And The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Rolls On…Apparently Forever

It may be a train wreck, but if you're a liberal race-baiter, it's such a darned comfy one...

It may be a train wreck, but if you’re a liberal race-baiter, it’s such a darned comfy one…

The Michael Dunn trial ended without a verdict on the first degree murder charge, and the news media just couldn’t help themselves. Although the facts of two cases have virtually nothing in common, various prominent media figures could not resist connecting it to the Trayvon Martin killing and George Zimmerman’s trial, thus compounding the damage they have already inflicted on the public’s understanding of law, race, and ethics.

Other events spurred them on as well. There was the George Zimmerman interview in which he described himself as a victim, and this set some people off. Zimmerman is a victim—a victim of being made the race-conflict advocate’s poster boy for profiling villainy and bigotry when there are absolutely no facts that support such a characterization. He’s just not the dead victim in his tragic episode. Nor is the status of irresponsible, gun-toting fool necessarily incompatable with the status of victim in his case, but such nuances are beyond the comprehension of many among us, especially the many with press credentials.

Then the Providence College Black Studies Program announced that it would continue to give out an annual award called the Trayvon Martin Award for Social Justice, intended to honor those who have shown leadership and commitment to ”challenging and eliminating racism” and “empowering others to seek social justice.” The inexcusable implication of the award is that Trayvon Martin was the victim of racism, and that Zimmerman’s acquittal was social injustice, when in fact it was the epitome of the justice system working well. The program established the award in 2012, before Zimmerman had been tried or permitted to mount a defense in court, so this was no surprise. In fairness, the award needs to be renamed the Trayvon Martin “Our Minds Are Made Up So Don’t Confuse Us With Facts” Award. But then, fairness is not what the enshriners of this false but convenient narrative care about.

This morning,  CNN’s  over-opinionated morning news co-anchor Chris Cuomo (I’ll bet you he runs for office as a Democrat within five years or less) was showing part of his taped interview with Dunn prosecutor Angela Corey. I admit that it was fun watching Corey squirm under Cuomo’s biased and misleading questioning regarding the Martin and Dunn trials; she contributed greatly, after all, to the rush to judgment and trial-by-publicity in the Zimmerman case. Still, Corey tried to make a valid point to Cuomo (whose partner, Kate Bolduan, increasingly sits compliantly and submissively in silence while Cuomo takes over the broadcast and crosses lines of journalistic objectivity left and right): by focusing on a few high-profile cases, media coverage distorts the public’s perception of Florida’s stand-your-ground law as well as the justice African-Americans, victims as well as those accused of crimes, receive in the courts.

Cuomo proceeded to prove Corey correct. First he falsely described the Martin case, describing it as an instance of a young black man, minding his own business, getting into a confrontation, who “wins a fight, essentially”–these were Cuomo’s exact words—gets killed for it, and his killer goes free. This would be unforgivable from a guy in a bar; it is outrageous from a news anchor. If Martin had been shot by Zimmerman after the fight had ended, as Cuomo’s false description suggests, then he would have been guilty of murder beyond question. The evidence presented at trial indicated that Zimmerman shot Martin while he was losing a fight, and when he had no way of knowing how victorious the man on top of him intended to be. That created sufficient evidence of self- defense to win Zimmerman an acquittal. Cuomo was spreading false information to fit a politically motivated false narrative.

“You can understand why people are upset that Zimmerman wasn’t punished,” Cuomo continued. Again, unethical and outrageous. This has been the deceitful fall-back argument of everyone from President Obama to race-baiting bloggers: the fact-free position that  Zimmerman’s acquittal was unjust must be respected   because “you can understand why some people (some people meaning primarily those determined to prove that the United States has made no progress in race relations since the days of Bull Connor) feel this way.” This is wrong, and obviously wrong.

The fact that we can understand why someone has a demonstrably invalid position never enhances or justifies the position. I can understand why someone raised by ignorant racists is a devotee of racist websites like Chimpmania. I can understand why an adult raised by fundamentalists and home-schooled believes that the earth is 6,000 years old. I can understand why the mother of a serial killer thinks he’s really a good boy who has been framed by the police, but my understanding why someone is dead wrong doesn’t make  him or her less wrong, or make the need to declare how wrong they are less urgent. Bias, emotion and ignorance are reasons for being wrong, but they aren’t excuses.

