Trayvon

13 Jul
July 13, 2013

You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.

In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all.  And bring a handgun. The legislators are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.

If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve.  I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.

Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies:  Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible.  I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country.  Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.

 

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  1. jack mccoy says:

    Juries get it wrong all the time. Try and get 12 people (in Florida’s case it’s six, but in my jurisdiction it’s 12) to decide where to go to lunch. Now try and get them to convict someone of murder. I don’t know how we convict anyone, ever.

    All those people saying “the jury has spoken” and acting as if a jury is some infallible body can put a sock in it. Juries get it wrong all the time and they got it way, way, way wrong here.

    The defendant got out of his car and created the situation after being instructed by law enforcement not to. Is that illegal? No, but it tells you a lot about the defendant’s intent.
    The defendant tried to detain a stranger. The stranger, doing nothing wrong, refused to be detained. Then, when the situation he created didn’t go the way he envisioned it, the defendant shot the unarmed stranger. That’s murder, at best manslaughter. All day every day.

    The thing that poisoned this case was the media attention. I see it over and over again. When a case becomes entertainment..when the “former prosecutors” (how I loathe those words) appear on television and begin to bloviate…that’s when cases get lost. The case becomes less about the facts and more about “sides”. Tiny pieces of the case get blown out of proportion. The 24 hour news monster has to be fed, so the hair-do’s that have maybe tried “a” case in their lives dissect the case beyond the point of recognition.
    When that happens it alters the way juries look at cases. It becomes less about facts and evidence, more about “sides”. Justice never wins that fight.

    Trayvon Martin is one of many victims that the system has failed. Unfortunately, the public only has the capacity to care about the cases that the media tells them to care about.

    Sorry about the completely rambling rant, but I am reviewing the cases I just got in and there are 2 dead babies in the mix, one under six months, both blunt force trauma. There is also a 16 year old kid that was killed for a bag of weed, and a 56 year old lady killed for a flat screen. The Trayvon Martin case is a tragedy, no doubt. However, it’s a tragedy in an ocean of tragedies. Guess I just wish the general public would spread some of the outrage around.

  2. John says:

    Mr. Simon it would be very beneficial if you could enumerate the evidence you have that proves what happened was racially motivated.

    • David Simon says:

      Helpful to who? Have you asked yourself why a young black male pedestrian eating candy and talking on a cellphone, absent no other probable cause, would be of any particular interest and passion to an armed vigilante who had just finished telling a police dispatcher about the young punks who always get away with their crimes? Are you so obtuse that you will not accept that basic construct as racial profiling? I guess so.

      • John says:

        You’re outraged. I get it. Science has shown that anger lowers a person’s IQ. It happens to all of us. That doesn’t excuse an unnecessary ad hominem attack. Nor does it justify dodging a simple question. You’re obviously convinced it was racially motivated but I’m not sure how to start your list of facts. Does the following suffice?
        1. Trayvon was black, George Zimmerman is not black and something horrible happened between them.
        Well that’s not going to work as a fact. There’s also that pesky fact that George Zimmerman’s great grandfather was part African.

        So you’ll just have to guide me through the process that made you so convinced. Perhaps it was the edited NBC audio of the 911 call… No – you must be aware the producers responsible were fired and NBC will be sued for defamation.
        So let’s start over.
        Fact #1 is:
        ?

        • David Simon says:

          Not outraged. Weary at some oblivious replies.

          That’s not argumentum ad hominem. Critiquing as obtuse an opponent’s query — offered in full view of an incident of racial profiling led to an unnecessary confrontation and the use of lethal force against an unarmed teenager, followed by a court trial at which a jury that included no member of the victim’s racial cohort as being is wholly and entirely sufficient to affirm the racial dynamic — is an attack on another’s rhetorical performance. I did so criticize it. It is scarcely incumbent on me, having written not only this essay, but the linked op-ed in the Miami Herald, and then all of the attendant commentary already on this site, to reiterate my arguments in detail for your singular benefit in detail because you either can’t find, or acknowledge or believe them. They are there, and they are summarized again, in the sentence above.

          On the other hand discussions about an opponent’s IQ. Now that, my friend, is argumentum ad hominem. Precisely and without equivocation.

          Happy to offer this helpful distinction to you.

          • John says:

            Failing to provide any facts implies that you have none. What you have is a narrative. One you want to believe. Once you start asking yourself what facts were used to construct the narrative you so happily believe in, you may find that there never were any. What’s more, that clear imagery that plays in your head when you think about what happened that night is wholly unfounded in anything real accept an edited 911 tape and a lot of speculation by newscasters who cashed in on a rush to judgement.

            • David Simon says:

              Failing to survey a prolonged argument that has been going on for hundreds of posts and two essays implies laziness.

              Failure to acknowledge that Mr. Zimmerman’s version of events is wholly uncorroborated and that much of what occurred is beyond anyone’s ability to discern retroactively is corruptive.

              Acknowledging Mr. Zimmerman’s stated motivations to police, his approach of a black teenager who had demonstrated no probable cause to suspect criminal activity, and the lethal results of that approach are wholly sufficient to justify a narrative of racial profiling.

              I know you disagree. We must, therefore.

              • John says:

                I’ll try to keep this brief and be on my way as I assume you must be getting exhausted. You say “his approach of a black teenager” What evidence do you have that he approached Trayvon? It’s either George Zimmerman’s testimony or the 911 tape. Those are the only possibilities. Whatever your answer is, I cordially beg you to revisit the entire unedited transcript or audio with an open mind.

                The country still has a lot of racial issues, but holding this particular case up as symbolic of a greater problem is a complete disservice to the people who suffer real discrimination and hate crimes.

                • David Simon says:

                  Thanks for some brevity. I appreciate it.

                  How about we use Occam’s Razor here: Mr. Martin is a pedestrian. Mr. Zimmerman is patroling the neighborhood in his car. Mr. Martin is exposed, as he is not encased in a metal box with locks on all portals. Mr. Zimmerman is within such a box, protected from any physical conflict. Also, oh yeah, Mr. Zimmerman has a firearm. Mr. Martin does not.

                  If Mr. Martin does not want to confront Mr. Zimmerman, he cannot outrun him, certainly not without trespassing from the public thoroughfares. If he does want to confront Mr. Zimmerman, he still has the problem of presenting any fucking threat to the man whatsover, the boundary between the two being a locked, metal box known as a motor vehicle. On the other hand, if Mr. Zimmerman wants to avoid Mr. Martin he can surely outrun him by stepping on the accelerator. Only the fourth possibility makes much sense: If Mr. Zimmerman wants to confront Mr. Martin, he can exit the vehicle and, for insurance, carry a loaded handgun with him.

                  That you rush from the fourth and most likely scenario to the improbabilities of the other three is indicative not of anyone doing any disservice to the reality here. It is you, Mr. John, seeking to mitigate what actually occurred to that young man on that street and doing so by bending the probabilities to a more palatable, but less probable scenario.

                  None of us know what happened. What we know is that one man had a gun. A conflict began. Injuries to the gunman were modest and indicative of mutual combat or a common assault, not an aggravated assault. But the gun was produced and fired and a seventeen year old kid who was walking with a phone and candy was killed.

                  I call that manslaughter. I have no problem whatsoever operating on the known only. But if you wish to speculate, Mr. Zimmerman’s horseshit account of only getting out of the vehicle to read a street sign in a neighborhood whose name eluded him in a community he was so proud to patrol and defend causes me to speculate in the opposite direction. But I can’t know. He didn’t take the stand and tell the tale. And he killed Mr. Martin, so no answers there.

      • kt says:

        Saying that the confrontation was racially motivated is very different from saying the shooting was racially motivated. The commenter says enumerate on whether “what happened” was racially motivated. It seems like unless there is evidence that racial motivation carried over to the shooting itself, the fact that racial motivation played a role in the confrontation is irrelevant to the legality of “what happened” by which I mean the shooting that was on trial.

        Zimmerman was carrying a gun–legal, but perhaps racially motivated in the context.
        Zimmerman confronted Martin–legal, but likely racially motivated and legal but morally alarming profiling
        Zimmerman and Martin fight– speculation about why, I would assume you would say this was racially motivated, while the defense would say otherwise. This is why we have jurors.
        Zimmerman shoots Martin when losing the fight* which may have been mutual or one-sided, severe or not severe (again, why we have prosecution, defense, and jurors)

        * David, what evidence is there that the shooting of Martin after/during the assault, was racially motivated, not the confrontation, but the shooting, itself?

        Also, across comments, it seems unclear to me when you are talking about what is legal/illegal vs. what should be legal/illegal vs. what used to be legal/illegal vs. what is moral/immoral. Do you think that Zimmerman’s shooting was legal under current FL law? I ask this because, sure if the race roles were reversed, Zimmerman might have been found guilty (based on the statistics on the racial bias in the application of the laws). However, this could either mean that Zimmerman should have been found guilty in this case, or that blacks that are in Zimmerman’s role should also be acquitted under current law.

        A side note, it seems out of line to call a commentator obtuse for posing a respectful question to you, which just might have been vaguely worded. There have been plenty of disrespectful comments to you, but this one seemed fairly harmless. I think many came here to engage over the substance of your post not to call or be called names.

        • David Simon says:

          Just so. As I said, I don’t think Mr. Zimmerman is by any necessity a racist. But his calculations and his behaviors were racially motivated. There is a distinction that is meaningful to Mr. Zimmerman and relevant, certainly, at the point of contemplating a post-conviction sentence. But that distinction is lost on Trayvon Martin. He’s dead either way. And he didn’t need to be.

          • MyThoughts says:

            I watched the whole trial and even read some of the more complicated testimony, but from all the evidence at the trial am unable to agree with you that Zimmerman’s “calculations and behaviors were racially motivated.” I did not see it or hear it on Zimmerman’s part (the “cracker” comment came from Martin). In fact Zimmerman did not even bring up race. When the dispatcher did, Zimmerman replied that he “thought” the figure he saw was black. When Zimmerman referred to “punks” and “assholes” you may hear an unspoken “black” adjective, but of course punks and assholes come in all races.

            Since the trial, I have read that Zimmerman’s business partner was black, that he did volunteer work to help poor black children and that in 2011, he testified in court on behalf of a homeless black man who had been manhandled by a white police officer. Honestly, I don’t get your “racially motivated” imputation.

    • Max H. says:

      Let’s take away the racial component for a second because it hurts your feelings.

      You basically suggest that Zimmerman had the right to pursue Trayvon Martin because it was late at night and the latter was walking around, talking on the phone and wearing a hoodie. The police told Zimmerman not to pursue Martin, but he proceeded to anyway, and as a result a teenager is dead and Zimmerman has not even been charged with manslaughter. These are the actions you wish to defend? You’re for the indiscriminate vigilante killing of teenagers who wear dark clothes at night? Have fun with that.

  3. Simon Evans says:

    I have read these arguments with great interest. They are being made on both sides it seems to me by people with an unusually high regard for rigorous thinking, given that this is an internet forum. However, from a British perspective, as is very often the case, it seems to me obvious that the single absurdity, almost the singularity at the root of both parallel moral universes posited, is the legislation itself. That the likes of Zimmerman is allowed to carry a gun at all, that his right to use it is defined by “Stand your Ground”, leaves nowhere safe or sensible for any Judge or Jury to go.

    Clearly, even if the facts of the case don’t tell us anything about race in Florida, the reaction to it does. But equally clearly, once you allow a man like Zimmerman to wander the streets, armed, and making arbitrary interventions in the activities of those he believes to be suspicious, then things are going to escalate every once in a while to the use of lethal force, regardless of race issues. To argue how disproportionate, and/or unlawful, his response, to question whether in some way racially motivated, or springing from racial contempt, is to begin from a hopeless position – there simply is no good reading of the law once the absurdity of his being armed in the first place is allowed. The fact is, once he was in the process of getting beaten up, your stupid, stupid law does indeed suggest that he is entitled to shoot his way out of it.

    I doubt either of the men involved in this case would have been types I would have instinctively warmed to, to be honest. But neither of them are really to blame. US gun law, and that of Florida in particular, is a grotesque almost without parallel in the developed, democratic states. Trying to come to ethical judgements while under its jurisdiction is like to trying to lead a good life while clutching a Bible written by a madmen.

  4. Dr.H says:

    Mr. Simon, let me propose an hypothetical. What if you were in Martin’s shoes–You’re a black teenager being followed/profiled by an unknown person how would you react? Fear for life, would you run or would decidedly try to confront the man to give him a piece of your mind. I’m just curious, it isn’t very much relevant to the case but I’m only curious.

    • David Simon says:

      It isn’t relevant at all. An American citizen is allowed to engage in a common assault without being gunned down by someone else escalating to lethal force. The first is a misdemeanor and punishable by certain moderate penalty. The second is a felony punishable by more severe sentencing. That there are people commenting here that can’t carry that fundamental forward brings us back to Fitzgerald’s dictum about a first-rate mind. Not even, given that to consider both independently isn’t really to consider two contradictory ideas.

      And the game of white people putting themselves in the shoes of black folk and saying what they would do in such-and-such a circumstance is an ugly and dangerous one. Invariably, the majority is subject to imagining themselves — with their own actual resources, life experiences and entitlements — in a given circumstance, and going from there. The actual journey would be more than a change in melanin.

      But if it were me, David Simon, walking down the street and being confronted by someone in a situation in which I had given no cause for such, I think the first sentence out of my mouth would have been: “Who are you?” And if Mr. Zimmerman were polite and respectful, and not at all presumptive that he had a right to question me or to suspect me, but enlisting my help as a fellow resident who could provide information, I might cooperate. If he leaned at all on his presumed authority, or implied any disrespect to me, or made any accusation, I would tell him to go fuck himself. And if he laid hands on me or attempted to restrain me in any way, I would physically resist.

      Not that any of that matters, morally or legally, to Mr. Zimmerman’s subsequent decision to produce a lethal weapon and use deadly force.

      • Paige says:

        “An American citizen is allowed to engage in a common assault without being gunned down by someone else escalating to lethal force.” Is this a real statement? I’m presuming this is the feeling of one that does not believe in personal accountability? If one engages in assault – one must accept any and all consequences. What are you implying? That there are rules to a street fight? That there are gentlemen-like guidelines to this confrontation? Were you raised in a fairy-tale?

        The reason you and everyone else deride George Zimmerman is because of his apparent over-zealous, vigilante attitude towards this young black male. The fact that a George Zimmerman is walking in every neighborhood and every dark street is the very reason one cannot, in any situation, ever engage in an assault with the idea that the meeting will be contained by misdemeanors.

        • David Simon says:

          No, that is the reason that we cannot create a new legal standard that allows all of the George Zimmermans to summarily execute other people in circumstances in which any assailant is not threatening their lives or the lives of others. That goes back through all of our legal history. It is the mark of a civilized society.

          Killing people who don’t need to be killed is a standard for a much uglier, much more barbaric culture.

      • Dr.H says:

        Mr. Simon,

        Do you think that if this Jury was more diversified–with black females, or males would this be a different story? This might be a rhetorical question.

        • David Simon says:

          Ya think?

          • Salisbury says:

            You don’t have much trust in citizens… so a half latino, half black jury would have resulted in a tie, because people necessarily come to a verdict in favor of one of their race.

            • David Simon says:

              I certainly have little regard for the systemic. It failed an unarmed black teenager who was accosted and shot to death, yes.

      • DSW says:

        I agree, at least in part, with your broader points. But isn’t there some tension between these two statements?

        “And the game of white people putting themselves in the shoes of black folk and saying what they would do in such-and-such a circumstance is an ugly and dangerous one.”

        “If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford.”

        • David Simon says:

          Yup.

          Context helps some, though. The first statement acknowledges that it is a delicate, problematic thing to transport oneself to another cultural, racial and socioeconomic cohort. I followed that caution by attempting to do so, in answer to a question, as best I could. Which is pretty much the same outcome as the second quote.

          I did it both times. I just acknowledged in the first instance that it was an intellectually fraught exercise.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Do the pro-gun people think that Martin should’ve been carrying a gun too in order to protect himself from overzealous neighborhood watchmen?

    I’m not really anti gun. I realize that the gun/anti-gun/”stand your ground”/etc. debates are just the same argument (individual vs. state) stated in different ways. That thought just popped into my head.

    Oh, and I think Zimmerman should’ve been guilty of at least manslaughter seeing as he was the only one with a gun and the only one living now. Still though, I think your “pick up a brick” comment was kind of dumb.

    • David Simon says:

      Did you read the full comment, including the ensuing sentence? The comment is not actually advocating such as a course of action, but you must read more carefully to see its actual rhetorical purpose.

    • kt says:

      I’m not pro-gun, but apparently in Florida, if a black person has one and fired nothing more than a warning shot, he’d be serving 20 years.

      • David says:

        http://www.theledger.com/article/20090619/NEWS/906195060

        This happened to a white male, years before the Marissa Alexander case. As with the Alexander case, there are conflicting arguments from Prosecution and Defense. Defense for both cases argue that it was a warning shot. Prosecution from both cases argue that the bullet came close to harming another individual. Both defendants also had clean records at the time of their arrests. The only reason why this case isn’t being publicized the way the Alexander case is, is because Orville Lee Wollard is white. I’m not saying Wollard’s story wouldn’t have been ignored if Wollard was black, but what’s happening with Alexander and Wollard should be an issue with this state’s, my own Florida, minimum mandatory gun laws. It shouldn’t be about race, but that’s what the media makes it out to be. What makes Alexander’s case exceptional from Wollard’s, is that she has claimed “Stand Your Ground” which contradicts Florida’s (loosely worded) minimum mandatory law for firing within a dwelling.

        So, please, research before you speak.

  6. Josh B says:

    Why is there all this talk about “stand your ground”? That was never used at trial. It was a traditional self defense affirmative defense available in all jurisdictions.

    • David Simon says:

      Because stand your ground, even when it isn’t specifically invoked, has weakened the longstanding prohibitions against the taking of human life for any reason other than a reasonable fear of death or severe injury as a victim of potentially lethal force. It has created a legal culture in which the defense of one’s real estate, one’s property, one’s right to become engaged in a confrontation or fist fight and then not endure the non-lethal consequences of that fight is now a sufficient legal strategy to prevail. It is killing people in the twenty states that have adopted the new statutory standard, not merely Trayvon Martin but many others. It is a philosophical sea change and an ugly one. It is the place where the argument should go because it codifies the transformation that makes plausible sanctioned killings such as the one in Sanford, Florida.

    • Edward Copeland says:

      That is true. If he’d actually used the Stand Your Ground defense, a judge alone would have decided his culpability. Might have had a better chance at coming up with a rational verdict than the one that came from the six wizards who probably find Judge Judy’s rulings too complex to comprehend.

    • Justin says:

      SYG was part of the jury instructions even though Zimmerman didn’t file a Writ of Prohibition seeking a SYG hearing.

      • Ed says:

        Furthermore and more importantly, stand your ground was used by the Sanford police department to justify their initial decision to not arrest George Zimmerman and conduct a full investigation immediately. This delay hindered the investigation, as much of the evidence was lost

        • David Simon says:

          Exactly so.

          The attempts on this site to now separate the stand-your-ground dynamic, revolutionary as it is to our jurisprudence, on the mere fact that Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers decided well after the fact that they preferred a jury trial, is almost a purposeful narrowing from the core legal issue here. Our legal basis for self-defense is being transformed. And there will be more Trayvon Martins now. Too many, in fact. It is already happening in the states in which the new statutes are on the books.

    • Wayne Jones says:

      Actually, Stand Your Ground was in play. The lawyers didn’t specifically invoke it or mention it during the trial, but I read the jury instructions. They definitely included the Stand Your Ground law.

  7. Richard says:

    In David Simon’s world the head of neighborhood watch for a community that had been subjected to numerous robberies and a home invasion by……wait for it…..young black males was racist for questioning a young black male he had never seen before walking through his neighborhood at night.
    In David Simon’s world George Zimmerman deserves at least a manslaughter conviction because somehow he initiated the fight by having the audacity to follow someone (100% legal) and ask someone a question (100% legal). He just chooses to dismiss the fact that the evidence indicates that Trayvon actually committed the first illegal act by attacking Zimmerman. Trayvon had NO injuries indicating he had been hit and Zimmerman had plenty.
    In David Simon’s world the person being subjected to a pummeling has the responsibility to figure out how much of an ass kicking he or she can take before they might be in danger of death if the person doing the pummeling is black. This given the fact that numerous individuals have died or been turned into vegetables by one punch.
    In David Simon’s world the weak are at the mercy of the strong when a fight breaks out. Everyone should just take an ass kicking if his or her attacker is bigger and stronger….and especially if the attacker is black.

    • David Simon says:

      Not in my world. In the legal world that existed prior to stand-your-ground.

      Grievous as this is to you, it used to be a legal standard in this country that those who claim the right to use lethal force to take a human life were required to offer corroborative evidence not merely that they were involved in a physical altercation, but that they feared for their own safety or those of others. Otherwise, anyone could pull a gun at a fistfight and fire away with impunity. That was the standard for a self-defense argument. Protecting one’s real estate, responding to property crimes, thrown punches, the presence of strange black kids, previous crimes in the neighborhood, one’s expressed frustration that these punks always get away — all of this does not constitute corroboration for a circumstance by which — before stand-your-ground — a citizen could produce a lethal weapon and use it with lethal intent.

      You may want to believe that to be an unreasoning standard, but it goes back through all of American jurisprudence and into English common law. And it was in fact a civilizing standard that valued life and created a meaningful standard before anyone could legitimize the taking of life through violence.

      But no more. And folks expressing opinions such as yours are content with the transformation, primarily because you can’t imagine that the lesser standard for the use of lethal force will affect you or yours. After all, you’re not some seventeen-year-old black kid walking the streets, you’re you. You’re entitled. We get it.

      • John says:

        Despite the media’s insistence on talking about the stand your ground law,it did not apply to the George Zimmerman case. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-06-25/news/os-ed-stand-your-ground-062513-20130625-12_1_ground-law-zimmerman-case-george-zimmerman

        • David Simon says:

          Stand-your-ground logic is transforming the legal culture in the states where it has been enacted. It is changing everything from juror sensibilities to police interrogations to prosecutorial strategies. It is revolutionary.

          That George Zimmerman’s attorneys did not invoke it is because they wanted a trial by jury more than by the sitting judge, which is required under the Florida statute. That would suggest that they knew how dubious the killing of an unarmed teenager is as a moral matter, and they preferred to rely on the racial sensibilities of legal laypeople. But that doesn’t mean that stand-your-ground statutes aren’t making it easier to kill people as a matter of choice in these states. They are. There is another horrific case right around the corner in Florida — a teenager murdered at a gas station for playing his car radio too loud. Stand your ground has been directly invoked in that case.

          • Kimberly says:

            I remember hearing about this case. I am very intererested in learning the outcome of this case as well.

            As the mother of an african-american male preschooler, I am keeping a list of all the civil rights I must now teach my son that he is not entitled to based on the color of his skin.

          • John says:

            It simply did not apply. It was standard self defense. You must know that now. Everything else you state is speculation and unfortunate perpetuation of the myth stand your ground had a direct bearing on this case.

            • David Simon says:

              It utterly applied to this case in that Mr. Zimmerman could have invoked it. He would have gained a more liberal allowance for his use of deadly force in doing so. He would have cost himself a trial by jury.

              Other comparable killings to be adjudicated in Florida, the defense strategy will likely be different.

              Stand-your-ground ideology and its effect on our legal culture are entirely, essentially relevant. Your narrow reading is obtuse avoidance of the reality here.

              • Wayne Jones says:

                As noted above, it was included in the jury charge. The judge specifically instructed the jury using language from the Stand Your Ground statute.

      • Thomas says:

        To clarify – in your opinion, Lucas Dawson should have gone to prison?

        http://www.gaypasg.org/GayPASG/PressClippings/2005/Nov/Gay%20man%20freed%20in%20killing.htm

        • David Simon says:

          Seven people attacked him? How is that germaine to Mr. Zimmerman finding him in mutual combat to one teenager?

