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Thoughts on the Justice System

There is an understandable and ongoing confusion about the role of the criminal justice system.  Despite the ubiquity of blindfolded ladies holding scales, not to mention a lot of flowery words both written in marble on buildings and/or flowing from the mouths of participants, the purpose of the courts is not to produce “justice” in the absolute sense of the term.

In point of fact, the courts are supposed to produce an outcome that is commensurate with the laws as written.  As such, if one finds an outcome to be “unjust” is it quite likely that the source of the injustice is not the criminal justice system, per se, but is, rather, the fault of legislators.  Indeed, it is often the fault of the demands of the public (which are frequently contradictory*).  Regardless, the application of the law in a certain circumstance often produces a legally correct (or, at least, a legally consistent and logical) outcome even if the outcome may not be considered “just” in an abstract sense.  And, of course, the question of what is just, both in general and in the specific, is a normative one that is open to disagreement.  Such disagreements, as is often the case with normative disputes, can be quite passionate.

It is also worth noting that the the question “what is justice?” is as old as humanity.  For example, it is the core question of Plato’s Republic written circa 360 BC.  (Spoiler alert:  the tome produces no definitive answer—at least not one that ends debate on the subject). That we continue to debate the issue should not be a surprise.

I am not arguing that all court decisions are just.  Sometimes they are the result of bad prosecutions or defenses (that can cut either direction, i.e., in terms of the guilty going free and the innocent being jailed).  There is a fellow looking for the real killers on the golf courses of America who falls into this camp, without a doubt, as do a large number of persons who have been freed based on DNA evidence in recent years.

The problem with the Zimmerman verdict, without looking at the laws themselves, is that the narrative of that night would appear to include the following elements:  a kid minding his own business, an over-zealous and self-appointed neighborhood watchman, a fight, and a dead kid.  A key element of that narrative is that it is highly probable that had the over-zealous watchman left the kid alone said kid would be alive today.  Justice, in the abstract, would like to see punishment for the death of the kid.  The law, however, was on the side of the watchman.  This does not, of course, make him innocent.  It means that there was no evidence to convict under the laws of the state of Florida.

I am not, by the way, defending the state of Florida.  I am pointing out, contra a lot of what I read last night from those upset by the verdict, that the job of the courts here was not dispensing justice as much as it was the proper application of the law.  This is always true in court cases, but we the public frequently forget that fact.  We also forget (or do not understand) where to aim our ire if, in fact, we think that the laws are unjust.  The jury is not responsible for the laws, nor is the judge or the attorneys at trial.

*The fact that the public demands to be protected from people with guns while at the same time also demands that guns be both readily available and easy to carry around does create some logical tension, to say the least.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    @ STEVEN L. TAYLOR

    As my father was fond of pointing out, our system promises not justice, but due process. He also said that 80% of the time, the guy with the best paper trail won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  2. Tillman says:

    Well written, Dr. Taylor.

    Based on social media, there are a lot of people who’ve never been to a real trial before.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  3. Tlaloc says:

    There’s a clear message sent to young black men from these events: carry a gun and if in doubt shoot first. Somehow I doubt the results of that message being followed is going to work out well for anyone.

    Congratulations, Florida, once again you’ve wrestled the title for pure idiocy away from Texas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

  4. Tillman says:

    @Tlaloc: Nah, the clearest message is travel in groups. Zimmerman’s account prevailed because there were no other eyewitnesses. Anything past that message is pre-informed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. JKB says:

    @Tlaloc: a clear message sent to young black men

    If that is the message being sent, one hopes the young black men are able to see those giving it as the charlatans and self-promoters they are.

    The lesson from this tragedy is not to engage in a physical altercation because someone looks funny at you or you feel the are following you. Unless they put their hands on you, don’t put your hands on them. And if you do get into a street fight, realize that even without intent your actions can cause a reasonable belief in the other person of imminent death or or serious injury and they may use deadly force to stop that perceived threat.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 20

  6. JKB says:

    The fact that the public demands to be protected from people with guns while at the same time also demands that guns be both readily available and easy to carry around does create some logical tension, to say the least.

    The public does not demand to be protected from people with guns, they demand to be protected from people who would do them harm, armed with guns, other weapons or no weapon at all. There has been a movement to enhance the punishment for those who do harm while having a gun but the underlying crime depends on actions.

    That some seek to remove guns in a false hope that will stop the ill-intent of some people is simply Progressive foolishness and false logic.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 18

  7. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    you feel the are following you

    Even you are not this stupid. Zimmermann armed himself, and he was following Martin. This is not in dispute.

    It’s telling that a lot of conservatives wax poetic at great length about Zimmermann’s right to defend himself, but apparently Martin, a minor, had no right do defend himself from the armed adult that was following him in the night as he went about his lawful business.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 7

  8. Greg says:

    @anjin-san: Defend himself from what? Being followed? Do we have a right against being followed? Did Zimmerman run up to him and begin to harass him or did Martin return to confront Zimmerman? And why do you typify Martin as a minor when he was shown to be bigger than Zimmerman? And why do you include the term armed? Yes, Zimmerman was armed, does that change Martin’s behavior on the night since we have no evidence that he knew Zimmerman was armed? What would have happened if Martin had simply returned to his father’s residence? Would Zimmerman have followed Martin into the residence to confront him or waited for police to arrive or left?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 13

  9. Chris says:

    And why do you typify Martin as a minor when he was shown to be bigger than Zimmerman? And why do you include the term armed?

    Martin is described as a minor because he was 17 years old. Zimmerman is described as armed because he was carrying a gun.

    An adult man followed a 17 year old down the street with a gun, tracking him because he was ‘suspicious’. He was a 17 year old walking home after buying iced tea and a bag of skittles. The ‘suspicious’ element was the fact that he had the temerity to be black.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  10. anjin-san says:

    @ Greg

    Defend himself from what?

    You are walking at night, minding your own business. A stranger is following you. Are you seriously saying you would not feel threatened?

    Did Zimmerman run up to him and begin to harass him or did Martin return to confront Zimmerman?

    We will never know. Martin is dead.

    why do you typify Martin as a minor when he was shown to be bigger than Zimmerman?

    Martin was a minor. Do you dispute that? Zimmermann had a substantial weight advantage on Martin, who was a fairly tall, skinny kid. Your interpetation of the facts is quite selective. A minor does not stop being a minor when he hits 6″ tall.

    And why do you include the term armed?

    Because he was armed.

    What would have happened if Martin had simply returned to his father’s residence?

    A creep is following you. Showing him where your residence is – not really the smart play. You don’t know his intentions are. Once he knows where you live he can return at the time of his choosing.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  11. Tillman says:

    @Greg:

    And why do you typify Martin as a minor when he was shown to be bigger than Zimmerman? And why do you include the term armed?

