Monday, July 15, 2013

Outrage over the Zimmerman Verdict

I've tried not to wade into the Zimmerman matter, because honestly I think this guy exercised poor judgment.  He's not a shining example of goodness or a great example of a sterling neighborhood watch captain.

Evidence points to Trayvon Martin doing things that might include casing houses and committing burglary.  If suspicion alone could convict a person, Martin would probably be in jail.  However, suspicion can't convict a person, nor do we incarcerate people long term unless we can prove they did something wrong beyond a reasonable doubt.  All we can prove about Martin is that it looks like he'd exercised poor judgment a number of times in his life.

You've probably guessed where I'm going with this.  Zimmerman exercised poor judgment.  Not in having or carrying a gun, that is his right under the 2nd amendment and the laws of Florida.  I think he exercised poor judgment in following a suspicious person in his neighborhood.  As part of our neighborhood watch in my own town, I call the police and make reports.  That's it.  It's not my job to pursue.  I think Zimmerman chose poorly in doing so.

The outcome was really awful for Martin.  Evidence points to him attacking Zimmerman and hitting his head against the pavement at least once (once can kill a person, by the way).  He didn't deserve to be killed even if he was casing houses and was a burglar.  He didn't even deserve to be killed for attacking Zimmerman.  Once Zimmerman felt he was in danger of death or great bodily injury, however, he was justified in using his firearm.

"Justice for Trayvon" doesn't mean Zimmerman goes to jail for life.  Justice for Trayvon means that authorities look at the case.  If there's cause, justice means Zimmerman is charged and tried.  If a jury says there's not enough evidence to convict Zimmerman, justice means Zimmerman is acquitted and walks free, because just as it did with Martin, our justice system errs on the side of caution. 

The police and DA of his county initially felt that Zimmerman's story was consistent with the evidence to the point that they weren't going to charge him.  National outrage that would not have even existed had the media gotten the facts right and reported Zimmerman is Latino*, caused the Federal government and State government to push the matter.  A jury has now decided there isn't enough to convict Zimmerman.  So the police, DA and a jury all decided Zimmerman may be guilty of making poor choices, but he's not guilty of murder.

Justice doesn't mean Al Sharpton (who is notoriously wrong in cases like these--remember Tawana Brawley or the Duke Lacrosse team?) gets his way.  It doesn't mean we do whatever the media demands.  It doesn't mean we bow to the demands of a bunch of twitter thugs. 

Justice has been done. 

*As an aside, people making this about race are completely wrong.   That angle only has life because the media made it about race.

8 comments:

tom said...

Not many people make it to their 20s without exercising at some point or another what might be called "poor judgement". And that's what bothers me here. You treat Martin and Zimmerman as equals. But they did not meet as equals. There is a world of difference between 17 and 28. Martin was a teenager and legally a child, while Zimmerman is an adult and is supposed to act like one, especially when dealing with children. In this incident, he did not and it is unjust that he is not being held responsible. Indeed, that is what bothers me most about the gun-rights movement. Citizens, especially those who want to carry weapons, need to be held to a high standard of behavior. The whole point of the gun-rights movement seems to be to bring standards of behavior as low as possible.

I am not philosophically opposed to a right to carry a weapon, but everyone has to be responsible for their actions. That goes especially for those who consider themselves morally capable of exercising the judgement needed to carry.

Mark said...

There is a world of difference between 17 and 28. Martin was a teenager and legally a child, while Zimmerman is an adult and is supposed to act like one, especially when dealing with children.
Had Martin beaten Zimmerman to death, he could have been charged as an adult. Wearing a hood, it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between a 17-year-old and a young adult. You know this, and it's dishonest to deny that.

In this incident, he did not
Yes he did. He trailed Martin at a distance to keep visual contact so he could identify him if police arrived and verify that he wasn't breaking into houses in the meantime. When he could not follow in his truck, he followed on foot.

it is unjust that he is not being held responsible
He was held responsible. You might have seen something about a trial and acquittal? In our justice system, that's being held responsible. No one doubts that Zimmerman was responsible for killing Martin. Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder. If you can't tell the difference, you don't beling in polite society.

The whole point of the gun-rights movement seems to be to bring standards of behavior as low as possible.
Nonsense. You have no evidence of this, you're just making crap up just like you're making crap up about Zimmerman. Live in the world of facts or don't bother trying to talk with grown-ups.

I don't know how many CCW classes you've attended, but I think I've been to at least one more than you. Do you know what percentage of that class is about how to avoid confrontation and what the legal limits are of using the weapon? Yah, about 99%.

