Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Trayvon Martin and "Making It About Race"

    Whenever an unarmed black person gets shot to death, the way Trayvon Martin was, you'll hear some people defend the shooter by claiming that the shooting wasn't racist, and how dare you judge what's in the shooter's heart? The shooter would have killed any unarmed person for walking down the street in a sweatshirt, or walking down the street with a wallet, or performing whatever "suspicious" everyday activity prompted the homicide. The defense is that the killer is not a racist, but a universal menace to society. This is supposed to be reassuring somehow. It's a thoroughly illogical defense. It even suggests that no matter what the person making the argument says, and no matter what they tell themselves, they know in their hearts that racism was the motive for the violence. In fact, their own sense of safety is based on their rock-bottom belief that the killing was racist.

    Anyone who sincerely believed that George Zimmerman was equally likely to kill a white teenager, or a teenager of any other race, who happened down the street with a packet of Skittles would want Zimmerman disarmed and off the streets yesterday. They certainly wouldn't be talking about being reasonable and making sure Zimmerman wasn't judged in the media and casting about for anything that could be twisted into "reasonable doubt." If you really thought Zimmerman was just as likely to kill your son, your grandson, your nephew, as he was to kill Trayvon Martin, for exactly the same reasons, you would demand that Zimmerman be held without bail.

    In the same way, if you really believed that the New York City Police (for example), were likely to shoot any unarmed civilian in the city 41 times over a minor misunderstanding (for example), you would want massive firings and new leadership from outside the force. You wouldn't feel safe walking the streets until you'd been convinced that the whole department had been shaken up and radically changed its ways. You wouldn't get all mealy-mouthed about the thin blue line or how cops "need to do whatever they have to to be safe." You'd know that until things changed in the police force you would not be safe. And that would be intolerable.

    No. When someone defends a killing like Trayvon Martin's or tries to find a way to justify it, they are admitting that they do not believe themselves to be in any danger. They believe themselves, and their loved ones, to be safe because they believe that only an African-American could be killed for such little reason. They not only believe that black men and black teenagers are in special danger of being shot and killed but count on that danger being racially biased, count on the danger hovering over another part of the population and not over their own. They are sure that the "Stand Your Ground" law will not permit someone to shoot them or theirs, are sure that quick-triggered police will never shoot them or their sons. Anyone who says that these capricious homicides aren't about race is only saying that because they know it is about race, and because they're okay with that.


    That's okay. We need to hit this issue more than once.

    CBN hedged their bets, as usual and then following three or four takes upon the incidence; just segued. It was interesting to me how they handled it.

    I just commented (under my own blog) that Lawrence O'Donnell has to win the Dayly Presentation of the Day Award for how he handled it. The damn self described attorney for the assailant assailed. hahahahah.

    So Larry cross examined an empty chair. hahahahahahah

    Okay. So two men go into an unoccupied bar with a gun, and someone dies.

    But in this case, one man had a gun and one child did not!

    And they were not in a bar.

    Mac's blog is more compelling because it involved her own kid (an adult even though just an adult)

    My blog discussed previous self defense pleas from three hundred years ago.

    Jon Stewart's riff went on and on tonite where nothing was revealed except he was not in love with Geraldo.

    Okay. We must stand our ground.

    But what if we both have a right to stand our ground?

    Again, I found ten cases in over two hundred years that sanctioned this stand your ground bullshite.

    We have all heard the expression:

    Bringing a gun to a knife fight.

    Here we have someone bringing a gun to a skittle fight.

    There is something happening here and we do not know what it is.

    Scarborough, a guy I detest, did the finest job challenging the officials who did not arrest Zimmerman.

    A really fine job.

    Screw NRA, screw the sources of the stand your ground legislation; Joe just said hey why was not this shooter arrested?

    I am against this new legislation that has spread across my country; but it has no application here until some media scavenger defends Zimmerman in court.

    Convict the fellow before a jury of his peers.

    And then redact these silly laws.

    Maybe a hundred folks have died as a result of these stupid laws in the last few years; I know for a fact that 30,000 have lost their lives in gun play sans statistics relating to suicide during the last few years.

    That's all I got!


    Joe S is reflecting how most of us feel in Florida. Keep in mind that Marcos Rubio was Speaker of the House that wrote and passed that law that Jeb Bush signed. You know the GOP dream team for president in 2016. The new black panthers offered a $10,000.00 REWARD to the where abouts of Zimmerman. I think it is the group out of Tampa that put up the reward.

    Jon Stewart's riff went on and on tonite where nothing was revealed except he was not in love with Geraldo.

    Guns don't kill people, hoodies kill people.


    Of course the race of the victim matters.  I doubt Zimmerman would have even followed a white kid.  Though I have no doubt that if he had shot a white kid he'd have been arrested immediately after.

    Beyond race, though, there is a scenario where I could imagine myself getting shot in the same situation.  If Zimmerman had been stalking me like that, I might well have decided to defend myself the way he claims Martin did.  Once in over his head in a fight, that coward Zimmerman probably was willing to shoot anyone.  In that sense, Zimmerman is a general menace whose racism brought it all to the surface.