    These two questions are incongruous. Martin was less than eighteen years of age, and obviously Zimmerman has arms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @anjin-san:

    We will never know. Martin is dead.

    Which is the absolute, underlying problem with these statutes:

    They give the defendant every reason in the world to lie in order to protect himself, and since the only other witness is usually dead, there is little, if anything, to substantively rebut the defendant’s version of events. If we’re honest, SYG laws are an encouragement to shoot, because dead people can’t poke holes in your story on the witness stand.

    It’s yet another in the monumentally long list of reasons why I’m profoundly grateful that I live here and not there.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  13. Tyrell says:

    I was not pleased with a lot of tv coverage of this trial. Trying to find objective coverage was hard, a lot of loud talk going on, lots of hype, little professionalism left in the broadcast world these days. Just how do some of these court networks choose which trials to cover and build up? There are many trials going on all of the time with major issues. Why did this one get so much coverage? Ratings?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  14. rudderpedals says:

    There’s a good reason why Florida’s movable castle doctrine sounds dopey. It actually is dopey. Seminole county is not the wild west. I’m profoundly disturbed by the fact that packing heat before heading off to Costco is considered some kind of routine, normal and unexceptional thing. WTF is up with that? The bad outcomes undoubtedly please the lunatics currently running Tallahassee because they were all foreseen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  15. george says:

    @Tlaloc:

    There’s a clear message sent to young black men from these events: carry a gun and if in doubt shoot first. Somehow I doubt the results of that message being followed is going to work out well for anyone.

    Congratulations, Florida, once again you’ve wrestled the title for pure idiocy away from Texas.

    I think you’re being over dramatic. Or did you think, when OJ Simpson was acquitted, that a clear message was being sent to white women with black husbands?

    In both cases the evidence to convict simply wasn’t there. That doesn’t mean either Zimmerman or Simpson weren’t murderers, just that convicting people because they “probably did it” is going to create more problems than it solves.

    Like in the Simpson case, I suspect civic trial will follow, with considerably looser requirements of proof.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  16. anjin-san says:

    And why do you typify Martin as a minor when he was shown to be bigger than Zimmerman

    I did a little research. At the time of his death, Martin was 5’11”, 158 lbs. It’s fascinating how so many on the right have parsed him into a physical marvel against whom a grown man would have no defense short of a deadly weapon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  17. Woody says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    This is the definitive coda, isn’t it – the Florida law as written features perverse incentives, if the goal was “public safety.”

    Yet another awful law written by fearful men and women.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  18. @george:

    Or did you think, when OJ Simpson was acquitted, that a clear message was being sent to white women with black husbands?

    Without getting into the issue of the appropriate level of drama here, I would say that the analogy to Simpson does not hold at all. There are aspects of Zimmerman’s acquittal that do have the potential to inform future behavior because of Florida law. There is no legal question of whether or not Zimmerman killed Martin–the issue was whether the law allowed the action. In terms of OJ the problem was the failure of the prosecution to prove that, in fact, OJ was involved at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  19. tyrell says:

    @george: Look.at the murders in cities and towns just in one weekend. Those could probably be broken down into: gang violence, family fight, robbery. Yet we see no protests, little or no media coverage, no politicians and other opportunists. Yet someone has died, family and friends are devastated, and future lives are destroyed. Where is all the attention to those? All of this should get media attention. People should protest all of these killings. It should not matter if it is white-black, black-white, black-back, white-white, or any grouping. Why are certain cases singled out and ohers ignored? Is it someone’s agenda? Is that what is going on here ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ tyrell

    If there is a crime(s) you wish to publicize, by all means, start a blog and have at it – it’s pretty easy.

    In the meantime, could you dial back the whining?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  21. Peter says:

    I did a little research. At the time of his death, Martin was 5’11″, 158 lbs. It’s fascinating how so many on the right have parsed him into a physical marvel against whom a grown man would have no defense short of a deadly weapon.

    Blame the “Myth of the Black Superman” – the belief that blacks are somehow stronger, more athletic, and more skilled at streetfighting than are people from other races. It’s a surprisingly common belief. I would suspect that black domination of the NFL is a factor, it being such a supremely physical sport. Of course the blacks in the NFL are at the 99.9th percentile in terms of strength and athleticism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. george says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I disagree. I think the fundamental question remains, did the prosecution prove guilt under the current law beyond reasonable doubt. For Zimmerman to have convicted would have meant applying a lesser standard than reasonable doubt, which is the same situation as convicting Simpson. People were outraged when Simpson was acquitted because they felt it was obvious he was guilty, and most of the people outraged at Zimmerman’s acquittal are saying that he should be convicted because it’s obvious he is guilty.

    Most aren’t expressing outrage about Florida’s weird defense laws, but that someone who they are sure is guilty is free to walk. And that sounds very analogous to what I remember about the reaction to OJ Simpson’s acquittal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  23. @george: There was no self-defense argument in the OJ Simpson case. There was in the Zimmerman case. This creates a rather different set of “lessons” to be gleaned from the results.

    Yes, there are similarities in terms of the general and most basic response. But that wasn’t the point being raised above.

    One can infer from the Zimmerman trial that it is best to use deadly force in an altercation and then claim self defense. There is no analogous argument to be made from the Simpson case.

    The only lesson I can recall from the Simpson case is for the prosecution: never ask a defendant to try on a leather glove that had shrunk because it was soaked in blood.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. george says:

    @anjin-san:

    I did a little research. At the time of his death, Martin was 5’11″, 158 lbs. It’s fascinating how so many on the right have parsed him into a physical marvel against whom a grown man would have no defense short of a deadly weapon.

    Actually, in the MMA forums there are interviews with the fellow at whose club Zimmerman trained. It sounds like Zimmerman was a pretty awful fighter – and take it from me (having done a reasonable amount of judo, wrestling and boxing in my youth), there are huge variations in ability even for a given size. Race doesn’t play into that, its just the normal curve of human abilities.

    And actually, 5’11” and 158 pounds sounds reasonably fit. Zimmerman looks like he’d have a heart attack walking up a few flights of stairs.

