may i please post a link to this? it is beautifully stated.
I just wanted to say that I agree with you. Well put.
The 'right' for police to react first is concerning. I seem to recall hearing recently about a man who was pulled over for erratic driving and ended up being beaten/kicked by the officers until one of them found an insulin pen in his pants. The driver was having a blod-sugar issue and thus acting 'suspiciously'. *sigh*
I agree that Zimmerman's actions in following Trayvan should negate the "fear for his life' defense ... but I don't think it will.
The research you mention doesn't surprise me, people tend to see others with their own attributes and faults overlayed with their suspicions and fears. Not a good situation for someone who wants to be in control of things and is armed.
I would love to see law enforcement people (in addition to politicians and lawyers) held to a higher standard of behavior than the ordinary citizen. Things like this where the lawmakers voted down an amendment to make sure that they weren't exempt from the speed camera enforcement. http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/27/2744.aspEdited at 2012-03-27 03:32 pm (UTC)
This is the opinion post. I expect people to disagree with some of this. I hope Ms Moon won't delete it but it is her right to do so which is why I've separated it from the other post
I will note that I certainly think that Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter and that I agree racism by Sanford PD is a major reason why he was not arrested at the time. Bluntly if he was going to be a neighborhood watch guy he had, at the very least, a duty to state who he was and ask Martin why he was there. By not doing that sort of thing he set in train the whole mess and hence, is a fault.
However this is the controversial bit. The statistics indicate that young black males do commit disproportionately more petty crime than any other group in the US. Second I believe are young hispanic males. The differences in the numbers are too large for this to be purely racism, although undoubtedly racism in reporting may tweak the numbers a bit. What this means that suspecting a young black guy in a hoodie of being likely to commit a crime is not necessarily racism, it's simple math. And in fact there is some evidence that Martin may have, at other times, been a petty criminal. Now that doesn't mean he deserved to die, because if everyone who had once done a bit of theft or shoplifting were shot then I, for one, wouldn't be alive to write this, but it does indicate that he not only looked like a petty crook but actually was one some of the time. In other words, since he wasn't known in the gated community where he was walking, it was not unreasonable to suspect that he might have been going to commit a crime.
What I'm trying probably badly to say here, is that Martin is not as pure as driven snow and that nothing that Zimmerman did shows he's a racist. We don't know but I suspect he'd have followed any hooded, gangsta dressed young male and given that such people are actually the ones who commit most burglaries and the like he had a justification to do so that is not based on racism so much as rational evaluation of who is likely to commit a crime.
It does seem to me, however, that anyone who shoots and kills someone else should automatically be arrested for manslaughter. Now later on (possibly very quickly in some cases) the charges may be dropped when it is clear that the shooter acted in a justified manner but initially law enforcement should assume that a crime has been committed and gather appropriate evidence. By not gathering the evidence in this case the local PD have managed to exacerbate racial tensions when there was absolutely no need to do so.
To go back to racism, there is a further problem here which is that no one (other than the occasional right-winger who is promptly called a racist or worse) protests the fact that for many black males it seems that being a gangsta is considered the height of coolness and that studying etc. is considered as practically a betrayal of ones race. People protest the racism that may stop some blacks from getting ahead but they rarely protest or make any effort to fix what appears to be the highly dysfunctional US black culture (and from what I can tell a similar hispanic gangsta culture is also spreading). This unwillingness to be judgemental on such matters is a big issue - it isn't US specific, we see similar problems in the UK (where the underclass is not limited to people of African origin - witness the riots last year). It seems to me that by not calling for change in culture we're actually being racist (or classist) because, effectively, what we're saying is "you people are savages who can't handle modern civilized life so we won't complain about your inability to do so". Low expectations are just as demoralizing as overt discrimination because they make you feel like you have no perceived intrinsic worth and I suspect that contributes to the attraction lawlessness has on black youth - it becomes one way to show that you can do things on your own without help.
Is it that the crimes are committed by [specific group of people] or that the convictions are [specific group of people]. For example if a person is murdered in their home and has a live-in SO, the police know that in 90 something percent of the convictions the SO is found guilty so they focus on that and may miss other potential leads.
People see what they expect (or in some cases what they want to see) which is why double-blind is so critical in science experiments, if the observer expects to see something, they will....