In fact, anyone who knows anything about gun laws knows that the advice from the buffoon Vice President is wildly illegal. We know that brandishing is illegal. We expect that in the very unlikely event that we have to shoot someone to defend ourselves we will be investigated, perhaps prosecuted, and the gun will be confiscated indefinitely.

I am not philosophically opposed to a right to carry a weapon
I think you're a liar on this point. Or at least you would find an objection to every realistic scenario in which someone actually uses a weapon to defend themselves.

Andrew said...

I think the only point I'd like to add is: Citizens...who want to carry weapons need to be held to a high standard of behavior.

That's actually not true. Carrying a firearm, much like voting, is a Constitutional right, and voting stupidly can have much larger consequences than carrying a gun. That being said, CCW holders are held to a higher standard and live up to it. Regarding Florida:

"In 21 years, Florida has had to revoke an average of eight licenses a year for crimes involving a gun--out of more than half a million permit holders at any given time. Says Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, 'If the United States had a crime rate like that, we'd think we were in Switzerland.'"

So, even if you think Zimmerman was irresponsible in the use of his gun, he's not representative of CCW holders as a whole, who are incredibly responsible people if you're looking at the statistics. Generalizing any irresponsibility on Zimmerman's part, real or imagined, to all CCW holders is intellectually dishonest.

tom said...

Well, I guess you're free to think of me whatever you like, but to say I'm a liar just because you have difficulty fathoming alternate points of view says a lot about you. (And why, for goodness' sake, would I waste time lying in the comment section of your blog? I know I'm not changing any minds, at least not in the short run.)

And, of course, you're free to think that gun-owners don't need to be held to a high standard of behavior (even if you think that they actually are). Though, I'll point out - and yeah, it's a gotcha moment - that voting is not a constitutional right.

Right, Mark. It can be hard to tell a 17-year old from an adult. Do you know what many prosecutors think of that argument when it comes to statutory rape? That's totally irrelevant.

Next point: the conclusion of the trial was unjust. Sure, not every trial is going to end the way I want it to. That's cool. I wasn't on the jury. But, as Andrew said, Zimmerman was behaving foolishly and a kid ended up dead because of it. The kid's own foolishness weighs less than the foolishness of an adult. Therefore, it's unjust for him to walk. I wasn't on the jury, but eye-ballying it, murder probably would have been harsh. Manslaughter less so.

Anyway, good for the gun-owners of Florida. The point I made, which you didn't understand, is not how things actually are at this point in time or have been in the past. The point is what the gun-rights movement wants. And what the gun-rights movement wants is clearly easy access to firearms and to make it difficult to arrest and prosecute those who use firearms, even recklessly. That's not about Zimmerman as such. That's about what the gun-rights movement wants.

The first point (easy access) is so obviously the case, evidence isn't needed (I mean, if you insist, I'll go look some up).

The second point is just restating, albeit in more critical language, what SYG is all about. In some states, Zimmerman would certainly have been arrested. In Florida he was not, because Florida has lower standards for such things. That's a result of lobbying by the gun-rights crowd. Maybe that's wise, maybe it's not (in my opinion not) but that's the case.

And finally, ya'll need to lay off the freak-out juice. "Liar", "not in polite society", (and in the past) "dope" etc. I've got a thick skin. I don't care. But you know, for your own benefit.

Andrew said...

You've casually dismissed the discussion points we've made, without any real consideration. Why are we even conversing here?

I had a look and you're right about voting. I'm fine with admitting when I make a mistake and appreciate the correction. You do realize that strengthens my point, don't you? There should be fewer barriers to the exercise of a Constitutional right than there should be for legislatively-granted rights.

As for Zimmerman's mistakes, I do think Zimmerman should have been much less aggressive. Aggression itself isn't a crime. Nevertheless, he wasn't behaving foolishly when he actually shot Martin. When you are on the ground with a young man larger than yourself beating your head against the pavement, you really don't have much choice anymore. You act or you die.

With regard to justice, if you even watched parts of the trial (and I did) then you know the prosecution did a terrible job because they really didn't have a case. That's why the police initially didn't recommend charges against Zimmerman. There was no case for murder or manslaughter. So, basically you're saying that despite the fact all the rules of our system were followed and a jury acquitted him, you know better than the jurors who heard all the evidence. I think that's arrogant in the extreme. I think most people who watched the trial realized the prosecution didn't prove the case beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Do you really want a system that assumes guilt instead of innocence? That metes out justice based on skin color perhaps? That bows to the whims of media even when media got the story wrong or is changeable based on your opinion, or Al Sharpton's or Jesse Jackson's? If justice worked that way, Tawana Brawley's lies would have convicted innocent men, as would Crystal Mangum's. I don't see that as justice.

