Neither right nor left

Speaking of Ken White Popehat – he has an interesting post on Nancy Grace. (Who? She has a US cable “news” show about The Judgin [to use Peter Cook’s label], which I’ve never seen but have a vague sense of by reputation – which can be summed up with the odious word “feisty.”)

He starts with the enigma of her politics, which combines tropes from all (banal) directions, so what actually is she? None of those, but something they don’t cover.

Nancy Grace’s political bent is quite recognizable to me.  She’s not liberal or conservative, and no principled view of gun ownership or race or women’s rights drives her coverage.  No, she’s a vigorous statist, at least with respect to criminal justice.  Her political viewpoint is perfectly internally consistent.  As a statist, purpose of the criminal justice system is to convict and punish to the maximum extent possible people accused by the government.  To determine whether someone has committed a brutal and dastardly crime, all you need to know is whether the government has said they did.  That’s why defense attorneys are worthy of contempt:  they are, by definition, trying to obstruct justice.  That’s why she questions and despises constitutional rights:  they are mere impediments to the guilty being punished.  (That view, no doubt, fueled her penchant for prosecutorial misconduct.)  That’s why anyone who might speak in support of a defendant infuriates her: they are objectively pro-crime.  That’s why she’s defiant when law enforcement abandons a suspect in favor of a new one:  we have always been at war with Eastasia!  That’s why she is perplexed and abrasive when actual crime victims don’t act the way she thinks they should; the role of a crime victim is to advance the state’s chosen narrative.  That’s how she decides whether she’s an opponent of the abuse of women (as in the Duke Lacrosse case) or a snide opponent of a defense of battered woman’s syndrome (as in the Jodi Arias case):  she doesn’t decide, the state does by making its accusation.

Nancy Grace is the clumsy and ill-considered personification of frightened devotion to the will of the state.  She’s the mob made one flesh, the embodiment of our fears, our hope that the government will save us, our worry that it might not.  The notion that the state can be counted upon to accuse the right person, and that the justice system will punish the guilty and only the guilty, is comforting; the concept that the system is flawed and fallible is terrifying.  Due process, like any sort of freedom, is scary and messy.  How much more soothing it would be to believe, like Nancy, that the state is right, and that anything or anyone that stands in the state’s way may be righteously denounced.

Nancy Grace exists.  This is distasteful and regrettable but inevitable, and should be tagged and filed away with other evidence of our brokenness.  Her existence and her viewpoint is not what terrifies me.  What frightens and shocks me is how mainstream it is, how it’s simply a slightly less polished version of what we hear from our leaders of the “left” and “right” every day.  Once, if someone were described as “liberal” or “conservative,” we could draw some conclusions about their opposition to unrestricted state power, or to vigorous defense of the rights of the accused.  Now — particularly after 9/11 — that is not the case.  It’s statists all the way down.

I wonder how much of that is 9/11 versus how much of it is the Law and Order franchise – the many tv iterations, not the concept. I suspect the latter has done a lot to nudge people in the direction of statism over the years. (And by “people” I mean “including me” – I certainly don’t think I’m immune to influences like that.)

Read that one first and then his post on Zimmerman, and see what you think.



  1. says

    Nancy Grace is a fear broker. She sells fear on the cable news.

    There’s a fantastic episode of the show Leverage (the Three Days of the Hunter Job) that describes Nancy Grace to a T.

  2. Pieter B, FCD says

    I do understand Ken’s point re: Zimmerman. I know the prosecution presented a somewhat weak case. I feel they could have presented their case more vigorously.

  3. thesandiseattle says

    Never really cared for Nancy Disgrace. It amazes one that she’s been on TV as long as she has.

  4. dezn_98 says

    This is the same person who said he does not get a lot of flak when he talks about racism… right? Well judging from this post, and is probably a bad judgment from this one post (but I don’t have a lot of time to investigate what he says about race), then I can see why he does not get a lot of flak… he probably does not get racism as much as he thinks he does. Let me talk about the second article instead of the first – the first just tells us that this person political biases are against government having too much power (a great political view), it lays groundwork for how he perceives the trial of Zimmerman – through that political lense. I view the trial through a different lense, that one that says… racism is everywhere. One that is forced on me because the police and the state, as he phrases it, are taught to injure people of color like me.

    His first mistake is assuming that the social consensus in this nation is that Zimmerman ought to be thought of as guilty. I don’t know what world he is looking at, but in my world, the majority of people, white people especially, even your fcking racist “egalitarian” white liberals, want to play the “agnostic role” in this case because they do not want to get involved in a conversation about race. What most people are saying is “I don’t know what really happened….” and sort of dismiss the fact that this whole event took place because of a racist stereotype that made a person like martin a suspect and to be feared. They merely pay lipservice to the idea and then parade around their BS views of the justice system naively saying that we can not convict him without “enough evidence” – disregarding the fact that when a black man is a victim juries somehow require a whole lot more evidence to say guilty to the person who commited a crime against a black victim.. and how they require so little god damn evidence to convict a black person accused of that same crime.

    So let me say this loud and clear… the consensus in the US was NOT that Zimmerman has to be found guilty – that is the consensus around minorities. The real social consensus was exactly what this guy wrote…. the real social consensus is that “Yeah racism exists… and Zimmerman probably acted out of race… but… we don’t how this all really went down and… according to our rules of law I am obligated to say ‘not guilty’.. even though I morally condemn him” (fck these moral condemnations BTW) That is the real consensus in this fcking country, and it is so blatant that even fox fcking news has taken this position. White privileged people have hidden under this cloak of “under the law.. I am obligated to do this or that”… Never does it cross their mind that they have other obligations to oppressed people, and never have it crossed their minds that the laws are tailor made to bring about injustice. So they avoid the hard issue of racism, and hide under the banner of. “I have to do this under the law…” even though statistics show they do not follow the letter of the law when a black man is on trial and instead they follow their fcking gut. Their racist ingrained guts….

    So his first mistake is assuming that society wanted to convict Zimmerman… that is not true. Society wanted to morally condemn what he did, while simultaneously letting him go, avoiding the race issue under the guise of “we have to follow the laws.” In fact, the majority of societies views were reflected in the conviction…. the majority of societies views are reflected in the guys opinion, and his fear that they jury should not just agree with society happens all the time.. and it happened with this case already. White people just like to pat themselves on the back for being “fair and unemotional” when they fck over people of color by simply “obeying the laws.” So they make up this narrative of “we did all we could!!” and avoid the race issue like the plague.. they pay it lipservice, say it is there, but when forced to commit to action.. you bet their ass they won’t act.

    His second mistake is one that I see even the most god damn “egalitarian white liberal” make all the time… they say racism is present, but whenever a specific case of racism is brought to them.. they all of a sudden get cold feet and start giving excuse after excuse after excuse that this “may not be racist”.. so lets not “jump the gun.” Can not count how many times this cowardly stance is used. Let us get one thing straight.. if racism is present everywhere, and it fcking is, then that means the Jury can not be immune to racial biases. Let me say this clearly, if racism biases exist in this culture and there is overwhelming evidence that it does, than we have to assume it effects our discussions when it comes to issues of racism. If that is the case, than to assume the jury was not influenced by hidden racial biases – I mean c’mon they allowed the fact that Martin was high to enter the case, this is blatant racism to make him look like a drug addicted thug – is silly. We can assume quite rightly based on the evidence available to us, that no matter how the jury voted, race entered the equation, and they were influenced by hidden racial biases. To deny that is to deny the reality of racism in america today.

    So he insists they made this decision based on poor prosecution… and I absolutely agree with him on that. However, to then say because of this. racism was not present in the verdict is outright ridiculous.. how can you even arrive at that conclusion.. does the jury somehow live in a bubble where all of a sudden they are perfect egalitarians they pretend to be? No.. it was probably both racism and the poor prosecution. What the poor prosecution did was give an easy out to people. You see, you can not easily accuse them of racism if the prosecution was poor…. can you?

    There have been a few of studies on this, modern racism is hidden, people act on racist notions but provide seemingly rational explanations to get away from the accusation of racism. I read a study about white people who object to affirmative action recently.. particularly white people were motivated by racist reasons, but they were able to give seemingly logical explanations to why they are against it. It is simply motivated reasoning, they are motivated by racism, but cleverly think of excuses to avoid that motivation. The study, if I remember correctly said that, the most racist whites against affirmative action actually correlated with the amount of “non racist reasons” they give to be against it….. basically the more racist you were, the more likely you were to be against affirmative action, and the more likely you were to give many “race neutral” reasons for your view. The same thing has the possibility of happening in this case, and I argue that is what probably really happened.

    They were effected by racial biases, like everyone is, including myself, were given an easy opportunity to vote not guilty because of a shtty prosecution and voted not guilty. It was probably a decision based on a poor prosecution, that guy has one part right, but it is just as likely that it was influenced race. Their decision was probably a racist one, and it was easy motivated reasoning given to them, so plausible that even this fellow is fooled by it. I mean by what logic can one say that because the prosecution did a bad job, than we can say the decision probably was not motivated by race? How does that even contradict race based motivations? How can you form dichotomy between bad prosecution and race motivations? How does a bad prosecution eliminate the likelihood that they voted on race based motivations? That is incredulous logic and lots of people are fooled by it.. why can’t it be, as I think most likely is, probably a fair amount of both?

    Those are the two major things I thought he got wrong… there are lots more nitpicks I can have about the way he took this issue on and the way he whitewashed how race motivated people really are…. but for the most part those are my main thoughts.

  5. smhll says

    There were a couple of brief sketches spoofing Nancy Grace on the recent-ish Aaron Sorkin TV show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

  6. Trebuchet says

    I’m a big fan of Ken White (his co-bloggers, especially “Clark” not so much) but he got this a bit wrong when he called Nancy Disgrace a “statist”. She simply believes, from the bottom of her shriveled heart, that there’s never been an innocent (or even “not guilty”) defendant in the entire history of criminal jurisprudence.

    As far as I’m concerned, Casey Anthony got away with whatever she actually did to her daughter entirely because of Nancy Grace, who terrified the prosecution into lodging charges they could not possibly support.

  7. says

    @5: He doesn’t say that racism played no part in the decision. He says he sees no reason to conclude that. It’s a different thing. Basically, the system is broken, but there’s no good reason to conclude that the jurors are at fault in this particular instance.

    Some racists are upset in the comments, in fact, mainly because he seems to think that Zimmerman acted in way that definitely contributed to the situation and may have done something criminal, but you can’t prove it. A lot off commenters won’t settle for anything less than the idea that Zimmerman is a hero and did nothing wrong. They just don’t completely lose their shit like when you suggest that grabbing strange women’s asses isn’t cool. That’s what he was talking about in the other article.

  8. dezn_98 says

    @8… that is a meaningless distinction and does not undercut anything I said. The main point still stands.. so to bring a meaningless semantics point up and pretend that because there is a difference that it undercuts my main objections to him is irrational. The kind of irrationality I expect from someone who pays lipservice to racism, but never really calls out racism in any meaningful way – other than the easy to spot blatant KKK types.

    How does he arrive at that conclusion? The one where he does not see race as an issue here for the Jurors? He sets up this irrational and unfounded dichotomy that because the prosecution was bad, this somehow works to nullify that the Jurry acted on their hidden racial biases when deciding the case. There is no real logic to follow this point.. it is just denialism. It denies how prevalent racism is in the justice system and society at large… In fact we can quote easily conclude that racism more probably did influence the Jurors decision based on a rather large history of racist Jury convictions and a large body of evidence that white people in particular have race based motivations for treating people of color a peculiar fashion.. the fact the the jury was mostly white.. we can easily and rationally should conclude that race most likely entered the equation in their decisions in a negative fashion. To say “I see no evidence to say it was a racist verdict” is to display a vast amount of ignorance to how modern racism works.

