Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Post No. 186g: What Those of Us in the Peanut Gallery Should Do Regarding the Trayvon Martin Case

We originally generated this post in December of 2012, when the death of Trayvon Martin was still fresh news. Now that the trial of the individual who pulled the trigger has commenced, we thought it appropriate to revisit some of our earlier thoughts.

We're sorry Nancy; some of us still believe that those of us without first-hand knowledge of the facts, as revealed through exhaustive investigation, should simply sit back and allow the justice system to work, as imperfect as it may be and despite whether we ultimately agree with the jury's verdict.

© 2012 and 2013, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

Believe it or not, we actually drafted this piece before NBC’s Bob Costas had to do a spin move following his comments about our “freedom to bear arms,” following the murder-suicide by the professional football linebacker last weekend.

The original title of this post was Why We Need a Constitutional Amendment Taking Away Freedom of the Press (and Media). We do not really feel that such a drastic measure should be taken, at least not this week. We were simply trying to get your attention.

However, you have to admit that many, patriots and non-patriots alike, are concerned about 3 things involving the news media: (a) the accuracy of reporting; (b) the role played by corporations which have a primary responsibility to shareholders to generate maximum profits; and (c) whether the reporting is truly fair and balanced.

My News Station is Red Hot; Your News Station Ain’t Doodly Squat, addressed 28 of the 475 concerns Americans have about reporting the news.

Several Fellows, including the Laughingman and the Logistician, consider Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet to be their role model. They want, “Just the facts, ma’am,” with no subjective twists, turns, spins, or embellishment. The Optimizer and the Inspector argue, on the other hand, that we have families to feed, and that no honest, self-respecting, red-blooded American values truth in the news, but rather wants to confirm their worldview.

Despite our differences, all of us respect individuals who exhibit clarity of thought during difficult times. We’ve seen 2 examples recently, both reported by the Mainstream Media. However, not enough attention has been paid to the facts as interpreted by folks close to the events.

That two parents of slain African-American minors, within weeks after their deaths, had the clarity of mind to make the comments we cite below is powerful, and provides some measure of hope for the future of race relations in this country.

Before addressing their comments, a few other thoughts about how we listen to or read information. Prior to his departure, the Logistician forced us to, frequently at knife point, watch the broadcast of the BBC World News, and prior to 2003, read the International Herald Tribune. He claimed that only by following a media outlet outside of the U.S. could we get a half-way accurate appreciation of what is going on here.

The View is fortunate to have followers from around the globe, including some from Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Greece, and Italy, most of whom worked in the US at some point.

Over the weekend one of our British followers, Sobriquet, in response to our post, Why Dumping on BP is a Bunch of BS, wrote of how it appeared to Brits that the American media coverage of the Gulf spill emphasized that it was a British company primarily at fault, with little attention focused on complicit American players.

Back to the deaths in Florida, the first is the case of George Zimmerman, who shot an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in February. The second shooting death involved teenager Jordan Davis, shot by Michael Dunn after words were exchanged between Dunn and Davis and several teenage friends, regarding the volume of their music.

In the Martin case, while many of the race-baiters and talking heads had so much to say about everything in the Universe and its contents, Martin’s Mother, Sybrina Fuller, said something so pure (and lacking in invective) that most of us missed it. She said that in her heart, she felt that Mr. Zimmerman simply made a mistake and harbored no malice toward her son.

In the Dunn case, the Father of the slain teen earlier this week said that there was nothing which he had seen or heard to suggest that it was racially motivated. In his opinion, Mr. Davis was overtaken by anger, and had a gun readily accessible. He plans to maintain this position until facts motivate him to think otherwise.

This is powerful stuff, coming from the parents of children who predeceased them. We should all strive to be so objective and philosophical under such circumstances. According to The Logistician speculation and unfounded statements, are inherently malicious (and dishonest, even if later shown to be accurate), and should be left to those who desire to perform some societal disservice.

Speculation, as to what is in the minds and hearts of other people or what motivated them to engage in aberrant behavior, is something which, like Trayvon’s Mother and Jordan’s Father, we should keep to ourselves if we think it.

One reason we like to engage college students, is that we find them to be not as ideologically rigid, and thus more tolerant of the views of others. Such an attitude leads to creativity, innovation and new ideas. It’s just common sense that once one party attacks others, certain parties take on a defensive posture, and the exchange of ideas and the search for the truth take the route of the hibernating bear. Our hats are off to the parents of Trayvon and Jordan.


