choices that night? And exactly how will those items you choose to make illegal not make life a little more distrustful and make ordinary citizens a little less empowered?

                  • Texagg04,

                    Some people have claimed the cops told Zimmerman to stand down: I never made that mistake. My exact words were: “he chose to forge ahead even when police said he needn’t do so.” So go attack somebody else on that one.

                    You say “Michael has asked you what exactly in the situation that night should be illegal?” That night is not the problem: the problem is every night. What could be done to make that situation better? Fair question, let me see:

                    –We’ve got laws like SYG which, in the only credible study I’ve seen, seems to increase deaths, and not from miscreants, but from innocents. Look it up:
                    http://www.nber.org/papers/w18187

                    –I think there’s room to clarify the legal implications of “you don’t need to follow him.” As it stands, there’s nothing illegal about getting out of a car and following someone with a loaded gun based on, as Jack put it, the facts that the person was young, not known to Zimmerman, and with a covered head. That’s a description which – particularly since it was raining that night, and everyone likely had covered heads – would probably fit more than half the people out there.

                    –I don’t know what training is available or required for people to go on a neighborhood watch program with a loaded gun, but I’d say it’s a question well worth raising. Whatever training Zimmerman did have clearly failed to keep him (and Martin) out of a dangerous situation.

                    So there are three possible angles. I’m no lawyer and that’s just off the top of my head, but if any one of those three situations were different, the whole situation would have not arisen.

    • and why the factors that drove the confrontation in the first place were completely outside the reach of the law

      The only thing that lead to the confrontation was someone decided it was a good idea to attack a stranger in a state that allows for concealed-carry of a firearm.

      If Trayvon has walked the 200 feet to the home he was staying at – instead of turning around and moving to confront Zimmerman – none of this wouldn’t have happened.

      That you think something else is at issue is, however, not surprising.

  6. He chose to be a vigilante, he chose to carry a gun, he chose to follow Martin (He chose to be a neighborhood watch person. Hardly a vigilante.), he chose to forge ahead even when police said he needn’t do so (It wasn’t the police, it was a dispatcher who said “We don’t need you to do that.” And it is completely unclear what GZ did while continuing to converse with dispatch) – all those choices were completely legal. And together, they add up to behaviors that, in the state of Florida, will almost guarantee an overwhelmingly white-on-black set of circumstances. I mean, how many black vigilantes with guns are following around white guys?

    You wouldn’t know in Chicago. It’s usually not reported. Besides, they’re much too busy shooting each other:
    NUMBER OF PEOPLE SHOT IN CHICAGO AS OF July 9, 2013 – 1,214
    NUMBER OF HOMICIDES IN CHICAGO AS OF July 15, 2013 – 232

    Where’s the outrage?

      • What’s your point? Can I remind you that Barack Obama is half white and also is president of the entire United States whose citizens are black, white, brown, yellow and red and everything in between.

        I am sorry that Trayvon Martin is dead, but probably not sorrier than George Zimmerman. Trayvon was not the angel that he has been made out to be and George is not the demon he has been portrayed to be. I see them both as victims. So I guess my point is that I don’t understand why everyone is so riled about one kid when nobody, including the president, is outraged by the carnage in Chicago which includes the 62 children who were murdered in Chicago this year. Those babies have parents and families who are grieving just as much, if not more, than Trayvon’s parents but have no celebrity, no sympathy from the protesters or the White House. I am old enough to remember when I was safer in the black communities of Chicago’s south side than I was in my own. It’s time to stop using racism as an excuse and realize that the black community has to start fixing itself from the inside out because the culture is killing itself.

  7. At ‘Trayvon could have been me’ I just about fell out of my chair. In his teens, Obama was in the habit of bashing people’s heads off the street (eye roll), being suspended from school, and perhaps burglary? (the jewelry issue has never been cleared up, or if it was, it’s been squashed).

    I was looking forward to you addressing this Jack. I am beyond disappointed in the President, and frankly embarrassed that he doesn’t seem to know what he should and should not be sticking his nose into. His phone call to Sandra Fluke apologizing for the way she was treated in the birth control debate was a huge ‘Huh?’ but his actions surrounding the Zimmerman case are just ridiculous. I’d pretty much given up hope of statesmanlike sensibilities when he remarked that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon, with this latest remark I am fully resigned to the fact that our President is an amateur.