    The other article where he implies for him, that racism is easier to talk about than sexism… again, is something based on ideas, nearest I can figure, about his ignorance surrounding the issues of racism. Racism is a hot button issue, and people do lose their sht.. all the fcking time. If you do not think making money off of Trayvon shooting posters is not “loosing their sht” then you have a lot to god damn learn.

    The very idea that racism is “easier to talk about” is unfounded and whenever I hear this sort of rubbish it is always coming from some privileged person who really does not even talk about racism in any meaningful fashion anyhow.

  9. says

    @9: I get the impression you first heard of Ken White a couple days ago and probably only skimmed the Zimmerman piece. He was trying to say that while the system is racially biased the claim, often implied and occasionally stated, that a non-racist jury would have convicted George Zimmerman is not in evidence. How can you read the part about how minorities are frequently railroaded and making it easier to convict people will only make the system more racist and come to the conclusion that he’s ignorant about racism in the judicial system and only recognizes it when it wears a pointy hat?

  10. says

    Also, while the Trayvon shooting posters happened, they were hardly mainstream. Do you really think there are nearly as many people who would buy Trayvon gun range targets as who complain that women want attention, but when you try to compliment them, they freak out? There’s a huge difference between saying that it’s generally agreed you shouldn’t be racist and saying that racism generally doesn’t exist and he makes that pretty clear in the article itself.

  11. dezn_98 says

    Ace of Sevens

    I red the entire article, I am quite aware of what he said. I even mention it in my first post.. white liberals do this type of racist micro aggression all the time. They pay lipservice to inequalities by accepting there overall existence, as this man did, but when it comes to a specific case of obvious racism… all of a sudden they say “hey wait now… I do not think you can say that is racist at all!” This is exactly why people of color are suspicious of white liberals because they always seem to align themselves with the system of privilege that works to undercut and deny the prevalence of racism. They pay lipservice as allies, accept certain fact of reality around racism, but when an actually real life example of racial injustice is out there.. they seem to always align with the side that has serves as a function to deny that racism plays a role. This is why this man is doing, and this is what you are doing, if you agree with him. This is what disgusts me the most, and many people of color.

    So no it is NOT fcking enough to say.. racism exists… when every single chance a real racist issue kills a person of color, these people seem to be the first ones to say “it might not be a racist event.” That is the kind of lipservice I am talking about… So no, saying the obvious thing that the justice system works to kill and imprison people of color, is not enough to grant any sort of immunity to the accusation that a white person does not really understand what racism is about… when they function as a nice barrier to denying it exists in specific instances.

    I make my decision on his ignorance, and perhaps your own, in your defense of him, based on the many conversation I have had with privileged white folk about racism.. with in those experiences I have been able to pick up ques to help me identify when a white person actually understand the problem and why they do not. When they do not.. .they almost always play a role in the trivialization of racial issues. Just like you just trivialized the idea that it is kind of a big deal when someone makes and sells a shooting poster of a young black man.

    White liberals always try to say “rational” things on racism… but they are just as bad in many instances when push comes to shove about racial issues in general. They serve as a convenient barrier to talking about racism in a meaningful way.

    Let me make this clear.. it is utterly inconsistent to say that racism in general exists in the justice system, and then, as if by magic, suggest that a case heavily dependent on race somehow magically finds itself exempt and the people involved with the case somehow magically acted on egalitarian values.. rather than what they normally do, which is act on bigoted values. It is like white liberal live in a different world – and no saying obvious things like “kk bad” or “racial inequalities exist”does not grant anyone any “I understand racism” points. That is just fcking stupid.

  12. Acolyte of Sagan says

    There is one thing that bothers me about the racist element of the Zimmerman / Martin case, and that is that Zimmerman himself is – if the reports I read are true – of mixed race, with a Latino father and Asian (Phillipino?) mother, suggesting a sliding scale of racism based purely on skin colour rather that racial descent so that ‘lighter trumps darker’.
    But I agree with what Avi said in his post on the subject namely that with no other witness to the incident that Zimmerman, and with no way for the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, the jury had no option but to acquit. It is not enough to ‘know’ Zimmerman’s motives, they have to be proven, and that could not be done. I made the point on Avi’s blog that this could usher in a new craze; forget ‘suicide by cop’, here’s ‘legitimate murder by self defence’. Just be sure to leave no witness alive, that’s all.

  13. dezn_98 says

    @ 13

    You know.. I am getting sick and fcking tired of this false fcking narrative that the “jury had no choice”… yeah, racist american laws, have no choice but to be abided by.. even if they end up killing people of color.


    The Jury had a choice.. the could have voted guilty. You people act like the entire system of law would have fcking collapsed if they would have voted guilty. What the fck would have gone wrong if they voted guilty? NOTHING.

    It is real sad to me that so many americans have bought into this racist fcking narrative of – we had no choice but to let this guy go. That is utter BS. It is funny… when it is a black victim, all of a sudden the level of evidence needed to convict is exponentially increased, and all of a sudden Americans get to be super picky and turn into obedient dogs that have “no choice” but to follow a law they know is racist. Hilarious… All these awfully convenient excuses when there is a black victim MURDERED on the fcking streets.

  14. says

    So you think juries should vote based on what they feel to be the “right” verdict rather than what can be proven and what the law says? And you think that will make the system less racist? That if prosecutors overcharge the jury should still convict on something to avoid letting a criminal get away? That would result in a whole lot more future Trayvon Martins going to prison than future George Zimmermans. You seem to think that trying to see this in terms of what makes a good legal system rather than what gives your desired outcome on this case is wrong. That’s the kind of short-sighted thinking that been eroding the rights of defendants for a long time and it’s mostly black men paying the price.

  15. says

    To clarify: You seem to be saying that to prevent racial bias, juries should be free to ignore the law and convict based on what they think the correct outcome is. The problem is that it’s not the law that’s racially biased: It’s juries and court officers. The law is written neutrally and only problematic because it doesn’t have good built-in protections against being applied in a biased manner. Juries ignoring the law and going with their gut may lead to a preferable outcome in a few cases, but would overall make the problem much worse.

  16. dezn_98 says

    Ace.. Are you cking kidding me? Who the fck are you or any fcking white liberal to tell any person of color what the right path is? Don’t fcking tell me what the right path is when you, and a lot of you are working to defend a system of justice that kills people of color. Do not presume to teach me anything, and do not presume you can read my fcking mind. Short sited…. sort sited? You are a big fking joke.. what is short sited is to think that a conviction of not guilty will all of a sudden preserve a system of justice that is already fcking broken and not send the message out to people that they can kill black men as they please.. they just need to be scared enough of them to kill them.

    It really is fkcing hilarious all these supposedly anti-racist people so quickly throwing a black man under the rug to “preserve a system of justice” that they already admit is designed to kill black people. Yes, let us let a murderer go because the government can then go after white people… and we do not want that! oh no! Let the justice system kill and convict black men, and let people who kill black children go.. because we have to preserve the system of justice! Give me a fking break.

    It really is funny to see a privileged society that constantly breaks unjust laws they do not like when it serves their purpose – most drug abusers are white. But when it comes to saving black children from getting fcking ganked on the street all of a sudden all the privileged folk in the world become super aggresive “let follow the letter of the law” obedient citizens.

    You are functioning off the impression that there is anything to preserve in our system of justice. What is there to preserve if it is broken… all of a sudden juries convicting on so so evidence is an issue of great importance! Yet when they convict people of color on little to no evidence in a systematic way that looks on the par of fcking genocide.. well everyone is silent then. Juries already “vote on their gut” and there is massive evidence to support that. Yet now, all of a sudden when black mens lives are literally on the line…. all of a sudden “voting on your gut” is something that not only is never done, but never should be done.

    It is further funny to see poeople accuse persons of color of “just wanting the desired outcome of the case to happen” when they are doing the same damn thing… they desired Zimmerman to be acquitted and they are satisfied with it. All in the name of some kind of false allegiance to the letter of the law – an allegiance that only really rears its ugly head when looking for excuses to criminalize and kill black people.

    Nothing would have changed if they voted guilty, no precedents would have been all of a sudden introduced that were not already there to the system to make it more broken…. All that would have changed is they would have sent a message out that this bad law is not to be used to hunt down black kids.

    You people live in a god damn fantasy world, protecting a system of privileges under the guise that it needs protection from being broken… even though it already is and works against minorities all the time.

  17. dezn_98 says


    To clarify: You seem to be saying that to prevent racial bias, juries should be free to ignore the law and convict based on what they think the correct outcome is. The problem is that it’s not the law that’s racially biased: It’s juries and court officers. The law is written neutrally and only problematic because it doesn’t have good built-in protections against being applied in a biased manner. Juries ignoring the law and going with their gut may lead to a preferable outcome in a few cases, but would overall make the problem much worse.

    WTF… you are joking right? The laws are written in a neutral fashion! HA! That is all the evidence I need to say that you are completely fckign ignorant to how racism world in this country and to say such an ignorant statement that the laws are race neutral is ridiculous. There are dozens of laws that are written in a way that is not race neutral. The god damn law in this case is not race neutral! Juses Christ… and you are a guy trying to tell me what the right path is to end racial inequalities… when you can not even understand the basic fact that laws in this country are not written and do no function in a race neutral fashion?

    That is the system you wish to protect? I see why you wish to protect it… you have no one gad damn clue on how it actually works.

  18. dezn_98 says

    Bruce: It is simple. They should have voted guilty… and not voted guilty as a way to promote racial equality, though it would have been a nice side effect.. but voted guilty because he was guilty. He did kill a black unarmed youth, no one disputes that. He did stalk this kid based on his skin color – and only fools dispute that. Those two events alone are enough for an actual conviction. You know there was a similar case, that everyone references in the stand your ground law…. where a black women tried to use the law to justify what she did. The jury said.. no.. no black people do not get to invoke that law, off to jail you go. Why could the juries also say that he does not get to invoke that law either if his fear was based on racial stereotypes to begin with like we all know it was?

    Yet that was not done because… well they have to preserve a system of justice that could come after white people if they use it to defend black people. No let us preserve a system that gets the black people but seems to work just fine for whites.

  19. Bruce Gorton says


    They should have, but they didn’t.

    I think what happened here was the case was engineered to fail -whether consciously or unconsciously. The cops didn’t want to investigate, the prosecution didn’t want to prosecute.

    The entire edifice is rotten. And this isn’t the only case like that. The system as it stands, well the wording may be neutral but the results obviously aren’t.

    If you are talking about the case I think you’re talking about, Marissa Alexander, they aren’t that similar. She shot a wall and got 20 years, Zimmerman shot a 17 year old and got the adulation of the American right.

  20. dezn_98 says


    Let me just say what I am trying to say here as clear and “unemotional” as possible. Since I know that when people of color get emotional about racism, and bring up the idea that white people do not get it because of their privilege.. that this often serves to make lots of whites scared of disagreement for fear of being called racist. Let me be clear and calm so I do not scare the “nice” white people away, who may not know much about racism, from a legitimate conversation.

    1) There is this idea parading about that if the Jury convicted Zimmerman on such a shtty prosecution this would be the “end of the world” and set a precedent that makes it easier to convict on little to no evidence.

    This fear is false. You can only set a precedent if it is not already routinely done. Yet if juries already convict people of color on little to no evidence all the time, then there is no precedent to set. It is just part of the normal everyday justice system – how it usually works. So there really is no danger in them saying guilty. There would be a precedent however set in the name of actual justice.. that no, saying you `are scared of black people is not enough to get away with killing them in self defense.

    2) The idea that if they do this, this would make the justice system worse for everyone – especially minorities.

    This is also false. The justice system is already broken for minorities, women, and for the poor.. so there literally is nothing to lose on our end. No mater how the Jury voted… Juries all over the world will continue to unfairly convict people based on their race, sec, and class and not solely on the evidence.

