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Trayvon Martin, Matthew Owens, And The Politicization Of Criminal Justice

Steven Taylor’s timely and well-written post about the case of Matthew Owens, a Mobile, AL resident apparently beaten by a gang outside his home after a confrontation where the facts are not at all entirely clear, reminds me of something I wrote just a little more than a month ago when the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case was still a relatively new story about the tendency of the media, and members of the public, to jump to conclusions about in criminal cases that receive large-scale media attention:

There is a disturbing tendency in high profile criminal cases for the public, egged on by the constant media coverage and the incessant drone of the talking heads, to rush to judgment long before it’s warranted. We saw it happen in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case only to see those charges dismissed when the accuser’s credibility collapsed like a house of cards. We saw it happen in with Richard Jewell, who was hounded, tried, and convicted, by the media of the Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996 only to be completely cleared of all charges. It happened to former Reagan Administration Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan, who was charged on multiple racketeering counts only to be acquitted, at which point he famously asked “Where do I go to get my reputation back?” It happened to the parents of Jon Benet Ramsey, who spent years being accused int he public of their daughters brutal rape and murder even though the evidence linking them to the crime was as flimsy as possible. It’s happened to people who aren’t famous too, of course. Just ask Cory Maye or Cameron Todd Willingham. Of course, Willingham might not answer because Texas executed him for a crime he didn’t commit.

Rather than rushing to judgment in this case, or any other, we ought to be letting the legal system do its work instead of allowing the Al Sharpton’s of the world to exploit a young man’s tragic death for their own nefarious agendas.

It strikes me that these words apply just as much to the horrible beating of Matthew Owens as it does to the death of Trayvon Martin. As the article that Steven linked from a local television station indicates, it’s fairly apparent that the publicly available facts in the Owens case are significantly different from what we know in the Martin/Zimmerman case, and there is at least some suggesting that Owens (who apparently has a criminal record) may have been engaging in provocative action of his own prior to the attack that led to his beating. This isn’t to justify the attack, however, because just as we weren’t present for the encounter between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, none of us that have written about the Owens case were on that street in Mobile on Saturday night. We don’t know what happened, we don’t know who started fighting first, and we don’t know what was said between the parties other than what’s been reported in the media. It does appear to me that criminal charges of some kind are warranted, though, and the Mobile police are currently investigating the matter. How about we let them do their job?

Just as with certain aspects of the Martin/Zimmerman case, though, the fact that we don’t know all the facts hasn’t stopped people from picking up this story and running with it because it appears to fit into the particular political narrative that they happen to be pushing at the time. In the case of the conservative pundits who jumped all over the Matthew Owens story, that narrative happens to be the claim that racism against white Americans is now somehow the most prevalent sociological problem in the country. Mixed into the narrative, of course, is also the old “media bias” canard since it’s also being pointed out that the national media isn’t covering the Owens case the way it has the Zimmerman case. Of course, that argument ignores the fact that the national media didn’t start reporting on the controversy that had erupted in Sanford, FL over the death of Trayvon Martin until nearly a month after the incident had passed without an arrest. The Owens case happened last Saturday. Not exactly the same, is it?

When you’re trying to score political points, though, the facts don’t really matter.

That’s the problem when criminal cases, whether it’s the Martin/Zimmerman case or this case in Mobile, become politicized. The facts don’t really matter anymore, and there’s not really any consideration of letting the criminal justice system do its job. Instead, you find the “hook” that supposedly proves your political point, and you run with it. In the Owens case, the “hook” is the fact that someone involved in the incident Saturday night was supposedly overheard saying “That’s justice for Travyon” after it was over. We don’t know who said it, we don’t know what prompted it, and we sure as heck don’t know if it had anything to do with the confrontation between Owens and the people who attacked him. But that doesn’t matter to the partisans, of course, because those four words just confirm what they want to think about race and crime in America, and it also helps advance the agenda of defending George Zimmerman who, bizarrely, has became a conservative cause celebre despite the fact that he very well be guilty of Second Degree Murder, or at least manslaughter. I am not going to pre-judge Zimmerman’s guilt, but I think it’s absurd to hold him out as some kind of hero, or representative of some kind of political point, when you don’t even know all the facts of the case. The same is true of the Owens case

One final point. We’ve seem many examples of what happens when politics gets involved in the criminal justice system. Usually, the law ends up getting perverted for political reasons and public pressure results in tensions being irresponsibly inflamed. I saw this happen several times in New York City in the 1980s thanks to the machinations of Al Sharpton, which is one of the reasons I will never have an ounce of respect for the man. The only thing that the people pushing the Owens story as proof of some non-existent race war are accomplishing is making themselves look exactly like Al Sharpton did back then. If that’s what they want, then more power to them, but I don’t see what it accomplishes and I don’t see why we should take them seriously.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rather than rushing to judgment in this case, or any other, we ought to be letting the legal system do its work instead of allowing the Al Sharpton’s of the world to exploit a young man’s tragic death for their own nefarious agendas.