    • Ugh. Obama was in the habit of being a black kid in a white neighborhood. He could have been followed after doing nothing wrong. He could have gotten into a confrontation when the person stalking him. A fight could have occurred.

      That’s the comparison. It should be obvious.

  8. I think it’s really unethical to splash photos of an angelic-looking 12-year-old Trayvon Martin all over this website. That is unethical, irresponsible and intentionally misleading. At the time of his untimely and unfortunate death, Travon Martin was a 17-year-old troubled juvenile delinquent. Why don’t you put up an up-to-date picture of him? There are plenty available on the internet.

  9. In the wake of the Terry Schiavo case, my home state changed its laws regarding Living Wills in response to the divisiveness of that ugly case. But Terry Schiavo had no living will. Living Wills were in fact irrelevant to the case itself.

    SYG is irrelevant to the Zimmerman case in court. But it’s clearly part of the culture in Florida, influential enough that it was cited by at least one juror as the basis of the decision.

    For all the protesting and teethgnashing over the verdict, I haven’t seen anyone blame the jurors, which indicates to me that people see the sense in the verdict but not in laws that are relevant to a discussion of issues that the Zimmerman case has raised. There’s nothing unethical a high profile court case prompting such a discussion.

    Opponents of SYG, as far as I can tell, claim that the law is inequally applied and has helped create a violent climate in Florida. They seek to create a climate by which a guy might have stricter restrictions on when he can shoot another person. George Zimmerman wasn’t that guy, but there’s no reason he can’t spark changes in the law, or that the President can’t take a leadership role in such changes.

  10. Mr. Marshall, what should be an even more ALARMINGLY unethical, is the silence of E. Holder on the $10,000 Reward “Wanted: Dead or Alive” Posters for Zimmerman. Given, Obama’s statement, Holder’s silence, and no arrest warrants pending, what’s one to conclude to Obama’s agenda? A trainwreck of the worst magnitude? How about the demise of our Constitution and our freedom.

  11. Those who object to SYG: provide a viable replacement for it. Are you saying that when anyone is confronted by a hostile person that they should run away? The home invader on the from porch should be met with flight out the back door? The carjacker at the driver’s door be handed the keys as the driver flees to “a safer place”. You are truly endorsing the pussification of America.

    I take issue, also, with Jack’s (sorry Jack) comment that the President is smart. And I do not accept the issuance of a degree from anyplace as evidence of “smart”… maybe 30 or 40 years ago, but its not a given anymore. I question the whole college concept, and will until the public is treated to transcripts and a digest of the articles authored by BHO while on law review. Evidence, that is what will carry the day.

    The President, in his remarks, skirted around what should have been the core of his remarks: the thuggish behavior of way too many of the black youth of today. That is a major contributor to the disproportionate number of black men in the criminal justice system and in the prisons. If Trayvon had just walked home as his enablers claim that he was doing he would have been home, safely, to watch the ballgame and GZ would have told this to the responding police and gone on his way. Nothing of note would have happened. But Trayvon decided to confront the person watching him (not an uncommon act in his world– “What you lookin’ at succah?”) only to find that this target was harder than it first appeared. Its a shame he let his youthful macho put his parents, and GZ, through all this.

    • If the SYG clauses in each state that have a SYG clause in their self-defense statutes are similar across the nation and are generally worded the same, then based on my understanding (at least of the clause in Texas) is that SYG does not apply to Home invasions or Car-jackings. Those scenario are justified and described in the specific statutes covering Personal-Defense and Property-Defense.

      SYG was added to cover all other situations/locations where a person has a reasonable right to be.

      • Correction. The SYG clauses were added because it is unreasonable to expect otherwise law abiding citizens to have to suddenly start thinking about ways to get out of a crime being perpetuated on them.

        The real question to ask anti-SYG’ers is “what scenario do you believe SYG is not justified and which are”, because a blanket condemnation of SYG is dumb in light of the examples Mike Martin gives.

  12. Jack, The longer I’ve thought about it, the more remarkable I find it that in a case where the system so obviously failed to do its job every step of the way- from not identifying the body, to not questioning or drug or alcohol testing the suspect, to failing to bring charges, to allowing inappropriate jury selection, to not sequestering the jury, to not properly preparing witnesses, to allowing the defendant to proxy testify through animation, but not be cross-examined, to failing to refute almost every statement by the defense attorneys, to rejecting other evidence, to holding a near gleeful post trial press conference- you can call the President’s emotional response as a black man and black parent the most ethically reprehensible part of the proceedings.