    However, I do admit that… if you are a rich, or white or male, while the system is not perfect, there may be a risk of setting a president of the system going after white people just like they do minorities. That risk however, I think because of point 1 is minimal and not to be taken seriously… and even if there was a slight chance… I argue they should take it. Yet a privileged society who is relatively satisfied with how the system works for them, are not really willing to risk their own well being to help out the oppressed… we know this already. As such, this fear, no matter how small, no matter how irrational, is just enough to, I don’t know, make the privileged maybe engage in some civil disobedience in the name of equality and justice… because it might harm their privileged status in the future.

    3) The idea that the stand your ground law had to be applied here because Zimmerman quite rightly feared for his life.

    This one is just silly. I will illustrate this with an analogy. Pretend Zimmerman grew up in a household who told him that little 8 year old, blond hair, blue eyed girls are dangerous criminals that could harm him. He would grow up with the stereotype and follow all the little white girls around to make sure “these fckers don’t get away with it.” Then he got in a scuffle with one little white girl, and he feared for his life… so he shot and killed her.

    In this instance, if the jury said.. we had to let him go because he really did fear for his life, and the law said he just has to be scared enough… Everyone would laugh at this travesty of justice. His irrational based fears can not be the basis of him being able to kill someone. Even if this little girl maybe hard a small rock in her hand enough to cause him a small injury on the back of his head. It would be obvious to everyone he only fear for his life because he was taught to be irrationally fearful of little girls all his life.. and his prejudices are no excuse for killing little girls.

    No.. I kid you not.. this is the same exact sht that happened in this case. This man acted out a of a world wide prejudice against black men – he was taught, as well all are, to fear them and criminalize them. And instead of the jury realizing this is a prejudice… they too said it is reasonable to fear black men and let him go. It seems absurd in the analogy, but it is just as absurd now – especially how they demonize Martin within the trial to set up a validation of that fear based on racism.

    4) The Jury “had no choice” to follow the letter of the law.

    This is just utter nonesense. Laws are routinely broken and bent for peoples own self interests all the time – especially for privileged folk. However, when a minority is in trouble.. all of a sudden.. even though we know it is unjust we have to follow the letter of the law and get them. Anyone who has ever taken an illegal drug – which is over half of america right now, as we are the biggest drug consumers in the world – should just shut the fck up about following the law right now.

    It is just an excuse.. to cover up the fact that we feel guilty for fkcing minorities over. So people hide behind this false sense of “justice” trying to say they always and must follow the law no matter what it does to minorities… Yet as soon as they are threatened, the laws do not seem to be as strong anymore.

    A perfect example is this… Snowden broke the law.. and only the most irrational statist is going to sit here and argue that wistle blowers need to follow the laws no matter what. Snowden chose to break the law as a form of civil disobedience and most Americans respect him for it – though the news propaganda tries to pretend this is false. They understand that because their lives are on the line.. but when a minorities life is on the line.. oh no we have to swear allegiance to the law no matter how immoral and how much physical harm it does to all those women, black, and poor people.

  21. dezn_98 says

    #21 Bruce:

    Yeah that is the case I am talking about.

    I am no fool either… I long predicted this would happen, even before the trial. I knew Zimmerman was going to be let go.. and I tried to prepare myself for this injustice by saying it is inevitable…. but as the verdict came out… I still cried, my family still cried, my friends were still angry…. and even though all people of color knew this would not end well.. we are still angry at the outcome. It is still “unbelievable” in the sense that.. it was so inevitable that he was ganna get away with it. It was so inevitable that all these supposed anti-racist allies, all these white liberals, would seek to justify the conviction in any way possible.

    It is fcking sad. We, people of color, already know it was a set up, already know the system is broken.. so it just rubs me the wrong way when people say “in the name of this system” he had to be let go. When they have not the faintest idea what kind of system they are protecting and advocating.

  22. says

    dezn_98: I’m sorry. I hadn’t realized before this point I was dealing with a person of color. I had assumed you were a white liberal. That said, while you may have an advantage over me in understanding how racism plays out in everyday life, I don’t think you understand the legal situation here. No legal expert I’ve read, regardless of color, has said that a guilty verdict was warranted here expected the kind of legal expert who Nancy Grace invites on: The kind who thinks that everyone should be found guilty. Michelle Alexander said said that it’s the Zimmerman mindset that needs to be found guilty more than the man himself and Ta-Nehisi Coates (who’s granted, a layman, but a knowledgeable one when it comes to racism in the legal system) that the killing of Trayvon Martin was a profound injustice, but under the laws as they stand, Zimmerman should not have been convicted.

    This is the point I’m trying to make. Defending the jury in this particular case isn’t defending the system. It’s quite the opposite in the case. Putting the onus on the jury is to say the system is fine. With this set of events, this prosecution, this set of laws, a jury should have convicted. If that’s the case, then we don’t need to change the laws or study ways to root out racial prejudice in how cops and prosecutors apply them. Everything would have been fine if not for that jury. We need tougher juries.

    Yes, in many other cases, black defendants haven’t been given the benefit of the doubt they are legally entitled to. In self-defense cases, juries have been less likely to believe that people needed to use lethal force to defend themselves from a white person. I agree that this his resulted in many invalid convictions for black defendants, defendants who killed white people and especially people who fall into both categories. I don’t see how taking away more people’s rights will make this better unless you are statist, which you clearly aren’t.

    Stand-your-ground doesn’t apply how you think in this case. The idea you must reasonably believe your life is in danger isn’t part of SYG. That’s any self-defense case. SYG only removed Zimmerman from any responsibility he had to not create a situation where his life was in danger. Unless you think it was proven Zimmerman wasn’t really afraid for his life, he wasn’t guilty under the charges laid. If he were afraid, but this fear were unreasonable, that would have been involuntary manslaughter, which the jury couldn’t convict on because he wasn’t charged with it.

    On jury nullification: It’s actually hotly disputed whether Snowden broke the law. I do agree in principle that it’s fine to ignore the law and vote not guilty if someone is is charged under an unjust law. However, it’s a big leap from that to the idea that if someone is charged under an unjust law where they are not guilty, you should vote to convict anyway if they would have been guilty under a just version of the law and it’s a leap I am not willing to make.

  23. freemage says

    dezn: I won’t even try to defend ‘the system”. My sole concern is that if the jury had convicted Zimmerman of Murder 2, an appeals court would’ve tossed the verdict, because the prosecution half-assed the case, which would’ve had almost the same long-term result, possibly worse (since it would’ve ratified the idea that “It’s okay to shoot scary black people” at a higher court level). They SHOULD have convicted for manslaughter, even with that shitty prosecution, based on the simple fact that Zimmerman’s admitted conduct led directly and inescapably to Martin’s death.

    I may get where popehat’s coming from, and I may like a lot of the stuff he’s written, but it’s still covered and awash in privilege and his own personal agenda (which, for the record, isn’t a bad one).

  24. says

    Ace of Sevens

    .He was trying to say that while the system is racially biased the claim, often implied and occasionally stated, that a non-racist jury would have convicted George Zimmerman is not in evidence

    And he is blatantly wrong to do so. The relevant Florida statute (2n degree murder) requires a ‘depraved mindset.’ To anyone not blinded by the victim’s skin tone, the fact that an armed adult pursued and accosted an unarmed boy while saying “These assholes always get away” would, in and of itself, constitute evidence of such a mindset. However, 5 out of 6 of the jury did not feel that this was the case, although I have little doubt that they would have had the victim been white.That said, based on Zimmerman’s history of 911 calls, there wouldn’t have been a victim if Trayvon had been white (which is further evidence of a depraved mindset, on my book).
    Acolyte of Sagan

    namely that with no other witness to the incident that Zimmerman, and with no way for the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, the jury had no option but to acquit.

    Bullshit. An armed adult pursued and accosted an unarmed teen, then shot him. Had Zimmerman not done that, no confrontation would have occurred, making him solely and entirely responsible for all consequences of his choices. No evidence is needed beyond his own testimony.

    The idea that the stand your ground law had to be applied here because Zimmerman quite rightly feared for his life.

    Oh, wow, yeah. This has got to be the stupidest one of them all. For one thing, if he was that fucking afraid of this kid he should have gone the hell home to avoid him. More to the point, I’m an adult man a few years older than Zimmerman, and I am a good 3″ and 20 lbs smaller than Martin. I cannot imagine a circumstance where a bare fisted fight between me and him could conceivably have posed a greater threat to my life than crossing the street. A man twice my size has far less excuse.

  25. says

    involuntary manslaughter, which the jury couldn’t convict on because he wasn’t charged with it.

    I think you’ll find that it would be voluntary manslaughter, which was one of the charges. There’s nothing involuntary about shooting somebody, and any adult damn well knows it’s likely to cause death.

  26. says

    @freemage: facts aren’t retried on appeal, only procedure. This is in fact one of the major problems with the court system and one of the major ways it works against its stated goal of justice.

    If you are convicted due to jury thinks you seem shifty or something, you can’t get the conviction overturned on appeal, even if you can prove you are innocent, unless you can show there was a procedural problem, like bad jury instructions, evidence that shouldn’t have been allowed or something like that. Had the jury convicted Zimmerman, he would have been stuck with it. That wouldn’t have made it just. My concern is that a lot of normally liberal people have been calling for further eroding defendant protections, which is is antithetical to liberalism and social justice and a way of feeling like a hero for kicking a tiny, powerless minority. The system is biased against many people, but none more-so than defendants, who are as powerless and unsympathetic as you can get.

  27. freemage says

    Ace of Stevens: IANAL, so that part was speculation by me, I admit. I was suspecting that an appeal would be based on the claim that the jury should’ve applied the odious, racist and utterly vile “Stand your ground [against dark-skinned folks]” law would’ve provided some grounds for a procedural appeal on Murder 2.

    Still, I fail to see how the case doesn’t align to Manslaughter, even with the most inept prosecution.

  28. dezn_98 says


    The jury was instructed by the court in a SYG law esque fashion that as long as Zimemrnan reasonably believed his life was in danger, they had to say it was self defense. All they had to do, as my analogy with the white little girl illustrated, was say that his racist motivations are not grounds for any rational justification of fear. This would have done something good.. it would have sent a message that you are not allowed to kill black people based on fear. However, the jury believed the fear was justified, and if anyone thinks they were not impacted by negative stereotypes of Martin to reach that irrational decision…. that person is a fcking idiot.

    The Jury did have a choice, they could have voted guilty… instead they voted not guilty. They did it because the “presentation” was not good enough for them and they did it because they view black men as criminals and swallowed to cool aid. Anyone who says that because the presentation could have been better, this nullifies accusation that that was a race based decision… is a fcking fool.

    The very idea that them vote not guilty will “all of a sudden” grant the state supreme powers over all of us is a fcking BS scare tactic to justify a racist decision. I can not believe so many people fall for that junk. The state already has all the power they could ever want, and they already treat a certain type of person like animals…. all this excuse is doing is saying the state should keep treating us like animals… There is not a single piece of evidence or rational argument at all that a “not guilty” verdict in this case would jeopardize any freedom that hasn’t already been taken away and spit on by the state. So don’t give me that malarkey, cause it is just plain false.

    The jury had a choice… what they chose was to make a racist decision based on stereotypes, send the message out that fear is all you need to kill black people, and then they are pompously defended by a vast amount of white privileged elite saying “good thing we are safe now! Let us throw black people under the bus to keep ourselves safe from the state!” Even though these fears are deeply irrational and misplaced. All this case does is show that people do not really give a fck about racism.. they just like to “morally condemn” it in a totally practically useless fashion all the while defending a racist case as an act of “justice under law.” Fck your god damn unjust laws, and fck your cowardly demeanors that seek to cement unjust laws instead of challenging them when you got the chance.