  1. So few people seem to understand the case or know the facts involved. I recently saw (and took) a "quiz" on The Atlantic (online) that purported to ascertain if you knew "facts" involved with the case. It actually tested if you knew the "facts" as reported by the media and also if you knew the rumors and unimportant trivia.
    I liked Trayvon's mother's comment. Possibly because it aligns with my own opinion of the case. A tragic accident which, at most, should have resulted in a charge of manslaughter, not 2nd degree murder.

  2. To what extent does that comment apply to jurors?

  3. "To what extent does that comment apply to jurors?"

    I needed a bit more room, Inspector, to answer that question. On one level, I would say "yes"... since juries are made up of our "peers" (you and I know this means equals in the eyes of the law only and not our actual equals in all things), they should represent the general populace. On another level, as I am sure you know, there is a special dynamic involved with juries. One part of that dynamic would be the ability of the foreman to conduct the deliberations, another would be the "atmosphere", or "gravity", of the proceedings which affects the jurors. Juries often surprise me. But these are merely my speculations, I could be entirely wrong.

  4. 'Sybrina Fuller, said something so pure (and lacking in invective) that most of us missed it.'

    Whether I missed it or not - if 'pure', it was also a stupid thing to say. Did she know something about Trayvon's plans on that night? Does anyone go out with a gun, and attitudes, and shoot someone by 'mistake'? Was her comment the kind of speculation you mentioned two paragraphs below? (IC, I read everything I could find at the time) Nice to find you in my inbox again, Bob)

  5. Bob, I don't think she meant his shooting was by mistake, just that he made a mistake and that led to the shooting of her son.

  6. CorfuBob:

    Glad to have your thoughts again. We had some "technical difficulties" with our computer, and we hope that they have been resolved. You should see more frequent activity on our part over the next few months.

    By "pure," we meant a relatively detached, objective, and philosophical approach to this tragedy, when her view of this event could have been theoretically clouded by anger.

    We suspect, although we are truly not in a position to know, that Zimmerman did not go out, with a premeditated mindset, looking for a confrontation which might lead to the death of another. In our mind, since there is no question as to the cause of death, the only issues are the facts and whether he had a criminal intent or guilty mind.

    In our view, we have to give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt, the prosecution has the burden of proof and must prove its case, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty by credible evidence which convinces the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is criminally responsible for Martin's death.

    Negligence, in the American justice system, is far removed from criminal conduct, although there can be an intermediate point, involving criminal negligence, or reckless disregard for the safety of others.

    Welcome back.

  7. May we assume that saying something 3 times proves it to be true? This is old English wisdom, but it does NOT work for a quote!

    And where is this 'evidence' you refer to elsewhere going to come from? The jury is going to DECIDE the plaintiff's fate based on the 'facts' 1. He is white. 2. He has become overweight from worry. 3. He went out with a loaded gun looking for people he could suspect of being up to no good. 4.He found and shot a youth of coloured extraction.

    Who needs evidence IC?

    I hope the court case will be videoed with proper lighting and sound, and a charismatic jury foreman has been selected.

  8. CorfuBob, CorfuBob, CorfuBob:

    We always value and enjoy hearing from you, because you take us places intellectually which we had not previously visited or considered.

    In certain parts of the States, some folks would examine your 4 factors mentioned, perhaps your same calculus, and summarily conclude that Zimmerman was "up to no good." However, most folks here in the States have to beat issues to death to ensure that they are edible. It's part of the sense of freedom and character which flows from being adventurers and frontiersmen.

  9. Thank you IC. But will the issue of people carrying guns around with them be addressed in this case? Silly me! They will concentrate on 'proving' what was in a dead person's mind on that night. Having done that they will manipulate and read the mind of a now desperately frightened young man. Wonderful! Sure beats the crap out of discussing the issues.

  10. What was this mistake Douglas? Not going out with a gun obviously.

  11. CorfuBob:

    We actually should be THANKING YOU. You have hit the heads of many nails by raising the issues you raised.