    • I think you’re jumping to a ton or erroneous conclusions—

      from not identifying the body : I don’t know what this means. They did identify the body.
      to not questioning or drug or alcohol testing the suspect: Why is this especially important?
      to failing to bring charges: They did bring charges, and didn’t have the evidence to bring them, which means they shouldn’t have brought charges.
      “to allowing inappropriate jury selection”: Who claims that? It was proper voir dire.There were no irregularities.
      “to not sequestering the jury”: The jury was sequestered
      “to not properly preparing witnesses”: The prosecution had bad witnesses. No prep in the world would have saved them. But the prosecution was notably incompetent, yes.
      “to allowing the defendant to proxy testify through animation”: It’s called demonstrative evidence, and Zimmerman’s statements were part of the record and in evidence.
      ” but not be cross-examined”: The animation was subject to rebuttal.
      “to failing to refute almost every statement by the defense attorneys”: if you don’t have evidence, its hard to refute he defense.
      “to rejecting other evidence”: Not sure what you mean. T judge was widely regarded as pro-prosecution.
      “To holding a near gleeful post trial press conference.” If your persecuted client is acquitted when the entire media apparatus, the Congressional Black Caucus, one whole network (NBC) and the President of tyhe United States sets out to convict you of murder, I’d say a happy press conference is reasonable.

      I never said that the President’remarks were the worst or most reprehensible part of the proceedings. But he’s not “a black man.” He’s President of the United States, and he has no more business picking sides in a fake racial dispute or throwing gasoline on a smoldering race fire than Dwight Eisenhower would have had siding with the Klan. If he’s not everyone’s President, he’s not a trustworthy leader. He has no self-restraint, and his judgment in these matters is reliably awful.

      • Jack – really? The President is not “a black man?” A “fake racial dispute?”

        What do you call it when Lincoln called himself a rail-splitter from the frontier? When Bush talked about “down in Texas, we…” When Reagan said, “I’m just an actor?” When Sam Ervin said, “I’m just a pore ol’ country lawyer?” If Hillary had been elected, would she not be allowed to refer to herself as a woman?

        Why is race the only identifying factor that a President shouldn’t choose to describe himself with?

        And as to “fake racial?” You can’t be serious. Using FBI data, a senior analyst at the Urban Institute initiated a study back in March. He made a prediction, based on that data: despite only 2% of homicides in this country being found justifiable, Zimmerman would be acquitted.

        A 50:1 call. Pretty long odds. And of course he was right. What were his reasons? His reasons were: the shooter was white, the victim was black, they were strangers to each other, and Florida was a SYG state.

        That’s what the data told him – and that data was right.

        Here’s more of what he found.

        “In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.”

        “The killings of black people by whites were more likely to be considered justified than the killings of white people by blacks.”

        His was not the only study like this:
        “According to a June study by researchers at Texas A&M University, the rates of murder and non-negligent manslaughter increased by 8 percent in states with Stand Your Ground laws. That’s an additional 600 homicides per year in the states that have enacted such laws.”

        You can insist all you want that SYG had nothing to do with this case. And that’s true, in the narrow sense that it’s the law, and the law is what governs our court system. But it’s ridiculous to claim it doesn’t condition the situation.

        You can insist all you want that people “should” be color-blind, that the President “should” not identify as a black person, and that black people in general should stop complaining about incidents.

        But while you’re insisting – black people are getting killed. It’s no joking matter. Racism, despite what you might wish, is very much alive and kicking in this country, despite the valiant attempt at denial that’s being perpetrated by so many of your readers. (I’m kind of shocked, Jack, that you didn’t call out the moronic statement by one of them that, “The President, in his remarks, skirted around what should have been the core of his remarks: the thuggish behavior of way too many of the black youth of today.”) Really?

        And in this context, you equate the President empathizing with grieving parents of a black child with “throwing gasoline on a smoldering race fire?” Just who, when, and where do you expect someone to actually do something about that race fire? Should we wait for the next white president to make it OK to do something about?