  29. says


    LOL. Teh ebyl state, the root of everything bad, according to those who have little to fear from bad actors other than the state. Dallilama nailed it.

    Also, great comments, dezn_98.

    His second mistake is one that I see even the most god damn “egalitarian white liberal” make all the time… they say racism is present, but whenever a specific case of racism is brought to them.. they all of a sudden get cold feet and start giving excuse after excuse after excuse that this “may not be racist”.. so lets not “jump the gun.”

    Not dissimilar from “egalitarian” liberals, not always men, wanting to give sexual harassers and assailants chance after chance, because “he didn’t mean it” or “that’s just how he is” or “boys will be boys.” Different oppression, same means of shoring it up.

    White liberals always try to say “rational” things on racism…

    Look at all the Poophat comments praising White for his “logic” and “reason” in the face of so much “emotion.” Does that sound familiar to anyone here?


    They just don’t completely lose their shit like when you suggest that grabbing strange women’s asses isn’t cool… Also, while the Trayvon shooting posters happened, they were hardly mainstream.

    Is that kind of ignorance blissful to live in? How are the real estate prices there? I’d suggest poking your nose into ANY discussion about the Martin case over the last week or so that isn’t hosted on a liberal blog that takes moderation of trolls seriously. I’ve seen a lot of comments that could’ve been copypasted right out of St0rmfr0nt.

  30. dezn_98 says

    EDIT on my comment #30… (also.. why on edit buttons on here)

    The very idea that them vote guilty will “all of a sudden” grant the state supreme powers over all of us is a fcking BS scare tactic to justify a racist decision. I can not believe so many people fall for that junk. The state already has all the power they could ever want, and they already treat a certain type of person like animals…. all this excuse is doing is saying the state should keep treating us like animals… There is not a single piece of evidence or rational argument at all that a “guilty” verdict in this case would jeopardize any freedom that hasn’t already been taken away and spit on by the state. So don’t give me that malarkey, cause it is just plain false.

    I previously said “not guilty” for some reason…. w/e…

  31. smhll says

    No.. I kid you not.. this is the same exact sht that happened in this case. This man acted out a of a world wide prejudice against black men – he was taught, as well all are, to fear them and criminalize them. And instead of the jury realizing this is a prejudice… they too said it is reasonable to fear black men and let him go.

    I agree. I heard a lot of bullshit from a family member (we’re white) that I used to respect. He had the fucked-up idea that walking from one point to another is inherently suspicious if you are black when you are doing it. And he wouldn’t admit that it was racism.

    I’m guessing that a lot of white liberals get their ideas about the police and the court system from TV shows. I don’ t think any liberal thinks it’s right for any person to be convicted on very little evidence.

    (Although, sadly, I remember (conservative) Attorney Genera Ed Meese saying something appalling like “they wouldn’t be suspects if they weren’t guilty.” Holy Crap!

  32. says

    @ Ms. Daisy Cutter:

    Here you go:

    There certainly are some racists in there, including a few overt ones, but if this were equivalent to a thread about con harassment, half the commenters would be saying that black people should stay inside if they don’t want to be shot. Are you seriously arguing that racism is as mainstreamed as sexism? It isn’t just comments. Look at Hollywood, where they produce a considerable number of movies about ethnically stereotyped villains, though usually with a lot of stuff to try to say they aren’t racist along with a good number of movies about how racism is bad while the vast majority of comedies and a significant portion of thrillers are based on the idea that mean are one way and women another.

    dezn_98: I agree with you that in a hypothetical situation where Trayvon Martin were a pretty white girl, Zimmerman would have been convicted, but this just means that juries are biased against seeing pretty young white girls as a threat, not that an unbiased jury wouldn’t have acquitted.

    Throughout the thread, you have been making two contradictory arguments: That the jury should have convicted under the law and that the law is unjust, so the jury should have convicted anyway. They would lead to the same result in this particular case, but it makes a big difference if you are trying to work out the best way to reform the system. If it’s the former, are there any legal experts who said this besides Nancy Grace types who want all juries to convict? Everything I’ve heard along these lines is from non-lawyers arguing based on what they think the law is from mainstream media coverage of legal issues and from courtroom dramas. If it’s the latter, I disagree and we can discuss that.

    The argument isn’t that voting guilty will all-of-a-sudden grant the state supreme powers. The argument is that it undermines the democratic process and our civil liberties protections. We can change the law, but we can’t change jurors. (Which is also why complaining about jurors is useless from an activism standpoint.) If the idea takes hold jurors aren’t obligated to act according to the law, we have no control over the legal process. Trying to reform the justice system through runaway juries makes the process arbitrary at best. Historically, juries that vote based on what they think the law should be rather than what it is have been disastrous for civil liberties because you are essentially ignoring legal protections and let society decide based on how they feel about the defendant. (See the Jim Crow South for one of the worst examples of this theory in action.)

    I’m not saying the system is just in general or that justice was served in this case. I’m saying going after juries will do nothing at best and probably make the system less just. Improvements have to come by reforming the laws and court procedures, the same laws and court procedures that you say should have led to a conviction as followed. They didn’t, and I don’t see how blaming the jury will do anything to change this.

  33. says

    I ask again: Do you seriously believe that a white jury would not have agreed that it was a sign of aggressive intent(‘depraved mind’ in the relevant legal terminology) that an armed Zimmerman pursued and accosted Martin, leading to a physical conflict, had Martin been a white boy of the same age, size, demeanor, and dress? Zimmerman is blatantly guilty of second-degree murder under Florida law, and nothing beyond his own statements and publicly accessible 911 calls are needed to show it, and if it weren’t for the racism of the jury, that’s what he’d have been justly convicted for, just like he would’ve been if he shot a white kid instead.

  34. dezn_98 says


    You know.. you fcking poeople always twist yourself into semantic knots and nitpick BS to try and justify how you function in racist manner by defending a racist verdict. It is tiresome.

    The analogy just means they preference white little girls? Are you fcking serious? Or are you just being purposefully obtuse about this? No.. the analogy means that poeple are effected by their predispositions, effected by how they stereotype people in an irrational fashion. What the analogy shows is how absurd it would be for Zimmerman to say he was so scared of a little blond girl that he had to shoot her. That in particular, because we do not have a culture that stereotypes white blond girls in a way that makes them out to be “dangerous” his reasoning, even if he was really afraid, would be specious because we know that fear came from a lifetime a prejudice and can not be arbitrarily used to kill.

    What that means, and I can not fcking believe I have to lay this sht out for you brick by brick as if you are a baffoon, is that the only reason the Jury, and you, and every stupid as white liberal says he was “justified to be scared of martin” enough to justify a self-defense verdict under law… is that you all believe that it is ok to look at black people as dangerous. You are all racist fck tards for it. The jury found the idea plausible because they, like most of you, are already scared of black people… but if you bother to look at this for just a moment and realize there fears stem from racism, you have to concude that these fears can not be use d to justify murder. WTF is next? Cause I look at a white man wrong he gets to fcking shoot me in my god damn mouth and sht on my corpse? Is that WTF you all want? Cause it seems like it when you defend this nonsense idea that Zimmermans fear of black people validated a not guilty verdict… it did not.

    That is what the analogy shows.. get that sht straight.

    If your argument that somehow a guilty verdict undermines civil liberties…. then you have not been listening to a god damn thing I been saying. This fcking idea relies on the assumption that we got civil liberties. I know rich white males got civil liberties… I am not so sure about myself. This case proves that obviously black people aint got civil liberties either.

    The fundamental error that I have been repeating since the first fcking post, the one I have been trying to get you to see, but the assumptive error you keep fcking referencing is that there is something of values to protect in the justice system in the first place. I am trying to tell you that the justice system is broken as is, there is nothing to defend, nothing to protect… the only thing you are protecting is the status quo of domination privilege and oppression.

    I can not make this anymore clear to you. I am not the one being inconsistent it is everyone that takes your stance that is inconsistent and functioning in a racist manner by protecting a racist system. I said they should have voted guilty based on the facts of the case, Zimmerman did kill him, and Zimmerman profiled him… these two facts alone mean that he has to face jail time – shtty prosecution or not. To let him off Scott free is to tell everyone that black people are fair game. There is nothing inconsistent about that.

    The system of law is already broken in this country but that does not mean you can not use it to get some justice – even if all the other injustice stays in place. There is nothing contradictory in this notion at all. We do this all the time with practically everything, we can use broken things to do some good, but eventually we also have to fix that broken thing or else we will never get anything done. What you are doing is what is inconsistent… what you are advocating is the protection of that broken thing, as if it is worthy of any protection, because that broken thing just so happens to work for a select group of privileged elite – meanwhile everyone else gets fcked. What I am saying lets use that broken thing just once to “un fck” someone while we try to replace that thing. What you are saying is.. no we have to fkc this person because this broken thing has integrity and has to be used – and you base this on the false idea that this broken thing is useful, when it aint. I mean not to me, not to Trayvon, not to the poor, not to women… who is it useful to again?

    Here is your inconsistency. Let me try to make this sht as simple as possible..

  35. dezn_98 says

    crap.. hit post.. let me continue.

    You say that they had to do it to preserve civil liberties…… I am telling you that civil liberties, particular by the Obama administration are already in the shtter. Yet that is something almost new compared the the big lack of liberties that are denied to people of color everyday. In order to take this stance you actually have to believe that civil liberties are preserved in the first place.. well all available evidence suggest that civil liberties, especial for people of color, are NOT preserved but are routinely violated. So you can not use that as a defense, while simultaneously arguing the system is broken. IF it is broken, fkc the system.. if it is not, lets work to presrve it. I am telling you its frcking broken, so fck the system.. do something right for once and, they should have put that fcker in jail. Yet the keep him out of jail in the name of the integrity of the rule of law… when they openly admit the law has lost integrity a long time ago?

    It is crap.. and I telling you know that this reasoning only ever comes up when the law does something bad to misfortunes… and instead of breaking that law, bending that law, fixing that law… people all of a sudden become super patriots and are unable to do anything else but what the law says… and the frown while they literally promote a system of laws that kill minorities.

    That right there is racism. That is what racism is. When the law is on the white mans side, it is good. When it goes against the privilege elite, it can not be abided by… when it goes against a minority.. oh… we got no choice but to do as it says because we are puppets of it, or because we respect it so fcking much. That is modern racism there for you.. that asymmetry is what racism is all about.

  36. says

    Dalillama, I’m pretty sure that’s an incorrect assessment of the legal issues here.

    We don’t need a hypothetical white Trayvon here. I think that Zimmerman did shows signs of aggressive intent and a lot of legal analysts touched on this and agreed. Zimmerman’s story about how he wasn’t pursuing Martin isn’t very plausible. However, from a legal standpoint, that’s not what depraved mind means. Depraved mind has three parts:

    1) a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and
    2) is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and
    3) is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.

    Parts 1 & 3 definitely fit, but part 2 is a problem. In order to demonstrate this, you would have to show that he fired the gun solely because of ill intent against Martin and not because of fear for his own life, not just that he had ill intent, otherwise there would be no such thing as self defense at all. If you purposely provoke someone into a fight and they react in a way that puts your life in danger, so you kill them, that is not second degree murder anywhere unless you provoked the fight with the specific intent of trying to get them to give them an excuse to kill you (premeditation means it’s first degree murder where there’s no requirement of depraved mind and would invalidate your claim to fear for your life) or you were committing a felony from a particular list (felony murder is also first degree and removes the depraved mind requirement).

    However, we’re neither lawyers. Has any legal expert other than the prospector and the Nancy Graces of the world supported this reasoning? More importantly, did the jury instructions support your claims? In fact, they did not.