    We going to do something a little different here, and make your 4 point argument for you; however, we are going to remove some subjective aspects of the facts as you outlined them:

    Consider using your 4 essential facts after cleansing:

    1. Although there are some issues regarding the mixed nature of Zimmerman's ethnicity, let's assume that he is "white" since most of American society would regard him as Caucasian;

    2. He was sufficiently worried about something in society related to his security, that of his family, or that of his neighbors, to the point where he was motivated to carry a deadly weapon, and stepped outside the confines of his home with it;

    3. Your third point, namely that he went out looking for people who he suspected to be up to no good, we have eliminated since we think that it is adequately address in the sanitized second point. [Keep in mind that Zimmerman was the appointed Neighborhood Watch coordinator for his gated community.]; and

    4. He found himself in some exchange with a young African-American youth, who died from Zimmerman's use of his weapon.

    We seriously considered removing the "fact" that Martin was black, because it's mere inclusion in the stated facts suggests that it was a factor in Zimmerman's mind or prompted his conduct, when it actually may not have been a factor.

    With our cleansing, your 4 facts have been reduced to 3. We now ask our other readers to weigh in on whether the 3 facts suffice to conclude that Zimmerman is guilty. The next level of analysis requires that we determine whether Zimmerman's conduct as you have outlined, constitutes negligent behavior (a mistake) or criminal behavior (more serious and more conscious than a mistake.)

    In thinking further about it, you are somewhat correct that we seem to have minimized the discussion regarding "gun control" or the right to bear arms in this discussion. We suspect that is significantly due to the fact that the participants are of different races, which once again has a tendency to cloud the analysis. We can't as a culture always assume that when there is conflict between 2 people of different races, that the conduct of either was racially motivated.

    The last significant issue which you did not raise is the effectiveness or potential problems associated with the "Stand Your Ground" law in issue in Florida. According to Wikipedia: "In the United States of America, stand-your-ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first."

    There is a lot of stuff about which to think.

  12. Quite frankly CorfuBob, we really had not previously viewed this case as a "gun control" case, or raising any gun control issues. However, now that you have raised the issue, we will say this:

    There are many rights specified in the American Constitution which our citizens have and to which they are entitled, and some people "exercise" or use those rights and others choose not to do so.

    In our view, where one stands on the gun control issue essentially boils down to how much of a threat one feels that others are to him or her, that "others" includes the government.

    There are many citizens who go through their lives and the typical day unconcerned about potential life-threatening forces attacking them, and there are others who do. We understand how reasonable people could differ and be found at myriad locations on the "I Want / Need a Gun" continuum or spectrum.

    There are many citizens who could walk the dark alleys of the most dangerous parts of New York or Chicago, and feel no fear, and there are others who would be simply horrified. Arguably the law recognizes the needs of both. If there is a "mistake" or "an abuse" identified in connection with the use of a gun, then our legal system anticipates that also, and has a mechanism to deal with it, albeit imperfect.

    The other question which you have not raised is, "How did American society become so violent," that is if it is truly more violent than others. We will have to do some research to make that determination. One could argue that if it is, that justifies the carrying of a gun by a regular citizen, and that they have a right to do so. Some other will argue that it only exacerbates the violence.

  13. He made a few of them. Having a gun on him was not one of them, however. He was not going out on patrol as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, just to pick up some groceries, and he possesses a concealed carry permit so having the firearm was fine. First error, taking an active part in determining what Martin was doing. Second mistake was following Martin. It's one of those cumulative things. One mistake in judgement leads to another. I can lay out what I believe is most likely what happened that night. Martin goes to the 7-11 or small store to grab a snack (the ice tea and Skittles), it grows darker while he is out, it starts raining. Visibility diminishes. He has been staying in the complex only a few days and is unfamiliar with it. He gets a little lost so he approaches buildings and peers at them maybe looking for an address or building number or designation to get oriented. To an observer, knowing there has been a few recent burglaries, this can appear to be "suspicious behavior." So, calling the non-emergency police number is reasonable. Getting out and following Martin is understandable but shouldn't have been done. He could have waited at his vehicle for an officer to arrive (I can offer a reasonable explanation for why he did it, though). The operator on the line asks him if he is following the "suspect" and he confirms it. The operator suggests (not "orders" as some think) that he not follow Martin and he replies "OK" and, according to his later statement, starts to return to his vehicle. As he is returning to that vehicle, he crosses paths with Martin and a confrontation escalates. Depending upon who initiates the confrontation and how violent it becomes, I would vote for involuntary or voluntary manslaughter at worst. A series of events, all with reasonable reactions and actions by each party ends in tragedy, a teenager is dead and a man is facing criminal charges and infamy.

