“A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it.” – Frederick Douglass
I’ve been away for a few days visiting a few sick relatives – thus the issues to deal with have been backlogged just a bit. I’ll try to work my way through them quickly. We begin with George Zimmerman and the Trayvon Martin killing. The storyline is now all over the place.
As Obama Says “Let Me Be Clear” …
Before pointing to some oddities and even absurdities in the ongoing George Zimmerman saga, let me get my position restated for good measure. I suspect that Zimmerman, at the very least, ran afoul of self-defense and “stand your ground” laws by first chasing Martin before “defending” himself by killing the teenager. Now, it is plausible that Zimmerman gave chase, got attacked, ran for it, got caught and beaten (and even had his life threatened as his father claims) and then responded with deadly force. It is plausible. I doubt it happened just like that, but I certainly hope the investigation will wring this out thoroughly and we’ll get to the bottom of it. My guess is that it was not murder, was not racially motivated (the killing anyway – that’s not to say there wasn’t profiling going on), but will likely rise to the level of manslaughter.
OK, now that we’ve got that out there, let’s get to the latest and the absurd.
Where is Zimmerman? …
Nobody knows for sure. His attorneys have resigned because of spotty communication and his unwillingness to follow their legal advice. The “follow advice” bit came after Zimmerman apparently contacted the prosecutor himself, without their knowledge and against their advice.
The prosecutor, by the way, has now announced that some time in the next three days there will be “new information” released. Will it be a smoking gun that brings Zimmerman in, or will it be something that “exonerates” him and ends the investigation? Time will tell – but my suspicion is that any new information that is related to his contact with the prosecutor will lead toward his being charged, not away from it.
In fact, when you tie it all together it points toward an arrest. Zimmerman goes against counsel and contacts the special prosecutor. His attorneys resign the same day that the prosecutor announces new information. Any chance they know the new information and don’t want any part of this thing now?
“If the narrative does not fit, you must not print” …
I know, that didn’t rhyme. Apologies to the late Johnnie Cochran. There have been at least two instances in this case of the news media chasing down “racist” aspects of the case, only to come up empty at best and fraudulent at worst. (I use “scare quotes” around racist because none of Zimmerman’s actions would rightly be classified cleanly as racism. Prejudice perhaps, but that is a very different thing.)
First there was the racial slur. On the 911 tape it appeared that Zimmerman muttered, under his breath, “f***ing coons” – an antiquated racial slur used in regards to black people. However, after re-enhancing the audio it seems pretty clear (or at least clearer) that the words were “f***ing cold” in reference to the low temperatures that night (well, low for Sanford Florida). The story and video can be found here.
OK, no harm, no foul. Pull the thread and pull, and pull, and pull – and get to the bottom of it. That’s the job of the media right? So what isn’t the job of the media?
Let’s try this out, since we’re on the subject of that 911 tape. An unnamed editor over at “Today” had a little fun with the tape. First the transcript from the 911 tape, then what the Today Show ran:
ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
DISPATCHER: OK, and this guy – is he white, black or Hispanic?
ZIMMERMAN: He looks black
What the Today Show ran:
ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black
Hmmm. Those two seem to tell a different story. In the first, Zimmerman describes odd behavior for an “innocent” teenager – walking around in the rain and “looking about.” He describes Martin’s race only in response to prompting from the 911 dispatcher. In the second version, one can easily infer from the NBC proxy-Zimmerman the following: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good [because] he looks black.”
NBC responded quickly with firing an unnamed editor. OK, I know I’m not first off the wall with this, but seriously – there is no such thing as an unnamed fall guy. You have to actually give a name for the scapegoat. Otherwise, how does anyone know there was a firing at all? You can’t just say “we took care of it … now everybody go about your business.”
Help Me – DON’T Help Me …
Stop me if I’ve told this story before. When I was in college I spent some time with some Christian friends sharing the gospel on Franklin Street (the main drag) in Chapel Hill. One night a friend of one of my cohort stopped to listen – which is good. He then explained to his pals that he was going to watch out for us since he knew one of our number, and step in to beat up anybody who gave us trouble. Do me a favor, buddy, don’t help.
As for the CNN story on the racial slur, at least they continued to press and cleaned it up. NBC on the other hand …
We don’t need any help pressing the racial side of this story. It is a very serious issue and honest, right-minded people are surely running it to ground. Pulling a stunt like that only hurts. Those who might (might, I say) have a legitimate point about Zimmerman, and profiling, and racial prejudice don’t need any help to make it happen. The truth will out. And those who are looking for a reason to dismiss those racial claims JUST GOT ONE! “It’s all been a hoax, a media trick, they faked the whole thing, Zimmerman didn’t have a prejudiced bone in his body.” That’s how the story will go anyway. So stop helping.
(It’s right about there that the light bulb starts to go off. Nobody’s that stupid anymore, right? I mean, Dan Rather pretty much did in the whole “control the story” approach with his “fake but accurate” documents on George W. Bush’s military service. Surely nobody is dumb enough to try again – and with publicly available information at that. Maybe they got exactly what they wanted though. You see, running a fake, racially-charged storyline will only heighten tensions. I’ll stop now before the allegations get absurd … maybe the folks at NBC are just stupid.)
Here Come The Clowns …
Speaking of racists, there are actually some in the story. It was reported last week that about 20 members of a white supremacist group are armed and patrolling Sanford in case of any fall out around the impending investigation and decisions to charge Zimmerman or not. Sanford police have refuted the story, saying they have no such reports. Still, it’s kind of interesting to see. I guess the folks who want to start trouble will find a way (… like NBC).
I’m not sure what skin the Aryans have in the game here – Zimmerman is 1/2 Hispanic (and from the sounds of it 1/2 Jewish, or of Jewish decent somewhere along the way). It’s probably just a hoax. Of course, if the neo-Nazis did show up in Sanford, I can’t imagine it would go well for them.
On top of this, Zimmerman has apparently set up a website asking for donations to pay for his legal defense. First, umm, no – I won’t be donating. George Zimmerman is not a victim. Second, legal bills tend to go down dramatically when your lawyers quit.