    The jury was specifically not instructed that Zimmerman had to not be the initial aggressor to have a legit claim to self defense, only that he had to be reasonably in fear for his life. Also keep in mind that burden of proof is on the state, so they would have to prove that definitely wasn’t the case. They would either need to prove that Martin didn’t slam his head into the sidewalk, or at least the Zimmerman knew he wasn’t going to do it again or that this was not reasonable cause to fear for his life. Given that plenty of people have died from similar circumstances, we can throw the latter right out. Though i suspect Zimmerman greatly exaggerated, since he did have injuries consistent with having his slammed into a sidewalk, I don’t see how you could prove it didn’t happen.

    People should not be able to make a full self defense claim if they were the initial aggressor in the confrontation that led to the killing. However, this is a problem with the law and possibly with the jury instructions, not with the jury, who can’t very well rule based on laws they weren’t told about. This is why we need to work to change the law, not say that the current law should have led to a conviction and grouse about the jury, who we can’t really do anything about.

  37. dezn_98 says

    I am going to expand on what I mean about this asymmetry, in the reaction of white liberals, in particular when it comes to this case. Also, I will try to dial back on the vulgarity and aggression tiny bit – as I know my posts are written in an abrasive manner – and to a certain extent I want them to be abrasive. Let me be as non abrasive as possible to explain why this is upsetting for many people of color, and why the reaction from whites supposedly on the side of anti-racism is in fact, I would argue, a racist reaction.

    Modern racism is measured by asymmetries. In particular, out right racism like racial slurs and stuff really need no measurement because in modern society, most people already think racism is bad and most do not defend racial slurs. However, modern racism is not just about the easy to spot racist behavior that relies on a vocal assumption that blacks are inferior…. no.. modern racism has more to do with racist micro aggression, racial hidden biases, structural racial inequalities that actually do not come from the KKK types… but stem from well meaning egalitarians. Their ideas are in the right place, and so are their intents, most of the time, but modern racism has to do with the way their behavior impacts people of color in a negative fashion – well intentioned or no.

    Modern racism is not measured in a single instance, instead it is measured by statistical correlations that rule out all other reasonable factors until racism is the only viable factor of influence left. It is measured, in particular, by asymmetrical distributions of wealth, power, and education. On a more individual, rather than structural level, it is measured by statistically significant asymmetries in human behavior – that has a measurable negative effect on minorities in particular.

    For example, the way to prove I act racist – and I do act racist, just like you all do, though probably to a lesser extent. We would have to look at my behavior in similar situations with the variables being mainly skin color. Then we have to see if there is enough of a negative asymmetry to justify a “you are being racist” charge. For instance, you can take a white man and a black man. Make them walk towards me on the sidewalk – then measure to see if I react differently to one of them or both of them, and see if that reaction is negative or positive. If, over time it is shown that there are many times that I “cross the other side of the street” or “hold onto my wallet” when I see a black person, and I do not do that to any statistically significant degree to a white person. No matter how much ideologically I am for racial equality, I am still…. acting racist. This can not be denied.

    Now, many times when looking for such asymmetrical distributions… you have to ask yourself… how did you know such an asymmetry would show up if measured? Well, obviously the statistics would be validated with a race based hypothesis. Many times, sociology is way way way behind in studying a racial phenomenon. Like People of color knew long ago that a lot of people against affirmative action are saying it cuase they are racist… way before a study came out to prove it. How did they know? Well from a lifetime of experience with dealing with such asymmetries and micro-aggression.

    We have our own, built in, statistical databases that tell us when this person does this or that.. it is probably a racist reaction. A black man does not need a study, though it is nice to have empirical evidence to validate shakey intuitions, to tell him that when a white person crosses the street or clutches their money as they walk towards him… that this is a racist reaction. He does not need to because he has been aware of this behavioral asymmetry all his life. (Good thing that there is strong empirical evidence to support that most of the time people of color get it right when they call out racist asymmetrical behavior, and most of the time whites are wrong when they deny it is present.. that is a plus)

    With this in mind – there is tons more to say, but this provides a simplistic enough understanding to get my point across – we can now look at the white liberal reaction to this verdict.

    Let me start with another analogy. Pretend that everything in this case, all the facts in this case is exactly the same, the prosecution did a sht job, the police did a sht job… everything is the same.. the only variable added was the the person Zimmerman killed was not a black youth but instead a white, beautiful, rich, well connected, famous, and well liked person.

    Would Zimmerman have been acquitted of the charges?


    You know as well as I know that he would have been convicted as guilty. I also know that very few, if any, would have said that he should have been let go. Most, if not all, would be satisfied that he was in jail. Justice. (We can say this is most likely the case because we have multiple lines of statistical evidence that allow us to induce that there is a very high possibility that the victim being a person of privilege would have produced vastly different results – across the board, not just on the Jury)

    Now ask yourself this… if we only changed that one variable… how come we have very good reason to believe the outcome would have been different? It is because we know that Juries often do not just make a judgment based on the facts of the case.. they often make judgments with other variables included. Variables like race, sex, class, beauty, fame, likability, etc…. The only conclusion you can possibly arrive at now, given the validity of the reasoning above.. is that Zimmerman was let go because race played a factor in making us, all of us, consider the validity that he was right to be afraid of that scary black child. What this means, is that regardless of the facts, regardless of the shtty prosecution, race is a factor that impacted this case, and made us, as a society let him go. If you agree with the things I said before, this is an inescapable conclusion.

    So considering this, considering we have to, by sheer fucking logic… say that this was a decision based on racism… considering the fact that many minorities, like myself, have no predispositions to conclude, quite obviously, that what the jury did was racist….. considering that the many anti-racist white allies…. a whole lot of them, can not be lead to that conclusion so easily… You need to start asking why this asymmetrical reaction is there. You have to wonder why the fck that is. (Actually I fking don’t, I know why)

    Now here is the rub, here is why I accuse many whites of having this asymmetry that makes me conclude dey bein real fckig racist right now…. In such an obvious case of racism, not many are willing to say it was due to racism… instead they say it was do to other unrelated factors. Interesting. When pressed on this, many fall back on the line of “have to follow the letter of the law.”

    I question if this is even true.

    If, using the analogy above, we know that a victim who had a lot of privileges would have lead to a conviction of Zimmerman, even under the same exact facts of the case…. than, saying the had to choice but to let him go, via the law… is a lie. It is a basic asymmetry. You know, and if you do not you should, the case produces different results if we change the single variable of color and privilege in the case… than you can not conclude that, based on the facts alone, the jury had no choice.. clearly they did have a viable choice.. but they chose not to do it.

    That is the racist asymmetry that I am talking about… and that pattern is rampant in more than just the ZImmerman case. Every time a minority is unjustly prosecuted, or a minority victim is not met with justice… white people roll out the “not enough evidence.. gatta obey the law” line… yet we have encyclopedias worth of cases that tell us the exactly opposite story. That when met with similar cases…. the deciding factor in the conviction was race. It was not the amount of evidence, not the amount of pride one had to the letter of the law.. but race.

    What you are defending, what you are saying, the position you have, I think, is a racist position. White liberals have placed themselves on the side of injustice when they fallaciously say “not enough evidence” because we all fcking know.. evidence was not the only factor in this case.

  38. says


    n order to demonstrate this, you would have to show that he fired the gun solely because of ill intent against Martin and not because of fear for his own life,

    As I noted in comment 26, without a racist assumption that black males are intrinsically hyper-dangerous in some unspecified fashion, it is ludicrous to think that an unarmed teen boy of Martin’s size is a threat to the life of an adult man of Zimmerman’s size, build, and condition. It’s frankly ludicrous to think that Martin would pose a significant threat to my life in an unarmed confrontation, and as I noted above, I’m significantly smaller than he is, and barely 2/3 the size of Zimmerman. I am in more danger riding my bike to the damn library than I would be if I were in a fight with someone the size of Martin, and no one would say that it would be ok for me to haul out a gun and blow someone away because they didn’t signal a goddamn turn.

  39. says

    I agree with you that if Trayvon were a different person, but all the other aspects of the case were the same (which is absurd, because race affected the case well before jury was even seated, but I’ll roll with it), Zimmerman could have been convicted, though I think you would have to change more than just race as thee victim wouldn’t need to be more sympathetic than Martin, but more sympathetic than Zimmerman. Race and sex would definitely do it. Race and class probably would. However, I don’t think your conclusion that this verdict was racist follows. That only makes sense sense if we think a white person killing another white person is some racially neutral scenario, but it isn’t. It could be that that that hypothetical verdict would be the racist/sexist one. I’m saying the court system isn’t just biased against black people. It’s biased for white people and that makes jurors sometimes convict when they shouldn’t if a victim is white, especially if they are also female, photogenic and/or white collar, particularly if the accused is male, a minority, working class or especially homeless. Given a borderline case with and a questionably white, unattractive male defendant, if you keep piling on characteristic that make the victim more sympathetic than him and more likely to be stereotyped as harmless, you can eventually get a conviction. It doesn’t mean the the conviction would be right. It just means that the presumption of innocence is proportional to how privileged the defendant is and inversely proportional to how privileged the victim is. (Keeping in mind that privilege doesn’t work entirely the same in criminal court as other parts of society. Being seen as ineffective is beneficial if you are being charged with a crime, but a hindrance when you are trying to get a job. You presumably agree, which is why you posited a female victim as more likely to get a conviction, despite that males are privileged ones in most circumstances.)

    Your argument that minorities don’t have civil rights and therefore have nothing to lose assumes that racism is an either/or proposition. This is not the case. Everyone has civil rights, some people’s are just better enforced that others. There have been times when civil rights protections were much weaker than now and without exception, things were far worse for minorities then. Do you dispute this?

  40. says

    I agree with you that if Trayvon were a different person, but all the other aspects of the case were the same (which is absurd, because race affected the case well before jury was even seated, but I’ll roll with it), Zimmerman could have been convicted,

    FFS, you’re acknowledging that if he’d shot someone who wasn’t black he’d have been convicted, you’re agreeing that he was in the wrong, so WTF is your argument that he shouldn’t have been convicted now coming from?

  41. says

    @41: I assume no such thing and that’s a straw man. It has nothing to do with whether Martin was intrinsically dangerous. The question is whether he was dangerous in context. I laid this out in the parts of the post you weren’t responding to. Are you arguing that Martin was provably not slamming Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk or that Zimmerman provably had no good reason to think this would kill him? Absent one of these claims, it was reasonable for him to think that his life was in danger from Martin.

    This is someone who was recently killed a few blocks from my house when an unarmed man punched him and he fell and hit his head on the sidewalk. That was only one hit and wasn’t even intentional. There are plenty of real world reason to think that an unarmed person could kill you this way. If you dispute this, I’m curious as to why.

  42. says

    @43: I say that right after the part you quote. He killed a black male. Had he killed someone society valued a lot more under the same circumstances he likely would have been convicted. That means that one of these verdicts is unjust, but I don’t get why do you say it necessarily has to be the former.

  43. dezn_98 says


    You are not following the logic.. and I am trying to be as nice as possible. I could just call you a racist liberal sht and walk away – and I would be justified to do so. However, I am going to break this down to you. The logic I have presented and that you just agree to.. totally contradicts your position that “based on the evidence they had no choice but to vote not guilty.” I suspect, the thing that makes you so unwilling to see my point, so unwilling to grant that this is a racist verdict, and so unwilling to understand a verdict of guilty is essential called for…. is based on hidden racial biases, that is making you a function of whatever privilege you happen to have.

    Let me explain… follow the logic.

    You said that the jury has to let him go based solely on the lack of evidence – they had no other choice, and via integrity of the law, they had to let him go. This means that given a case with the same amount of lack of evidence, the jury would also have no choice. Understand what this mean, and then think about what I am about to say.