Do some African-Americans commit crimes? Yes, so do some Caucasians, some Asians, and some Hispanics. I agree that the gangster culture may lead people into committing the crimes but I've seen non-minorities having the same clothing and attitude.
Recent research has shown that when people have a firearm in hand--even a toy one--they are much more likely to think another person also has a firearm. (italics added later, and oh wow, I can edit comments now; when did that happen?)
This ties in with some of the neuropsych stuff I've been reading. People's perceptions are at least in part "modelled" by the brain, using "circuits" strongly affected by emotion. Furthermore the part that judges threat/no threat is actually *faster* than the part that lets you see what (hopefully) is there. So if you're subconsciously afraid of a group, your modeling system is more likely to show you a gun when they're reaching for a wallet or a cell phone. The misperception is real and honest, but if you act on it, the innocent victim is still innocent, and still a victim.
It's kind of scary actually.
Not that I'm saying that's what happened in this case--just that I think some of the cases of cops being more likely to shoot black people stem from this. And it's crazy unfair and I don't know what to do about it, except encourage small children of different races to mix as much as possible, make friends and learn to see each other as individuals.
Edited at 2012-03-27 04:55 pm (UTC)
2012-03-27 05:57 pm (UTC)
It appears that some comments doubled themselves...as we all know, sometimes emails and posts appear twice when the person writing them pushed "SEND" once. I'm going to try to delete the doubled posts without deleting the original posts, but I'm not sure it will work. For the record, at this time (just before 1 pm Central Daylight Time where I am) I am not intentionally deleting any original post. As is my policy, if persons show up who act like trolls or hornet swarms (groups of raging ranters following a troll to a site) those comments will be deleted, but none qualify for that at the moment. If deleting the second of two identical comments also blips the first--I apologize to the writer and invite an attempt to repost it.
Next we will see, "I knocked on the guy's door, he answered with a gun nearby, so I shot him." Self Defense!
I completely agree that the "self-defense against self-defense" argument is idiotic. It is obvious that the victim had the right for self-defense.
Unfortunately, that actually happened in Baton Rouge on a Halloween night back in the 90's. Two dudes got lost going to a party, knocked on the wrong door and got shot. And yes, the murderer got off. There wasn't even going to be an arrest, investigation or even a trial until people protested.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshihiro_Hattori
Regardless of the "stand your ground" law, there's also the fact that bringing a gun into it against an *unarmed* attacker counts as "escalation of force" which *normally* gets you in big trouble.
That's one of the big warnings from *all* the "pro-gun" (pro self defense) books and resources.
So that *alone* is reason for asking why the cops didn't do anything.
First, I'd like to link please.
Second, I grew up watching TV in the 50's and 60's - Westerns and the Andy Griffith show. A common trope on Westerns was the vigilante who killed an innocent person, sometimes another white, but most often an outsider of some sort. And Barney Fife on Andy Griffith, who was hypereager and vigilant, and so was not allowed to carry any bullets for his gun.
Where are the equivalents in mass media now? Zimmerman apparently is not racist in the strict sense of an hater and Klan member, but he did have biases that he did not recognize. We need to be taught to notice our own leanings when we are young.
As for how to define a racist, and your statement that Zimmerman "apparently is not racist in the strict sense of an hater and Klan member"...that is not really the definition. Many racists are not Klan members, for one thing (some racists avoid connection with openly racist organizations.) But here are the facts given that point to Zimmmerman being racist: a) he found a black youth walking down the street to be suspicious, to warrant report and to warrant following and harassing. A complete review of his previous 911 calls, and their subjects (were they all dark-skinned) would clarify the matter, but considering a black person walking down the street "suspicious" and worth following and harassing is a strong indication of racism. b) On one of his 911 tapes he referred to Martin as a "coon" (a derogatory term used by racists) and expressed disgust that "they" (people like Martin) were "getting away."
Oscar Hammerstein's "They Have To Be Carefully Taught" (From _South Pacific_ from those who don't know it) is a scathing denunciation of racism in that time period. It hasn't changed, except that we've peeled off some of the excuses and left its ugliness exposed.
2012-04-04 05:10 pm (UTC)
The Flaw is in the Law (Elizabeth Dowling)
In 1985 I was raped at gunpoint; yes life is tough. (I am Elizabeth Dowling.) Because of various difficulties (everything was scheduled around the defendant, not my schedule, and it went downhill from there), I started researching the rights of victims.
