Morning Links

Friday, June 1st, 2012

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112 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Bobby | 

    This sentence in the last post:
    The argument I made in my last post demonstrates there was a reasonable fear for Martin to fear he was in imminent danger

    should read:
    The argument I made in my last post demonstrates it was reasonable for Martin to fear he was in imminent danger

  2. #2 |  Bobby | 

    From comment section of the “Tragic Scenarios” post Balko linked to a few weeks back:

    http://www.juliansanchez.com/2012/03/22/tragic-scenarios/

    Julian Sanchez // Mar 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Martin could be acting in self-defense, on the basis of a reasonable belief that Zimmerman was threatening him or preparing to attack, whether or not Zimmerman had actually intended to threaten or attack him.

  3. #3 |  Other Sean | 

    Bobby,

    Forgive me, but I now get the terrible impression you haven’t really been keeping up with recent developments in the case. I notice that the last two outside links you’ve recommended come from March and mid-April. Which makes sense, because everything else about your narrative cries out that you formed it around that time, without benefit of the skeptical perspective that even some of the mainstream media has since (grudgingly) acquired.

    In other words: while truth is certainly NOT a popularity contest, it is worth noting that your views, though widely shared two months ago, now make you a Zimmerman case extremist, simply by virtue of standing still. Many people who started out thinking as you do, have found themselves reluctantly obliged to consider AT LEAST an even money chance that Martin was the aggressor.

    And since you cite the Sanchez piece, let me quote from it directly:

    “Just in case it wasn’t clear enough, I’m not saying I think this is what happened, or even especially likely compared with other alternatives. I’m just wary of…seizing on the first version of events that fits the initially available facts, and then locking yourself into that as the only possibility. It is, as a rule, a good idea to generate alternative hypotheses even when you think your first one is probably correct.”

    Have you followed that advice, Bobby? Of course you have not and cannot follow it. You can’t follow that advice, because you believe it would be racist to use your imagination in building a case against Martin, even as you consider it a duty to fight racism by using your imagination to build the perfect case against Zimmerman.

    Can you really fail to see that as a double standard? Better yet: can you prove me wrong by constructing a credible version of events in which Martin was the aggressor?

  4. #4 |  Other Sean | 

    I’ll answer a few points from #100, but I notice with sorrow that you’ve lapsed back into a habit using insults when reason fails you.

    1) Post #35 was a response to C.S.P. in which you were mentioned. It was not a response to you, and it proves nothing in the way of misrepresenting you.

    2) You said: “If you don’t believe both sides of this case are going to submit every available fact to support their case to court, you’re not that bright.”

    As you know there are rules limiting what can be admitted at trial. Or as I said with sufficient clarity before: “not all facts can be entered into evidence”.

    3) You said: “The argument I made in my last post demonstrates there was a reasonable fear for Martin to fear he was in imminent danger, and that’s the case regardless of what his mental state really was.”

    Read that again, please. Fear is a mental state. You are making a mental state argument, even as you deny making a mental state argument.

    4) You continue to use the word “demonstrate” to mean “what happens when Bobby writes something that Bobby really believes”. That is not what the word demonstrate means…not in comment #66, nor again in comment #100.

    5) You said: “Actually, yes, I’d certainly take the cop’s girlfriend’s testimony seriously”

    I’m sorry…but in this case I simply think you’re lying. Of course, it would be even worse if you aren’t lying, because for someone like you who is concerned about bias, it’s hard to find a more disqualifying bias than being a cop’s wife or girlfriend in a police brutality case.
    _____________________________________________________________________________
    I am suddenly reminded of this:

    A logic and rhetoric teacher once told me: “You know how to tell when you’re winning an argument? It’s not when the other guy concedes. No one ever concedes. But when he refuses to concede even the most obvious points in your favor, when he refuses to concede that up is up and down is down, that’s how you know you’re winning.”

  5. #5 |  Bobby | 

    #103 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 11:08 am
    1) Post #35 was a response to C.S.P. in which you were mentioned. It was not a response to you, and it proves nothing in the way of misrepresenting you.