    If we imagine the same exact fcking case, except the victim were of a more privileged status – it matters not what privilege, just not young black male. You openly admit that the jury would have pronounced Zimmerman guilty. So you understand what that means? It means that the case can be decided upon things other than the evidence presented.. in particular on things that have no real relevancy to the case – just cultural relevancy to how we stereotype various people of privilege and those who lack them. This is the reality on how juries function, they make decisions based on things that are not relevant to the case, and things that have no connection the amount of evidence presented.

    What this means is that, and the logic is air fcking tight, so what I say necessarily follows from above. The jury did have a choice to say guilty. They just did not have enough “outside” reason to do it. Meaning, it is because the victim was black that they voted not guilty. If the victim was more privileged in some fashion or another, they would have voted differently REGARDLESS of the evidence. That means that the evidence is not the sole mitigating factor.

    This nullifies your position and anyones position who says that “based on the evidence, they had no choice”… because they do have a choice. If your position was true… than the outcome would necessarily be the same, even if a case with the same evidence but with a more privileged victim. However, the mere possibility, that the outcome could have been different with a different victim totally negates the position that they had no choice based on the evidence alone… they had other choices, they just did not have the sympathetic (by that I mean white) victim.

    This is about as clear as I can put your irrational position on this matter. The facts of this case, do not matter as much as you think they do, what matters was the race of the victim and the way we unjustly judged him based on his race – a variable you are trying to undercut and trivialize this entire damn thread.

    Let me put this simply….

    A person makes an assertion that based on this factor and solely this factor, this event has only one logical outcome.

    If another event comes along with the same factor but produces a different outcome, than, by the laws of logic, the above statement can not be true.

    We have to conclude that, this means there are other factors at play. We are forced to say that the first factor can not be regarded as the deciding factor when determining the outcome of the event.

    You are saying that the deciding factor of the conviction is the amount of evidence.

    I am saying that given the same amount of evidence we can have a case produce different results.

    That means the deciding factor is not evidence alone, other factors, racism, come into play.

    However, since the factor of racism is an irrational factor that should in no way impact the outcome of the event, than we have to admit to ourselves that racism unjustly impacted the outcome of the event. We also have to admit to ourselves that the outcome can be different regardless of the evidence presented. What this means is that the jury had a choice… they chose to go with racism, and not justice. You are defending that racist choice.. and you need to fcking stop. NOW.

    I am tired of this conversation and I can not longer maintain a pleasant demeanor to someone who is being so obtuse and denying the relevancy of racism in this case. So before you give a reply.. think very fcking deeply about what I just said.. cause you are way the fck wrong and it is probably due to either privilege or ignorance or both.

  44. says

    This is someone who was recently killed a few blocks from my house when an unarmed man punched him and he fell and hit his head on the sidewalk.

    I love the smell of anecdata in the morning. It smells like a shitty argument (Also, incidentally, the article you link to says nothing about a single punch; you might want to find a better source if you’re going to make a claim that detailed. It also says nothing about the size, strength, or build of the puncher, who is unknown, or the punchee.). A while back, one of my neighbors was killed crossing the street at a crosswalk, which is one of the things I explicitly compared the risk to. While such things do happen, a) they are the exception, not the rule; most people who get in fistfights do not die, nor do most people who cross the street. The existence of something as a possibility does not automatically imply that fear of it reasonably justifies any particular action, and b)by the time you’re reacting to falling and hitting the pavement, the point of danger has already been and gone; you’re either dying or you’re not, and if you’re still conscious, you’ve got at least a couple hours before death, and Zimmerman knew that emergency services were incoming, because he’d called them, and c) there’s actually less danger in having someone sitting on you and beating your head on the ground then you are from the initial fall. (Incidentally, it appears that at least two witnesses indicated that they saw the shooter on top, which would knock this entire discussion into a cocked hat as far as relevance goes).

    I don’t get why do you say it necessarily has to be the former.

    Because he stalked and killed a fucking teenager FFS!! In any vaguely just system, that is fucking murder!! How is this hard to fucking understand?

  45. says

    To clarify, I actually brought up the hypothetical Trayvon Martin who was a pretty white girl a couple weeks ago when discussing the case with my girlfriend. I came up with this hypothetical to make the point that self defense law leans heavily on juror bias of whether they can see the dead person as a credible threat. You’re pretty much screwed on self defense if not defending yourself from a person who’s easy to build a scary cultural narrative about. If you shoot someone in self defense, better hope they have a criminal record or tattoos or dark skin or at least a penis and the fewer of these things you have, the better. My point was that protections of defendants are inadequate and the usual biases double because often it’s not the facts that are in dispute so much as who it’s easier to see as a murderer. I was saying the benefit of the doubt as to which one was the murderer/potential murderer should always go to the defendant, not just when the defendant is sufficiently more privileged than the victim.

  46. dezn_98 says

    This is stupid.. What world you live in again. Sure that is how things “should be” but I am telling you that is not how things are, and I am also going to add to that, that in this bigoted society, this at present is not even something that is possible.

    What you are doing is taking the goal – an un prejudicial jury – and acting as if this has already been met, and then making an argument off this assumption. Which I have pointed out to you time and time again, that this assumption is fundamentally invalid. You have to look at the way things are now, not the way things magically should be.

    You can not seriously say with a straight face that because we should not be racist, that race did not enter the verdict. That is stupid. What you have to say is that because we are racist right now, we have to admit that race unjustly influenced the verdict. We also have to say that this happens in all court causes in present day, people vote on prejudices not just evidence..

    What I am saying, and have been saying, and I am getting tired of saying, that given the state of the justice system right now… there is literally no actual harm that could have come from a guilty verdict – all the harm is being done in cases that warp this case in importance. However, there could have been good done. They were morally obligated to do the good, but the cowardly put that aside and instead caused harm, simultaneously trying to validate that harm by acting as if the “integrity of the justice is at stake.” When there is no such integrity in its current state…

    The “integrity of the justice system” only matters when a minorities rights are being violated by that justice system in the name of the law. I will tell you what.. all these “integrity of the justice system|” arguments get thrown out immediately as soon as a non-minorities rights are being violated by the law. All they do is bypass the law… and to give that same bypass to a minority is some kind of “grave error” that would destroy your privileged little laws.

    I mean this type of fcking argument can be cowardly used to validate any injustice imaginable. The fugitive slave law? Yeah, I am sure a bunch of “not racist” whites back then returned the slaved to preserve the integrity of their rule of law.. and non of that had to do with the slaved being black or them being bigoted against them. A real ally would break the law and refuse to return the slave… because that is what justice demands. This type of argument basically states that we never do what justice demands… we merely do what the state demands because of out faith in the state – even when we know the state works to kill people unjustly.

    Take ths fkcin stance and shave it up your ass.

    Justice demanded he be put in jail, the state demanded he be let go. You all went right with the state, and right on the side of the oppressors… congratulations anti-racist allies… you are one of the biggest obstacles to actual racial equality.

  47. says

    . I was saying the benefit of the doubt as to which one was the murderer/potential murderer should always go to the defendant,

    And I’m saying it should go to the one who is not the aggressor.

  48. says

    @dezn_98: I don’t think you follow my reasoning. I say that under the law, the jurors had no choice but to vote not guilty. Yes, you can come up with a situation where you could probably motivate them to ignore the law and vote guilty anyway. That doesn’t contradict the first sentence. Since criminals are generally unsympathetic and their rights are the subject of much derision in the mainstream media, it’s not too difficult to push juries into convicting when they shouldn’t and it becomes less difficult the less privileged the defendants otherwise are and criminal defendants generally start pretty low to begin with.

    This gets back to the question I’ve been asking you: Are you saying that under the law, the jurors should have convicted or that regardless of the law, the jurors should have convicted? You seem to be mixing and matching as convenient, but these are very different. It could be both, that the law said to convict, but even if it didn’t, they should have anyway, but then we are talking about 2 questions which you seem to think are one question. This isn’t just nitpicking, it makes a huge fuckign differencce in where the problem is, which makes a huge fuckgn difference in what we shoudl do to fix it, which I assume is your ultimate goal here.

    @Dalillama: Anecdata is all that it takes to establish that it was reasonable to believe there was a threat. The burden of proof is on the prosecution here. It’s also not the only example. Look up the case of Douglas Reddish, who nearly killed Austin Dewan with a single punch (Dewan was racially abusing him and apparently trying to provoke a fight). I’d put a link, but more than one would put this in moderation.

    Your whole argument hinges on the idea that Zimmerman stalked Martin. I understand if you were using this to say that Zimmerman has moral culpability, but you say you are making a legal argument about what the jury should have found under our current laws. In that case, the stalking claim falls apart. Stalking isn’t just legalese for following. It has a specific meaning. Here is the relevant section of Florida law.

    I struggle to think how you could prove Zimmerman violated this. It would have to be willful, malicious and repeated. I’ll give you willful. Zimmerman argued otherwise, but his story was implausible to the point where I think it’s fair to say it was disproven. Malicious is possible, but you can’t prove it. It definitely wasn’t repeated.

    More importantly, the prosecution never argued that Zimmerman stalked Martin. If they believed he did, he would have been charged with first degree murder, not second, under the felony murder rule. How is it reasonable to say the jury should have found him guilty of crimes the prosecution never even accused him of? I understand your argument and mostly, but it’s an argument about what law should be and what probably happened, not what it is and what the jury knew for sure happened, which is what you claim to be talking about.

  49. dezn_98 says

    Ace: You are the one who does not understand and I am really tired of your nonsense.

    I am saying you are wrong on both counts.

    Under the law the jury had every fcking right to vote guilty. All they had to say is that his fears were unreasonable, thus self defense no longer qualifies… and you can easily link his fears to racism, which makes his fears unreasonable beyond a reasonable doubt. There is nothing that would have gone wrong at all with the current system of laws, no negative impact that was not already there, that this vote of guilty could have made.

    I am saying the way that juries function at present, in all court cases, is in a prejudicial manner. They acted in a prejudicial manner in this case already by letting him go. As such it would make absolutely no difference if they acted in the name of justice to put him in jail. The difference would be that they would send a message that you can not qualify fear of minorities as self defense.

    Under the same exact fcking law, we know of an actual case where the voted guilty, and we can imagine in infinite amount of cases with similar pieces of evidence were they would be allowed to vote guilty. This simple fact undercuts any and all arguments that they had to vote not guilty. Combine that with what I said above, and they had a moral obligation towards justice to see him put in jail.

    None of this is contradictory to the point that the law that brought about this case, but not technically used as a defense in this case, is a racist law that needs to be repealed. Even under this unfair law, you can argue that they should have voted guilty – but you can only argue that if you include racism. No one wants to include it, thus it does not get argued, and gives this false picture of only one possible outcome… but this is a blatant falsehood that the privileged love to propagate to wash their hands of the entire affair.

    I am done with this conversation, this is clearly getting no where… and to be honest you seem to be taking this BS as an intellectual exercise…. and I unfortunately have to live this out in real life. Fck your positions… kindly.

    good day.

    On one final note of irony… I love how people say they should have let him go, and base this argument on the negative effects of keeping him guilty – negative effects that might not serve in their best interests, ones that rationally do not really even exist. Yet they are more than happy to trample all over the negative effects of letting him go would be… because it really does not effect them.. it only effects people of color.. so fck em. Protect your own self interests, throw the interests of the oppressed on the floor and spit on them… and then try and parade around saying that your self interests is really our self interests…. and that you nobly are leading us down the right path.

    fck this sht. I am out of this thread.

  50. says

    @dalillama, that’s begging the question as there’s a good deal of benefit of the doubt involved in determining whether someone was the aggressor in the first place. Also, we’re supposedly talking about what the law is, not what it should be. The jury instructions said that defendants are to be presumed not guilty unless proven guilty and did not say that aggressors cannot claim self defense. I agree that this should be the case, but it isn’t in Florida, at least according to the instructions the judge gave the jury and I don’t see how you can blame the jury for this fact. It’s the fault of the legislature and/or the judge.

