Michael Maiello's picture

    The Unhinged Character Assassination Of A Dead Teenager

    Sorry for writing about Trayvon Martin again, but it's a topic I can't let go.  Once the President decided to comment on the issue, his political enemies have gathered in a predictable attempt to turn his from the heart honesty into a political liability.

    But they can only do that by proving that the President was foolish to comment on the issue and they can only do that by establishing that the President didn't know the facts and that he rushed to take sides based on race.  Obama's critics have, of course, found an enthusiastic audience for this argument.

    This is depressing, for all sorts of reasons.  It is also not surprising.  A story like just confirms oh so many deeply held prejudices.  But the narrative only works if Obama was wrong.  So Trayvon Martin's character must be impugned.

    Step one is to claim that the liberal media portrayed Martin as a good kid when he was, in fact, a young criminal.  This is not difficult in the internet age.  You can find things to take out of context on anyone, especially a teenage boy. Or, you can make stuff up.  The big new claim is that Martin beat up a bus driver.  This is based on a supposed Tweet that has since been removed from the Internet by Martin's family who are, of course, just trying to cash in.

    Now, Martin is a "drug dealer."  Because every kid caught with a little weed at school is a drug dealer, right?

    Oh, and maybe we was high when Zimmerman confronted him.  Let's get that into the story.  Because the demon weed makes people uncontrollably violent.  We all know that.

    This whole bit about Martin talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone and visiting the neighborhood to see family is just too wholesome.  Let's make him a thief.  Yes, today I am reading on the Internet that Martin had a backpack full of stolen jewelry (14 pieces, said one poster to another Web site) and a screw driver.  So now he was on a burglary spree.

    Oh, and "multiple witnesses" saw him attack Zimmerman and slam his head into the pavement.  The existence of these witnesses is in doubt, but not on the Internet.  Funny how the account of the fight seems so perfectly crafted to excuse Zimmerman's use of a pistol at close range.  It's too late to go plant a weapon on Martin so let's make the sidewalk into a weapon.  You can kill or permanently injure somebody that way, right?  Heck, it's an especially scary way to do some one in.  We all remember the curb stomp from "American History X," right?

    Hopefully the Justice Department investigation will clear up the facts so far as the legal system is concerned, leading to a rational decision about whether or not Zimmerman should be prosecuted.

    No matter how the investigation turns out, though, false claims about Martin's personality and life are bound to persist, perhaps for years.  All so that some people could try to score some points on Obama.



    No need to apologize for blogging about Trayvon more than once. It's a complicated topic. I'm planning to blog about it at least one more time this week, and Ta-Nehisi Coates has been steadily producing brilliant posts on the topic for weeks.

    I think the character assassination is about more than political advantage. It's about creating a narrative that can insulate the believer from reality. The backpack full of stolen goods (nowhere mentioned in early reports) functions this way.

    What we're talking about is a reality that some people refuse to accept, and will go to great lengths to deny.

    It's stunning to me because I constantly forget this and am flummoxed that people spent years on Obama's birth certificate, still believe he's a secret Muslim, will unapologetically deny global warming even as the very companies who they think they're defending by insurance policies against its potential effects...

    It goes on and on.  It's a willful and deliberate break with reality.  "A bag of stolen goods, you say? Suits me fine, I'll believe that."

    I don't want to claim some sort of monopoly on rational thought or anything because I'm sure I believe some stupid things but this kind of thing actually makes communication impossible to a David Foster Wallacian degree.

    Many people are clearly primed to believe that a black kid is probably a criminal anyway.  The innuendo just confirms their "suspicions."

    White kids go to the emergency room for drugs something like three times as often as minority kids.  Now, maybe the minority kids are just better at holding their shit.  Or maybe they're just not doing drugs in such quantities.  But nevermind all that.  An empty bag of weed found on a high school kid is clearly justification for homicide.

    It was only empty because he smoked it all in preparation for his crime spree, DF.  Is it racist just to point out that somebody seems crimey and has to be shot?

    Who smokes weed before a crime spree?  I thought that it caused "amotivational syndrome," which is why no one who has succeeded at anything has ever smoked grass.  Crime sprees are fairly ambitious.  Shouldn't it be something like meth or PCP?  Hey, what about good old crack?  We all know that black people smoke crack like it's going out of style.  Are they ​sure​ they didn't find an empty dimebag or vial or a crack pipe or something?  Or maybe a gun that you can smoke crack out of?  Work with me here, people.

    Well, see, they smoke the weed to take the edge off all of the crack.  Truly, this young man's criminality is likely impossible for mortal minds like ours to tally.

    If you have no gun to plant;  plant stolen goods? 

    Smash your nose against a tree and claim you were assaulted

    Or grab a bag of skittles from a kids hands and when the kid fights, to recover his goods, claim he attacked you.  

    It's easy to speculate.

    The whole thing smells rotten.

