On Spiraling into Chaos

The trial of George Zimmerman is now over, and there are perhaps a few things we can learn from the whole sorry mess. Perhaps.

In the aftermath of this trial, we clearly have a highly polarized society. On the one hand, we have those who believe that a young and unarmed black man was targeted and killed simply because of his race, and who believe the “not guilty” verdict is therefore a travesty. On the other hand, we have those who believe that he was a young black man up to no good, and that he was the aggressor in his fatal encounter with Zimmerman. They were relieved at the verdict.

The reason we even have trials is so that we have a ordered substitute for what such polarized societies would do in the absence of trials. What they would do is fight, riot and kill. In advanced cases of this pathology, they go to war over such things. The function of trials is to dampen the ardor of factions, crowds, and lynch mobs, not to inflame them. The irony is that Trayvon is now being compared to genuine lynch mob victims, and the comparison is being made by crowds outside the courthouse, away from the evidence presented in a rule-guided setting, but nevertheless demanding the conviction of an individual for political reasons.

That is what a lynch mob is — a large group of people who have not thoughtfully weighed the evidence in a dispassionate setting, but who are consumed with the righteousness of their cause, and who demand a conviction that will consequently satisfy them. Lynch mobs get away with what they do because they are popular. It takes courage to stand up to a lynch mentality, and it takes courage because the current of opinion runs heavily against the accused. When whites were doing this to blacks a few generations ago, it took courage for a white man to stand up to them. Why did it take courage? The same reason it would take courage now. The color of the jerseys can change, but people are always people, and the game is the same one. I draw your attention to a Far Side cartoon that might help us understand this.

Wait Wait Sheep

Whenever someone is tried and acquitted, as Zimmerman has been, it is beyond offensive to continue to orchestrate political pressure in order to keep trying him until we find a venue that will give us the “right answer.” Our double jeopardy protections are there for a good reason, and the right of a convicted man to appeal, while restricting the right of a defeated prosecutor to do so, is grounded in biblical law. It is of the highest order of importance that political passions be kept out of the courtroom.

From the beginning, this sad and unhappy episode was force-fit into a preexisting narrative, and the longer those efforts went, the more lame they became. But because people on both sides don’t always think carefully, some sympathetic to Zimmerman don’t realize that there is a grounded reason for the pent-up frustration. It doesn’t come from nowhere. The fact that this particular incident did not fit the preexisting narrative does not mean that such a narrative is itself mythical. I am confident that many of my black brothers can tell me of numerous times when they were pulled over for “driving while black.” How to handle that kind of thing is the conversation that Al Mohler has never had to have with his son.

For myself, I believe the Zimmerman was kind of hyper, and showed very poor judgment in going out of the house to check on Martin with a loaded gun. But being hyper is not first degree murder, and showing poor judgment is not racism. I am grateful he was acquitted, not because I want him to be the guy to organize and run the Neighborhood Watch where I live, but because I care deeply for the rule of law. Trials matter, and juries should be honored — particularly this jury. I am also grateful that Martin’s parents called for the protests to be peaceful, and I am grateful for that for the same reasons — respect for the rule of law, and a desire to avoid the kind of behavior that will cause us all to spiral into chaos.

Polarized societies want to push toward a simple binary world, where the variables are open and shut, black and white, this or that, our team or their team. But the real world is far more complicated than that. Some have argued that Trayvon would not have aroused Zimmerman’s suspicions in the first place if he had been white. That is quite possible. But I would also argue that he would not have aroused Zimmerman’s suspicions if he had been black, and was walking through that neighborhood in a jacket and tie. And it is equally true that a young white male is fully capable of decking himself out in a way that would arouse the suspicions of every sane person. Skin color is not the only thing going on. You have factors of age, sex, the music pumped out of his car as he pulled up, dress, gang tattoos, behavior . . . and yes, race.

Because of the nature of the question, I am not going to ask for a show of hands here, but I am going to ask you to be brutally honest with yourself. You don’t have to tell anybody how you answered this thought experiment. You are the owner of a jewelry shop in a city, the kind of shop that has bars on the windows, and a buzzer lock to let people in on a case-by-case basis. It is five minutes until closing and a solitary individual shows up at the door. Do you buzz them in? You might say, it depends. Great. On what? Be honest, and whatever your answer is, be sure that you stop condemning others for doing in public what you would do in private.

One of the most insightful tweets I read on this was to the effect that we had a situation where a Hispanic killed a black man, and was acquitted by a jury of all women, and the whole thing is somehow the fault of white men. That is what a cultural breakdown looks like, and that is a threat to all of us.