Cuomo got even worse, saying that Corey should also understand why people are outraged that Michael Dunn shot into an SUV full of kids, killing one, and is “not going to jail.” Yes, he really said this. As Corey quickly noted. Dunn is going to jail—his sentence so far adds up to 90 years, and the first degree murder charge, which Dunn’s conviction on would add nothing to his actual punishment unless he lives to be 200, is being retried. Never mind, though. This is guns, this is race, this is violence, this is Victim Mongering 101. The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck gets the news media and the Al Sharpton fans where they want to go, so they aren’t getting off any time soon.

This morning, in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, the Martin-Zimmerman case was evoked yet again. This time it was liberal columnist E.J. Dionne misrepresenting the facts of the case, in a frontal assault on stand-your ground laws. Dionne, in a word, is ridiculous: I seldom mention him here because he’s a parody of the knee-jerk pundit: Democrats can do no wrong; Republicans are all Neanderthal obstructionists, the Affordable Care Act is wonderful, and Obama is a great President. Dionne’s schtick is preaching to the choir, and providing talking points for those as immune to nuance and reality as he is. This column, however, was incompetent even by his own standards.

“The law is supposed to solve problems, not create them,” his op-ed begins. “Laws should provide as much clarity as possible, not expand the realms of ambiguity and subjectivity. Laws ought to bring about the practical results their promoters claim they’ll achieve. And at its best, the law can help us to live together more harmoniously. By all these measures, “stand your ground” laws are a failure.”

One would have to be immune to irony and ignorant of the concept of hypocrisy not to chuckle at a resolute defender of the Affordable Care Act beginning a column that way. But it isn’t just the ACA—by those standards, most laws are failures. Virtually every law has unintended consequences. Clarity? Ambiguity? We have millions of lawyers and thousands of judges precisely because laws are never as clear and unambiguous as their drafters intend.  Achieve the desired results? If laws did that, we wouldn’t have to keep making new laws. “At its best” the law can help us live together harmoniously perhaps, but not achieving lawmaking “at its best is an irrational and an impossibly high standard by which to define failure. Dionne has just defined laws in general, and “stand your ground” laws are laws. There are good arguments to eliminate or amend such laws, but this isn’t one of them.

Then, writing about the Dunn verdict, Dionne goes Full Cuomo:

“The verdict came seven months after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the Sanford, Fla., killing of Trayvon Martin in another case where the stand-your-ground law was at issue. Both Martin and Davis were black teenagers. Should it surprise anyone that many African Americans fear that the law does not protect young males of color when they find themselves in confrontations with whites?”

Irrelevant, wrong, irrelevant, and wrong again:

  • The Dunn case has nothing whatsoever to do with the Martin case. The facts were different, the defenses were different, and the verdict was different. The Dunn verdict also came five months after the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cradinals in the 2013 World Series, and the two are exactly as relevant to each other as the Martin and Dunn cases. But by raising the Martin-Zimmerman case in the context of Dunn, Dionne unethically and deceitfully suggests a pattern that supports the “whites are out to kill black kids” narrative, which is his intent.
  • Zimmerman did not raise the “stand your ground” defense, which requires a hearing before the trial. It was not, as Dionne says, “at issue.” It could not have been at issue, given the facts of the case. If Zimmerman had confronted Martin, Martin had pushed him, hit him or threatened him and Zimmerman had responded with deadly force when he could have retreated, that would have raised stand your ground issues. The evidence showed that Zimmerman fired when he was on his back with Martin on top of him, slamming his head against the ground. Zimmerman wasn’t standing his ground, he was getting beaten on the ground, and may have believed his life was in danger. Dionne, again, is intentionally misleading his readers.
  • There is no evidence that either killing was racially motivated, though it is now obvious that many progressives, race activists and shameless race-baiters will say otherwise until the end of time. The fact that both victims were black teenagers is the Texas Sharpshooter logical fallacy: gather facts and draw a target around it as if they were naturally connected. Dionne is shameless.
  • And there is is again: the “You can understand…” tactic in the slightly different “Should it surprise anyone…?” form.

No, E.J., it doesn’t surprise me at all that many African Americans fear that the law does not protect young males of color when they find themselves in confrontations with whites—not when unscrupulous and unethical pundits and journalists like you and Chris Cuomo work so hard to mislead them.