I agree that defendants need all the Constitutional laws that exist; imagine a place where the police could break down your door for no reason (well, it happened to Kenneth Chamberlain, shot dead inside his home Nov. 19, 2011 for the crime of a medical alert malfunctioning, in White Plains, NY). Imagine that the police could wire-tap you without any warrant (whoops, again, they are allowed to track internet, Facebook, cell phone calls, and more now under the rules of the Patriot Act and other new acts). Or imagine that they could arrest you and put you in prison without a charge (whoops...). Well, at least in lovely writing, the protection of the Magna Carta and Roman Law "Due Process" gives at least the semblance of authority in the U.S. Constitution. (Roman law is quoted by St. Paul in the book of Acts when brought to a Roman court: Acts 25:16 "It is not the custom of the Romans to condemn any man, before that he who is accused have his accusers present, and have liberty to make his answer, to clear himself of the things laid to his charge.")
The 9th Amendment of the Constitution mentions unwritten rules. "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This had to mean the rest of common law and Magna Carta, because those were the rights "retained by the people." However, this offers no protection for victims, because for the most part, the 9th Amendment is ignored, since it spells out none of these "certain rights," and the 10th Amendment encourages laws to be ignored that are not spelled out.
In an A.C.L.U. book about victims' rights, they sift through the law in the Constitution:
Legally, the victim of any crime is "society." Society will now pay for legal actions unlike in colonial times where victims had to pay police and courts and jails or the criminals would not be tried and jailed. But the law should have required society to do these things without taking away rights of victims, who only may sue in civil court. If "society" does not feel that it is a victim, then a criminal could go free, a problem long before "Stand your ground."
Legally, the actual victim of assault or death is only a "witness" to any crime. Evidence against a criminal can be ignored. In the case of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., his son is begging the NY DA to admit the audio and video recording of police killing his father, but there is no law compelling the DA to do it. The police said that this man had come at them with a hatchet and a butcher's knife. Audio and video show a man at first telling them his heart monitor had gone off by mistake; the medical alert company telling the police that the call was canceled; the police banging on the door, telling the man they were coming in anyway; and shooting him. (The police added the "n" word, and made fun of Mr. Chamberlain when he said "Semper Fi" since he had been a Marine for 6 years. He was also a retired corrections officer.) The DA is not required to pursue the case in a timely manner, nor press charges against the police who shot Mr. Chamberlain, nor reveal the names of those police who did the crime, nor use evidence.
(A footnote to this: At least in the case of Trayvon Martin there are nationwide petitions for due process; in the case of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., his son assumed that the prosecutor would do the right thing, only to find out since that time that nothing has been done, and nothing is required to be done. Yes, those demonstrations that annoy some people are unfortunately necessary.)
As Charles Dickens had a character say, "The law is a ass." The law is flawed.
Legislatures have more "important" things to do than write Constitutional Amendments that might protect people's rights. These problems will continue. (By the way, I'm not a "survivor," I am a "witness.")
2012-04-04 05:35 pm (UTC)
Re: The Flaw is in the Law (Elizabeth Dowling)
I signed the online petition that Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.'s son put up--that was damnable. One of the things that infuriates me is the way that prosecutors and judges can withhold or refuse to admit clearly relevant evidence by either side. The first time I realized this happened, it was a case involving accusations of child abuse. The child had a diagnosis of osteogenesis imperfecta since infancy--diagnosed at a top clinic, under treatment for it. One one occasion, the family took the child--who'd suffered another fracture--to a closer ER. A nurse there decided it was abuse and contacted the police. All the children were removed, and at the parents' trial, the judge refused to allow expert medical testimony on the child's diagnosis. The DA had a nice juicy case that made him look good, so let's not have any contrary evidence confusing the jury.
A DA with a similar attitude is right here in my county, where he "graduated" from prosecutor to judge. He withheld clearly exculpatory evidence in a murder and the convicted man spent many years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
These are two examples of evidence suppressed to make prosecution easier, but I know there are also cases (like that of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr, and Trayvon Martin) when the suppression of evidence is to protect the guilty. This makes a mockery of jury trials. How the heck can jurors hope to arrive at a reasonable verdict when they're denied access to all the facts? Warps my brain and infuriates me.
And that's not even counting the breaches of those rights promised in the Constitution by later legislators entertaining control fantasies.