  14. Upon reading your comment Douglas, we are reminded of 2 things:

    First, the Logistician often used to tell of cases he handled involving the deaths of hospital patients. There were typically at least 6 or more defendants involved initially, and as discovery progressed and more information was uncovered, the list typically grew. What amazed him most was how so many different things went wrong at roughly the same time.

    Second, in his liability investigation experience, he noted that when there are large number of people who all witness a major catastrophe, accident, or disaster at the same time, it always amazed him how many different stories investigators acquired from percipient witnesses with personal, first hand knowledge of the incident, despite having no dog in the fight.

    We doubt that we will ever figure out what really happened that night.

    One final thought, in the military, in self-defense classes, the person operating at a disadvantage, such as someone without a gun when the other has one, should always walk away, unless the disadvantaged person's back is up against the wall, and he or she had no option but to move forward toward the person having the advantage.

  15. It is almost always a series of unfortunate events that lead to tragedies, they do not (in my opinion) "just happen." In the few accidents I have been in, even the ones where I was not at fault (that would be all but one), I made choices that helped lead to the accident. California (and perhaps others) allows juries to assess percentages of liability. Something I think is a good thing... if not abused. I am also aware of how unreliable eyewitnesses can be and I say that having been a witness to a few events (robberies and car accidents).

    I agree with you. However, Florida has a much misunderstood "stand your ground" law which says the person does not have to flee. It does not protect a shooter should he ignore an opportunity to walk away, just that he does not have to make every effort to get out of the situation before resorting to use of a firearm.
    On your last point, I cannot find any evidence that suggests Zimmerman had any way of knowing Martin was unarmed. That, I think, is important to keep in mind.

  16. I described it as "much misunderstood" because it is. The text can be found here: http://www.husseinandwebber.com/florida-stand-your-ground-statute.html

    I think it is useful to see the actual text. It is not the "license to kill" some have portrayed it as. However, yes, the courts seem to vary in their interpretation of it. Google "Florida stand your ground law" and see what you get. :)
    the law seems quite straightforward but, as you say, is obviously subject to widely varying interpretation. Especially by the authorities (prosecutors). Zimmerman should not, in my layman's opinion, cite the law in his defense unless the Florida law on self defense is considerably more muddled or superseded (I dislike that spelling)by the "stand your ground" law.

    I agree with you about the rest.

  17. "He made a few of them (mistakes). Having a gun on him was not one of them,"

    This comment is a beacon to the world. It answers the question as to whether the US is rightly described as a 'violent nation'

    It is not wrong to supplement your fists and feet with a deadly weapon to settle an argument you have probably started? To take a life in so doing? Is it not sick to interpret 'standing your ground' as blasting others who you think might win a fair fight. 'Ah!' you whine, 'they might have a gun - how am i to know?' How indeed!

    I never thought I would come to admire the cowboy 'baddie' - at least he wore black and displayed his weapons in holsters. Your law licenses concealed weapons! You are NOT a sick society?

    Thank you for lengthy and thoughtful responses IC.

  18. Sadly, the deaths of both young men on the cusp
    of manhood grew out of Florida's codification of the Spanish common law that
    allowed any white man to shoot or kill a black male for any or no reason at
    all. The difference between Spanish colonial times and modern racial
    history is that nowadays police assist murderers by disposing of the body.
    With the murders of these young men in the media spotlight, an ugly wound
    in America's psyche is exposed to the light.

    Both murders show the degree of hatred and
    distrust of black males of any age. Zimmerman stalked his victim the way
    a serial killer selects his next victim. It is hard to fathom why someone
    walking away from another person is dangerous. I think Zimmerman
    committed cold blooded murder, as in 1st degree, and should be convicted as
    charged. Davis' murder is another example of how fear drives such
    incidents. Martin and Davis were the victims of fear and racism.

    Even though I am in my 60s, as a Black man
    living in the suburban portion of a major Midwestern city, I get followed in the
    mall, and was followed by a police officer for a couple of weeks after I moved
    to this community. Either a neighbor or the cop was afraid of me. It
    happens to boys and men of color as a matter of course. Nowadays the only thing
    worse than being someone like me is being pegged as a Latino or Muslim!
    C'est la vie.