          Is there anyone on this blog that can fashion an intelligent argument without heaving one idiosyncratic example after another up and arguing its unique outcome as being proof of anything intelligent? How about we grow up? How about we argue the legal and systemic.

          I am saying there is a rule of law here and it goes back to the origins of our jurisprudence. I am further saying that stand-your-ground logic is an upending of that standard that is revolutionary and barbaric. The past standard, practiced throughout these United States, held that if you were in reasonable fear of your life or the lives of others, you could under that circumstance alone employ a lethal weapon and take human life. The new standard allows you to kill because you do not wish to retreat from a circumstance, wish to defend some real estate, which to respond to a property crime, are engaged in a common assault and are not triumphing sufficiently that you desire to end the conflict by killing your opponent, etc.

          Rather than hurl up any given example of one person killing another in any given conflict in any given circumstance in the United States, how about we try to focus on the fucking idea that underlies the issue. How about you do the work of straining a given example your ownself and deciding, as a prosecutor or judge or jury must decide, whether the taking of a human life was necessary. Not deserving in your mind. Not whether or not the person killed did something shitty, or said the wrong thing, or swung first, or stole something that wasn’t his — if this is your standard for summary execution, I will disagree with you. And American law used to disagree with you. If the person was confronted by a situation in which his very life was vulnerable to a lethal threat, or others were so vulnerable, then a self-defense strategy should prevail.

          Mr. Zimmerman was not vulnerable to one unarmed teenager. Not to the point of his life. Yet he took life.

          Is that sufficient. Or do I fucking need to review the court files of various cases from Montana, Indiana, New York, Alberta, Shanghai and Botswana? My logic — and American legal precedent prior to stand-your-ground — has been argued here. I stand by it as the true standard of a moral, civilized society. Apply it to whatever case — imagined or otherwise — you see fit. Christ, this is wearying.

          • Thomas says:

            “Seven people attacked him? How is that germaine to Mr. Zimmerman finding him[self] in mutual combat to one teenager?”

            ” how about we try to focus on the fucking idea that underlies the issue”

            I did focus on the idea expressed in your previous comment. Namely, the idea that the justified use of lethal force should require corroborative evidence that your life was under threat.

            Whether the violence you were subjected to was perpetrated by a single person or several is surely irrelevant as long as you have been clearly overpowered and are unable to fend of the ongoing attack without resorting to a weapon – isn’t it?

            “Not whether or not the person killed did something shitty, or said the wrong thing”

            Maybe your desire to focus on the systemic issues should not extend to straying so far from the case at hand that it’s no longer in sight. My example was deemed a distraction by you because there were several attackers rather than one – yet you feel justified in talking about cases where someone “said the wrong thing”; surely that bears much less relation to the Martin /Zimmermann case than my example (unless you think the wounds on Zimmermann’s head were caused by hurtful words, that is)

            • David Simon says:

              A mob of people is far, far more capable of inflicting life-threatening injury than singular combat. This is just so.

              My comment about saying the wrong thing speaks to the potentialities for stand-your-ground statues in general. When I wrote it, I was actually thinking about the black kid shot to death at the gas station for playing his radio too loud. That case is coming up in Florida, as well. That victim didn’t actually exit his vehicle. The white assailant fired repeatedly into the parked vehicle, mortally wounding him.

              I am thinking globally and systemically about what these new statutes make horribly possible. And you, sir, seem to be lost in specific case histories.

              • Thomas says:

                There certainly is a necessary discussion to be had about the dangers of stand-your-ground statutes (as the case you cited, which I hadn’t heard about, but sounds horrific, makes clear). It just doesn’t look to me as if the Zimmermann/Martin case is a good example to hang this discussion on.

                Of course, it’s perfectly possible that Zimmermann did indeed willfuly provoke Martin – maybe he even initiated the physical confrontation. In that case, it’s a great injustice that he wasn’t sent to prison. But in the absence of conclusive evidence for this, I think the injuries sustained by Zimmermann (and the lack of injuries sustained by Martin prior to the shooting), in conjunction with some of the witness statements, make Zimmermann’s acquittal on grounds of self-defense reasonable.

                (Btw, I’d like to point out that the specific case I focused on wasn’t something I laboriously sought out just to make a point, as it might seem, but had stayed in my memory, because, as a 100-pound gay man, it was relevant to my interests, so to speak).

      • Richard says:

        From your reply it seems pretty clear that you are upset with stand your ground and the transformation of the law. So if you acknowledge the law has changed for (in your opinion) the worse, then how can you be angry with a jury that properly applied the same law you are upset about? The jury isn’t the legislative branch. The jury is called upon to base its decision on EXISTING LAW. If you don’t like the existing law, work through the legislature to change it. Apparently the people in Florida are okay with it. You are not. That’s fine but please drop all the hyperbolic and ridiculous “open season on black people!” comments. Last, I can completely understand why you would be against guns since you stated you wouldn’t have the self-control to not pick up a brick and march on the courthouse were you a black in Sanford. Imagine if you had a gun! However, the rest of us aren’t all like you.

        • David Simon says:

          Angry? Disappointed that none of the six felt any clarion call to conscience, sure. But angry, no.

          Hey, I’m disappointed in any jury that convicts another American of a non-violent drug crime. A barbaric law is a barbaric law. It would be a victory for humanism if a jury had the wherewithal to nullify the legal mansalughter of an unarmed teenager. But yes, that would require courage and leadership, and these things are always in short supply. But the jury is not one of those that I am rushing to blame here. That’s your supposition.

    • Justin says:

      Except of course you only get to the conclusion that Martin first attacked Zimmerman through Zimmerman’s statements and ignoring the testimony of Rachael Jenteal. Why is he trustworthy and she is not?

      • David Simon says:

        This is the point. Everyone wants to believe that if we embrace a stand-your-ground logic that we will always be able to know who was right and who was wrong — or, more importantly, who had a genuine fear for their life or the lives of others when they chose to kill. Retroactive death investigation doesn’t always provide living witnesses or definitive physical evidence.

        Go down this road, and every man or woman with a gun in a dark place can more easily construct a claim that they were simply standing their ground. The standard for self-defense — that of a corroborated, potentially lethal threat — no longer applies. We’re down to the word of the shooter. It’s a horror show, and it hasn’t ended with Trayvon Martin. Around the corner is the case of another black kid, killed inside his car, shot by a white motorist at a gas station for playing music too loudly. This moment will be reprised in Florida shortly.

    • Christopher says:

      Richard, Following someone is not necessarily 100% legal. Zimmerman was potentially committing two crimes: 1.) Intimidation: to “do something which would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities [in this case Martin] to be fearful of bodily harm” or 2.) Stalking: Pursuing in a “threatening or intimidating manner, or with the intent to harass” … Under the first scenario in particular, Martin may have been justified in responding to his stalker with physical force — assuming he felt threatened and saw no other viable way to flee. If you don’t think those apply, just imagine if Zimmerman were casing/following a white 17 year old girl in a dress (imagine it’s your daughter if you have one) instead of a black 17 year old boy in a hoodie.. Would you consider that behavior stalking? The crime of stalking/intimidation is about the perpetrator not who he or she is stalking/intimidating. Pretending to be a “cop” or some figure of authority does not absolve a citizen of legal responsibility in a stalking intimidation case. Zimmerman was bigger and older and acting in an aggressive way. At no time did he identify himself. As someone who lives in an urban area and has a 24 year old step daughter who walks to and from the subway every day, I can assure you that following someone is a good way to get yourself smacked or worse. As I see it, Martin was the first to act in self defense that night, but he was unarmed so he lost.

      • Richard says:

        The prosecution never mentioned to the jury that George Zimmerman’s behavior in following Trayvon that night was illegal. Furthermore, the defense stressed in its closing argument that following someone is not illegal in Florida and the prosecution never rebutted that.

  8. Chris says:

    Nothing that I can add to this discourse other than to encourage everyone to see “Fruitvale Station” when it comes to a theater near them. Michael B. Jordan (Wallace, in The Wire) gives an amazing portrayal of Oscar Grant. And the movie does a great job of humanizing, warts and all, the the man behind the headlines from the last time this kind of thing happened.

    And yeah, the white shooter there got a relative slap on the wrist for his use of lethal force against an unarmed young African-American.

    • David Simon says:

      Michael is a good man. It’s been an honor working with him on past projects and I look forward to seeing this relevant film. Thanks for mentioning it.

      • Miles says:

        It is an excellent film that gets at the root of Oscar Grant’s humanity and gives much needed depth to a story that is glossed over in the news all too often. It stayed with me for days and is extremely timely, we obviously haven’t dealt with the system that killed him.
        Grant was a person/ father/ boyfriend just like anyone else but in the eyes of the police he was something else… Dangerous, an animal, a treat, they feared him because they’ve been institutionalized to see color as inherently suspicious or criminal… And they were afraid of him, even in a position of authority/ power there is still an irrational fear of blackness that is held by the dominant culture. Unconscious or not, it has been pumped into us, I know white people will gasp and say “not me,” but if people I really honest it is there.

        It is the reason Zimmerman followed Martin. In our culture a white kid just doesn’t conjure the same images or the same feelings. We haven’t been trained to treat the two boys or react to them in the same way. If Martin was white, Zimmerman would have kept driving, no alarm bells would have been triggered in his mind, he wouldn’t have felt the need to take his gun to confront the “suspect.”
        And if Martin was white teenager and was murdered by a grown man a hundred pounds heavier than him, the cops would have thoroughly investigated from the beginning. They would have bagged the evidence right, took photos of the scene, interviewed people correctly. They wouldn’t have immediately accepted Zimmerman’s account just because the only one who could contradict him was dead on the pavement.

  9. Michael Li says:

    “If you have some good argument as to why Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, was shot to death for walking in the neighborhood of an armed man who felt comfortable stalking and confronting him, please make that argument and avoid a completely uncorroborated suggestion that those who disagree with you are not arguing anything ideological and not the fundamental reality of the tragedy.”—David Simon

    Some words need to be lifted from the thread and quoted.

  10. Goat says:

    You lose credibility alone with your opening sentence. Zimmerman isn’t white. You have an agenda, which is disappointing. I don’t usually agree with you, but at least you’re always factually accurate. This time, you don’t even make it through your opening statement. Sorry David – if the races were reversed, the same outcome would be true.

    Where are your writings from the OJ verdict, I’m curious? I would like to see if there are any contradictions in your closet.

    Goat

    • David Simon says:

      This is just embarrassing.

      Mr. Goat, are you saying that the opening sentence is inaccurate? That if a white man, and not Mr. Zimmerman specifically, used a gun to stand his ground, he would be convicted in Florida? Or are you equating Mr. Zimmerman with Mr. Martin, racially, saying that Mr. Zimmerman occupies the same strata in this country as a young black male when he walks down the street.

      Can’t honestly see which argument is more intellectually dishonest. They both go the extra mile in that regard.

      • Alec says:

        David, that’s disingenuous (and open to being refuted unless you can list rejected appeals to SYG – not that this was tried as one – in which the shooter were black and the target not). You asserted it in the context of a black target in which the shooter was presented as white from the outset, and which continued to be discussed in terms of white-on-black violence.

        So, yes, yes you were dog whistling the canard that Zimmerman is white. It’s especially disappointing to see such a tact from a seasoned journalist… this is a better slant.

        I also am highly uneasy about your suggesting one section of society engage in wide-spread urban disturbance whilst implicitly excusing yourself from involvement (and the responses from the law enforcement agencies and court system).
        ~alec

        • David Simon says:

          I did not suggest that one “section” of the society engage in any disturbance. I said if I were black and Floridian, I would pick up a brick. And then what one sentence giveth, the next alters carefully. It expresses admiration for that cohort not doing so, and credits them with being better than me. That’s a rhetorical device and its purpose is to say not to black Americans that they should riot, but to say to white Americans that if they did so, they would have every right given what you have just told them about their status as citizens. Sorry you missed that.

          As to the first part, there are ample cases of violence against blacks in which stand-your-ground has occurred and the shooter has been white or other. A particularly horrific case is coming up for trial in Florida in the aftermath of this one, in fact. I regard Mr. Zimmerman, with his mixed-race origin as being non-black. Given the bottom-rung status of young black males in this society it matters not at all here that Mr. Zimmerman is partly Latino. Harping on that — and willfully ignoring the racial targeting that occurs under stand-your-ground — is what’s disingenuous.

          • Alec says:

            I did not suggest that one “section” of the society engage in any disturbance. I said if I were black and Floridian, I would pick up a brick.

            I don’t mean to be flippant, but do what with the brick? Build a wall? You linked it to marching on a municipal building and spoke approvingly of those who’d refrain from violence. I don’t recall MLK advocating similar.

            Honestly, the making of bizarre non-points and tortuously syllogisms is commonplace on blogs, but I am genuinely shocked to hear it from a notable journalist whose other writings I haven’t been able to fault.

            Afro-Americans in Florida do represent “one section of society”… put that down to a turn of phrase. Of course, you wouldn’t risk yourself before the Police or law courts. It’s for others that you’re creating the mood music of urban disturbance to follow.

            Forget the underlying story, it is what you said. It’s all our responsibilities to present what we mean in clear unambiguous tones, and if we don’t we shouldn’t immediately blame others for misunderstanding our points.

            And it doesn’t matter what ethnic group Zimmerman hails from. What does matter is what he is not, and he not white, taken as shorthand for Anglo and/or North European society (and, please excuse any differences in terminology).

            The immediate assumption here was that it this was white-on-black violence with all of the historical baggage that comes with it, and not of an Hispanic who had a name which many thought was ‘white’.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but was one of the reasons that the Wire didn’t return for a sixth series was because neither you nor any of the principle crew spoke Spanish so couldn’t get into the skin of Baltimore’s Hispanic ‘section of society’ and appreciate all the mores and vagueries of that? How much of the public image of this, d”you think, is down to to the reflexive and wrong impression that George Zimmerman was North European?

            It’s less important what you thought to begin with than it’s important that a journalist shouldn’t perpetuate this specious and inflammatory impression.

            ~alec

            • David Simon says:

              I said that given the rigged game with which black citizens find themselves, that anything up to and including open rebellion can no longer be considered an anti-rational act. I stand by that. I am glad they don’t riot. I find it wholly admirable. It is better than I would do under the circumstances.

              And make no mistake — the history of this country argues that some riots actually have the course of progressing our self-governance in the long run. That may sound counter-intuitive. Google “Kerner Commission” and understand that without the urban race riots of the mid-1960s, no one would have ever heard of a UDAG grant and the crippling indifference to inner-city poverty might well have continued for generations more.

              That is not to say a riot is the best choice for change, or that it isn’t wholly preferable to have the society to respond to rightful demands for redress through other means. It’s saying I understand that picking up a brick is, in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s legal murder, understandable and plausible. My words are clear and they are intended not to convince black folk to riot, but to convince whites that backing their fellow citizens into a corner by making their children hunted as we have will have ugly consequences. There are more horrific cases to come in the Florida courts alone after this one.

              I am entirely comfortable with my words, in full context and intent. And I am indifferent to whether you understand them. Others — the vast majority of those who have responded, in fact — seem to fall short of your mischaracterization of my argument. Can’t win them all, I’ve found. If you try to say something with some nuance, not everyone can follow. But the only choice is to dumb it down. Don’t wanna.

              That Mr. Zimmerman is only partially European does not obviate anything. Sorry. You are wrong here. He is not black. He is not a young black male. He has a standing in our society and before a jury that Mr. Martin could never obtain. That is the fundamental point, and you can lose yourself in the semantic forest if you feel the need. But I do not.

              You are even wrong about the sixth season of The Wire, alas. We thought of the idea of immigration as a theme between seasons three and four, but had already been off the air a year when the idea was raised. We needed at least three or four months research and so, to delay the already researched and planned-for seasons four and five for the insertion of an immigration season, we would have been off air for more than two years. Not possible. And once seasons four and five started, they were linked to the show’s conclusion in such a way that we could not interrupt the run at any later point or work past the planned ending.

              Other than that, everything you say here is correct.

              • Alec says:

                Well, you’ll know better about your production commitments and it’s good to get it from the horse’s mouth rather than secondary newspaper reports.

                My second question still stands, d’you think this would have taken on such inter/national importance had it been appreciated from the outset that Zimmerman was, for all intents, an Hispanic?

                I said that given the rigged game with which black citizens find themselves, that anything up to and including open rebellion can no longer be considered an anti-rational act.

                Again, what would you risk yourself? I’d say it is anti-rational to risk one’s physical safety and freedom at the behest of someone standing well-behind the pickets.

                Even though MLK didn’t advocate urban disturbance, he did march at the fore against state agencies and their informal militias which were known to have recourse to terrible violence.

                And the matter of Zimmerman not being white, and hailing from a section of society which hasn’t had it good from the white ruling ‘section of society’. As a gauche teenager shocked into silence by the first series of HLotS, one theme I took was that the Police and court system was quite partial to incarcerating people for black-on-black violence and less keen on halting black-on-black violence, and willing to give whites a large degree of latitude. So, following that rubric, I would have thought it more likely that the non-white Zimmerman would have been pounced upon.

                It’s not that I disagree with your basic argument about the pack being stacked against young black males (I seem to recall Frank Pemberton telling the viewer that in urban settings, they are more likely to die violently than they were on active service in WWII) or even the inequities of the SYG legislation, it’s just that I really really disagree with your slant here.

                The link to the Guardian newspaper I gave above strikes me as more measured and apposite..

                ~alec

                • David Simon says:

                  Yes, I certainly do.

                  1. Mr. Zimmerman is only partially Latino. And in Florida, you might be aware, being Latino carries with it sociopolitical and cultural perogatives that are wholly empowering to that cohort. The population breakdown is such that Mr. Zimmerman, if he emphasizes his Latino origins, is operating within a majority-minority culture. In short, Mr. Zimmerman is at absolutely no disadvantage from either his European origins or his Latino background. Opposite him stands a young black teenager walking in a hoodie and suspected of criminal activity on the basis of his mere presence in a neighborhood.

                  I find your insistence on ignoring all of this, particularly in light of a jury of five whites and one Latino, to be simply obtuse.

                  2. Again, your question about what I would risk utterly ignores the purpose of my statement. My son can walk down the street in Baltimore or anywhere else in America with his freedom, his civil rights and his general safety presumed. The game is not rigged against me. But more than that, I don’t think that anyone should riot nor did I say so, or come close to saying so. I said that if I was the victim of such a rigged game, if I could not guarantee the safety of my child under the laws of my nation, I would riot. And then, in the very next sentence, I commended those who are enduring that rigged game for showing more patience, patriotism and tolerance than I would muster.

                  For you to insist, in spite of all, that I am offering even the slightest hypocrisy by not rioting myself — in light of both my acknowledgment that 1) to do so is a rational act for those that can no longer protect their children under the law and 2) that in NOT doing so they comport themselves with more patriotism and dignity than I might otherwise manage if I were so pressed — is intellectually dishonest. I said what I said. Not want you seem to want me to have said: “…at the behest of someone standing well behind the pickets….”

                  Really, Mr. Alec? I urged anyone to riot? At my behest? Even after I commended those who, despite the betrayal of this verdict, do not do so? WTF?

                  Are you really this dishonest in your rhetoric? You have no cause to lecture any journalist or writer on his role and responsibilities? I learned how to quote someone accurately and in context from my earliest moments in the profession. You resist the very fundamental, seemingly willfully.

                  3. I don’t know what the television show “Homicide” showed you. I didn’t write that, save for my work as a junior producer in its later years. I wrote the book. In the book, the detectives work the cases as they come and they are a homicide unit with a responsibility for retroactive investigation. They were uninvolved in crime prevention or suppression in any sense, regardless of race. They worked the violence after the bodies fell. Society as a whole has much less concern about black-on-black violence than it ought. And that certainly can be true for brown-on-brown violence in Latino communities. In Florida, however, as I pointed out, the Latino community is politically empowered and well represented to a degree far in excess of the black community.

    • CIEC says:

      Goat,

      If Zimmerman isn’t white, then what race is he? You can’t say “biracial” because that’s not a race. And if you say “half white-half Hispanic” that just confirms the fact that he is white. He is also Hispanic. I think most people say that biracial individuals are both races that they are composed of. That’s why I think almost nobody would say that Obama isn’t black.

      • David Simon says:

        Yup. As said elsewhere, given the bottom-rung status of young black males in this society it scarcely matters in any sense at all that Mr. Zimmerman is partly Latino. Harping on that — and willfully ignoring the racial targeting that occurs under stand-your-ground — is disingenuous.

      • kt says:

        Moreover – many people miss the especially pertinent point that Zimmerman was listed in the initial police reports as “white”, no partial Latino ancestry mentioned. The authorities perceived him as a white man and thusly afforded him white privilege — a major factor in him not even being charged initially, until there was a national outcry, IMO.

  11. Magginkat says:

    Hangman says: “but there was no evidence to convict since no one saw the beginning of the altercation”.
    Kind of hypocritical is that Hangman? You seem to be perfectly willing to use the murderer’s lies, distortions and BS to acquit him.
    @Brent – – You obviously did not read the comments. Mr. Simon has explained his “brick” comment several times.
    @Truthseeker . . . .If you are a truth seeker I am the Virgin Mary.

  12. Josh B says:

    “You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.”

    Interesting thought. You might want to check with Christopher Cervini’s family in Greece, New York, to see what has happened when the shoe is on the other foot. Juries still acquit.

    • Goat says:

      Thank you Josh B. This case is a great opportunity for some people to try and make the white citizen feel guilty. I know David dismissed this point in a previous comment, but where are his writings regarding the current situation in Chicago? Black on black crime, and crime in general, in Chicago’s urban neighborhoods are an embarrassment to our country. Keep in mind they have the strictest gun control laws, and a mayor that was groomed by our current president. This one death, a ridiculous and avoidable travesty, should not have garnered so much attention. And for Mr. Simon to say he didn’t literally mean for citizens to pick up bricks and throw them at the court house is backtracking at best, cowardly at worst.

      • David Simon says:

        Every now and then, a white citizen is actually guilty. Hard for you to take, I know.

        • Goat says:

          Not that hard, to be honest. But for you to paint this 17 year old, one year away from being able to serve in the military, as a young child who was just eating skittles and skipping on home, is absolutely beneath you. The nation, and as we have come to find out the administration, got what it asked for. They demanded Zimmerman be arrested, he was. They demanded that he be charged, he was. They demanded a fair trial, and that’s what we got. Bitterness is a stinky cologne, and you sir, smell like shit.

          • David Simon says:

            Your right, Mr. Goat. He had seventeen good long years. He was fully formed and ready for whatever the price had to be for walking to a convenience store. No great tragedy, there.

            Wow.

          • Trixie says:

            But that’s what he WAS doing. All he did was fight back when Zimmerman refused to back off. For that bit of “stand your ground” audacity, he died.

          • kt says:

            A fair trial by an all-white jury below the Mason-Dixon — sure! Goat, I can fairly say that while some people may be confused about Zimmerman’s ethnicity, no one is confused about yours.

            • Holden says:

              An all white jury decided by the prosecution and defense attorneys who both have equal sway in jury selection. Maybe you should go after the prosecutors for not selecting a more diverse jury that would suit your tastes for below the “Mason-Dixon” trials.

              Thanks for letting us see the true content of your character KT!

        • Josh B says:

          Might you address what happened in Greece, NY instead of going on these tangents?

          • David Simon says:

            Actually, what happened in another incident is by definition a tangent. Here is a clue: There are other tragedies, travesties, affronts to justice elsewhere in the world, and exactly none of that is the least bit relevant to our systematic address of this tragedy. It is entirely reasonable that human beings can maintain empathy and concern for a given issue or situation while other situations are equally deserving.

            And when someone cites another circumstance as a means of disengaging the discussion from a matter at hand, I know that a logical fallacy has occurred. To wit, if somewhere else in the world there is a corresponding tragedy or affront that is different from the one which you seek to address, then you can be prevented from seeking to address that tragedy.

