Gun Laws Policy & Law

Doubling down

Among many, many others of similar passion:

  1. pat stevens ?@stevepatg39m 
  2. david simon, I hope a black guy punches you right in the fucking face just for being white..
  3. Michael Bailey ?@mikelbtko1h

    David Simon A Jewish man… “One less Jew to answer, One less Jew (cont) http://tl.gd/n_1rldj72

  4. Willy Scanlon ?@shanlone1h
  5. @7sMRD313 Then David Simon should leave for Israel with the rest of the Fucking Jews who think that they own this country.

     
  6. Robert Aguilar Jr. ?@robertaguilarjr3h
  7. David Simon can take the first Asiana flight the fuck out of here too!!

    My actual words: “Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.”

    *        *        *

    Some random moments in my lifetime when I have been intensely proud of my country:

    1.  “Ich bin ein Berliner” and “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

    2.   The arrival of U.S. carriers off the shores of Indonesia after a devastating tsunami.

    3.   Standing on a lawn in College Park, Md. when President Reagan arrived to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a black family that had endured a cross burning there.

    4.   The realization that if the state of Iowa — Iowa! —  could accept gay marriage, then a great wall of intolerance was certain to collapse in our own time.

    5.  The rebuilding of New Orleans with the celebration of American culture as its essential fuel.

    6.  MLK’s 1963 address from the Lincoln Memorial.

    7.  Walking among the graves at Coleville-sur-Mer in Normandy and walking the ground at Gettysburg, Antietam and Cold Harbor.

    8.  The first time I actually heard the Library of Congress recording of Woody Guthrie singing “This Land Is Your Land.”

    9.  The night we answered precisely an act of mass murder by the necessary capture or death of Osama bin Laden.

    10.  The Gourds’ cover of “Gin & Juice.”  I’m not kidding, but no, I can’t quite explain.

     

    Random moments from my life in which I have been ashamed to be an American.

    1.  The shooting down of a civilian airliner by the U.S. Navy and the deaths of hundreds of ordinary people for which a president said he would never apologize.

    2.  The assassination of Dr. King.

    3.  Our drug war and the realization of what it has done to our underclass, to the northern Mexican states and to our own civil liberties.

    4.  Extra-legal rendition and torture.

    5.  The imagery of young Americans chanting, “U.S.A., U.S.A.” gleefully in the wake of the necessary but sobering death of Osama bin Laden.

    6. Listening to Irving Berlin’s sanctification of a nation-state at every seventh-inning stretch.

    7.  The federal sentencing guidelines and the evisceration of the federal judiciary.

    8.  The killing of doctors, bombings of abortion clinics and the harassment and stigmatization of patients in the name of a political cause which then claims the mantle of pro-life.

    9.  The systemic response to the death of an unarmed 17-year-old boy, profiled and shot to death.

    10.  The callow  insecurity that accompanies any cry of “America, right or wrong” or “America, love it or leave it.”

     

    As with 300 million other souls, I am fully vested in the American experiment.  I try my best to be attentive to what America achieves for its citizens and by its citizens, and what it offers the world.  When we are honorable and generous and in concert with our stated ideals, pride naturally follows.  When we act otherwise, shame is, for me, the resulting emotion.

    To those who can’t conceive of anyone ever being ashamed, or expressing shame at those moments when this country abandons or even betrays its core values, I’m actually willing to go even further than my initial comment:  You may, in fact, be the one who doesn’t understand what it means to be a proud American.  Not truly and not deeply; not without some measure of shame as well.

    Why not?  Because just as good cannot be truly understood to the marrow without a corresponding sense of evil, pride in one’s country — if it is substantive pride, and not merely the rote, pledge-allegiance mouthings of patriotic cliche — requires the sober knowledge that American greatness is neither assured, nor heaven-sent.  It comes to us from our national premise and ideals — and our willingness to maintain those things at all hazards.  And if you’ve never felt ashamed for us for having strayed from our core values in even the most appalling ways — say, the wartime detention of Japanese-Americans, or a My Lai  or Kent State , or Bull Conner, or COINTELPRO, or life sentences for juvenile defendants, or prisons-for-profit — then maybe you’ve never really acknowledged what the actual stakes are for a republic, or how much work, rather than platitude, is required to assure an honorable, democratic future.  Yes, you claim an all-encompassing pride and you wallow in it, brooking not even a mention of anything shameful that happens on our watch as citizens.  But in fact, real pride is earned and internalized only with a grown-up understanding that even a good or great nation, while deserving of our allegiance and civic commitment, can indeed shame itself. Saying so when it happens is a fundamental of self-governance, as all dissent is a fundamental of self-governance.

    I’m not going anywhere.  And I’m doubling down.  Our national response to the death of an unarmed 17-year-old, and the new legal construct that prevents any judicial redress of his death is shameful and as an American, I am ashamed.

471 Comments

  • It’s mind-boggling beyond compare how the divide of desire for GZ’s not guilty and justice for Trayvon seem to run on the same pathway of GOP v Liberal.

    Zimmerman was only many missions as a son of a retired justice who was obsessed with becoming a policeman. He was instructed that police were on the way and his exact words were

    “these assholes always get away”…..

    It is a legitimate question to ask what GZ ment by “these assholes”

    Also a proper prosecution inference that GZ’s “Statement” does not match the 911 call recording
    (here’s the transcript http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/326700-full-transcript-zimmerman.html )

    Finally, the math of the remarks don’t add up either.

    (Beyond the issue of GZ’s remarks that Trayvon was reaching in his waistband being an indicator that GZ was looking to make something out of nothing) – GZ stipulates that Trayvon was running away. Then 30 seconds more of banter with the 911 dispatcher.

    How far can a skinny black teen run in 30 seconds – versus an overweight (short stocky) fellow?

    Because – George Zimmerman knows that – this one

    didn’t get away!

    • I think what GZ meant by “these assholes” was the burglars that had been terrorizing his neighborhood. I would be pretty terrified if my neighbor had been burglarized while home alone with her baby. And my take on his saying that Trayvon was reaching in his waistband went along with the general style of the call which was just to inform the dispatcher of his behavior, which was information the dispatcher was asking for. After he said that she said to “let me know if does anything else”. ….We’ll never know if GZ’s story that Trayvon was reaching for his holstered gun is true, but there just wasn’t enough evidence to prove that it wasn’t.

    • Btw, Mr. Simon I love these lists you wrote. And it makes me feel kind of ashamed for my fellow man when I see all the hateful comments people tweeted when you were just exercising your freedoms that we are so very lucky to have as americans.

  • Well put. The evolution of the term “American Exceptionalism” is a disturbing indicator. There was a time when it described America’s willingness to break with how othr nations had done things, hoping to find a better way. Now it’s too often used as a way to say something is better merely because it’s American. This is a dangerous road to take.

  • Reporting from the trenches: My son, age 19, college student in state college but home for summer, says yes, race was a part of this specific case. But he points out that youth is equally a factor. And instantly, I identified with that. He is white. Has friends of all races. The small, happy racially friendly community that we live in is just beyond the larger southern coastal town where he went to public high school. Here, he and his friends are constantly harassed by the local cops. He has been stopped while driving several times for no reason, and the cops want to search his vehicle. Of course he says no, and the cop gets all bent out of shape. They ask if he has any contraband in his car. He replies (just as I have taught him), “No, sir. But I know my rights.” And then the confrontation is over. This happens all the time to his black, Asian, and Hispanic friends, with no more frequency for them than for him. I have taught him to be very still, be very respectful, but to mind his rights. He no longer wears hoodies. He dresses in button down Ralph Lauren and Nautica shirts that I buy from GoodWill for $5.00. Mr. Simon, I agree and see the race issue in this specific case, but just putting this out there: America is an aging population. The elderly sequester themselves in “gated communities.” They hate young punks, of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

  • I was looking at the crime scene photos and noticed that all of the evidence lies on the grass and yet George states his head was banged on the concrete prompting him to fear for his life. Trayvon lies dead in the grass several feet from the concrete. All of Mr. Zimmerman’s belongings – his keys, flashlight, etc. are on the grass. If Trayvon was shot at point blank range in the chest did he get up after he was shot and fell dead on the grass? If not did George move the body? If Trayvon died where he was shot then it looks like George’s head was banged into grass. Just an observation.

  • Mr. Simon – Do you assert that any type of profiling, whether it be race, gender, age – is unethical? To relate it specifically to the case at hand, do you have a problem with Zimmerman’s initial suspicious feelings about Martin, or is your problem with how he reacted to these feelings?

    Sorry if this has been asked and answered previously.

    • There is common sense and there is the Constitution.

      It is one thing for a cop to know his post and know who’s doing what and the most likely cohorts for various criminal activity. It is another thing to start jacking people up because they are of that cohort. That is profiling and it is unethical and unconstitutional.