    You claimed I was suggesting his analysis may be biased by bigotry because I didn’t want to deal with the facts. That’s completely misrepresenting my argument. I was suggesting his analysis was bigoted, because he was ignoring the facts, and refused to account for that.

    Also, posts #65 and #66.

    #103 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 11:08 am
    Forgive me, but I now get the terrible impression you haven’t really been keeping up with recent developments in the case.

    Like most of your posts in this thread, you make an assertion, and completely fail to back it up. If there’s evidence that’s been brought to light that contradicts the arguments I’m making, please enlighten me.

    #103 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 11:08 am
    Read that again, please. Fear is a mental state. You are making a mental state argument, even as you deny making a mental state argument.

    You quoted the typo I corrected in the next post. It was meant to read:

    The argument I made in my last post demonstrates it was reasonable for Martin to fear he was in imminent danger

    It looks like you’re completely unable to understand this argument:

    – No amount of evidence can possibly prove exactly what mental state a person is in
    – Juries and judges can only infer a person’s mental state based on circumstantial evidence.
    – As such, when judging the merits of a self defense claim, judges and juries must decide if the situation being examined would cause a “normal” person to believe she/he were in imminent danger.
    – This legal standard could easily be applied to the facts of this case to demonstrate it was reasonable for Martin to believe he was in imminent danger.

    I’m not simply relying on a baseless assumption about Martin’s mental state here, nor do I have to prove what his mental state really was. I’m sure this all is wayyy over your head.

    #103 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 11:08 am
    4) You continue to use the word “demonstrate” to mean “what happens when Bobby writes something that Bobby really believes”. That is not what the word demonstrate means…not in comment #66, nor again in comment #100.

    Says the guy that refuses to back up his claims with any sort of evidence, what-so-ever. Way to be a hypocrite!

    #103 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 11:08 am
    5) You said: “Actually, yes, I’d certainly take the cop’s girlfriend’s testimony seriously” I’m sorry…but in this case I simply think you’re lying.

    lol

    #103 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 11:08 am
    can you prove me wrong by constructing a credible version of events in which Martin was the aggressor?

    The most credible version of events that has Trayvon as the aggressor would be the Talk Left post we’ve been discussing, which assumes Zimmerman’s testimony is correct, and he was jumped at point T. I already discussed this in length in post #38, and it’s an extremely problematic scenario, for the reasons I listed above.

    Sanchez’s version of events, in which neither person is guilty of assault, is much more plausible scenario that comports with all the available facts, and is completely in line with everything I’ve been arguing. And in that scenario, Zimmerman’s actions are reckless, and could could make him legally liable for manslaughter.

  6. #6 |  Other Sean | 

    1) That typo changes nothing in the meaning of your statement. I noticed the first time that you prefer speak in terms of what Martin’s mental state WOULD have been, instead of what it actually was. But since we can never know the latter, that’s a meaningless distinction. You still end up making a mental state argument.

    2) You wrote: “Sanchez’s version of events [is one], in which neither person is guilty of assault…and in that scenario Zimmerman’s actions are reckless, and could make him legally liable for manslaughter.”

    So you think Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter without also being guilty of assault? That doesn’t matter, because you still identify him as the aggressor in a non-legal sense. In other words, lawyerly language aside, you still think “Zimmerman started it” in every important sense of those words.

    3) Sanchez’s version depends on Trayvon Martin thinking like a SPLC activist who also happens to be a martial arts master. See for example, this hilarious passage written in the style of a Spillane novel:

    “And when Zimmerman exposes the gun, Martin reasonably concludes that he’s about to become the victim of a hate crime. He could run—but he won’t outrun a bullet, and risks being shot in the back. It seems like his only chance is to disable and disarm this nut before he can draw the weapon. It’s a risky gambit, but in another few seconds, Zimmerman will have time to draw the gun and fire, so Martin doesn’t see any other good options.”