            Do you understand how irrelevant such an argument actually is?

            • Josh b says:

              It is not a tangent when you act as if things would have been different if the races were different. We have sclera example where there raced were reversed and the verdict didnt change.

              • David Simon says:

                With a Florida jury? Really?

                But regardless of jurisdiction, what are you claiming? That if somewhere else in America, some judicial system allowed a black man to heedlessly take a human life and wrongly claim the necessity of self-defense when that necessity could not in fact be corroborated, that this is some sort of egalitarian victory and that we should therefore continue on this path that systemically diminishes and dilutes the value of life under the law?

                The vast majority of stand-your-ground cases in the twenty states embracing such logic involve victims who are people of color. One of the ugliest, the murder of a young man for playing music too loud at a Florida gas station is coming up for trial in the near future. Should that young man’s parents be content because a black assailant in some other state has indulged in some comparable life-taking and been excused? That’s what you offer them? That’s your affirmation for this sea change in American jurisprudence? Congrats.

      • smh says:

        I suppose through the same logic you were quick to dismiss foreign terrorism on US soil, Goat. Because after all what McVeigh, et al did were an embarrassment to this country. You probably dismiss discussion of foreign terrorism because you could cite white on white terrorism and therefore invalidate any concern about the clash of races in that conflict. Misdirection is only effective to those who do not wish to analyze events searching for inherent truths in EACH one. No one is forcing you to feel compelled to analyze this one, but don’t come here and throw magic dust in the air and expect us to applaud your slight of hand. Move along if you don’t wish to engage in frank discussion of THIS issue…which involved one of the most disenfranchised among us dying because he struck a man that was following him with a gun while just trying to get home.

  13. Chris Backstrom says:

    George Zimmerman belongs in some form of treatment; be it jail, phych or other hab/rehab, and his suffering is far from over. But George Zimmerman is not White. Will people please stop saying he is White? No matter how much people want to be able to say that a White man killed a Black boy, George Zimmerman is Hispanic, not White. Maybe Zimmerman is a racist, maybe not. But even if he is, he is a Hispanic man who is racist against Blacks. I know that it doesn’t have the same power to say that a man of a race – that is not white – is racist against Blacks. But racism exists in many forms and between and even within many races. So the question people should be asking is not: “What if Treyvon was White and George was Black?” The question might be: “What if Treyvon was White and George was (still) Hispanic?” or possibly “What if they had both been White?” or lastly, “What if they had both been Black?” No matter how much people wish for this to be different, this was a case of a Black boy killed by a Hispanic man, and the Hispanic man walked free. Personally, I have no doubt Zimmerman is guilty; just as guilty as OJ Simpson who, by the way, is Black, and walked free after killing a White woman and her Jewish (if that matters) friend, possibly lover (if that matters). That said, murder is murder, killing is killing, manslaughter is manslaughter. This time they didn’t manage to pin the right verdict on a man. I’m a White male, I’m not American, my people never participated in any slavery, and I don’t consider myself a racist.

    • David Simon says:

      When we generalize we are speaking of the systemic, and appropriately so. When it comes to American society, the low-man on the totem pole in every fundamental question of economic, political and legal equality is the black male, and with regard to this particular dynamic, the young black male.

      Mr. Zimmerman is part Latino, part European. Whatever advantage accrues before the law and before a jury of five white and one Latina women accrues to him, not Mr. Martin. Can we dispense with whatever you think is gleaned from this hedge now?

      • Jordan says:

        Don’t forget part African American. Sorry if that fact doesn’t fit your racist agenda but it’s true. George Zimmerman’s great grandfather was black. Also, by your logic, the President is white. Give me a break.

      • Victor says:

        Being black and being killed or severely injured for standing your ground is sadly an all too common occurrence in poor urban neighborhoods across America (its probably happening right now as I write this). But both the victims and the perpetrators are often black. Nothing new here except that this time its a non-black individual doing the killing and doing so “legally”. The issue that is getting lost here is Trayvon Martin’s act of standing his ground. Did he really have to? Was this the only reasonable or self-respecting course of action he could have taken? Or could he have just kept on walking to his fathers house? He would still be alive had he done so.

        • David Simon says:

          I don’t know. I think doing it legally is an appalling new development, and given that the government is sanctioning this in our collective name, it seems to me that it’s entirely possible to object to it.

  14. Mark S says:

    Race and guns are problems in America, but not anywhere near our biggest problem…America is infected with legions of full on certified idiots. Stupidity is the norm. People get smoked over affiliation to a sports team, a meager amount of money, or the slightest spoken affront…I don’t understand why everyone wants to mix it up all the bleeping time. Violence is stupidity. Stupidity is American society at this point. Both of the idiots in this case probably mouthed off to each other and decided to square off…Stupidity

    • David Simon says:

      One “idiot” had a gun and a new law that lowers the standards for the use of lethal force behind him. End of story. End of a life.

      • Dr.H says:

        One thing is certain: Zimmerman is a pathetic cowardly wuss that stupidly compensated for his inability take on a teenaged kid in a fight by using unwarranted deadly force, therefore closing the book of a kid who had his whole life ahead of him. Even if Trayvon started the physical confrontation there’s no proper rationalization for responding to getting your ass handed to you through weaponized homicide. It’s damn shame how all this ended up.

        At the very least Zimmerman should have taken up the proper alternative of intense physical preparations ( Getting physically fit, take up fight classes or get into body building) all this would have been a much better alternative then arming yourself with a homicide instrument. Had he trained himself physically he could have effectively taken care of situation and even feasible overwhelm Martin, thereby subduing him without murder. If you are a willing participant in a organization decidedly designed to counter or aid in subsiding crime then it would make much sense to preemptively ready yourself just in case an event like this were to occur because by appropriating yourself in both mind and body you would have shown an extraordinary amount of unyielding discipline. Through desperate utilization of armed weaponry that was forcibly drawn out to counter act a situation of this sort is intrinsically flawed and shows a wanton unconcern for human life in favor of preserving themselves.

        A manslaughter charge should have been viable, and I think it would have been realized if the prosecution didn’t overcharge the case with second degree murder.

      • Mark S says:

        That’s why you don’t get in fights with people…they might have a gun. Stupid to ever get involved in a fight…you can end up dead.

        End of story

        • David Simon says:

          Yes, let’s standardize this punishment for reckless and foolhardy behavior. After all, he’s seventeen years old. He had his chance to turn the other cheek and live a nice, long life. As it is, fuck it. Throw a cap into that dumbass.

          Astonishing.

      • Goat says:

        End of story – no need to actually follow the rule of law or consider what are the provable facts.

        • David Simon says:

          I know the rule of law. And I know that the existing and viable standards for a self-defense strategy in America are no more. We are a different country now, alas.

          • Goat says:

            I could not agree with you more that we are a different country now. Guilty until proven innocent, and then still guilty. Where is your writing on the black abortion doctor who killed countless numbers of black newborns? Isn’t that a more destructive example worthy of your “different” country comment? This is one case that just happened to garner a ridiculous amount of media attention due to governmental and social group agendas. These cases happen every day, with the race being interchangeable. But this is the one that proves our country has deteriorated? This is the one that calls for esteemed writers to suggest that brick-throwing is finally excusable? Bricks should be sky high in many other places, and I would start with Chicago and Baltimore

            • David Simon says:

              Quote me accurately, Mr. Goat. I said that if I were African-American in Florida, I would pick up a brick. And then in the next sentence I credited African-Americans for having more stoic tolerance, patience and patriotism than me, as a point of confession. I turned the first statement on its head and acknowledged the great dignity that black folk offer every day in light of this kind of diminution of black life by the nation of which they are citizens.

              For you to reduce this to suggesting that “brick throwing is finally excusable” is dishonest and inaccurate.

              For you to cite other tragedies as a means of distracting anyone from this one is rhetorically dishonest. Utterly.

              So you are consistent, at least.

  15. BigAngryJew says:

    Mr. Simon, please allow me to apologize for my idiotic claim as I was only allowing some sympathy for Zimmerman because he will live the rest of his life in hiding but that pales in comparison to a kid who had his whole life ahead of him suddenly taken from him through unwarranted lethal force. However could you now dignify this question with an honest response. What did you think of Zimmerman saying that it was all in God’s plan that he killed an unarmed teenager?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjhxXwbt8E8

    Are you disgusted at his claims? What does it say to you about the type of guy he is?

  16. Dr.H says:

    Mr. Simon, I am curious if you think Zimmerman had any racial bias inherent in his suspicions. I think to an extent he did have but it wasn’t the core or predominant factor in his ultimate decision as much his delusional , misguided, agitated self-righteous vigilance against crime in his neighborhood. Maybe the fact Martin was a black kid with a hoodie “walking around, looking about”, as Zimmerman point it, may have arouse some suspicions. Really curious about you personal take on Zimmerman’s frame of mind at the time. What do you surmise based on the evidence regarding the case.

    • David Simon says:

      I think it is highly likely that Mr. Martin was racially profiled. He would not have attracted Mr. Zimmerman’s attention had he not been black. Does that mean that Mr. Zimmerman is an overt racist? No, but race played a fundamental role in his suspicions and in this tragedy.

      • Dr.H says:

        One thing is for certain: Zimmerman is a cowardly, pathetic little whelp that relied on the unjustified use of a handgun to compensate for his inability to fight.

        • Goat says:

          This is a quote from a friend of Zimmerman – “He’s been mentoring young black kids for years, he launched a campaign to help a homeless black man who was beaten up by a white kid, and he still just can’t believe all the things that have been said about him in the media.”

          But Mr. Simon knows that George Zimmerman is a racist, wanna-be cop. Why? Because GZ is a white (he’s not) and Martin was black? I honestly don’t get it. I would say jumping to those conclusions is just as bad as racial profiling.

          • David Simon says:

            Simon, above: “Does that mean that Mr. Zimmerman is an overt racist? No, but race played a fundamental role in his suspicions and in this tragedy.”

            Goat, herein: “But Simon knows that George Zimmerman is a racist…”

            Mr. Goat, if you can’t sustain an argument without insistently misrepresenting the words of others who don’t agree with you, you are operating in the wrong commentary section of the wrong website. Raise your game here. This isn’t Fox News or the Huff Post; there are basic standards of rhetorical responsibility that apply here.

        • Alec says:

          Zimmerman may harbour unsavory attitudes, I genuinely don’t know. What I do know is that the evidence presented to the jury didn’t make the case for his being prone to profile loiterers or make a bee line for passing Afro-Americans (except what the spliced NBC 911 recording purported to show).

          I can see the case against encouraging poorly trained/motivated individuals (Zimmerman seems to have been a classic insubordinate f*ck who drifted from one job to another as the realization of responsibility set-in) to take on such lethally responsible jobs as being an armed watchman.

          ~alec

  17. Bob Condon says:

    Hatred is still a product that sells. This crime and the coverage of it by much of the media, and the emails that circulated that ficticiously depicted Travon Martin as a thug (one was a picture of rapper The Game) showed us that.

    I urge those with a conscience to sign the NAACP and Move On petition for our federal government to prosecute George Zimmerman for a federal civil rights violation. It is now the only hope for justice.

    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/open-a-civil-rights-case

    A friend of mine posted a comment on Facebook about Neil Young’s song “Southern Man”, which called the south to task for it’s racism. That reminded me of the retort, which was Skynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama”. Then my mind turned to a scene from one of my favorite movies which I consider a fair depiction of how things were and still are in some parts of this country. This scene can be found in the superb film “Mississippi Burning” that depicted the murders of civil rights workers in the 60’s by the KKK and won the best picture Oscar. Here is that exchange :

    Mayor Tilman: Fact is, we got two cultures down here: a white culture, and a colored culture. Now, that’s the way it always has been, and that’s the way it always will be.

    FBI Agent Anderson (Gene Hackman): Rest of America don’t see it that way, Mr. Mayor.

    Sheriff Ray Stuckey: Rest of America don’t mean jack shit. You in Mississippi now.

    • Chris says:

      “I urge those with a conscience to sign the NAACP and Move On petition for our federal government to prosecute George Zimmerman for a federal civil rights violation. It is now the only hope for justice.”

      You are probably in for a disappointment. A big part of the reason Zimmerman was acquitted in state court was the prosecution had difficulty proving he was motivated by “ill will, spite and hatred”. Since Zimmerman is not a law enforcement officer, the best available statute would probably be the federal hate crimes law. However, this would specifically require the federal government to prove he acted not just with hatred, but specifically with racially motivated hatred. That’s going to be very difficult in this case.

    • Angela Shortt says:

      Substitute Florida for Mississppi and it pretty much applies. My mother was born in raised in Leesburg, Florida, 42 miles from Sanford. My father was born and raised in Moss Point, Mississippi. I know a lot more than I’ve ever wanted to know about both states. Most of it, based on not only my parents accounts, but also those of my relatives and numerous books, there has been some change in those states to comply with federal laws. (And boy, do they resent that.) But the most substantial changes–those of the heart and mind–have been rather slow.

  18. Matt White says:

    David, I mostly agree with your thoughts and writings on this case, but that doesn’t mean that the jury in this case shouldn’t have followed Florida law, as warped as it may be. Self-defense is what is known as an affirmative defense – the defendant usually must prove that the he or she was justified in using deadly force in self-defense. Florida law turns this principle on its head. Here are the mechanics as they exist in Florida: if the defendant presents basically any evidence that he was justified in the use of deadly force, then the jury is required to get a jury instruction on this issue. Shockingly, it places the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that deadly force was not justifiable. Here’s a portion of the exact jury instruction given in this case, which can be found in its entirety here: “If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty.”

    It is truly unbelievable that this is the law in Florida (and many other states). It’s an invitation to mayhem, lawlessness and senseless provocations and killings, especially when combined with our gun culture and permissive conceal and carry laws. These laws are a perversion of civilized society and ensure that we will embolden more Zimmermans: dopey, racist, armed vigilantes with nothing better to do than harass other citizens based upon nothing other than false and ugly stereotypes.

    Having said all this, if I were on the jury and was legally required to follow Florida law, what would I do, based upon the evidence I was allowed to consider? You make the distinction between murder manslaughter, but the justifiable force issue applies equally to both and it is the state’s burden to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman didn’t act in self-defense. Did the state meet this extremely high burden of proof? Are we going to fudge on this issue because we want moral justice? If so, what protection does anyone have against the intrusions of the state or corrupt juries?

    Is the law in Florida rotten and corrupt? Does it allow reckless defendants to kill, often, the only person who could testify against them? Should the law be changed? Is racism alive and well? Yes to all, but that doesn’t mean we should condemn the trial and the jury’s verdict as being part of the failure of the system. The people of Florida have a responsibility to deal with the aftermath of this avoidable tragedy. Their state has highlighted what happens when perverted laws and the gun culture come together. If they don’t change them (and if we all don’t speak out and demand change in our own states, when necessary), shame on them (and us).

    • FirstLtDiablo says:

      “Shockingly, it places the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that deadly force was not justifiable”

      I’ve been trying to explain this to David to no avail. He still doesn’t understand what an affirmative defense is. I happen to agree with the law in this case but even if I didn’t I would admit it exists. He keeps insisting it does not. It’s weird.

      • Goat says:

        It’s very uncharacteristic of David, I have to agree. He usually convinces me that my positions are wrong, or at the very least that I should consider the other side of my point of view. This article just reaffirms my belief, and the jurors belief, that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict GZ of willful death. Mr. Simon is 99% of the time a fan of the facts, but on this subject he keeps reverting to speculative inferences.

      • David Simon says:

        Anyone can endeavor to make an affirmative defense. This is understood, and you have no insight that is lost on this end.

        Whether by legal standards, such a defense should prevail in a case is what is at issue. But your unwarranted condescension is noted.

  19. Michael Beaton says:

    (this got posted in some sub comment…apologies for the duplication, I thought it worthy of a post of its own. If for no other reason than a dirge on the day…)

    “It all depends on the skin…It all depends on the skin your living in…”
    ~Sekou Sundiata

    And so it is, as it has always been, and … apparently it is the way it is going to be for some time to come.

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2007/07/remembering_sekou_sundiata.html

  20. Redondo says:

    Come on David, the only reason why you care about this case is that the media screwed up and initially thought they had a juicy “white man assassinates innocent black child!” story, which fits the fantasy of African-Americans that people are out to get them. A lot less interesting when it turns out that it was a Latino killing an African-American, but surely whites will receive the blame, in fine (feel free to pick the jury, or the country’s justice, or every white man). Funny how things get out of control once the reverse racism machine gets going.

    • David Simon says:

      And yet a black kid is dead. And he was unarmed. And the man who profile him, confronted him and killed him with a handgun is not black. Nor were any of the jurors.

      That’s a lot to mitigate as flippantly and as dismissively as you do. I’m guessing you might have a problem with the notion that race ever matters in America.

      • Redondo says:

        I think that race certainly matters in America: both ways. I don’t think that the incompetent Zimmerman planned or wished to kill Trayvon because he was black, but acknowledge that a certain amount of racial prejudice on his part may have led to his unnecessary, irresponsible and ultimately tragic pursuit of the teenager. Conversely, Martin’s supporters have been motivated since day one by a bias against whites, who are presumed racists and the root of all of their troubles. As it quickly became public knowledge that Zimmerman belongs to other ethnic or cultural groups (Jewish/Latino, according to the admittedly flawed American categorization of individuals), I find it convenient for agenda’s sake to shift the blame towards the white police officers (“they bought Zimmerman’s self-defense stance!”) or further down the line, the white jury, as you are doing above. What I reject about your article is the induction that this affair is representative of a white tolerance to the slaying of blacks.

        For the record’s sake, I am opposed to gun ownership and view this case as a gun-related scandal, but not a race crime. As such, I do not see why you or I as white men should feel any shame (“can’t look in the eye”) in events that have nothing to do with us as individuals or a collective.

      • Jack says:

        Black kids die daily in Chicago and yet the media doesn’t care. The media missed on this one, and it continues to fuel half-truths, while you propagate your own inanity.

        • David Simon says:

          You know what inanity is? It’s posting to the guy that reported and wrote “Homicide,” “The Corner” and “The Wire” and whining that the media doesn’t care about black-on-black violence. You know what inanity also is? It’s citing black-on-black violence as a means of distracting everyone from the senseless death of a teenager and the barbarism of stand-your-ground legislation in twenty states, as if sentient and empathetic human beings are incapable of having opinions and concerns about two distinct issues/tragedies at the same time, and as if one must therefore be abandoned in service of the other.

          That my friend is inanity. But rest yourself. Your sloping shoulders have carried the burden far enough. It’s clear enough that you can do no more.

          • Goat says:

            Your article was more about the racist component than the stand-your-ground component. You didn’t say all citizens of Florida should throw rocks, you said African-American citizens should. You’re going to trip if you keep sprinting backwards.

            • David Simon says:

              Actually, we have a problem here with reading comprehension. The statement was that if I was a person of color in Florida, I would be bereft of any faith in the judicial system, having seen it devalue black life as it does with this verdict. And that I would in such a circumstance pick up a brick.

              The next sentence, if you read that far, indicates that I hold in higher regard the stocism and forbearance of African-Americans who do not do so, and I credit their patience and patriotism as greater than my own.

              That you interpreted this to “you didn’t say all citizens of Florida should throw rocks, you said African-American citizens should” is so astonishingly reductive and disconnected from the original statement as to embarrass anyone caught engaging in such rhetorical dishonesty. Not you perhaps. I can’t tell.

            • Miles says:

              Goat. Are you really gonna keep making the same point over and over again? Simon was illustrating the remarkable amount of restraint African Americans show given the frequent nature of this type of crime, while simultaneously confessing that he would not be able to carry the same burden so stoically if he were in their shoes. Learn how to read.

              • David Simon says:

                You just put one word in front of the other. And don’t stop until you get to the end of the paragraph.

    • katie says:

      I’ve long wondered, Wtf is “reverse racism”?

      • David Simon says:

        It means white people co-opting the fundamental racial dynamic in America and trying hard for some sort of equivalence. Which is not to say that I haven’t met some black folk who don’t like white people on a purely racial basis. But hey, after last night, one has to acknowledge the point of origin for such generalized bias.

        • Redondo says:

          I repeat: why should this case – Latino man kills Black man (or “kid”, if you wish to make the distinction) justify racial animosity towards whites?

          As to your select preoccupation with the “fundamental racial dynamic” (white oppression of blacks, correct?) while dismissing other forms of racial prejudice (reverse racism)… well, I just happen to reject racism according to higher and broader standards.

          • David Simon says:

            Nothing justifies racial animosity. I reject any false equivalence — and it is utterly false and self-absorbed on the part of some whites — between black racial resentment and the profound institutionalized and systemic racial bias against people of color that continues to influence the daily lives of people such as Trayvon Martin and his parents, for example.

            Neither is admirable. But one has the full weight of our governance, our legal system and our institutional norms behind it. The other does not. Why are you so hungry to have the two equated, when only one is leading to such barbarism as last night’s verdict?

            People of color can’t effectively use stand-your-ground laws to profile and target whites. They’d be convicted by the same juries that accept the deaths of the Trayvon Martins with hideous non-chalance. Why not focus on the actual institutional imbalance as it exists, rather than rush defensively to assert an equivalence between black resentments and the originating white racism that has the full support and backing of our institutional construct in the United States?

            And if you think Mr. Zimmerman’s mixed-race status, including a European surname, doesn’t grant him racial perogatives in our culture that were unattainable for Mr. Martin, you are being disingenuous and naive. When it comes to the sum or all American racial fears, nothing — nothing — is as targeted as a young black male in America. That’s the bottom line. Lean too hard on Mr. Zimmerman’s Latino heritage and you are being dishonest about the dynamic here. There is a low-man on the American racial totem, and it has been the same feared and mythologized enemy for four hundred years now. We are doing better racially, this is true, but last night’s verdict shows how far we have yet to travel.

            • Redondo says:

              One last reply and I will stop pestering you. I happen to find the stand-your-ground laws abhorrent. I do not think that reverse racism (for Katie: the a priori suspicion that whites are motivated by racism) is in any way – degree of gravity/scale/historical duration in the US – equal to racism towards blacks. I however think that this case had a lot more to do with one than the other, and lament the interpretations that people are drawing from it.

              I felt compelled to write as I did not personally agree with the dramatic tone of your article, but have found you to be much more reasonable and convincing in our exchange. Thank you for taking the time to debate.

            • Crazy-a... says:

              David, you seem to ignore the true lowest man on the US totem pole: the Native American. Ironic given your metaphor! Not only the victims of one of the only two organized genocides committed by a Western country in modern times, but apparently on top of it forgotten by the most ardent fighters for minority rights.

              • David Simon says:

                My God. It’s like arguing with someone about what time it is and having them rush back with, “but on the other side of the international date line…”

                First, there is the specious claim that Mr. Zimmerman, by dint of not being entirely European, occupies the same sociopolitical strata as his victim. Then, when it is pointed out that no, a young black male is always at a cultural and racial disadvantage with regard to others of white or mixed race, someone rushes back with, “What about a Native American?”

                Are you interested in discussing the core values and essential legalism here? Or are you trying to further a ridiculous argument by putting on your pith helmet and searching the jungles for the next possible semantic exception?

                • Crazy-a... says:

                  I admit that I was slightly teasing, inspired by your totem-pole metaphor. Apologies if I tread the wrong side of the line of trolling, or if you found my intervention tiresome. I do however cringe whenever advocates of minorities state that “we (Americans) are all immigrants,” which is inaccurate and brushes aside the indigenous people of America.

                  As to Zimmerman’s mixed heritage, I highlight is as my theory is that, had he been shot by a white police officer, he would have been a Latino victim. As the killer of a black male, he is deemed white. This nuance does nothing to atone the fact that the stand-your-ground laws are catastrophic and that TM was probably wrongly, needlessly murdered. But these color blind spectacles are responsible for whites being associated with a crime that has nothing to do with them, and being threatened of suffering consequences (not direct threats of violence or rioting, but being deserving of future hate and resentment).