      To be an observant cop is allowed. To make certain generalizations that guide and prioritize your observations can’t get you in trouble. To begin detaining or questioning or confronting people because they are in a particular cohort — and not because you have probable cause under the Fourth Amendment — is wrong. And illegal. And destructive to the society in the distrust it breeds for law enforcement.

      • We agree on those points, but I am not as confident as you that there was no probable cause. A common probable cause definition is “a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person’s belief that certain facts are probably true”. Recent break-ins in the neighborhood + someone you don’t recognize walking behind the town homes looking around + that person notices you and begins walking toward you to check you out, then runs the other way….let’s just say it would arouse my suspicions enough to entice to ask a question or two.

        • Are you a peace officer? Because if you brought a defendant in on that P.C. in my city, your case would be tossed. Unless you lied it up a bit and created an overt act or two more, you don’t have jack. It isn’t a reasonable amount of suspicion etc. that someone might be up to no general good. If you don’t have a specific criminal activity to allege, you have nothing. It is probable cause to believe that the suspect was engaged in X or Y. And you lack an X or Y with Trayvon Martin. Saying there were crimes in the area at other points doesn’t do it. Him looking at houses in a residential neighborhood doesn’t do it. Him reacting to a non-uniformed stranger who doesn’t identify himself in any given manner doesn’t do it. You haven’t done shit here that can be called competent police work.

          I am hoping you do not tell me, Paul, that you are in law enforcement. Because if this is how you work, you need to see a shift lieutenant right away, and have him shape your shit up.

          • Not in law enforcement. I was implying that Martin’s behavior would be enough for me to ask him a question (common sense), not arrest him (under the constitution). Obviously, he has the right to tell me to get fucking lost.

            Because we don’t know, and the prosecution could not lay out a case of exactly what happened between Zimmerman’s call to dispatch and when the first officer arrived on the scene, it seems to me very obvious that “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” standard was not met.

            • Perhaps. But not being a law enforcement professional, and having some small shard of authority in his own mind, we can’t know how Mr. Zimmerman approached Mr. Martin or what ensued or he was content to be told to fuck himself, which was Trayvon Martin’s absolute right if he wished it. So we don’t know if he was offered a voluntary conversation, or rejected such.

              I mean, for real, if Mr. Zimmerman offers Mr. Martin a lift in the rain and casually introduces himself and asks where the kid is staying, all might have been resolved and we never learn their names. But we know that Mr. Martin, already angry at the punks who are getting away with neighborhood petty crimes, has left the house armed. If he’s seeking a benign query of anyone he meets, it certainly doesn’t suggest itself at any point.

              All we know is that we have a common assault, or misdemeanor, that results when these two meet. Maybe not even a common assault by Mr. Martin. We don’t know who laid a hand on who first. It might be simply mutual combat. A fistfight. Under the standards fir self-defense prior to SYG, this is a manslaughter. There is no evidence of an aggravated assault of Mr. Martin. None whatsoever. At worst, he is the victim of a common assault, non-life threatening, a misdemeanor. And yet unilaterally he used a lethal weapon to kill Mr. Martin. What reasonable doubt are you referring to?

              What loses this case even before it goes to trial is the barbarity of the SYG construct. It is a law designed by the gun lobby to sell more guns and kill more people. It is doing so.

              • The original investigation did not support any criminal charges. All we have to go on is Zimmerman’s account of what happened. Zimmerman said he left his truck to find a street sign so he would be able to tell the police dispatcher where he was. He told investigators that he was not following Martin but was “just going in the same direction he was” to find an address, but admitted that he had also left his truck to try to see in which direction Martin had gone. The altercation began, he said, when Martin suddenly appeared while Zimmerman was walking back to his vehicle. He described Martin at different points in the interviews as appearing “out of nowhere,” “from the darkness,” and as “jumping out of the bushes.” Zimmerman said that Martin asked, “You got a fucking problem, homie?” Zimmerman replied no, then Martin said “You got a problem now” and punched Zimmerman. As they struggled on the ground and Zimmerman yelled for help, Martin told him to “Shut the fuck up,” as he hit him in the face and pounded his head on a concrete sidewalk. When Zimmerman tried to move off the concrete, Martin saw his gun and said “You’re going to die tonight motherfucker!”

                To get a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors had to show only that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification. Now, Zimmerman could have made this all up. OK, fine. But, there is absolutely no evidence or eye witness testimony to contradict his account of the events. And his account of the events suggests he had lawful justification.

                • “To get a mansalughter conviction, prosecutors had to show that Zimmerman killed without legal justification.”

                  And there you have it, Paul. He did.

                  In any courtroom in which a standard self-defense criteria is observed, he has no corroboration for any legal justification of using a lethal weapon to kill an unarmed man. He is convicted of manslaughter.

                  In a courtroom in which the SYG standard is offered to a jury, he still has no corroboration for anything, but the requirement that the jury consider whether or not they have evidence that Mr. Zimmerman’s life — and not just whether he was standing his ground or enduring a common, misdemeanor assault — makes a conviction far more likely.

                  The more you passion this out, Paul, the more you dig the hole that ought to bury your own argument.

                  • “And there you have it, Paul. He did”. I don’t follow your math here, David.

                    Zimmerman paints a very vivid picture of what occurred, I paraphrased it in my last post above. His story provides legal justification and the standard self-defense criteria, he was being assaulted and had his life threatened by Mr. Martin. Prosecution could produce no evidence to contradict his account. Therefore the prosecution’s burden of proof was not met. Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What am I missing?

                    • His story. It is a story, Paul. It has no corroboration for the key element, that his life was in any way threatened.

                      You apparently wish for a world in which in a dark place, absent any witnesses or corroboration, one American can use a lethal weapon to kill an unarmed American and then say, absent corroboration, “he was a threat to my life.” And because he said it, and told this story, and it can’t be contradicted, he should be let free. Welcome to the United States of Manslaughter.

                      It’s barbaric, Paul. And until SYG, while a self-defense argument could always be attempted, jury instructions could make clear that while the burden of proof was on the state to prove the overt acts, the jury should only consider a self-defense argument if there was evidence that it was reasonable for the defendant to conclude that his life or the lives of others was truly in jeopardy. Under SYG jury instructions, Mr. Zimmerman escaped any societal sanction as many, many other killers will if we continue down this path.

                      Opinions such as yours are going to result in a lot of unnecessary deaths, Paul. It’s so.

  • Thank you David for going all-in, but I have to admit I’m getting tired. It just seems that after all the injustice I’ve seen and studied and read about, this time it’s different. Perhaps it’s the illogical nature of people somehow justifying the death of an unarmed teenager who had done nothing wrong (other than walking while black). I’m just not sure if our nation can be salvaged at this point. (It probably didn’t help that when the verdict was handed down I was in the middle of finally getting around to watching the movie “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”).

    It just seems this country has a knack for genocide, and frankly I’m tired of watching it being played out in the black community. I know that there have been great movements that have resulted in seismic shifts to our society, but I have little faith anymore that racism can truly be defeated in this country. Yes, we elected a black man, something I thought I’d never see in my lifetime, but there is still a large and powerful portion of society that is refuses to even acknowledge there is a problem. And when they do acknowledge it they are calling it reverse racism. But maybe that’s okay though, because as far as I can tell perhaps they’re not worth redemption. Look at the juror who was interviewed on CNN; she’s not even self-aware enough to see that she harbored the same prejudices towards Travon Martin that caused George Zimmerman to stock him.

    At this point I’m all out of outrage. Maybe I’ll feel differently when the tables are turned again a la the Simpson verdict, but for now I need to focus on teaching my sons how to navigate the minefield they will envitably have to cross.

    • I think it just baffles people how some folks twist a family tragedy into a racial apocalypse. And it seems strange to me that people use their own prejudices and bias about White Americans to ASSUME race played a factor in Zimmerman following Trayvon. To his credit, Mr. Simon has at least narrowed his issue that the outrage all happened before it got to a jury; that the legal constraints they were required to follow were fixed in Zimmerman’s favor… (the fact that a person can be legally followed, for instance).

      Call me “naive” and/or ignorant of race in America or whatever you wanna say, but Zimmerman is not a general idea. He is “America”. He is an individual and I know colorblind Caucasian individuals exist, so what the hell is stopping Zimmerman from being one of those people? I’m not saying anything one way or the other, because like everybody else I have no idea what is inside a single man’s head, but to be outraged like it is factually racist is absurd. To act like you KNOW Trayvon would be alive if he were hispanic or white is absurd.

      We know Zimmerman is an asshole. Why does the African American community need him to be a racially profiling asshole?

      • I don’t understand how what happened to Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Martin was a family tragedy. Are they related? Are you suggesting that this was in some way a domestic slaying?

        One man racially profiled the other, declaring his frustration with the punks who were getting away with petty crimes in his neighborhood. He then killed him with a handgun.