        I have to say, Jack, even though it can be a truism, the hallmark of racism is the denial of racism. Sometimes truisms are very true, and there’s a whole lotta denial going on in the commentary on this blogpost, including some of your own.

        • Taking it as given that your statistics about convictions are valid, you aren’t taking a potentially confounding factor into account- Justification. You cite that a White/Black killing is more likely to be justified than White/White and way more so than Black/White. Most of the justifications for homicide are when one party is committing or attempting to commit a crime against the other. Black males commit crimes at a level well above random distribution. Therefore a higher percentage of killings of black males are likely to be in a self-defense situation to defend against crime, and more likely to be acquitted based on self defense. No racism of the judicial system required.

          I’m not for a minute suggesting black men are bad people. They are also, at levels much higher than chance, growing up poor, crammed into inner cities, given up on by the educational system, and ill-served by a cynical government. Those conditions often lead to crime. And yes, I’m denying that I am a racist, which according to your final paragraph is the hallmark of being one (one wonders the hallmark of NOT being a racist, then?)

          • Luke,

            I confess to the cheap rhetorical trick of using a non-deniable claim, that racists deny being racist. You’re quite right there’s no way out of that one (as in, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”). It doesn’t mean that all who deny are racist; though it does generally mean that those who are racist tend to deny it.

            But to your substantive point, interesting angle, I think you may have a valid point there. How much that alters the conclusion, I’m not sure, but it does sound relevant.

            You touch on one of the hardest aspects of racism – how to separate “race” (itself a genetically fictitious distinction) from environment. How can we separate poor from black, for as you note those conditions often lead to crime.

            Racism comes when we shortcut from conditions to race, and use color as a quick shorthand for more complex data. As Obama noted, all black men know the sound of clicking door locks and clutched handbags. Even Jesse Jackson confessed to walking to the other side of the street when a group of young black men approached.

            It becomes racist when you disproportionately stop drivers for DWB. My wife was given an F on a college paper because, “You had to have plagiarized that, you couldn’t have written it yourself.” A friend visited several apartments for rent after calling, only to be told on arrival that the apartment had “just rented.” These are pure and simple discrimination, and every person of color knows how often they happen.

            As Obama said, a black person inescapably views issues like SYG through the prism of a lifetime of experience of discrimination. It is hard to tease apart the roots of statistics like those cited above. But digging into them is surely preferable to denying them.

            Thanks Luke for engaging substantively.

            • Oh I certainly wasn’t denying the issues you mention (as an aside, I was told the same thing as your wife when I was a high school freshman, because “freshmen don’t have good writing skills until I teach them how”). I’m glad I don’t have to face the assumptions many black people face- I’m an imposing guy and people cross the street sometimes when I’m walking at night, I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if I weren’t white.

              I’m a scientist, so I’ve had “Correlation does not equal causation” drummed into my head for years. We start with a fact: A white man shooting a black man is more likely to be acquitted based on self defense than a black man shooting a white man. There are 4 main conclusions you can move to from there: Race causes the disparity (a racist judiciary/jury pool just acquits whites and punishes blacks); the disparity causes the races involved (clearly improbable 😀 ), coincedence/false correlation (possible, but not very likely), or both observations are effects of the same cause[s] (for example, black people commit more crimes of the type that one can legally meet with lethal force, so they are more likely to be killed in self devense).

              Even if the last one is true, of course, you then have to ask questions like WHY are crime rates what they are, which leads to a hideous quagmire of social issues, self-imposed segregation, cultural norms and normalization… all of which confirm my pleasure at having gone into biology rather than social science. I know not everyone is trained in scientific or statistical thinking, but it seems all too common for people to look at immediate correlations and base conclusions on them without digging deeper.

              Oh, and thank YOU for engaging. I’ll admit, I was waiting for the response to be something along the lines of “The hallmark of not being racist is not making racist statements, like the one you just made.” Color me pleased.

              • Luke G,
                It is so much easier to be civil and nice to those who are civil and nice to begin with. Hey if we keep it up, maybe it’ll become a trend!

                An excellent rundown of the four-possibilities coming out of the correlation/causation matrix. As a student of David Hume, I had the same lesson drummed into my head (though apparently you remembered it better).

                Thanks for the stats lesson – as you point out, we all need it. My favorite: short people have lower IQs. True, until you remove children from the sample .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.