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The test of Communitarianism is what does it do to the community? The shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin and verdict in the trial of killer George Zimmerman has brought out hard differences between Americans, but what does it do to community?

I wish I could come to some answers without naming the specific individuals involved and looking into the details of their actions and reactions. But communitarian thought has too long been stuck in the hypothetical in which academics ponder principles, but keep their hands free of the dirty details that are left to politicians. This was a failed approach. Achieving a balance of rights and responsibilities requires real detailed solutions based on real-world events. Nowhere is this more important than in matters of life and death.

It is interesting that the Sanford, FL gated community (Twin Lakes) in which George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin encountered each other was a place in which safety was emphasized, but in which many of the residents had their privacy invaded by thieves. You can put a gate around some houses, but that doesn't make them a community or make them safe.

17-year-old Trayvon Martin was a B student who majored in cheerfulness, according to his English teacher. He was a part-time student at a Miami aviation school, studying to be a pilot. He'd been suspended from school recently for truancy, tardiness and a graffiti incident at school, but had no juvenile record. He was no stranger to Twin Lakes. He'd been there several times before and had not encountered George Zimmerman. Trayvon was there with his father at his father's fiancé’s house. He belonged there.

29-year-old George Zimmerman was working as an insurance underwriter and working on an associate degree in Criminal Justice. He was a neighborhood watchman and resident of the 260 unit gated community. He had a history of run-ins with police, charged with assault of a police officer and resisting arrest in 2001 (charges were later dropped). In 2005 Zimmerman and his-then fiancé obtained mutual restraining orders on one another after his fiancé alleged domestic violence. Zimmerman had demonstrated a past tendency for physical confrontations and blatant disrespect for law enforcement. However, many have given supportive affirmations of his character and contribution to the community, particularly mentoring young people.

On February 26, 2012 in the rain and darkness their paths collided in a most terrible way. What happened?

As seen in the timeline of the event on Wikipedia, Trayvon Martin had gone to a nearby store and was captured on camera there at 6: 24 PM buying a snack and drink. Then Trayvon walked back to Twin Lakes while talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend. Zimmerman called the police non-emergency line at 7:09 about an unknown "suspicious guy" while following Trayvon on his way back from the nearby 7-Eleven.  Trayvon got nervous about this unknown person tracking him in an SUV and attempted to run towards his father's fiancé’s house. Zimmerman tells the police dispatcher he's chasing Trayvon and is told not to follow him, that police are on the way. Zimmerman chases Trayvon in the rain and darkness for at least a full minute and then mentions that he's lost sight of him at 7:13. A gunshot was heard and recorded in the background of another 911 call at about 7:16 and the first police officer arrived at 7:17.

What we know:

- Trayvon belonged in that community through his presence with his father and had been there several times before.
- Zimmerman jumped to the conclusion about Trayvon’s presence there that he did not belong in the gated community.
- Taking on a chase, Zimmerman creates an encounter from his distorted perception, since police were on their way and he had observed Trayvon going into Twin Lakes, not fleeing (with stolen objects).

Here is an example of how suspicion breeds more suspicion. "Suspicious" is not a description of another or their behavior, but a depiction from a suspicious mind. For a personality prone to jumping into physical confrontation the result looks so predictable in hindsight.

The urgency to stop the break-ins plus a lack of understanding of who Trayvon was and that he belonged there created what is termed 'illusory threat' -- in Zimmerman's mind only, which was triggered by his impatience. He first called the police non-emergency line, indicating there was no threat, before chasing Trayvon. What happens in the animal world when a larger animal chases a smaller one? The predatory animal takes on an aggressive posture or lunges at the prey, which predictably begins to flee. This happens even with normally peaceful, domesticated dogs when they do not have this predatory instinct trained out of them.

We tell youngsters to beware of strangers and when a stranger follows this 17-year-old black kid and he sticks up for himself after fleeing doesn't work, we get a result quite opposite from what is normally intended here. No presumption of innocence. No individual rights and respect.

Communities are colored strongly by the mentality and social cohesion of the people, who are considered members as opposed to 'stranger' or villain. This is mostly determined not by affirmative knowledge, but by ignorance guided by presumption and prejudice. Gated communities too easily emphasize safety over community, exclusion over inclusion. This tends to amplify suspicion too easily.

Important:  Adults, protect the children of a community! Every child deserves the right to be protected until they grow up (and presumably can protect themselves).

The Zimmerman Second-degree Murder Trial and its Verdict

"The verdict is a privileging of perception over reality. Just because a person feels afraid doesn't mean they are in danger. In fact, their perception may be so pathological that it puts OTHER people in danger. In this extreme case, taking a young man's life for no reason. The perpetrator claims to be the victim, and believes that s/he is the victim. And then when the "community" re-enforces the right to false perception regardless of how much pain it causes, the "community" (or state apparatus) becomes an enforcer of injustice."
 -- Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, CUNY, CSI at College of Staten Island (from her Facebook, 7/13/2013)
In order for the jury to conclude Zimmerman was "not guilty", they had to be confused by the very capable defense team and helped (or confused) by Florida's law. Zimmerman's legal defense first planned to use the stand-your-ground defense, but abandoned this. Why? Zimmerman clearly did no standing at all, but chased Trayvon Martin down. He was a predator if the whole timeline of the event is viewed. The defense team could not bring attention to this. They knew that they had to keep the jury's focus on the obscured confrontation in the dark that triggered the 911 calls and produced mixed testimony as to who did what. So by using a kind of conceptual legal lens focused on the events after Zimmerman turned that blind corner in the rain and dark, Zimmerman's lawyers distracted the jury from the facts about the call made to the police non-emergency dispatch (i.e., no threat), who initiated the chase, who was armed, etc. They had to emphasize the recent break-ins as justification for Zimmerman going off half-cocked. In this way the legal team avoided culpability for Zimmerman. This was necessary for their successful defense because in normal circumstances no one believes it is right to go chasing after someone in a non-emergency situation in which one has suffered no attack and initiate a physical confrontation.

I believe the Golden Rule is the great mitigator of situations involving unclear, confusing laws. If a law is poorly written and unclear what can always be brought into focus are the people involved. Use the Golden Rule to fill the gaps. It should be the guiding principle for all our laws anyway.

However, an all-white jury who is either unable to or refuses to put themselves in the place of a black victim cannot apply the Golden Rule. By not recognizing his humanity - and only the humanity of the still living, breathing person before them - they continue the mistakes of past bigotry.

The verdict in the Zimmerman trial communicated a few things, among which are:

- A neighborhood watchman is apparently not required to defer to professionals and behave as instructed by police.
- An armed adult is allowed to initiate predatory pursuit of an unarmed child in a non-emergency situation in which no crime has been observed.
- Fear not facts allows one to use disproportionate force without legal consequence.
-  A young black man's life has less value than another citizen's, even no worth at all.

How can any of these possibly bring confidence and security to a community? It doesn't. It injures trust and creates division and fear and pollutes it with an air of suspicion and aggression.

These events and this verdict are examples of things destructive to community. The laws and prejudices that allowed them need to be addressed.

Whatever kills community kills democracy.