        This is race. Say it loud. Stop the bullshit. This. Is. Race. In. America.

      • It is a tragedy for the families involved; a tragedy for Trayvon who no longer exists; a tragedy for all those who loved him including his family; it is a much less tragic situation for the Zimmerman family.

        My point is that you and like minded people saw the races of the two men involved and DECIDED to make it more disparaging, to take it out of the reaches of family tragedy and call it racially outrageous.

        I’ll never say the assumption is inaccurate because obviously most racism in America today is not hateful and who knows what was in Zimmerman’s “soul” at the time, but other than a white man shooting a black person, there is no other implication of racial profiling.

        That is enough for a lot of people, but I’ll say it again Zimmerman is not America.

      • I think the root of why people are mad is that black people are often screwed over by the letter of the law, no matter what the spirit of the law is and they see this as another one of those kind of instances.

        It’s kind of similar to how banks always screw people over by the spirit of the law even if everything they do is technically legal.

        I also think that some people feel the verdict was justified because it’s like an affirmation of the right to defend yourself. An affirmation of your independence, in other words.

        So, to me, it seems like there are two groups of people talking past each other. One group with years and years of personal experience of being screwed over by technicalities and another group seeing their idea of what America represents being slowly chipped away.

  • Just one question…

    If the solution to guns in schools was to arm the teachers, would the solution to this be to arm 17 year olds so they can defend themselves against overzealous neighborhood watchmen?

    For what it’s worth, I’m a libertarian and I think people should be able to own guns. I just think turnabout is fair play.

    • More guns, more tragedy.

      The gun folk claim otherwise. But I call bullshit. There was one gun too many that night in Florida. Not one too few.

        • No. In the first place, I very much doubt that Mr. Zimmerman would have felt empowered enough to be profiling and accosting people on a public street without having first armed himself. He would have stayed in his car and conveyed his concerns to a peace officer, as he should have done.

          In the second place, having provoked whatever common assault or mutual combat he did with Trayvon Martin, the absence of gun in that scenario would more likely have resulted in a garden-variety fistfight with corresponding garden-variety injuries of the very kind that Mr. Zimmerman refused treatment for initially, and then was handily treated in the aftermath of shooting his adversary.

          But it was nice how you conjured an outcome from pure speculation, as if I couldn’t easily do the same. It made for a perfectly irrelevant post.

  • The Social Contract

    First my parents failed me and I did nothing because I was not wealthy

    Then my teachers failed me and I did nothing because I was not smart

    Then my religion failed me and I did nothing because I was not spiritual

    Then my government failed me and I did nothing because I was not political

    Then they striped me of the last of my humanity and threw away the key

    Hidden away from society there was no left to speak out for me

    #8bit

    http://imgur.com/6OZnMIR
    http://imgur.com/Xg5kYC4
    http://imgur.com/aJ1yqKG
    http://imgur.com/UWNhytY
    http://imgur.com/CEtyKQ3
    http://imgur.com/ckw6yQg

  • I came to read this entire post after someone blasted YOU for a quote in this article – http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/tv-news/-the-wire–creator-david-simon-on-trayvon-martin-case—ashamed–to-be-an-american-011408813.html
    Now that I’ve read your post, I have to say that this ONE quote pulled from your blog post is unfairly out of context. If any of us really believes for one moment that America has not had cause to hang its collective head in shame, we have our heads firmly buried in the sand.

  • As a Black woman not holding a brick, your empathy has touched me. My love of America has long been tinged with sadness.

    • Mine too, Erica. I was hopeful doors would swing wide with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but they did not. At least, not exactly. “This America, man, they were supposed to let me play.”
      Mr. Simon, I’m sorry your column has occasioned such nonsense, even if you’re better prepared than most to cope with it(In my estimation…you might not feel that way at all. Do you?)
      And the people predicting you’d get slugged by black people don’t really know your work. I think it would be like Marlon Brando getting pounded by Indians.

    • Empathy is the key word. If those critics who say race was of no issue in this case (for argument’s sake lets say they are right as well as fair minded) then they would be the ones with the most outrage. Using their reasoning and logic, George Zimmerman could have been David Simon, Kobe Bryant, Bruce Springsteen or Vladimir Putin who simply was just a concerned citizen worried about the suspicious behavior of someone in the gated community (a community probably of hundreds of people) that he didn’t recognize or know. Ok, fine. But where is the empathy that would allow all those individuals to connect to a child who was murdered; assuming he made mistakes, could he have made those mistakes merely as a scared child? If GZ didn’t see race and could have been any concerned citizen, could Trayvon Martin been any child responding out of nervousness and fear?

      I am sure many would say TM injected race. But if you were to believe his friend when she testified to his use of the word “cracker” are you also to believe her when she spoke of their use of the n-word as a new generation pronoun to describe any man of any race or ethnicity. If they could defuse the strongest racial epithet one could assume they along with most of their generation are the most race neutral ever seen. Needless to say, why isn’t everyone empathizing with TM, a murdered child?

      I think it’s time for the legal arguments to end. If you have enthusiasm for GZ and use the fact he was acquitted as justification of some sort, go and defend the next gang leader who beats a case because of no snitching or witness intimidation or buying off a witness (see D’Angelo Barksdale). If you can see TM as your child or son or brother, not some thug or black youth, you ll be able to empathize. With empathy, you would seek change and if you are truly seeking change, your argument wouldn’t be legal, it would be moral

  • A nation is more child than parent, a product of our collective rearing. Parents that tell children “you are good”, no matter the mischief, do not love them. Parents that tell children “you are right”, no matter the transgressions, do not love them. Parents that tell children “you are the best”, no matter the reality, do not love them.

    Those parents love themselves and want to see their own gems reflected in their progeny. Parents who truly love chide, exhort, encourage, confront, are honest with their children. They take the pains, the guilt, and the effort to ensure their children will behave better the next time. But they never stop loving their children the whole time.

  • I’m at work, do not have the time to read all of the comments here, but am wondering why everyone has to rush to judgment over a case like this. Wouldn’t a more evolved mind reserve judgment until hearing/viewing all of the evidence? Have seen scenes of this on TV following the verdict and do not understand the reactions. This was, for the most part, an isolated and extremely unfortunate incident. A zealous neighborhood watchman and a zealous teenager. Maybe I am incorrect in this assumption, but from what I’ve heard. Anyway, both exhibited behaviors during this incident that if altered, would have led to a different outcome. But from what I have seen and heard, this was not simply a scenario in which a man gunned down a teenage boy; to view it as such would be an act of ignorance, would it not? I would imagine, if Mr. Zimmerman were indeed that much of a racist, that he would have created a similarly unfortunate incident long before this one. Can you not chalk this entire unfortunate incident up to bad judgment on the parts of both parties involved? As such, I can understand Zimmerman being found guilty, say, of manslaughter, but not murder. Please enlighten me if I am misguided or delusional in some capacity, as I certainly am not aware of all of the facets of this case.

    And, for the record, I am a 43-year-old white man. I live in the “ghetto” supporting a family of seven on $35k a year. Also served 10 years in the U.S. Navy as a journalist. I can unequivocally state that I have no prejudices, or biases, toward anyone based on race, sex or creed, to the extent a human being is capable of such, at least.

    Thanks for your time and attention.

    • I understand you are pressed for time, so I will repeat myself in brief. The SYG laws have lowered the bar for justifiable killing under a self-defense argument in 22 states. Once, it would have been incumbent on Mr. Zimmerman to prove that he reasonably believed he was in imminent danger of serious injury or death or that others were before using lethal force. His injuries — refused treatment at the scene, later treated-and-released for abrasions — from whatever assault or mutual combat occurred were consistent with those of a common or misdemeanor assault, not an aggravated or felony assault. There is no corroboration that the fist fight was more than a common assault — either a direct witness or physical evidence.

      And yet Mr. Martin was shot and killed on a public street in an altercation that resulted from being confronted despite engaging in no criminal activity, or displaying any probable cause that he was so engaged.

      because of the SYG statutes, the initial investigation was chumped by Sanford police and the key investigative window in the hours after the storm closed with their investigators convinced that they could make no case against the gunman because of SYG. Later, the judge used SYG language to instruct the jury as to the standards for the use of lethal force in Florida.

      A lot of people are going to die in this dynamic who don’t need to die. Many of them are going to be people of color.

      • Curious about this “Later, the judge used SYG language to instruct the jury as to the standards for the use of lethal force in Florida.”

      • But isn’t it true that Zimmerman’s lawyers did NOT invoke SYG and instead went with a standard self-defense argument (which meant there was an even higher standard to meet for an acquittal)?

        And if this is the case, why the hell was SYG even mentioned in Jury instructions?

        Also, I’m curious to know what you think of Dershowitz’s comments re the prosecutor and the ‘violation of Zimmerman’s rights’?