    I am willing to bet big that Zimmerman is a no-good prick coward with shit for brains and a felt need to be something he isn’t. Based on what I have heard, and then what I believe, I would probably not be willing to convict him on more than aggravated manslaughter unless more direct and conclusive evidence comes forward even though I believe he is guilty of more. The problem in this particular case is that a jury can be selected which has at least a few people psychologically inclined to be sympathetic to the person I assume is guilty and there probably will be “reasonable doubt” in their minds.

    I saw on some news program a guy claiming that the physical confrontation lasted for a full minute with Zimmerman being pummeled by Martin. Almost certainly complete bullshit. A minute in a real fight is a very long time. After about thirty second even a young man in good shape is completely gassed and is gasping for air. Also, unlike in the movies, a person who gets hit hard in the face carries graphic evidence of it for several weeks. Several good shots and and the recipient has a rainbow of red blood blisters surrounded by bands of yellow and purple highlighting lots of swelling. Did Zimmerman exhibit any evidence that he was in a real fight? A fight that would make him fear for his life? Did Martin’s body show evidence of being in a fight? If it was close to an even fight both would be marked. If Martin gained quick advantage and pushed it, Zimmerman’s face would be a mass of evidence. Neither showing much trauma would indicate that Zimmerman was quick to go to his ace in the hole.

    Another thing about your imagined scenario where you would confront Zimmerman. I can easily imagine that Trevor Martin was even less ready to put up with Zimmerman’s crap than he might have been in other circumstances. Walking along talking to his girlfriend about a jerk following him while getting the advice from her that he had got all his life, just walk away, or run away, might might well make it more likely that a proud young man would get in the mood to say hell no, I have a right to be here without answering to some prick who just doesn’t like my looks. Martin may very well, and very rightly, have not shown one bit of deference or submission that a coward carries a gun to get.

    I hate security cameras but it is a crying shame that one of the growing swarm of them didn’t pick up this confrontation.


    Yeah, I suspect Zimmerman's fight tale is all hot air.

     I just read this piece from Counterpunch [A somewhat ironic name in this context] and it does a better job at voicing some of my views concerning this incident.

    I particularly like how he points this out:

    Though it is not noble or Christian of me to admit it, I hope Trayvon got a few good shots in.  The big irony here is the much-cited “Stand Your Ground Law,” quoted as a defense for Zimmerman’s actions; but if the phrase and the concept have any meaning at all, they would, rather, go to justify Trayvon Martin’s punches!

    This is something I sensed early on (and I think Richard Day and destor did too,) that focusing on the "Stand Your Ground" law might not be an appropriate way to go in this case.

    At the same time, the  "Black Panther" group that has been in the news as calling for vigilante action against Zimmerman (I heard Trayvon's father disavow them on the TV news) are taking it too far to the other side, in a way endorsing  "Zimmerman theory" as I see it, rather than the intent (if not the sloppy writing) of "Stand Your Ground."

    I think it's important to focus on the real insult that was added to injury here--the egregious conduct of the PD in the investigation of a homicide, and not to get into the kind of rights allowed in self-defense. To be a Ghandi in the face of Zimmermans of the world is not the answer to the problems involved, neither is becoming another Zimmerman.

    Oh, I agree that he's both a racist and a general menace, and that the two are by no means exclusive. And either reason is more than enough to throw him in prison.

    But anyone defending him has to view him as *only* a racist, or else defending him would be irrational.

    Excellent argument. Drug laws, voter suppression laws and Stand Your Ground laws are all about keeping the minorities in their place. It is interesting that many Conservatives reflexively try to build a defense for Zimmerman. Hannity says it was a tragic "accident". Rivera says the "hoodie" was as responsible as the gun. Malkin put up a picture of a black bare-chested teen flashing gang signs. The teen was supposed to be Martin, it wasn't.

    When the government confronts enclaves like the one in Waco, Conservatives rail about "Jack-booted thugs". When unarmed black teens are murdered or maimed by police, or when the murder of Martin is ignored by the Sanford police, Conservatives support the government violence. A clear double standard.

    I disagree with your comments, I don't think he was singled out because of the color of his skin.  the kid was in trouble relatively often and had stolen items in a backpack, just for one min lets say Zimmermon was the victim  here.  I support the legal system and the officers involved in the investigation.  Come on America, not everything is about race.  If you need something to march about lets try marching on the healthcare bill.


    How would they know he was in trouble relatively often or had stolen items in a backpack (assuming this is true)? Remember? He was a (black) John Doe.

     It is always interesting to hear the opinion of someone who grew up on a different planet.

    Where are you getting your information?  What trouble had Martin been in?  A minor suspension for a non-crime?  What stolen items were in his backpack?  How would Zimmerman have known about them?

    It's harmful and irresponsible, citing these kinds of matters, to put forth incendiary statements as fact without verified proof.  If you have such proof, then include the sources allowing others to ascertain the validity of your assertions.

    Otherwise, it is incumbent upon you to issue a retraction and then STFU.