    The problem is that what happens when the legal system doesn’t do it’s work? The Martin case was a non-story for a full month and a half, during which the legal system chose to just ignore the case.

    As anyone who follows various criminal justice blogs (The Agitator is a good example), law enforcement and the legal system have amply demonstrated they have zero interest in holding themselves accountable for even the most egregious corruption and screwups. And thanks to various immunity doctrines, it’s effectively impossible for private citizens to get them held accountable in court. So while I agree with you that the media circuses are bad for the rule of law, the fact is the media is the only institution that’s even attempting to hold bad actors in law enforcement and the legal system accountable.

    So what exactly is the alternative? Render them completely unaccountable to anyone and, when a gross miscarriage of justice occurs, just bend over and go “Oh thank you! Please kick my ass again!”?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  2. It’s especially galling that you would dare bring up Cory Maye and Cameron Todd Willingham in a plea to “just let the system work”. Maye and Willingham both “let the system work”, and what did it get them? Maye was in jail for ten years. The only reason he’s not still in jail is because of the media. Willingham was executed. Both are example of precisely why we can’t just sit around and let the system work. In both cases the system completely abandon it’s duty and absolutely no one has been held to account.

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  3. @Stormy Dragon:

    So what exactly is the alternative? Render them completely unaccountable to anyone and, when a gross miscarriage of justice occurs, just bend over and go “Oh thank you! Please kick my ass again!”?

    Of course not. And I certainly don’t think that the protests that took place before Zimmerman was charged, when it appeared that the police and State’s Attorney had essentially dropped the ball, was improper. But he’s charged now, and what I find truly troublesome who are taking the “facts” of the case (just the publicly available ones of course) and trying the case in the media to advance their own political agendas.

    The only thing I know about George Zimmerman is that he is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Until there’s evidence of something nefarious going on, all this public commentary about a case that can and should only be decided by a jury is not a good idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  4. @Stormy Dragon:

    Reread that paragraph. And perhaps the whole post it comes from. I was referring to the media’s obsession with prejudging guilt.

    Perhaps the Maye and Willingham examples are not entirely apropos, but I would remind you that there was only one reporter who actually took up the case of Cory Maye, and one magazine reporter who’s written about the Willingham case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Jeremy R says:

    There’s a rightwing cottage industry of cherry-picking stories of “black-on-white” crime (even though statistically it’s been trending downwards for decades as has crime overall). RW provocateurs (Limbaugh, Drudge, etc) terrify their audiences with a slow intravenous drip-drip-drip of these kinds of stories, making them feel insecure and constantly under siege. My point being, this particular story would have received a lot of RW media play anyway, as it tickles that part of their audience’s brains where their deeply held racial stereotypes reside, the only difference is, lately, all these “black-on-white” anecdotes are shoe-horned into being a talisman against the Trayvon Martin shooting.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 10

  6. @Doug Mataconis:

    Until there’s evidence of something nefarious going on

    You mean like the police doing a half assed investigation of a shooting, followed by a month and a half of the DA sitting on his hand refused to look into it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  7. Stormy,

    Ummm, what part of Zimmerman being indicted for Second Degree Murder did you miss?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  8. @Doug Mataconis:

    I was referring to the media’s obsession with prejudging guilt

    And as I said, I find the media circus is unseemly, but our ire should be directed at the public officials who made it necessary, not to the people who were left with starting it as their only way of getting the case to be taken seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. @Stormy Dragon:

    Yes, tell that to Richard Jewell, the Ramseys, Raymond Donovan and the numerous people hauled into court on flimsy evidence thanks to a media circus.

    No doubt there is much irresponsibility in the criminal justice system, but the media is far from innocent here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  10. @Doug Mataconis:

    Your examples point out what the distinction is. There is a difference between inside actors using the media to deflect blame from their poor performance (as in the Jewell and Ramsey case) and outside actors using the media to draw attention to bad performance (as in the Zimmerman case).