  • I can’t imagine you’re still reading comments. But in case you are: preach!

    And: thank you. For everything.

  • I can assure you, if any conservative believed in the unreserved greatness of America, and that an American could never be ashamed of their country, they were cured of that belief in the last four and a half years.

    Trust me on this one.

  • I think a vast majority of people who troll Internet sites that allow anonymous commenting are motivated by the frustratingly mediocre and insecure lives they lead, so they unleash all the ugliness, frustration, and malevolence inside themselves on the Internet almost like Dr. Janov’s primal therapy. These twisted views and ugly emotions are not new to this generation; they have been around since mankind could think.

    However, unlike any other time in history, common folk have a worldwide forum to express their thoughts without the fear of retribution or embarrassment in their real, personal lives. It is a freedom that easily devolves to the lowest, ugliest, and most repugnant expressions. I venture more of it is hyperbole than true feeling. Imagine if the Internet had existed during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. Can you imagine the tweets Dr. King would have gotten? Malcolm X? Robert Kennedy? Abbie Hoffman? The Black Panthers?

    Our culture is changing fast. A few generations ago black people couldn’t vote in the South. A generation ago most gays feared walking down the street without getting their heads bashed in or verbally taunted and abused. Progress always comes at the expense of the petty-minded and intolerant. And progress always, as is the case with what happened to Trayvon Martin, takes a step back every now and then.

    Mr. Simon, I knew from watching the first half hour of Episode One of The Wire that you were re-writing the rules of artistic expression, social criticism, and entertainment. Your characters seemed like real human beings and not caricatures and stereotypes. You took the time and patience to examine all sides of American urban society. With The Wire you were taking what Emile Zola and the American Muckrakers put on paper and using modern visual media to further this ongoing tradition of the expression of the progressive ethos. Like them, you have been on the right side of history, so I hope all this hoopla invigorates you to keep up your always excellent, brilliant, and poignant work.

    • Even after as much dross and mouth-breathing as we’ve encountered here in light of the fact that I have recently been diagnosed as a nigger-loving, America-hater by some portion of the populace, I am going to continue this experiment in argument and discourse a while longer. There have also been some worthy arguments. And even some amusing exchanges.

      We will not generalize so much as to insult our comrades-in-arms here.

    • Great point about The authenticity and scope of The Wire. One of the best pieces of art in this young century. Kudos to all those involve in such a revealing portrait of America!

  • “***A man is not bound to retreat from his house. He may stand his ground there and kill an[y] person who attempts to commit a felony therein, or who attempts to enter by force for the purpose of committing a felony:..”

    Unless my “fraud” is ASKING you if the castle doctrine is included, you are now arguing against the Maryland Court of Appeals who wrote the above quote. But yes, the rest of my post did assume you were against the castle doctrine… that you would consider it manslaughter if someone killed an intruder as he squeezed through the window of their home. Furthermore, you would consider it manslaughter if someone killed a person as they illegally rummaged through their vehicle parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

    I intended to merely point out that I cannot see the value to society for legal statues that call these acts manslaughter and asked for a counterpoint that spoke to its value assuming we do not want a criminal justice system that is vindictive and all about blind punishment. Obviously, refusal is legitimate but my post is not bullshit.

    • If you are speaking of a man using lethal force against an intruder in his domicle who has the intent of committing a felony, of course not. But that is not a blanket “castle” exemption that you just cited by any means.

      And citing it holds you up to the inevitable comparison to the circumstances in which we have just acquitted Mr. Zimmerman:

      1) Trayvon Martin was on the street.
      2) When first approached, he offered no probable cause whatsoever to suspect any criminal activity. And, in the unproven scenario by which he laid hands on Mr. Zimmerman first, he was not attempting to commit a felony. Common assault in all fifty states is a misdemeanor, and is categorized so by the FBI. Mr. Zimmerman’s treat-and-release injuries, for which he initially refused treatment, were consistent with those of a common, not aggravated assault. Nor was there testimony that Mr. Martin brandished a lethal weapon, which is the only other circumstance that could have launched this confrontation to the realm of a felony assault.

      Ergo, by the law you just cited, the Maryland Court of Appeals does not sanction the killing even if Mr. Martin were to have entered Mr. Zimmerman’s home. I encourage you to read the linked essay I wrote for the Miami Herald about just a Maryland case and the manslaughter charges that resulted from the trespass. For the slaying to be justifiable self-defense, Mr. Zimmerman would need to prove at least that the trespass was for the intention of a felony.

      This is why, if some drunk foreign exchange student comes through the wrong door and gets shotgunned to death by the neighbor, it is at least incumbent upon the neighbor to convince a grand jury that he didn’t realize that the intruder was not intending a felony by breaking-and-entering, that he didn’t simply shoot the drunk because the trespass gives him a free shot, for the hell of it. Until SYG, the law wants to know that you were in legitimate fear of serious injury or death to yourself or to others before you take life. Now, the careful standards are gone.

      • I completely agree that the minimum standard for justifiable homicide is rightly “reasonable fear of life or serious bodily harm” and that SYG laws beyond that are absurd. I think I am more lenient on when its reasonable to fear for one’s life. Someone walking into your house is not cut and dry. Frankly, I think if the home owner has a firearm brandished and about to confront the intruder, then if the intruder is unarmed, I think fear of injury is unreasonable. And I concur that universal immunity should not be automatic.

        …[For the slaying to be justifiable self-deffe ense, Mr. Zimmerman would need to prove at least that the trespass was for the intention of a felony]…

        I am not sure on what playing ground you mean this, but my statements are all based on criticizing the outraged sentiment at the legal verdict and so I am arguing on the grounds of the legal burdens and Zimmerman there, even in Maryland, does not have to PROVE anything. He just has to make a defense that generates reasonable possibility that it was self defense… the same as a defense of murder where the defendant argues it was not him who killed the person at all.

        The 911 call screams generate that reasonable possibility of justification NOT Zimmerman’s injuries.

        Secondly, the idea that we ought to hold Zimmerman accountable for Trayvon’s state of mind during his common assault… or in general that a bugler has to intend to commit a felony in order to generate justification for killing him is crazy. The court merely granting the right to stand your ground against such people does not mean that is the minimum standard.

        If someone found a person intruding into their house and they had only a knife, I would sympathize with stabbing the person a lot sooner than shooting the person, even if the intruder was a drunken neighbor mistakenly walking in the right house.
        Why?
        Because it is reasonable to fear serious bodily harm at the sight of a home intruder without the protection of a firearm pointed at that intruder.

        • Absent corroboration for his claim of self-defense, Zimmerman should be convicted of manslaughter in a Maryland court by any competent prosecutor. We do not employ SYG statutes. We write our laws. Not the NRA.

          • It is the US constitution that says that all a defendant has to do is create reasonable doubt in his defense. No matter whether his defense is self-defense or not doing the act altogether.

            But I would say that the screams heard on the 911 call PROVE that the act of killing Trayvon cannot be manslaughter. Either Zimmerman heinously murdered a screaming teen or Zimmerman shot a teen for assaulting to such a severe degree that made Zimmerman scream bloody murder.

            • Not every doubt is reasonable, and therein lies a lot of legal debate, Mr. Alaro.

              You don’t think people have ever screamed during a common, but not life-threatening assault? That was presumptive of you.

        • I once woke up to hear burglars climbing the stairs (I could see their flash-lights arc on the ceiling through a glass partition over my bedroom door). This was in Nottingham, England, late 80s. I had already been burgled 3 or four times in one year. I looked around for a weapon. Nothing. Best I could find was a ghetto blaster, so I picked it up. I shouted out “Who the fuck is that?” The steps stopped, and then they took off. How many were there? I don’t know and I didn’t want to find out. I went down stairs to find the place turned over. I wonder what would I have done if I had a gun? Two things you can assume – if I have a gun, they have a gun. so that straight away makes the situation worse. Then if I decide to step out into the hallway and blaze away, we have a dead black kid , shot down by a white guy, or a dead white man, shot dead by a black kid (I presume he was black since it was a predominantly black neighbourhood, but I can’t be 100% sure, maybe that’s an erroneous assumption, I don’t know). So what happened, we lost some jewellery, some money, the cops came, they were never found – but life went on.

          • truthseeker,

            The question that such an example begs… Should society require the victim of a home invasion to be imprisoned in their own home until the intruders decide they are finished? Call the police? Check! Ask who’s there? Check. But maybe they don’t leave, but oh well. “Hey, there are robbers in your downstairs, so until they finish stealing your stuff, you are restricted to the upstairs portion of your residence. If you go downstairs, and violence ensues, you are at fault because you failed your obligation to retreat.”

            • and in answer to your question, yes, that is what English law requires : Be a prisoner in your own house whilst burglars ransack the place. Even if you attack a burglar, and injure him, you can be charged with assault.