                  While I feel involved in this mess as a tax paying member of a nation with a flawed justice system, I would like to not be associated to it according to my ethnicity.

  21. Crazy-a... says:

    2 conclusions following this trial:

    – George Zimmerman was perhaps racist, which you think was his motive for killing Trayvon Martin.
    – Trayvon Martin was definitely racist.

    • David Simon says:

      How about a third conclusion. One of them brought a gun to that confrontation and used it against an unarmed opponent.

      Oh yeah. That.

      • Crazy-a... says:

        You are absolutely correct. However, your third conclusion does not negate my second one, which is overlooked by many in their interpretation of the lessons of this story.

        • David Simon says:

          You know something? I don’t know if Trayvon Martin hated white folk. I really don’t.

          I do know that considering what occurred to him and why, such a bias on his part doesn’t seem unreasonable. If African-Americans look at the present state of the American experiment and are drawn to hate whites, that is a corruption that is at least related to a brutal and debilitating reality. White racism can’t even claim that much for it.

          • Crazy-a... says:

            You should know that TM hated whites, he used a racial slur to describe GZ (you may wish to argue that it was just a superficial, casual manner of speech, but I am measuring his words according to guidelines set by the media and Martin family who who tirelessly played the recording of GZ’s phone call in search of such a damning and decisively incriminating slur).

            “that is a corruption that is at least related to a brutal and debilitating reality”

            It’s your choice – and that of many other public figures with a voice and influence – to interpret an isolated, obscure lethal scuffle as being emblematic. I find it to be a narrow minded display of confirmation bias.

            • David Simon says:

              “It’s your choice – and that of many other public figures with a voice and influence – to interpret an isolated, obscure lethal scuffle as being emblematic. I find it to be a narrow minded display of confirmation bias.”

              You do know that the stand-your-ground nightmare of this case has been replicated in a series of tragic deaths in Florida and other states where stand-your-ground has become law of the land. Apparently not. You might want to research the multitude of needless slayings of minority victims.

              As to this “hatred” of whites, was this the cracker reference? Scarcely a term of racial rage. I’m from Baltimore. I’ve been called that with absolute indifference as a term of routine description. On the grand scale of racial malevolence, we can do a lot better, can’t we? Such as, for example, mistaking a black teenager for a criminal and shooting him to death.

            • Katie says:

              This is like that reverse racism garbage. Racial slurs like the n-word carry the weight of a painful, shameful, and violent history. Cracker… not so much.

              What is this weird drive people seem to have to want to portray themselves as victims of racial discrimination?

              • Crazy-a... says:

                “What is this weird drive people seem to have to want to portray themselves as victims of racial discrimination?”

                My point exactly, see the Martin family.

                • David Simon says:

                  Yeah, they only lost a son who was racially profiled and shot to death. Where’s the victimhood in that?

              • Goat says:

                Black culture has kept the N word alive, with many of power and influence using it quite often. Not to mention that President Obama is an avid supporter of Jay Z, once of the most successful Americans in our recent history. Jay Z also used the N-word in literally every single song, and glorifies the gang and drug culture.

                So yeah, there’s that

                • David Simon says:

                  Can you drift further off point? Wait, I imagine that you most certainly can. Never mind,

              • katie says:

                For the record, I’m talking about the people who want to make cracker the same as the n word. The people who seem to wish to suffer from centuries of institutional racism rather than being part of the answer. Not the people who had to bury their son who was executed for walking home in black skin with skittles.

                • Crazy-a... says:

                  Referring to someone as a “cracker” is the act of reducing them to the color of their skin. It is an express manifestation of a dislike of another person, based on their race (white). It is the root of the generalization which will eventually lead people to take out their frustration with Zimmerman on white people who have no connection with this event. So yeah, it matters.

                  It is mind-boggling that sanctimonious people in the US look for the racism in other people’s minds and intentions, but deny the obvious racist character of the word “cracker” and those who use it. If you utter it in the work place, you should be shunned, and fired.

                  As to your weighing of the n-word versus cracker according to the history of racial balance in the US, would you deem it acceptable to call someone a “chink,” because the oppression of Chinese Americans (work conditions on the rail, portrayal in cinema) is historically slight compared to that of African Americans? Just applying your method to discredit the condemnation of the use of the word cracker. I will now refrain from conversing with you, and wish you good luck in your hunt against unilateral racism.

                  • katie says:

                    “discredit the condemnation” That’s a lot of fancy nothing. You’re missing (or purposely overlooking) the difference. There is one race in America that has been behind the systematic and institutional oppression of others. Not excusing, just understanding. While it’s not nearly as fun and self satisfying and being a judgmental prick, I find empathy is a valuable tool for the kit.

                    • Crazy-a... says:

                      The more we chat, the less you make a point and the ruder you become. For your sake, let’s call it a day.

              • Trixie says:

                Because if they do so, they don’t have to listen to the “whining” of black people. It’s a false equivalency and such utter bullshit.

            • Trixie says:

              Oh Jesus. Cracker?? Cracker is a racial slur? Give your head a shake.

              • David Simon says:

                Amazing what black folk endure in terms of racial dialectic and epithet, and what mortifies white people when it touches their ears. If only Mr. Martin had tweeted about the white gentleman who was following him the car, he might not deserve to die as a race-hater.

                Crazy how far some will journey to rationalize this outcome.

                • Crazy-a... says:

                  To clarify, I never said that TM’s use of the term cracker made him deserve his untimely death (which would be an insane claim indeed). I also condemn the use of all and any slurs against black people, and feel sympathy for whatever abuse they receive due to the color of their skin. I am however very rigorous and do not tolerate slurs towards my kind either, out of principle and not partisanship.

                  If I am highlighting TM’s use of the word cracker, it is to apply the exact thought process and methods of the people who played back the GZ recording to find traces of a slur as significant and decisive evidence of his prejudice and guilt. When it suddenly came to light that TM had uttered a racial slur himself, surely the case against GZ was damaged.

              • Crazy-a... says:

                Cracker is not a racial slur? What is it then? A pet name? Sweet hypocorism? You have done nothing to disprove my writing as to why it is an unsavory and racially charged insult. You are 100% outrage and 0% reasoning.

            • Miles says:

              He said “cracker.” Hardly a racial slur as it derives its meaning from “those that crack the whip.” Funny when white people try to make a false equivalence to actual racial slurs which serve to dehumanize and degrade certain groups.
              Martin was afraid because he was a child and a strange adult man was following him in the night.
              You can hardly fault him in that moment of fear or speak to his belief system about an entire race of people from that single utterance.

  22. Edward Copeland says:

    I haven’t read through all the comments, so I hope I’m not repeating myself, but did you see that the evil wench Ann Coulter said, “Hallelujah” at the news of Zimmerman’s acquittal? That sort of thing is to be expected from her, but what’s shocking is that blues musician Lester Chambers got assaulted on stage last night after dedicating “People Get Ready” to Trayvon Martin. Ridiculous. http://www.examiner.com/article/classic-rock-musician-lester-chambers-assaulted-on-stage-at-blues-festival

    • David Simon says:

      Don’t give Ms. Coulter attention. She craves such and without it, she withers.

      Good thing that Chambers wasn’t eating Skittles and talking on a cellphone.

  23. leslie says:

    We ARE ILL! As a 53 year old white woman who felt as though she wanted to physically assault a couple of commenters here, I’d have likely stopped responding to them. But I hope your approach of continued discussion has a more fruitful outcome. I won’t put money on it, but one can always hope for enlightenment , can’t one? Thank you David

  24. Adrian Luca says:

    My take from the news of the last few weeks? In Texas you can shoot a woman dead of she accepts your money and then refuses to have sex with you. In Florida you can stalk and shoot a black kid dead if he doesn’t treat you with deference.

  25. BigAngryJew says:

    Mr. Simon, I understand you and many others grievance about the final outcome of this emotionally draining case but I do feel I need to remind you that even though he hasn’t been found found guilty in the court of law, he has been found that way in the court of general public opinion. Zimmerman’s life has been permanently been altered by this event. In some ways, despite the fact he is no longer among the living, Martin has it easier then Zimmerman and might I add that even though they have to soldier the very heavy emotional weight of losing a child so soon, so young in that manner the Martin family still has the unanimous favor of the wider public consciousness. Unlike Zimmerman, who still has the comfort of his family and friends to console him in his time of need, they don’t have to hide or run for the rest of their lives and already have a bold future head of them as activists. Zimmerman on other hand, has been a subject to(and rightly so) to intense vitriol and media scrutiny over what transpired that night. Zimmerman will be forever be defined by that night, while the Martin family will be forever redefined by that night. It’s really not an a win-win outcome for Zimmerman either way.

    I also feel obliged to bring to light that going by the evidence it would seem Mr. Martin approached Zimmerman and therefore confronted him. Granted, Zimmerman ultimately triggered the confrontation by his profiling the kid. Sadly , this event will surely happen again.

    Another thing, I feel a need to say I am quite bewildered by the amount of civility of people on the Martin side of things even following this verdict, yeah there have some residual reactions of violence but the part its mostly just peaceful demonstration. I think it’s a testament to the strong will the Martin family have that they resist the righteous impulse to take this out in a violent manner but instead promote the pursuant of justice through not through means of a fist or a brick but through a words and a flower(corny the way I said it).

    • David Simon says:

      Your contention that Mr. Zimmerman has it “harder” than the murdered Mr. Martin is unworthy of response. It is embarrassing to you, in fact. I urge you to think about this claim.

      I see no reason to dignify it with any greater response.

    • CyberVinnie says:

      B.A.J., are you aware that Zimmerman is bringing in about $30k per month in donations? He got free legal representation and has easily banked seven figures in the past year or so. I am just cynical enough to foresee a book deal and speaking engagements (albeit at NRA-type events), so indeed his life has been permanently been altered by this event.

  26. brophy says:

    It would appear that Mr Simon is finding the use of deadly force here as being too extreme. This would be premised on believing that serious, life-threatening wounds could not be produced in a street fight.

    I’m not sure how this fact escapes a man with such experience covering the crime of Boston.

    When you are in a street fight with someone you don’t know, there ARE NO gentlemen’s agreements, there is no sportsmanship involved. People don’t just stop beating on you “after you’ve had enough”. If you’re being completely dominated in a fight and your aggressor doesn’t relent, what do you think will happen?

    How many WSHH videos of people getting knocked unconscious only to have the aggressor continue to beat on their head?

    Zimmerman is clearly an idiot and was certainly in over his head and cannot fight. He isn’t faultless, but not enough for a manslaughter conviction. Did he have any other way out other than to discharge his weapon?

    I think the Concealed Carry advocates are nuts and I find the justifications for taking life are ridiculous, but from a legal standpoint (not emotional one) there really weren’t many ways for the outcome to be avoided.

    • David Simon says:

      I covered crime in Baltimore, among the top five most violent cities in America, where a local would not deign to wipe his ass with Boston’s crime rate.

      You can muse on the lack of rules in a street fight all you want, Mr. Brophy. And you can be completely off point. There are indeed rules to using a handgun to take a life. If you are the only one to bring a handgun to a street fight and you shoot and kill someone in Baltimore, a competent detective will charge you with murder. And a prosecutor will prosecute for that crime. You would do well to read the linked essay, published at the time of the shooting in the Miami Herald.

      Your comments are indicative of someone who has given no thought whatsoever to the actual legal standards for manslaughter or murder, or the standards for self-defense and the use of lethal force in self-defense as they existed prior to stand-your-ground.

      • FirstLtDiablo says:

        You keep saying that! “He brought a gun to a street fight”

        There was no fight until Martin punched Zimmerman according to all the evidence extant. Zimmerman brought a gun to a conversation which since he had a legal carry permit was 100% legal. He also brought a gun to dinner or to pump gas. You keep using trickery in your language to make it look like Zimmerman was starting a fist fight, losing, then producing a weapon. There is no evidence this happened.

        What if he really was just asking questions and Martin punches him for no good reason? It’s like you just can’t accept that maybe Zimmerman had no intention of fighting Martin and was truly only defending himself. You’re just positive he was looking for a fist fight and brought his gun to such a duel. It’s pure speculation and irrational.

        What would an innocent Zimmerman look like? Oh… No gun at all I bet? Or his head would have to be split wide open with brains exposed? Ask yourself that? When can a white person justifiably shoot a person of color without it being racist murder? Ever? Under any circumstances?

        Can any of us defend ourselves from violent criminals without earning your opprobrium? Just because our entire culture is racist against people of color (it is) doesn’t mean I as an individual has to take a beating to assuage these larger injustices.

        If Zimmerman brandished his weapon before the fight he broke the law; if he hit or grabbed or detained Martin before any fight broke out he broke the law… And he would lose the right to an affirmative self defense claim. But no evidence surfaced that any such shit occurred.

        But I agree if Zimmerman had been black and Martin white Zimmerman would have gone to jail. And that would have been wrong.

        I’m gonna really go read that article now… For real… I’m exhausted anyway from this shit.

        • Half Coyote says:

          You keep barking up the tree and yet you’re still wrong and you can’t get it through your head that you’re wrong. Because if he never follows him, he being Zimmerman, Trayvon never dies. Although you claim that the evidence points to the fact that Trayvon punched him you don’t know if Tray on might’ve been defending himself but we will never know because hes dead. bottom-line is if he never follows him and just gets back in his car then we never hear about Trayvon Martin and his untimely death.

          • First Lt L Diablo says:

            “Hey Herc what if your mom and dad never met?” Sydnor

            Martin never dies if his parents never met either! Martin never dies if Zimmerman was born in Tokyo! This is facile and fatuous rhetoric.

            Zimmerman was LEGALLY ALLOWED to follow and confront Martin as long as he didn’t touch him or threaten him or brandish his weapon. PERIOD.

            I’m as right as a person can be on this.

            I have said over and over if YOU HAVE PROOF Zimmerman started the fight, brandished his weapon or acted illegally in any way tell me and I will join your side. But noooooooooooo, you want to engage in puerile speculation that if Jupiter was in line with Saturn then the two of them never would have met. It’s so asinine it hurts.

            Does logic or the law even matter to you? The evidence is all we have! We must live and die by that in a society. David says it over and over and over in this blog, that all that matters is logical and cogent dialectic and that emotion, the ad hominem and speculation have no place in public policy debates.

            Well Johnny, I’m not speculating, I’m saying the facts entered into evidence are this:

            1. Zimmerman claims he was beat up and had injuries consistent with a beating
            2. Martin had none besides the fatal GSW
            3. An eyewitness saw Martin on Top beating Zimmerman
            4. No evidence existed to contradict the claims of Zimmerman that he did not start the fight but only defended himself.
            5. An affirmative defense allows him to make such a claim because there was no evidence that he broke the law prior to the discharge and thus the prosecution must prove he didn’t reasonably fear for his life. They couldn’t fucking do it. QED.

            This is our justice system, the state must prove us guilty, we do not have to prove we are innocent. And despite David’s objections an affirmative defense for self-defense was applicable here without Stand Your Ground even being germane and would have been applicable in many other states including my own. Zimmerman met the standard; if there was any evidence he entered into a mutual combat scenario or pull his gun early or threatened Martin then he wouldn’t have had a right to an affirmative defense. But he did. And so the state had to then prove he didn’t reasonably fear for serious bodily injury; and they failed.

            But go ahead Half-Coyote go ahead and call me stupid and thick headed and lacking in erudition on the law… cuz then I would know I was the smartest guy in the world. Earning the enmity and condescension of the congenitally malformed and culturally retarded is like a soporific for me: I sleep soundly knowing I am your opposite.

          • Alex R. says:

            This is exactly correct. Zimmerman had no good reason to get out of his car except to have a confrontation. The only reason Zimmerman got out of his car was because of his conclusion that Trayvon was a criminal in need of interrogation.

  27. James says:

    It’s obvious that David, and others, feel exceptionally passionate about this (as well they should) but as an outsider there are a few things they are arguing that don’t fit with the news reports I’ve read of the case. Both David “Mr. Zimmerman was the one who affronted Mr. Martin while armed.” and others “Had Zimmerman not stalked Martin against the advice of authorities” claim that Zimmerman confronts Martin, against the advice of the police dispatch. But according to what I’ve read, upon telling the dispatch that he is out of his car looking for where Mr Martin has gone the dispatch tells him to return to his car and Mr Zimmerman complies and heads back to his car. It is at some point after this that Mr Martin confronts Mr Zimmerman, allegedly, and their fight takes place.

    Are the reports I’ve read wrong, or am I misreading David (and others) point?

    • David Simon says:

      Mr. James, what is Martin doing outside with a gun? And why is he telling a police dispatcher about these thugs who keep getting away with it just prior to a confrontation with a black teenager talking on the phone and eating candy?

      Must the facts be so mangled as to excuse this needless death and uphold the rage and fears of those who cannot discern the difference between a teenaged pedestrian and someone involved in crime? And must the penalty for mutually engaging in non-lethal combat be an escalation to the use of a deadly weapon and subsequent death?

      Are you not ashamed to be parsing this and avoiding these obvious questions?

      • James says:

        My point was only that part of your argument seemed to imply, and others explicitly state, that Zimmeran was stalking Martin and pursued him until confrontation was inevitable. As I understand it that is not what the evidence shows. I wasnt arguing that Zimmerman is innocent, just that there is plenty to condemn him for without creating a false hunter/prey narrative for that night. It was a minor quibble though, and I chose the wrong time to air it; for that I do genuinely apologise. I’ll leave you in peace now to fight the fires elsewhere in the comments.

      • First Lt L Diablo says:

        You keep making these statements: “What was he doing outside with a gun?” Cue ominous music!

        Dude, tens of thousands of us carry concealed weapons every day to every place we go. I have had a .45 strapped to my hip for the last 12 years. Yes, I go OUTSIDE! And nobody ever has to fear my weapon unless they try to assault me causing serious bodily harm and I have no avenue of escape. I don’t care what you think the standard is here. I don’t expect to get attacked for asking a guy a question on the street in my neighborhood; I expect him to answer me politely, rudely or take his leave giving me the finger on the way out. But he may not fucking assault me. Period. End of fucking story. And if you think Zimmerman started it then say so. And then you can offer your evidence for such a claim. Otherwise you are just being a goddamn blow hard; and turning all of us who own and carry weapons into permanent criminals and pariah with your hyperbolic and puerile rhetoric.

        I can expect you to call me a criminal and racist and wanna be cop if I’m charged with a similar crime even if I’m legally defending myself I’m sure. Fuck it if I’m actually innocent, fuck it if I’m actually defending myself from a dangerous and larger threat than I can handle without this technology. I guess I’d also have to listen to ersatz leftists tell me I’m not man enough to win a fight the old fashioned way and blah blah.

        SPECULATION ALERT: and one last thing before I throw up from this shit: If a cop was getting beaten, bloody nose, disfigured and swollen, bleeding from back of the head from repeated slamming into concrete, fists raining down on him as he lay supine unable to escape, you can bet your ass if he decided to shoot his assailant he would not be charged with a crime. Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

        • David Simon says:

          Based on your arguments here and your acknowledgment that you are always armed, might I ask in which state you reside? Just curious.

  28. Liza says:

    So when are you, dear author, planning on making your stand and going to the courthouse with a brick? Perhaps the “patience and patriotism” of the people of color in Florida is not beyond your own after all, considering you seem to have no intention of doing anything more than attempting to rile up the black community with your words rather than act on your apparent outrage yourself. What has happened is a tragedy. If you’re so angry about the injustice, why is it up to the black people of the community to put only themselves at risk by marching at a courhouse with bricks? Why is it not up to every outraged person, yourself included?

    • David Simon says:

      Are you serious? Did you read one sentence and not the sentence that follows?

      Is that sentence there in advocacy of the brick? Or to point out to people content with this verdict that they have created a rigged game in which the brick, while destructive and violent, is no longer an irrational act? Were you just reading quickly? Or are you incapable of parsing two sentences with context or nuance?

      • Liza says:

        I indeed read the sentence that follows, as well as the one after where you “confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own”, reiterating that if you yourself were a person of color you’d be over there with that brick. What I wonder is why you personally would have to be black to consider committing such an act, which you say is no longer irrational (and I don’t disagree with you), to stand against the injustice done against your fellow human being. What injustice do the powers that be have to commit for you to take such an apparently rational step yourself instead of waving your fist with claims that if you belonged to some other group, some other race, you would be doing so and so?

        • David Simon says:

          Let me write it as an outline and see if it conveys.

          1. The brick, while sometimes a rational response and capable of conveying real and justifiable alienation on the part of the disenfranchised, is not the optimal or most moral response. Political outrage and concerted dissent and demand for a recalibration of the show-me-a-ground statutes is optimal and the most moral reaction for all citizens.
          2. That said, I could understand that the anger and fear of African-American citizens is so much more pronounced. They have to look at their sons and warn them against enjoying their basic civil rights as citizens. They have to explain to them the malevolence with which the state addresses their public safety issues. For me to fail to acknowledge that the stakes are heightened for African-Americans or to pretend that I am similarly threatened as a white man is not a failure of empathy, it is instead an acknowledgment that some injustices land harder on others and that they are entitled to even greater anger and alienation as a result.
          3. I have been writing on this issue since the shooting. You can go back and read three posts on this site, one of which was written for the Miami Herald. This is what I do. I am a writer. I believe that the argument itself helps to focus the debate and encourage a political recalibration in the venues that matter, else I would never have so much as gone to journalism school or engaged with the world as a scribbler and storyteller.

          Do these three, non-contradictory fundamentals still require that I pick up a brick? Or can I proceed with your approval to venture my opinions and urge political and legal reconsideration of stand-your-ground?

  29. Amy Goodwin says:

    If you parse an event to death you are bound to create reasonable doubt.

    You can call this a failure of our justice system, or you can call this a failure of Florida politics.
    http://www.thenation.com/blog/166978/how-alec-took-floridas-license-kill-law-national#axzz2YxgpG0X9

    Any way you look at it, it is a dismal failure. My thoughts are with his family. They have suffered his death and now a second victimization. Yet his parents still demonstrate a faith in God.

    It reminds me of this Arthur Miller quote. As he watched his wife, Marilyn Monroe, slip further into depression, despair, and closer to death, he wrote in his autobiography TIMEBENDS, “I found myself straining to imagine miracles. What if she were to wake and I were able to say, ‘God loves you, darling,’ and she were able to believe it! How I wished I still had my religion and she hers.”

  30. Andrew says:

    This is “witch trial” thinking. I appoint myself “Witchfinder General”. Me and my boys wonder around until we find some old lady who we don’t like the look of, and declare her a witch. If we put her on our ducking stool and she drowns – ah, never mind, another tragedy in the war against witches; she had all the hallmarks of a witch, hanging around with other witches, diabolical mark, what have you, so what were we to think? Meanwhile, if we put her on the stool and she floats, we burn her at the stake. Either way, once you’re declared a witch – or a suspect, or a thug or whatever – you lose. Meanwhile the bully party, the instigator, gets to justify its behaviour after the event. Carte blanche for vigilantism.

    Also: what does this say for the quality of justice in Florida – from ground level up? Not even George Zimmerman trusted the police to deliver him justice. The whole thing is tragic.

  31. Other David says:

    What do you think led to this verdict? Was it the “stand your ground law”, a racist jury, or a poor prosecution? I’m thinking all three had some influence. If it had been a white man shot by a black man, the verdict would have been guilty. If the “stand your ground law” didn’t exist, the verdict would have been guilty. And if the prosecutors and investigators did more than a half-assed job, the verdict would have been guilty. This is our system, and damn us for it.

    Nonetheless, I think we need to look at root causes because this will happen again and again. In my opinion, racism and our gun culture led to this murder. This type of murder wouldn’t happen anywhere else in the developed world. I don’t know how to solve racism, but the rest of the world has taken care of the destructive gun culture. We know what to do, but we won’t. Damn us for that too.

    • David Simon says:

      The verdict could have been achieved without specific stand-your-ground statutes, and indeed, SYG was not technically invoked as that would have forced Mr. Zimmerman into a trial by judge. However, the cutlure of stand-your-ground is now operant in twenty states, and regardless, even a lopsided, hyperbolic claim of self-defense can still be undertaken by a defendant within the established construct of prior law. But of course in most instances, to do that you need to avoid being black. And you need the victim to be black.