The 'illusory threat' defense needs to go. This is what allows gun-toters claiming self-defense to get away with murder simply because they jumped the gun, reached for their weapon and gave no one any time to inform themselves or withdraw from a heated misunderstanding. Self-defense against an illusory threat should not be recognized by law. It gives a fear-licensed insurance policy to gun-toters that is not funded nor approved of by any community. No one really wants 'shoot first, ask questions later', which is what legal allowance for 'illusory threat' really is.

If a conflict is only a heated argument, one or both parties have a duty to withdraw, to retreat to prevent violence.

However, we should never be legally obligated to retreat from an actual attack. We should not be legally bound to retreat from criminal activity. To do so gives over the community to those who intimidate and ruin our communities with threats of violence. Individuals differ widely in their confidence in dealing with both verbal disputes and physical attack. Some will want to retreat from an attack and not use violence, but if everyone did this, only the violent would feel free. What we need is self-defense empowerment, which I address below.

Right to Self-defense Does Not Include the Right to Be Dead Wrong

The castle doctrine (one's home is one's castle and can be defended with force) should be firmly established everywhere so that anyone who wants to keep a gun can do so legally without a permit. A person has the right to defend themselves and their families from intruders -- even to the death. The presumption of innocence should prevail in the absence of contrary evidence.

However, as soon as a citizen armed with a gun steps outside the boundaries of their home they induce greater responsibilities. Normally, there are by-standers who could be injured more easily as well as witnesses who might give an objective account of the incident.

The legal principle in this area of the commons that balances rights and responsibilities is that force should be met only with equal force and if overwhelmed by numerous attackers only the force needed to stop the attack should be used.

The room for the 'illusory threat' defense should be stripped from the law so that no one gets away with murder just because they jumped to conclusions about someone based on their appearance. In any homicide investigation, once it is discovered the victim was unarmed or was not actually an aggressor (attacker) the killing should be considered a homicide instead of self-defense and charges should be brought as appropriate to the behavior (manslaughter at minimum, first- or second-degree murder for cases of active pursuit or premeditation).  

Many laws in different states may be named after the 'stand your ground' principle, but in fact leave room for illusory threats and give no clear-cut grades of differing responsibility for actions in public versus self-defense at home.

Balancing Gun Rights with Clear Responsibilities

Our self-defense laws need to recognize a heavier weight of responsibility for using a deadly weapon or gun and especially for carrying one outside the home. Heavy responsibilities always call for proactive empowerment. No one is in better position to lead this than local law enforcement.

Community Policing That Empowers Self-defense

Permits should be granted to legally carry a gun outside the home (for those at least 21 years of age) only after a three-phase community-based, police/expert run course has been completed. The clearly stated goal of the course should be that students are empowered and confident in self-defense methods, with or without a gun. Classes should be mixtures of all types and ages of people and should extend over many weeks (6+) and be participatory in a way that requires recognition of other students by name (name tags), eye contact, partnered interaction, teamwork and role playing exercises.

The three phases of the gun carrying permit are:
(1) physical self-defense without a weapon (violence avoidance);
(2) conflict resolution basics;
(3) gun handling and practice hours.

Some students may want only the first two parts without seeking a gun permit. This kind of mixed involvement is good for the class. Only after all aspects of the course are completed in good standing with classmates and facilitators with full attendance (or appropriate make-up work) is the student's permit granted. Permits should be granted to everyone who finishes the work in good standing with class members without regard to race, color, creed or background.

At the end of these classes, before graduation, the class should be questioned by facilitators on their confidence in each classmate, affirming their confidence vocally in that person. If there is lack of confidence in a particular person, it is time for the facilitators to address the concerns and display leadership in conflict resolution. In this way group affirmation, leadership and free voice to concerns about anyone's readiness can be addressed in a positive, empowering way.

These steps are important for group confidence and for filtering mechanisms for police and class facilitators. A permit should be denied or delayed to someone who shows they are not ready with extra classes or practice prescribed.

The carry permit should be valid for at least as long as a Driver's License is valid (up to 10 years). Refresher classes can be offered periodically to inform students of changes in the law or advances in self-defense . Carry permits should be immediately suspended when they expire, and carrying a gun with an expired permit should have a heavier penalty than a minor traffic citation. It should be far more costly than the self-defense and gun safety course.

These courses can be offered for free or at low cost with scholarships for low-income persons (as is happening here in Portland, Oregon for Women’s Strength self-defense classes put on by the Portland Police).

The results of such programs in communities all over the nation will be a population who see the police as helping them be empowered, stay safe and recognize fully their second-amendment rights. Working with police in this fashion could change the relationships of communities with police forces everywhere. Police forces have earned a negative reputation in many ways. This is one way of redeeming those reputations by direct assistance to members of their community.


Trayvon Martin is a symbol of American community in its budding potential. He was well-loved, creative, talented with a great future ahead of him. His encounter with George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012 was a test of how much we value our young people - at least our black young people. It was a test of whether we as a nation will look further at how our lives in our own communities affects the social cohesion and political tone of the nation overall. It was a legal test for whether we will adjudicate based on established facts or fall back on old, unspoken preferences and prejudices.

We had our bigotry button pushed and struck back with bigotry. That button needs its circuit disconnected from our hearts and it just has not happened yet. It exposed the still festering division that runs through the blood of the nation.

We must first protect our children until they learn to stand up for themselves. We are a rights-based culture and always will be, but Trayvon Martin's right to presumption of innocence and security were trampled.

We must repair our self-defense laws and gun laws so that they do not allow predatory fears and fantasies to justify inappropriate use of force, but clearly empower people and promote self-defense and proactive involvement.

We need police to directly empower self-defense. This creates trust in law enforcement that they are interested in our right and ability to defend ourselves and creates confidence in law enforcement that we are prepared to do so.

We need to realign ourselves and our communities with the Golden Rule. After all, the only way individual rights build a truly free society is if we understand that my freedom is everyone's freedom.


Originally posted to Kannon McAfee on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 10:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I agree with pretty much everything you've said (5+ / 0-)

    here, but in a wacky place like Florida (or most of the USA these days), how do you do things like "align ourselves with the Golden Rule?"

    •  re: aligning with Golden Rule (6+ / 0-)

      Partly it means disengaging from a good portion of the inflammatory dialogue in the mass media (if not all of it) so that we have the mental and emotional space in which to think clearly enough to put ourselves in another's place and consider what their needs are. If we still don't know, we can ask them respectfully and really listen.

      Maybe it also means teaching it more. There is no such thing as 'values-free' education.

      It certainly means stopping to step outside our comfort zones to stretch ourselves a bit, to listen to someone of a different background or belief system.

      If you can practice the Golden Rule, then you can lead by example and talking it out in situations as they arise in your community. That's what has to happen to change the national tone and leave behind the craziness.

      •  Thanks for your thoughtful first diary. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lefty Ladig, pucklady

        You've opened a good discussion here, with a valuable focus on community.

        Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.
      •  Can you point to any state that allows this? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical
        The room for the 'illusory threat' defense should be stripped from the law so that no one gets away with murder just because they jumped to conclusions about someone based on their appearance.
        As far as I know, every state with SYG applies the Florida rule - you can only use force if the other person first illegally uses force or if you have made a good faith effort to get away, you cannot, and the other person's force is disproportionate to what you stared.