            • Before i make the conservative statement I plan to make, let me just state that the dialogue Truthseeker and I have under taken has zero relevance to do with anything other than the castle doctrine.

              That said, I fundamentally believe that this “obligation to retreat” aspect is flawed because I think that the civil rights of a law abiding citizen trumps the vitality of any criminal. And therefore I disagree with any legal statue that creates the potential where it is criminal for a man to walk freely in his own home.

              I don’t know enough of the details about the Tony Martin case just from reading up on it thru wikipedia but from right off the bat… illegal shotgun, forensics disputing Tony’s version, apparently shooting as they fled through a window. Sounds like a vindictive victim to me.

  • Dear Mr. Simon: I, too, have had moments when I was at a loss to describe my disappointment in things that happen in our country. (Drug war? Try being a small business that is competing against a drug-money-financed competitor. Nobody ever talks about this incarnation of the Drug War, but it really irks me). As for the Martin case, I understand the disappointment, which is true disappointment and not merely irksome. I am white but live in a small rural southern community that is predominantly black. I and my family and my neighbors get along very well. And here lies the problem with racial inequality in America: people blather on and on about it but largely, each race keeps to itself out in the non-urban areas of America. I believe that if each race made more of an effort to spend time together, we’d see that we are not so different. When we insist on segregating ourselves, and all races do it, and then when there’s a confrontation, it never ends well. But as for the court case, I don’t know how you could legislate for smarter jurors, better attorneys, more qualified jurists. I think that this is what you are advocating, but I just don’t know how this can happen, any more than I know how you can get people to realize that black people, white people, Asian people, Hispanic people and all races should be friends.

  • Mr. Simon,

    While I’m not ashamed to call myself an American (which I know isn’t exactly what you said, but it is how most will interpret your remarks) I know your frustration and despair intimately. I moved to Canada from Washington, DC, during the second year of George W. Bush’s first administration. When my then-Canadian fiance and I decided to get married, we had the choice of her moving to the states, or me moving to Toronto. I chose the latter, and have to say it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

    America is a great country, without doubt. Comparatively, Canada can never be anything but second-tier. But given the choice between bringing up my daughter in vibrant, multicultural Toronto, or in any of America’s rigidly segregated, increasingly gated cities, the choice is, again, easy. Canada has its problems, but where it is cosmopolitan, as in Toronto and Vancouver, it is so in a way that few other places in the world are.

    I know I’m in Toronto when I sit in a downtown Starbucks and hear several different languages spoken around me at the same time. I know I’m in the states when I walk into a downtown Nashville (where I grew up) Starbucks and it’s packed full of middle class white people, and when I have to jokingly tell my wife, a Canadian of South Asian heritage, not to worry, that they won’t hurt her. I’ve found the dynamic to be the same whether I’m in Cambridge, Mass, San Fran or Chicago.

    So I very much respect your willingness to stick out the American experiment. Your country very much needs you. I see nothing but further decline in the offing for the US, even should the economy turn completely around. The many pathologies plaguing the country are mostly but not entirely cultural and they are going to get a hell of a lot worse before they get the slightest bit better.

  • Mr. Simon,

    I admire your tenacity in arguing with the comments of so many people but I am a bit frustrated with your site. Multiple comments and posts claim that every facet of this argument has been hashed out in previous comments, mainly on the post titled “Trayvon.” I am frustrated because it would appear that in closing the comments to that section, you have made it seemingly impossible to access the older comments. There seems to be an element blocking the link to older comments, making it unclickable which makes it impossible for the most people to look through those comments. While I can deal with that personally, the discussion should be readily available for browsing by all, despite it being closed to new comments.

  • The things that make you ashamed of being an American is an idiosyncratic list, from the serious to the trivial.

    I equate Berlin’s “God Bless America” with Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”. You think a song that mentions God rises the to the level of the Drug war? Whatever do you say when someone sneezes?

    You also have some unrealistically high standards of decorum in regard to the way young people react to good news. Young people riot when their sports teams win. This happens everywhere, not just the US.

    It is not a perfect country. And yes, the justice system didn’t create a result in the Martin case that resulted in justice here, because imperfect laws didn’t anticipate these facts. This happens all the time — no real shame in that; systems are created without knowing the future. We have the ability to change those laws to get a better result next time. If we don’t change them, then that is the shame.

    Finally, the justice system failed in the OJ case and yet he still wound up, somehow, in prison. Karma isn’t done with Mr Zimmerman.

  • Yesterday I wrote to you in another post speaking on a (conspiracy) theory on how those who contribute to and benefit from white privilege not only would dehumanize and demonize those individuals who white privilege comes at the expense at (non whites) but that those, be it individuals or entities of some sort or size, would attack honorable whites who a truth that challenges their white privilege. After your gracious and thoughtful response, I countered with more of a (conspiracy) theory that those same individuals and entities within the white privilege power structure have research and analytics that would make attacking anyone who stands up to them quite easy…….

    Well Mr. Simon, how does it feel being the 2013 recipient of the Dixie Chicks award? I log onto yahoo and what do I see: a menacing picture of you dressed in black with the title ‘Ashamed to call himself an American’. You think the picture they chose of you was done randomly? What about the headline? I am willing to bet they have research and statistics that tell them if they want a desired effect (ie to demonize you) use a certain picture, and create a certain headline.

    I think one of your many great talents is your ability to hold up a mirror and let reflect back what’s simply there. I am a relatively young black man and over 10 years ago I couldn’t afford HBO. I remember my older brother, who moved roughly 2,000 miles away, being emphatic about the Wire so much he mailed me VHS recordings after each airing. Needless to say since then I’ve invested many hours and many dollars into all of your works. I remember when another famous “journalist” after doing something to the effect of top 64 characters of the Wire bullshit bracket faceoff quickly turned his so-called adoration for you and the show into a kiss-my-ass-why-cant-you-just-accept-the-fact-im-promoting-you- and-who-are-you-to-challenge-me-athon. He and his colleagues had an actual debate as to why Denard, the little kid infamous for killing Omar, should have cracked the top 64……fucking ridiculous.

    Anyway, my point….arguing with mofos where their only goal is to maintain in my estimation white privilege is useless that this point. In responding to you here, my initial question was going to be that in going into a debate or argumentative discussion, what is more important: having an open mind, an acceptance you COULD be wrong and an willingness to grow….OR a complete understanding and acceptance of the facts, facts that are universally recognized? But if people KNOWINGLY misquote you, that obviously shows no willingness to grow or an acceptance they COULD be wrong. My suggestion, hold up that damn mirror.

    I previously brought up that other guy who used his infatuation with a street culture as shown in the Wire to do that shitty ass bracket of Wire characters because it’s obvious no one of diverse or differing opinions or life experiences was in the room with him to shoot down that silly ass idea. Granted, it was his right to as a boss hire whomever he wanted that apparently created a culture that reinforced everything he wanted to hear or know. If I were in that room, the emphasis would not been on characters but scenes. Im a young black man, born, raised and currently residing in the suburbs. There is nothing G’d up about me. But im black in America, which means im not that far from and still engage with those who are G’d up, those who didn’t have a great education or comfortable living environment or sound family structure. When Avon fought Stringer in Season three, that SHIT WaS FUCKING REAL to me…my brothers are my best friends. They were all I had when in certain moments I had nothing else. It was reinforced in my soul as to the consequences of the drug game and all aspects of urban life to see them go from “Yo, Avon, we brothers, B!” to them fighting with ones life eventually on the line. Why wasn’t someone in that room with that guy to argue that?

    So I suggest to hold up a mirror on these mofos who are attacking your credibility and integrity. I know you touched on this in season 5 of the Wire with the newsroom, but why are these rooms filled with people of the same agenda? whats the agenda? What are the moves they use when someone says or does something they don’t like? How do they change, for example, the debate from Imus saying what he said to why are rappers using the language they use…..from what did Paula Dean say to why do black people say the n-word so much…to George Zimmerman killing an unarmed black kid to why don’t people care about black on black crime? Why if people hate Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson so much then why do they get booked so much….does hearing the truth get neutralized coming from someone that’s hated or polarizing?

    That’s my suggestion….expose ’em….simply hold the mirror up. thank you once again

  • To demonstrate the high minded level of discourse on twitter, it seems as if the “panda bear” tweeter sometimes takes a break from his insightful political commentary to inform the world about the issues he is having with his rectum.

    God Bless Twitter.

  • Mr. Simon, People like you need to stop your liberal sputtering, while you sit in your ivory tower. While you can make great TV, real life is entirely different. Have you ever been mugged? I have. While trying to do my job, I have been jumped, robbed, and beat up by innocent, young black men. Take your foot out of your mouth and try to live and make a living in a poor neighborhood.

    • I’m in my rowhouse. I’m Baltimore, Maryland.

      I rented the ivory tower to the Black Panthers for their summer retreat.

    • Uptighty Whitey comment right here.