      This is race in America. I see no reason not to speak bluntly. This entire incident and its outcome can’t happen with the victim being anything other young, male and black. And with the assailant being other than that.

      That said, the stand-your-ground legislation creates a culture in which the taking of human life in response to merely common assaults, to threatening or provocational language, to even property crimes is permitted and tolerated. This is against the previous standards for the justified use of lethal force under American law. We have lowered the bar, and we have told a lot of assholes with a lot of guns that we have lowered the bar. Human life is now worth less in America. For some citizens, most especially.

      • Other David says:

        True, but “stand your ground” also adds another hurdle in deciding reasonable doubt. In fact, this is probably its intention. If a white man kills a black man and all the evidence points to “guilty”, the jury can still say “not guilty” based on this law (obviously, the reverse would never happen). It provides the jury an excuse, despite all evidence, to not convict. It allows the jury to do what they want to do, not what they feel they have to do (which is to make a decision based on the law, ethics, and duty).

        • David Simon says:

          Agree. It lowers the bar in a way that places the burden of proof not on the defendant to prove he killed with reasonable fear for his own life or those of others and instead places the burden on the state to prove not merely that someone took another life, but that there are no possible scenarios by which the assailant was being threatened in any fashion that could suggest he might take a punch or cede some real estate. It’s horrific.

  32. Ex Reporter says:

    I agree that a manslaughter conviction would have been just. But the biggest threat to young black males in this country isn’t scared security guards — it’s other young black men. Zimmerman should have been convicted, but why aren’t more people outraged about the thousands of black men killed each year by other black men? These people just become forgotten statistics. Nobody cares about them. If there’s not a race conflict angle, it’s a non-story.

    “According to stats from the Philadelphia Police Department, 75 percent of 324 victims killed last year (2011) were African American men, while 80 percent of those doing the killing were – you guessed it – black males.” http://newsone.com/1776185/black-male-on-black-male-crime/

    • David Simon says:

      Why aren’t people outraged about nuclear proliferation? Or teen pregnancy? Or affirmative action?

      I always hate this logical fallacy. Is it possible to stay on point and be outraged about something that deserves outrage, without rushing to mitigate it with a litany of other unrelated, or barely related things that it is possible to also be outraged about?

      Black-on-black crime is not an issue in Mr. Martin’s death. Or for that matter in Mr. Zimmerman’s decision to leave the house with a gun to confront the punks who always get away with it.

      • Ex Reporter says:

        You know what, David — you’re right. This was the wrong point to make at this moment. Wrong place, wrong time. However, I wanted to note, I never suggested Trayvon committed a crime, let alone engaged in black-on-black crime. Thanks.

    • Elizabeth Miller says:

      Do you have anything to say about what should be done about the stand your ground law in Florida or about that kind of legislation in general?

      It’s just not right for you to change the subject of this thread – it’s too important and worthy of discussion on its own merits, or lack thereof.

      I am sure you can find any number of discussions on the internet that deal with the issue you wish to address.

      • Ex Reporter says:

        Based on what I’ve read about Stand Your Ground, the law seems incredibly misguided. I think it’s a dangerous law and should be repealed. But without the law, we’re still left with guns and irresponsible gun owners. And racist, irresponsible gun owners. And juries made up of their peers. Not sure how you solve those problems, unfortunately.

      • Ex Reporter says:

        I don’t disagree with your counter. But will save my clarification for another platform. Thanks.

  33. Magginkat says:

    Mr. Simon, your article is one of the best I have read since that verdict.
    I had hoped right up to the last second that a group of women would make better use of their brain but they didn’t. Oh a couple of them will be on TV in a day or so with their explanations but all in all they are a disgrace to the human race as is the murderer.

    I have felt that the murderer had thought about this & had run this thru his screwed up mind many times since he became a self anointed neighborhood watch. Watching his explanation of how this murder occurred reminded me of a really bad cop show and I’m sure that he watches those at every opportunity.

    I am a 71 yr old white grandmother with several mixed race (black) grandchildren. They are some of the most beautiful children you will ever meet. I had nightmares all night long after hearing this verdict. Even after getting up about 3 am, walking around for a couple minutes it seemed the nightmares picked up where they left off. All I can think of now is what may happen to my grandchildren and it is sickening to think that they might be subjected to an event like the one that ended with Trayvon Martin being murdered for no reason other than the fact that the murderer wanted to be a big bad cop & he obviously hates black people.
    For the murderer, I wish him the nightmares that I had last night for the rest of his life. I doubt that he will because I don’t believe this thug has a conscience but maybe the thought that he will have to be looking over his back for a long long time will cause him to have the nightmares he so richly deserves.

  34. buzzkill says:

    Thank you for this essay. Just saw the verdict this morning and feel ashamed, once again, of my country.

    I’m a non-believer, so I won’t pray for his family or for our country. But man, this is fucked up all right.

    Human life in general is worth much, much less these days. African American males are becoming an endangered species.

    I fear this world.

  35. Michael Dawson says:

    I’m in the old continent and this story is headline news over here.

    America you are insane! How can you stand for this?

  36. Katie says:

    I am thoroughly disgusted by the outcome of this trial. What sort of degenerate society we live in where you can hunt down a black kid and get away with it. Martin was on trial here, no doubt. And his parents are better than I ever could be, I’d be calling to burn that courthouse down.

    As for those defending Zimmerman online and in the media, I have no words.

    To sort of quote Bob Dylan, I can’t help but feel ashamed to live in a country where justice is a game.

  37. Diego says:

    Reminded me of this song: American Skin (41 Shots)

  38. Tony says:

    Nice piece. Thank you for writing it.

    “I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country.”

    Well, I think that you should look your putative African American parent in the eye and tell them that you’re mad too.

    And that you, and your wife, and your family, and your friends, would never have found Zimmerman not guilty.

    Because that, I believe, is what African Americans want most to hear from white people.

    Not talk about bricks.

    • David Simon says:

      Not calling for a brick. Not in favor of the brick. Saying only that a brick is now rational and understandable.

      • Tony says:

        Understandable? Sure.

        But also, surely, a cliche of what black people do in these situations. Even though most of them do *not* do that at all.

        I don’t actually believe that you would pick up that brick. Like more African Americans than pick up bricks, I believe you would strive to change those laws. That’s all, really.

        • David Simon says:

          We disagree in only one sense:

          I employ the phrase not to describe or categorize black folk. I use it to make clear to white folk, particularly those content with this verdict, that their worst fears, if realized, would mark a rational act on the part of those whose lives they demean and devalue through such judicial corruptions as the one that occurred last night. That’s how much of a horror show this verdict is.

          The acknowledgment of the patience, tolerance and patriotism of the vast majority of black folk is acknowledged in my very next sentence after referencing the brick. The brick is there to say something to anyone who is not black and who is content with this verdict and what it says about us as a country.

          • Tony says:

            Oh, ok, that’s fair enough.

            Like a lot of people, I’m finding this pretty hard to process. The one shard of light I am seeing here is how many white folk are mad as hell about this. That, in itself, is a change, I think: white people are angry – livid – about injustice against blacks; and straight people are angry – seething – abut injustice against gays; and increasingly people are getting ‘what the hell?’ about injustice against trans folk.

            Change, I think, comes when the mainstream wants it, and over the past few years the mainstream has got more and more radical about this stuff – or rather, believing in justice about this stuff seems to have become more and more mainstream.

            And that gives me hope.

            Thank you for writing the piece and for taking the time to reply to my comments.

  39. Hangman says:

    I love the code words used to paint the liberal narrative. A “man” with “MMA training” vs. a “boy.” Clearly your narrative doesn’t stand up to logic because ultimately this “boy” was straddling this “MMA fighter man” and pummeling the crap out of him. So clearly Zimmerman was not Trayvon’s match physically.

    I don’t care what you think you can define as “civilized.” Common assault has no place in civilized society. We would be better off if those that were prone to it and engaged in it were eradicated. If you strike another person, you should lose that hand and you deserve any consequences that come from the fight…including death in this case. If you think common assault is civilized…you are intellectually dishonest and display the ethics of convenience.

    Throw thieves, rapists, murderers and others in there. Let’s bring back the public executions and put the fear of something back into people. If you behave barbarically and contrary to civilized society, let us snuff out your life like a surgeon removing a tumor.

    • David Simon says:

      I’ll just let this stand. Remarkable.

      • kt says:

        I don’t know that you should necessarily let this stand considering the poster is clearly psychotic. Try an IP block.

        • David Simon says:

          No, in this instance, in which I am saying bluntly that this outcome has everything to do with race, I think his comments are entirely germaine. They are the very American pathology, demonstrated.

    • Angela Shortt says:

      Well, welcome to America, Mr. Taliban. I’m sure you’ll have no problems setting up shop in Florida.

      • Angela Shortt says:

        I just realized that I replied to the wrong person! My apologies, Mr. Simon. My comment was intended to the nutcase who talked about “civilized society”.

  40. CyberVinnie says:

    As an African-American man, all I can do is ask, what did you expect? Did you not see this coming? What made this a national story was the fact Zimmerman was not arrested the night of the murder (and for weeks after), but even after that occurred I fully expected the result. I wish I was outraged, but this is the America in which we live. The reality of America is, if you switch the races of the two actors in this case, two things would be different: Trayvon Martin would have been arrested on the spot, and he’d have been convicted of 2nd degree murder.

    But the worst aspect to me is I have been talking to my 9-year old son about this case as an example of why I hate guns, and I had to see the confusion in his eyes when they read the verdict.

    • David Simon says:

      Did you read the linked piece I wrote in the Miami Herald? Apparently, I saw it coming in the aftermath of the shooting itself. I am sorry for the words you will require for your son. Truly.

    • Patrick Richardson says:

      As heartbroken as I have felt trying to understand this tragedy, I am not a parent and I am not an African American. Call it white guilt, but how could I not express my sympathy? Vinnie, I hate guns, and I hate that I might someday have to tell my future kids about guns and might have to tell them about Trayvon. But I won’t have to warn them that they are endangered based on their hue.

      I have never pretended to understand justice, but I am indeed ashamed of our society.

  41. Laura says:

    I live in the UK so am an outsider looking in, but your post has just hit the nail on the head. This will always happen as long as there’s no gun control in America. The comments of the defence after the trial were also disgusting – I don’t have a clue how they could argue that Zimmerman is the victim here. Absolute madness.

    • Greg says:

      I agree with you Laura.

      As a Brit living in “dangerous” Brazil I feel safer living here than in Florida where I could be shot dead by a wannabe cop. Even Brazil seems to have better gun laws than the USA. The USA is a beautiful country marred by an ugly society.

      • Jen says:

        In America you can get shot. But in Brazil you can get stoned to death, then beheaded and have your decapitated head placed on a pike (as happened during a Brazilian soccer match last week).

        Some perspective please.

        • katie says:

          That’s right. There’s never a barbaric crime committed in America, like say, dragging a person to death from the bumper of a car. (James Byrd Jr). No one here would ever kidnap a gay kid, beat him into a coma, then tie him to a fence post. (Matthew Shepard). And no unarmed kid has ever been stalked and killed just for being black.

          Oh, yes, we are so much better than “those people.”

  42. Zachary Goelman says:

    You write, “If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford.”

    Why only if you were a person of color?

    • David Simon says:

      I am not saying it is correct or most effective course of action. Nor for that matter am I saying that civil unrest is always a negative thing; an argument can be made that the 1967 and 1968 riots were transformative for American urban policy, that a few bricks had to be thrown before the plight of the inner cities, for example, became part of the national agenda. On the other hand, sending such a message often gets some innocent bystanders a brick in the head.

      I’m just acknowledging that if I were African-American and I had a son, I would feel as if the game was utterly rigged, and I might calibrate my response accordingly. To do so with brick, given what the judicial system has just said about the valuation of African-American life, is not exactly an anti-rational act. That’s all.

      • Zachary Goelman says:

        But why only if you were an African-American would you feel the game utterly rigged. As a white American, watching and commenting, are you not moved to throw a brick?

        • David Simon says:

          Asked directly and answered directly elsewhere, and because the dinner hour was approaching I urged you to locate a similar answer elsewhere. But now, with company gone and the dishes done:

          As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think you’ve read carefully or understood the rhetorical purpose or limitation of my comment about the brick. Let me go through it in points:

          1) I suggest that if I was African-American and living in Florida that I would pick up a brick. Why limit it to African-Americans? Because it is they who have been informed, yet again, that their lives are devalued by the judicial system, and it is their sons who stand vulnerable to the abuses of that system. They are without recourse, and this is a rhetorical point that is important to understanding the dynamics of what happened in Sanford and why. To say, with all worthy empathy that all people should pick up a brick sounds egalitarian enough, but it doesn’t accomplish the rhetorical task of making clear that it is black folk who are confronting a hopeless situation — and because the stand-your-ground and racial-profiling dynamics will only target them, they are effectively alone in political and legal terms. I am saying, in effect: If I thought that my children were subject to this nightmare and that I could expect no quarter from my nation or its judicial construct, I would rebel.

          Yes, it is a warmly noble sentiment for me to say that all of us should practice the same resistance on behalf of African-Americans. But first, that defeats my rhetorical purpose of noting that in truth whites have, in their embrace of the stand-your-ground logic, left their black fellow citizens alone with a Hobbesian choice here. They are politically, socially and legally alone to bear this burden and I am trying to establish that reality in my rhetoric.

          But…

          2) More importantly, the following sentence takes away what the previous sentence gives. I don’t actually believe that throwing a brick is the best recourse for anyone, and I commend the mass of African-Americans who endure stoically these systemic affronts to their humanity. I go so far as to say that their patience, patriotism and tolerance are greater than my own would be if I was compelled to endure as they do without the support of the American majority.

          The combination of both points is to say: Whites are not having their children hunted, provoked and slain in this fashion, so black folk are left alone with a choice of rebellion or continued participation in this rigged, barbaric game. If it were me, I would throw a brick. And good thing that it isn’t me, because I confess I would not display the forbearance of the mass of African-American citizens in light of this horrible dynamic. The compliment paid in the second sentence doesn’t work if I’m seriously urging anyone or everyone to actually pick up a brick, which I in no way am. The second sentence makes the purpose of the first wholly clear.

          I hope this helps.

          • Zachary Goelman says:

            I suppose I despaired at your comment because it suggests that sympathetic white folks, like you and I, can do nothing for black Americans but empathize and shake our heads and fists in frustration.

            But despair seems to something of a theme around here.

            • David Simon says:

              Don’t let the title of the blog fool ya. If I did not believe that argument itself has import politically, I wouldn’t bother. To quote I.F. Stone, “Sometimes the only arguments worth having are the ones you are sure you are going to lose.”

  43. Michael Beaton says:

    D.
    I hope you do not have to endure much more of those sorts of posts…It was hard for me to read, I sense how unbearable it must be for you, especially having them directed at you.

    I share your outrage and feel a similar sort of despair. I don’t know what else to say more than that. Another day.

    I came across this while reading some of the articles about the verdict. This story counterpointed to the Zimmerman case, as much as anything, gives the lie to the supposed “Justice” system and exposes the basic injustice and the underlying racism still rampant in our country. It is shameful in its own terms. It is profoundly sad that it also comes at such harsh costs to whom the injustice is inflicted.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/19/marissa-alexander-gets-20_n_1530035.html

  44. Monica R. says:

    ” I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country.”
    And as an African-American parent, what do I tell my son? I am at a loss right now. What can I tell my boy? My nine year old, who still thinks everyone is his friend, what do I tell him? That his engaging smile and open, breezy manner, his intelligence and love for life – none of these things are going to matter when some asshole who can only see skin color decides my son is somewhere he shouldn’t be, decides my little boy is a threat? Got the message, America, loud and clear. Black boys’ lives don’t mean as much. Black kids need to stay in their ‘place’. Black kids, when accosted by strangers, are not allowed to defend themselves. Message well received. Now I need to put this all in terms a fourth grader can understand.

    When look at Trayvon’s picture, I see my son’s face, and I can’t stop crying.

    • David Simon says:

      I don’t know. I am in no way confronted by your dilemma, but still, I am the parent of a teenage boy and I am sick to my stomach.

      It is small consolation, but you can tell your son that he does not live in a country where all people think and act as Mr. Zimmerman, and a great many of those who share citizenship with your son are not content with this country’s lesser regard for African-American life, that there are people who see this moment for exactly what it is. And many of them are white, or of differing races.

      That’s about the best that I can do tonight. It still means that he grows up with a fear that no child deserves to carry. And it doesn’t mean that there aren’t people either sanguine about or indifferent to his burden, as witnessed already by some of the commentary here tonight.

      I’m so sorry. This is wrong. We are wrong. And it is shameful.

    • Katie says:

      Oh, god, Monica. I am sad, ashamed, angry, and my heart goes out to you. Still, that doesn’t touch what you are facing. I don’t know what to say to you, other than I’m sorry and this white mother stands shoulder to shoulder with you.

      • Monica R. says:

        David and Katie – thank you both. The burden has always been there, but this verdict brings it home in a painful way. The arc of the moral universe is just too damn long.

  45. K says:

    I am an attorney and I am appalled by tonight’s decision. This is a problem with a system where we put justice in the hands of “our peers” – peers who think CSI is good TV and that “50 Shades of Grey” should be a best seller.

    It boggles my mind that Zimmerman is allowed to stand his ground when he initiated the fight, but a 17 year old BOY who was a little high, eating skittles, and talking on the phone with a friend wasn’t allowed to fear for his life when some rotund man came stalking after him with a gun. Race pervades our justice system and people who think we have made progress or moved in the direction of righteousness are naive.

    • David Simon says:

      High on weed.

      I’m not much of a fighter overall and never have been. But I’ve smoked my share of weed, and it never did anything but make me more passive in all respects. It’s not like he was coked up.

      That this was part of the defense strategy showed you all you needed to know. Not to mention Mr. Zimmerman’s inability to account for his logic and actions and then endure a cross-examination. But the defense rightly calculated that anything they could put on the victim would, for the jury, stick. And the defendant would be given the benefit of all doubt.

      We used to hold the taking of human life to the highest possible standards. Now it’s about the real estate. Stand your ground, brother, even if it’s over top of a dead teenager. Christ, this country is ill.

      • K says:

        Oh I 100% agree with you. I think the majority of those who spent some time in high school or college have dabbled with weed and they will openly admit that moving to violence is the LAST thing you want to do when stoned. Take a nap, eat a cookie…yes. Fight? No.

        To me, Zimmerman not testifying says QUITE a bit. You aren’t allowed to legally make the assumption, but when a defendant doesn’t testify, there’s a reason why.

        Zimmerman’s attorneys are everything that is wrong with lawyers. Their post-verdict interview infuriated me. And their tactic of trying to make Trayvon look like a thug was akin to what defense attorneys do when they try to make a rape victim look like a whore. The fact that people still let that kind of logic reach them gives me zero faith in our progress as a society.

        I am not a prayer but I do pray that he will be held civilly liable. Money never compensates for a loss of life, but I hope it’ll be some sort of peace for the Martin/Fulton family that a civil jury is at least able to get it right.

        Again, Mr. Simon, your commentary is always spot on and appreciated.

        • David Simon says:

          Yes, I understand that as a juror you are not entitled to infer from a defendant’s declination to testify. But as a matter of public commentary, standing apart from the trial and simply assessing the strategies of prosecution and defense, it seems consistent with the dynamic.

          The less this trial had to do with the defendant and his actions, the better for the defense. The more it could be about the presumptive “thug” who was killed, the better for the defense. And it worked.

      • FirstLtDiablo says:

        I’m replying here because my phone is truncating the threads as we go David and eventually they become impossible to read (enjoy the metaphor).

        Also above you said “I’m not much of a fighter”. This is salient.

        Fist fights are very dangerous. And getting hit in the bridge of the nose hurts very badly. It confuses you and sends panic signals to your brain.

        I’ve been in several fights and none of them left me whole. I categorically reject the notion that a fight “is what it is” as if it can be waved away with an insouciant hand.

        Further, I agree with the statute in my state that says you may use lethal force to prevent serious bodily harm. Not a slap but serious bodily harm. Ok? I am trying to agree with you here if you’ll allow it.

        Where you and I differ is how to calibrate serious bodily harm. I don’t think a civilian minding their own business should have to suffer serious injury BEFORE they use lethal force. You seem to think they have to get beat up bad enough to demonstrate actual injuries that would pass some “serious” test. This is asinine. I’d like you to honestly imagine yourself getting punched repeatedly, head slammed into concrete, pain concomitant with a broken nose confusing you and panicking you and then ask yourself if you would rationally decide: “oh this is just simple assault; I’ll probably be fine even though I can’t seem to land one punch on this guy oh and he’s going for my legally concealed weapon now too”.

        Really? I can tell you’ve never fought. I have, and you panic. You feel blinding pain despite the adrenaline; you feel like your foil wants to KILL you. It’s scary and easily leads to serious bodily harm. I refuse to hand my well being over to some sociopath or drunk moron who wants to prove his masculinity on me. And I may not be able to defend myself without a gun due to size or skill differential, zeal, intoxicants, or dumb luck (“that counts too” – Bukowski in Barfly).

        I accept the legal standard of serious bodily harm no more and no less. Is this retraction/clarification sufficient?

        P.s. this heuristic model of pot use only producing pacifists is unenlightening. It’s largely true but not axiomatic. C’mon…

        • David Simon says:

          Your obsession with a throwaway phrase as a means of initiating a completely ad hominem discussion predicated on whether I understand what it means to physical fight is nonsense. Entirely. It bears no intelligent or necessary response.

          But this:

          “I don’t think a civilian minding their own business should have to suffer serious injury BEFORE they use lethal force.”

          You just described Trayvon Martin. He did not — from all available evidence and corroboration — use lethal force or anything close to it against Mr. Zimmerman. And he suffered serious injury. In fact, he is dead.

          Whereas, you clearly have not described Mr. Zimmerman. Whatever else he was, he was not a civilian minding his own business. He was a self-appointed guardian against the thugs who, as he put it, always get away with it. He armed himself with a lethal weapon and he left the house to confront a teenager talking on a phone and eating candy, to demand some answers. That you would employ the phrase “civilian minding their own business” to describe such actions is astonishing.

          • First Lt L Diablo says:

            All my most salient work is called “irrelevant” by you. I forget you think we are all computerized machines. I always strive to remind you we are humans who feel things. Getting hit in the nose and having your head slammed into concrete may turn out to seem not that bad to you and me and everyone in TV land, after-the-fact, but to Zimmerman I bet it hurt like hell and scared him. I know because I’ve been there and it is painful and scary! But of course my personal experience are not germane blah blah. Ok. Fine. The only problem is that “state of mind” is very much part of the legal code in these cases. And why is it that your many years of crime reporting experience is always valid in these arguments but my experience getting my ass kicked isn’t?

            My entire point is that there was no evidence Zimmerman started anything illegal or violent. He asked a question. You may think it’s ok to punch a stranger if he asks you a question; but I do not. Further, once it escalated to a violent attack by Martin, and all the evidence points to Martin being the aggressor legally, Zimmerman had the right to defend himself (again, Zimmerman is legally allowed to carry a firearm, patrol his neighborhood, call 911, ignore their non-legal advice, approach Martin, and ask him to justify himself).

            You can dress him up in a rhetorical flourish as a “wannabe cop” with a deadly axe to grind all you like, but his actions were legal all the way through. He never once broke the law from the evidence presented. Martin did break the law the moment he assaulted Zimmerman for asking an impertinent question or two. And this is where you go wildly off the rails, that assault was not as anodyne as you claim: Martin was the only one getting blows in, he had Zimmerman supine and vulnerable to further unanswerable blows, and was bashing Zimmerman’s head against concrete. If you continue to assert that this is some “boys will be boys” situation then you just don’t understand nearly enough about human physiology or psychology to debate this with any authority.