    @dezn_98: I am not saying that non-prejudiced juries are already here, nor that this jury was non-prejudiced. The juror who’s spoken to the Anderson Cooper certainly is. I’m saying that while prejudiced juries don’t reliably find the correct verdict, sometimes they do. Maybe this jury did vote guilty because of prejudice. I would be very surprised if at least a few of them didn’t, but that doesn’t mean that the verdict is wrong, just that their reasoning was. In this particular case, a hypothetical fair jury would have ruled the same way as the real, prejudiced one. Given that you agree that the law itself, the police and the courts are all racially prejudiced I don’t see how you can argue that the jurors can fix things while relying on the law and the evidence that the cops and courts give them. It’s absurd. They can’t convict people who should have been tried but weren’t, consider evidence which should have been allowed, but wasn’t, consider laws that should have been passed but weren’t or even control the make-up of the jury beyond trying to weasel out of jury duty themselves. Even if the jury did decide to buck the system, which you said you aren’t asking that they do in this case, that only fixes one of those problems.

    This brings me to my next, more important point: Complaining that juries shouldn’t be racist is a fucking non-solution to anything. Unless you somehow get on a jury trying a racially charged case, it doesn’t suggest any course of action. That’s extremely unlikely, especially given that lawyers try to weed out people with strong views on social justice. The problem is the laws that allow jury prejudice to play a big part in the outcome, police and prosecutorial discretion abuse that makes theoretically neutral laws into one law for me and another for thee well before cases even get to a jury and a court system that values consistent procedure over correct results. Blaming the jury is essentially throwing up your hands and saying the problem is intractable short of finding some way to make people stop being racist while letting all the things we can fix off the hook.

  51. says

    <blockquote. All they had to say is that his fears were unreasonable, thus self defense no longer qualifies… and you can easily link his fears to racism, which makes his fears unreasonable beyond a reasonable doubt.

    This is incorrect. Linking his fear to racism doesn’t mean that it’s unreasonable beyond a reasonable doubt. Self-defense doesn’t require that he have no unreasonable reason to fear for his life, only that he have a reasonable one. Thus it’s not enough to link his fear to racism, you have to prove it and exclude other factors. Given that it at least possible that Martin was hitting him at the time, that’s one other factor you can’t easily exclude. The argument that Martin that Martin was targeted because of race is very plausible, but based on statistics (this rarely happens to white kids) and the fact it’s hard to imagine why else cutting through someone’s yard would warrant calling the cops. This looks bad on Zimmerman, but is hardly beyond-reasonable-doubt proof. I’ll grant that the jury could have ruled this anyway, but they would be ignoring the law to do so.

  52. says

    Allegedly, the point of a jury trial in the first place is that they can bring in the judgement they feel is appropriate to see justice served; otherwise there’s no reason for them to be there in the first place, since randomly selected people are unlikely to be the best ones to either determine or interpret the facts of the case or the law of the land, in terms of expertise. In this case, the prosecution failed to bring the ideal charge (murder 1), so the jury ought to have convicted on the closest available charge (Murder 2), in order to bring in a verdict with the closest semblance of justice available to them. That said, I continue to dispute your definition of ‘reasonable fear’ which you claim excludes a valid charge of murder 2. I note that my definition of reasonable fear keeps fistfights fistfights, with a low chance of anyone dying, while your version turns fistfights into gunfights, even when only one person brought a gun, which leads to a very high chance of someone dying, as indeed occurred in the case under discussion.

    good deal of benefit of the doubt involved in determining whether someone was the aggressor in the first place.

    While this is certainly true in the general case, it is blatantly untrue in this specific one, where an armed adult pursued, accosted, and shot an unarmed teenager. There is absolutely zero confusion here as to who is the aggressor in this situation.

  53. says

    As far as the negative effects of letting Zimmerman go vs convicting him: the idea that eroding defendant protections is especially bad for minorities isn’t theoretical. We have hundreds of years of history to prove this. The idea that letting Zimmerman go sends a message that it’s open season, that’s highly speculative.

    Also, you are completely ignoring intersectionality here. While racism doesn’t affect me, at least not in the way it affects you, getting tough on crime certainly does. I’ve had several poor friends, including my brother, railroaded by the courts because society cares more about sending messages that crime is unacceptable than about being fair to defendants. My girlfriend went to jail for theft on basically no evidence. My brother went to brother for possession of drug paraphernalia that wasn’t actually his. My other girlfriend went to jail for driving while barred, which she did, but for some reason it’s a fucking felony that makes her borderline unemployable. Sure, some people who did nothing wrong went to jail, but at least the proper message was sent about pot and stealing.

    Determining verdicts by what message they send is wrong and does real harm.

  54. says

    Dalillama: That’s not a completely fair representation of the evidence.

    By my count, 6 out of the 46 calls were about black males. Granted, a lot of them are not about people at all and quite a few were about people of unspecified race. Sanford is about 30% black. I’m not sure about this specific neighborhood. I don’t see how you can argue this proves anything about how likely he was to target black people as suspicious. We lack a lot of data and the sample size is too small to have statistical significance for what we do have.

    Allegedly, the point of a jury trial in the first place is that they can bring in the judgement they feel is appropriate to see justice served.

    Who alleges this? Deciding what is appropriate is the function of democracy. Jury trials are meant to be a hedge against state power and create a situation where someone’s peers must agree the state proved their case than the the state deciding what is proven as is convenient for them rather than fair to the populace and to keep the citizens involved in the courts in a visible way to avoid an ivory tower disconnect. As I elaborated above, this only goes so far and also introduces yet another vector for popular prejudice, but judges can be prejudiced, too so I don’t think jury trials actually make things much worse in that regard.

  55. says

    Ace of Sevens

    I’ve had several poor friends, including my brother, railroaded by the courts…

    All of which are unfortunate, and make me wonder why you’re so set on defending this verdict and the U.S. justice system in general, but all of which are entirely irrelevant to the case under discussion. This case, if you will recall, is one where a violent racist stalked and killed a teenager, because the teenager was black, and the killer is racist as all fuckery. This case was incompetently handled from the get go, because the blackness of the teenager caused the racist cops on the scene to agree that there was a credible threat to the life of the burly martial artist with a gun when faced with a (black) teenager armed with Skittles. The (racist) prosecution brought inadequate charges and did a lackluster job, because the victim was black. The jury agreed that the black boy was a threat to the white man’s life, because they were full of racist cultural terror of black people, i.e., because of racism. This led to the unrepentant murderer getting off scot-free, which is a travesty of the justice the system purports to serve, because the system and the people in it are deeply racist. The class bias which is also present and pernicious is a separate issue, because black people who are in the same socioeconomic bracket as you are get it worse from the justice system (and also a lot of other social systems, but that is once again beyond the scope of the current discussion) than poor white people; if your brother and girlfriends had been black, they would have received harshersentences than they did, and quite possibly have been hit with more or worse charges as well.

  56. says

    Dalillama: That’s not a completely fair representation of the evidence.

    Null Hypothesis: absent evidence that someone is particularly more or less racist than average, you assume they are at least as racist as the average person.

    Have you seen how fucking racist the average person is?

    Seriously, faux skeptics need to knock this shit off. FFS, the man dialed in a 7 or 8 year old black kid to 911. There’s no reasonable doubt that he’s a racist asshole. And really, given that being a racist asshole isn’t an element of the charges brought against him, you’re not OBLIGATED to hold reasonable doubt over this. And even if it WERE an element of the charges, you’re STILL NOT A JUROR. But even if it were an element (as Dezn rightly pointed out, his racist asshattery isn’t reasonable), and even if you were a juror, *there is no reasonable doubt that he is a racist*. We have actions in line with racist asshattery, we, as humans in the modern era, have well supported knowledge that all humans exhibit racial bias in ways that marginalize classes of humans, and we know that there’s nothing that establishes Zimmerman as a non-racist unicorn (Because that is what you are if you are entirely not racist.). It’s like entertaining ‘reasonable doubt’ that hey, maybe someone genuinely did not think gravity was going to work when they pushed someone off a roof. That happens, right?

    But whatever, looking at

  57. says

    I’m not defending the US judicial system. I’ve said this repeatedly, explained my reasons and given loads of examples of the problems with it, but you keep trying to straw-man it away. It also isn’t irrelevant as the Ken White article linked in the OP is about why Zimmerman should not have been guilty under our current legal system and why protections for defendants are important, which is what I’ve been talking about this whole time.

    I’m not even defending this verdict, per se. I am defending the jury’s decision in coming to this verdict. I’m doing this because I see a bunch of alleged liberals clamoring that juries need to convict, even when they don’t understand the facts of the case, or the law. Juries with a bias to conviction never did minorities or justice any favors.

    I know that had my girlfriends and brother would have gotten harsher sentences if they were black. This is exactly why I think easier convictions and tougher sentences would make thing worse. It’s easy to think of criminals as subhuman people you don’t know and therefore not deserving of rights or consideration or the benefit of the doubt, especially when they aren’t like you. It’s also easy to throw blame around without bothering to understand the facts. Traditionally, conservatives have done these things because of their low empathy and their need for clarity or accuracy. I’m concerned that liberals are starting to jump on this bandwagon. Minorities have far more to fear from a court system further stripped of civil rights protections than they do from the occasional vigilante who may get away with something because of them.

    I’ve explained all this in almost every post. You keep quoting things I’ve said and leaving this part out. If you are going to keep pushing this issue, can you please at least tell me what you don’t understand about it?

    Also, again, you keep saying this is about the facts, but never directly address my points when I point out all of your problems with your alleged facts. For instance, you’re right back to claiming Zimmerman stalked Martin without addressing anything I said about the legal definition of stalking or explaining why it’s irrelevant. You also ignored my explanation of why whether Zimmerman was the initial aggressor is legally irrelevant, only to bring it up again later as if I had said nothing. These aren’t the only examples. You never concede a point and rarely address one, just Gish Gallop to the next one. I’ve done my best to research every claim I make and make sure it’s accurate. I may have erred on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter; it’s surprisingly hard to find literature on that, but I’m pretty sure of everything else and was careful to add disclaimers where I wasn’t. You seem to be throwing out half-remembered stuff without regard to accuracy.

    This is fucking infuriating because I’m serious about fixing this problem. I’d go so far as to say I care about it more than anything else. You may be serious as well, but you aren’t going to be very effective if you don’t bother learning about the issues.

  58. says

    @Rutree You are mixing several issues. Yes, hyper-skeptics tend to inappropriately apply court standards of proof when they don’t want to believe something. You may remember me from other threads where I argued with them at great length in attempts to get them to concede they were using special pleading, but both Ken White’s OP and everything I’ve said have been about what he court should have found, so they are appropriate here and in court, the null hypothesis in not guilty, not what is probable. I haven’t said that Zimmerman did nothing wrong. I’ve said he probably did. I’ve also said that the trial reached the wrong result if we are talking about what would have been best public policy. My point of disagreement has been that I said you can’t fairly blame the jury for the wrong outcome as they could only work with what they were given. The fault is with the law and the police and the prosecutor, particularly the law. (Possibly the judge, but I don’t understand the issues there well enough to say for sure.) People keep arguing. Also, jurors declaring a man guilty because he should be guilty regardless of what the law says would open a can of worm that would cause way worse problems than it would solve.

    I say this and people keep acting like I said that the system isn’t broken, that racial prejudice played no part in the trial and that minorities should be happy with what we have. Is someone else making posts under my name that I can’t see?