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54 comments on “On Spiraling into Chaos

  1. Sorry but I cannot really read the cartoon on the cup. Not sure if that helps or hurts your point.

  2. What the cup says in this Far Side comic is “Wait! Wait! Listen to me! … We don’t HAVE to be just sheep!”

  3. A legible version of the cartoon, for those of us with aging eyes: http://trewblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/cartoon_more_than_sheep_c.jpg

  4. “Wait! Wait! Listen to me! …
    We don’t’ HAVE to be just sheep!”

  5. good points. minor edit: paragraph 2

    reason we even have trials is so that we have a ordered substitute

    reason we even have trials is so that we have an ordered substitute

  6. Wouldn’t the more applicable question be: if you see this solitary person walking by your jewelry store, do you load your gun and proceed to follow him?

  7. Love this piece. But I’d diverge slightly on the following: . . . (and to be fair, I think this may merely be quibbling over wording (but for the sake of clarity), because far as I can tell, the following is consistent with the overall piece) . . .

    Pastor Doug said . . .

    “But because people on both sides don’t always think
    carefully, some sympathetic to Zimmerman don’t realize that
    there is a grounded reason for the pent-up frustration”

    There certainly is an historical reason for *some* pent-up frustration – i.e. Jim Crow society and it’s accoutrements (and whatever similar stuff we encounter with lesser frequency today). Which is not the same as saying that any and all racially-charged frustration is necessarily grounded in that same frustration. I didn’t miss Wilson’s observation that the Zimmerman affair in particular doesn’t fit the preexisting narrative. But like he points out, this is more than just a case of mistake of facts – it’s a lynch mob. It’s not as if the current narrative is the product of legitimate pent-up frustration that has simply rushed to judgment in a particular instance.

    Rather, it’s the product of a industry of false racial grievance that operates on the fuel of a universal, a priori, un-rebuttable presumption of racism for everything. As such, it is really a wholly different beast than the legimate “pent-up” frustration that emantes from the Jim Crow of yesteryear or more recent incidents of that nature. Consequently, I would say that the pent-up frustration in *this* case, does not rest on any grounded reason whatsoever, but simply anger, hate, pure sinful tribalism that has been stoked by invoking the *legitimate* grievances that have occurred.

    Obviously, the two types of frustrations are related historically, and surely the illegitimate type may be, in an “historical” sense, the twisted offspring of the legimtate kind. But I would hasten distinguish the two so that no one lends the credibility of the legitimate variety to the snake oil salesmen that are selling the illegitimate kind.

  8. [...] Dude… I don’t think you’re helping anything. On the plus side, all the white people commenting on the post think it’s great! [...]

  9. Uh, I don’t know what happened to my formatting above. It was a cut and paste. My apologies.

  10. Pastor Wilson,

    In as fraternal fashion as I can and sincerely want to, I think that an examination of the facts of the case lead to a different conclusion than that GZ went “out of the house to check on Martin with a loaded gun”.

    I think that what the facts showed is that GZ was returning from an errand when he first saw TM, who he described as suspicious, not based upon his appearance but upon his behavior (not keeping to the sidewalks, walking up close to the residences, appearing to be looking into the residences). Knowing that you know my background, any diligent law enforcement officer seeing anyone behaving in the fashion as described, and in a neighborhood that had regularly experienced burglaries and home invasions, would have initiated contact with said person. GZ, based upon the evidence, did not initiate contact; instead he called the non-emergency police line. The Sanford PD Neighborhood Watch coordinator testified that TM’s behavior was exactly the type of what they would want to be reported by Neighborhood Watch.

    One other issue: the fact that GZ was armed (as millions are on a daily and regular basis) does not (to me at least) suggest anything nefarious, negligent or careless. Based upon the evidence, GZ was not involved in anything unusual; he was performing what is SOP instruction to Neighborhood Watch groups, to be the “eyes and ears for law enforcement”, when he was attacked.

    If for the sake of theory, advance no firearm use, and GZ left bleeding and alive, with all of the same evidence in play. Based upon that same evidence there would be probable cause to arrest TM for aggravated battery (a felony, and one whereby lethal force for self defense is warranted).

    I think that I understand your underlying premise, and I “get it”. I do not think that was in play here regardless of all of the attempts by “Race Inc.”.

  11. Pastor,

    One more brief comment, regarding Al Mohler’s rendition of “A smiling 17-year-old boy”.

    There is a lot of information that shows that to be an incorrect description of TM, even in TM’s self-description. I will refrain from posting any of it because it tends to be inflammatory, but nonetheless it does project something very different than “A smiling 17-year-old boy”.

    Now I was once 17, and extremely stupid and so I get that some at 17 have less going on than a bag of hammers. God was and continues to be very merciful to me. Nonetheless, if I walk into a bank acting like a bank robber, (what I mean by the analogy is if I act in a manner intended to convey and communicate a specific perspective) then those law abiding citizens in the bank should not be faulted for think that I am a bank robber.

    I was taught by my father at a very young age that you do not give the cops any lip at all, that it was yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir, and that if it was not, when they finished with me he would complete the remaining lesson.