            Would it be ideal if Zimmerman was a better fighter and could defend himself without using a firearm? Yes. But some men are not equipped to deal with physical threats. Just like the Apache or the M-26-7 or the Sandinistas had to use guerilla warfare tactics against superior fighting forces; sometimes the outmatched must resort to tactics that appall normal people. And yes, everyone calls those tactics terrorism and cowardly and on and on. But, if you are losing a fight, you will try to win. I know you wouldn’t because you think getting an ass whipping is de rigueur and nothing to get all worked up about. But the law says a person may defend themselves using lethal force if they reasonable fear serious bodily harm (and were not the initial aggressor). I know the law better than you think (or better than I’ve articulated I guess).

            My state has a use of force statute similar to Florida sans the “no requirement to flee” part. In my state, we must run away if we can before we are allowed to use deadly force. I think this is reasonable. But none of that is even applicable to this case, because Zimmerman was pinned down and could not flee. Even in my state he would have used the same legal argument for his employment of DF.

            You thinking Zimmerman is the aggressor is not legally justified. Maybe you’re right morally, that is to say, maybe Zimmerman really was out for blood. But legally, you can’t claim he was the “aggressor” as that is a legal term in these cases and it’s not applicable (for all the reasons I outlined above). Legally, Martin was the aggressor as he resorted to violence FIRST. “Bringing a gun to a fist fight” as you put it is just a rhetorical trick. There would have been no fist fight if Martin hadn’t started one. Zimmerman was legally carrying his firearm and would never have pulled it if he hadn’t been assaulted, pinned down, and repeatedly struck in the head. But if he had, if he had pulled that gun without being beaten first, or menaced in a very credible way, he would have broken the law and been guilty of at least felony menacing and more if he discharged it.

            Let’s stick to the facts:

            1. Human physiology matters. Blows to nose/head hurt so badly it causes panic and fear (state of mind is relevant legally)
            2. Martin was the legal aggressor as he struck Zimmerman first
            3. Zimmerman could not flee; he was pinned down
            4. Zimmerman could not fight back with his hands effectively because he’s inept, smaller, weaker.
            5. Zimmerman claimed Martin was going for the gun which elevated the threat assessment (more state of mind)
            6. Zimmerman claimed Martin threatened to kill him which also raises threat assessment.

            You discount the wounds, the reach for gun, and the verbal threat from Martin. Fine. But legally, Zimmerman was in the right to use DF if what he claimed happened actually happened. If he’s lying then it vitiates his case, but what evidence do you have he is lying? If you have it I will listen.

            And further, the self-defense statute is an Affirmative Defense, so he doesn’t need to legally prove he reasonably felt fear of imminent bodily harm, the state is compelled to prove he did not. You must disagree with the affirmative defense law then, not just Stand Your Ground? If in Maryland a defendant must prove his innocence in these cases and not the other way around then that is one more reason I’m glad I don’t live there. In my state self defense is also an affirmative defense and the state has a higher burden than the defendant. I think this is morally right.

            And yes, it pains me to have “Hangman” vouchsafe my conceits. I cringed at his/her sanguinary attitude (and the racial animus wafting through). But my points all obtain. I’m being logical, rational, and right on the law I believe. And I think my personal narrative obtains just like yours does when you employ it (all that crime reporting etc). It matters that I’ve been hit and know the CNS response to such assaults; and that I know the long term consequences of “mere” fist fights. It matters that 9 out of 10 times I’m on the side of the weaker party against the State, or the mob, or an abusive husband. I stand up for the little guy and Zimmerman, the tool that he is, was the little guy here. Martin was handing him his ass because Martin was larger and more competent physically and he had no right to start a fight for merely being questioned by some “creepy-ass cracker”. It’s barbaric to countenance the use of force in response to mere words. We can settle this with a conversation; force need not be used until all other tactics/strategies have failed. Martin chose to be a bad-ass and “fight like a man”. Well, that is not a civilized way to behave. Unless Martin reasonably believed he was under threat of serious bodily harm from Zimmerman, he had no right to use force against Zimmerman. He should have said, “fuck off cracka,” and walked away. That’s the way to behave legally and morally. If Zimmerman grabbed him, or threatened him then Martin could act with legitimate force. But what evidence is there that Zimmerman acted in any such manner?

            You’re just pissed and making huge leaps of logic and filling in the gaps with nonsense. I don’t have to like Zimmerman (I don’t) to agree with his thinking and the verdict.

            • David Simon says:

              1. Human physiology matters if we conclude that the physiology was going to be relevant to Mr. Zimmerman’s very life being threatened. I don’t believe that. There is no evidence. No corroboration. The injuries are modest and indicative of a common, not aggravated assault. There are no corroborative witness or physical evidence of an aggravated assault by Mr. Martin.
              2. There is no corroboration for your claim that the Mr. Martin laid hands on Mr. Zimmerman first. That is false on its face. You have constructed a scenario uncorroborated by physical evidence or witnesses.
              3. You here affirm that Mr. Zimmerman was losing the resulting fist fight. That can happen. Until stand-your-ground logic, it was not an outcome punishable by death.
              4. Same as three.
              5. Mr. Zimmerman claimed many things, that Mr. Martin was “going for the gun” was not something he endeavored to take the stand and assert though you feel comfortable in this venue. However, it was Mr. Zimmerman who produced the fucking gun. It doesn’t exist in this incident but for Mr. Zimmerman’s judgment that the production of a lethal weapon is justifiable. And if someone in a fist fight pulls a gun on someone, it is wholly justifiable to “go for the gun” is it not? Was Mr. Martin not entitled to stand his ground when confronted with a fucking gun? This is so twisted, sir. Mr. Zimmerman is entitled in your mind to bring and brandish a gun, standing his ground. Mr. Martin is not, however,entitled to interpose between that gun and his person, standing his ground. Even if we believe that Mr. Martin went for the gun — uncorroborated as that claim is — so fucking what?
              6.) Again, Mr. Zimmerman’s claims are singular. But effective. After all, he is not black. And Mr. Martin is. And this is the state of Florida.

              Does that about wrap up your evidentiary demonstrations?

              That said, it is not your fault that you are obliged to carry Mr. Hangman on your side of the table. I concede that you do not wish such fellow travelers for your arguments, such as they are.

              • First Lt L Diablo says:

                There are two massive errors in your rejoinder to me:

                1. “There is no corroboration for your claim that the Mr. Martin laid hands on Mr. Zimmerman first” – Yes there is: Martin had no marks on him besides the GSW. No brusing or marring of any kind. Further, no eye witness asserted that Zimmerman started the fight. Further, there is evidence that Zimmerman was being beaten. He has wounds consistent with his narrative and eye witnesses corroborate his claims of being supine and being beaten by a larger Martin.

                2. “Zimmerman is entitled in your mind to bring and brandish a gun”. Legally he can carry it, yes. Legally Zimmerman CANNOT BRANDISH it, that is felony meanacing. If you have any evidence Zimmerman BRANDISHED the weapon before Martin attacked him them I would fully reverse my stance. The evidence all points to Zimmerman only pulling the gun AFTER Martin was assualting him. If you can’t see this then you and just have no recourse through logic. Maybe you can just punch me in the face until I get it.

                • David Simon says:

                  It should not be incumbent upon the state — or me — to prove that Mr. Martin created a sufficient threat to Mr. Zimmerman to justify the use of lethal force and the taking of his life by a fellow citizen. That you think so is a corruption of hundreds of years of English common law and well over a century of American jurisprudence.

                  The burden of proof rests with the government to show that Mr. Zimmerman willfully took a human life in violation of the law. After that, as a means of legal defense, the burden is on Mr. Zimmerman to present a credible scenario by which he was obliged to do so to save himself or others. Unless the dead fellow is black and in Florida or 19 other states. Mr. Zimmerman and his attorneys offered no corroboration of such and Mr. Zimmerman did not fell comfortable relating the events of that evening to a jury of his peers. His right of course, but in doing so, we of course would not learn the full litany of everything he had to say about black people, about interlopers in his neighborhood, about his presumed role as a vigilante enforcer of law and order in his subdivision. In short, he was unwilling to venture his account and risk an examination of his own credibility, motives and statements.

                  I have conjured alternative scenarios only in reply to your continued manufacture of certitude as to how that encounter progressed to a fist fight and then to a shooting. You are in effect offering defenses that Mr. Zimmerman did not in fact substantiate and then crying foul when others, for the sake of the argument, conjure alternate scenarios.

                  I am saying, above all, that none of this matters. One man brought a gun. One man used lethal force. One man — a teenager who was walking in his neighborhood — is dead. All your sophistry can’t change these fundamentals.

            • CyberVinnie says:

              Lt, what evidence do you have that Trayvon Marin started the physical altercation? You say there is no evidence Zimmerman started it, so that MUST mean you have evidence Martin started it. I’m very anxious to hear it.

              • First Lt L Diablo says:

                Zimmerman had wounds consistant with a beating. Martin had no such wounds. If Zimmerman used violence first, then Martin would have had some marks on him to indicate he got hit.

                I hope you are less anxious now.

                p.s. IF Zimmerman brandished his weapon before Martin was violent then I change my postion 180 degrees. If you have evidence he pulled it out first then please tell me and I’ll recant.

                • David Simon says:

                  Correct. But you are still manufacturing scenarios that please you — and, indeed, scenarios that even Mr. Zimmerman was not himself willing to offer in a court of law.

                  What if Mr. Martin had hands laid on him to prevent his departure. What if he then began hitting Mr. Zimmerman? I have no way of establishing a scenario. The difference between you and me, Mr. Diablo, is that I am not conjuring any uncorroborated scenarios to burnish my argument.

                  There is no evidence that there was a lethal threat to Mr. Zimmerman. He brought a lethal weapon and used it to take a fellow citizen’s life with lethal force. It should be incumbent on him to justify the action, not incumbent upon the state — or me, in this venue — to manufacture scenarios in order to responsibly address the manslaughter/murder.

                  • First Lt L Diablo says:

                    Ok:

                    1. I’m not manufacturing anything. I’m repeating the claims of the defense. Claims that have not been enervated by the state or you. If you are dubious of those claims then so be it. But I’m going from the evidence. If there was ANY evidence that Zimmerman laid hands on Martin to detain him, or brandished the weapon then I would be on your side in an instant. But, David, there is no evidence to support that kind of scenerio.

                    2. You think the defendant must prove his innocence; I don’t.

                    I understand you are only inverting the standard in the case of Use of Deadly Force, but to me the distinction doesn’t justify turning our legal system on its head. The state must prove guilt. Always.

                    • David Simon says:

                      Yes, you are repeating the claims of the defense. They are uncorroborated. But they were believed by a jury of five white and one Latino woman and by you as well. These uncorroborated claims were clearly sufficient to excuse the killing. We agree as to what you are repeating. Well parroted, I must say.

                      However, I am repeating my contention that these uncorroborated claims are only acceptable because Trayvon Martin is black and George Zimmerman is not, and so a minimum of corroboration is therefore necessary.

                      Again, and for I hope the last time, the state must prove the defendant’s guilt, certainly. The burden of proof is on the state to determine that Mr. Zimmerman is the man who shot and killed Mr. Martin. Accepted. Stipulated. Understood.

                      But you have misapplied that legal standard to the role of a self-defense strategy in mitigation of that act. Once the state establishes that Mr. Zimmerman shot Mr. Martin, then the burden of mitigating that act rests with the defense. And the successful legal standard for mitigation used to be this: That I was in legitimate fear for my life or the lives of others. But no longer. Not in America.

                      If you can’t see the corruption in claiming the state’s burden of proof in establishing the overt acts of a crime and utilizing that burden wrongly in the manner of a self-defense strategy, then we can’t go further. Perhaps, if there is a lawyer among us who does any criminal work, you can accept this fundamental reality from someone other than me. But the reality is the reality. Sorry.

                      The state must prove the overt acts of the crime. The state is not also responsible for corroborating whatever mitigation a defendant offered to justify those overt acts; that is the job of the defense. Always. You are wrong about the law, the history of the law, and its practical application. Absolutely.

          • Michael Beaton says:

            I woke up this morning remembering this line. It seems relevant to the day.

            “It all depends on the skin…It all depends on the skin your living in…”
            ~Sekou Sundiata

            And so it is, as it has always been, and … apparently it is the way it is going to be for some time to come.

            http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2007/07/remembering_sekou_sundiata.html

        • Angela Shortt says:

          “Fist fights are very dangerous. And getting hit in the bridge of the nose hurts very badly. It confuses you and sends panic signals to your brain.

          I’ve been in several fights and none of them left me whole. I categorically reject the notion that a fight “is what it is” as if it can be waved away with an insouciant hand.”

          Wow. I’m a 55 year old woman, and I can tell you right now that getting into fights is not that serious. And I’ve been in some pretty major ones ever since I was four years old. And I WON. That fight at age four? It was against a five year old boy who shoved my younger sister off her tricycle. He never did that again. In fact, every single fight I’ve ever been in has involved a member of the opposite sex, and no, they did not pull their punches.

          By the time I was 10, they knew who they were dealing with, and their budding sense of masculine pride wasn’t about to be damaged by some preternaturally gifted boxer of a girl. They hit me HARD. I felt it. And I hit them harder; my favorite punch was to land a hard right to the bridge of the nose, then uppercut to the chin before he recovered. I have suffered no residual damage from those fights. Bruises, cuts, scratches–nothing that didn’t heal up in a few days. I’ve even fought my way out of an attack by three boys who were all at least two years older than me. I was only 7. They told me they were going to rape me. It didn’t happen. My guess is that if you did feel damaged in some way after a fight, it’s because you lost, badly. Sorry, but that’s how I call it based on my experiences. I’ve never felt less than whole because I used to get into a lot of fights. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

          I’ve had a good life, career, children and now, one grandson and an enjoyable semi-retirement. The only drawback was that I married a man who didn’t like to work consistently. I took issue with that, and a divorce ensued. You know, s**t happens, and you move on. More importantly, I rarely laid a hand on my kids when they were growing up, and when I did, it was one very light swat to their bottoms that mostly got their attention. I don’t believe in beating children. They mean no harm with the things they do; they are just trying to figure out their way in the world. My children were nothing like the boys I fought growing up. The boys were all bullies who were harrassing me and other children who were either too scared or unable to defend themselves.

          As a black woman who grew up in mostly white neighborhoods during the 60s and 70s, there were PLENTY of bullies. And do you think they went home complaining to their parents that a black girl beat them up? Yeah. I guess you can see the problem with that right there.

  46. Kevin Stevens says:

    I can understand the second degree murder acquittal, that was a tough case to prove. Manslaughter should have been a slam dunk and would have been just that in a sane society. Prosecutorial incompetence definitely played a part, with their weak-tea arguments and timidity to make a stronger racial profiling argument.

    We live in a society that puts a black woman in jail for 20 years for firing a gun in the air and sets a white man free for killing a black man on the sidewalk.

    And pardon my following vulgarity.

    Fucked. Up.

  47. truthseeker says:

    This starts off with the wild-eyed ideological thinking Simon says he detests in his previous blog post – because it diminishes us. Ho-hum, here we go.

    • truthseeker says:

      ps – last time I looked George Zimmerman wasn’t white. Also, according to Simon, technology is amoral – so not sure what he is trying to infer with this sentence “Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies: Race and guns.” According to his own logic, that sentence means less than nothing.

      • David Simon says:

        He ain’t black. Which in this country, guarantees a certain dynamic in front of five white and one Latino jurors. If you believe otherwise, you haven’t spent much time in a suburban courthouse anywhere in the United States.

        • truthseeker says:

          That’s just reverse racism – whitey can’t be trusted. Again, more generalisations, more ideology. If this shit is making you feel better by ranting – cool – I’m for that. You’re passionate, but not you’re not making much sense.

          • David Simon says:

            Unless whitey can’t be trusted. Which, let’s face it, is in evidence tonight in the state of Florida if you are the parent of a black teenager. One man’s rant is another man’s argument. And vice versa.

            • Hangman says:

              There again go the generalizations about race that the left say is a no-no…yet they never miss a chance to sink to that level when they don’t get their way.

              • David Simon says:

                This is about race. And your comments, too, reflect that it is clearly about race for you.

                You’re an angry man. And you don’t value human life.

    • David Simon says:

      I can see why you have such trouble with semantics. You don’t seem to actually know what words mean.

      I have clearly ventured an opinion. Other than the details of the shooting and its context with regard to the race of the principals, the level of gun violence in America and the stand-your-ground legal culture of Florida and other states, nothing else has been cited. No ideological premise whatsoever.

      Do you know the difference between an ideological argument and one based on both the immediate circumstance and historical context of an issue? Or when someone disagrees with you, do you simply credit the disagreement to the other person’s presumed ideology as a default. I’m tired of this game, not because it isn’t easily dismissed, but because it represents your seeming desire to split semantic hairs rather than address the substance of anything.

      Do you really think you make much of a point when you try to stand on ceremony and say that information is not neutral because it can be wrong? That’s just ridiculous. I said information, not disinformation. The implication is that data is data, and fact is fact, and that the information that we are speaking about — in this case, computerized phone metadata — is indeed accurate. If it was not, I would have said disinformation. Do you see how semantics can make an argument purposeless? Similarly, if you have some good argument as to why Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, was shot to death for walking in the neighborhood of an armed man who felt comfortable stalking and confronting him, please make that argument and avoid a completely uncorroborated suggestion that those who disagree with you are not arguing anything ideological and not the fundamental reality of the tragedy.

      • truthseeker says:

        Apart from various ad hom attacks which we all know you loathe so much, I want to correct you on a few points.

        “Do you know the difference between an ideological argument and one based on both the immediate circumstance and historical context of an issue?”
        Sure do.

        You’re the one trying to turn a case which the State Attorney Angela Corey said wasn’t about race. That’s why I accuse you of being ideological in terms of trying to turn the verdict into a white vs black issue. That’s fucking ridiculous. Do you think it’s possible that you view things through the prism of the guilt ridden white liberal and who doesn’t like guns?

        I think the last par belongs elsewhere on the post about the NSA – but I believe you’re still wrong about that .

        • Katie says:

          That you would use this horrific incident to try to score points against Mr. Simon on an NSA discussion makes me want to vomit. Quit frothing at the mouth and show a little respect to a dead kid.

          • truthseeker says:

            As far as I’m aware I haven’t disrespected a guilty dead kid. I’m not trying to score points off David Simon, I just noted that he is has decided to turn this into a race argument about dead black kids and evil whitey, whilst himself trying to score points on the gun debate, that is totally ridiculous. If he was more specific in his arguments and said we can’t trust this specific jury of 5 white women and 1 black women in Florida under those particular circumstances, that’s a different story, but the mass generalisation and extrapolation of the decision given by that jury’s composition regardless of the correctness of the decision to every white man/women in the entire US (and by implication the world) is entirely stupid.

        • Kevin Stevens says:

          The district attorney isn’t the sole judge of whether the case is about race (see fallacy, part to whole). It emphatically IS about race to black people and to diismiss that as reverse racism is arrogant.

          And not that it will help, you don’t understand ad hominem either.

          • David Simon says:

            Mr. Truthseeker, when I criticize you or your background or categorize you in any way to gain rhetorical advantage, I engage in argumentum ad hominem. When I critique your rhetorical performance itself — as I do with your semantic equivocation of information as disinformation in the other post, or your unfounded claim of an ideological basis merely because a racial dynamic is perceived in the outcome of this case — I am arguing on the merits. How else can we conduct argument other than to criticize but the content or rhetoric of the other fellow’s contentions. If you take it personally, I can scarcely be held accountable for that. There was nothing remotely ad hominem in my posts to you.

            • truthseeker says:

              When you generalise and try to imply that I don’t understand “words”, not a word or cluster of words, but every word, then I take that personally, because it is intended to infer that I’m an illiterate moron – so yeah, it is ad hom.

              You’re ideological stance is apparent from your opening sentence. Let’s agree to disagree on this.

              • David Simon says:

                Okay, let’s disagree.

                I certainly don’t think you are illiterate at all. I think you have consistently eschewed the meaning of my sentences by mischaracterizing the meaning and purpose of certain words and ideas. I don’t mean to imply this. I am saying it.

      • Hangman says:

        I have the argument. Because he was straddling Zimmerman and pounding on his face. I would say that Trayvon was violating Zimmerman’s rights at that moment and Zimmerman had no indication that Trayvon would just stop soon and let Zimmerman live. If you are in the midst of being put in submission and pounded with no one to help, then you get some leeway to determine the best course of action to guarantee your own safety. Zimmerman made the decision and will live with it…but he will live and that was not a guarantee when he was on the ground being pummeled.

        • David Simon says:

          The injuries were treat-and-walk. There is no evidence that lethal force was being employed against Mr. Zimmerman, or moreover, that the injuries were the result of Mr. Martin’s initial assault rather than mutual combat. The black kid is allowed to win a fight that he didn’t start. And we know, at least, that he did not initiate the confrontation, just as we know he did not commit a crime to warrant the confrontation, just as we know that Mr. Zimmerman’s state of mind was such that he left his home, agitated, armed, and determined against the punks who always get away with it.

          Your point of view makes it clear that under no circumstances could the black kid actually be in the right, and under no circumstances can the non-black man be wrong. Regardless of the evidence available or the lack of corroboration for any claim that Mr. Zimmerman’s life was in jeopardy.

          • Hangman says:

            Based on their current roles in the altercation, yes. If the races had been reversed. The black kid would have in no way been in the wrong and the hispanic guy would have in no way been in the right. This is about the right to defend ourselves against violence. Is it about race for some people? Sure. These types make everything about race. That would be racists of all colors. That would also include the race baiters like Sharpton. That would include the media because whipping people into a racial frenzy is good for ratings, because let’s be serious, the MSM is more about ad revenue than it is about news.

            At the heart of this case, it is a gun issue. Those that don’t like guns are using race to sensationalize this case to garner support from the low information voters. If this wasn’t true, then the next step that the media and activist groups pivoted to wouldn’t be attacking stand your ground laws. So the racial outrage is disingenuous for a number of people. The rest showing outrage do so because they’ve grown to view everything as having a racial origin and make that connection at every opportunity no matter how far of a stretch it is. The evidence points to Zimmerman being the opposite of a racist, but that doesn’t fit the narrative that you would like. So that evidence is ignored just like the other evidence of the trial. People are dead set on this narrative being true when it simply isn’t.

            • David Simon says:

              Sometimes it is indeed about race.

              If the races were reversed, Mr. Martin would have been charged on the night of the crime by the local police and he would have been convicted by that Florida jury. The day that a black teenager wields deadly force and shoots down an unarmed Latino or white pedestrian who is talking on the phone and eating candy, after confronting that pedestrian and being engaged in fisticuffs — that is the day that hell and South Florida freeze over.

              But I commend you for authoring a post that actually doesn’t contain an exhortation toward vigilantism and hyperbolic claims about the need for the summary execution of those who you know to be undesireable. That is a leap forward for you and I am obliged to acknowledge the tone of this, your most reasoned post.

            • truthseeker says:

              Well written. I agree. The fact that Zimmerman is Hispanic blows Simon’s evil whitey rhetoric out of the water .All this politically correct bullshit about people of color..tch tch. Ironically, PC is not about diversity – it’s the opposite actually. PC is designed to turn us all into conformists who can’t actively dissent from the ideology those in power want us to subscribe to. Simon has played the lowest card in the deck to score points.

  48. smh says:

    Pandora’s box has been open for awhile now thanks to the gun lobby in this country and tonight’s news only adds a tempest to the steady exodus of foul spirits flying forth. How many fathers will now find means (and court precedence) to justify the killing of unwanted, unarmed boyfriends on their property? How many scared, bigoted city dwellers will act first and think later the next time something goes bump in the night? How many lives will be set back because their rage and fear over this verdict causes them to lose faith in their country and in their fellow man? It’s another sad day and step backwards for a country whose highest court just recently proclaimed that racism was moving away rapidly in our rear view mirror (voter rights). The day of a Caucasian minority in this country is coming one day and we’ve earned no quarter with the scant progress we have made in the last forty years.