        So if I walk up to you and say "F--- your mother" you cannot legally hit me.  If I walk up to you and hit you then I cannot legally use force to protect myself from you unless I tried to get away and unless the force you are using against me (ie. beating me to death) is clearly disproportionate to what you used against me.

        This, BTW, is why SYG for Martin was never an issue - there was no evidence that Zimmerman illegally used force against him.  Even if Zimmerman walked up to him, stood in front of him, held up his hand, and yelled "Stop right there Mother F---er" or even "Mother F---ing N--ger" Martin would still not have had the legal right to start a fight.

        Can you point to any state that currently allows this "illusory threat" as a defense?

        In any homicide investigation, once it is discovered the victim was unarmed or was not actually an aggressor (attacker) the killing should be considered a homicide instead of self-defense and charges should be brought as appropriate to the behavior (manslaughter at minimum, first- or second-degree murder for cases of active pursuit or premeditation).  
        This is a ridiculous rule.

        So a 300 pound athlete attacks a 100 pound woman and is ripping off her clothes when she shoots him.  By your rule, if the attacker is unarmed the killing is homicide, not self defense, and she should be charged with manslaughter at minimum?  Perhaps the victim should have just laid back and enjoyed it?

    •  you've done a great job making the case... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lilyvt, ybruti, muddy boots, Lefty Ladig

      a very thoughtful piece of writing.

      i've been a strong believer in what I consider to be the three cornerstones of a coherent community. The pairing of rights with responsibilities, a principal of communitarianism and other community strengthening philosophies is one pillar.  Another is the belief in community policing, which involves replacing the inherent tension between law enforcement and diversity of community with a true, flexible and creative partnership with police departments.  And finally, a focus on restorative justice practices- recognizing that crimes ultimately impact on communities, and that consequences need to match up with actions.  

      If the prosecution managed to prove nothing about Zimmerman, it did establish that he used a gun recklessly, with tragic results. Even when he wasn't convicted of the crime charged, his behavior- reckless use of a weapon that requires a license- should still have been addressed with a logical consequence.  

      And that logical consequence could have been taking away the gun, suspending the license, mandating refresher classes.

      Not handing him back his f*cking weapon so he could carve a notch on  the handle and hit the lecture circuit.

      We have a long way to go as a responsible, accountable  culture. When the right of the individual to avoid sanction by the community for acting on an imaginative threat superseded the right of a child to grow into an adult, we are really, truly eating our seed grain. That will destroy before our neglect of the environment, I fear.

      "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

      by The Poet Deploreate on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 06:29:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  re: cornerstones of coherent community (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Poet Deploreate


        I agree with you wholeheartedly! Rights balanced with responsible action, True Community Policing and Restorative Justice are essential pillars of progressive communitarianism.

        Its nice to hear from like-minds and so soon after my first post here at the Daily Kos :)

        Kannon McAfee, Progressive Communitarian. Corporatism is the enemy of community.

        by Kannon McAfee on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 02:21:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Crappy neighborhood watch? (5+ / 0-)

    Or crappy neighborhood watch - police interface?  

    A racially diverse area had multiple break-ins apparently committed by African-American men in Sanford.  

    A very similar story took place in the town where I grew up.  Another neighborhood I lived in (only token presence of African-Americans) saw a similar incident, but I don't know the race of the burglar.  In the first case, Neighborhood Watch got the perp.  In the second, informal patrols did.  No rights were violated.

    1.  You don't need to go walking around patrolling at night, in the rain, especially in multifamily housing.  If you hear windows breaking or doors getting forced open, look around then call 911.    

    2.  If you must patrol, patrol in pairs or from the comfort of your car.  Even cops who are well-armed, trained in "compliance techniques", wearing bulletproof vests and carrying tasers and guns patrol in pairs.  If someone gets pulled over for a (legitimate) speeding ticket, professional cops always call for backup.  

    "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

    by Yamaneko2 on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 10:45:56 PM PDT

    •  "Apparently" Is the Problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Ladig
      A racially diverse area had multiple break-ins apparently committed by African-American men in Sanford.
      It is the "apparently" that drives home why racism is at the heart of the Zimmerman case. What the known facts are about the burglaries in Twin Lakes subdivision:

      There were 8 burglaries over a 14-month period at Twin Lakes prior to George Zimmerman killing Trayvon Martin. In 3 cases, the suspect was apprehended; those suspects were Black.  Of the remaining burglaries (the majority, mind you), the race of the suspect was not and is not known.

      Now, it was reported by Reuters that there were also "dozens" of "attempted burglaries and would-be burglars casing houses," at Twin Lakes, according to Reuters last year.  How many dozens, Reuters didn't say. Nor did he say anything more than "residents of Twin Lakes" made this claim; it identified no one by name who made this argument. The reporter notably did not claim that all these "casings" and "attempted burglaries" were committed by Black men. He also did not claim that these "attempted burglaries" and house casings had been reported to the police.  And nobody else has attempted to verify independently this claim, of multiple events.  The only actual event that was verified by anyone was the one where the white lady was at home when two young black men broke into her house (she testified in Zimmerman's defense saying he was so nice to her afterward, but even she didn't testify that there was this rash of property crime being committed by Black people--and only Black people--in the neighborhood before Trayvon Martin was killed.)

      •  OK, so 8 burglaries, a home invasion + multiple (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deward Hastings, brooklyn137

        attempted breakins (number unknown) of homes and vehicles.  This is in a small enclave of homes--maybe 200 residences.  You imply this is trivial.  Most people would not agree with you.

        In the 5 instances where the race of the perpetrator was known, all five were black men.  So, what does that mean? Well, most of the 40% of the local residents who were black were not committing crimes in that neighborhood. But it also means that for the residents, they are now more likely to be wary when an unknown black man is seen on their streets.  You can call that racist, but that attitude is a reality.  Any discussion about the hazards of being a young black man has to include those facts and perceptions in the discussion.  Otherwise, each side is just blowing smoke past each other.

        •  I Do Not Imply this is Trivial (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jplanner, Lefty Ladig

          But neither is it the "under siege" situation that folks keep trying to make it, either.

        •  There are 260 homes, 30% more than you claimed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And the number of burglaries was statistically correct for a community of that size in Florida. The state of Florida is number 12 of 50 in per capita burglaries.

          •  "maybe" = "claimed"?? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

  's still too many, plus a home invasion, attempted breakins, etc.  You are not going to convince Americans that they shouldn't care about crime in their neighborhoods because the per capita number of burglaries was statistically average.

            Anyhow, what about your thoughts on my main point?

            •  What was your main point? (0+ / 0-)

              That people are suspicious of others unlike themselves? It happens. When I lived in a majority black neighborhood in Detroit in the late 1970s, I was viewed as suspicious by most of the residents.

              •  No, though that is certainly true. My point: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                was that because of the recent neighborhood crime history involving black men, residents were more more likely to be wary when an unknown black man was seen on their streets.  You can call that racist, but that attitude is a reality.  Any discussion about the hazards of being a young black man has to include those facts and perceptions in the discussion.