    None of that means that I believe Zimmerman’s story (and I think a civic trial with its lower standards will bring out the flaws in his concoction), just that its not odd for two people of approximately the same size to have wildly different abilities to fight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. Caj says:

    The decision was a travesty! Zimmerman was the instigator of the whole affair. That seems to have been totally ignored! Trayvon Martin was the innocent party in all this. He was the one followed, shot and killed by a wanna-be cop who made it his mission to become judge, jury and executioner that fateful night. Some people don’t want race brought into it but it should be addressed. Had Trayvon Martin killed George Zimmerman, he wouldn’t have been afforded a self defense plea. He would have been arrested that same night and put in jail. Unlike George Zimmerman who walked free for 44 days and went on talk shows with his lawyer by his side. Then lying through his teeth on the Sean Hannity show that he didn’t know about stand your ground! He’s from Florida! Guns rule! He was a neighbourhood watch coordinator, he had a concealed carry and he didn’t know about stand your ground! Give me a break!! The whole case and its outcome stinks to high heaven and I am disgusted with the pathetic legal system in Florida. Murderers can walk free just as long as you have a concealed carry in this stupid state where stand your ground is KING!
    No justice for Trayvon or his poor family and that breaks my heart.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  26. bill says:

    @Tlaloc: of course you know that the most dangerous thing for a young black male is……..another young black male. it’s just not news when they kill each other for no reason.
    this whole trial was a show to keep the “black community” from rioting over a presumed injustice. i don’t see them riot when blacks kill each other en mass.
    the prosecutors did a great job at turning nothing into a little bit more than nothing. and the amount of people who still have little or no idea what happened is staggering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  27. stonetools says:

    I am bothered by the idea that the purpose of the criminal justice system is purely to achieve a legal result. I was annoyed last night when another poster praised the system for working in a “civilized manner”, without noting that the result was unjust.
    Do you know whose legal system also achieved results in an orderly and civilized manner? Clearly , the ideal should not be order, efficiency, or civility for its own sake.
    The system is called the ‘Criminal Justice System” for a reason-its because the goal is to achieve justice. If the criminal justice system works the way it should and achieves injustice, then the system needs fixing.
    The Trayvon Martin result is best seem as the natural and probable consequence of a system of laws that was designed by folks who WANTED or were at least indifferent to the result-a minority teenager killed by an armed vigilante for no good reason.
    The deadly witches brew was created by:
    1.Easy handgun ownership laws.
    2. Shall issue CCW laws that allow just about anyone to carry around a concealed gun.
    3. Racist attitudes that stigmatize black teenagers for being suspicious simply for being black teenagers.
    4. Overly broad self defense laws, including SYG laws, that encourage untrained wanna be heroes with guns to go out looking for “punks” who always get away with it .

    The system is a certain extent virtually designed to produce “Zimmermans” who will go after “Trayvons”It was designed by gun nuts who want the freedom to go around using their toys, people who are frightened by crime, and , frankly, racists who who want to keep “ni$$ers” in their place (except of course they use the “correct” language”- law and order, community defense, etc). The NRA and ALEC has a big hand in designing these “model” CCW and SYG laws. They translate the racial and anti-crime animus and Gun nut desire to use the toys and play Dirty Harry into legal packages that Republican legislators can push. (Of course these legislators express horror at the result (“Hooccodanode that someone like Zimmerman would arm himself and go hunting for teenagers to roust?”. The answer was that everyone who urged the legislators not to pass those laws).

    The solution is not to salute the system as the “best in the world” or to somehow pretend the result was “just” (the Zimmerbots- most of who end up saying , in various ways, “The ni$$er deserved it”). The solution is to change the laws that incentivize the wrong behavior and hence the wrong result. Repeal SYG, make CCW laws more stringent, background checks for handguns, screening for neighborhood watches. Of course the gun nuts will scream and the racists will resent the restrictions on white privilege-which means a big legislative fight. Maybe the Trayvon Martin case can galvanize people to the large scale activism needed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  28. wr says:

    @tyrell: “People should protest all of these killings.”

    Okay. Start protesting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. Peter says:

    Actually, in the MMA forums there are interviews with the fellow at whose club Zimmerman trained. It sounds like Zimmerman was a pretty awful fighter – and take it from me (having done a reasonable amount of judo, wrestling and boxing in my youth), there are huge variations in ability even for a given size. Race doesn’t play into that, its just the normal curve of human abilities.
    And actually, 5’11″ and 158 pounds sounds reasonably fit. Zimmerman looks like he’d have a heart attack walking up a few flights of stairs.

    What’s especially sad is that according to the trainer’s/gym owner’s testimony, Zimmerman had just started attending when all this happened. It makes you wonder if he had started training a few months earlier, maybe he would have been able to fight off Martin without resorting to deadly force. Or maybe if Zimmerman had looked more fit, Martin wouldn’t have attacked him in the first place. I get the impression that those into the whole “thug 4 life” routine steer clear of people who look like they can fight back.
    In his testimony the trainer said that Zimmerman’s grappling skills were “1.5 out of ten.” I’d say the .5 meant that Zimmerman was maybe not the worst gym newcomer the trainer had ever seen, but he was pretty pathetic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  30. tyrell says:

    @Peter: The trainer described Zimmerman as “soft” and not in good shape.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  31. al-Ameda says:

    This is yet another example of how high profile criminal cases often present us with examples of how our system of justice can produce a legally ‘correct’ outcome, yet from a moral or common sense standpoint a very wrong outcome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  32. @stonetools:

    The system is called the ‘Criminal Justice System” for a reason-its because the goal is to achieve justice. If the criminal justice system works the way it should and achieves injustice, then the system needs fixing.

    Yes, but the courts do not act as independent sources of justice. They are charged with working within the laws established by the legislature.And the legislature is likewise the source for fixing the system. The courts cannot arbitrarily set aside the law. As best as I can tell, the law was the guiding force in the verdict.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  33. bill says:

    @stonetools: don’t beat up a guy with a gun, best analogy. too bad zimmerman was as bad a shot as he was a fighter- he could have just winged him and we’d have nothing to riot about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  34. Stonetools says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Which is why I argue for changing the laws. As I argue, legal does not mean just, or the Jim Crow legal system would be just.
    Another way to put it is that while the verdict was lawful, it was not just. To achieve justice in the future, we’ll have to fix the laws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. @Stonetools: Agreed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. mannning says:

    People’s close physical and observational connection to the altercation suggests that the police made the decision that they hadn’t concrete evidence enough to arrest Zimmerman. The one eyewitness affirmed that Martin was on top of Zimmerman and bashing his head on the concrete. The jury, presumedly had full access to the evidence and the tales of the lawyers, and they, too, refused to convict. The Self-defense claim of Zimmerman could not be disproved by the prosecution. That self-defense can be used in this manner is fundamental, and has been so for centuries. Yet many commenters would deny Zimmerman the right of self-defense, assuming some hypothetical earlier scenario or other where such a lethal defensive act wasn’t necessary, which is not in evidence. What went brefore Martin was banging Zimmerman’s head on the concrete is irrelevant. Yes, and Martin is now dead, and that is a tragedy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. anjin-san says:

    What went brefore Martin was banging Zimmerman’s head on the concrete

    You like to talk like a guy who has been around a bit. How then, is it possible that you do not know that repeatedly bashing a human skull into concrete produces injuries far more severe than the trivial lacerations to Zimmermann’s scalp?