  49. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Having not closely followed this trial, I would ask if the prosecution team ever summed up the case as succinctly as … “You can stand your ground in Florida if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.” … well, perhaps not in those precise words but, to the same effect?

    Is this another case of incompetence on the part of the prosecution in trying, perhaps, to portray Zimmerman as a monster instead of sticking to the essential facts of the case?

    • David Simon says:

      This is racism. Nothing more or less.

      • Elizabeth Miller says:

        First off, I should indicate that I am a Canadian commenting on all of this as an outsider looking in.

        Will this verdict have any impact on the stand your ground laws in Florida and other states?

        • David Simon says:

          You would have thought the shooting itself — and several others just as appalling in Florida — would have given the legislature pause to reconsider. No. They’re fine with it. The governor, too.

          Better to affirm the way of the gun than to show the slightest regard for preserving human life.

          • Hangman says:

            Zimmerman showed interest in preserving human life…his own. 911 does nothing except get you a patrol car there after an event is over. Everyone should be able to defend themselves. No one should have to just endure physical violence…of any kind. The moment someone becomes an aggressor, they are outside of the norms of behavior and no one should have to reason out in that moment the likelihood of that person ending their life. At that point, the aggressor is as unpredictable as a wild animal and dealing with them as such should always be justified.

            • David Simon says:

              Really, seek therapy. When Mr. Zimmerman went out into the night carrying a handgun, determined to stop a black teenager and demand answers because these punks are always getting away with crime, he revealed his pathology. And yours, apparently.

      • Elizabeth Miller says:

        Got it.

  50. First Lt L Diablo says:

    You’re usually so insistent on facts and logic over emotion. I’m confused now…

    The evidence was pretty clear and I’m not some white racist ok? I think Mumia Abu Jamal was framed; the cops who beat Rodney King were guilty as hell and the entire war on drugs is racist. But this case was totally unlike all of that. The evidence was that Zimmerman acted in self defense. Period. And I think Zimmerman is an idiot, ok? But evidence is evidence …

    • David Simon says:

      Not even manslaughter? One man accosts another, initiates a street interrogation of a stranger without probable cause. And when that encounter becomes a fist fight — with injuries that are decidedly minor — one man and one man only brings and uses a handgun with lethal force?

      This is innocence? This is not even manslaughter?

      Go away. Take that shit away from here. I can’t look any African-American parent in the eye, knowing what they have to tell their sons about what is possible on the streets of this country. Just take that shit and go.

      • Firstltdiablo says:

        I couched my comments in caveats and obvious appeals to solidarity with people color who are systematically abused by the endemically racist US system of justice; but all to no avail. I’m just some cracker asshole to you and should fuck off…

        Fine, remember that when you’re asking for us to plant olive trees that don’t fruit for years or take a nuanced approach to our socio-political issues.

        But I’m not ashamed of saying the evidence was that that idiot George Zimmerman acted lawfully. Approaching a man to ask him questions isn’t “unconstitutional” despite that risible claim by you. Treyvon could have said, “fuck off,” and walked away. But the evidence showed he decided to fight a man over words. That behavior is what is illegal, not “following” a person.

        And once the fists are flying, each of us has a fundamental right to defend ourselves.

        There was the case of Marissa Alexander, a black woman, who fired a gun against “an unarmed” man who was abusive towards her. She too was arrested but unfortunately convicted in what I think is a travesty. She had every right to defend herself against an “unarmed man” who while he hadn’t already beat her senseless he had threatened her and was an admitted wife beater previously. She reasonably believed he was bent on harming her. She had a right to use that gun to equalize the dimorphism between them.

        Zimmerman was shorter and softer than Martin who was obviously kicking his ass, and despite your facile claims that Zimmerman’s injuries were superficial the WHOLE fucking point of self defense is that a person isn’t required to WAIT until the injuries ARE SEVERE before they act.

        Let me ask you— would you allow another man to beat you because you asked him what he was doing— and just hope you survive brain injury or death? The law says you don’t have to. And when Alexander was convicted I think it was outrageous and if Zimmerman was convicted it too would have been a travesty.

        It’s just illogical to equate this case with legitimate lamenting of instances of actual racism and injustice. It’s grasping at straws. Martin chose to beat on a man he could have walked away from. And if there was any evidence that Zimmerman was violent first I would be right with you condemning the verdict. But it’s just not that way…

        But, yes, I’ll go the fuck away. Feel free to think whatever you wish about my words or the man behind them. You and I are just fundamentally different kinds of men and despite my massive admiration for your work, its political content, and your facility with language, I am snug in my bed knowing I’m right on this entire category of self defense and state power. And I said the same shit vis-a-vis Leonard Peltier (and AIM) and the Black Panthers and any other non-white person who wants to use a gun to defend themselves from larger or more powerful forces. We all have a right to survive an attack or threat of attack from whomever… Period.

        • David Simon says:

          I’m just in no mood tonight, sorry.

          I answered you quickly, and moments later actually omitted the word unconstitutional. Anyone can talk to anyone on the street of course, you are correct. What would be unconstitutional would be if Mr. Zimmerman felt he had any standing to detain Mr. Martin or make Mr. Martin reply, or to be free of Mr. Martin’s desire to tell him to fuck off. Because Mr. Martin has every right to refuse the encounter and do to so in the terms he sees fit.

          A lot of behaviors are illegal, fighting included. Read my original essay in the Miami Herald, linked to this post if you think that illegal behaviors are credible justification for the use of lethal force. In states that have prudent self-defense statutes, of course not. In stand-you-ground states, the logic is actually inverted. So yes, Mr. Zimmerman may well have murdered Mr. Martin legally in the state of Florida. That is the fucking point. Get it?

          Maryland is not a stand-your-ground state. Do you know that any competent homicide detective in my state is trained, as an interrogative technique, to encourage a shooter who has killed an unarmed victim claim of self-defense in giving a statement as to why he took a life? Because short of using lethal force himself, or breaking into the shooter’s domicile, it doesn’t fucking matter what the victim did that deserved the enmity or fear of the gunman. If you bring a gun and use it against someone who doesn’t have a gun, you are charged with murder. End of story. In Florida, now, there is no logic to training a homicide detective in such fashion.

          The relative size of these two? Whether I would allow myself to get beat if I could reach a gun? Utterly irrelevant points. If you want to confront and question a stranger on the street and you get your ass whipped as a result, then that is what it is. But in a civilized society, it is not a reasonable justification for lethal force. Neither is having shit stolen from you, by the way. And Florida has now had justifiable killings of people who were running away from attempted thefts and were shot in the back by gunmen who were standing their ground in reply to a property crime. Maryland prosecutors will charge that, too, as a murder or manslaughter, given that the only thing that legally justifies the taking of life in a healthy society is the reasonable fear that you or others are in eminent danger. The moderate nature of Mr. Zimmerman’s treated-and-released injuries indicates that this was not the case.

          Yes, we are very different. I choose life above all, and resist any tolerance for the taking of human life when it is not absolutely necessary to do so. This young man is dead because an armed man stalked him, confronted him and then, when the confrontation went awry to the point where he was losing a fist fight, Mr. Zimmerman produced a gun and murdered an unarmed teenager. And in saying that this is fine, you can sleep in your bed right? Good for you. But you aren’t a black kid trying to grow up with the presumption that this is your country as well, or the parent of such a child.

          As to couching your comments with caveats about the other times when you have come to the defense of African-Americans, I know you don’t mean to suggest that because you have sided with black folk in other instances that therefore your analysis of the present case is any more correct than the argument itself will allow. I’ve been on lovely terms with a number of black folk — “why some of them are my best friends!” — and have frequently taken positions pleasing to them. It doesn’t make me any more right or wrong and I wouldn’t fucking trivialize the issue at hand by invoking such to falsely win a point on anything other than the merits. This should go without saying. So please, don’t say it again.

          • FirstLtDiablo says:

            Yes, my claims of solidarity with Mumia Abu Jamal, The Black Panthers and AIM is tantamount to “some of my best friends are black”. Lol… ok Simon, whatever you say. But I think it’s obvious to any calm person I was demonstrating my bona fides to IDEAS of Liberation and Dignity for people of color. I don’t have black friends I have black CAUSES that I have physically and financially and ideological supported. I mentioned it to establish where my heart & politics lay: with the weak and oppressed. And I pursue this vector on the macro and micro level. And I think it was Martin who was the stronger and more aggro that night not Zimmerman (until Zimmerman evened the score). Period. Call me a racist all you like.

            You made one good point: stand your ground is extreme. I agree. But only vis-a-vis property crimes; no one ought to be legally allowed to kill another over stuff. But once a person is violent then all bets are off. Unlike you I would never submit to a beating. I have dignity and self preservation instincts that are too powerful. And maybe it’s because I’ve been beaten so severely that my jaw doesn’t close right and my neck has limited motion and maybe because my homie died from a less-than-lethal tazer attack, that I don’t consider any man unarmed if he had fists, or steel toed boots and 4″ inches and 30lbs of muscle on me. Fights kill people David. It’s not like the fucking movies, people suffer long term debilitating injuries from fist fighting and sometimes they die.

            Some men are as ill equipped to defend themselves physically as women; and guns prevent the biggest baddest sociopath on the block from beating everyone to death. You can afford armed guards or some affluent zip code. I live in the hood and here… We’re armed. I had two thugs threaten me while I stood on my porch, then throw a rock at my girl’s car busting the windshield, what if they came up to my porch? Let them beat me until they grew tired cuz a beating is just a beating? Big deal? Who feeds my family or pays my mortgage while I’m in the hospital? I don’t have insurance or tons of cash bro. What if I gain a limp from them breaking my leg and can’t work (I’m a lumpen proletariate guy not a writer who can live off my wits)? Oh but we all just have to think of the life of the poor sweet criminal and not my life… Fuck that white liberal guilt horseshit. No man, no cop, no bully has a right to assault another man. Period.

            And further, Marissa Alenxander, got 20 years for merely firing a gun in the wall to dissuade her demonstrably violent husband from following through on his threat to kill her. That was an outrage an no doubt a racist verdict due to her being black. So don’t go making statements that no woman would be convicted for using a gun and blah blah. She was. And it’s an unjust verdict.

            And my point about sexual dimorphism and guns was obvious: your defender’s post told us all to “man up” and take a beating. This is outrageous precisely for the same reason it would be sinister to tell a woman to take a beating from a larger more powerful male: a smaller, weaker male will suffer mightily at the hands of a larger more powerful one. Zimmerman was getting beat; he was losing. And you all want him to “lay back and enjoy it”. Fuck that shit… Anyone weaker has a right to use an advantage to neutralize the superior force brought to bear on them. It’s why I support guerrilla warfare tactics employed by Latin American leftists against Imperialism while everyone else calls them cowards.

            The weak must use guns, asymmetrical warfare, or subterfuge against the strong or they will not survive. If you think Martin was the weaker you are free to do so, but I don’t see it that way. I see him as the bully, he could have walked away because Zimmerman never touched or threatened him before Martin decided to be a big man and start punching and slamming Zimmerman to the ground. What evidence do you have that Zimmerman ever touched or threatened Martin? If you have any I’ll change my mind right now and join your outrage!

            But go ahead and tell yourself that Martin was the victim because he was black… Go ahead. But it degrades the rubric in my opinion. It’s like how some leftists equate Osama Bin Laden with Che Guevara. OSM was a right wing sociopath; Che was an actual freedom fighter and humanitarian. Not everyone who fights the US is a good guy. Not every black person who gets shot is a victim of racist murdering.

            Similarly, I’d rather spend my energy supporting actual victims of racist injustice (e.g., Mumia Abu Jamal, Marissa Alexander, Leonard Peltier, et.al.) than reflexively choose sides on every case based purely on race.

            • David Simon says:

              Again, your political stance — your ideology, as we have been lately discussing such — doesn’t make your argument any more credible. Just as if you had never defended anyone of color in any other circumstance, it wouldn’t invalidate your argument. If you can’t see this, I can’t go any further. It is simply true.

              As to your insistence that any act of violence ought to be punishable by lethal force, this is inherent in the logic of stand-your-ground legislation. Before those statutes were drafted with the insight and assistance of the NRA, American jurisprudence was predicated on the opposite of your position. If you could credibly claim that you were justified in believing that you or others were in immiment threat of death or severe injury, you might be able to convince a prosecutor not to indict. And certainly, you could always make the case to a jury that you were justified in using lethal force.

              But you have just claimed, in print, that you believe that any common assault, of which there are millions in America every year — punches, kicks, slaps, threats of punches, shoves, wrestling, etc. — are punishable by death. Not merely aggravated assaults which are defined as involving the use of potentially lethal force, which clearly from Mr. Zimmerman’s modest injuries, was not the circumstance here. Not merely felony assaults, but misdemeanors gets you to a place where killing is permissible.

              This is a barbaric premise. We wouldn’t condone this standard if the common assault were against sworn police officers — even they, in uniform and with all the due authority that Mr. Zimmerman doesn’t have, aren’t free to use lethal force on any civilian who assaults them. Even they are obliged to justify the taking of human life by the standard of eminent threat of death or life-threatening injury before they use lethal force. Insanely, you wish to confer a lesser standard than that on untrained civilians who might fancy themselves as peace officers, or for that matter, any citizen who ever finds himself in a physical altercation. Astonishing.

              A healthy society reserves the taking of life for moments of genuine necessity. Not, hey, you swung on me, “so all bets are off.” That’s barbarism. There’s no other word for it. If you can’t recognize it as such, we have nowhere to travel here.

              • Hangman says:

                Should a woman just “woman” up and take a raping? I agree that once someone assaults another person, all bets are off. They have chosen to act like an animal and they should be exterminated like common pests. Cancer should be eradicated, not encouraged.

                • David Simon says:

                  I was unaware that evidence was presented that Mr. Zimmerman was being raped by anyone. Just as I was unaware that a black teenager, walking through a neighborhood talking on the phone and eating candy should be accosted because he was behaving in thug-like fashion, or that he needs to be eradicated like a cancer.

                  That’s just ugly, brother. If you think you just affirmed the validity of the other gentleman’s point of view with your comment, you achieved a very different dynamic. It should be no reflection on his argument that it attracts comments such as yours — he can’t help that, I know. But he must be a little bit ashamed to find you and your kind walking beside him, yoked in rhetorical harness.

    • amen to simon says:

      take that weak shit out of here.

      if you need to shoot your way out of a fistfight then maybe you should stay your fat ass home.

      • Firstltdiablo says:

        That is the work of a formidable brain… Congrats.

        So if a woman shoots a man who is beating her she’s weak and should just stay home? Is this your stunningly trenchant analysis?

        Your probative masculinity display here is appalling. “Real men” fight it out then? This is your point? That a “real” man must suffer an ass whipping, brain damage or death in order to prove their masculinity to you?

        I bet you wouldn’t think that if a larger and more athletic/stronger man was bashing your head into the concrete. But maybe you would, maybe your masochism reaches such depths.

        • David Simon says:

          If anyone can demonstrate to the jury that they were confronting lethal force or the possibility of lethal force — and corroboration is of course a factor in any legal defense — then they can offer that to a jury.

          Are you suggesting that Mr. Zimmerman was a woman, beleagured by a history of domestic abuse?

          Or was he a make-believe police officer and armed vigilante who went out on the streets to question another citizen after complaining to a police dispatcher about the bad guys and how they always get away with it? A woman confronted by a male assailant who was beating on her is a lovely and fresh scenario. That you would employ it here to defend Mr. Zimmerman is telling rationalization.

          The fact is that in any American courthouse a woman who alleges that she was under assault and can provide any physical corroboration, or any history of such behavior by her assailant, or any indications from a witness or from the crime scene that she was indeed being physically menaced will likely never be charged with murder, and even manslaughter charges will be problematic. I covered enough domestic violence to know that the laws — and the behavior of prosecutors and juries — have changed dramatically over the last couple generations. Shit, a woman can kill a man lying in bed asleep and bring a defense of battered-spouse syndrome into court now. Experts will testify on her behalf to explain why she only felt secure shooting the man when he was prone and not menacing her.

          That you would, incredibly, use that dynamic to manufacture justification for Mr. Zimmerman shows how far the rationalization goes.

          No probative masculinity is involved. If I was getting my ass kicked, then I’m getting my ass kicked. I don’t carry a gun on the street, act as a law officer and confront my fellow citizens without probable cause to do so. And if one were to swing on me, I’d take my lumps and eschew the killing of a human being. That’s not masculinity. It’s humanity, with a dollop of common sense.

          • FirstLtDiablo says:

            I suggested that once a person is violent then all bets are off precisely because what you characterize as merely a slap or punch and merely a “simple assault” and merely a misdemeanor is not some exact goddamn science. Yes the state approving of you shooting someone for merely slapping you would be barbaric. Agreed.

            But why is it that the victim of an assault can’t determine how much they can take? Why is it you or some other liberal in some well feathered nest with all the accoutrements of power and security that gets to decide, “oh yeah you can take 10 more punches to the head or 4 head slams into the ground or a few more kicks here and there”?

            Goddammit I don’t think you get it. I got punched one time in my jaw 10 years ago and it STILL doesn’t close right. It’s not a huge deal but it’s permanent damage. Should I be forced to take 3 more of those until I need surgery? Where do you draw the line? Must I suffer massive injury before I use deadly force? Under your paradigm I can’t PREVENT such injuries? Good thing for all of us the law says I can use deadly for to prevent serious bodily harm and I agree with that standard.

            I do not support lowering the standard to the mere slaps you tried to saddle me with. But you need to check your epistemology here: you don’t know when the next punch or kick could kill you or maim you for life. It’s not theoretical physics here…

            • David Simon says:

              You are correct, it is not an exact science. Which is why we have corroborative evidence that detectives and a prosecutor seek to determine when and where someone had reasonable cause to believe they were in serious and imminent danger. Prosecutors had a young man engaged by a self-appointed interloper who went on the street armed with a lethal weapon after complaining to a police dispatcher about the punks who always got away with their crimes, who was told not to do so by the dispatcher but ignored that warning. They had a teenaged victim who was not armed but was nonetheless shot to death by this interloper. They had injuries to the interloper which were consistent not with aggravated assault but with common assault or, worse, mutual, non-lethal combat.

              I can’t respond to what you mean to say, I can only acknowledge what you do say. You wrote that if you engage in violence, then all bets are off, in your opinion. No, I disagree. And the established history of American jurisprudence has disagreed until this ugly new world has recalibrated things. If you want to kill someone over a common assault and then claim to the jury that despite the fact that you went to the confrontation armed, despite the fact that you claimed on a recorded coversation that you regarded your victim as a punk who was always getting away with crimes, despite the fact that you can produce no witness to any potentially lethal assault on your person, despite the fact that your injuries are treatable and indicative of those common to non-lethal combat, well, you should be sure to make sure your victim is black. And make sure you aren’t.

              The standards you have expressed here open the door to the unnecessary deaths of many, many people. And further, given our racial culture, those deaths will receive no meaningful response from the justice system.

              For you to stand back and say, well, hey, the next blow might have lethal is scarcely evidentiary. It is speculative and theoretical, highly so. The evidence that we do have in this case suggests otherwise, but if you want to claim that we never know when any common assault might prove lethal, then why yes, take that as an excuse to allow the immediate escalation of force by any defendant. By your logic, he can kill not because he was faced with a lethal threat, but because the threat he was actually faced with might have, at some future moment, become lethal. Might as well shoot the motherfucker when he puts his hand in his pocket; there could always be a gun or a knife in there, right?

              Have you honestly considered the legal implications for the opinions you are expressing here. Have you thought for a moment about the Pandora’s Box you open up when you begin to take less seriously the time-honored legal sanctions against the unnecessary taking of human life? It does not seem remotely so.

        • Nicole says:

          Oh, just say no to straw man arguments. We aren’t talking about women fighting men, here. We are talking about a man and a boy fighting.

          A “real man” wouldn’t have racially profiled, then followed, a teenaged boy while carrying a gun. Trayvon wouldn’t have ended up dead, and Zimmerman wouldn’t have been on trial in the first place. See how that works?

          If you care to read about it, there was a (black) woman who fired a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband. Nobody got shot, and she was still sentenced to 20 years in prison. Justice. Riiight. Unsurprisingly, this was also in Florida: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/19/marissa-alexander-gets-20_n_1530035.html

          • FirstLtDiablo says:

            I mentioned Marissa Alexander myself a few posts up from here if you want to read all my comments. And I think she was done a grave injustice and in fact I think racism is the reason why. Ok?

            Next, I mentioned women because everyone (even stupid people) knows women are smaller and weaker than men on average. Thus no moral man would argue a woman should fight a man hand to hand or “take their fat ass home”. Well, if one man is bigger and stronger than another doesn’t it stand to fucking reason that it is equally unethical to demand that smaller weaker man just “fight like a man”? Are you all this morally obtuse?

            And calling Martin a “child” doesn’t obviate his legal responsibility to not assault another human without cause. Nor does it change the FACT that he was taller and stronger than Zimmerman and was clearly kicking Zimmerman’s ass. If Zimmerman had punched first; been much larger, or shot Martin in the back I’d be on your side on this. But the facts are just not going to support any such construction.

            • David Simon says:

              Again common assault is not in any civilized society the standard for when lethal force can be employed. It has never been so in American jurisprudce until stand-your-ground statutes and now, in this venue, your willingness to argue for common, non-lethal assault as a predicate for the taking of a life.

              Until this ugly new world was recalibrated by the NRA and legislatures in twenty states, the standard for the use of lethal force in self-defense cases was the reasoned belief in the threat of imminent death or potentially lethal injury to yourself and/or others. Based on Mr. Zimmerman’s behavior, on the fact that Mr. Martin was unarmed, and on the modest nature of Mr. Zimmerman’s treated injuries, we are dealing not with an aggravated assault, but a common assault at worst and mutual non-lethal combat otherwise. Not a felony. A misdemeanor For you to make a misdemeanor your rubicon for the taking of human life is astonishing and barbaric.

              • Mgvsmith says:

                I think a great deal of the arguments above can be summarised as when can a civilian use lethal force? Clearly, a common assault does not merit lethal force as it is unlikely to pose an immediate threat to someone’s life. I’m not surprised Zimmerman gave no evidence as it would have been difficult to justify his lack of major injury against his actions. It sounds like a poor prosecution case to me.

              • James says:

                David he’s not saying any common assault should be grounds for taking a life, so stop with the hyperbole. And while we’re at it, stop pretending like you know the facts of the case: “Superficial injuries”. firstltdiablo made an excellent point about that so I’ll just quote it. “despite your facile claims that Zimmerman’s injuries were superficial the WHOLE fucking point of self defense is that a person isn’t required to WAIT until the injuries ARE SEVERE before they act.”
                Maybe read what he said tomorrow, when you’ve calmed down; I’ve read all the above comments and you are being totally unreasonable.

                • David Simon says:

                  You and he are ignoring the legal standard, sorry to say. We are not discussing merely the decision to defend oneself. We are discussing the choice to employ — unilaterally — a lethal weapon in a lethal fashion as a means of self-defense. For that, the history of American jurisprudence has required a defendant to prove that he was in fear for his own life or those of others. And of course not merely to say so, but to provide corroborate evidence of such.

                  Mr. Zimmerman has treat-and-walk-away injuries consistent with common assault. Mr. Martin has no weapon. No credible witness has come forword to say Mr. Martin had a weapon or was menacing Mr. Zimmerman in a fashion that threatened his life or the lives of others. And, to boot, not that it should matter given all of the abive, Mr. Zimmerman was the one who affronted Mr. Martin while armed.

                  I am entirely reasoned. More than that, having covered crime in a major American city for a decade and a half and having spent an entire year inside of a homicide unit, watching detectives and prosecutors deal with the actual legal mechanics of self-defense, I understand American law. Up to the twisted destructiveness of the stand-your-ground statute, anyway.

                  From your reply, it is clear you do not understand this. Neither does the other gentlemen.