    (And then there’s a third case, Donovan, where a public official managed to get away with corruption that was technically legal and then trying to act like he’s a saint, but that’s neither here nor there in terms of this discussion).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  11. @Stormy Dragon:

    What happened in the Jewell and Ramsey cases — not to mention more than a few of the high profile cases that came up in the 80s regarding child sexual abuse conspiracies at day care centers — was the media trying and convicting someone and ruining their reputation. Not sure why you seem okay with excusing that.

    Also, I make a distinction in the Zimmerman case between those protesting the fact that the case was not properly investigated in the first place and those who continue to try the case in the court of public opinion in an effort to prove the Zimmerman is either “guilty” or “innocent.” The first is appropriate, the second is destructive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. mattb says:

    Doug, you and Steven have both done excellent jobs laying out the broader problem with the politicization of criminal proceedings. And I fully expect that, for your efforts, you will be rewarded with a comment thread that quickly descends into “no, it’s just the other side that politicizes crime… my side is always the victim.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  13. @Doug Mataconis:

    Not sure why you seem okay with excusing that

    I’m not okay with excusing it. I’m just point out that in all those cases, the media firestorms were ignited by prosecuters. The Martin firestorm is also the result, albeit indirectly, of bad actions by prosecuters.

    So my issue is not with the problem you point out (for the third time, I agree the media firestorms are bad for the rule of law), but your assessment of where the blame lies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    So my issue is not with the problem you point out (for the third time, I agree the media firestorms are bad for the rule of law), but your assessment of where the blame lies.

    For what it’s worth, perhaps a better way of thinking about this is is that a “media firestorm” occurs in phases.

    You are right that the Zimmerman/Martin case begin with the bad actions of the prosecutors. And I think Doug has conceded that point.

    However, as we move further and further away from that initial event, there are others parties that take over, transform and perpetuate the dialog. And, as time goes on, these individuals and institutions come to hold a greater amount of responsibility for the perpetuation of these situations.

    And to Doug’s point, in many cases it’s this transformation that ends up negatively effecting both the accused and the victims as well.

    It’s not one or the other. It’s one and the other.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Regarding some of the more hysterical tripe emanating from the right side of the spectrum, that mostly is a function of demographics. On the right there are a lot of crackers. They tend to have the largest microphones. It’s really that simple.

    Were it not for the politicization of true crime stories the mass media’s collective audience would be smaller and its ratings trends even would be worse. These are businesses. Their purpose is to make profits. Whether they’re working for General Electric (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC), or Disney (ABC), or Sumner Redstone (CBS), or Time Warner (CNN, Time), or Tribune Co., or New York Times Co., or Knight Ridder, etc., the mass media must have as many viewers and readers as practicable. The media also overwhelmingly is slanted to the left side of the political spectrum. So you have a toxic combination: a craven desire and need for higher ratings with a left-wing political bent. Hence the sort of high dudgeon mode coverage of the likes of the Zimmerman/Martin shooting.

    Follow the money. Follow the agenda. All roads lead to senationalism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  16. mattb says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Follow the money. Follow the agenda. All roads lead to senationalism.

    True, though this is absolutely nothing new. It’s at least as old as the newspaper profession and probably far older.

    It doesn’t mean we can’t ask for better, but we also should not mistake it for a modern phenomenon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  17. al-Ameda says:

    Now that our “news” cycle is 365/24/7, is it any surprise that thoughtful measured consideration of crime and criminal justice is the exception and not the rule?

    Everything else is politicized, why wouldn’t it be the same for criminal justice?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. PD Shaw says:

    I disagree with the presumption of bad intent or motive on the part of the investigators. This is the CSI problem, the popular view that any crime can be proven if the prosecutors are clever enough and have enough grit.

    The main problems I saw with how the case was handled were caused by the media, i.e. the leaks to the press from investigators that will damage the prosecutor’s ability to get beyond a reasonable doubt. A 24/7 news cycle cannot abide a few months to investigate a complicated and difficult to prove crime? In this case, the media spotlight may have prodded an arrest, but it did not do so without compromising the subject.

    But this is not new, this is called Jacksonian America; when the legal system is delegitimize, mobs have always formed and taken a piece.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  19. @PD Shaw:

    This is the CSI problem, the popular view that any crime can be proven if the prosecutors are clever enough and have enough grit.