    “Ow, I need a band-aid” is a far cry from a beating that put’s ones life at risk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. anjin-san says:

    .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  39. mannning says:

    The critical point in time is when Martin was witnessed to be straddling Zimmerman and pounding his head in the concrete. Nothing before that matters from a legal point of view. Zimmerman chose to defend himself against the deadly force being used by Martin. Self defense is a time horored justification for using deadly force when you are in fear of your life.
    The case should not have been brought to court, but was simply in order to appease the unwanted and fearful pressure from without.

    Tragic, all around. Rather stupid all around, too. Martin’s death could have been avoided in a number of ways, some of which have been pointed out above and in the trial. Zimmerman is not going to enjoy life from here on either. He is a marked man and will live in fear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  40. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    Neither you not I were present at the scene, and therefore any speculation on your part or mine as to how the skull injuries were actually obtained is irrelevant. It is entirely possible that Zimmerman was resisting the bashing to a degree that mitigated the seriousness of the injuries. Actually, the injuries were not even nessary by law to establish a self defense, it hinges on the state on mind of Zimmerman at that time–did he fear for his life?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. superdestroyer says:

    @anjin-san:

    Zimmerman had called 911, but Martin did not. If Martin was scared of Zimmerman and was unarmed, why did he not flee to where he was staying or call the police. Martin assumed that the “Creepy Ass Cracker” was unarmed and that was a fatal mistake.

    What is amazing is not many progressives want to make sure that people like Martin will have an unarmed and fearful population so that people Martin can do whatever they want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  42. Rick DeMent says:

    @mannning:

    Anyone who goes off in armed pursuit of anyone automatically loses their right to claim self-defense. Any law that allows anyone to claim self-defense after acting in an affirmative way against an unarmed person is bad law and needs to be changed. Had Zimmerman just stayed in his home like the police suggested this would not be the tragedy it is now.

    Any law that allows an armed person to walk free after killing an unarmed person, regardless of the circumstance, is inherently flawed. There was noting Zimmerman was protecting by going after Martin, there was nothing served by Zimmerman stepping out of his home.

    The problem is not so much that people like Martin are unarmed as that now people like Martin will be armed and loaded for bear and with good reason.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  43. Barry says:

    @Tlaloc: “There’s a clear message sent to young black men from these events: carry a gun and if in doubt shoot first. Somehow I doubt the results of that message being followed is going to work out well for anyone.”

    Actually, I don’t think so; there’s a recent case of a woman who fired a warning shot when her ex-husband was chasing her. She got 20 fucking years.

    Two guesses as to her race.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. Rob in CT says:

    What went brefore Martin was banging Zimmerman’s head on the concrete is irrelevant

    I disagree.

    Assuming that Martin threw the first punch here (Zim’s story, though I’m not sure I believe it), the two share culpability here. Zimmerman’s actions leading up to the confrontation are not irrelevant. They set the thing in motion. That doesn’t excuse Martin, if he did indeed decide to initiate a fight, though I can understand his being frightened by the creepy dude following him.

    There are a lot of possible ways this doesn’t end in tragedy. Zimmerman staying in his car. Zimmerman clearly announcing, right off the bat, that he’s Neighborhood Watch (the cops were kinda of confused he didn’t). Martin not doubling back to confront Zimmerman (and, if it’s true, starting the fight). Zimmerman not having a deadly weapon.

    We don’t know exactly how the fight started, and that’s the core of this thing. Two guys were involved. One of them is dead, and thus can’t tell his side. The eyewitness reports are of the fight in progress, so they don’t help us determine who started it. They do speak to the question of whether Zimmerman was justifiably scared for his life.

    I was saddened when the prosecution went for Murder 2. Even if you think Zimmerman is a pathetic shitstain – and I do – no way can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of Murder 2. Manslaughter, maybe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  45. Rob in CT says:

    @Rob in CT:

    To be clear, I object to “irrelevant” regarding the question of moral cupability. Legally, it appears to have been irrelevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. stonetools says:

    Yet many commenters would deny Zimmerman the right of self-defense, assuming some hypothetical earlier scenario or other where such a lethal defensive act wasn’t necessary, which is not in evidence. What went brefore Martin was banging Zimmerman’s head on the concrete is irrelevant.

    Florida’s law on self defense did not come down on tablets from Mount Sinai. Rather, it was changed recently at the behest of ALEC and the NRA to make it easier to win on self defense when prosecuted for homicide.In particular, the “stand your ground doctrine” was integrated into the Florida self-defense law and was part of the court’s instruction to the jury.The relevant provision from the instruction:

    If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    This instruction comes, chapter and verse, out of section three of Florida St. § 776.013, the entirety of which section which was added in 2005 by Fl. Legis. 2005-27. That legislation also created another new section establishing immunity for one acting under these circumstances. That legislation is, in short, what is known as Florida’s “stand your ground” law. (The hint comes in the use of the phrase “stand his or her ground.”)

    LINK

    If Florida self defense law had a duty to retreat, then Zimmerman’s activity prior to the altercation does become relevant, as is indeed it was prior to the 2005 enactments.
    This case could be a rallying point aimed at rolling back the NRA-ALEC juggernault that has been warping gun legislation and criminal justice legislation nationwide. It shows exactly what can go wrong when you enshrine mistaken notions about self-defense and machismo into law.

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  47. Tom Perkins says:

    Anyone who goes off in armed pursuit of anyone automatically loses their right to claim self-defense.

    Why do you think that either is or should be true?

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  48. george says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    One can infer from the Zimmerman trial that it is best to use deadly force in an altercation and then claim self defense. There is no analogous argument to be made from the Simpson case.

    I see what you’re saying, but wasn’t that always the case? Wasn’t the reason for the unjust decision in this an almost complete lack of evidence contradicting his claim? The only way to convict him would be to change the laws so the burden of proof would fall on him – ie he’d have to prove his innocence rather than the prosecution having to prove his guilt. Is that really the system people want – guilty until proven innocent?

    That change would certainly put someone like Zimmerman behind bars. It would also put a lot of other people behind bars who wouldn’t currently be there, and I’d argue, most of them would be the poor who can’t afford a lawyer.

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  49. @george: I am by no means suggesting that the burden of proof should shift to the accused having to prove their innocence.

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  50. Tom Perkins says:

    Which is the absolute, underlying problem with these statutes:

    There is no problem with these statutes, except they dis-empower the state as being the politically motivated arbiter of self defense. Well, when the law is obeyed by government, as is sadly distinct from the Zimmerman case.

    They give the defendant every reason in the world to lie in order to protect himself

    That motivation existed previously and exists still, and such laws have no bearing on them whatsoever.

    and since the only other witness is usually dead, there is little, if anything, to substantively rebut the defendant’s version of events.

    And to the degree that’s true, these laws don’t change that likelihood a bit. Not one jot or tittle.