            • CyberVinnie says:

              I’m hesitant to jump in here, but Lt. You seem to forget one thing, there were only two witnesses to what went down in the immediate confrontation and one of them is dead. You are taking the word of someone who was so emboldened, most likely due to his trusty hand gun, to pursue someone based solely on their appearance. And to top it off you call him a victim?

              • David Simon says:

                Yup.

              • First Lt L Diablo says:

                I agree with you vis-a-vis the first moments of the confrontation; but that lack of narrative data redounds to the defense in our system.

                What is known is an eyewitness placed Zimmerman on bottom getting repeatedly punched. We have a disfugured and bloody nose and skull lacerations on Zimmerman consistent with his account according to medical experts deposed. We have no evidence of brusing or other wounds on Martin that would indicat Zimmerman used violence on Martin prior to the GSW. And we have a 9-11 call with many ear-witnesses claiming to hear Zimmerman’s cries for help (again vouchsafing his claims).

                I’m talking his word becuase there is no evidence to demonstrate he is lying; and some evidence to demonstrate he is being honest.

                And yes, he was a victim; a victim to an ongoing assualt. Period. Keep telling us we need to “man up” and let someone beat us senseless; go ahead. The law says I can ignore that fatuous masochism right along side ignoring a 9-11 dispatcher’s advice to stay in my car. I can confront anyone on public property and ask questions, that is legal and moral. What I cannot do is ASSAULT someone for daring to question me. Duh.com

                • David Simon says:

                  No, you are again mistaken about the law. Completely.

                  We are not at the legal stage of attempting to prove Mr. Zimmerman took a human life. He acknowledges this.

                  Until stand-your-ground was introduced, the burden of proof for a claim of self-defense was not on the prosecution, it was on the defense. Entirely. If you took a human life in America, you were obliged to bring corroborative evidence of the absolute need for that act into a courtroom and convince a jury, or prior to that, to convince a grand jury not to indict. The defense needed to make the case for self-preservation and the need for lethal force — and the absence of any corroboration for such a claim mitigated against such a strategy’s success.

                  Now, Mr. Zimmerman and others DO NOT need to achieve any corroborative standard of such, because they no longer need to prove a standard of lethal threat. Now they can simply say they confronted someone and they did not wish to yield real estate, or that they didn’t wish to take a punch. They wished to stand your ground.

                  You know what? You are the one who wants to win an argument oblivious to substance. And it becomes clear that you did not read the Miami Herald piece, or for that matter, a subsequent post on this site that followed another hideous stand-your-ground slaying in Florida after that of Mr. Martin. You actually are unaware of the context of the ugly legal revolution underway here — else you could not claim, appallingly, that in a traditional, healthy system based on English common law, the burden of executing a self-defense strategy in defense of a homicide is on anyone other than the defendant.

                  • First Lt L Diablo says:

                    Self defense as an Affirmative Defense is the law of Colorado. We have no Stand Your Ground law here. It’s you that is wrong.

                    You are conflating Stand Your Ground with self-defense as an affirmative defense. Your ignornace is only matched by your arrogance.

                    But, you’re correct I did not read your context material, so I will do so right now. And I am happy to admit error if I make it.

                    • David Simon says:

                      Answered elsewhere. You’re just wrong.

                      I spent a year inside a homicide unit, watching self-defense utilized wherever possible — and often wherever not possible — in dozens of murder cases. I watched those cases go through court. Your arguments are not extant in the administration of criminal law in any state.

            • Katie says:

              This whole entire situation was precipitated by Zimmerman playing the cowboy. He was the instigator, not the victim. Bringing in unrelated cases and your personal history is simple obfuscation. Had Zimmerman not stalked Martin against the advice of authorities, Martin would be alive.

              • First Lt L Diablo says:

                Legally, your use of the word “instigator” is inapt. You just don’t understand the law.

                Questioning a man on the street is not legal (or moral) justification to assualt that interlocutor. Even if you have a CCW permit and are carrying a firearm. If Martin had responded only with words or even better by walking away, then Zimmerman would have had no right to shoot him.

                All of you are picking a historically useful moment in time to begin the assesment of who started this shit.

                Listen to what you are saying: “If you dare to talk to a man and he doens’t like the tenor of your inquiry he can beat you down with impunity. Even if you can’t defend yourself becuase you’re inept physically, you can’t use your legally aquired and concealed firearm because that is just unfair! No, you are required to take the beating. Take it like a man”.

                Masochism like that just flies in the face of human dignity, physiology and the law. I’m glad I don’t suffer from these defects of thinking.

                • David Simon says:

                  You do not know how the interrogation of Mr. Martin progressed to a physical altercation. You can assert otherwise, but you do so without evidence. You do not know if Mr. Zimmerman first. You do not know when he brandished the weapon. You do not know if Mr. Martin’s first physical act was merely to shove Mr. Zimmerman away. You do not know much of your claimed scenario.

                  We do know that a first fight occurred, and the physical evidence is suggestive that Mr. Zimmerman was losing.

                  That is what can be established with corroboration.

                  Everything else is a tangle of bias and bullshit.

                  • First Lt L Diablo says:

                    David, Mr. Martin had no wounds on him other than the GSW.

                    Zimmerman had wounds consistent with a beating.

                    If Zimmerman brandished the weapon we have no evidence that he did. You want to be able to say he did when you admit you don’t know? What the fuck kind of legal standard is that? This is getting weird.

                    I’m sorry you’re so upset. But that is some weak tea…

                • Katie says:

                  I really don’t care about this legalistic crap because in FL the legal system is already stacked in Zimmerman’s favor. I am speaking of morality and justice. Zimmerman profiled Martin. He had a loaded weapon and a hard on for black kids (“these fucking punks, they always get away”). He created this situation, all on his own. And you have the temerity to call him a victim?

                  No legalisms and parsing make that right. You’re lost in the weeds.

          • Hangman says:

            It’s not racial profiling. It’s thug profiling. If people want to idolize prison culture and thugs and outwardly project the image of a thug by the way they dress, walk, and talk, then people are rationally able and quite justified in making certain assumptions about that person. Black, white, red, or brown…if you dress and act like a thug, then I’m going to assume you are a thug and be suspicious of you. I do this because most upstanding people don’t try to be perceived as criminals. If you think it’s fun to be like a thug, don’t be surprised when people treat you like one. This isn’t rocket surgery.

            • David Simon says:

              Your standards for who is and who isn’t a thug make me worry that you will ever be allowed to own and operate a handgun, that you ever volunteer as a neighborhood watch volunteer and that, even worse, you ever have any connection to professional law enforcement or ever sit with eleven others in judge of another human being.

              It seems you would know a thug from the moment you look at the morgue photos. Much like Mr. Zimmerman knew one when he saw him walking through his neighborhood, talking on the phone and eating Skittles.

              Normally, I kill out the stuff that is racist or racially insensitive because what is the point? No reasoning with it. But here, it is the point. So your posts will remain.

              • Hangman says:

                So what you are telling me is that people who make the conscious decision to dress in a manner popularized by criminals should not have to deal with the consequence of people thinking they are criminals? People profile. It’s human nature and is the smart thing to do. People make assumptions about their surroundings all the time so that can anticipate what will happen as an efficient way of interacting with the world. I’m not talking about race. I’m talking about things that actually tell you about a person’s character. Things like what they wear are decisions that they have made to project to the outside world. Those that walk around in hip hop/thuggish clothing like sagging pants may do so entirely for fashion reasons, but there is no getting around the fact that that does not immunize them from being profiled. What kind of a person would be ok with telling the world that they admire gangsters? I am immediately suspect of that person and most average Americans are too.

                So if I’m neighborhood watch, there have been a number of recent break ins, I see someone I don’t recognize walking between houses at night, and I think that they carry themselves in a generally thuggish way…I’m going to maybe phone the cops. I don’t get out of the car because I don’t think it’s a smart thing to do. I may have a gun…but many times, criminals do too and I’m not in the mood usually for a gun fight. So I fault Zimmerman for doing that. However, that was his right to do so..it just wasn’t smart. In my eyes and the jury’s, the real trouble didn’t start until the physical altercation did. Since we don’t know who initiated that, acquittal is the right thing. You don’t have the right to assault someone period. If Trayvon was the first to resort to violence, he got what he deserved. If Zimmerman initiated the violence, then a guilty man went free, but that’s how our justice system works…reasonable doubt. I hope that his conscience tears him up. But since I don’t know, I have to say that I wasn’t there and am not going to decide one way or another. Neither of these individuals are lacking in character flaws and I will not play the game of “this one or that one was more out of line.” None of us were there. A man says that he did what he had to do to protect himself from bodily harm or more and we have to take his word for it because we are lacking the important thing…evidence.

                • David Simon says:

                  Uh oh. Your moment of lucidity has apparently passed.

                  A hoodie is sports gear. It isn’t probable cause. Do you know the term, probable cause? It matters in the construct of why Americans can go about their business without being detained, interrogated or searched. This is Fourth Amendment. That portion of our governing document makes no mention of the manner of clothing justifying an exception to the standard of probable cause. And for good purpose.

                  • Hangman says:

                    And that applies to officers of the law. I don’t need probable cause to walk up to you and ask you what you are doing in my neighborhood. People need to take control of their neighborhoods and be active. I say good on them for it. If you don’t want to answer, that’s fine. I’ll call the cops. But the second you act like some lowlife degenerate and think that violence is justified because I somehow “disrespected” you, then you have lost whatever standing you had and you have become the aggressor. That’s what the only surviving witness to this episode said happened. We have no evidence that says otherwise. In this case, I would say it better to not make a judgment since none of us were there. That’s better than to take sides. But since the anti-gun lobby is taking sides against the facts to further their agenda, I am forced to side with Zimmerman to defend anyone’s right to defend themselves and I do this reluctantly. If he felt the need to shoot Martin and truly feared for his safety and the evidence supports this, I have to believe him. I was not there and I will not make a judgment call about someone else’s safety from my cushy chair.

                    This is all really just conjecture. You nor I have the key piece of info to make the right determination here. I believe the jury made the right call. Not because I believe that Zimmerman is 100% innocent, but because we can’t prove that he is not.

                    • David Simon says:

                      Agree, all we know is that one man brought a gun to a confrontation that became a fistfight. And the man who did not have a gun is dead.

                      With regard to people taking control of their neighborhoods, this is good as far as it sounds. But do armed civilians understand that while it is their right to encounter and address strangers on the street, it is also the right of strangers to tell them to go fuck themselves for this presumption. That was Mr. Martin’s right — not to be detained or interrogated if he did not desire such. He had done nothing to deserve such, other than walking while black in Mr. Zimmerman’s neighborhood.

                      A trained officer understands the fundamentals of probable cause, or should. Mr. Zimmerman’s decision to arm himself and encounter Mr. Martin carries with certain inherent boundaries for him. Did he observe those? Did he have the emotional maturity and fortitude to be ignored or insulted. Because such a reaction is entirely within the rights of an American citizen who has committed no crime and exhibited no probable cause for a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

                      I am amazed that you feel the benefit of the doubt should go to the man who has used a lethal weapon to kill an unarmed man. I do not have to believe any of Mr. Zimmerman’s account, for which he was not comfortable offering in court to judge and jury. Absent corroboration of a lethal threat from Mr. Martin, I think the law is clear — or would be clear in a state that still maintained the standard jurisprudence in self-defense claims: If you kill another human being with intent, you are criminally responsible, unless you can corroborate a scenario by which you did so in self-defense. Your mere statements that this was so? Insufficient. This is how the United States did business before the gun lobby began writing the laws. And all of your argument to the contrary is sad rationalization on behalf of the man who murdered.

                • Katie says:

                  Life imitating art here. Mr. Simon, you totally need to cue that scene from Season 2 of the Wire when Omar humiliated that attorney Levy in court.

                  You, hangman, assume that criminals wear hoodies. I think they wear suits and ties. Still, I don’t hunt them down.

            • Katie says:

              Oh Dear God. I have a hoodie in my closet and I kind of like skittles. That’s an offense punishable by death now?

              Funny, I thought in America you were presumed innocent.

              Oh, that’s right. I’m white. Pfew. Never mind.

            • Monica R. says:

              Well, all GZ knew of TM at that time of the shooting was 1) that TM was black, 2) that he was wearing a hoodie. If black + hoodie = thug, well, damn, that makes me one every time I go for a run in the rain.

              The release of TM’s Facebook and Twitter posts have made some folks feel justified in calling him a thug. As if teenage boy bullshit macho posturing is something new.

              God forbid I get shot and killed, but if that ever happens, I guess my family will have to deal with my pictures and Facebook posts being used to justify why I deserved to die – “She wore hoodies and drank beer, ladies and gentleman of the jury. She also used profanity and watched rated R movies, and was, horror of horrors, a Steelers fan living in Maryland. Obviously these factors make her killer the’real’ victim here.”

              This world makes me sick.

              • David Simon says:

                Of course. I have read enough of my own son’s internet and social media statements to know hyperbolic and provocational such stuff is intended to be. That it is unconnected to his actual reality is equally certain.

              • Hangman says:

                Was he shot and killed on sight? No. He was approached and confronted. I might not feel good being approached at night, but I am certainly not going to resort to violence or try to act like a hardass. I may run and I know for damn sure that Trayvon would have outrun ZImmerman. But this still gets back to the fact that we don’t know who started the violence. It could very well have been Zimmerman. That still puts Trayvon in the precarious position of straddling Zimmerman as he screams for help. I would say that once you got the best of him, it might be time to stop throwing the punches or else you risk being turning into the aggressor. Remove yourself from a dangerous situation. But Trayvon didn’t do that, he kept himself in the situation that led to his death. Rightly if Zimmerman started the violence? No. But if you want to live by numbers in this world and not make practical decisions about your safety, you will run into problems.

                1) If Trayvon started the violence, he deserved getting shot. Do not attack another human being. Zimmerman has every right to shoot someone straddling him and throwing punches when he did not start the violence.

                2) If Zimmerman started the violence, Trayvon needs to be smart and get out of a dangerous situation as fast as he can. You want to win a fist fight? To what end? How does that solve anything? It puts you in even more danger and is just an impractical and unintelligent way to go. You have no idea if Zimmerman is packing and…he was. In this scenario, it’s sad that Zimmerman got away, but there was no evidence to convict since no one saw the beginning of the altercation.

  51. Brent says:

    I admire David Simon as much as anyone else. I’ve read his books, kept up with his blog, seen a lot of his interviews, and of course watched almost every episode of every television series he’s produced (multiple times, in some cases). His contributions to our collective understanding of criminal justice in America have been profound, and undeniably brilliant. That’s why I couldn’t be more shocked at how off the mark he is with these comments. (People of color should “pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford”? Holy shit.) His objection with the verdict seems to be predicated on a belief that Zimmerman’s pursuit and subsequent verbal confrontation of Trayvon created a right under “Stand Your Ground” to physically assault him in return. In the United States, offensive speech is never grounds for assault; a fact which is totally irrespective of the “Stand Your Ground” law, by the way. Now, if Zimmerman had tried to physically detain or otherwise lay hands on Trayvon, it would be a totally different story, but there wasn’t any evidence presented at trial that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that occurred. Sadly, I think Simon, like many of my otherwise like-minded friends on Facebook, is letting raw emotions about racial profiling override fundamental American ideals about fair trials. The criminal court he thinks people should be throwing bricks at was never intended to punish all crimes, only the ones that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Of course, like most criminal courts in the U.S., I’m sure it does a sub-par job of dispensing justice, and there are probably thousands of legitimate reasons (false convictions, ridiculous prison sentences, unfair targeting of minorities, etc.) to throw a brick at it, but in this instance it served its purpose well.

  52. Brendan says:

    Mr. Simon, your article and comments on this blog lead me to believe that you think White people should have some inherent guilt and/or feel bad about themselves simply because they were born White, through no fault of their own.

  53. Stefaniya says:

    Just wanted to point out that George Zimmerman was in no way an actual member of a Neighborhood Watch, as this statement from the National Sheriffs’ Association makes clear.

    “The alleged participant ignored everything the Neighborhood Watch Program stands for and it resulted in a young man losing his life.”

    http://www.lawofficer.com/article/news/national-sheriff-s-association-0

  54. Dan Hardwick says:

    It’s shameful that something like this needs to be said, but can we take a break from the rabid, almost gleeful bath in the narrative of racism that some of you are taking and acknowledge that George Zimmerman is a racial minority himself?

  55. Andrew says:

    Thank you for this, David.

    It is a sad reflection of American society that many can argue – with a straight face – that Zimmerman was entirely justified in killing young Trayvon.

  56. Nancy Richardson says:

    Thanks to you, David Simon for saying what needs to be said, and articulating in the most cogent and honest way possible why so many of us are enraged and frustrated the overtly racist justifications for the senseless killing of Martin, as well as the disingenuous reasoning behind the killing.

    To believe Zimmerman’s version of the events of that night, one would have to surrender all critical reasoning skills.

    And it does appear that in the state of Florida, killing the only witness to your crimes seems to be a really effective defense strategy.

  57. Brendan says:

    I assume Mr. Simon you also believe due to the Roderick Scott case that in New York if you have a gun and are black you can stand your ground and shoot someone, but if you are white and armed with just your fists, you are dead.

    Odd that we don’t hear outrage there……granted there shouldn’t be. You are acting like Scott Templeton and imposing your desired result on the facts instead of Mike Fletcher who reports the facts, but doesn’t presume anything. I don’t know what happened. Neither do you. A pillar of our justice system is that the benefit of doubt goes to the defendant and burden of proof to the prosecution. Had the burden been the other way, we probably have a different result, that however would be an unethical stance of guilty until proven innocent. A trial happened. Jurors adjudicated. Why should we now disparage the system because you want to approach it as Scott Templeton and add in unknown?

    That said, thank you for the reasoned responses above.

  58. truthseeker says:

    I agree with you. The opening article has nothing in the way of fact, and four paragraphs of angry opinions about a case I suspect Mr Simon is too close to to be able to view it objectively. Instead he’s let rip with his own views on race, guns and justice. When you think about that, it’s quite sad really he has to use a case like this to justify his own prejudices.

    A case about a black kid who was shot by a Hispanic during a fist-fight, where the Hispanic was found not guilty, becomes an issue about no justice in America for the black man, white people can do whatever they like, it’s time black people stormed the court system with bricks because it’s the only sane thing to do in a world run by evil whitey. That’s the rhetoric of someone who has lost the plot.

    I agree with Simon’s stance on handguns. If you walk around carrying one, bad things tend to happen, you may not have stepped through the door to lethal violence, but you’e opened it.

  59. David Simon says:

    That’s silly.

    I think white people should be upset about the flawed governance and failed judicial system in the country of which they are the majority population. This is political, Brendan. It isn’t about skin-color or about any one person’s individual guilt. It is systemic. It is about collective responsibility to ourselves, to our ideals, and yes — to the more vulnerable members of our society.

    Are you saying that because thinking about such things and taking responsibility for such things might make you feel bad that you would rather they not be addressed? Because that is kind of what it sounds like.

  60. Matt says:

    Please brush up on your reading comprehension.

    At no point has he made a statement that even barely resembles any of your accusations or indicates that someone should feel “guilt” for being born white.

    There is a huge difference between recognizing racial privileges from a systemic and institutional standpoint, and “feeling bad about themselves simply because they were born white”.

  61. David Simon says:

    We cannot. In Florida especially, a part-European, part-Latino man with a German surname has sociopolitical and legal standing that a young black male can never hope to acquire on a public street in America. If you think otherwise, you are engaging in semantic dishonesties, or, at best, an ignorance of how race actually does matter in this country.

    The inequality is fully and dramatically evidenced in the immediate aftermath of this slaying, when presumptions about the victim and assailant completely derailed the acquisition of statements and evidence and induced an inertia by the investigating officers that in many ways impaired the prosecution from jump.

    Sometimes, race is actually an issue. Deal with it.

  62. David Simon says:

    Again, I am outraged by this case. Is it possible that I can humanly be so and not first research all the other possible outrages and affronts that fall on either side of this argument? Can I only speak to one at hand without addressing all? Do you not see the rhetorical fallacy in playing this game?

    And Mr. Templeton would have made-up quotes from Mr. Zimmerman in his notebook. I’m sticking with the facts at hand as best as I can relate them.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. [...] But there is simply no way anyone with a thinking brain, a beating heart and a sense of fairness is going to take this lying down. There is a reason Zimmerman was later arrested after the cops were going to let him get away with murder. There was outrage after the murder and there continues to be outrage with the verdict – and it won’t stop until justice is done. Justice is not the law, however. David Simon writes a wonderful blog, The Audacity of Despair, and he had this to say: [...]

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  7. [...] – David Simon, producer/writer (read the complete post) [...]

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  11. [...] an emotional, fiery post on his blog, The Audacity of Despair, Simon denounced the verdict, saying he was “ashamed to call himself an [...]

  12. [...] an emotional, fiery post on his blog, The Audacity of Despair, Simon denounced the verdict, saying he was “ashamed to call himself an [...]

  13. [...] David Simon blog: Trayvon [...]

  14. [...] TRAYVON By David Simon, creator of HBO’s legendary series, “The Wire,” The Audacity Of Despair Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies:  Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible.  I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country.  Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American. [...]

  15. [...] Reading commentary until I’m ready to puke over the Trayvon Martin case and I’m not going to give the twisted hatred any more real estate. (find the best and the worst here) [...]

  16. [...] teenager Trayvon Martin, outrage spread on social media and Simon took to his personal blog, The Audacity of Despair, writing: “I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they [...]

  17. [...] times over the last few days, but that sense of imbalance held me back. Finally, though, reading David Simon’s reaction made it click, and I’m ready to say my piece with less fear of seeming like a [...]

  18. [...] his latest offering is as sharply worded as one would expect given the gravity of the situation. In a new blog post, Simon delineates his rage that George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon [...]

  19. [...] David Simon (creator of The Wire, Treme, Homicide, [...]

  20. [...] teenager Trayvon Martin, outrage spread on social media and Simon took to his personal blog, The Audacity of Despair, writing: “I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they [...]

  21. [...] his blog site, The Audacity of Despair, David Simon, creator of HBO’s “The Wire” [...]

  22. [...] Read more at davidsimon.com/trayvon. [...]

  23. [...] “Trayvon” by David Simon at The Audacity of [...]

  24. [...] David Simon, creator of the TV show “The Wire,” wrote a heavy and intense piece on his personal blog about racism in America. “Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American,” Simon wrote. [DavidSimon.com] [...]

  25. [...] of “The Wire,” shared his thoughts on the Zimmerman verdict fray with a short, pungent post on his site. The key [...]

  26. [...] some mighty powerful words concerning the American legal system’s condoning of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Meanwhile, Nancy Grace ponders how Zimmerman’s recorded comment of “fucking [...]

  27. [...] on the tragedy, check out “The Wire”-creator David Simon’s blog post, entitled simply “Trayvon.”   If you’ve read anything in the last forty-eight hours about the Zimmerman trial that’s [...]

  28. [...] Trayvon, by David Simon, The Audacity of Despair blog [...]

  29. [...] David Simon, on the Zimmerman verdict [...]

  30. [...] via David Simon | Trayvon. [...]

  31. [...] I can do to bring Trayvon back to his family, so I’m going to end my rant here. Writer David Simon wrote a powerful response to the decision that is absolutely worth reading and sharing. As is this [...]

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  33. [...] here to read the brilliant words of David Simon and Ta-Nehesi Coates and Andrew Cohen and Charles F. Coleman for [...]

  34. [...] of “The Wire,” shared his thoughts on the Zimmerman verdict fray with a short, pungent post on his site. The key [...]

  35. [...] we are faced with the aftermath. People are angry. and I don’t think it will be long-lived or effective. People have short attention spans and [...]

  36. [...] I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist [...]

  37. [...] experience, working with criminals and law enforcement agents. Well, David came out this weekend with some writing on his blog, and though you can read all of it by clicking on that link right there, to sum up what he said [...]

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  41. [...] the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies…” wrote David Simon,  “Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to [...]

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