We're going to have to agree to disagree. I don't see any merit to your arguments, even after due consideration, and I really feel you don't give mine any consideration. In polite society, we actually stop and think about an opposing opinion. I'll invite you to stop reading this blog, because I've never seen that kind of thought to your replies. You seem to see this as a contest instead of a conversation, and I just don't think that's helpful.

tom said...

I don't see it as a contest. I'm fine with people having their opinions. I merely wanted to point out the quickness with which "thou fool" can get thrown around. But hey, there's no point in singing kumbaya. Someone's wrong on the internet.

But I think you're right. For pulling the trigger when he did, Zimmerman can't really be held at fault. Yet insofar as aggression can be tantamount to reckless endangerment it can be a crime. That's really the only point I wanted to make. But yeah, whatever. The trial is done. (Civil suit is next presumably).

I'll stop commenting, since that's what you want. I've generally only commented on topics about which I'm genuinely conflicted and the use of guns in American society is one of those topics. In most of your posts, you're just flat wrong and I don't bother saying anything about it. So, take it as consideration of your opinion, when I do bother to write something.

Mark said...

It can be hard to tell a 17-year old from an adult. Do you know what many prosecutors think of that argument when it comes to statutory rape?
Hi-larious. You're expected to know the age of someone you're in bed with. It's not, however, required to card someone who's beating you to death before you shoot them in self-defense. That's why I found your whole line of "mistreating a child" utterly bizarre. The reference to statutory rape just took the bizarre to the next level.

The kid's own foolishness weighs less than the foolishness of an adult. Therefore, it's unjust for him to walk. I wasn't on the jury, but eye-ballying it, murder probably would have been harsh. Manslaughter less so.
Awesome. So what, precisely, is your reasoning for the conclusion? Note: every single critic of the verdict I've seen has based their conclusions on making crap up. Every. Single. One. And I actually have looked. All of the actual evidence I've seen (and I did pay some attention to the facts) is consistent with Zimmerman's account. I'd love to see any evidence, any single fact which would convince a jury to do other than acquit.

And what the gun-rights movement wants is clearly ... to make it difficult to arrest and prosecute those who use firearms, even recklessly. That's not about Zimmerman as such. That's about what the gun-rights movement wants.
No it's not. But feel free to fully judge the character of tens of millions of people. At least I called just you a liar.

Oh and you're wrong btw. And once again making crap up:
The second point is just restating, albeit in more critical language, what SYG is all about. In some states, Zimmerman would certainly have been arrested. In Florida he was not, because Florida has lower standards for such things.
You do know that SYG was not ever used in this case? It has no relevance in the Zimmerman case, at all, except for the early hyperventilating by the media. Zimmerman was investigated, his wounds examined and documented. He re-enacted the events with the police at the scene. He cooperated fully. The FBI combed over people who interacted with him looking for any sign of racism. The press edited his phone call with 911, making it sound more inflammatory than it is. Finally he had his day in court.

You come along with a poor grasp on the facts and say he wasn't held responsible. With no evidence, none whatsoever, you say he should be punished. Throwing out the justice system for lynch mobs? Yah, that's what I call "not belonging in polite society." That's the antithesis of law and order.


Lastly, "thou fool" wasn't arrived at quickly. You've given ample evidence that you're happy to make crap up, you don't seem to digest the reason of someone who disagrees with you -- which oddly you claim is what I do when I clearly point out the flaws in your logic with facts, reason, etc.

Yet insofar as aggression can be tantamount to reckless endangerment it can be a crime
Good thing there was no evidence, none whatsoever, that Zimmerman showed any "aggression" (unless you consider self-defense to be aggression, and then you're just making up words as well as facts).

Andrew said...

So, in polite society, we just resort to nasty insults without the actual name-calling? At least Mark is succinct when he points out your shortcomings.

No, you don't need to comment anymore on my posts. You can do that on your own blog--anything you post to something I've written will be deleted now that you've been entirely honest about your complete disregard for anything I have to say.

Now while you may not think much of what I have to say, about half the nation feels the same as I do, especially about the Zimmerman verdict. More than half of the nation on this verdict, actually, as one MSNBC poll had 2/3s of viewers agreeing with the outcome. Many of those people are smarter than either of us. I'm sure you can't conceive of anyone being more intelligent or correct than you are, but I assure vast numbers of such individuals are out there. The State did not prove its case. We don't want a justice system that convicts the innocent based on ill-informed but vehement opinion.

Mark can continue to argue with you, but I want real discussions on this blog, not arrogant condescension and Statist talking points.