  19. Thanks much for the compliment, CorfuBob. First we try to appreciate the perspectives of all participants, even those with whom we disagree. However, perhaps more importantly in this instance, this is a very complex issue from the American perspective.

    Just as those in Great Britain have a very unique perspective about security, having lived through relatively recent attacks on their home soil by foreign forces, U.S. citizens have a rather unique attitude regarding the role of guns in society, significantly stemming from the colonial days when England governed its North American colonies, and more recently, the American Civil War, which some contend is still being waged.

    Another factor which we suspect may contribute to our attitude regarding guns? The U.S. is probably the most extreme example of social and economic Darwinism at work. In theory, we have large hordes of people (crabs) fighting one another to get to the top (of the barrel), with some being successful, others less so, and some not at all. Some combatants will play fairly, and others will not.

    The bottom line is that there will be many casualties under our system. Although there are numerous opportunities to become rich, successful, and happy, not everyone will be able to do so. If out of nothing other than frustration, some will resort to weapons ("the great equalizers") to put them on an equal footing with those who they perceive to be their more fortunate or undeserving fellow combatants, whether rightly or wrongly, or with whom they have a beef.

    Additionally, the higher the percentage of people you have in your society who value material acquisitions over human issues, the more likely you are to have gun issues. Consider this: Go to any street crossing or park in a neighborhood, where kids are walking to school. Look around at the kids. You will not see a crossing guard, or policeman standing nearby with a huge .44 Magnum on his belt. However, proceed to the jewelry district in the New York or Los Angeles, and you will see many a guard watching you intently with their hands on their .44.

    Also consider the fact that the U,S. has a larger segment of its population incarcerated than any other western, industrialized power. Apart from their punitive function, and the desire to remove folks about whom we are concerned away from the peaceful masses, prisons arguably serve as incubators for more violent criminals, and thus when they are released, we have even more complex problems.

    In the U.S., this is very complex stuff. Unfortunately, the issue of personal and property security will not get any better, and more and more people will be fighting for a piece of the piece, thus prompting the increase in the number of weapons in civil society.

    There is another thing, CorfuBob. The mother of a friend of the Institute recently died at the age of 94. Some 10 or so years ago, our friend mentioned that his Mother was afraid to leave the house, as a result of seeing all of the violence reported on local news stations. Consider the change in her sense of security (or insecurity) from the Depression (even with all of its competitive economic pressures), to the 1950s, and today, simply due to changes in news coverage and access to the news, due to technological changes, and not necessarily because crime has gotten any worse. In the eyes of many, it is not unreasonable to go out and get a gun if you feel that the evil, impending criminal forces are about to descend on your neighborhood.

    Ah, there really is no solution to this issue, is there?

  20. 'Spector,

    First, permit me to correct a couple of inferences regarding Zimmerman: he is not "white" as NotFarFrom Lake Michigan and Bob Loosemore seem to contend, but rather of mixed ethnic descent.

    Here are some quotes from the following link:


    "His father called him a "Spanish speaking minority" with many black relatives and friends."

    "On voter registration forms, George Zimmerman identified himself as Hispanic, as did his mother."

    A minor point, to be sure, but it would seem to be relevant with in the respondents' chosen context.

    So: one young man is dead, and another's life is ruined (by his own hand) no matter the verdict rendered. I'm not sure what else there is to say; end of the story seems to have only two obvious outcomes.

    If Zimmerman goes to prison --- which he almost certainly will since the '92 LA riots still burn fresh in the minds of anyone over 30 --- he will probably be killed there due to racial anger . . . which is far more visible behind bars than out here in the "civilized" world. And so a "guilty" verdict will be tantamount to a death sentence.

    If by some remote chance he is set free (and may God save the innocent people Florida from the backlash if he is), he must spend the rest of his life with the knowledge that he murdered an unarmed young man as he lives as a fugitive from those on the outside who would murder him in retribution. And so a "not guilty" verdict will be tantamount to a prison sentence . . . at best.

    My advice to my fellow Americans: keep you guns cleaned and loaded, but be be damned sure that you are personally threatened before you use them. The Second Amendment exists for your peace of mind . . . but no peace of mind exists for the trigger-happy.