    Only someone who’d never been in a real fight could have written that, because it attributes a fantastically implausible thought process to the mind of a 17 year old under the influence of adrenaline, who at this point in his life and education probably has no idea what a “hate crime” is.

    4) You wrote: “You claimed I was suggesting his analysis may be biased by bigotry because I didn’t want to deal with the facts. That’s completely misrepresenting my argument. I was suggesting his analysis was bigoted, because he was ignoring [YOUR INTERPRETATION OF] the facts, and refused to account for that [I.E. FAILED TO CONVINCE YOU].”

    Now let me take the irrelevant padding right out of that paragraph:

    It reads: “You claimed I was suggesting his analysis may be biased by bigotry…that’s completely misrepresenting my argument. I was suggesting his analysis was bigoted…”

    And there you have it. As long as you don’t have evidence of actual bigotry, I don’t care why you THINK you accused someone of bigotry. That’s a serious accusation to make, and you made it without evidence.

    What’s worse is you keep sticking with it all this time.

  7. #7 |  Bobby | 

    #106 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
    . I noticed the first time that you prefer speak in terms of what Martin’s mental state WOULD have been, instead of what it actually was. But since we can never know the latter, that’s a meaningless distinction. You still end up making a mental state argument.

    *Face Palm*

    You clearly don’t understand how our court system works, and attempts to explain it to you are hampered by your severe deficiencies in reading comprehension. How about you check this out; it has pictures, so it might be easier for you.

    http://thecriminallawyer.tumblr.com/post/14597572112/6-mens-rea-i-didnt-mean-to

    from the above link:

    The harm is the same in each case, and yet most people would feel that none of the adults are equally culpable.

    The difference is not in the harm done, but in the MENTAL STATE of the person who did it.

    Again, it’s impossible to know, for sure, what anyone’s mental state is, but people’s mental states matter in criminal cases, and they have to be inferred from circumstantial evidence.

    #106 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
    So you think Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter without also being guilty of assault?

    This is a revealing passage.

    1) It’s yet another example of you misrepresenting my argument. I’ve repeatedly said, in this thread, that I’m not arguing that he’s certainly guilty of manslaughter, only that there’s enough evidence to warrant the situation be reviewed in court. In my last post, I said “Zimmerman’s actions are reckless, and could make him legally liable for manslaughter. I haven’t been calling you a stupid person because I’m unable to rebut your arguments. I’m calling you a stupid person because you can’t seem to understand the posts you’re responding to.

    2) You clearly don’t understand the difference between manslaughter and assault. Assault implies the accused intended to harm the victim. If the result is death, the charge is elevated to a charge of murder. Manslaughter, on the other hand carries no intent to harm. A drunk driver that accidentally kills someone, driving home, is charged with manslaughter, even though the driver didn’t intend to harm anyone.

    #106 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
    In other words, lawyerly language aside, you still think “Zimmerman started it” in every important sense of those words.

    Um, duh? He followed a pedestrian in his car, failed to identify himself, and ran after the kid when he ran away. Even Sanford police officials have publicly commented that the situation could have easily been avoided if Zimmerman had identified himself and just waited for the police. There’s absolutely no debate there. The debate’s over how legally culpable Zimmerman is for Martin’s death.

    I was suggesting his analysis was bigoted, because he was ignoring [YOUR INTERPRETATION OF] the facts, and refused to account for that [I.E. FAILED TO CONVINCE YOU].”

    What’s my interpretation, dunce? I haven’t claimed to know how Zimmerman got those cuts on the back of his head. I’ve offered other, plausible, ways in which it might have happened. I’m criticizing C.S.P.’s positive argument, which isn’t supported by the evidence. If you think it is, please point to the evidence that conclusively proves, Zimmerman didn’t get those cuts on his head from when he fell to the side walk, during the conflict. Or while they were wrestling each other, on the ground. Or even proves that Martin didn’t shove Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk during the struggle over the gun. Please point to the evidence that proves Martin was attempting to kill Zimmerman by bashing his skull in. You continue to avoid discussing the facts of this case, why don’t you start?