                This  perception of crime and its assoc with young black men is the essential point that is being avoided.  It was interesting that President Obama was able to talk about it the other day but no one here will.  It's about all the Right wants to talk about, and it's about the last thing the Left wants to talk about.  If progress is to be made, the Right needs to hear and understand and acknowledge the problems with profiling and the way the justice system has squashed young black men, and the Left needs to hear and understand and acknowledge that many types of crime in many communities are disproportionately committed by young black, and this results in fear, anger, and yet more profiling.  

    •  According to the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Ladig

      National Sheriffs' Association, which oversees Neighborhood Watch programs nationwide, Twin Lakes did not have an established Neighborhood Watch.  

      "The alleged action of a “self-appointed neighborhood watchman” last month in Sanford, FL significantly contradicts the principles of the Neighborhood Watch Program,” stated NSA Executive Director Aaron D. Kennard, Sheriff (ret.). “NSA has no information indicating the community where the incident occurred has ever even registered with the NSA Neighborhood Watch program.”
      The link to their full statement:

      You can't keep a mighty tree alive (much less expect it to thrive) by only spritzing the fine leaves at its tippy-top. The fate of the whole tree depends on nurturing the grassroots. - Jim Hightower

      by PSzymeczek on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:06:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  had this discussion, it may be more complex (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lefty Ladig

        At one point, I think here on DK, I argued just as you did...that although GZ DID invite and have NW come in and do a presentation, they did not formally sign up with NW and the NW organization is denying they are registered. As you say above.

        Someone then showed me a picture of the Neighborhood Watch sign that hangs at one of the gates of that was specific to GZ's community. The same person explained that Neighborhood Watch groups have a choice whether or not to register with the national organization. Note, if that is true, how the national NW organization doesn't say in that quote "they aren't registered with us BUT they don't have to be".

        I do not have this link or any proof of this, but that is the response I got when I posted as you did. It would take quite a long time I'd think with photoshop to make up the photo of the gate poster.

        As an aside, this conversation occurred right after the news of the killing became public. I was infuriated in hearing that  Zimmerman HAD had NW  training from the national organization and in it they apparently make a big emphasis on NOT carrying a weapon and NOT going after anyone...just to stay put and wait for police. I also said that his community never formed a NW group because the national organization denied them (as you quote above). The response I got was a shot of the NW gate sign in their community and an explanation that groups did not have to join the national organization.

        All it proves is that GZ was trained NOT to carry a weapon and Not to pursue any person of concern and to Stay back and Wait for police. He was trained by Neighborhood Watch officially and he viewed himself as Neighborhood Watch. This clarity, along with being told it would be best not to follow the person of interest by the dispatcher, adds up to a Whole "Lot o' lack of impulse control.AND I don't think ANY of these questions or this line of content was brought up by the prosecution.

        If so, more data of what a terrible job they did.

  •  I disagree humans have been sacrificed on the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grabber by the Heel

    altar of selfishness and a false sense of security in carrying a gun outside the home.  Zhole & many out there are a public  menace. Of course they don't care because self- defense has been sold and endorsed by the NRA the evil racist RW Rs, ALEC & their tools on the MSM. None of the people help make anything safer. It just creates chaos and fear, & more gun sales & more killing.

    I don't  feel safer with crazy Zhole wanna bes out and about, armed & dangerous.

    He was the one who was armed. Hes a killer. He likely will kill again. He's a menace to society. What about my right to not carry a gun?

    Wrong answer.

    Not tipped not rec'ed

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 03:40:22 AM PDT

    •  Your disagreement is noted... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, Lefty Ladig

      the poster of the diary, I would think, might not find much to disagree with in your concerns.

      the difference is that the poster has offered a framework for the community to change itself. It may be altruistic, and you may think it's a pollyanna worldview- yer entitled to that.

      but I'm pretty interested in some solutions that arise from your view of the world.

      i don't disagree that Zimmerman is a dangerous man. I don't disagree that he was not held accountable for the profound damage he visited, and continues to visit on the community.

      What next, from your point of view?

      "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

      by The Poet Deploreate on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 06:33:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My opinion is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PSzymeczek, Lefty Ladig

        that Zimmerman is an unstable man. I predict that we will be hearing news in the future that demonstrates that he should have been found guilty of killing Martin.

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by deebee on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:46:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Push it a little... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I've spent many years working with people who have psychiatric disabilities- they are statistically less likely to harm others than the general population, and statistically more likely to harm themselves- something I have found true in my own experience.

          so a community needs to deal with those few people who are "dangerous"; Zimmerman may be one of them.

          How do you think we can do that in a way that sends a message to the rest of the community that we are prepared to deal with it, and not simply call it an act of G-d, or Satan, and feel powerless?

          I do think there are ways to approach this, but I am always interested in new or different ideas.

          "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

          by The Poet Deploreate on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 12:28:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Strange that TM's English teacher wasn't... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Happy Days, PSzymeczek, Lefty Ladig

    called to testify as a character witness. In fact, I didn't hear anyone testify to Trayvon's character at all in the trial, even his parents. As far as the jury knew, he was just a dead body lying on the ground. The prosecution was too scared of a few bad incidents coming to light, so they decided not to say anything (good or bad) about Trayvon. I think it was a huge mistake. People generally accept that kids get into trouble. And by offering testimony to TM's good character, the defense would have been forced into bringing the bad things into the trial. And it might have made them look petty and small.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

    by HairyTrueMan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 06:56:14 AM PDT

    •  The prosecution can't just bring evidence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, IreGyre

      that the victim was a good kid or a nice guy.  It's not a mystery or strange at all — those are the rules of evidence.

      •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)
        While the state played the emotion card hard in closing, there was a disconnect and the jury wasn't swayed by it. Why? Because one thing the jury never got to hear was the story of who is Trayvon Martin? He was never personalized or humanized.

        What many may not realize is that this was a strategic decision the state made, not an unintentional omission. The defense had let the prosecution know that once the state introduced evidence of Trayvon Martin's good character, the floodgates would open and it was ready with an avalanche of text messages, photos, videos, school records and more to fight back.

        If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

        by HairyTrueMan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 07:48:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That person doesn't know what they're (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          talking about.  The government can't just bring evidence that the victim was a good kid.  That's barred by the rules of evidence.  In the federal system, it's Rule 404(a).  

          Around the edges you always try to humanize the victim (using flattering photographs, calling the next of kin if possible), but you can't just call the victim's friends and family to testify that he was a great guy and that they're devastated by his death.  It doesn't work that way.

          •  Rule 404(a) (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            vahana, Lefty Ladig
            (a) Character Evidence.

            (1) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of a person’s character or character trait is not admissible to prove that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character or trait.

            (2) Exceptions for a Defendant or Victim in a Criminal Case. The following exceptions apply in a criminal case:

            (A) a defendant may offer evidence of the defendant’s pertinent trait, and if the evidence is admitted, the prosecutor may offer evidence to rebut it;

            (B) subject to the limitations in Rule 412, a defendant may offer evidence of an alleged victim’s pertinent trait, and if the evidence is admitted, the prosecutor may:

            (i) offer evidence to rebut it; and

            (ii) offer evidence of the defendant’s same trait; and

            (C) in a homicide case, the prosecutor may offer evidence of the alleged victim’s trait of peacefulness to rebut evidence that the victim was the first aggressor.