    This inability on your part to reason, which your posts illustrate, is an excellent reason for Harvard to come retrieve it’s sheepskin, if in fact you have one from them. They have an interest in protecting their brand.

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  51. anjin-san says:

    @ Manning

    Martin was witnessed to be straddling Zimmerman and pounding his head in the concrete.

    Guess you are just going to ignore the medical evidence that shows this did not happen.

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  52. stonetools says:

    @george:

    The only way to convict him would be to change the laws so the burden of proof would fall on him – ie he’d have to prove his innocence rather than the prosecution having to prove his guilt. Is that really the system people want – guilty until proven innocent?

    Actually, no. If there is a duty to retreat, as there used to be in the Florida law, then Zimmerman’s pursuit of TM becomes a way to disprove self defense:


    The law of self-defense is at its core about reasonableness. If a person reasonably perceives a serious threat of harm, and uses reasonable force to meet that threat, the law justifies even deadly force, and it does so even if it turns out that the perceived threat was illusory.

    People have differing views of what’s reasonable and, as a consequence, self-defense laws (which vary by jurisdiction) have always attempted to further define the concept. Until very recently, Florida’s definition of reasonableness, as in many states, incorporated a longstanding principle, the “duty to retreat.”

    This principle required that someone who found themselves in a violent confrontation had to try to defuse the situation and retreat “to the wall” before resorting to deadly force.

    In other words, deadly force was only permitted as a last resort. The basic idea was simple: If more people backed down, retreated or stepped aside, fewer people would be killed.

    The “duty to retreat” also made it easier for prosecutors to prove that a killing was not in self-defense and prosecutors could often. The facts that can be proven are often murky (particularly when of the two people who know what happened, one is the defendant and the other is dead), and prosecutors could often,by pointing to a defendant’s failure to retreat, obtain a conviction even without establishing the precise facts.

    What’s irritating to me is that is that so many here just conclude the unjust verdict was the inevitable process of something called the “law,” that was and is and is to be.Prior to ALEC’s institution of gun owner privilege in 2005, Zimmerman likely would have been convicted, based on his pursuit of TM. The 2005 changes helpfully made it much more difficult to convict a gun owner bent on pursuing “punks” and enforcing his own version of justice.

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  53. george says:

    @stonetools:

    Perhaps, but he was tried under the current laws, so that change wouldn’t apply unless it become retroactive (and hopefully nobody likes the ideas of retroactive laws).

    BTW, I agree with duty to retreat laws. They’re in place in Canada, and apparently are applied reasonably. For instance, someone on crutches (or old and infirm) wouldn’t have the duty to try to run from young, healthy assailants. The watchword here is “what a reasonable person would conclude”.

    But ultimately, as was pointed out by Reynolds in a different thread, the problem lies with the ease of getting hand guns. No hand gun and he never gets out of the care, duty to retreat or not.

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  54. stonetools says:

    @george:

    We can’t prevent an earlier tragedy. The problem is that with the current laws in place, there is a likelihood of future Trayvon Martins. Indeed, there is a Trayvon Martin type case happening right now. Coates again:

    You should not be troubled that George Zimmerman “got away” with the killing of Trayvon Martin, you should be troubled that you live in a country that ensures that Trayvon Martin will happen. Trayvon Martin is happening again in Florida. Right now:

    In November, black youth Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old Jacksonville resident, was the only person murdered after Michael Dunn, 46, allegedly shot into the SUV Davis was inside several times after an argument about the volume of music playing.

    According to Dunn’s girlfriend, Rhonda Rouer, Dunn had three rum and cokes at a wedding reception. She felt secure enough for him to drive and thought that he was in a good mood. On the drive back to the hotel they were residing at, they made a pit stop at the convenience store where the murder occurred. At the Gate Station, Rouer said Dunn told her that he hated “thug music.” Rouer then went inside the store to make purchases and heard several gunshots while she was still within the building.

    Upon returning and seeing Dunn put his gun back into the glove compartment, Rouer asked why he had shot at the car playing music and Dunn claimed that he feared for his life and that “they threatened to kill me.” The couple drove back to their hotel, and claim they did not realize anyone had died until the story appeared on the news the next day.

    After killing Jordan Davis, Michael Dunn ordered a pizza.

    When you have a society that takes at its founding the hatred and degradation of a people, when that society inscribes that degradation in its most hallowed document, and continues to inscribe hatred in its laws and policies, it is fantastic to believe that its citizens will derive no ill messaging.

    It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended.

    His point is a little different than mine, but the point is that there will be a steady stream of such cases, given the current laws.

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  55. george says:

    @stonetools:

    His point is a little different than mine, but the point is that there will be a steady stream of such cases, given the current laws

    Yes, though I’d argue the problem lies more with the gun laws (or lack there of) than the “fear for your life” laws.

    No hand gun and Zimmerman doesn’t get out of his car, and I doubt Dunn would have tried to calm his fears for his life with just his fists.

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  56. Tom Perkins says:

    @anjin-san:

    Is it really out of line, for me to insist you quit making things up?

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  57. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    It is incontrovertible that Zim had head injuries consistent with blows to the back of his head. We have a witness that declares he saw Martin on top of Zim bashing his head on the concrete.
    What else is there? Again, it isn’t even necessary for there to have been such injuries for Zim to be able to claim self Defense. That is the law. End.

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  58. Matt Bernius says:

    @Tom Perkins:

    Is it really out of line, for me to insist you quit making things up?

    The person who claimed to see Martin pounding Zimmerman’s head into the pavement later recanted that testimony.

    The police inspectors said in writing that this was one part of the account that did not appear to match the evidence.

    And this was one issue where the medical experts greatly disagreed.

    The hard evidence isn’t there to prove Zimmerman’s head wasn’t *repeatedly* bashed. It’s also true that the hard evidence wasn’t there to prove Zimmerman’s head *was repeatedly bashed.*

    And the Jury/Court made no finding of fact about that question. So really, both sides should stop pretending they have the gospel truth on that issue.

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  59. Matt Bernius says:

    @mannning:

    It is incontrovertible that Zim had head injuries consistent with blows to the back of his head.

    Its evidence of at least one blow. Which could have been received when he intially fell. Or the could have been recieved during tussles.

    Unfortunately, since Zimmerman opted not to have medical treatment, we don’t know what internal trauma there might have been. That evidence could have gone a long way to answering the “repeated blows” question. But it didn’t happen.

    We have a witness that declares he saw Martin on top of Zim bashing his head on the concrete.

    Testimony that the witness later took back. At trial, all the witness could swear to is that he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman,.

    While the first issue (blow/blows) is one of interpretation (note that the medical experts disagreed on this == see the above post) — PEOPLE SHOULD STOP POSTING DEMONSTRATIVELY FALSE FACTS ABOUT THE SECOND ONE.