      People like this are the kinds of individuals that think people who commit crime look, dress, and act a certain way or live in a certain neighborhood, like crime doesn’t happen in theirs or people that look like THEM don’t commit crimes. White anger due to white guilt coupled by white privilege has been some of the most frustrating and funniest things I’ve been reading this summer so far, both at the same time. I know foreigners who are shaking their head at you folks, esp when I remind my European homies that there is a strong chance that they could be related to one of you crazy shameless white folks out here.

      Lemme rephrase that: they don’t shake their heads–THEY SHUDDER.

    • I was mugged by a white kid. By your logic I should forever cower in fear like a year old puppy hearing thunder for the first time and forever stay under the bed so I never run into another white kid. But unlike you I refuse to give into that fear and walk away from every white kid I run across. Because I live in the real world. Where we have to go out, interact, work, play, etc with all sorts of people. The vast majority who are not like the black kids who mugged you or the white kid who mugged me.

      Perhaps its time you do the same.

    • I had my purse stolen twice. By A white man and a black one(your correspondent, Ms. Delayed Reaction, subsequently found that my crippled ass on the street with a heavy handbag is like marking a target on my back.) However, I will say getting stolen from by somebody fishbelly white as myself was not truly less traumatic.

  • Hey there Mr. Simon-

    First let me say that me and my husband are HUGE fans of THE WIRE. We tell every person we know, who’s not watched it, that it’s a must-see. Second, I can never be ashamed to be American because I still believe in us and our country and I still think we are the best place on earth. However, I DO think that this jury and this verdict was a total disgrace and completely disgusting and WRONG and I spent the better part of the day after the verdict crying, and in a funk that I just couldn’t shake. The sadness I felt, as an American and as a MOM, was nearly incapacitating.

    Lastly, I’d like to see addressed the UNDERLYING cause of ALL of this that NO ONE seems to be talking about – the ROOT CAUSE. That would be the pervasive attitude and actions within the African-American community regarding a family unit. And we are now in the biggest, most horrible downward spiral, that I don’t know if it could ever be fixed, nor do I know HOW it would be fixed. However, until the African-American community realizes or no longer accepts that without A FATHER in these young men’s lives, they will continue to turn to each other, or gangs, or whatever happens to be there, senseless tragedies will continue. The role models for these young men are disgusting – athletes who kill others, athletes who have 12 babies by 9 women, athletes who never had a father and now turn out to be no-account fathers themselves.

    Until the African-American woman decides to no longer stand for these trifling jerks literally screwing them over and having children with different men and not having a bunch of different “baby daddies” – and UNTIL the African-American man no longer reveres the African-American “role model” who has a bunch of different children by as many women – UNTIL the African-American community no longer views that the more babies you have by more men/women as a sign of masculinity (or a sign of “I got more than you”) then we are ALL screwed.

    Because this simply perpetuates this awful cycle and these children don’t grow up to be productive, contributing, upstanding members of society. They grow up to continue this craziness (if they grow up at all due to violence and gangs).

    I’m not saying that this necessarily was the case with Trayvon Martin because I can’t remember his specific family unit situation. However, I’m speaking overall and in general. This is an epidemic and I don’t understand why our government doesn’t “go to war here” over this cause, treating it just as important as any war “over there” because I’m sure this epidemic has affected even more lives than these wars.

    By the way, I fully and wholeheartedly agree that Zimmerman is an idiot and the ENTIRE incident would’ve been avoided had he listened to the police and stayed in his car. I wish it was illegal to be a MORON, but then we’d have too many criminals to count – OF ALL RACES. Thanks for taking the time to listen because when I vent, I always feel better – even if no one is going to really hear it or listen and it doesn’t change anything!

    • I think you need to dig deeper to find the root cause. Any chance there are systemic reasons at play here?

      Education? Lack of access to economic opportunity? Bias baked into the justice system?

      I’m all for personal responsibility, but all too often it turns in an excuse to ignore systemic bias and instead turns into a finger-pointing opportunity.

    • Lady, you barely scratched the surface.

      True absentee parenting on the side of the father has been a major issue in the black community but not as bad as racial profiling, unemployment, bad schools, and such. You seem to fail to mention the fact that alot of issues that plague the black community is FINANCIAL and ECONOMICAL. When jobs started to leave the inner cities THAT’S what happens. If you’ve seen The Wire and love it so much you’d notice how one part is beautiful and picturesque while the other is in complete and utter squalor akin to a 3rd World nation, or as I like to call that part of Baltimore “the land that Reagonomics forgot”. You can’t sit here and make a blanket statement like that without looking at ALL the angles. The mothers taking care of these kids alot of the time are no good and allow their parents to care for their children. If these people were educated and had job opportunities they wouldn’t aspire to be nothing but athletes, entertainers, and criminals for you to both admire and fear. You make a statement like that and say it had NOTHING to do with Trayvon Martin but I think you’re either lying or just fooling yourself, you KNOW that’s what you were insinuating. As aforementioned if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.

    • Erika,

      When you say that the underlying root cause of all of this is “the pervasive attitude and actions of the African-American community regarding the family unit”, without acknowledging that this attitude was not created in a vacuum, I think it is you who isn’t willing to address the true root cause of where we are today. Perhaps the children don’t grow up to be productive, contributing, upstanding members of society due to the underlying racism built into the system.

    • You might want to consider that what you’re describes are “symptoms of poverty” instead of “causes of poverty.” This would be an understanding that says the broken home isn’t what causes impoverishment, it’s caused by the state of impoverishment. If you’re wondering where this state of impoverishment came from in the first place – if it wasn’t caused by broken homes, criminal activity, drugs, etc.- all you have to do is essentially look to African American history which started with slavery and continues today with the imprisonment of large percentages of African Americans due to the drug war. Slavery by Another Name by Douglas Blackman is an extremely insightful book that illustrates the oppression of African American between the Civil War and WWII and shows the roots of the mass imprisonment of African Americans we see today.

    • The assumption that the majority of African American families live in the inner city and is therefore plagued by the infections inheirent therein, is part of the racial belief system that aquitted Zimmerman. To loath the verdict while spouting the stereotypes that lead to a young mans death is disingenuious at best.

      Whether Martins family was a unit didn’t decide whether he wanted to go to a convience store. It did not influence the path he took home and his reaction to being followed by a stranger on a rainy night. The assumption that a young black male is a “suspect” killed Trayvon, not his parental upbringing, or his devotion to his favorite sports hero.

      The system didn’t shoot to kill, it just exonerated the killer. Before we accept responsibility for anything lets make sure we know what that “thing” is…in this case it’s the expectation that young black men are violent, up to no good, and therefore of less worth than a bullet.

      • It’s amazing how fast the vast and substantial black middle class disappears when the need to generalize is great.

    • This response makes the most sense to me. I think the incident is still creating the wrong debate. I think it’s the mentality of the African Americans in some of these areas that needs to be changed. Their actions breed fear and it is why someone walking around with a hood is suspicious in the first place. There is a disparate amount of crime by African Americans. It’s not made up and I don’t believe it’s because of ‘the system’. It’s because of their parents and the cycle of bad parents raising bad kids. I feel bad for these African American kids but we’re doing them an injustice if we don’t have the right conversations.

      • I think this is the ugliest comment yet, if only because John doesn’t seem to have the tiniest awareness of how abhorrent these generalizations are.

  • David,
    As a fellow American and brief fellow Baltimorean, I want to tell you that you are truly an inspiration. You articulate my anger, pain and frustration better than most. For peddling the truth I want to thank you for your service to your country.

    S.I.

  • Perhaps it’s my imagination, but the explosion of the Internet seems to have made it OK for every hateful imbecile out there to unleash their hate from relative anonymity. I remember growing up in the 1970s hearing white family members and their adult friends casually spewing racial, homophobic and ethnic epithets, but while I thought it was awful, I never once overheard it turn into full-blown hate of the sort I see now. In fact, as I grew and called them on it and they actually made black friends, they stopped using that sort of language and have been as outraged about Zimmerman’s verdict as many others without any prompting. I guess I raised them right. Where did all this resurgence come from, such as the invective hurled at you because of your heritage? I find it all very depressing and as a 44-year-old bedridden man whose brain works as his body fails, I don’t need much to push me into the doldrums. For each time I see positive moves forward such as state after state backing same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court supporting them, we get 15 or more stories of states passing more and more restrictive abortion laws and just trying to deny people their right to vote. Of course, we still get the wonderful crop of senators who consider it a “victory” that they didn’t have to reform the filibuster, a word that doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution, because their deal was that Obama just had to sacrifice two of his appointments but five others got approved. I’ve been a news junkie all my life, but it’s getting to the point that I just want to avoid it all because it’s either going to piss me off or make me want to pull the covers over the head. I really don’t know how you can take the abuse from these nimrods that you do.

