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March 23, 2012

Random Thoughts About The Shooting of Trayvon Martin

Oh, the Media decided We Have To Have a National Discussion about this story.

1. I appreciate the media dubbing Zimmerman "a white Hispanic." Like the Israelis, he's now an honorary member of the Oppressive White Majority.

2. Certain local stories of race-on-race crime ignite the media's passions. Others do not.

3. Most of the time, stories like the one I just linked are not reported by the media, for various reasons. One is that, alas, black on white crime is so common as to be not newsworthy, whereas the reverse is rare and hence, oddly, makes national news.

Another reason is that such stories are, by their nature, inflammatory (no pun intended, of course).

But the media does not mind inflammatory stories when the right people are inflamed. Farrakhan, for example, states that "soon and very soon" the "law of retaliation" "may be applied."

Now, if that story about the black kids setting the white kid on fire -- while declaring "You're white, this is what you deserve" -- was excessively inflammatory, why the media rush to inflame further black on white violence?

4. The cops acted predictably and understandably in not arresting Zimmerman. Here are the facts, as they knew them at the time: Zimmerman was a law-abiding citizen who gave them lots of (correct) tips about local crime. He was helpful to the police (probably also annoying in being too vigilant -- but while such people may annoy the police, they nevertheless appreciate the help that comes with the annoyance).

He called in to 911 to report a "suspicious" character, then followed him, waiting for police to arrive. Eventually there was some violence (Zimmerman was reportedly bloodied) and he claimed self-defense.

Now, under those circumstances, the police are not going to be very suspicious of Zimmerman. If he was attempting a murder, he went about it in a strange way -- calling police to arrive at the scene of the crime before there was a crime. He had no known motive against this Trayvon Martin fellow -- they'd never met.

Why suspect a deliberate murder?

That doesn't make Zimmerman innocent -- but it does explain why the police thought he was likely innocent of wrongdoing.

5. If the facts are as the media reports them, then it does seem like Zimmerman was following around a kid who wasn't doing anything illegal at all. Then again, if the facts were as the media reported them, the Duke Lacrosse Team was guilty of violent gang-rape.

While the liberal media screams, once again, "Trust us, and forget all about our hitting the Panic Button time and time again before!," some of us would like to see what the facts really are before coming to a conclusion.

6. As a general matter, and inescapably, the law of self-defense is a very thorny thicket. The media would like to simplify the law and simply declare that anyone who shoots anyone else is guilty of murder (because they would like to ban all guns, period, and this is a cutesy manner of achieving that goal through the back-door).

But these laws are inescapably thorny and these cases are inescapably very dependent on actual facts.

At the heart of every self-defense case are a pair of related questions: Did the defendant reasonably believe his safety was in jeopardy when he struck the fatal blow? And, based on the circumstances, did the defendant act lawfully, within the accepted safe-harbors for the use of lethal force in defending one's life (or another's life)?

Facts, not ginned up racial outrage or general anti-gun animus, answer these questions.

Given what we think we know (and remember, the media has lied before): it appears that the kid was unarmed, the guy can't rely on self-defense to save his life.

Further, it appears (again, appears) that Zimmerman initiated the contact/confrontation, not the kid, so the "stand your ground" law is not even relevant in the case.

But that's how it appears, at the moment, and for a whole year the media was pretty sure that drug-addled, mentally-imbalanced nightcrawler Crystal Gayle Mangum was a pretty solid citizen and dependable witness.

We'll see how this plays.

Various inarticulate, charity-hire racists don't need a sober assessment of the facts, because their conclusions are animated by racism -- the party of the Disfavored Race is always guilty. (Even when the member of the Disfavored Race is only an honorary member of that Disfavored Race.)

Although America has brought shame to some racists, others flaunt their racism proudly.

We'll have to do something about that. What is this, the 50s?

7. The media is a full-court press to politicize this, noting that the entire Republican field has remained "silent" on this case.

Two problems: First, Obama himself remained "silent" until yesterday, when he declared if he had a son, he'd look like Trayvon Martin. (And not, for example, like the guys who set fire to the white boy.)

This happened a month ago. Obama waited a month to comment, and as late as Monday refused comment, calling it a "local" matter.

So why suddenly is everyone expected to hop-to now that Hamlet has decided it's a good issue to exploit?

Second problem: Obama is not the first candidate to address this matter. Newt Gingrich was.

So is Obama racist for failing to match Gingrich's alacrity?