    I am thankful for my father’s counsel.

  12. “On the other hand, we have those who believe that he was a young black man up to no good, and that he was the aggressor in his fatal encounter with Zimmerman. ”

    Can I be Tevye and have a third hand?

    I think a lot of people (yours truly included) believe that Zimmerman had a plausible story, the prosecution failed to prove otherwise, and therefore justice required that he be acquitted (cf. the Bible’s requirement of establishing a matter on the basis of testimony.) I don’t “believe” that Martin was the aggressor, because I have no information on which to form an actual belief either way, but the prosecution failed to prove the contention that he was not, or discredit the circumstantial evidence suggesting that he was.

  13. “Wouldn’t the more applicable question be: if you see this solitary person walking by your jewelry store, do you load your gun and proceed to follow him? ”

    Actually, even more applicable: If you see this solitary person walking by your jewelry store, and you have agreed with your neighbors to check on and report suspicious activity, and you already have your gun on you, would you follow him?”

    People who carry guns don’t just pick them up in certain circumstances, they generally “carry” in any situation where they are not banned. That he might unnecessarily have tagged Martin is suspicious is probably the only questionable aspect of his behavior. Once the suspicion was aroused (and false suspicion is uncharitable and therefore sinful, but not criminal) nothing that we can be sure that he did, is really that questionable in light of it.

  14. False accusations are sinful, but false suspicion is not necessarily sinful. It can be sinful in certain circumstances, such as when it’s a product of some sort of unbiblical animus – and in lieu of facts justifying suspicion. But having reason to consider mal-intent, and being mistaken about it – is no sin at all in and of itself.

  15. Matt, I agree — a false suspicion if it is based on an uncharitable animus is sinful, but a false suspicion based on a misapprehension of the situation or lack of information could be an innocent mistake. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify. What I meant was that, at most, a false suspicion could be sinful, but is neither criminal nor forms evidence of criminal intent.

  16. Interestingly, Ann Althouse had a theory while the trial was ongoing, and which is coming back up with the recent interview of the ‘girlfriend’ (who wasn’t really) Rachel Jeantel. Read it here:

    http://www.althouse.blogspot.com/2013/07/i-told-you-this-3-weeks-ago-but-drudge.html

    If she’s right (and seems plausible) then this really was a presumed gay-bashing situation. That ought to cause some short-circuiting in certain heads.

  17. Reasonable suspicion is, within the law enforcement profession, a term that has substantial meaning. It is based upon the totality of the circumstances, and is not really objective. It is based upon what a person with similar education, training and experience, with the same information available to him, would think of the event transpiring in front of him.

    For clarification, there is what is known as a “Terry Stop”, referring to Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1 (1968)

    A Terry Stop is a brief detention of a person on reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity. It does not require actual criminal activity to have happened; it can be about what might be about to happen. It is not a “hunch”; it is based upon articulable suspicion based upon education, training and experience, plus the totality of the circumstances and available information.

    GZ had formal training in Administration of Justice, which is the term in many locales for the academic knowledge base for law enforcement. He also had quite a bit of relevant Neighborhood Watch training.

    Now, taking the instant issue, it is night, dark and a hooded person is loitering around houses off of the sidewalk, peering into windows, and the person seeing this had formal law enforcement education, and training, and the experience of recent burglaries and home invasions in his own neighborhood. (In fact, a recent home invasion where he and his wife helped the female victim of one such event after the fact.) He also had confirmation from the local Police Department Neighborhood Watch that this type of behavior is the type to be on the alert for.

    The rational question is: “does this person (with the aforementioned knowledge), with these events unfolding, reasonably think that criminal activity might be afoot?

    I think that the reasonable person says yes.

  18. [...] contrast Piper’s and Mohler’s articles with one posted by Doug Wilson today.  While I would quibble with him on a couple points – the unhistorical, or at least [...]

  19. If George Zimmerman had been named Jorge Zapata, we wouldn’t have heard of this case. Since WW2, Americans have been conditioned to think anything German must be suspected of racism. When we first hear this case, we hear that a White man with a German name has killed a Black teenager. Later we are told that this person is Hispanic. Even later, we see a picture of him. Okay, his skin is Brownish. OVER A YEAR LATER we see pictures of Zimmerman’s injuries. Media played this for ratings. Most of his critics never got passed the German name.

  20. If you think my argument about German Americans is too simplistic, do a mental excercise. Think of something positive about German american. Then think something negative about German Americans. Which were you able to think of, faster.

