Trayvon Martin

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

I’ve received quite a few emails, Tweets, and comments asking why I haven’t yet written on the Trayvon Martin case. These have ranged from polite inquiries as to what I think about the case, to not-so-subtle implications about what my “conspicuous silence” says about me,  to demands that I drop everything and investigate, to a weird rush of emails a couple days ago screaming (as much as an email can scream) that I haven’t covered the case because Martin is black and I only care about the civil liberties of white people. Given the narrow time window in which that last batch of emails arrived, I’m fairly sure they all came from the same blog post or discussion board, though I wasn’t able (and didn’t put up much of an effort) to track down the source.

All of this rings similar to the accusations I started getting from people who didn’t think I was sufficiently angry about and/or devoted to covering the police abuses at the Occupy protests. The implication was that I simply don’t care when lefists get beaten by police. Which, if you’ll look through my archive, is just as absurd as suggesting I only care about white people.

I guess in one sense it’s flattering that I’m expected to weigh in on every criminal justice-related story to make the news, and that my motives are questioned when I don’t. On the other hand, it can be a little frustrating. So here are the main reasons I haven’t delved into the case. You can probably refer back to this list on any future civil liberties story making national headlines about which I have remained (conspicuously!) silent.

(1) I’m working on a number of other projects that I can’t just drop in order to jump into another story, particularly since we have reason (4).

(2) I’m writing a book. This will leave considerably less time for me to opine, investigate, weigh in on crime stories in the news.

(3) Given points (1) and (2), I also do occasionally enjoy doing things that aren’t work-related.

(4) Lots of other people are doing a great job covering the story, including my HuffPost colleague Trymaine Lee, the guy responsible for bringing it to national attention.

(5) I don’t feel compelled to offer an opinion on every big story connected to my beat unless I have something useful to add to the conversation. Because I haven’t been doing any reporting on the Martin case, and because it doesn’t appear to involve any issues about which I have some specific expertise, I haven’t yet felt I’ve had anything useful to add.

(6) Somewhat related to the other points: I don’t like to comment on a story until I’m read up on it. There’s a hell of a lot of reading to stay on top of in this case. More every day. And again, I have other things going on. There are times when it’s just not possible to get caught up with a case in time to comment about it immediately.

For those of you demanding a reaction: Yes, I think the story is an outrage. I think the police who did such a sloppy/indifferent investigation of Zimmerman ought to be fired.  I think Zimmerman should be charged, though I don’t know that we have enough solid details for me to have an opinion on whether it ought to be second-degree murder or something more like manslaughter. I may now have some opinions on the Martin story that might add to the conversation, but I’m still hashing them out in my head. And they’re likely to be more related to the coverage of the case than the case itself. I’ll get to those when I can. And if they congeal into something coherent.

But in the meantime, let’s turn the tables a bit. I’ll leave you to chew on another email I received yesterday from a longtime reader:

Why do you think people are up in arms about Trayvon Martin?  You’ve posted on a number of deaths that equal or excel the Martin affair in outrageousness.  What’s different about this case?

Off the top of my head, in Florida alone we could consider the cases of Rachel Hoffman, Isaac Singletary, Nick Christie, Tyler Spann, and Anthony Diotaiuto. I’m sure if I dug through the archives, I could find others. Why didn’t those cases attract the attention Martin’s has? I have my own opinions, but I’m interested in hearing yours.

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213 Responses to “Trayvon Martin”

  1. #1 |  Cynical in New York | 

    For those of you that read Will Grigg’s blog he has a post on the matter

  2. #2 |  nigmalg | 

    Cynical In New York,

    Thanks for sharing that. It was a great read.

  3. #3 |  mgd | 

    The difference is obvious: This time the killer was a private citizen, not an agent of the state. The media need to bang this drum to foster attacks on 2A rights. I haven’t read the comments yet, but I’m sure I’m not the first to point that out.

  4. #4 |  pim FEE | 

    This whole thing, something is not right. There is being reported now there is a witness that backs up Zimmerman. Justice can be slow, let it play out. The kid is dead, and is not coming back. Zimmerman has a chance at justice, let’s give it to him. Hoodies! Really? Go to YOUTUBE and search hoodies.

  5. #5 |  David | 

    If the mere fact that a person kills another tells you that a crime has been committed, that tells me that you don’t believe in self defense at all.

    So either the killer committed a crime or the dead person did. Either way, there’s a criminal. The Sanford police didn’t seem interested in figuring out who it was.

  6. #6 |  nigmalg | 

    David, I absolutely agree. The investigation just stopped short of doing almost any work what-so-ever.

    The New Black Panthers are now calling for his “capture” for $10,000. Some are saying they’ve seen posters asking for Zimmerman’s capture “dead or alive”.

    Oh boy… This is going to get really bad.

  7. #7 |  Cynical in New York | 

    RE: #206

    It’s already started to go bad, the second Obama said anything about the case is the second any justice for Martin went out the window.

    1. You have idiot liberals trying to frame this as the “wild west” scenario to attack gun rights

    2. Idiot conservatives who will pull the politically correct card in saying that this was another minority trying to get over on the law. (when in fact the kid was clean and his issue in school was being tardy, hardly a hood rat/gang banger) as some are trying to push it on conservative websites.