  • This discussion calls to mind something W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in 1935:

    “Nations reel and stagger on their way; they make hideous mistakes; they commit frightful wrongs; they do great and beautiful things. And shall we not best guide humanity by telling the truth about all this, so far as the truth is ascertainable?”

  • One would think that the gun lobby is now foaming at the mouth on the supremacy thinkers snickering that there is no found hope to return the U.S. to the glory days of 90 percentile Caucasians (where the battle/ banters were chiefly between Greeks, Irish, Italians and Brits).

    So all those in favor of George Zimmerman getting away with reckless homicide are getting guns.

    This should boom the economy richly. Steel fabrication, raw material diggings, transportation and the like; because Florida will have a new Stand Your Ground Holiday – open season on minorities.

    Of course, the gun lobby is really excited about the 20 or 30 million liberal people who want to live in peace having capitulated to the wisdom that – if you can’t beat them – join them.

    Now they’re getting guns and bullets too.

    After all, it is a perfectly plausible “G-d given right” that any minority catching any non-minority in their neighborhood should be real concerned about standing their ground in face of the onslaughts to come.

    Now, who wants to go slap the Alec guys upside the head (simple assault) and see if we can return to the old Wild Wild West days of the legal argument (with no witnesses remaining)

    of who drew 1st!

  • I have arrived late to the party, per usual, and am having a lovely time. The lively debate is much appreciated and with such a low entrance fee to boot!

  • Great post. Really liking this blog now, though I don’t agree with many things. I agree with your “moments of shame,” though I’m not 100% down with the “moments of pride.” Didn’t Reagan make the first stop of his 1980 election campaign Philadelphia, Mississippi–where the KKK just firebombed a church days earlier? Then again, I’m not American.

    I read a lot of Chris Hedges, who covered war for the NYT for 15 years, and has reported out of 50 countries on dozens of revolutions and conflicts. Nationalism is always, he says, the “dark elixir” that a country ingests before committing its most shameful acts. Its flip side, he says, “is always a very dark racism.” I’ve only visited the U.S. but Hedges’ words ring true to me.

    I grew up in China for the first eight years of my life and was thoroughly indoctrinated with Maoist ideology. I was taught to love my country because it’s always right. I believed it, and would get mad when, years later, having immigrated to Canada, I met people who either criticized China or made fun of the Chinese. People pointed this out to me and said that in the enlightened West, such feelings are seen as irrational. They said that it’s not the way Westerners see the world or themselves.

    They are wrong. As a minority and an outsider in North America, I feel the nativism inherent to both Canada and the US pretty acutely. It’s the curse of the nation state, and nobody is immune unless they subject their passions to the most uncomfortable sort of moral and intellectual scrutiny. It takes time and the ability to admit one’s faults. In other words, it takes some growing up. I assure you that I have no high horse, but reading some of these comments (in this blog and others) only reinforces that belief to me.

    • There is at this point in human evolution an inevitability to nationalism. But any ideology, followed unequivocally, leads eventually to some dark, ignorant places. I’m an American. I want us to be a good people and I want our government to reflect this. But my eyes are open and I try to stay attentive; yours, too, it would seem.

      • I agree. I think we can separate nationalism (my country right or wrong) from patriotism, which has dissent built into it. I think you can love a country, but it’s something altogether different to not allow that love to blind one from the truth. I’m not an American, but I don’t have to be one to want what you want: a just US that treats its citizens and the world the right way. I’m 24 yrs old so I only know the post-9/11 America, which has been involved in too many tragedies.

  • you must be a real @##%*&^ to say something like that, why don’t you pack up and leave on the first asiana plane

    • Your fingers seemed to drift upwards above the letter keys for a moment there. What were you trying for Marge? Cocksucker? Motherfucker? Sonofabitch? I’m only here to help. I’m a giver, Marge. I give, and I give, and I give.

      • I think she’s saying you are an “at sign pound key pound key percent sign asterisk ampersand caret.” Some people say I’m too literal though.

        • LOL – thanks KATIE, you welcomed irreverence to the disrespectful Marge and ability to conquer such in a few stroke of keys –

          is Awesome!

      • My grandfather taught my mom about grammar using the example “sons-of-a bitch”. You’d have liked him, even if he did embody our nation’s racial contradictions(half-Native son of a Klansman)

    • You articulate, moral folks know that these classy as hell Asiana cracks don’t even make any sense, right, given that the airlines’ plane crashed coming *into* America? Just saying.

      I know you hate to censor, Mr. Simon, but some of this stuff doesn’t bear response.

      • On this controversy, in which the denial of race as a daily subtext of American life is being offered as a serious argument, throwing a few of these posts into the mix serves a fixed purpose.

  • As disgusting as those posted Tweets are, David, I’d respectfully submit that the recent Travyon column authored by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post is far more nauseating, not to mention far more demonstrative that your statement about the issue being “systemic” is accurate.

  • Agreed – but what I’m interested in is the fix you’d propose.

    They weren’t able to establish that Zimmerman was guilty using the evidence they had; analogous to how OJ and Casey Anthony were acquitted. US law being what it is – innocent until proven guilty – allowed for them to get away with murder. What’s different with this case is that race is thrown in (“they always get away”, etc).

    So how should the US law system adjust to prevent murderers from getting acquitted without wrongfully convicting more people?

    • Let’s start with a nationwide repeal of SYG. If the SYG-based jury instructions don’t go to this jury and SYG doesn’t grossly undermine the earliest and most essential hours of the police investigation, I am entirely willing to accept a jury verdict regardless of the outcome. At that point, the game isn’t a rigged one.

      • I’m hearing Zimmerman didn’t use this law at his trial. He used the natural right for self defense (which you have since legally the police only have to protect themselves) in which case the law that let him get away with shooting Trayvon is actually a fundamental right in all 50 states.

        • For the hundreth time, read the judge’s jury instructions and then recalibrate your claim. And that of course is only the final stomp of SYG influence on the terrain of this case. It begins in the key initial minutes of the investigation, when Sanford police go inert because they are quickly convinced that under SYG they cannot mount a prosecution.

          You are repeating a lie, a canard. But I suppose if it is spoken long enough it will acquire some veneer of truth. But it is still, very much, a lie.

          • Here is the link to Judge Nelson’s instructions to the jury. The “Stand Your Ground” law is not explicitly discussed, the phrase is used in the judge’s instructions. Not to put to fine a point on it, but if someone is astride you pounding your head into the concrete, you are not really standing ground and there really isn’t any place to retreat.

            https://thetrialdivas.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/zimmerman-final-jury-instructions.pdf

            • We’re not going to revisit the same material as we did in the 599 “Trayvon” thread comments. Suffice to say your account of an aggravated assault is uncorroborated by the physical evidence. That you believe it is clear. That it is uncorroborated as to its severity is definitive.

              • And im not sure why SYG is bring brought up so often. A police station can investigate the death of someone regardless of the situation. he could have left a suicide note and a video of the suicide and they can still investigate it. Any lack of investigation has nothing to do with SYG, just with a shitty police force. The defense didnt use SYG in the trial, let alone before the trial.On top of that i would like to remind everyone that SYG is just a colloquial term for the legal right to self defense outside of personally owned domain. Meaning that if someone is attacking me, i can defend myself even if im not on my property. Its the same law that lets

                • No, you’re wrong. It’s revolutionary. Prior to SYG, there was no right to use lethal force to defend yourself unless you had a reasoned fear of death or serious injury or a fear of same for others. And that is a much higher standard to corroborate. Killing someone over a common assault, a property crime, a trespass — these things used to constitute manslaughter. SYG is transforming the legal landscape.

                  Every single law enforcement group, from police organizations to prosecutorial groups opposes these statutes, written as they were under the guidance of the gun lobby.

                  Your mitigation of this reality is just false on its face.

                  • If you’re including the castle doctrine in SYG (property crimes?) then not every law enforcement agency dislikes SYG laws.

                    The problem with your logic, that of “common assault, property crimes, a trespass… should not be justification for manslaughter” is that a reasoned person does not know perfectly what is going on AT THE TIME.

                    I think shooting someone square in the back is pretty clearly criminal, but the example that someone in the media used…

                    “a daughter’s boyfriend having her permission to come into the house throw a window but getting shot by a parent as he was entering the house threw the window… is what?”

                    I say that sneaking into a house implies a lack of invite by the home owner and the boyfriend is cut and dry breaking and entering. You say that killing a B&E prep should be manslaughter.

                    I tend to agree that the best course of action is pointing the gun at the person and saying freeze… that someone halfway through a window is not in fact dangerous if you have a gun pointed at them, but A) what if there are more? and B) I do not think someone should be given manslaughter for acting foolishly in the face of a home invasion.

                    Sure we can agree they made a mistake but what are the elements of the criminal justice system we as liberals want?
                    A) protecting society
                    B) deterring future tragedies
                    C) rehabilitating criminals in attempt to prevent further violations against society

                    Explain to me how giving someone five or more years in prison for shooting a burglar will be a good attempt on those three elements?

