Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trayvon Martin Part 1: What the Hell Happened Out There?

The peasants are pounding at the proverbial gate.

They demand more Trayvon Martin coverage.

They kind of demand it like a child demands a hamster.  At first it's fresh, new, stimulating.  Then, several months go by, and the hamster becomes a forgotten relic. A reminder of things unnecessary.  A puff ball in a mound of turds.

And while many of you would love to leave Trayvon and Zimmerman and Stand Your Ground and all of the senseless pandering to fester in a mound of steaming rodent feces, I think we need to come to a conclusion as to what we just witnessed.  What do we actually know about what happened? What can we reasonably guess?  What's a bunch of emotional bullcrap?  What the SAM HELL DO SKITTLES (other than being sugary sweet and delicious) HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?  WHO CARES IF ZIMMERMAN IS HALF LATINO?  Why is everyone freaking out?  What idiot said this was the grown up Trayvon?

Apparently no one noticed that a 32 year old famous platinum rapper with an LA tattoo on his face could not have been a 17 year old adolescent from Florida.  

This is an indicator of just how far we've wandered from anything remotely true.  And since kangaroo courts are being held all over the internet and likely all over the United States, let us convene our own kangaroo court right here.  

I give you, the trial of George Zimmerman:

For this first segment, I'm going to ignore anything about race or previous character concerns.  This just deals with what we know of what happened.  
Here is what we know:

George Zimmerman was specifically excited about being involved in the neighborhood watch.  So much so that he called police 46 times since 2004 and often took a very vigilant, almost paranoid approach to neighborhood watch.  He carried a gun because of a pit bull complaint, but began using it on neighborhood watch assignments anyway.  Neighbors reactions to his vigilance were mixed.  Some felt that he was truly investigating thefts (which there had been a rash of) and others felt he bordered on paranoid and authoritarian.  Apparently, he once ran a youth down for stealing a bike just based on "looking suspicious."

Ok. Break. We know this type.  He ain't the grand wizard of the KKK, or the Son of Sam, or even someone cool and tough like Rambo.  This is a community college student, trying desperately to make his life matter, and attempting to find his self worth in a neighborhood watch program.  He wanted to be Clint Eastwood, but wound up being Paul Blart: Mall Cop instead.  Look like Tarzan, police work like Jane.

So there is enough evidence to confirm overzealous behavior on Zimmerman's part, but nothing to suggest that he was violently running down black people at his own leisure. What this is is the worst Hemingway hero, ever.  

Meanwhile, it doesn't really matter who Trayvon was prior to the shooting, because Trayvon isn't on trial.  Except for the weed in his system at the time of death...because weed makes you paranoid.  Especially for someone younger and smaller, who may not have been as experienced as your Bill Walton or Snoop Lion types.  

BUT here is a link to a conflicting opinion: the autopsy results revealed that THC traces were too low to have likely been consumed in the past 24 hours, either that or the amount was so negligible that paranoia could not have resulted.  A link to the article: a neuroscientist's opinion.

This is relevant later.  And now...the full 911 call.  

This video captures the call in its entirety.  From it we learn several things:

  1. Anyone remember The Blair Witch Project?  That's what Zimmerman sounds like here.  Super freaked out but stupid enough to give chase anyway.  He's sounds like a child lost at sea talking about the thing Martin is holding and hand near his waistband, but follows him anyway.  Also, he nearly poops his pants over Martin looking at him hard.
  2. Everyone made a huge deal about him saying "coon."  I never heard "coon"...but there was a lot of incoherent mumbling.  He did call him a "punk" and an "asshole" definitively, though.  This suggests that Zimmerman had Trayvon labeled as a threat before approaching.
  3. Zimmerman was warned several times by law enforcement not to approach, but did anyway.  Instead of peeling off and meeting the cops at the location of his choosing (clubhouse, etc.) Zimmerman specifically asked them to call him on arrival for a meet-up.  To me that is a slight indicator that Zimmerman approached Trayvon, and not the other way around.  But, that's conjecture.  NOT FACT, NECESSARILY.
  4. Since Zimmerman is oddly stalking him through an apartment complex (which is creepy and threatening), it is not without possibility that Trayvon Martin went on the offensive and struck first.  But it is not without possibility that Zimmerman instigated contact or confrontation suspecting that Martin was armed (and just ended up getting physically bested).  Either way, Zimmerman had moved in an authority and a responsibility way outside his position and was totally out in left field on this one.  Even if Martin was a burglar (which no evidence confirms), this show of aggression was over the top.