            Zimmerman claimed that Trayvon Martin attacked him by punching him in the nose. Therefore, it seems that character evidence could be submitted to disprove that claim. Trayvon was a B student who majored in cheerfulness and had never been in trouble with the law. Therefore, it was unlikely that he would have thrown the first punch.

            If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

            by HairyTrueMan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:33:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ONLY the trait of peacefulness can come in. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The fact that he was "cheerful" doesn't speak to a trait for peacefulness.  

              •  And if the prosecution witness testifies to that, (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tonedevil, shaktidurga

                it opens the door to the defendant bringing in all sorts of things that otherwise don't come in.  The prosecution's decision makes perfect sense.

                •  That's exactly what I was saying. (0+ / 0-)

                  Because of the prosecution's fear of the "bad" stuff, they did not submit any good character evidence. Therefore, the jury knew nothing about Trayvon Martin. Perhaps entering evidence of Martin's good character (and forcing the defense to submit the bad stuff) would have instilled some sympathy for the victim in the jury.

                  If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

                  by HairyTrueMan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:56:53 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  An INDIRECT approach could have been used by the (4+ / 0-)


                    That's how the defense humanized "George." They didn't officially have character witnesses, but they did, for example, parade a whole raft of people who testified it was George's voice on the Lauer 911 call.

                    Those witnesses didn't contribute at all to clarifying whose voice it was, but through the questioning, since these were all people who knew Zimmerman, the defense was able to ask question that elicited what a great guy George was -- "the best friend anyone could have" etc.

                    The prosecution could have humanized Trayvon in a similar way, both by using the parents and brother more effectively and by bringing in other witnesses who knew and liked him (on the pretext of some other reason such as voice recognition.)

                    Some people fight fire with fire. Professionals use water.

                    by Happy Days on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 09:53:06 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes! They could have gotten info on record. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Happy Days

                      George's uncle was a very effective witness because he recalled hearing the voice of a screaming child while playing with his friends. He didn't just take the stand and claim it was GZ's voice. The uncle put it in context, which made the testimony much more credible.

                      If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

                      by HairyTrueMan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:01:31 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  THIS, exactly. Prosecution (0+ / 0-)

                      lacked the ability it seems to think outside the box in the way that the defense were able to do.

              •  What qualifies as proof of "peacefulness" then? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Because to me it seems the language I highlighted in the rule was intended for cases such as Zimmerman. He says he was attacked and is claiming to have acted in self defense. I would think the prosecution has some latitude in presenting character evidence of the alleged victim to rebut such a claim. It seems to me that the prosecution would be derelict in their duties to not even TRY to get such evidence into the record.

                If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

                by HairyTrueMan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:52:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  In my experience, things like not getting into (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  HairyTrueMan, Be Skeptical

                  fights and not being quick to anger speak to peacefulness.  Being an upbeat person definitely wouldn't, in my experience, speak to peacefulness.  So I don't think it would have come in even if they tried.  

                  And the problem is that even if they get it in, they open the door to all sorts of nastiness about the victim.  Trayvon getting into a fight would come it (it wouldn't come in before), him talking about a gun would come in, too.  Until the prosecution opens that door, the defense can't bring either of those things.

                  I know exactly why the prosecution did what it did—I would have done exactly the same thing.  I don't think the benefit of a teacher saying he was a good kid outweighs testimony that he got into a fight and talked about owning a gun.  You might disagree, but it was hardly a dereliction of duty to make that tactical choice.    

              •  other teachers over a year ago (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lefty Ladig

                when we first heard of this killing were quoted at saying that TM was "not a violent kid". That is, basically, relative peacefulness.

            •  But he did have a history of fighting, no? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The judge did not allow them to use Trayvon's texts where he describes some of the fighting he had done, but if the Prosecution had tried to bring up Trayvon's character couldn't all of those other things about Trayvon's character--including bad things--possibly get introduced?

              It might have humanized Trayvon a bit more for the jury, but in both good and bad ways.

              •  It's easy to say in hindsight... (0+ / 0-)

                But it's obvious that the prosecution's strategy didn't work very well since Zimmerman was acquitted. I would think it would be better to introduce both good and bad things about Trayvon, and at least let the jury know that he was a human being. Shit, when asked about the voice on the 911 call, TM's mother stated it was "Trayvon Benjamin Martin" whereas Zimmerman's mother said "that's my son." It was a stark contrast between the two IMHO and had an substantial effect on the jury.

                If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

                by HairyTrueMan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 09:17:35 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  the defense found a way to have (0+ / 0-)

            character witnesses of GZ, to get that content in, by having people who know and like him testify that it was his voice screaming.
            Perhaps the prosecution could have found a way to work in that content. They didn't.

    •  If they had brought in character witness (0+ / 0-)

      The defense could have brought in all the negatives in TM's past.  A character witness testifies to the persons good reputation and/or character and the defense can say, have you heard about his suspensions?  Have you heard that he tweeted about being a gangsta?  Then they can read the tweets.  Have you heard that he was found with a plastic bag full of women's jewelry and a burglar's tool which he said a friend gave him but he wouldn't name the friend?

      These come in because the character witness gives evidence of reputation and character and what he has knows about TM is relevant to whether he has the basis to form an opinion.  The defense argued that all that evidence should have come in but the judge ruled it out probably because Zimmerman didn't know any of that so it wasn't relevant to Zimmerman's fear.  But once character is made an issue, it all comes in.

  •  Excellent diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I learned a lot. Your summation of the Martin affair was extremely well done. My only beef with what you write is that I think all gun owners should be licensed. You exclude people who keep guns in the home for protection, but every week we hear about these folks whose guns go off due to carelessness injuring and killing others.
    If all gun owners are required to be trained and licensed, I am confident that the number of careless/accidental shootings would go down sharply.
    Finally, I think we all could benefit from golden rule training.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by deebee on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:56:24 AM PDT

    •  re: guns in homes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, Lefty Ladig

      deebee, thank you for the compliment.

      I don't have any problem with permits being required for guns that are kept only in homes. In fact, I had intended to include a mention of this in a full permitting system, but had to edit and focus on the most important part relevant to the example I am using here.

      The NRA used to be a gun safety organization that promoted responsible, informed gun ownership. For decades they've been little more than a lobbying group and have left a gap to be filled. Maybe this gap in gun safety training can be filled in some way by local law enforcement similarly to my proposal for the carry permits.

      Thank you for your kind and insightful response.

      Kannon McAfee, Progressive Communitarian. Corporatism is the enemy of community.

      by Kannon McAfee on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 02:30:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A little concern about your diary (7+ / 0-)

    I appreciate that you seem to have taken great time and thoughtfulness to put this diary together, but I think you may want to go back and revisit some of the facts you listed which are not necessarily factual.  A personal bias and the use of some loaded language is also very evident, but I cannot tell if it was a concluson you wanted that made you present the narrative in a certain way, or if the lens you viewed this case through that caused you to reach the kinds of conclusions you did.