8. Fantasy is a very popular genre of fiction. Fantasy is often used to explore real-world problems, but in fantasy trappings. Why is this attractive? Perhaps because the real-world problems, with real-world details, are so unattractive that many people can only be induced to engage with the subject matter if it has a certain amount of distancing from real-world details. If it's fuzzed up by fantasy. Spoonfull of sugar and all that.

The actual real-world facts is that blacks commit crimes at greatly higher rates than whites, and that blacks specifically victimize whites at far higher rates than whites victimize blacks.

And yet the media doesn't ever wish to discuss that -- it's too real, it hurts too much. It offends people.

So instead we only talk about racial issues through this fantasy lens-- the fantasy lens in which white on black crime is common and some sort of national epidemic which must be addressed immediately.

In this case, if Zimmerman was too vigilant and too paranoid, it could just be because he overreacted, lethally, to the very real problem of high black crime rates.

And while we blame him, what about the actual black criminals -- not Trayvon Martin, mind you, who appears blameless, but the actual black criminals who'd been operating in Zimmerman's neighborhood and so brought this tragedy to pass?

Shall we say nothing of them?

Probably not. Because we don't have enough layers of fantasy to make that particular problem palatable and safe for polite discussion.

The Calls: These are the 911 calls during/after the incident, not from Zimmerman, but from others.

Apparently Zimmerman was calling for help as Trayvon was beating him up.

Not dispositive, but suggestive that Zimmerman's claim -- I was in fear for my life -- is credible.

Not sure what the law would say in a case where a guy thinks he's tracking a criminal, gets into a fight with said suspected criminal, loses fight with said suspected criminal, and then shoots him.

"He's Coming Towards Me:" I'd been assuming that Zimmerman approached Martin, rather than vice versa.

But this suggests (but doesn't prove) that Martin approached Zimmerman before the deadly incident.

I don't know if this is just before the incident, though. Perhaps this approach ended, and then Zimmerman started tracking him again.

Dispatcher: Sanford Police Department. ...

Zimmerman: Hey we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there's a real suspicious guy, uh, [near] Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He's [unintelligible], he was just staring...

Dispatcher: OK, he's just walking around the area...

Zimmerman: ...looking at all the houses.

Dispatcher: OK... Zimmerman: Now he's just staring at me.

Dispatcher: OK--you said it's 1111 Retreat View? Or 111?

Zimmerman: That's the clubhouse...

Dispatcher: That's the clubhouse, do you know what the--he's near the clubhouse right now?

Zimmerman: Yeah, now he's coming towards me.

Dispatcher: OK. Zimmerman: He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male.

Dispatcher: How old would you say he looks?

Zimmerman: He's got button on his shirt, late teens.

Dispatcher: Late teens ok.

If that's right before the incident, it does suggest that Zimmerman did not initiate contact or violence.

Some will say "But Martin has the right to walk around the neighborhood!" Yes, he does. But Zimmerman also has the right to walk around his neighborhood, and keep tabs on strangers.

That would make him a busy-body and a Nosey Parker, but he too has that right.

To me the question comes down to who started the fight. If Zimmerman started it, then he can't plug a guy just because he started a fight and then got his ass kicked.

But if Martin started it, then Zimmerman can take refuge in the Stand Your Ground law.

Not sure if that's the actual law. Just seems like that's likely the law-- stand your ground would apply when you're attacked, not when you yourself attack.

Update: "He's Running." Takser points out that this 911 call has Zimmerman reporting "He's running" and "He ran."

But Zimmerman doesn't follow him at that point -- he's not breathing hard. He doesn't seem to be running himself.

If Zimmerman chased him I could understand why Martin might be alarmed. But Zimmerman doesn't pursue him. So I don't know what this says about the actual moment of contact between them.

The Law... Thanks to tmtsss.

776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who

1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless

a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is
in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the
use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the
assailant
; or

(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the
assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires
to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues
or resumes the use of force.History.—s. 13, ch. 74-383; s. 1190, ch. 97-102.

So there's the law.

The issues: Would "following" count as "provoking"? I don't think so. I think that's talking about the guy who immediately, directly begins the fight.

If that is Zimmerman, he can't find safe harbor here... except for the next "unless," which declares he still might if he reasonably believed he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.

I'm not sure a beating, without more, would qualify as that. Seems to me it has to be more serious. A beating doesn't typically result in death or great bodily harm. Could. But usually doesn't.

So it seems that my first thought -- depends on who actually started the fight -- is the important one.


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posted by Ace at 02:19 PM

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