And the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman ethics train wreck rolls on…apparently forever.

__________________________

Spark and Source: CNN

Sources: Daily Caller, Washington Post

Graphic: Take a Train Ride

41 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

41 responses to “And The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Rolls On…Apparently Forever

  1. If you want your head to explode, watch this video from Anderson Cooper’s AC360 this weekend: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/18/race-and-justice-in-america-the-michael-dunn-trial/?iref=allsearch. Be careful. You will need plenty of duct tape. It is not for the faint of heart or those suffering from loose crania. It could lead to irreparable damage to your physiognomy and/or a stained shirt.

    All of the pundits, including Mark Geragos, are wringing their hands, rending their garments, gnashing their teeth, and weeping uncontrollably about the Dunn verdict. Mark O’Mara tries to bring reason and sensibility to discussion but he gets run over by the “well, if race didn’t place a part in the hung jury verdict on First Degree Murder” charge, then let’s talk about the greater issue of the injustice to young black males railroaded by the US criminal justice system” diatribe.

    It is apparent that we have made absolutely no progress in race relations; in fact, we have taken five or six steps backwards.

    • What, are you trying to kill me?

      The Progressive establishment wants race relations, or at least the perception of it, to go backwards. I keep expecting the African American community and its leaders with integrity to realize this and stop it, but it hasn’t happened yet.

      • Sorry about that but I warned you! My head is firmly wrapped in duct tape all the time because I can’t have my cranial debris impaling my long-suffering wife and son.

        jvb

      • You’re omitting the way that leaders with integrity cease to be leaders. It’s not quite a contradiction in terms, but it is something that is self-defeating.

        • Huh? Leaders with integrity only cease to be leaders if they are weak in other respects. Integrity is indispensable for real leaders, because it is essential for trust.

          • Let me put some emphasis on that for you, to help focus your attention: you’’re omitting the way that leaders with integrity cease to be leaders.

            What you just did was, you confused an “is” with an “ought”. You described how things ought to work – but they only do that when things are configured properly (i.e. appropriately for achieving that behaviour). Do you seriously suppose that Al Sharpton, say, would long retain his leadership over his constituency if he did not hew to the line it wants to hear? Things could only ever work out as you describe if and only if any such constituency had been readied to prefer the voice of reason over pandering to its fears and preconceptions.

            • Al Sharpton is not a leader. Don’t be ridiculous.
              Cynicism is distinct from wisdom, and you are watching too much “House of Cards.”

              • Al Sharpton and many others think he is a leader, and for you to rule him out as one makes you out of step with ordinary usage – and guilty of a “No True Scotsman” argument if you only accept as leaders those who are reinforced in their positions by possessing integrity. For me, the criterion is whether a leader is followed; if there is an element of “I am their leader, I must follow them” (a jibe of Churchill at Attlee) in that, well, it is a price many leaders are willing to pay and many followers to exact. Simply demanding “take us where we want to go” neither allows latitude in the choice of destination nor prevents a genuine exercise of skill and talent in reaching it, yet there is at least that last in it, so it is entirely compatible with actual leadership – though more and better could be obtained if more and better were asked and offered.

                And I have never in my life seen “House of Cards”, apart from a few episodes of the second series of the original British production some years ago. My cynicism in these matters is entirely the product of observation and experience of the world as it is.

                • We are using different, if arguably valid, definitions of “leader.” In one key respect, your No True Scotsman complaint is fair: I have a high standard for leadership, and I regard a leader as one who engages in effective leadership. There are many who make their livings in management who are not managers, there are many who have worked on water pipes who are not plumbers and the “leader of the free world” has no more comprehension of or talent for leadership than the Fool on the Hill. No, I am not including lousy leaders, false leaders, passive leaders, leaders-at-gun point, in short, failed leaders in my definition, which is, true, something of a tautology. Unfortunately, the other approach results in the conclusion that everyone, or virtually everyone, is a leader of something, or is regarded as one by somebody.

                  The same problem exists with with “integrity.” I don’t regard the willingness to compromise as a breach of integrity for a leader, or the willingness, as leadership sometimes requires, to take seemingly contrary action to previously stated or assumed principles in pursuit of the greater goal of leadership. Churchill, a wily character if there ever was one, made these calls superbly well.