    Seriously, unless someone gave sworn testimony that they saw Zim getting his head bashed, you CANNOT keep writing this crap in good faith.

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  60. stonetools says:

    Here’s some actual data about the effect of the Florida law since SYG arrived in 2005.

    LINK

    Florida’s “stand your ground” law has been extremely successful for people who kill and claim self-defense. Nearly 70 percent of those accused went free (36 cases are pending).

    Moreover, the laws freed killers although most of the killers had guns and most of the victims unarmed. If you place Trayvon Martin in context of those statistics, he is in fact the usual case.

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  61. Tom Perkins says:

    “The person who claimed to see Martin pounding Zimmerman’s head into the pavement later recanted that testimony. ”

    No such thing occurred. If you feel the need to pursue the matter, be specific as to which witness you think “recanted”.

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  62. Tom Perkins says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Oh that one! At trial, he said he did not see a blow land, because Martin’s body was in the way of his seeing the blows fall. He specifically testified he saw Martin straddling Zimmerman and striking at him. He recanted nothing.

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  63. Tom Perkins says:

    “Unfortunately, since Zimmerman opted not to have medical treatment, we don’t know what internal trauma there might have been.”

    He had medical treatment, where did you get the ridiculous idea he didn’t?

    “Seriously, unless someone gave sworn testimony that they saw Zim getting his head bashed, you CANNOT keep writing this crap in good faith. ”

    Of course I can, I’ve seen photographs of wounds on his head which are consistent only with multiple blows. Where do you pretend they came from instead?

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  64. anjin-san says:

    Seriously, unless someone gave sworn testimony that they saw Zim getting his head bashed, you CANNOT keep writing this crap in good faith.

    I don’t think we are talking about good faith comments. It is patently obvious from the minor injuries to Zimmermann’s scalp that his head was not “repeatedly bashed” into concrete. This meme has taken it’s place in right wing lore alongside Obama’s birth certificate, etc.

    In other words, we have left the realm of facts and reason.

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  65. anjin-san says:

    @ Tom Perkins

    Of course I can, I’ve seen photographs of wounds on his head which are consistent only with multiple blows.

    Do you have any expertise in unarmed combat?

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  66. mantis says:

    If Zimmerman fired his gun because he feared for his life due to “getting his head bashed into concrete,” then why did the shooting take place in the grass 25 feet from the sidewalk?

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  67. mantis says:

    @superdestroyer:

    What is amazing is not many progressives want to make sure that people like Martin will have an unarmed and fearful population so that people Martin can do whatever they want.

    So people like Martin can do whatever they want? He was just walking home!

    To racist shitheels like SD, that’s a capital offense. If you are black, simply existing is a crime punishable by death. You are absolute scum.

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  68. Matt Bernius says:

    @Tom Perkins:
    The witness in questions #6 — Jonathan Good — specifically said the only thing he could be sure of was that Martin was on top. He could not swear under oath that he saw Martin hitting Zimmerman. Period.

    He initially said that he saw Martin hitting Zimmeman in discussions with the police. He later changed that to saying that he was only able to see Martin on top of Zimmerman.

    Sorry but you are playing loose with the testimony.

    He had medical treatment, where did you get the ridiculous idea he didn’t?

    I’m sorry, was writing too fast. Zimmerman did seek medical treatment from his family physician. What I meant to say was that if Zimmerman had done the followup testing his Dr had suggested then we could have more proof. As it was the Dr did not diagnose any form of concussion (weakening the entire “internal trauma” arguement btw.

    Of course I can, I’ve seen photographs of wounds on his head which are consistent only with multiple blows. Where do you pretend they came from instead?

    You are mistaking your opinion for fact. Further you are failing to provide any reason why we should think you might actually have informed opinion.

    As someone with a background in self defense and contact martial arts, I can say that (a) the broken nose and black eyes are a “cluster” injury (and pretty typical to get them all at once), (b) the contusions on the back of his shaved head could easily have occurred during the initial fall/contact with the ground or — as likely — as the two men wrestled (which would have felt to Zimmerman like getting bashed in the head.

    And, again, the investigating officers had the same opinion about *this* particular aspect of the story.

    Again, I don’t doubt Martin was on top. I don’t doubt that in the scuffle Zim’s head made contact with the ground. I completely don’t buy the entire “ground and pound” or “picking up his head and repeatedly basing it” narratives as the wound/reported after trauma (or lack there of) doesn’t match what this typically looks like.

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  69. Tom Perkins says:

    @mantis:

    “If Zimmerman fired…from the sidewalk?”

    Because that’s where Zimmerman wriggled to while trying and failing to escape from Martin, if in fact that’s even where the shot was fired. 25 feet is a guess.

    “Do you have any expertise in unarmed combat? ”

    No I have expertise in geometry. A round object won’t get two strikes that far apart on a chord from hitting a flat object without being struck on it at least twice.

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  70. mantis says:

    @Tom Perkins:

    Wow, you were there? You have so much first hand info about their movements and what exactly caused Zimmerman’s head injuries. Why didn’t you take the witness stand?

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  71. Tom Perkins says:

    “So people like Martin can do whatever they want? He was just walking home!”

    Not when he turned around or came out of hiding, burning several minutes of time in the timeline when he could have just entered his home, but instead went and assault Zimmerman–the only description of events consistent with the court established, phone call time backed timeline.

    “Sorry but you are playing loose with the testimony”

    He said he saw attempts by Martin to strike Zimmerman, which he did not see land because Martin was in the way. You’re the one playing loose with the testimony.

    “I’m sorry, was writing too fast.”

    No need to apologize, you are being as accurate as your sort ever is.

    ” As it was the Dr did not diagnose any form of concussion (weakening the entire “internal trauma” arguement btw.”

    It doesn’t weaken it a bit, it would be after the facts at issue. It’s whether it is reasonable for Zimmerman to have such concerns at the time which is the legal point, and, of course it was reasonable.

    “As someone with…bashed in the head.”

    Yadda, yadda, yadda. You don’t object that Martin caused multiple blows to the back of Zimmerman’s head. Thank you for conceding Martin was responsible for Zimmerman’s head being bashed on the concrete.

    ” I completely don’t buy the entire “ground and pound” or “picking up his head and repeatedly basing it” narratives as the wound/reported after trauma (or lack there of) doesn’t match what this typically looks like. ”

    So you think the witness who saw it is not credible why?

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  72. Tom Perkins says:

    @mantis:

    No need, I’m just regurgitating what was already known the day the issue hit Drudge–all the reasons the police let him go in the first place after being arrested. They let him go because there was no evidence of a crime, and no likelihood of it being developed.

    They made the right call.