    The failure by the police to, for example, test Zimmerman’s BAC level was not due to a lack of grit. This is exactly how cops and prosecutors managed to get away with doing their jobs badly or corruptly. They can always count of the PD Shaws of the world to handwave things on account of their meaning well and people pointing out the problems as having unrealistic expectations.

    i.e. the leaks to the press from investigators that will damage the prosecutor’s ability to get beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Oh yes, it’s the media’s fault that the police and prosecuters where both trying to scapegoat each other. The poor dears just couldn’t help themselves and it’s the media’s fault for preying on their weakness.

    But this is not new, this is called Jacksonian America; when the legal system is delegitimize, mobs have always formed and taken a piece.

    Exactly. Which is why we should stop blaming the media and focus on why law enforcment and the legal system have lost their legitimacy with so many americans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The only thing I know about George Zimmerman is that he is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Until there’s evidence of something nefarious going on, all this public commentary about a case that can and should only be decided by a jury is not a good idea.

    I have to disagree with you about that last point.

    Along with every discussion of the story, there’s an important message — vigilantism is not acceptable. If you take a gun and confront someone who is not at that moment committing a violent crime, a world of hurt will fall upon you.

    Whether you shoot a kid with skittles, or you hold 60 year olds at gunpoint, you’re going to suffer. Hopefully in a court of law, but if not, then by getting on national news and having your life ruined.

    In a country where so many embrace their rights to have a gun, without embracing the responsibility to use it appropriately, driving that point home is a very good idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  21. @Gustopher:

    That is a decision for the judge or jury to make

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. Davebo says:

    Yes, tell that to Richard Jewell, the Ramseys, Raymond Donovan and the numerous people hauled into court on flimsy evidence thanks to a media circus.”

    Richard Jewell, never “hauled into court” nor even charged with a crime.

    John & Patsey Ramsey, never “hauled into court” nor even charged with a crime.

    Raymond Donovan gets you closer so take pride in getting 1 of 3 claims straight, even if Donovan was acquitted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  23. Loviatar says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    That is a decision for the judge or jury to make

    As a libertarian and someone who constantly rants and raves about the government’s uselessness and inability to do anything right, you seem to have a lot of faith in the government in this case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  24. Do you reject the government’s role in prosecuting crime? I’m a libertarian, and I don’t. It’s one of the few proper functions of the state

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  25. @Davebo:

    Do you no memory of what the media did to RIchard Jewell and the Ramsey’s (which is the point I was making about the danger of prejudging criminal cases and trying them in the court of public opinion) or are you willfully forgetting it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Loviatar says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Which is why we should stop blaming the media and focus on why law enforcement and the legal system have lost their legitimacy with so many Americans.

    2 reasons:

    Republicans have spent the last 30+ years telling us that government is the problem. Its become so ingrained in the American right’s lexicon that you’ve now got a sizable portion of 2 generations of Americans raised on viewing their own government as a hindrance/active opponent to their well being. (Doug Mataconis as an example).

    Obligatory quote from the father of the modern Republican party:“The ten most dangerous words in the English language are “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

    ———-

    Minorities who’ve seen the judicial system used as a tool to discriminate and deny them the rights of full citizenship will of course be hesitant to fully trust that judicial system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  27. PD Shaw says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I did not ascribe good or bad intent to anybody. That would be you.

    How do you know when an investigation is complete so you can convene your media circus to pressure law enforcement to wrap it up? You seem to think a month and a half is sufficient, what is your basis?

    And was their probable cause to get a blood test?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  28. Nikki says:

    @PD Shaw: The dead body with the bullet hole and the probable weapon belonging to the owner?

    You can try to re-write history all you want, but the lack of an investigation is what caused the family to go to the media.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  29. @PD Shaw:

    There was more probable cause to be testing Zimmerman than there was to be testing Martin’s corpse, which they did somehow remember to do. It’s almost like they were more interested in justifying Zimmerman’s story than they were in actually trying to figure out what actually happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  30. Christopher says:

    Let’s not overlook the of the deaths of 3500 unborn children a year.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 17

  31. matt says:

    @Christopher: Roughly half of pregnancies end in a miscarriage.. God is the biggest abortion provider around!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  32. @Loviatar:

    The level of cognitive dissonance in that post was amazing. As you yourself note, law enforcement and the legal system have lost credibility because they’ve amply demonstrated they’re not worth of credit:

    Minorities who’ve seen the judicial system used as a tool to discriminate and deny them the rights of full citizenship will of course be hesitant to fully trust that judicial system.