                  The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy. Sharpton, for example, has allowed and benefited from graft and financial corruption in every organization he has supposedly run for the benefit of “the people”—if his shady dealings were honestly reported by any source his followers believed of didn’t suspect were out to get Al on a racist mission, Sharpton would be recognized as the race-hustler he is, and his support, such as it is, would wither. I hope. Some people will be led by anyone, because they will always project their ideals of leadership on anyone clever enough to provide a screen.

                  But integrity in leadership, meaning consistency to the core values that have made the individual a leader in the first place, is essential, and if forfeited, fatal. Jimmy Carter became President after Watergate because he promised never to lie to the American people. He was in most ways a wretched President, but for a national leader, he really was remarkably honest, and the reason his Presidency failed was not his integrity, but his atrocious judgment. Jimmy still leads today, because people trust him based on that character trait. (I don’t trust him because his judgment and political philosophy are both intolerable).

                  If you want to equate integrity with inflexibility and stubbornness, then yes, you are correct—leaders can lose their power because of integrity. I don’t find that a particularly suprising or useful point to make, and that’s why I didn’t make it.

    • FinlayOshea

      All of the pundits, including Mark Geragos, are wringing their hands, rending their garments, gnashing their teeth, and weeping uncontrollably about the Dunn verdict. Mark O’Mara tries to bring reason and sensibility to discussion but he gets run over by the “well, if race didn’t place a part in the hung jury verdict on First Degree Murder” charge, then let’s talk about the greater issue of the injustice to young black males railroaded by the US criminal justice system” diatribe.
      **************
      One of the black female jurors from the Dunn case was on CNN this morning.
      She said race had nothing to do with it.
      I don’t know how many times it can be said.

  2. John Robins

    I had the unfortunate experience last night of being trapped where I couldn’t change the channel or leave, so I was forced to listen to the Nancy Grace (or should I say “Disgrace”) show, wherein she and her guests were going on and on and on and on about the Dunn and Zimmerman cases, and how Zimmerman got away wioth murder.

    • When Grace called in after the verdict and cried as she talked about the poor black teens and how horrible it is that we can’t protect them, it is entirely possible that I became… Excited.

      Her anguish is like sweet nectar.

      • FinlayOshea

        Her anguish is like sweet nectar.
        **********
        Ya know, Nancy was once a lawyer, a prosecutor even.
        You would think that would give her an understanding of our legal system.
        You would think wrong.

        • Ya know, Nancy was once a lawyer, a prosecutor even.
          You would think that would give her an understanding of our legal system.
          You would think wrong.

          Yeah… About that…

          The Supreme Court of Georgia has twice commented on Grace’s conduct as a prosecutor. First, in a 1994 heroin-trafficking case, Bell v. State, the Court declared a mistrial, saying that Grace had “exceeded the wide latitude of closing argument” by drawing comparisons to unrelated murder and rape cases.[9] In 1997, the court was more severe, overturning the murder-arson conviction of businessman Weldon Wayne Carr in the death of his wife. While the court said its reversal was not due to these transgressions, since the case had turned primarily on circumstantial evidence, it nevertheless concluded “the conduct of the prosecuting attorney in this case demonstrated her disregard of the notions of due process and fairness, and was inexcusable”.[10][11] Carr was freed in 2004 when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Fulton County had waited too long to retry him, thereby unfairly prejudicing his right to a fair trial.[12]
          Despite upholding the conviction she sought, a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in a 2005 opinion that they agreed with the magistrate judge who said Grace “played fast and loose” with her ethical duties, “we cannot say that any false testimony clearly rose to the level of a due process violation” and failed to “fulfill her responsibilities” as a prosecutor in the 1990 triple murder trial of Herbert Connell Stephens.[13] The court agreed that it was “difficult to conclude that Grace did not knowingly use testimony” from a detective that there were no other suspects, despite the existence of outstanding arrest warrants for other men.[13]

  3. I am glad you clarified that. I was wondering why you had been ‘rapped’ into confinement. I had amusing images dancing in my mind.

    jvb

  4. crosses lines of journalistic objectivity left and left

    Fixed that for you… 🙂

  5. J. Houghton

    I agree with your analysis. Unfortunately, too much of the so called news media has acted disgracefully and irresponsibly with regards to both the Zimmerman and Dunn cases… which share only superficial similarities but remain fundamentally different. (For the record: In my opinion, Zimmerman should have never been charged in the first place and Dunn most certainly deserved to be convicted of some charges.) Some of the worst offenders include Chris Cuomo (as you point out), Vinny Politan, Nancy Grace, Sunny Hostin, Jane Velez Mitchel, Al Sharpton and Dr. Drew. These people, what ever good they may have done in the past, have devolved into purveyors of dubiously founded opinion, political propaganda, and “infotainment”… all advancing the causes of ignorance, fear and resentment. This does our American culture, judicial system, and the rule of law a horrible disservice. What has happened to journalistic integrity with the so called news networks? Maybe the federal government needs to be looking into this. (Just kidding on this last point.)