    3. Paleocons attempting to figure out who to attack in this. Minorities in general or immigration because Zimmerman being hispanic who had a few run ins with the law himself.

    I would say I’m surprised but I wouldn’t be cynical now would I? That those who are normally quick to call for a jail them are now all of a sudden for calling for restraint in wanting Zimmerman’s head. Had Zimmerman been Muslim I strongly doubt those calls would be being made.

    The police test Martin’s body for drugs and but don’t test Zimmerman until much later? Where’s the logic there which could also play into the neighborhood watch aka wannabe government thugs angle.

    The New Black Panthers just put icing on the cake, makes me wonder if La Raza will show up.

    I want Martin and his family get justice because it seems that the states thugs were not interested in doing a proper investigation because it could end up making them look like scum (granted they already are) themselves. However as the golden rule says;

    Once an issue becomes political, it no longer becomes about the issue.

  8. #8 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @ Grigg Blog Entry. Thanks for linking, whoever. I liked this part:

    That smarmy, dismissive statement irresistibly reminds me of the radio exchange between U.S. troops involved in the Baghdad massacre documented in the “Collateral Murder” video.
    Eleven Iraqis were massacred in the unprovoked attack, and several others – including two small children – were seriously wounded.

    “Well, it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle,” one of the murderers snarkily insisted when informed that small children were among the victims.
    Loggins’s widow gave birth to another daughter at about the same time she buried her husband.

  9. #9 |  Drew | 

    “You have idiot liberals trying to frame this as the “wild west” scenario to attack gun rights”

    Amazing how quickly we’ve gone from “gun rights” being the right to carry and defend yourself in self-defense to the right to have absolute immunity from any legal consequences of shooting and killing another person.

  10. #10 |  Our Courageous, Consistent, and Totally Useless Libertarians « MANSIZEDTARGET.COM | 

    […] I’m glad today we’re relieved of evildoers like Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell in favor of  the Agitator, who has never found a puppy or drug dealer he doesn’t like, and who is now showing his high […]

  11. #11 |  Sean D Sorrentino | 

    Been gone for the whole weekend, and now that I’m back we see that the entire rotten anti-gun race baiting scenario has gone straight into the toilet.

    Here’s what we know now.

    The cops rolled up and found the shooter injured. The shooter told them he was returning to his truck and was punched by the young man. Then the young man jumped on top of him and started slamming his head into the ground. The voice screaming for help on the 911 call was the shooter. In an effort to save his own life, he shot the young man.

    All of what the shooter told the cops was supported by the evidence at the scene and by eyewitnesses who positively identified the shooter as the one on the bottom getting attacked.

    The shooter was handcuffed and put in a patrol car, and the medics were sent to attend to his injuries. After the shooter was treated by the medics, they took him downtown and interviewed him.

    The cops called the prosecutor and were told that they couldn’t even make a case for manslaughter and that they had to let him go.

    It looks like there are two things going on here that the “Lynch the Shooter” crowd are not going to like. First, it appears to be a clear cut self defense case. A 6’3″ 180 lb football player pounding your head repeatedly into the ground fits pretty much anyone’s description of “reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.”

    And secondly, Stand Your Ground is not implicated in any way. It is impossible to retreat when someone is on top of you holding you down. This scenario would be legal in any state where you could carry a gun, Stand Your Ground or not. When retreat is impossible, it cannot be required.

  12. #12 |  CC | 

    I think I saw someone say that Zimmerman ONLY called the cops 46 times in eleven years. I’ve never called the cops once in 33 years. My Dad did neighborhood watch stuff forever and never needed to call the cops once.

    It sounds like there’s witness testimony on both sides. I still find the “I chased the unarmed comparatively skinny kid away, and then he appeared out of nowhere and attacked me and pounded my head into the pavement, but not hard enough that I needed an ambulance” story questionable enough that I’d want to run it by a grand jury, personally.

    I’m glad that there are some other law enforcement agencies checking it out given that both the girlfriend’s story and the lady who said the cops were insisting Zimmerman had cried for help when she thought it was Martin make it all sound fishy, particularly when combined with the police’s lack of effort to identify the body.


  13. #13 |  Other Sean | 

    Everyone is much too caught up in the details now. The main things to remember – the things that must not be forgotten now – are these:

    1.) Because of the drug war, minimum wage laws, public schools, and a whole bunch of other factors which should be well understood by readers of this blog, we have reached a point in history where people (especially those involved in crime prevention) are absolutely right to be afraid of young black males. No group comes close to matching their per capita output of violent crime, and it isn’t remotely racist to acknowledge that fact.

    2.) For all the same reasons, young black males are absolutely right to be afraid of the police, and everyone else (especially volunteers) involved the business of crime prevention. No group comes close to suffering as much under the dead of modern American statism, and it takes no “media bias” to acknowledge that fact.

    Being a libertarian is a hard thing in this world. One of the few advantages it gives you is supposed to be the prerogative of not taking sides in a mess like this. Because unless Zimmerman’s defenders and Trayvon mourner’s happen to be calling for an immediate end to drug prohibition as a modest first step in preventing incidents of this kind, they are both just full of shit.