    Some (not all) examples of bias/questionable facts:
    - discussing Zimmerman's history of violence, but not mentioning Trayvon's admission/claim of fighting or his desire to get a gun

    - repeated the erroneous "Zimmerman was told not to follow" when in fact what he was told was "OK, we don't need you to do that (follow)".  There is a distinct difference.  One is an order to not take a certain action, while the other sounds more like a warning.  Considering that the dispatcher continued to ask for information even after he knew that Zimmerman had gotten out of the car to follow should have made it clear to all (including Zimmerman) that it was not an order, otherwise you'd expect the dispatcher to tell him to stop.

    -You also claim that Zimmerman told the dispatcher that he was chasing Trayvon, but what he actually confirmed is that he was following Trayvon.  Is there a difference?  Yes.  One is a much more loaded term, and suggests seeking to catch the other person.  Is there any evidence that Zimmerman was actually seeking to CATCH Trayvon as opposed to simply continuing to observe him so that the police could get him when they showed up?  To my knowledge there is not.  Zimmerman seemed content to follow Trayvon from his truck until Trayvon ran to an area where the truck could not follow, which suggests to me that Zimmerman wanted to observe, not necessarily to confront/apprehend/engage.  He had called the police so that they could do that.

    - Your claim about the length of the chase being at least a minute, when based on the dispatch call it would appear to actually have been closer to 30 seconds.  You can hear the car door open at 2:09 and after that you can hear Zimmerman breathing heavily as he runs/jogs after Trayvon, but by around the 2:45 mark you can tell that his heavy breathing has slowed down and his voice is becoming more normal, indicating that he had stopped running.  When he said "He ran" at the 2:37 mark it sounds like at that point he had lost Trayvon, and then a few seconds later his breathing becomes more normal, which makes it seem like he had stopped running at that point since he can't find Trayvon.  So he ran after Trayvon for about 30 seconds, and then lost him.  He may have kept looking for him longer than that, but certainly did not "chase" him all that time.  By making the claim of a longer chase it sounds like an attempt to paint Zimmerman more clearly as a predator, when the evidence behind that kind of assertion is ahky at best.

    Indeed, your diary seems to keep building on the theme of a "chase" and Zimmerman being "predatory" and portraying Trayvon as peaceful prey   For example, your misinterpretation about the dispatcher "order" is then used to claim that the verdict shows: "A neighborhood watchman is apparently not required to defer to professionals and behave as instructed by police."  There is no basis to this at all.  The dispatcher is not police.  He did not give Zimmerman any instructions to be obeyed.

    Generally speaking I do strongly support ideas about more responsibility for gun owners including greater duty to try to avoid/retreat from a situation.  However, your talk of "illusory threat" I dont think is realistic, and it doesn't appear to apply to this case the way you are saying.  Zimmerman didn't get to use self-defense because of an illusory threat based on Trayvon's race.  He got to use self-defense because the evidence appears to show that he was getting beat up, and considered reasonable to be in fear for his life.  Defending yourself against a threat you believe is real is always going to have to be justifiable to some extent.  The question is whether or not you could have taken reasonable steps to avoid it, and where we assign responsibility for who has to try to take those steps.  In this case, Zimmrman should have never gotten out of his car.  He should have identified himself and tried to avoid a fight one the confrontation began (if it was possible, which is not completely clear).  But everything he did up to the point of the fight was legal.  Are we going to make legal behaviors turn illegal based on a future, unpredicted outcome?  Make legal actions illegal in hindsight?  We already do that: it's called negligence.

    Anyway, I do think it's very valuable to have these sorts of discussions, but I do foresee problems if we cannot even agree on some of the facts.

    •  I have to disagree with you quite strongly. (0+ / 0-)

      George Zimmerman following Trayvon Martin in his vehicle, and then getting out of his vehicle to run/jog after him, to find him, to pursue him, to catch up with him, is chasing him. The definition of the word:

      Pursue in order to catch or catch up with.
      An act of pursuing someone or something.

      Just because you don't like the sound of the word, or have an incorrect understanding of the definition of the word, doesn't alter the fact the word is used appropriately in the diary. In fact George Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon Martin, and did, in fact, ultimately catch up with him and catch him, as evidenced by the fact they had a physical encounter which ended in the death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. It seems that maybe you have seen too many action movies and equate the word "chase" incorrectly as a result. Furthermore, I would suggest that since an unarmed teenager is dead because of George Zimmerman's unnecessary chasing of him, by George Zimmerman's hand/gun, that qualifies George Zimmerman as predatory. Finally, I find your comment insulting and offensive, both intellectually and emotionally.

      "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

      by helpImdrowning on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 02:02:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  re: chasing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, Lefty Ladig


      You are perfectly free to dispute the facts. You may be more correct on some, but I won't go through them one-by-one. However, the most important part that you dispute is about Zimmerman's chase.

      You referred to Zimmerman's heavy breathing and how this stopped as he stopped running. Running after someone is chasing them! When the police are on their way and no crime has yet been committed, in the eyes of the one being chased, this is a predatory behavior.

      You said, "Zimmrman should have never gotten out of his car." Correct and that is where his culpability begins. He created the situation, thus leaving no moral ground to stand on in killing Trayvon. This is a fundamental principle in law used even in small claims courts that you cannot claim victimhood from an injury or damages resulting from a situation created by your own actions.

      Our legal system and our communities need to acknowledge where responsibility actually begins, and with whom, and to hold adults to a higher level of responsibility than minors. Zimmerman had 12 more years of life experience than Trayvon Martin. He was not facing an emergency or attack of any kind. He began pursuit with the presumption of guilt -- purely because Trayvon ran. That did not give him the right to kill him -- even if attacked.

      Kannon McAfee, Progressive Communitarian. Corporatism is the enemy of community.

      by Kannon McAfee on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 02:47:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  azer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm not familiar with self defense law, but since Martin was pummeling Zimmerman into the ground, doesn't that give hem the legal right to defend himself with all means possible?

        I think the law should include some proportionality to the violence used to defend one's self, but that's not the case at the moment if I understand correctly.

      •  I discussed the semantics of chase vs follow (0+ / 0-)

        "Chase" is a loaded term because it implies trying to catch.  "Following" does not.

        We do not know if Zimmerman actually meant to physically catch Trayvon or not.  Under the circumstances, I am dubious.  Did he try to cut off Trayvon with his truck and detain him?  No.  Did he get out of the truck to confront or detain Trayvon when Trayvon approached his truck?  No.  He only got out once it looked like he couldn't follow with his truck.

  •  Mostly strong, but a big disconnect here? (0+ / 0-)
    At the end of these classes, before graduation, the class should be questioned by facilitators on their confidence in each classmate, affirming their confidence vocally in that person. If there is lack of confidence in a particular person, it is time for the facilitators to address the concerns and display leadership in conflict resolution. In this way group affirmation, leadership and free voice to concerns about anyone's readiness can be addressed in a positive, empowering way.
    As everyone in the class knows there's a parallel popularity contest running where they'll RATE each other, your better grade of sociopath will be sure to coo over your baby pictures and bring the donuts....