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  73. anjin-san says:

    A round object won’t get two strikes that far apart

    The number is not especially relevant. The severity of the injury is. Zimmermann had minor scalp lacerations. Now any head wound will bleed fairly prolifically, so even a minor injury can seem impressive to people with no expertise in unarmed combat. I have seen guys walk away from fights that were very bloody and they were good as new in 10-14 days.

    Even a single sharp contact between a human skull and concrete can do considerable damage – concussion, skull fracture, brain hemmorage, even death. Repeated “bashing” of Zimmermann’s skull would have left him in need of a trip to the ER, and possibly the OR. What he got in the real world was a handi-wipe and few band aids.

    This becomes even more relevant as Zimmermann’s supporters would have us believe that Martin was a remarkable physical specimen who was in a killing rage at the time.

    A crazed, powerful attacker repeatedly smashing a human skull against concrete does not equal a few band aids. Sorry.

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  74. mantis says:

    @Tom Perkins:

    No need, I’m just regurgitating what was already known the day the issue hit Drudge–

    That explains it.

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  75. Tom Perkins says:

    “That explains it.”

    It certainly explains my exemplary accuracy and consistency. I’m not trying to make anything up or sell an agenda–except that self defense is legal in Florida, and that you have a right to ask people in public questions without being assaulted.

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  76. Tom Perkins says:

    “Even a single…few band aids.”

    None of which is legally or morally relevant, because the legal and moral question is what was reasonable for Zimmermman to be concerned about at the time he fired, when no CAT scans were handy.

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  77. anjin-san says:

    None of which is legally or morally relevant,

    Then why do y’all keep repeating the “bashing his head” story over and over in a manner that would embarrass Rain Man?

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  78. Tom Perkins says:

    Then why do y’all keep repeating the “bashing his head” story over and over in a manner that would embarrass Rain Man?

    Because Martin was bashing Zimmerman’s head into the concrete!

    Do you imagine that means Martin had to be hitting Zimmerman directly in the back of the head? It means Martin was responsible for Zimmerman’s head hitting the concrete.

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  79. anjin-san says:

    @ Tom Perkins

    Sorry, you are too stupid to burn any more daylight on. You had an expert and an experienced layman explain how we know “bashing Zimmerman’s head into the concrete” did not happen. Perhaps your experience with fighting was limited to getting scared and running home. That would, at least, explain why you became a Zimmermann fanboy.

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  80. Tom Perkins says:

    “You had an expert and an experienced layman explain how we know “bashing Zimmerman’s head into the concrete” did not happen.”

    No you didn’t, you had someone who also wasn’t there give their opinion, and have not explained how it is inconsistent with this statement, ” It means Martin was responsible for Zimmerman’s head hitting the concrete. “

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  81. @Tom Perkins:

    No need to apologize, you are being as accurate as your sort ever is.

    What, the “sort” willing to admit that they were wrong in an internet discussion thread? Those are the worst sort of all.

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  82. Tom Perkins says:

    “What, the “sort” willing to admit that they were wrong in an internet discussion thread?”

    The sort willing to see innocent people die defenseless to satisfy your moral vanity.

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  83. David M says:

    @Tom Perkins:

    The sort willing to see innocent people die defenseless

    You’ve stopped making any sense at all.

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  84. @Tom Perkins:

    The sort willing to see innocent people die defenseless to satisfy your moral vanity.

    This is a remarkable statement given the actual outcome of the story we are discussing here. There is a defenseless dead person involved, I would note.

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  85. Greg says:

    @anjin-san:
    1. Feeling threatened does not require defending yourself; unless you have behavior that requires answering every threat (which causes a lot of school fights).
    2. Calling Zimmerman ‘armed’ is used by you to portray the conflict as more one sided. The fact that he was armed did not impact the contact until Zimmerman pulled the gun. Although I will grant that being armed may have made Zimmerman act stupidly (which is not a crime, regrettably).
    3. Calling someone who is an average ADULT size (although legally a minor, in Florida) a minor, does the same thing.
    4. The location of the shooting appears to indicate the altercation did not occur in a line between the store and the residence, unless I missed some riveting testimony.
    5. Calling 911 from a cell phone or your residence is a reaction to feeling afraid from a threat, not deliberately moving to the contact, which would only happen if Martin backtracked or Zimmerman ran to catch up. Was Martin likely to fight someone who was “creepy” enough to scare him? People scared like that run away.

    The words you use show me that you are trying to portray this as a big, evil monster who went hunting a small, unprotected child. If you can’t get your loaded, emotional content under control, then it is unlikely that you can have an objective discussion.

    I’m not a Zimmerman supporter, but I was hoping for far more from this blog than the biased trolls I can find at Yahoo.

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  86. anjin-san says:

    @ greg

    you are trying to portray this as a big, evil monster who went hunting a small, unprotected child.

    > Zimmermann was an armed adult. That is a simple fact. How does pointing this out equate to portraying him as “a big, evil monster”?

    I am portraying him as what he is, a grown man who went out to play cop, something he was not up to, either physically or emotionally. He did not have the competence, skills, training, street smarts, or toughness to deal with the situation he got himself into. In other words, he was a fool – a dangerous one.

    If you are going to whine about others engaging in “loaded, emotional content”, you should probably refrain from engaging in it yourself. Zimmermann armed himself. A kid died a wholly unnecessary death. I am not going to pretend the gun was not there.

    >Similarly, Martin was a minor. Another simple fact. Why do you object when facts are mentioned?

    >Was there something protecting Martin that I am unaware of? Please share.

    Calling someone who is an average ADULT size – although legally a minor,

    Martin weighed 158lbs at the time of his death. The average weight of an adult male in America is 194.7lbs. Interestingly enough, Zimmermann is reported to have weighed 194lbs at the time of the shooting.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_weight

    Are you ignorant, or simply a liar?

    Zimmermann was an armed, full grown man. Martin was a skinny kid with candy in his pocket, going about his lawful business. If Zimmermann had simply minded his own business, everyone ends up in a warm bed that night. It’s not all that complicated.

    You might want to run along back to Yahoo. You are trying to punch above your weight class, and failing.

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  87. Matt Bernius says:

    @Tom Perkins:

    The sort willing to see innocent people die defenseless to satisfy your moral vanity.

    Funny that you make that sort of accusation about me without clearly knowing anything about me… including the fact that I TEACH MARTIAL ARTS AND SELF DEFENSE.

    If you have read most of my comments on this subject, I have done my best to walk the line of looking at the evidence with a clinical eye and not jumping to any major conclusions without some sort of backing of fact. And I try to make judgements based on — you know — actually getting my head banged on the ground pretty regularly and understand the ins-and-outs of actual self defense (including the legal ramifications).

    I have no problem at all with self defense or even the use of deadly force to defend one’s self. Hell, if you read enough threads you’ll see I even tend to defend responsible firearm ownership (though I don’t consider Flordia’s firearms laws remotely responsible).