    But you’re more interested in getting in a partisan dig so you also argue that really they deserve to be trusted, it’s just those evil republican tricking people into thinking they’re bad:

    Its become so ingrained in the American right’s lexicon that you’ve now got a sizable portion of 2 generations of Americans raised on viewing their own government as a hindrance/active opponent to their well being.

    As minoritied and the poor have known for a long time, and an increasing number of other folks are quickly figuring out, law enforcement and the legal system are in large parts active opponents to your well being.

    To the extent that partisanship is responsible for this mess, it’s too many people who only care about the problem when they can use it against their opponents and look they other way when it’s not. People need to be MORE critical of the “justice” system, not less.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  33. PD Shaw says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Corpses do not have Constitutional rights, except to vote in Chicago. More here about the different treatment.

    It seems clear to me that law enforcement decided to accept Zimmerman’s claim at face value that night. This had the added benefit of not having to Mirandize Z, while taking a statement from him. Had they asked him to volunteer a blood sample, they probably would have had to Mirandize him, at which point, almost in all likelihood would have shut up and called his dad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  34. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Here’s some mil-spec cognitive dissonance for you, chum.

    When this first broke, the major reaction from the left was outrage, and a demand that Zimmerman be punished. That a man would shoot and kill an unarmed black youth — they couldn’t accept that there might be circumstances where that might not be illegal. So they wanted blood.

    Most, fortunately, rhetorically speaking; some, quite literally.

    Now, though, they’ve walked back their outrage and now are blaming the police and local prosecutors for not pursuing the charges against Zimmerman as vigorously and as rapidly as they wish they had. Some are even stuck on the original narrative, about how Zimmerman wasn’t questioned and detained the night of the shooting.

    But here’s where the cognitive dissonance kicks in.

    As I said, the current story shifts the blame from Zimmerman — as the facts no longer support the original narrative — to the local officials. After all, Zimmerman didn’t have the decency to immediately confess and demand he be indicted, tried, and convicted of the horrific crime of shooting the guy who was bashing his head into the pavement. So it must be the fault of the cops and prosecutors.

    However, who is the target of their anger? It’s still Zimmerman, along with those of us who dared disagree with them. Oh, they say they blame the cops and prosecutors, but that’s just by rote. They don’t get called out by name.

    They’re still stuck on hating Zimmerman, and have put us on the same level.

    All because we actually waited for facts before rendering judgment, and called them out as they jumped to their conclusions, then had those conclusions blow up in their faces as the facts we waited for emerged.

    And continue to emerge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

  35. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You are surely the king of generalizations. There is no grey in your world only “the left” and real Americans like you.

    I heard a conservative say we should shoot more blacks cause they are worthless so in your world that means that “the right” wants all blacks dead…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  36. Jenos Idanian says:

    @matt: Yeah, I generalized. Should I go digging and show you the examples I used to extrapolate my generalizations?

    That’s how I roll. I look at the details, and construct a big picture.

    So, you wanna show how I’m way off base on this one?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  37. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Anything I type in response to you will have no affect. You’ll still scream “but this random internet nutcase is a lefty and said such and such”. I don’t pretend that all conservatives are like stormfront so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to extend the same courtesy..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  38. Jenos Idanian says:

    @matt: I don’t pretend that all conservatives are like stormfront so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to extend the same courtesy..

    No, you don’t. But I can point out a few regular commenters here who do… and they are the ones who, sadly, get more of the attention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  39. An Interested Party says:

    All because we actually waited for facts before rendering judgment, and called them out as they jumped to their conclusions, then had those conclusions blow up in their faces as the facts we waited for emerged.

    Yeah, and that alleged waiting involved you linking to websites accusing Trayvon Martin of being a thug which allowed you to render judgment and jump to conclusions about him, except, of course, those websites were spreading lies which caused your allegations to blow up in your face…it is little wonder that you now want to twist all of that around and try to lay all these accusations on others…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  40. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: That’s the root of the problem with the media in general…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: Which I’ve admitted and apologized for several times so far, and don’t feel like doing it any more. So bite me.

    On the other hand, as the Resident Truth Cop, just who have you called out for their misrepresentations of events? For example, anjin is, last time I checked, STILL saying that Zimmerman chased down Martin and confronted him, which is pretty effectively refuted by the 911 call.