    The Independent Cuss

  21. Now we're talking Independent Cuss. Welcome back. This exchange reminds us of the wide range of comments we used to have several years ago, when our followers hit on not just 2 or 3 points related to an issue, but more than 27.

    We agree with your assessment that Zimmerman will live a complicated life going forward regardless of the jury's verdict.

    You have raised a point which we consider to be quite relevant to the "gun control" debate, that being the issue of "trigger happiness," at least on the part of ordinary citizens not accustomed to toting weapons on a day to day basis.

    In professions where people are required to carry weapons regularly, we suspect that not only do they have to qualify and exhibit some proficiency in the use of the weapon, but they must also periodically refresh their skills. Assuming that society sanctions the use of weapons by all adults, excepting certain limited groups, and more and more adults find it necessary or comforting to carry them, our concern has to do with the widely varying levels of expertise found in the general population.

    Second, in the military, and in some law enforcement agencies, personnel are trained with computer simulation programs, which sharpen their senses to be able to detect friend from foe, victim from perpetrator, etc. The same folks who theoretically might support the free, relatively unbridled trafficking in weapons, would probably also resist any restrictions or governmental regulations governing user proficiency.

    While one might not worry about a homeowner with little weapons experience reaching in his or her safe or cabinet to retrieve a weapon which they have not handled since the date of purchase, once they confront the object of their concern, it would be preferable for the gun carrier to be highly skilled, and have very quick reflexes in order to make the appropriate mental (identification) adjustments necessary before pulling the trigger. In other words, reducing the prospect of being labelled "trigger happy" once the event is over.

    There's something else to consider. If someone has been repeatedly trained under various pressure scenarios, we would feel more comfortable with someone pulling a gun on a perfect stranger when there is some question as to the nature, extent, and immediacy of the potential threat.

    Note that we have not raised the issue of the mindset of the gun user. We doubt that society will ever be able to figure out why someone shot another in such a situation as we find here. It theoretically could have been a mistake, inadvertent pulling of the trigger, purposefully done, emotionally done, and all sorts of other subjective factors.

    Quite frankly, we suspect that this type of complicated, problematic, chance shooting of an unarmed individual will continue in America as long as America continues to exist as a state. It's arguably in our DNA, and that's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. The evaluation has to be made on a case by case basis, and that's what our justice system is supposed to do.

  22. The predictably clear analysis of Independent Cuss who sleeps with a gun under his pillow rather than ensure nobody can enter the house without making a lot of noise, points, also predictably, to the social sickness that is the 'norm' in America. The cowboy culture is alive, if not well.

    Religion earlier made a good job of brutalising its children - now the arms industry and gun lobbies keep their markets in good shape, the 'government' in pay, and Islam in no fear of losing the high moral ground. (Well, that's their opinion)

  23. "While one might not worry.......'

    Who might 'not worry' IC, about an untrained, and possibly unbalanced home-owner doing something tragic with a deadly weapon?

    Weapon ownership MUST increase as more and more people fear the explosive results of a mild dispute, or of resisting a crime against them.

  24. In our view Corfubob, all of this might be lumped under the umbrella of "perceived threats," whether real or imagined, and everyone views threats differently.

    One other thing: The United States will never change. This tension will always exist, unless the nation is divided into different parts and their is more homogeneity within the parts. Our fear of ourselves and those around us, including the government, will only continue to grow. The logical progression of this tension is simply more and more guns in the hands of more and more people. There is no end in sight in a country with our history, and our governance model.

  25. Threats are one thing, violence is another.

    I am sure the US will continue to change - 'history', IC, is over-rated in its effect on the future, but cheap oil is NOT going to be replaced. Neighbourhood Watch, with armed thief-seekers like poor George is a growth industry, and not just in cities.

    I hope you agree...

  26. Douglas:

    In thinking about this further, we are in agreement with you regarding the charge of manslaughter being a more appropriate charge; however, from a political perspective (if it really matters), the prosecutor, if he is elected, had no choice but to overcharge, and then hope that the jury might choose a "lesser included offense." It is our suspicion that if the prosecutor had offered a manslaughter or negligent homicide plea (and it was accepted), a substantial segment of the community would have flipped.