  59. says

    One last thing before I get some brief sleep: I suspect the issue here is that people know Trayvon Martin’s death was a great injustice. Since the jury was the group that most directly decided to let Zimmerman go, they are the easiest to blame for him getting away with it. It’s a lot harder to understand how the system works and where it’s wrong than just the fact that something went wrong, which leads to a lot of misplaced blame, kind of like when people get mad at the ticket-counter person when their flight is delayed. I suggest reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s article here, which I agree with pretty much completely.

  60. Bruce Gorton says

    Okay, apparently the jury has no black jurors – five were white one was Hispanic.

    This is a serious problem, all white juries have been found to convict black people for crimes at much higher rates than they do white.

    With one black jury member there were two effects. First the conviction rate on black suspects went down from 81% to 71%, a full 10% shift.

    The conviction rate on white suspects meanwhile went up 66% to 73%. A 7% shift upwards.

    Thus I think it is reasonable to argue that race actually did play a part in the Zimmerman verdict – and that there is in fact a need for reform on how juries are formed in cases like this.

    I think the pure random draw needs to be done away with to ensure that juries have at least one black member on them for cases like this.

  61. says

    Are you seriously arguing that racism is as mainstreamed as sexism?

    … wow.

    U.S. society is built on white supremacy, Ace, and it contaminates law enforcement, corrections, education, business, everything. Actually “contaminates” is not the best choice of words because it implies this situation is accidental.

    If you can’t grasp that, I don’t know that this argument is worth having. I’d suggest picking up Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which is dated but a good jumping-off point for further reading.

    Dezn_98, I admire your patience in this thread.

  62. says

    @Ms. Daisy Cutter: I know this. I’m a US history major who focused on the history of racism, as I said above. In the last few decades, the idea has taken hold that it’s completely unacceptable to be racist. Since most people don’t know what racism is unless you break out the rope and sheets, it’s only gone so far in ended socially ingrained racism, but it’s been quite effective in ending the overt stuff. Look at all the racists trying to spin how they aren’t racist, they’re just _____. (Usually traditional, but it could be lots of things.) This isn’t anything like a solution, but it is progress, and it’s progress that never happened with sexism. If it had, half of working comics would have careers as dead as Michael Richards.

  63. says

    I’m not defending the US judicial system. I’ve said this repeatedly, explained my reasons and given loads of examples of the problems with it, but you keep trying to straw-man it away

    “The Jury had to do X because of the law” is a defense of the status quo. Whether you have problems with it elsewhere is immaterial.

    but both Ken White’s OP and everything I’ve said have been about what he court should have found, so they are appropriate here and in court, and everything I’ve said have been about what he court should have found, so they are appropriate here and in court, the null hypothesis in not guilty, not what is probable.

    That’s crap, and you know it. Criminal Law doesn’t require everything that might not be true in theory established by the prosecution. If you have videotape of someone getting pushed off a ledge to their deaths, the prosecution doesn’t have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killer knew what would happen when someone was pushed off a high roof – unless the defendant can bring up plausible evidence that the defendant legitimately, truly did not know (This usually involves pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.) The court also doesn’t have to prove that someone thinks a gunshot is lethal – it’s assumed knowledge that is true in very nearly every case. There are assumed states of being. Unless Zimmerman brought up plausible evidence that he’s a not-racist unicorn, or even less racist than average, you’re not obligated, as a juror, to assume he is less racist.

    But let’s pretend for a minute that you WERE obligated to assume that. Let’s entertain this idiotic notion – why would this be a good thing to be encoded into law? Why would you agree to act as if the law must be obeyed when it encodes racism into it? Why would you not move to disobey the law, when you know the law is going to add more structural inequalities? Why would you defend this racist structure?

    My point of disagreement has been that I said you can’t fairly blame the jury for the wrong outcome as they could only work with what they were given.

    Yeah, actually, I can, because they’ve convicted PoC for less.

    . Also, jurors declaring a man guilty because he should be guilty regardless of what the law says would open a can of worm that would cause way worse problems than it would solve.

    No, not really, that’s pretty much how it works for PoC already. And it’s not far off from how it works for poor white people either. A very small number of cases would be seriously affected by this, because that’s when it’d be a shift in the status quo.

    Are you seriously arguing that racism is as mainstreamed as sexism?

    You are an ignorant white person, aren’t you? How do you even try to argue that through hollywood? FFS.

    @Ms. Daisy Cutter: I know this. I’m a US history major who focused on the history of racism,

    Get your money back.

    , the idea has taken hold that it’s completely unacceptable to be racist. Since most people don’t know what racism is unless you break out the rope and sheets, it’s only gone so far in ended socially ingrained racism, but it’s been quite effective in ending the overt stuff.

    This has done about as much for PoC as sexism being ‘unacceptable’ has. Only tiny fringes are honest about what they want, the rest lie like dogs about how they’re just after the facts or whatever. It’s EXACTLY what happened with sexism – that’s why sexists will balk and whine and dissemble if you call them sexists. You’re just apparently not up enough to realize that this isn’t really a whole lot of progress.

  64. smhll says

    the idea has taken hold that it’s completely unacceptable to be racist

    IMO, this has happened on a very superficial level. I think elementary schools in the US are teaching “Racism is bad” and “Racists are bad” without actually effectively helping students to recognize bias in themselves.

  65. says

    Here’s another post making basically the same argument I’ve been making. Can we continue over there?

    1)If that was the argument you were trying to make you failed miserably, especially because you argued against the points that dezn_98 and I made regarding that exact topic, and
    2)Nothing in that article has any fucking relevance to the case currently under discussion, because this case is about a white man who stalked and murdered a black teen because he was a violent bigot, and got off because of the massive racism of the justice system. There is no benefit of the doubt here, because we know incontrovertibly that Zimmerman was stalking and unarmed teen with his gun and accosted him, which makes him a fucking murderer.

    And also 3) I’ve noted this before, and you haven’t addressed it, so I’m going to state it perfectly clearly this time: According to your definition of self-defence, which you have used to defend the verdict in question, I could carry a gun with me when I’m out bicycling, and if anyone makes an unsignaled turn in my vicinity, I could haul off and blow them away, and according to you, I should be charged with nothing worse than involuntary manslaughter, and not be convicted of even that much. You see, bicyclists die of being hit by cars all the time, and I’ve personally been hit by cars making unsignaled turns through the space that I was occupying on more than a half-dozen occasions. I have been fortunate enough not to suffer severe harm from any of these incidents, but I could have died. Therefore, according to you, I have a ‘reasonable fear’ for my life anytime someone does that nearby me, and since it is technically a violation of the law to make such a turn, that force is unlawful. The scenario I describe puts my in exponentially more danger than Zimmerman could possibly have been in from an unarmed teenager (leaving aside the fact that Zimmerman was the aggressor, and thus has pretty much no justification for any amount of force whatsoever regardless of what Trayvon did or didn’t do, because Trayvon’s force would be used in a lawful manner). So, either you agree that I am justified in shooting bad drivers, or there’s something else going on in your defence of the Zimmerman verdict. Which is it?

  66. says

    There is no benefit of the doubt here, because we know incontrovertibly that Zimmerman was stalking and unarmed teen with his gun and accosted him, which makes him a fucking murderer.

    How do we know this incontrovertibly? I explained above why it’s impossible for Zimmerman’s actions to have been stalking under Florida law. I think it’s highly likely, though not proven that Zimmerman did accost Martin.

    However, let’s say Zimmerman did follow Martin with the intent of confronting him and did confront and accosted him in some way. Under Florida law, he would still have the legal right to kill Martin in self-defense if Martin fought back. I linked to the part of the code that specifically says this above. This, not the jury is the problem. Saying he should have been convicted under the law is to deny the massive problems of the law.

    So, either you agree that I am justified in shooting bad drivers, or there’s something else going on in your defence of the Zimmerman verdict.

    It has to an immediate threat and your actions have to defend you, but provided that it was reasonable to believe that there was at least a significant chance that they were about to hit you right now, not just that their bad driving was generally dangerous and that shooting them would prevent them from hitting you, this would in fact be legal.

    Killing someone who’s driving right at you is legal anywhere, assuming that you don’t have the option to get out of the way. Florida drops even this requirement. I’m not sure where you’re going with that example as the facts seem far more in favor of the cyclist as car/cyclist accidents are far more likely to be deadly than fist fights and the cyclist did nothing to intentionally create the situation. This seems like an uncontroversial example of self defense except that it’s hard to imagine a situation where inertia wouldn’t cause the car to hit you anyway.

  67. says

    The point I’m getting at is that, like turning fistfights into gunfights, blazing away at traffic in such a manner would cause more problems than it solves. Therefore, regardless of whether or not I have a moral right to do that, the preferable interpretation of the law is the one that says I can’t, because it causes more problems than it solves. Similarly, treating one on one fistfights as non-lethal events, barring a major size imbalance (and in that case, only for the smaller party) not calling for lethal response is a preferable interpretation of law, because it leads to fewer people getting dead.

    How do we know this incontrovertibly?

    From your 53:

    that’s begging the question as there’s a good deal of benefit of the doubt involved in determining whether someone was the aggressor in the first place. Also, we’re supposedly talking about what the law is, not what it should be

    We know incontrovertibly that Zimmerman is the aggressor because his own testimony describes his aggression; ergo, there is no question of doubt as to who is the aggressor.

  68. says

    Dalillama, accosting Martin and being the initial aggressor are not equivalent. According to Rachael Jenteal’s testimony, Zimmerman was following Martin when Martin turned around and demanded to know why he was being followed. I don’t see how you can go from that to the idea that Zimmerman definitely accosted Martin unless you think that following is accosting. There are lots of ways Zimmerman could have accosted Martin that she wouldn’t have known about from a cell phone connection, but I don’t know how you can say that Zimmerman definitely accosted Martin from what was presented at trial.

    I partially disagree. There are two issues: One is that the jury doesn’t decide the law. The jury only decides the facts of the case. If you have a problem with how the law was applied, such as the lack of an instruction to consider whether Zimmerman was the aggressor, blame the judge, not the jury.

    The other is that you are talking about what is preferable, not what the law says. Ambiguities are supposed to always be resolved in favor of the defendant, not what would be preferable. That’s what the presumption of innocence is all about. (Especially here, since this was a jury matter and jury decisions don’t set precedent.)

    This is what I’ve been saying all along and why I linked to the other article: Minorities have more to fear from convictions than acquittals. Even if every single white person who were found not guilty of murdering a black person in the last year were actually guilty, false or unfair convictions would still be ahead in how much harm they cause to black America. Pushing the legal system toward making it easier to get convictions won’t help minorities at all and will make things worse. Plenty of racist jurors out there find it “preferable” to lock up the scary black men. Too many juries are already ruling on their preferences instead of the law. Let’s not exacerbate this by saying they are supposed to.

    Yes, it’s bad policy to allow people to escalate fistfights into gun fights and this should be illegal. However, it isn’t in Florida and we don’t imprison people based on what the law should be.

  69. says

    Dalillama, accosting Martin and being the initial aggressor are not equivalent

    Strapping on a gun before going on a vigilante patrol, which Zimmerman did, implies not just a willingness but a desire to use it. He wasn’t planning to murder Trayvon Martin, whom he’d never met before, which would be first degree murder. He just went out with a gun and a Dirty Harry movie playing in his head, with himself in the lead role, and Martin had the misfortune to get cast as the scumbag who gets blown away, because he was the first black person Zimmerman saw on his ‘patrol.’

    There are two issues: One is that the jury doesn’t decide the law.

    No, the jury examines the facts, and then determines which of the legal options is most appropriate, which, in this case, would have been second degree murder.

    Ambiguities are supposed to always be resolved in favor of the defendant, not what would be preferable. That’s what the presumption of innocence is all about.

    Ambiguities should be resolved in the manner most conducive to people not being dead. Treating fistfights as lethal threats leads to more people dead.

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