  21. God help us all.

  22. RFB, correct me if I’m wrong, because I didn’t follow the trial, but George Zimmerman followed a pedestrian slowly with his vehicle, then when the pedestrian hid to evade him, stopped his vehicle and went searching for him. This was in a crime prone area, and at no time did Mr. Zimmerman identify himself as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, nor was his vehicle marked. Cartoonists showed him wearing a clearly marked ‘Neighborhood Watch’ cap and t-shirt; would that it were so, then Mr. Martin would have understood what the nature of his business was and why he was so interested in Mr. Martin, which he never did, at any time prior to his death. Would not a rational person have concluded Mr. Zimmerman was a threat? A mugger perhaps, a psychopath, or a gang member defending his turf? Does Mr. Martin have the right to ‘stand his ground’ in the face of an evident threat to his safety?

  23. Fredericka,

    Respectfully, your recitation is incorrect.

    1. This was GZ’s residential neighborhood; he was enroute home from an errand when he first saw TM. His first notice of TM was behaviorally based: a 6 foot plus male loitering around houses off of the sidewalk, peering into windows, in the dark and rain.

    2. His reflexive response was to call the police. As a general rule, law abiding citizens call for law enforcement assistance when faced with suspicious circumstances. This is exactly what GZ did.

    3. While on the phone with the police he described the person that he saw, and only mentioned the race descriptor upon questioning by the dispatcher.

    4. When TM left GZ’s area of visibility, the dispatcher asked GZ if he could move to a better location so as to continue to observe TM.

    5. GZ insisted upon the response for an officer despite the fact that TM was no longer to be seen. That is not the act of someone wanting to operate as a vigilante.

    6. GZ was returning to his vehicle, (he had walked a short distance to another street to get the exact street name for the dispatcher from the street sign) when he was attacked by surprise by TM.

    7. After being beaten to an extent that would warrant an aggravated battery probable cause arrest, sustaining continued blows to his head on concrete, calling for help, with the only help going back into the house instead of intervening, he used lethal force in self-defense.

    8. GZ had violated no laws in anything he did; TM initiated a criminal act as soon as he touched GZ.

  24. RFB, you place a lot of faith in the testimony of GZ.

  25. I also wanted to make a final comment regarding the idea that citizens should somehow not intervene in law enforcement action or crime prevention. That idea flies in the face of both law and historic law enforcement philosophy. It is not “taking the law into your own hands”. The law already belongs to you. That law enforcement officers exist does not remove the authority or responsibility from citizens to uphold the law.

    Sir Robert Peel is often referred to as the “father” of modern policing. A famous quote from him underscores the principal of citizen involvement: “The police are the public and the public are the police.”

    Regarding law, 33 states have “stand-your-ground type laws. There is one state that not only lets you to stand your ground, it explicitly allows you to pursue your assailant if necessary for your safety. And that state is California, believe it or not.

    In the State of Idaho, ID Code § 19-604 provides for citizens to arrest for criminal acts.

    When private person may arrest. A private person may arrest another:
    1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.
    2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in his presence.
    3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

    If a citizen sees what reasonably looks like criminal activity, is it part of Christian ethics to look the other way or not get involved? Would the good Samaritan, arriving while the crime was still in-progress, have just stood back murmuring “sorry guy, I just do EMS”?

    I would even call upon the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

    Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?
    A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

    Anyway, just some free associating about the entire premise of GZ somehow “not minding his own business”.

  26. Knowing that we already have proven examples of Zimmerman lying to the police (when he falsified his bank account information in order to hide funds for bail processes), it’s rather stunning to see people like RFB still holding such faith in Zimmerman’s tale. When the case went to jury, 3 of the 6 women voted that Zimmerman was guilty of murder, having already seen all the evidence. The other 3 appear to have had stronger personalities or better rhetorical abilities, but to say that he was proven innocent is going to far. They were not able to prove him guilty, because the main person who could have countered Zimmerman’s story is dead.

  27. “6. GZ was returning to his vehicle, (he had walked a short distance to another street to get the exact street name for the dispatcher from the street sign) when he was attacked by surprise by TM.”

    Unless someone is able to provide good reasoning to the contrary, that point especially is almost impossible to believe. It was Zimmerman’s OWN neighborhood, which he’s lived in for years, and there are only 3 streets in the whole subdivision. How could he not know what street he was on, and if he really didn’t know, then how could he not figure it out just by driving to the next intersection? On top of that, when do you have to leave your car to look at a street sign – I’ve never done that in my life – and especially wouldn’t if there was a “suspicious individual” out there in the dark who had just hid from me.

  28. GZ’s neighborhood is a “planned” community with tortuous streets and not many intersections, so it has a dearth of street signs. That coupled with the verified fact that the streets had been recently renamed yielded ignorance regarding the address for the requested police response.

    “The other 3 appear to have had stronger personalities or better rhetorical abilities, but to say that he was proven innocent is going to far.”

    Two points: “appear to have had stronger personalities or better rhetorical abilities” Speculation sir.

    Equally as plausible is that initial thoughts were changed after a thorough and categorical review of the evidence that was requested by and provided to the jury.