    Or are you only my personal Truth Cop? Aw, you make me feel so special and loved…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  42. Moderate Mom says:

    Interesting new report out from Reuters that cuts into the “Zimmerman is a racist that hunted Treyvon Martin down like a dog” meme:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/25/us-usa-florida-shooting-zimmerman-idUSBRE83O18H20120425

    Maybe Zimmerman can get a fair trial, but given some of the comments here, I wonder. They decided his guilt a long time ago, without evidence other than what they wanted to believe was true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  43. @PD Shaw:

    It seems clear to me that law enforcement decided to accept Zimmerman’s claim at face value that night.

    That seems clear to me too. Silly me I think that the guy standing over a dead body with a gun deserves a little skepticism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  44. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You are, of course, missing the point (yes, I know, hardly surprising)…regarding this story, who are you to call out anyone else for jumping to conclusions, rendering judgements, and having allegations blow up in their faces, when you have done all of those exact same things? Oh, and did anjin ever link to websites spreading lies about this case? You know, like you did…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  45. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: <i.who are you to call out anyone else for jumping to conclusions, rendering judgements, and having allegations blow up in their faces, when you have done all of those exact same things?

    “Voice of experience.”

    And it’s OK to repeat falsehoods, as long as you don’t attribute them? Tell me, do you actually write down your little rules, or do you just make them up as you go as you need them to rationalize your prejudices?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  46. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Let me add a few irrelevant, trivial details to your earlier statement:

    Silly me I think that the guy standing over a dead body with a gun, a bloody nose, and several bloody head injuries who claims self-defense deserves a little skepticism. Skepticism properly expressed by handcuffing him, taking him down to the station, questioning him for hours, and administer several tests that might indicate if he’s lying. And then arrest him and charge him, knowing full well that they were making his possible conviction far more difficult.

    Yeah, no wonder so many are so outrageously outraged. The cops shoulda just shot that racist white supremacist hatemonger on the spot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  47. An Interested Party says:

    “Voice of experience.”

    Really? How’s that?

    And it’s OK to repeat falsehoods, as long as you don’t attribute them?

    Of course not, but your outrage with anjin seems quite amusing considering you went one step further than he did and actually linked to your falsehoods…

    Tell me, do you actually write down your little rules, or do you just make them up as you go as you need them to rationalize your prejudices?

    Ha! That’s rich coming from someone who desperately wanted to paint Trayvon Martin as a thug…I wonder why you wanted to do that? Hmm…

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  48. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: So… as we learned with Norm the other day, it’s fine if you quote wrong information, as long as you don’t actually attribute it. As long as you cover for the people spreading the lies, you’re cool. But if you show where the info came from, then that’s bad and utterly unforgivable.

    Of course, this being an Interested rule, it’s only applicable as long as it serves his needs.

    You’d fit in SO well in the Holder Justice Department…

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  49. An Interested Party says:

    What part of of course not did you not understand? Oh well, even with your lack of comprehension skills, your silly gratuitous swipe at Eric Holder was a nice touch…

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  50. Loviatar says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You wondered

    why law enforcement and the legal system have lost their legitimacy with so many Americans.

    I responded by pointing out that a sizable portion of the citizenry (27%) for the past 30+ years have been spoon fed the belief that government can’t provide any legitimate benefits to the American People (Reagan). In particular the legal system has become a specific target for contempt, ridicule and outright hostility from the American right whenever there is Democratic administration in office (Activist Judges Should Be Arrested).

    I then pointed out that minorities have their own reason for doubting the legitimacy of legal system based upon their experience of seeing it used to deny them their freedom (Dred Scott), civil (Jim Crow) and equal rights (Lilly Ledbetter).

    Why are these two things in dissonance? They are both reasons, whether they agree or not doesn’t matter. What they have in common is that they provide the basis and an understanding of why law enforcement and the legal system have lost their legitimacy with so many Americans.

    ———-

    But you’re more interested in getting in a partisan dig so you also argue that really they deserve to be trusted, it’s just those evil republican tricking people into thinking they’re bad:

    I am a partisan and proud to be one. So your statement that my comment has a partisan bent doesn’t bother me at all, if its the truth it shouldn’t bother you either.

    Your anger is misplaced, it shouldn’t be directed at partisans, partisanship is not a negative and is not responsible for America’s current mess. Ideologues are responsible for our current mess, in particular ideologues on the American right who have hijacked the Republican party and driven it so far right that Bob “freekin” Bennett was defeated for being too liberal.

    The Republican party needs more partisan members, those who understand and believe in Republican ideals and principals and who also had the guts to stand up to the ideologues within their party. In fact, there is a need for more Republican partisans to stand up to the rightwing ideologues within the party, unless Republican ideals and principals include belief in the Terri Schiavo mess, belief in the Iraq War misadventure and belief in Crony Capitalism.