                    • That’s a lot of rationalized if-then bullshit that begins with a fraud.

                      SYG as a legal concept is opposed by every responsible law enforcement organization in the country. It has no support from any umbrella group for anyone involved in law enforcement. No one who does the hard job of trying to actually suppress crime in America supports it.

                      Stop bullshitting.

  • It’s great that you leave their e-addresses and photos with their abuse. The late Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune used to include the names and addresses in quarterly columns of his hate mail.

  • I did not agree with the extent of your original posting on the decision but it certainly did not make me feel a need to ask you to leave the country (nor instill any delusional belief that I was in a position to do so). Having served a number of years on a local school board, I think I just have a visceral reaction to declaratory statements of outrage but that’s more of a personal problem. Your posting and many of the comments did, however, make me proud of our country and the fact that such discourse takes place and only rarely leads to actual violence.

    I will say though that the reference to “Gin and Juice” in your list of positives set me back a bit. Granted the Gourds took it to a place that Snoop never quite managed but I will just have to appreciate your fondness as part of the “texture” that makes this country so much fun.

  • In my personal life, I cannot hope to be a better person until I am willing to look at and accept my faults. It is by holding up that mirror that I can begin to work on my weaknesses. It does not mean that I don’t honor my strengths. America is no different. We must acknowledge that we are not perfect in order to become better. To glibly respond “Yo, if you don’t like America, leave it” is, quite frankly, immature.

  • ’10. The callow insecurity that accompanies any cry of “America, right or wrong” or “America, love it or leave it.’

    It’s too bad that so many people who use the “right or wrong” line do not seem to know the entire quote, which comes from Senator Carl Schurz, a 19th century American statesman. The complete quote is:

    “Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right, when wrong, to be put right.”
    —Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872, The Congressional Globe, vol. 45, p. 1287.

    I believe that Senator Schurz succinctly captured your sentiment, Mr. Simon. He certainly captured mine.

    • I know the whole quote. I was saving it for when someone finally used the truncated version here, but credit to you.

  • Mr. Simon,

    Firstly thank you for all the entertianment that you have provided me over the years. I for one am NEVER ashamed to BE an American. There are times when I am ashamed or disgusted by the things done by my government; The Holocaust of unborn babies and the advocacy of infaticide to be perpetrated on children who somehow survive the horror of the botched abortion, The fundamental violation of our G-d given rights through Obama care, The continued erosion of our nation’s foundations perpetrated by those who take (in the form of taxations) from one group and then redistribute to another group is anaethema to what this country was intended by those who first envisaged our Republic. These things and many others cause me to worry, move me to anger, and cause me to feel shame at the betrayal of those who have served and shed their blood in the building of this fine nation. I have served in the Navy of our great nation and did so with Pride. I’ve visited every continent (with the exception of Antarctica) and without exception I can tell you that this Nation more than ANY other has got it right. Semantics? You may certainly say that; Semantics matter. I am now and will always remain Unashamedly AMERICAN. G-d Bless You and thank you for this forum.

    • Thank G-d the woman who must carry the fetus to term and care for it afterwards has the right to decide it’s fate, and not mark from the internet who thinks obamacare is alienating G-d given rights.

  • Wow.

    How on earth can people claim that America isn’t racist? You’re posting proof with these stupid tweets.

    We disagree on whether the US experiment was ever what it said it was, but you’re a mensch that doesn’t deserve this shit. It’s hilarious, really, that someone who advocates an informed and responsible citizenry is told to leave the country.

    You must be doing something right.

  • Amen, brother. AMEN.

    I will always love America, because she gave my family refuge from the then-USSR. We all got green cards upon arrival and eventually we all became citizens, even my grandparents who have since passed away. They survived the pogroms in the Ukraine, wartime starvation and lord knows what else. They were able to finish out their lives in relative comfort, seeing their grandchildren thriving and starting to succeed in American society. For this and more, I am grateful to my country. In some ways, this is the best country in the world. But not in all ways and certainly not all the time. And devastatingly, not for all its citizens. That this is true doesn’t make the other part any less true. I wish more people qould realize that.

  • The Internet. It brings out the worst in some people. OK, many. It makes it easy for the dissenting voices to be heard, even if what they’re saying is utter nonsense. And through it, the impressionable and weak-minded and morally corrupt are easily caught up in propaganda formulated by paranoid, deranged little men.

    It’s a little frightening. But it’s a case of the loudest bloviators attracting the most attention. They’re still outnumbered, by far, and the overwhelming majority of Americans are on the right side of history.

    I have to believe justice will be served in Florida. Clearly it has not yet. Mr. Zimmerman had a right to a trial, and this just goes to show that our legal system, like everything, save Season 2, Episode 4 of Treme, is imperfect. But he will be held accountable.

    It feels wrong to say good may come out of this tragedy, because someone lost their life in the most terrifying of ways — under attack, for no reason, by an unknown assailant. But this stupid law in Florida will lead to regime change there, just as the failure to reform our immigration policy will backfire on the knuckle- and foot-draggers in Washington.

    This is the beauty of our system. It’s not perfect. But our rules of governance are not static, and when their flaws become evident, we the people have the power to change them.

  • Totally with you on this. Thank you for your intelligent, nuanced post, which explains how I feel about the US as well. My lists would be slightly different, but echo the same sentiments.

  • I agree with what you’ve written. I was not surprised by the verdict. I mean, I was REALLY not surprised. I have been not proud of my country for over ten years. it is a very glum feeling.

  • Mr. Simon,

    I will make this short and sweet…Please leave the USA. You don’t have to be ashamed anymore.

    Sincerely,

    All Unashamed Americans

      • I know the first ammendment. But the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. If your not happy here then why would you want to stay? People like you and David Simon are what’s wrong with our country.

        • Why stay? To make it better, perhaps.

          America, right or wrong. When she’s right, keep her wrong. When she’s wrong, make her right.

          In this instance, she is tragically and barbarically wrong. And it is shameful.

          There is nothing inconsistent in this position and nothing that requires me to defend my citizenship to you. I know this is irksome to you, but the problem is not my own.

          • There is absolutely nothing inappropriate with a position that when your country has something wrong that the right thing to do is to correct the problem. The rub is getting agreement on what are the problems and what are the appropriate solutions to those problems. There is also the issue that some problems just don’t have any clean solution. It is hubristic to think otherwise; it is defeatist, though, to do nothing.

            • What is fucking deal with these communists like Greg, who seem want everyone who disagrees with him to disappear from his lands?You can’t have a fucking democracy without debate, jackass! It’s one thing to hate what someone says. But when you start saying there’s only one course or one “party line,” and anybody who disagrees can fuck off, you’re living next door to totalitarianism. The opposite of what you think you believe in.

              I’m a Canadian so go ahead call me names, I really have no dog in this fight. Except to say that were it my country, (and we are no where close to innocent when it comes to crimes of state based on race) then I’d be ashamed too. I’m ashamed for you. Thankfully, no one can ask me to leave Canada for being ashamed for another country.

              Keep up the good work David. You might just piss off enough people for something to happen. As for your country, I have been and always will remain hopeful.

        • I don’t know, man, maybe because the thought of an America dominated by jingoistic, love-it-or-leave-it, destroy-the-village-to-save-it racist “patriots” — with all those who feel any political dissent having fled for Canada or elsewhere — is even more horrifying than the present reality?

          We were founded by political dissenters and rebels! How about, if you don’t believe in political dissent, move to Cuba?

          “Whenever [the people] shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it” and all that, my brother.

            • How about by making two of the most politically influential television shows of our time? Shows that have been directly cited by politicians, police officers, and other dedicated public servants enacting change. Such is the purpose of art.

          • So essentially you’re only 2 responses to anything that happens in this country is 1) Screw you, we’re America and we’re perfect! OR 2) Screw this, I’m leaving. And according to you, this is how and why new countries form.

            If every person in this country had that attitude, this country would never have accomplished the great things we SHOULD be proud of. But in the name of patriotism, you are completely willing to accept the crimes and atrocities we as a country are responsible for. And please, don’t use the 12-step definition of insanity (tailored for their use as addicts from an Albert Einstein quote) to justify David Simon being insane. That in itself is insane.

    • Let me guess. Speaking out about the murder of an unarmed minor is bad, but prancing around in knickers and a fancy hat to protest our Kenyan president is a-ok. Patriotic, even.

  • I’ll see your shame and raise you a “disgusted.”

    I keep telling myself that this BS is the death rattle of a system in decline. However true that may be, I am apprehensive about what is rising to replace it.

  • No reason to be ashamed from #6 – just go to a weekday game instead. (At least around here, we only get Irving Berlin on the weekends. But we get Neil Diamond every day mid-8th.)

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