    As we all have the verified truth on the 911 call, the call with the girlfriend, the events after phone dropped, the past history of both Zimmerman and Martin, whether the police gave the gun back or not....

    (even mainstream media outlets weren't sure whether Zimmerman was re-loaded after a quick check)

    Were Zimmerman's wounds checked to see if self-inflicted? Was he taken to a hospital for forensics? How is that investigation proceeding?

    It's probably healthy to realize we're all being taken for a ride, and our house of cards can come crashing down with some significant change in evidence in any direction.

    Welcome to news speculation, where media drips out unresearched "facts" mixed with theories and guesses, and blogs go wild!

    The collective 'we' at this site cannot control the media, but 'we' sure can monitor the posts here and call BS (or worse) when some assert facts not in evidence as they say. 

    The fact is a young boy is dead.  

    There are many questions that need to be truthfully and fully answered before final judgments declared.  Such as:

    Why did Zimmerman choose to carry a gun?  Why not a tasor or something that would protect him, but not cause irreversible harm?

    Why did the police not perform due diligence as normally required and needed?

    And a dozen more at least.....

    Whatever the facts show, this is going to have long term consequences not just for the families, but I believe for our society.  I still hope that there can be some positive changes evolving from this tragedy.

    "Suspicious" is quite a suspicious word in this context, is it not?  Can anyone, whether an apologist for Zimmerman or not, explain exactly what Trayvon Martin had done to arouse suspicion?  Apparently people are uncomfortable admitting that he was profiled, but what other reason was there?  Zimmerman says on the 911 call that he was suspicious of Martin because Martin was walking through the neighborhood and looking around.  And that he was black.

    The real question at hand is this: What did Trayvon Martin do to warrant being approached and confronted whatsoever​ by an armed vigilante?  As far as I can tell, all he did was 1.) walk down a street he had a every right to be on at a time, just after 7PM, that should be completely uncontroversial 2.) wear clothes, including the same hooded sweatshirts that every white person I know owns several of and would have likewise been wearing in rainy weather, and 3.) be black.

    Is walking down the street at 7PM inherently suspicious?  Is anyone ready to make that argument?  We've already heard the dumbass hoodie argument from Geraldo, but even that jackass had to direct his comments to the parents of African-American and Latin-American teenagers​.  So even Geraldo's stupidity is revealing here.  White parents don't need to worry about telling their kids to take off their Hollister and American Eagle hoodies. Everyone just gets​ that, see?

    Ain't no hoodie like a black kid's hoodie 'cause a black kid's hoodie gets shot at.  It wasn't the hoodie.  It's the same mentality that underlies the disproportional treatment minorities receive in our criminal justice system and as a point of the mission in the War on Drugs - namely, that blacks and other minorities are just inherently violent, inherently criminal, inherently ​suspicious​.

    Guess what, folks?  That's racism.

    Also, perfect pitch once again, Dr. C.

    He was ducking into entryways and under trees and canopies to avoid the rain (or avoid being seen).

    Or avoid the dude with the creeper mustache who was following him.  I used to skateboard around a lot, often at night, and on many occasions people followed me, threw things at me, and even jumped out of their cars and tried to chase me down.  Group of guys.  Three or four, two of them were a bit bigger than me.  Probably would have kicked my ass a good one had I not suspiciously ditched them by cutting through someone's yard.

    Yet this young man is being posthumously denigrated for defending himself against an armed, self-appointed vigilante who was stepping far beyond his capacity as a neighborhood watch volunteer - and a man who has a history of violence both with the police and with women.  What are the chances this guy approached Trayvon Martin and politely identified himself as a neighborhood watch volunteer, only to have the kid simply attack him?  Even if he did, how does that justify shooting him?  Whatever happened to the standard of meeting force with force?  Does "stand your ground" mean that you can shoot at literally any threat?

    What about "stand your ground" for Martin?  If Zimmerman approached him aggressively or put a hand on him, Martin was well within his rights to defend himself.  Again, this is a minor​ who is being approached by a strange man for reasons that are not necessarily known to him.  Who really had the reason to be afraid?

    I should probably be afraid for my sanity because I'm engaging in discussion with The Decider.

    I wish I could let you in on all of the inside scoop that I know about but it's on Facebook and you have to be a friend of my friends to read their blogs and blog back to them. Let's just say that the worm that turns last usually turns loudest.

    Thanks, DF.

    I must admit that you have developed a very interesting perspective on this, Doc. Stand your ground laws don't bother me because I feel so certain that no one could every believe that I am a threat.  At least, not a physical threat. Existential...that's another matter.

     Change just a couple words, but retain the essence, in the following paragraph and it could be a description of our national attitude, apparently held about equally across the political spectrum, about our national defense policies and actions.

    They not only believe that black men and black teenagers are in special danger of being shot and killed but count on that danger being racially biased, count on the danger hovering over another part of the population and not over their own. They are sure that the "Stand Your Ground" law will not permit someone to shoot them or theirs, are sure that quick-triggered police will never shoot them or their sons. Anyone who says that these capricious homicides aren't about race is only saying that because they know it is about race, and because they're okay with that.

    A good read.  Thanks much. 

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