    I’m a partisan for Democratic ideals and principals and I’m proud to be one.

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  51. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: What part of of course not did you not understand?

    The part that you nullified with your “but” qualifier. You know, the part where you rationalized how repeating false stories is bad, but repeating them with attribution is really, really, really, really bad.

    So, lemme see if I got this right: “it’s bad to give wrong information, but worse if you provide your source so we can verify it for ourselves.” That about sum it up?

    Dude, take some improv classes. You really suck at making up your ethical standards on the fly.

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  52. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Still missing the point…speaking of ethical standards, it takes pretty low or nonexistent ones to get so upset with others making $hit up when you have done the same, exact thing yourself and then had the unmitigated gall to tell us that you were waiting for facts before rendering judgment…please…

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  53. clazy8 says:

    @Jeremy R: A talisman? What makes you think they need a talisman? Oh, I see, you think you know all about the Martin/Zimmerman case — racist murder, right? And the wingers don’t want to face the truth because… because they’re all racists — yeah, that’s it. Looks like you found your own talisman long ago.

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  54. G.A. says:

    Let’s not overlook the of the deaths of 3500 unborn children a year.

    that’s only like one racist population control profit mill,it is over a million a year….

    Roughly half of pregnancies end in a miscarriage.. God is the biggest abortion provider around!!

    OH GREAT, NOW THE LIBERALS CANT TELL THE DIFFERANCE BETWEEN A BIOLOGICAL FUCTION AND MURDER FOR CONVEINCE.

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  55. superdestroyer says:

    @Jeremy R:

    The media is filled with stories of blacks writing about how they have to trained their children in order to not be killed by racist white cops. Yet, the chance of a black teenager being killed by a white cop is much lower than a white being killed by a black and is massively lower than a black being killed by another black.

    If progressives were truly fact-based and rational, they would have immediately denounced every black who wrote a story with so many statistical errors. However, progressives embraced those essays and used them to bash conservative whites.

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  56. superdestroyer says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I love how progressives have reverse their position since the OJ trial. Police incomptence and stupidity used to be a sign for reasonable doubt. However, as soon as a black is killed by a non-black, police incomptence is being used as a sign of guilt.

    That no BAC test was done is a sign that the police on the scene did not believe that zimmerman had been drinking. It is a sign of reasonable doubt.

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  57. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: Still missing the point…

    That’s because you have yet to articulate one.

    speaking of ethical standards, it takes pretty low or nonexistent ones to get so upset with others making $hit up when you have done the same, exact thing yourself and then had the unmitigated gall to tell us that you were waiting for facts before rendering judgment…please…

    I don’t “get so upset” over that, I deal with it at the time and then move on. I don’t keep some master list of others’ transgressions and errors to beat them over the head with whenever I disagree with them. I dealt with anjin’s fabrications within the thread, and then let it go. I don’t feel the need to bring it up again and again and again — I only mentioned it here because it highlighted your blatant hypocrisy.

    Grow up a smidgen, dude. Just a smidgen.

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  58. superdestroyer says:

    @Nikki:

    But later records have shown that there was an investigation and that the States Attorney realized he had little chance of a conviction. Now that the media spectacle is ongoing, it should be apparent that there is more than enough reasonable doubt for an acquittal.

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  59. Barry says:

    Doug: “This isn’t to justify the attack, however, because just as we weren’t present for the encounter between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, none of us that have written about the Owens case were on that street in Mobile on Saturday night. We don’t know what happened, we don’t know who started fighting first, and we don’t know what was said between the parties other than what’s been reported in the media. It does appear to me that criminal charges of some kind are warranted, though, and the Mobile police are currently investigating the matter. How about we let them do their job?”

    The whole frikkin’ point was that it was very clear that the Sanford PD was not doing it’s job; that’s why the case attracted media attention – after about a month, which is not a ‘rush to judgement’.

    The bitter joke was that if the Sanford PD had conducted a BS investigation, and reduced the charges to something not much, Zimmerman would have gotten away with it.

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  60. Barry says:

    Doug: “Of course not. And I certainly don’t think that the protests that took place before Zimmerman was charged, when it appeared that the police and State’s Attorney had essentially dropped the ball, was improper. But he’s charged now, and what I find truly troublesome who are taking the “facts” of the case (just the publicly available ones of course) and trying the case in the media to advance their own political agendas.”

