Friday, July 12, 2013

Third Thoughts on the Zimmerman Case: Background

So I swung back to an anti-Zimmerman position yesterday, though I won't go into all the reasons... (Largely on grounds that one has special obligations to avoid conflict if one is armed, conjoined with some reflection on suggestions made in the previous comment thread about possible scenarios immediately before the shooting...)

Then I decided: two big swings on an issue means you need to step back from it in a big way.

So what I did this morning before getting to work was to just go and read stuff on the background of the case. For example, the Wikipedia article.

There's conflicting information about some of this stuff, but I'll just go with what seems like the consensus.

If we do that, I think that we should conclude that there doesn't seem to be any reason to start off with strong suspicions about Zimmerman. His neighborhood, though gated, was a high-crime area that had experienced a lot of burglaries and thefts, a shooting and a home invasion. Zimmerman was chosen by his neighbors as the head of the neighborhood watch. He'd reported several persons in his neighborhood acting suspiciously, never reporting on their race until asked for the information by the police. In at least one case, one of the people he reported to the police did turn out to be a burglar. He was advised by authorities to get a gun after a pit bull that had been running loose in his neighborhood cornered his wife. (Jesus...I've gotta add...sounds like this guy is living on Pandora or something...)

On the basis of this stuff, attempts (largely by liberals) to paint Zimmerman as some kind of nut seem clearly preposterous.

On the other hand, Zimmerman did have his run-ins with the law. He was charged with assaulting a police officer after he (Zimmerman) shoved the officer while one of his friends was being questioned about under-age drinking. Zimmerman's ex-fiance obtained a restraining order against him alleging domestic abuse, and he, in response, obtained a reciprocal order against her. These incidents were described by a judge as "run-of-the-mill" and "somewhat mild." Which, I suppose, goes to show that I've lived a sheltered/boring life in some respects...

If we take the stuff in the last paragraph into account, we'd also have to take into account certain background information on Martin, who was, at the time of the shooting, suspended from school. Some of the stuff was mild--weed, tardiness, defacing school property with graffiti... Some not so mild: jewelry that he admitted was not his and a screwdriver were found in his backpack. School authorities described the screwdriver as a burglary tool; it was never shown that the jewelry had been stolen.

With respect to the information in the last two paragraphs...  Well, neither person seems to be a perfectly upstanding citizen...  Seems to me that the information about Zimmerman is more troubling because of the accusation of domestic abuse...though such situations are often complicated. Cops sometimes deserve to be I'm not sure what to say about that...  Martin was just a it's hard to compare the two profiles. The stuff about theft would be notable...but it's unproven... smoking gun in any of the background info, so far as I can tell... It's notable that Zimmerman was fairly zealous about protecting his neighborhood... If we lived there, we might be able to tell whether he was responsible as opposed to overzealous/kooky...but there's no way to tell from the information I can find. In the absence of any clear indication that he was kooky, it's not rational to treat him as if he was.

Time for me to get something productive done...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article puts it far better than I ever could:

~MMR (hbr221f)

3:53 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

But it still seems to me that Martin's record has very little to do with the case. We know his state of mind from the call with his girlfriend: "being stalked by a creepy-ass cracker."

It takes rather a lot for someone to decide he's being stalked. Zimmerman could have stayed in the car. He could have yelled out to ask what Martin was doing. Instead he escalates until he gets in a fight, and kills the other guy.


10:24 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

As a long-time pacifist, my default position is that Zimmerman was in the wrong. The idea of assaulting another individual--for any reason--is morally repugnant to me. So the idea of stalking someone on a dark street at night, and then claiming YOUR life was in danger so you had to kill. This is incomprehensible to me.

As a woman, I am always aware of the position of males when I am walking alone; my default assumption is always that ANY male is a potential rapist or attacker.

If someone approaches or follows me, I assume they want to cause me harm.

I can't image that a young black man would view a large white male following him much differently than I do: as a threat (though with less likelihood of rape being at the front of one's mind).

It seems to me that MARTIN was the one who should have have the right to stand HIS ground.

10:31 AM  

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