    “say that he was proven innocent” That is not the operable term or the concept, and is not the term used in any court of law in my experience. The term and concept are guilty or not guilty; the defendant is “presumed innocent”; he has nothing to prove, the entire burden of proof rests upon the state. When a jury returns a finding of “not guilty”, the presumed innocence that a defendant possesses remains and resides upon him.

    Some other important considerations. The law enforcement officers who investigated, and the prosecutor who reviewed and decided to not charge, both decided that there was “insufficient evidence” to support “probable cause” (PC) to believe GZ guilty of a crime. Those are not unimportant findings; PC is what stands between your liberty, and the ability of the state to arrest you “just because”. We do not receive an accusation against an elder without witnesses/evidence, and the same is true of citizens, regardless of anyone’s emotional considerations.

    All of the evidence supported GZ’s testimony; one specious piece of disinformation crafted by the prosecution is that GZ’s story changed. It did not in any substantial fashion. Professional LEO’s conduct thousands of interviews and by the time that they have a combined 75 years (the officers who interviewed GZ) they have a good “feel” for human nature. Anyone that recites an EXACT word-for-word recitation of the circs of an incident over several days and multiple interviews immediately raises red flags. There WILL always be multiple and sundry variations due to memory “flux” in a normal course of events. If those changes are missing, that is an exception and not the rule. To portray it otherwise is unrealistic and disingenuous.

    And finally, the case agent (lead officer) testified that he believed that GZ’s version of the event was accurate and truthful. A good investigator always asks “cui bono”. What benefit would the LEO gain to lie in this instance? Those who suggest that he did also bear the burden of showing cui bono.

  29. RFB, you can view the map of the neighborhood online. It is not “tortuous” The reason there is a “dearth” of street signs is because it is a small community and there are only 3 streets. By Zimmerman’s own account of where he first encountered Martin and where he killed him, he had just driven through (and turned at) the community’s main intersection, right next to the front entrance. That intersection has street signs posted. He was less than 100 yards past that intersection when he stopped the SUV and got out. Strangely, the direction in which Martin’s body was found was well around a turn, 80 yards away, well off the road, and on the OPPOSITE side of Zimmerman’s SUV compared to the intersection he had just turned at. So if Zimmerman really didn’t know where he was, why wouldn’t he have gone back to the intersection he just went through, instead of walking 80 yards in the opposite direction from where he came? And, of course, why would he get out of his car at all?

  30. “The other 3 appear to have had stronger personalities or better rhetorical abilities, but to say that he was proven innocent is going to far.”

    Why is the possibility that they effectively persuaded with good and true arguments not among one of your “appearances?”

    I agree that Zimmerman’s story should not be given absolute authority, but any scenario that establishes his guilt relies on speculation as to which aspects of his story were untrue, and how, and what happened instead. For example, to say he lied about which direction he was moving, and why, because he claimed not to know what street he was on in his own neighborhood, certainly undermines his credibility (leaving aside RFB’s plausible explanation); it does not tell us why he lied, or what he did, or establish that he fired unprovoked.

    It is one thing to say that he *may* have been guilty despite the dearth of testimony and evidence to establish it; it is quite another to say that he *was* and it is only lack of legal proof that exonerated a guilty man — we have no knowledge of any facts that establish that, even circumstantially.

  31. Ugh, until this paragraph thing gets fixed, we need to remember katecho’s trick of putting……to designate breaks.

  32. George Zimmerman passed a polygraph test the day after Martin died, and his recorded statement was run by a voice stress analysis expert and so his version of the events were deemed to be a truthful account. While neither test was admissible in court, the results do mean we have every reason to believe his account, just like the detectives, Chief of Police, and District Attorney did – hence no charges until politics came into the picture and the Governor ordered a special prosecutor to charge and try him.

    The mainstream media constantly portrayed Martin (using a picture of him at age 12) as an innocent little boy. That so called innocent little boy was a 6′ 4″, 220 pound almost 18 year old gang banger wanna be. He was a tattooed, gold toothed dope smoking drug dealer who was kicked out of school three times that year, had attacked a bus driver, belonged to an underground MMA fight club, was recently found at school with marijuana, burglary tools and stolen jewelry. His trip to the store that night was to purchase 2/3 of the ingredients needed to make a drug called sizzurp (a.k.a purple drank). Rapper lil Wayne talks about using sizzurp. Martin had bragged on Face Book about using sizzurp as well as the quality of the dope he sold. The autopsy showed he had THC in his bloodstream that night. His cell phone had multiple recorded conversations in which he planned future burglaries, as well as discussed getting a handgun on the black market so he could “feel what it’s like to do a white b__ch”. Yup, innocent little boy there. BTW, the judge did not allow any of that to be mentioned in the trial.