    Doug, just because some dishonest people are sorta kinda doing the right thing, once the glare is on them, is *not* a reason to look away.

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  61. Nor is it a reason to judge a man in the court of public opinion based on incomplete and often biased “facts” when the law says that is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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  62. Barry,

    Zimmerman hasn’t “gotten away” with anything because we don’t know if he’s guilty of a crime yet.

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  63. james harper says:

    “…about the case of Matthew Owens, a Mobile, AL resident apparently beaten by a gang outside his home after a confrontation where the facts are not at all entirely clear, reminds me
    of…”

    Unless you choose to live in lala land, the case against Zimmermann has shifted significantly in the past week, bloody head and all, with legal pointy heads publicly stating the Prosecutor is playing the race-card herself, and Zimmermann has been legally victimized. The Z case was one black (has anyone noticed the tragic change in that kid the last three years of his life?) and one white. Face to Face. Not the Apparent Mob v. one white.

    All I can say, rather than wander through the written weeds above, is if the Writer is ever “apparently beaten” like this white guy,with the white guy’s face giving evidence some facts are clear, we hope you live through it to pontificate another day.

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  64. mattb says:

    @james harper: was there any point of this comment beyond to say that the realz racial violence is black on white? Which seems to once again prove Steven and Doug’s point…

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  65. james harper says:

    @mattb: the writer is fulfilling the narrative I see as common in both the owens and the Zimm case, by taking a position based on their own racial bias, i.e. white is bad black is good. This simplified approach was the basis of the medium attack on both white participants, and white witnesses, as well as the rationalization of the behavior of the black participants, bringing in negative discussions of the white participants and positive discussions of the black participants.

    In both cases the legal process, though flawed in both perspectives, was, and is actually proceeding. Yet it is not good enough in the Zimmermann case, and has been fine and dandy in the Owens case.

    Neither are right, and it has not one basis in reality to find prevalent racism of whites as the cause.
    And by the way, black on white crime is statistically a big deal, even though black on black crime gets the headline.
    have a fine day, thanks for making me think more.

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  66. anjin-san says:

    @ “Moderate” Mom

    Maybe Zimmerman can get a fair trial, but given some of the comments here, I wonder. They decided his guilt a long time ago,

    Which comments are those? The outrage in the Martin case was driven by what appeared to be a shaky investigation, and the fact that Zimmermann was initially charged with no crime. He has been charged, and both he and the prosecution will have their day in court. I think pretty much everyone agrees that Zimmermann is a fool, and a dangerous one at that. Is he guilty of a crime? We will know soon enough. I don’t see the chorus of “lock him up and throw away the key” that you seem to see.

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  67. anjin-san says:

    has anyone noticed the tragic change in that kid the last three years of his life?

    What are you referring to?

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  68. mattb says:

    @james harper: Avoiding the entire claim that folks are writing “white is bad, black is good” — which seems to me to say more about what you personally are interpreting from those writings than the content of the writing itself — I’d like to point out:

    In both cases the legal process, though flawed in both perspectives, was, and is actually proceeding. Yet it is not good enough in the Zimmermann case, and has been fine and dandy in the Owens case.

    But interestingly, the commentary linking the Owens case to Race (and by a number of people directly to the Florida case) came out within TWO DAYS of the attack. And within less than a week, multiple arrests have been made.

    As many people have pointed out, it wasn’t until a month after the shooting, and after no word from the police, that this became a national issue. And additionally, it should be noted that the police investigation was being carried out within a department with a less than stellar recent history for handling racial issues and members of the black community.

    So it your attempt to be “color blind” (though of course immediately reminding us about the color relations of certain types of crime) you completely leave out the overall facts of the case.

    The Martin protests and the media outcry began as calling out what was seen as a flawed investigation. As Doug and the rest of us note, the grew in really problematic directions.

    The media outcry around Owens start out as largely racial pay back to prove one side of the equation right.

    And as we have learned (in both the Zimmerman and the Owens case) the facts don’t necessarily match most pundits stories. But the right only cares about the left’s excesses and the left only cares about the right’s excesses.

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  69. An Interested Party says:

    Grow up a smidgen, dude. Just a smidgen.

    Tsk, tsk…once again asking of someone else something that you can’t even do yourself…

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  70. matt says:

    @G.A.: Oh so you’re admitting that your god is so incompetent that his plan for pregnancy involves a 50% chance that even if you do everything perfect you’ll still lose it?

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