  8. #8 |  Bobby | 

    Hey, Other Sean, you said it was clear that I haven’t been following the case recently. I asked you to bring up new evidence that contradicts my position. Why haven’t you provided it yet?

  9. #9 |  Other Sean | 

    I’ve said clearly enough that I don’t recognize the legitimacy of our legal system, don’t trust it, don’t care for the slippery way it jargonizes and sucks meaning from otherwise useful words, don’t agree with its rules of evidence, etc. Those beliefs are a big part of why I enjoy reading and commenting on this blog, as they seem to be widely shared by other readers and commenters. I’ve also said I expect that system to be at its very worst in the Zimmerman case, as its faults grow monstrous under an enhanced diet of publicity and political pressure.

    In other words, it’s not that I don’t understand the American criminal justice system. I understand it quite well. It’s just that I DO NOT LIKE IT.

    Here’s an example: You wrote “…but people’s mental states matter in criminal cases, and they have to be inferred from circumstantial evidence.”

    As a description of how things work in criminal law, that’s accurate enough for me. But I’m curious: why would you accept that as the way things OUGHT to work? And even if you believe that principle should rule in matters of law, why would you apply it outside of a courtroom – in a discussion like the one we’re having now?

    As a mater of logic, it really is just laughably absurd. Think of all the questions our legal system has simply evaded or failed to answer on this one point alone…

    What is fear? How would you measure different quantities of it? Why should it not matter that different people have different tolerances for fear? What is a reasonable person? How can you tell if someone is reasonable person? Does a reasonable person always act reasonably? How can you tell when they don’t? Given that different people are capable of massively different interpretations of circumstances and fact patterns, why would anyone think that circumstances and fact patterns make a good basis for inferences about mental state?

    A bit more philosophically: if the harm of killing is that it destroys a life, why SHOULD it matter if someone kills by careful intention or by clumsy passion? Dead is dead, after all.
    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Here’s an even cleaner example that has no special bearing on this case:

    Courts like to believe in something called “credibility”, and they encourage jurors to attach a lot of importance to this when judging the testimony of witnesses.

    Have you ever stopped to asked yourself what “credibility” means? If it means anything, it means that there are some people who can and should be trusted, just because they haven’t (to the knowledge of the listener) been caught in a lie.

    Get that good and clear: A “credible” witness is not someone who hasn’t told any lies, it’s someone one who hasn’t recently been caught in a lie.

    But, as we all know, everyone lies. No human tells the truth all the time, and most lie on a fairly regular basis, in various different ways (by commission, by omission, by deliberate misleading etc). And when there is anything to gain or lose, the tendency to lie becomes even stronger.

    So the choice is between: a) witnesses who got caught lying, and b) witnesses who didn’t get caught lying. There is no category c) witnesses who simply never lie.

    Yet our court system likes to pretend there is, and has been pretending that for years. Does that not bother you?

  10. #10 |  Other Sean | 

    … because if it doesn’t bother you, it damn well should. For years the same legal system in which you now put so much interest and faith has encouraged the public to believe that cops (who seem to lie more than anybody) are not just trustworthy, but UNCOMMONLY trustworthy.

    Ever been to the voir dire in a criminal case? The defense attorney usually asks the prospective jurors: “Would you find it impossible to believe that a police officer was lying?” Several people always answer “yes” or say “I’d find it difficult but not impossible.”

    Where do you think they got that idea? They got it from the very same legal system with its jargon, its glamour, its power, its home field advantage, and its innumerable pretenses of moral legitimacy.

    But look who stands on the other side of that grotesquely unfair fight. Half the time it’s some black kid with no money who now looks terribly awkward in an off-the-rack suit. If he talked to the police before meeting his public defender (and god knows they almost always do), I guarantee you he got himself caught in at least one admissible lie.