    Martin was in the rain, walking back and fourth back behind a row of houses. He had left the store 45 minutes prior to Zimmerman calling 911 to report his suspicious activity, and it was less than a ten minute walk back to his friend’s house. Once he realized he was being followed, Martin didn’t call 911, he didn’t run or walk home, he hid and waited for Zimmerman. When Zimmerman was on the phone with the police dispatcher, he was told not to follow Martin. Zimmerman replied “Ok”, and turned and headed back to his truck. That is when Martin came up behind him, jumped him, knocking him to the ground, sat on him and started punching him (breaking his nose) and then grabbed and beat his head into the pavement. The latter part of this was corroberated by eyewitnesses. Zimmerman’s jacket fell open and Martin caught sight of Zimmermans holstered handgun. Martin stopped hitting Zimmerman and shouted “I’m going to f__cking kill you” as he reached for the gun. Only then did Zimmerman draw his handgun and fire ONE bullet into Martin (which didn’t kill him right away, but stopped his attack), a text book self-defense shooting (i.e. only enough force to stop the attacker).

    Zimmerman was the one who had physical injuries, Martin had none (other than the one bullet wound in the chest fired at close range). If Martin was being stalked by Zimmerman, why did Zimmerman let Martin get close enough to lay a beating on him before he shot? It also makes no sense that Martin was the one shouting for help – he wasn’t assaulted.

  33. [...] 2. ”On Spiraling into Chaos“ – Doug Wilson’s commentary on the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial.  (Blog and Mablog)   3. “Kirsten Powers: How a Liberal Democrat and Former Atheist Came to Know Jesus Christ as her Savior” – Former Liberal Democrat and Atheist Kristen Powers’ Christian testimony.  (The Young Cons) [...]

  34. a.) “When TM left GZ’s area of visibility. . .” i.e., fled;
    b.) “TM was no longer to be seen. . .” i.e., he had retreated;
    c.) “TM initiated a criminal act as soon as he touched GZ.”
    RFB, I don’t see how c.) follows from a.) and b.) Kindly note, all I’m accusing Mr. Zimmerman of is negligence in failing to identify himself, negligence resulting in Mr. Martin’s death. Ignore for the moment Mr. Zimmerman’s stated reasons for acting as he did, from Mr. Martin’s standpoint, it looks like Mr. Zimmerman is stalking him. Why would not a reasonable person identify Mr. Zimmerman as a threat? This is what is at issue for self-defense, not the other party’s actual thoughts and intents, which are unknown. What we all know, that Mr. Zimmerman was a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, Mr. Martin did not know. Going into this, both these individuals have the same right to self-defense, it is after dark in a crime ridden area, and it looks to me like Mr. Zimmerman is behaving a whole lot more suspiciously than is Mr. Martin. If you have a police background as you intimate, didn’t they teach you to bellow ‘Police’ in your encounters with the citizenry? This is to take away the right citizens would otherwise have to defend themselves against you, it helps beside to have the uniform, flashing lights, etc.

  35. Jonathan, some people don’t have androd phomes such as me. Sometimes, even if you do, there is no guarantee he know how to use that app or that the thought to use that app would cross his mind.

  36. Fredericka,

    I have not closely followed the case. But by GZ’s account, he lost track of TM, then headed back to his car, when TM verbally challenged him. GZ keeping an eye in TM wasn’t illegal (or even sinful). TM verbally challenging GZ (“what the f___ is your problem?!” or somesuch) was neither illegal nor sinful.

    But I’d bet that popping GZ in the nose, knocking him to the ground, straddling his chest, bashing his head against the concrete, and then threatening to kill him meet the requirements for justifiable use of deadly force in any jurisdiction in the country.

  37. “all I’m accusing Mr. Zimmerman of is negligence in failing to identify himself”

    So failing to identify himself, something I rarely, if ever do while walking in my own neighborhood, means he deserved to be jumped and beaten?

    ” it looks like Mr. Zimmerman is stalking him.”
    Zimmerman WAS stalking him, because TM was acting suspiciously.

    “both these individuals have the same right to self-defense”
    Attacking someone who is following you is not self-defense.

  38. This will be my last post regarding this, so I wanted to reiterate a few points, as well as general principle.

    Starting with the principle, regardless of emotions to the contrary, GZ has been justified. Think about that word; it is a forensic legal declaration that we should all be familiar with, and thankful for. A formal accusation in the form of a charge was levied, the case was tried, and GZ was found not guilty. He has been forensically justified; his presumption of innocence remains. Anyone arguing against that is arguing against reality.

    Anyone who accuses GZ of lying has an obligation to put forth evidence to prove it. The State of Florida could not.