    But seriously, there's no way a group of peers decides who carries and who goes home alone. I can't imagine a legal structure wherein people who haven't finished the course themselves(!) get to decide - who gets to finish the course. It's like a trial-by-jury in which the jurors need EACH OTHER'S support? Beside the legal empowerment (from who?) issues, you're looking at alliances and deluxe intrigue a la "Survivor." That part needs a tuneup - each candidate could be judged by a panel legally appointed to do so, for example.

    •  re: group affirmation (0+ / 0-)


      You may have a good point. My suggestion is one way in which expert facilitators/law enforcement leading the class could take in observations and information from the  class members about any person who does not show readiness. Done out in the open, the concerns can be addressed properly.

      Would you prefer a that a person who has made comments suggesting eagerness to violence to go unreported? Or should they be reported anonymously?

      I don't anticipate that kind of thing would happen often at all. And I don't believe such a class structure would promote dissension or suspicion. Quite the contrary.

      It is an opportunity for facilitators to address any concerns about the students: tutoring further and filtering out a rare problem person.

      My suggestions may not all be good, but were intended to highlight the opportunity for filtering out those who should not have a carry permit or who need more attention given to their preparation.

      Kannon McAfee, Progressive Communitarian. Corporatism is the enemy of community.

      by Kannon McAfee on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 02:59:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I so agree, as someone who tends to (0+ / 0-)

      speak truth to power and isn't always well liked in groups especially in this kind of setting where people tend to devolve into their high school selves (self included...was horrendously bullied in high school).

      I could see myself being the most responsible and qualified student yet be voted down by people who don't really know me depending on the cliquey-ness of the group. And I"m not as "bad" at creating that ostracism as others I know are. I get along fine, well in many groups but once or twice in my adult life have come across this issue due to the perfect alignment of circumstances.

      There is an interpersonal component of group dynamics,another dimension, that is not being taken into account that could sometimes make this "peer review" process backfire.

  •  I asked a talk radio host (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That since I could be beaten up by a 10m yr.old  white girl, I feel compelled to shoot this white woman who sneers at me on the way to work! First, I would not do that, but wanted to see his reaction. He was flabbergasted! Speechless! And did not come back from commercial for a very long time. However, the point was understood that no one could be safe from stand your ground laws! Not even women.

  •  This is a really great diary. It is thoughtful, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    thought provoking, and well written. As to the claim in one comment about personal bias, that is an inane comment, ignore it. Almost every diary written here has a personal bias, that is why we are here in the first place. We write what are called "diaries" here, not news articles. I appreciate your efforts very much. I would like to welcome you to the Daily Kos community, it is obvious to me, that you will be an excellent addition here. You are a very talented writer and I sincerely hope to see more from you. Best wishes.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

    by helpImdrowning on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 02:14:10 PM PDT

    •  I think its useful not to ignore it because (0+ / 0-)

      the bias the comment pointed out was in how certain FACTS were reported. Unknowingly slanting facts is different than having a biased opinion, which is usual/normal on DK and elsewhere, as you point out.

      I've noticed that those who argue in the defense of GZ OFTEN slant the facts, and then state their opinion based on those slanted facts.

      We need to be more rigorous about the actual facts we know for sure and that are not disputed. It makes our argument hold more weight and be more fair to those we'd like to convince with reason.

      Just to be clear, I think GZ was horribly wrong to chase after TM and that he is entirely responsible for the results of that poor decision-including for the death of an unarmed, innocently-intended minor, and that he should be in jail for that.

      Comment Example:
      GZ was told not to pursue TM.
      Actually he was told "we don't need you to do that (pursue)".

      See, some literal minded people, including GZ possibly, do not hear "we don't need you to do that" as a Prohibition on doing something.

      I think this is the Weaker of the two examples the poster mentions, actually. I think that most people would take that to mean he shouldn't follow. Still, in someone in a heightened emotional state who Wants to follow as GZ seems to have been, saying DO NOT FOLLOW is Really different than "we don't need you to do that". Person like GZ would think, literally, "you don't need me to, but that doesn't mean you rather I didn't or that I shouldn't"

      I later read that the dispatchers are not allowed to give directive orders so that is why it was said in such gentle language. She was not allowed to say. "Please stop following and go back to your car".

      It is important when we are making our arguments that when we say a non-controversial FACT like what the dispatcher said, we actually say what was said not our own paraphrasing which will contain our bias. WE FEEL that ZImmerman was told Not To Follow. But that is not quite what was said. I personally feel that he was advised it wasn't a good idea well enough. But it is quite possible he didn't get it in his state. That is his responsibility but we need to report it as it was said.

      I wish I could remember the other example the commenter used, it was less nuanced, a better example.

      •  There is only one fact that is questionable and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that relates to whether or not George Zimmerman was told specifically not to follow Trayvon Martin.  Where I come from if my boss tells me I don't need to call a client about a billing dispute, that means don't do it.  If a teacher told me I don't need to take down the names of any students breaking rules around school, that means don't do it.  If my mother told me I don't need to track down the kid who punched my brother and speak with his parents about it, that meant don't do it.  When someone related to a police department, even a dispatcher, tells me I don't need to get involved with tracking a suspect, I take that to mean don't do it. I think that adults should be able to discern the nuances of what someone actually means when they say something even if they are not perfectly explicit.  So I guess it's a matter of how one looks at the whole context of the situation as to how to interpret how George Zimmerman should have responded to what the dispatcher said to him. All that being said, I agree that facts should be factual. My comment about personal bias was related to opinion and emotion, not facts.

        I probably read about thirty diaries here every day and rarely, if ever, do I see the odious nit picking as I have seen here today.  I find picking apart someone's first diary here, with what I think are obnoxious and questionable criticisms objectionable, particularly given the fact that I think this is an excellently written diary and I would like to see the diarist stick around and write additional pieces. I can however, appreciate the intent of your comment.

        "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

        by helpImdrowning on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 06:22:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I chose the less useful of the two examples (0+ / 0-)

          some people in the world are more persnickety about words than others. You may be less so, or able to read nuance so things seem obvious to you. But surely you must know people who need to be spoken to directly and explicitly or will not get it.

          I was commenting on a comment. I like the diary and said so elsewhere.

          It is important that we don't do what many of the killer's defenders do...state facts that are not facts but are what we think they mean. Then base deductions on those "facts"...and put it out that way.

          The killer's supporters do it by basing deductions and opinions on stated "facts" that really are not Facts but what George Zimmerman SAID was the case. I have seen this over and over.

          I think we need to be careful not to do that and I have seen it done here on DK..."facts" that are tainted by what we think happened. I have to catch myself from doing it, even.

          Again, the example I picked of the two was the one that was more gray so I can see your point also. That was unwise and a waste of people's time. Sorry about that.

          I guess there is a gray area between "nitpick" and supporting someone but having a point that is important. Overall I feel mine is important but I wrote too long.

          •  I wasn't specifically speaking about your comment (0+ / 0-)

            when I referred to nit picking. I was actually referring to several other comments here, which was what my original comment spoke to.

            "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

            by helpImdrowning on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:16:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  As a matter of fact, I recc'd your comment below. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't think the disagreement is really between you and I.