The main issue was the following, the paranoid behavior, and the odd ranting about "they always get away with it."  Nothing here infers racism explicitly.  And the trial isn't about racism.  The trial is about murder.  To me, beyond a reasonable doubt, a wrong was committed by Zimmerman.  It doesn't seem right that he walks in this case: excessive force was used and his paranoia at work, negligence, and inability to follow directions resulted in the loss of a life.  Trayvon's age, ethnicity, sociological background are irrelevant, as is the background of the defendant.  Ethically, Zimmerman is guilty of at least manslaughter.  Murder shows premeditated intent, and that's more of a stretch if you're talking reasonable doubt.

If I get to write the laws, Zimmerman goes away for a while.  

I'd also give everyone a llama, because they spit at people and that's funny.

Legally?  Well that depends on the Florida Stand-Your-Ground Law, which we'll look at next.


  1. Welcome to the Blogosphere!



    This is a good goal:

    "What do we actually know about what happened? What can we reasonably guess? What's a bunch of emotional bullcrap?"

    I don't think you really achieved that though. You put a lot of interpretation in there. Of course, it is your blog and that is your right, but it doesn't achieve what appears to be the stated goal: Facts first, interpretation 2nd. When you put them together the undiscerning (is that a real word?) reader will conflate the facts with your interpretation and repeat your interpretation as factual information. The lies continue to spread.

    A few specific thoughts:

    "Super freaked out but stupid enough to give chase anyway."

    I've listened to that recording several times. He doesn't sound "super freaked out" to me. Additionally, I submit that "give chase" is not a fact in this case but an allegation that has remained unproven, especially in the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt sense.

    I have lots more point by point things to say, but I think I will go the general route so that this comment won't be too much longer than the blog post itself. :-)

    You describe Zimmerman as paranoid and unreasonable. Let's put this into perspective.

    Imagine that you live in an apartment complex. Young japanese-looking men wearing bowler hats and trench coats have been reported frequently as committing robberies in your neighborhood. Your neighbors are scared. You help organize a neighborhood watch group. You learn from the police that you should report suspicious activity to a non-emergency phone number.

    One night you are driving along and you see a guy in a bowler hat wearing a trench coat wandering along in people's yards between the houses instead of on the sidewalk. It happens to be pouring down rain. You immediately feel suspicious. You've seen people on drugs before and this guy looks like he might be on drugs because of the way he is looking around and wandering in the rain.

    You pull over and get out of the car concerned that if this is one of the criminals who have been robbing people you might lose site of where he is going. You call the non-emergency police phone number to report the police activity.

    Are you being paranoid or reasonable in this scenario? Should you ignore the young guy?

    I could take the example further, but I'll await your reply to see if that is even necessary.

    My thoughts: George Zimmerman had a right to notice the unknown person walking in the dark in between the houses. He had a right to report this to the police. He had a right to get out of his car. He had a right to be carrying a concealed weapon. It has not been proven beyond-a-reasonable-doubt that he acted aggressively in any way. It has not been proven beyond-a-reasonable-doubt that Zimmerman inappropriately "followed" or "stalked" Trayvon Martin.

    There you have it. And all for free. Next time I'm charging.


  2. The freaked out, I suppose is a difference of opinion. I think if you try to listen to it a few more times, there's a tangible anxiety in his voice.

    He had a right to do all of those things based on the Florida stand your ground provision, and I agree that legally the verdict was correct. That's in my following post in Trayvon.

    The point is that Zimmerman wasn't just standing his ground, or defending his own safety. He was acting in the role of an officer as only a neighborhood watch guy. I doubt any real, decent police would have needed to draw a gun on Trayvon because they have partners, and dogs, and training, and the force of law.

    There's a reason why our civic system exists. I think the Stand Your Ground Law, while a good idea, is poorly written and vague. I explain more in my next post.

    Always a pleasure.

    Keep Trolling!

    Big Jules