    But just because you are getting your ass kicked, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to kill the other person.

    That said — as I have continued to state over and over again across all these threads — I never believed that 2nd degree murder was ever a correct (or just charge). And frankly, as much as I take issue with what Zimmerman did, I felt the jury reached the correct decision based on the evidence. And I think that they were being intellectually consistent in not finding for manslaughter once they decided against 2nd degree murder.

    What I don’t appreciate is a bunch of arm chair warriors speculating on stuff that they really don’t understand. And the continual mischaracterization of the supposed “facts” of the case.

    But, in the end, if you see admitting error as a sign of weakness or trying to have a reasoned debate as some type of “bias” — well, not only does it make it clear we can’t have an actual conversation, but it also suggests more than a little bit about your own biases in this debate.

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  88. anjin-san says:

    just because you are getting your ass kicked, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to kill the other person.

    We really need to get this made into a tshirt or something.

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  89. fred says:

    Instead of a lynch, a bullet was used to kill an innocent, unarmed, middle-class, black teenager who was just going about his life at 7 o’clock in the evening. An all white group of judge, prosecutors, defense lawyers and jurors (only one was non-white) sat in judgement and affirmed that Blacks enjoy a level of justice that is different from that of White Americans. Just listen to the comments of the lone juror who now has a book deal. She made up her mind even before ever hearing evidence and so too did most of the participants in the trial. The lone blacks seen was Trayvon’s teenage friend, a black faculty member and a black female fusie helper to the defense team. Blacks are in despair and angry. The vast majority of white Americans know there is a problem with race in our country. Out of this tragedy will come positive changes in our great nation.

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  90. My basic response to all this talk about head-bashing boils down to this: Zimmerman caused the situation in the first place and that makes him morally culpable.

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  91. george says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    But just because you are getting your ass kicked, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to kill the other person.

    Yup, a thousand times correct. Getting beat up used to be part of growing up (school yard fights, you win some, you lose some, kids boxed, wrestled, again sometimes you won, sometimes you lost).

    Zimmerman’s injuries from the fight were very minor – I’d get more than that from a typical hockey or rugby game. I find it hard to believe that it was anywhere close to the point where he had cause to fear for his life.

    His MMA coach said he was a particularly lousy fighter, but even so, he’d have to be used to being hit at least a little. He panicked. If there was any evidence, it’d be open and shut manslaughter (I doubt he went looking for Martin thinking to shoot him – there’d be no reason to let it come to physical blows if that was his intention). The problem is the complete lack of evidence. Presumption of innocence isn’t something you want to change lightly – and its minorities who would pay the worst price if it were removed.

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  92. tom perkins says:

    Zimmerman’s injuries from the fight were very minor – I’d get more than that from a typical hockey or rugby game.

    Which has nothing to do with it at all, since he wasn’t at a hockey or rugby game, and he had no reason to think Martin would stop.

    ” I find it hard to believe that it was anywhere close to the point where he had cause to fear for his life.”

    One blow kills with regularity, why should anyone tolerate even that one, before defending themselves effectively?

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  93. Pharoah Narim says:

    It always amuses me to listen in on the musings of lawyers and their admiration of their dedication to their trade…their arrogant dropping of jargon, etc. However, the fundamental question is– is the law to serve men or men the law? One approach satisfied normal people and makes for a happy society. The other appeals to lawyers.

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  94. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Peter: Actually the opposite is true. I have been trained in close quarters hand to hand combat. My feeling and the feeling of my fellow students was than it actually gave one more confidence to act affirmatively in a potential escalation of force. Not saying that you look to go out and kick some ass but if something pops off you’re pretty confident it won’t be your ass that’s kicked. For new students, false courage potential is high. No wonder he was rousing around in the dark looking for suspicious negros.

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  95. Pharoah Narim says:

    @manning: A bashed head against the sidewalk would leave behind lots of DNA corroborating this scenario. Where is it?

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  96. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Tom Perkins: One also has a right not to be shot because a coward is afraid. As I’ve stated before, you celebrate your own self endangerment. The precedent is clear. The last man alive–walks. You think young men don’t understand that?

    So go ahead—be the neighboorhood “Fist of Goodness”. Good luck–Hope you don’t make anyone “afraid”.

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  97. Tom Perkins says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    “One also has a right not to be shot because a coward is afraid.”

    There is no daylight between this fatuous statement of yours, and the notion that self defense can never be legal or just. Also, what is at issue is the reasonableness of the fear, and no issue of cowardice.

    “As I’ve stated before, you celebrate your own self endangerment.”

    Indeed, innocent self preservation id of interest to the rational.

    “The precedent is clear. The last man alive–walks.”

    There is no such precedent here at all. The “precedent” the law was intended to establish is that when there is no evidence, there should be no trial. There is nothing about this law which makes it more advantageous to kill.

    “You think young men don’t understand that?”

    I’m certain you don’t understand a thing about it.

    “So go ahead—be the neighboorhood “Fist of Goodness”. Good luck–Hope you don’t make anyone “afraid”. ”

    And as I thought, the leftist goal here is to destroy the concept of self defense and the defense of others, and to establish in law the idea that only the state’s centuria can be validly armed. The ludicrousness of that proposition is clear.

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  98. Tom Perkins says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Why do you pretend it would not have washed away?

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  99. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Tom Perkins:

    Your interpretation of issues in terms of left and right is old, tired, and quite frankly–detached from reality. The real world has never worked like that…This concept, however is useful to political elites of every brand to recruit useful idiots to devote time, money, and advocacy championing their causes.

    You can’t wash away the non-water soluble chemicals in blood. They soak down into a surface and can be exposed using other chemical agents. If there were blood, hair, or skin on that sidewalk…it could have been revealed. Many people have been ensnared by blood they “thought” they had washed away. Blood luminating chemicals can even reveal blood that’s been painted over.

    Self defense and Stand Your Ground are not the same thing. Deploying deadly force in an avoidable situation is unacceptable where one person has no weapon. That is NOT self defense. I guess all young men should end altercations by shooting the other person. Yeah…seems smart to me.

    Fear…by nature is unreasonable so its use as a standard in avoiding taking responsibility is stupid. In each of these cases, a jury should weigh the evidence and be the final factor in determining if that fear was indeed reasonable. If found that the shooter overreacted (George Zimmerman) and made an unreasonable decision in deploying deadly force–despite their fears–the shooter needs to be held to account.

    What you want is a free ride for cowboys who shoot people you don’t think much of in the first place. Of course, the first time a cowboy gets shot because a youngster is afraid..you’ll raise holy hell. I’d like to think it to be miserable being you—but I know that ignorance is bliss. As I said before, live life…be you. Just don’t make anyone afraid if there aren’t any witnesses around.

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