    So what happens when the cop says one thing and he says another? You know what happens. Even though this is a clearly a case of he said / he said between two people who each have plenty of reason to lie…even though these two men are supposed to be equals in the eyes of the law…even though everybody knows deep down that EVERYBODY LIES…the court system encourages the jurors to believe the cop on the grounds that he is a credible public servant while the defendant is just a lying little shitbird.

    Do you really want use the words and concepts of that legal system to try to understand Trayvon Martin’s death?

    All this law talk seems uniquely unsuited to someone with your concerns and your point of view. To say nothing of the fact that it stands in the way of a much more interesting discussion we could be having, on the social and moral aspects of this complicated event.

  11. #11 |  Bobby | 

    #109 | Other Sean | June 11th, 2012 at 11:16 pm
    A bit more philosophically: if the harm of killing is that it destroys a life, why SHOULD it matter if someone kills by careful intention or by clumsy passion? Dead is dead, after all.

    That you’re honestly asking this question is pretty revealing. The rest of your post is one long rant against our legal system, detailing a bunch of problems with it, and then hilariously concluding that no one should expect any sort of justice from it.

    I think we can wrap this up. This’ll be my last post here. To sum up your performance in this thread:

    1) You claim to be outraged at baseless charges of racism made by people that you label as part of “team Martin”, yet have absolutely nothing to say by baseless charges of racism when it’s made by people you’d label as part of “team Zimmerman” such as those made by C.S.P. in post #34

    2) You insist people shouldn’t pass judgement until we have all the facts, but you insist that the best way to establish these facts, a court proceeding shouldn’t happen, because it’s imperfect.

    3) You have gross misconceptions about how our legal system should work, as indicated by the quote at the top of this post.

    4) You have a habit of making assertions that you refuse to back up. For example, you insist that I haven’t been keeping up with the latest developments, yet you refuse to provide the “new” evidence you think I’m missing. You insist that C.S.P.’s argument about how Zimmerman got his cuts on the back of his head is just as valid as mine, but refuse to actually discuss the evidence, even when I directly ask you about it:

    I’m criticizing C.S.P.’s positive argument, which isn’t supported by the evidence. If you think it is, please point to the evidence that conclusively proves Zimmerman didn’t get those cuts on his head from when he fell to the side walk, during the conflict. Or while they were wrestling each other, on the ground. Or even proves that Martin didn’t shove Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk during the struggle over the gun. Please point to the evidence that proves Martin was attempting to kill Zimmerman by bashing his skull in.

    5) You’ve continuously misrepresented my arguments, likely because you simply can’t follow them. Examples post #34, where you claimed I was trying to avoid discussing the facts. Then there’s your hilarious misapplication of a logical fallacy discussed in posts #65 and #66. And, of course, your repeated claims that I think Zimmerman is definitely guilty, in spite of my repeated insistence that I’m only arguing the case should be reviewed in court.

    You’ve proven yourself to be one big ball of strawmen, red herrings, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy. Cheers!

  12. #12 |  Other Sean | 

    Bobby,

    Your little summary was nasty, narrow-minded, and void of content. I don’t think I’ll answer it in kind.

    It’s a sad thing when a man can’t bring himself to imagine a world beyond the little details that surround him at one passing moment of history.

    In the course of this exchange I have learned many things. You, I fear, have not used the opportunity nearly so well.

    There are many lessons to be gained from Trayvon Martin’s death. The ones that matter in the long run cannot be found where you are most comfortable, hiding down in the concrete particulars of the case. You waste your time worrying about whether a man got his head scratched this way or that, or what some made-up legal precedent says about inferring states of mind, or who is and who is not a racist. All that is sand.

    Throughout this very long discussion I noticed that, when possible, you prefer to avoid questions of general principle, and you seem to hate being confronted with hypothetical or abstract propositions. Perhaps you are one of those who believes it’s somehow pragmatic not to engage with matters of philosophy.

    If so, that’s really too bad. You miss a lot that way. You’ve missed a lot already. Here’s hoping you wake up some morning and change your mind.

    Sean