            "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

            by helpImdrowning on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:17:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I find it odd (3+ / 0-)

    that in your "conclusions" there is no mention of a "communitarian" desire to prevent crime in the first place.  Tolerating crime is immensely destructive of "community", and crime is the root cause of this tragedy.  If there hadn't been a history of crime in Sanford then "Neighborhood Patrol" would have been little more that a "lost dog" watch and Zimmerman would have been home watching a movie.

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 02:19:48 PM PDT

    •  I disagree. GZ jumping the gun (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kmfmstar, helpImdrowning

      is the root cause. Almost any other person would not have taken off on foot after someone walking by.

      Given the circumstances, yes, it could have been normal for him to call the police as he did". GZ was trained by Neighborhood Watch to Not pursue and to specifically wait out in the open for the police, only. He did see himself as the Neighborhood Watch captain. His neighbors say he identified himself as such and they identify him as such. He did go against his training. Also in that training is a very big emphasis to NEVER carry a gun. I am not talking legality, I am talking the reasoned guidelines of the role he was performing at that moment.

      GZ, on the 911, is horribly SURE that the person IS a criminal. He says "F-ing punks, they always get away".   He is sure TM IS one of those. He does not call and say "there is a suspicious guy...I am Concerned that...". He expresses no doubt...he has none it seems.

      It is that attitude that made ZImmerman act as he did and to force events to happen as they did. It did not occur to GZ that the kid could have NOT been a guilty person. Reminder that this was a mixed race community...something like 40% African American. And it was not late at night, it was about 730. Lots of random people ...friends,visiting family...who don't live there might very well be around. People walk their dogs at that hour, right after dinner.

      Zimmerman's certainty was abnormal. He could not think outside of his own cognitive box. What he said on the 911 tape shows this. All springs from this attitude.

      •  I think that crime (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical

        is the deeper cause, and that ignoring (or not caring about) that is the reason that everything else that you write is wrong.

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 05:47:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sorry, but your comment makes little (0+ / 0-)

          sense without further context.

          "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

          by helpImdrowning on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:11:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  ? not caring? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lefty Ladig

          Crime (in their neighborhood) may have caused people to be fearful and jumpy, but in GZ, it turned into something MORE, EXTRA>

          I live in a city, in a mixed income, mixed race area with high property crime. I've somewhat been in GZ's shoes. I've felt scared and victimized (I'm a disabled woman living alone on the first floor!). But I refuse to buckle to stereotypes that aren't based on logic and reality.

          His community was 40% Black. Even if the few crimes where the race of the suspected criminals were known had Black male criminals, the likelyhood that any random young Black man walking by is one IS SLIM.

          Again, it was 730 at night, a time when many people have reason to be out. Not "late at night". Some people equate hoodies with criminals but honestly, in my urban area it is the UNIFORM of young people, all young people. I suspect it is in many places.

          It is clear on the 911 call, that GZ was SURE TM was up to no good. SURE. I've called the police a few times for "suspicious people" and I'd NEVER assume. Always in the back of my head was the possibility that there was a legit reason for what I saw. And it was more than someone just walking down the street looking around.

          GZ was pathologically too sure that TM was a criminal. More than a normal person would be. And he did run after TM after the kid started running. That is bizarre behavior if you are not police.It didn't occur to him that being stared at by an adult male on the phone (some say he drove after him while he walked, I don't know about that) would feel creepy to a kid and that's why he'd run away.

          Explain more about what you mean that I don't care it's about crime.

      •  You make some very good points here. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

        by helpImdrowning on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:12:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry, but I sincerely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      helpImdrowning, Lefty Ladig

      doubt that Z would have been "home watching a movie".   I lived and worked in Orlando a long time ago, and it was a cesspool then.  There were disturbances all the time.  I couldn't wait to move away.  But I didn't go out and decide to calm things with a pistol.  

      Peaceable people avoid confrontation (which is becoming increasingly difficult).  Lovers of agitation and violence put themselves in the thick of it.

  •  I still Stand my ground (0+ / 0-)

    That Trayvon body was in a morgue for  at least 2 days,contrary too some denier here,even the author on NPR say Zimmerman was not justified  in killing Trayvon

    •  Whatever (0+ / 0-)

      you said

      his  mother and father ,they are probably hurt more by the fact that their son body lay unclaimed for 2 days in a morgue
      I, and others, pointed out that's not true.  He wasn't "unclaimed"


      The next morning, Trayvon's father filed a missing person's report.  When he was then shown a photo of his son's body. he identified him from a photo of the body at that time.
      From CNN, timeline of morning after shooting
      February 27, 2012 - Martin's father, Tracy Martin, files a missing persons report. Officers with the Sanford Police Department visit Tracy Martin. He is able to identify Trayvon Martin's body using a photo.
      From Reuters
      Tracy Martin had been looking for his son Trayvon since the night before. He went to bed figuring the teen must have gone to the movies and turned off his phone. When Trayvon still wasn't home in the morning, Martin called the police.   After a flurry of phone calls back and forth, an officer told him a police unit was on the way.   It was not yet 8 in the morning.
      If you are talking about not releasing his body for two days, that certainly seems appropriate to me given the need to conduct an autopsy, collect evidence, etc.   There was quite a bit of incorrect information circulating about this case, especially early on.  That includes the stories about the police failing to notify his family.  Why is it so difficult to just say "OK, no big deal, I was wrong."  You really want to Stand Your Ground on this?
  •  The explanation is less complex than this, I think (0+ / 0-)

    Zimmerman starts a fight. Trayvon defends himself well, but Zimmerman has a gun, and ends it.

    Second degree murder requires some kind of malice.

    The jury, informed with racial bias, is in doubt about whether Zimmerman had malice, and whether he ended up defending himself from Trayvon's (understandable) counter attack.

    The problem is that once a fight gets underway, doubt is an easy an escape hatch for the jury, especially one looking through a prism of racial bias.

    The laws used to prosecute this case are deficient.

    The fundamental social problem is that Zimmerman has racial prejudice, shouldn't be in this role and shouldn't have a gun.

    If Trayvon is white wearing a polo shirt, he's alive today. If Trayvon has a gun and kills Zimmerman, he's in jail today.

    I'm not sure that you can do anything to self-defense laws to fix this. Whenever someone is being hit in the head, their life is in danger. So if one or both fighters has a gun, self-defense is always a possible explanation for using it. Racially biased juries can easily hang doubt on that scenario. Guns can turn a simple fight into homicide quite well, as we see all the time in the inner city.

    The only thing required for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

    by DavidMCastro on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:26:38 AM PDT

  •  Very well written (0+ / 0-)

    I especially like what you said about additional courses required for concealed carry permits. I've thought the requirements for this should be expanded for some time - especially to include classes on conflict resolution.

    Definitely recc'd.

  •  Thank you everyone for your comments (0+ / 0-)

    Whether you agreed with me or not...

    One correction + link.

    The program I mentioned here in Portland, OR is called WomenStrength.

    Kannon McAfee, Progressive Communitarian. Corporatism is the enemy of community.

    by Kannon McAfee on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 06:41:59 AM PDT

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