    Now the former points:

    1. GZ was not doing anything inappropriate or illegal in calling the police regarding a suspicious person, and then driving or walking to keep said person in view. It is good citizenship, and he was being a good neighbor. He also had zero obligation to identify himself. He was walking and trying to watch someone, and called the police to investigate the person. That is above board and conscientious behavior. (Please revisit one of my above posts regarding citizen involvement in law enforcement.) TM’s behavior was suspicious, and GZ was acting the same way I would hope any good citizen would act in trying to keep his neighborhood safe when they see someone acting in a furtive manner. GZ, as any citizen, can get out of his vehicle and walk to watch someone anytime of the day or night. It is not “stalking” as many are wont to say. There are reams of case law demonstrating that no one has ANY expectation of privacy in a public place.

    2. All of the evidence and interviews were analyzed multiple times by very experienced law enforcement officers with multiple layers of review. That review is an industry standard. Any discrepancies are not left unanswered. Also, the LEO’s said that they believed GZ was telling the truth. Why is that ignored?

    3. Now, with numbers 1& 2 above in mind: regarding the street sign, GZ had already walked along a sidewalk (halfway to the adjoining street) to try to keep TM in view. Again, no crime, and not the least bit disturbing. He called the police for this very issue, and the police asked him if he could get into a better location to see TM. Once the dispatcher said (we do not need you to follow him) he said okay and stopped. Still no crime. There would not have been a crime if he said “no, I am going to continue to try to find him”.

    Jonathan,
    As a Christian I am unwilling to accuse GZ of lying and particularly when the investigating officers have repeatedly said that GZ’s testimony is consistent with the evidence. Do you not find a problem calling GZ a liar when the all of the physical evidence supports his narrative, and experienced, trained and educated LEO’s, and the prosecutor all say the same thing? What expertise are you bringing to the table, and what knowledge do you have in excess of what the investigators and a jury possess that would lead you to a diametric conclusion and call GZ a liar? Anyone who accuses GZ of lying has an obligation to put forth evidence to prove it. You are not exempt from that standard, and substantive evidence (not demagoguery) is what is required.

    Fredericka,
    In all of GZ’s actions he never did anything that rose to the level of criminal behavior. I would encourage you to review the points I made above.

    If there had been no firearm, and GZ lived after the aggravated battery, I would have charged TM with a felony based upon the evidence and witness testimony. Please get this straight: as soon as TM touched GZ, that was a crime. There was zero legal justification for TM to do anything.

  39. “Please get this straight: as soon as TM touched GZ, that was a crime.”
    Hi RFB. I see, repeatedly asserting it will make it so. Thank you for explaining that. It seems to me Mr. Zimmerman got away with manslaughter. It’s a shame the jurors who wanted that did not stick to their guns. His negligence led to a man’s death. Mr. Martin, realizing he was being followed, first attempted to flee. Under this state’s ‘Stand your Ground’ law, he does not actually have to do that. When he then jumps Mr. Zimmerman, he is not ‘assaulting’ him, he is not committing a felony, he is defending himself. A rational person would have identified Mr. Zimmerman as a threat. Mr. Zimmerman could easily have explained himself, but chose not to. Either everyone has the right to ‘stand his ground,’ or no one does. Probably it’s a bad law and they should get rid of it; so long as they have it, however, it cannot apply to everyone except black teen-agers.

  40. “Zimmerman WAS stalking him. . .”

    Hi M B, I agree Mr. Zimmerman was stalking Mr. Martin. Depending on the circumstances, –remember, this is a neighborhood with a crime problem, and it’s a dark night — that might frighten the stalking victim.

  41. Hi Frank. Ultimately, Mr. Zimmerman BELIEVED Mr. Martin was a threat to his life. Although Mr. Martin had inflicted no life-threatening injuries, Mr. Zimmerman BELIEVED he would do so in the near future. What did Mr. Martin BELIEVE Mr. Zimmerman intended to do to him? We’ll never know, because dead men tell no tales. He did, however, have rational grounds for expecting trouble.

  42. Fredericka, you write: “Mr. Martin, realizing he was being followed, first attempted to flee. Under this state’s ‘Stand your Ground’ law, he does not actually have to do that. When he then jumps Mr. Zimmerman, he is not ‘assaulting’ him, he is not committing a felony, he is defending himself.” Any thoughts on how TM’s “attempt to flee” ended with him verbally confronting GZ when GZ was heading back to his car? Additionally, “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” (Wikipedia). I fail to see how following a person at a long enough distance to lose sight of him poses an unlawful threat. And I UTTERLY fail to see how you can assume that TM was exercising self defense against a man who merely followed and spoke in reply to him, yet you refuse to allow GZ the right of self defense against a man who struck him, knocked him to the ground, straddled his chest, pounded his head bloody against the pavement, reached for the man’s gun and verbally threatened his life.