    Virginia, 1830's, from page 110, Bound for Canaan:

    ....Patrollers gathered in a tavern in southern Virginia told a Northern traveler that they had just returned from an unsuccessful expedition to kill a fugitive slave....When asked if it was not against the law to shoot an unarmed man, the visitor was matter-of-factly informed "that the laws of that state were pointedly against it, as they were in any state, but the damned Negroes were so bad that nobody took notice of it-that it was a common thing to shoot them there...and it was not common in those cases to make any inquiry-a hole was dug, the Negro thrown in, covered up, and that was the end of it."...

    A lot has changed since the 1830's, yet, some things haven't changed.

    In the 1830's it wasn't legal to shoot unarmed persons, today it's legal in many states. What hasn't changed is the shooter may get away with murder if the unarmed victim is black. Why, same old excuse, they are 'so bad'.

    I think it might behoove to keep in mind with this case that it is a defense attorney's job to "propagandize," including trying to get his propaganda out into the minds of the jury pool, while it that is decidedly not the job of the Police Department--just the opposite.

    Of course, everyone is allowed to try to make the defense attorney realize that his skills stink at judging what propaganda might work, and how many out there in the jury pool might find what he is saying offensive. But again, eyes on the prize: the police.

    I did hear a retired Florida Police Captain on MSNBC last night say that their behavior was shameful and basically also er, imply, that central Florida police have a sorry and shameful history in this regard. Wish I could remember which program  so I could find the clip....

    Yeah, the police seem to be the real issue.  The local PD has a huge interest in making this go away.  If Zimmerman is ultimately charged with a crime and convicted the next step is likely a civil rights investigation into the whole department, maybe even into the region.  Who knows what that would unearth?  A whole lotta pensions are on the line, to say the least.

    Oh, and in case you're not annoyed enough, Drudge is now carrying stories about how Obama's campaign is selling Hoodies.  Which the campaign also sold in 2008.  And which is something Mitt's campaign sells as well.  But... outrage!

    It's time to storm Old Navy.  It's the only way we can keep our children safe from Obama.

    These folks disgust me, and if there was ever a case for stand your ground isn't it in Trayvon's favor? He was being stalked, he was being harassed?

    And according to the lead homicide investigator didn't believe Zimmerman, he wanted to arrest him, but the States Attorney said no. According to the ABC report:

    Chris Serino filed an affidavit on Feb. 26, the night Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman, saying he did not believe Zimmerman's version of events.

    Thanks for the news tip, here's a better link:

    Trayvon Martin Investigator Wanted Manslaughter Charge
    By Matt Gutman in Sandford, ABC News, March 27

    The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News.

    But Sanford, Fla., Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney's office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn't enough evidence to lead to a conviction, the sources told ABC News.

    Police brought Zimmerman into the station for questioning for a few hours on the night of the shooting, said Zimmerman's attorney, despite his request for medical attention first. Ultimately they had to accept Zimmerman's claim of self defense. He was never charged with a crime.

    Serino filed an affidavit on Feb. 26, the night that Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman, that stated he was unconvinced Zimmerman's version of events [....]

    The original framing of this story was an innocent 17-year-old walking home from 7-11 and getting attacked by overzealous racist white/Hispanic vigilante.

    For which I shared the outrage, as well as the "Stand Your Ground" law, which seems to increase the chance of gun nuttiness.

    Does a suspension with women's jewelry & a watch in his backpack alter my feelings? It does make me question whether Martin might have been doing something else on his way home, having more access to the gated community, though the conversation with his girlfriend points away from that.

    Ignoring the gun issue, was Zimmerman a wacko, or doing  a job that was increasingly necessary with more and more crime - 8 burglaries & 9 thefts in just over a year, seemingly caused in a large part by "young black males"?:



    So for me I'm left with a tougher question - how to decrease crime and tone-down fear of "young black males" so crimeless blacks don't get targeted and people of all colors don't get their homes ripped off.

    And how to get guns off the street - for criminals and vigilantes.

    What I still doubt is that a much thinner though much taller Martin would attack a much bulkier Zimmerman unprovoked. Even though I don't like the reverse profiling of Zimmerman based on 1 rather unflattering photo.

    I would like to know what forensics say about Zimmerman's wounds - such as the supposed broken bone.

    In any case, I suspect we're just going to get 2 tribes yelling "racist" and "soft-on-crime" at each other and progress not an inch.



    According to some records found, so far, George Zimmerman is the son of retired Supreme (FL) Court Magistrate Judge Robert J. Zimmerman, and his mother Gladys Zimmerman is a court clerk.  A friend of mine found that he might have three closed arrests, 7/18/2005 for resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer, Div 10 (whatever that means). 

    8/9/2005 for domestic violence div 44?

    And again on 8/10/2005 domestic violence div 46.

    I don't know what any of this means, but I know violence when I see it.

    I suggest we all continue to watch this case, and stay on top of comments on it, seeing as how the media is now trying to paint Trayvon black - and you know what I mean by THAT.


    Just to qualify, those are records from a few weeks 7 years before, when he was 21 - people do have rough spells. In his time doing neighborhood watch, I don't know that there are any other reports of violence than this shooting.

    Nice post, Destor.  Didn't see the earlier one(s), but I sure liked reading this.

    And, Lis, your subtle point is well taken here.  Zimmerman's well connected and seems to get charged with things that miraculously just don't stick.  Hm.  Can we connect those dots?


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