  6. Wayne

    Providence College should lose it’s accreditation if it is accredited. The Trayvon Martin Award for Social Justice? I guess in the Black Studies Program he’s up there with Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman.

  7. Luke G

    I not only UNDERSTAND why some are upset about it, I sympathize with them, wrong as they are, I truly do. It must be terrible to live in a world that you are convinced is out to get you, to be sure that the govermnent and justice system won’t punish those who kill your son, may even promote laws that encourage it. That sympathy doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re wrong. The race-baiting Sharptons of the world have my utmost contempt for what they do to the minds of those they cynically claim to be “their people.”

    • Elizabeth I

      Understand all you like, but it IS wrong. The black and/or liberal establishment has gone out of its way to continue and enhance racial divisions — our own President has abetted this, even tho he was twice elected by WHITES (blacks being only about 15% of the electorate).

      I’m sick of all this. Murder is murder; self defense is self defense. Let juries decide, and and put race aside. How many murder v. self defense cases rest on the races of the individuals involved? Only those that the ideologues and the press want to ingrain into our brains. It’s agit/prop, a la Lenin.

      • Beth

        This is a good point EXCEPT that it is undeniably true that black men get treated more harshly in our justice system as compared to white men committing similar crimes. So, your comment re “let juries decide, and put race aside” is the ideal, but it doesn’t happen.

        So, we know that black men are treated unfairly and we know that racism abounds — even though we have made great strides over recent generations. It is not a big leap to wonder in a white/black shooting “if” race was a motive if the facts appear a bit absurd — as they do in the Dunn case. It doesn’t mean that there was, and it is generally impossible to prove/disprove. Being aware of racial divisions is not the same as enhancing them. The shame belongs to the 24 hour news cycle that is just looking for the most sensational story to get ratings. Meanwhile, Ukraine is a killing field but covering that involves intelligence, reading, interviews with state department officials, and analysis (oh right, and ratings show that Americans don’t care about that) — it’s far easier to get some talking heads on the air and talk about the latest FL shooting.

        As for the Dunn case, this man is going away for the rest of his life and that’s really all that we should care about — not the actual ruling. The law is never perfect, but the desired result (at least in my book) was to get him off the street and that is what happened. I don’t know if he was a racist or not, but he shouldn’t have shot at those kids — at least based on the facts presented including his own testimony.

        Re Zimmerman, I wish there were more analysis re whether or not carry laws make sense — and I’m talking data, not opinions from both sides. But again, that takes effort and money to investigate — so don’t count on CNN covering that intelligently anytime soon. After all, Bieber might start dating Lohan — now that’s news!

  8. FinlayOshea

    Here in FL, about every other day, they stop screaming about racism and scream about gun control.
    There is no way to link the movie theater shooting of a white guy by a white guy into their fervor otherwise.

    FL is a lawless land where people (probably tea baggers) are allowed to carry hidden guns and kill you with them for buying skittles, playing music or texting during a movie.

    PLUS——-they gave a poor innocent guy (not white) the DP last week for the time he accidentally kidnapped, raped and killed a 7 year old boy (white). @@

  9. ByTheFarmstead

    I’m an optimist and can hope the award for “challenging and eliminating racism” will also involve criticizing the zealotry in media that inflames bigotry instead of fairness. Instead of harping on and on about one loss, why don’t they pick a hundred more to where racism is more definite if less fashionable? If it WAS a case of racism, they can’t undo what happened, better to do something useful instead of yammering.

  10. Michael Ejercito

    http://www.salon.com/2014/02/18/michael_dunn_and_open_season_on_black_teenagers_the_onslaught_of_white_murder/


    Since Florida cannot defend black life against white fear, the question now is: How should black people respond? “

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