  43. Hi Frank. According to Mr. Zimmerman’s own account (I’m basically believing Mr. Zimmerman’s account, out of lack of information to the contrary, though the prosecutor thought his account impossible), Mr. Martin’s first response upon noticing that Mr. Zimmerman was following him was to attempt to get away, an effort which Mr. Zimmerman countered. Would that Mr. Martin had persevered in attempting to flee, he’d still be alive today. As far as verbally confronting him, Mr. Zimmerman disdained to notice this request for Mr. Zimmerman to explain himself, though his threatening and suspicious actions did require explanation. In the stated terms of the controversial Florida law, Mr. Martin was under no legal obligation to flee, unlike in other states; observers seem to apply this to Mr. Zimmerman, without noticing it has to apply to Mr. Martin as well. I wouldn’t deny to Mr. Zimmerman the right to defend himself, but you’re ‘bracketing’ the event and starting from what is not the start point. To give an example, here in Maine, a woman named Katherine Hegarty confronted the police, in her own home, with a gun in her hands. They shot her dead. Were they justified? At that moment, they were defending themselves. However, you have to go back. What were the police doing in her home? Did they have a warrant? No. They claimed others were in ‘imminent danger,’ but when they arrived at the home it was dark, and Mrs. Hegarty was asleep, they had to wake her up to kill her. You cannot arbitrarily start the event when there is no choice but to pull the trigger. What happened before that? Mr. Zimmerman, in his own mind, seems to imagine himself a cop, though he is not; ‘Neighborhood Watch’ volunteers are not junior-grade cops, but just nosy neighbors. But even if he had been a cop, he should have identified himself; he was negligent not to. This would have afforded Mr. Martin a non-dangerous context in which to place his otherwise threatening actions. That’s my two cents.

  44. KJQ – there are obvious reasons that polygraph tests are inadmissible in court. They are junk science (https://antipolygraph.org/lie-behind-the-lie-detector.pdf). Voice stress analysis tests are considered even less reliable, not more. And there were only two shooting-related questions in the test that he passed, both with a ton of wiggle-room for Zimmerman to convince a tester that he “believed” he didn’t confront Martin, or that he “thought” his life was in danger, whether or not those statements were objectively true at the time:

    “Did you confront the guy you shot?” the tester asked. “No,” Zimmerman responded. “Were you in fear for your life, when you shot the guy?” the tester asked. “Yes.”

  45. Also, KJQ, there are a dozen different false statements in that account you just made. Let’s start with the fact that the medical examiner said that Trayvon Martin’s height at time of death was 5’11″ and his weight was 158 pounds. Nowhere NEAR the 6’4″, 220 pound scary man you’re portraying him to be. About 2/3 of the rest of your claims are equally false. I doubt that you’re a liar yourself, but you’ve been listening to liars.

  46. RFB – George Zimmerman already proved himself to be a liar in at least some instances, by falsifying his financial situation for bail purposes. That wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment lie to keep himself out of jail, but a carefully planned series of lies, with code words included, that were intended to hide his finances from the court. So no, I have no problem calling into question aspects of his account that are NOT supported by any evidence other than his own self-preserving claims.

  47. Well, after reading this on National Review Online http://www.nationalreview.com/article/354042/neighborhood-zimmerman-watched-ian-tuttle?splash=

    It seems that George Z. is EXACTLY the kind of Neighborhood Watch Leader you would want. But without all the facts, it is easy to just say he was a hyper guy with a loaded gun.

  48. We shouldn’t keep the pressure on for justice?

    You don’t remember the kids killed in Birmingham, Alabama?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing

    Did we learn anything from Emmett Till?
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/

    Are we really saying this wasn’t important, because the speaker played the race card?
    http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/resources/article/annotated_letter_from_birmingham/

    Justice Roberts thinks we’re in a post-racism society? Oh, then you’re saying it’s not just black kids who are at risk — but all kids who now cannot walk their own neighborhoods? Open season on children?

    No, thank you: The jury was right in the case of John Peter Zenger, but the jury decision was not right in the case of Mr. Zimmerman. In any case, we should always, always, always, work for justice.

    “Case over” doesn’t necessarily mean justice has been delivered. And if justice is not delivered, then we need to change the system that delivered injustice in its place.

    You’re next, you know.

    By the way, you heard about the home invasion case in South Carolina where the Stand Your Ground law was invoked? Yeah, after kicking in the door, the robbers suddenly realized they were in danger — so they shot the guy who lived there. Dead. In front of his 8-year-old son.

    You don’t live anywhere with anything any robber would covet, do you?

    We’re all Trayvon Martin. Still think we should keep quiet?

  49. At least one juror still believes that Zimmerman committed 2nd-degree murder. In the end, the other jurors convinced her that though he may have, there just wasn’t enough evidence to convict.

  50. Here is the link from Fox News with the juror stating that Zimmerman got away with murder:

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/07/26/zimmerman-trial-juror-says-owes-martin-parents-apology/

  51. Great post, Uncle Doug! Level-headed and honest

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