    This was the safer tactic on the part of the prosecutor. Arguably, the defense counsel will not allow such an "all or nothing" situation to go to the jury, but if it is available in Florida, ask the judge for an instruction on "lesser included offenses." It the jury comes back with a conviction on one of them, it is a partial win-win for both the defense and the prosecution.

  27. You misunderstand... a lot. About this country, about our laws, about our Constitution... And about this case. Drop your emotions at the door and put on the "cloak of objectivity" then study the case. A lot of people think, because Zimmerman was armed that night and was a captain of the Neighborhood Watch, that he was on watch that night. He wasn't. The Neighborhood Watch thing is a "red herring." He was merely going to the store to purchase some groceries.When he saw Martin, he was a private citizen with no more constraints than any other citizen. And legally carrying his sidearm under the laws of Florida.

    We do not know who started the fight, who initiated the confrontation. That is one of the questions the jury will have to wrestle with. There are no witnesses to the beginning of the "tussle" (as one witness termed it) though there are some witnesses who claimed to have seen part of it. No witness to the actual shooting has testified as yet and I do not expect one.

    if you have information that contradicts anything I wrote, please present it.

  28. I see your point, Inspector. However, I will offer another perspective. One does not have to face voters to feel this pressure of which you write. The prosecutor, if not elected, will have a boss who is. He will also face public pressure himself... this has happened in this case. There is much to this prosecution that reminds me of stories of the Old West and lynch mobs. Even if the mob is unsuccessful in illegally hanging the suspect, it will taint any chance of a objective (and, therefore, fair) trial in that town. Thus, the concept of "change of venue" becomes important. Zimmerman was not initially charged with any crime... but the "mob" (civil rights leaders and the media) demanded "justice." And that demand pushed the State Attorney (and, my wife says, the Attorney General of the U.S.) to pressure the county to bring charges. And now we have a trial. Today, I hear that some "talking heads" in the media are upset because the trial does not seem to be going the "mob's" way.

  29. Douglas:

    Unfortunately, no justice system is truly blind about anything. Race, money, sex, class, religion, physical appearance, demeanor, proficiency with language, reputation, habits, and the color and thickness of one's eyebrows, are all factors in the equation. As we noted in our earlier comments about the O.J. trial, citizens are entitled to form their own opinions on "bits and pieces" of evidence as they receive them; however, we should let the system work, and if necessary, address deficiencies in its operation.

    Virtually everyone has an opinion in this case; yet very few people have all of the facts and evidence at their disposal. We sure wouldn't want to be judge like that.

    And we're sure that Paula Deen feels that way right now. In a period approximating 8-10 days, the woman has been defiled, tried, and convicted by the public and a different type of "mob" mentality. It's unfortunate; one would have hoped that we would have evolved further by this point in time.

  30. "Virtually everyone has an opinion in this case; yet very few people have all of the facts and evidence at their disposal. We sure wouldn't want to be judged like that."

    Which is why I equated it to the Old West lynch mobs. I agree with that no system (much less a justice system) is perfect. Things created by human beings are inherently imperfect. And I agree that people are entitled to form opinions however they wish. They would do so anyway whether they were acknowledged to have that right or not.
    One can hope we would have evolved further than this but one would be an optimist to think that hope is viable. Then again, I am a dyed-in-the-wool cynic.

  31. misunderstanding is less that you think, but this issue can be commented on at a level that does not require (nor could factor in) an encyclopaedic knowledge of US history and law. To you, it seems, it matters that George was not 'on watch' on that night. To me it only matters that it was not enough (for him) to be seen watching a stranger in his neighborhood, but had to follow, confront, and get into a deadly fight. AGAINST police advice.

    George wanted to be a policeman - then he could shoot people (of the correct colour) without going to court.

  32. CorfuBob:

    Interesting perspective from one of our followers outside of the United States.

    Just out of curiosity, we have two questions:
    1) Many of our followers live outside of the U.S., but have lived / worked here at some point during their lives. Have you?

    2) We'd be curious as to your take on this Paula Deen utterance of the "N-word" controversy here.

    Thanks as always.

  33. Thanks for the questions IC.

    1. No

    2. None. Of course it's very good that an extremely ugly aspect of America's past (and present) has been voted against by convention. People carry guns now so they don't have to take the extreme risk of using bad language in public. Bravo America!


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