Counter-Narratives

For as long as the Trayvon Martin story has been in the news, the mindset of those feverishly trying to defend George Zimmerman has been fascinating to me. And for a while, I had trouble coming up with a parallel. But earlier this week, I think I managed to come up with what it reminds me of. It reminds me of how so many folks clung to a belief that OJ Simpson was totally innocent of the murders of his ex-wife and her boyfriend, no matter how much evidence began piling up against it.

Most readers of this blog aren’t under any illusions as to what happened that night in Sanford. George Zimmerman, a ridiculously overzealous “block watchman” who’d called 9-1-1 dozens of times, sees Martin walking back from the local 7-11 and finds him suspicious. What happens next is abundantly clear from both Zimmerman’s 9-1-1 call to police and Martin’s brief conversation with a friend back home. Zimmerman, who’s armed with a firearm, confronts Martin. Martin, likely already in fear for his life, tries to defend himself. But he’s armed with nothing but candy and iced tea – and as a result, Zimmerman is able to shoot him dead.

The common thread between both the OJ dead-enders and the crackpots bending over backwards to absolve Zimmerman of any blame is a strong desire to believe the counter-narrative. With the OJ case, so many people wanted to believe that this was about crooked law enforcement and not the murder of two innocent people. And with the Trayvon Martin case, many people want to believe that this is about criminality in the black community and not the senseless murder of an innocent teen. But the reality with both cases is that neither narrative is relevant. The only thing that really matters is that innocent people were killed and the families involved have the right to demand justice.

It’s an unspeakable outrage that George Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested yet. And sadly, I worry that even if he does get arrested, not enough was done by the police to collect enough evidence to convict him. When OJ was acquitted, I was in the student union building in Ann Arbor watching it on TV. Dozens of African-American students celebrated in what I found to be a somewhat disturbing display. And yet, I’m almost bracing myself for the same thing should George Zimmerman stand trial and beat that murder charge. Those who believe that killing the innocent is acceptable within the shadow of some other perceived injustice will celebrate. And America will die a little bit again.

Comments

  1. 2

    proud leftist spews:

    Lee,
    It blows my mind that wingnuttia is demonizing Trayvon and his family. I try to locate some reason that makes any kind of sense to try to understand the motives that drive their campaign. There is nothing. Simply, all I can see is racist hate. This country is all fucked up right now, really fucked up. All the progress that I thought we’d made over my 50-year lifespan appears to have been an illusion.

  2. 3

    manoftruth spews:

    is george zimmerman half latino and half jewish?
    is geraldo riveria half latino and half jewish?

    so then, i fail to see the white racism involved in this

  3. 5

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    Well said Lee.

    All, let’s please not forget that an unarmed 17 year old was shot dead for the “crime” of walking while black and 36 days later Trayvon Martin’s killer is yet to be arrested and charged with criminal homicide.

  4. 6

    David C spews:

    NBC is a bunch of race baiters..

    NBC told the Washington Post that it has launched an internal investigation of the “Today” show’s editorial process after its morning show aired an edited conversation between George Zimmerman and a 911 dispatcher recorded moments before the shooting. The investigation came after Fox News and others pointed out that the network spliced two parts of the call together, making it appear as if Zimmerman had said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” In reality, Zimmerman was answering a dispatcher’s question:
    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 black, white or Hispanic?
    Zimmerman: He looks black.

  5. 8

    Liberal Scientist is a slut who occasionally wears a hoodie spews:

    Two very good articles on this over at DailyKos. Here and here.

    Well worth the read.

  6. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Lee, the outrage isn’t that Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested, it’s that the police didn’t secure the crime scene or conduct an adequate investigation with the result that evidence needed to convict the perp may be irretrievably lost.

  7. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 Olberman’s firing had nothing to do with race, idiot. He was fired for playing hooky from work the day before Super Tuesday. I’d fire an employee being paid $5 million a year for not showing up, too.

  8. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Unfortunately, “Dave” has turned out to be just another run of the mill head-up-ass troll.

  9. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    To be fair about this, George Zimmerman didn’t do anything that police don’t routinely do — i.e., shoot unarmed innocent black people in their own homes. And because Zimmerman wanted to be a cop and had taken cop training at his local community college, maybe we shoud infer that he was just practicing to be a cop when he shot Trayvon Martin.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/....._blog.html

  10. 15

    ArtFart spews:

    This seems an appropriate time for me to mention a fellow I worked with in the 1990′s. An electronic/computer engineer from Mumbai, quite a brilliant fellow, in fact. He said that after over a dozen years in the US, the three things that taught him the most about what our country is really all about were rap music (particularly from Sir Mix-A-Lot), the O.J. Simpson trial and “Beavis And Butt-Head”.

  11. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 Hey genius, is it too much trouble to post links so the rest of us can check your source?

  12. 17

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 10: If the intention of the police was to make sure that Zimmerman was never prosecuted, they may have already succeeded. As you mentioned, the failure to secure the crime scene and conduct an adequate investigation has already resulted in the loss of evidence proving Zimmerman’s guilt. More importantly, the courts are allowed to conclude in any susequant prosecution that there may have been evidence which exonerates the defendant but was irretreivably lost.

    And with the heat of public opinion in this case, a court may rule that there is no potential jury anywhere which hasn’t already been tainted by inadmissable evidence and have already formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocense of the accused.

    I’ve little doubt about what happened here. I’ve known a few cops in my day, and the ones which caused me the most serious concerns were the young guys who had “hero complexes” and wanted to create a name for themselves by being involved in a serious take-down of a dangerous suspect. Zimmerman acts just like those guys, but even more so.

    But that doesn’t mean he can be succesfully prosecuted. At this point, it would take a VERY good prosecutor to win the case – a good defense attorney will get most of the evidence excluded, argue that the jury pool was tainted, and then make a motion to dismiss based on the police failure to secure potentially exculpable evidence.

  13. 18

    Rael spews:

    My first take on reading about this was that it was a clear case of a racist vigilante getting away with it.

    After looking at it a little more closely, though, I’m not so sure.

    If you listen to the 911 call with the calls for help followed by the gunshot, it’s clear that one of two things happened

    1. either Zimmerman shot down an unarmed kid who was screaming for help in cold blood, knowing that the cops were on the way (because he had called them himself, and people had yelled that they were calling 911)

    2. or a 17 year old kid (who may have been pissed off at being followed or harassed in a place where he had every right to be) decided to try to settle things with his fists with a guy he didn’t know was armed and got himself shot for it

    I don’t know for sure which one happened & neither does anyone else on this board.

    I do know which version generates more media attention – the first sells way more papers because it gets people way more upset.

  14. 19

    Bob spews:

    @ 18

    Nothing’s clear. A lot has been recorded but not released. It’s an ongoing investigation.

    I don’t understand why people are assuming that evidence wasn’t collected just because they haven’t had the opportunity to see it. We’re not owed anything by the Sanford PD.

    I don’t know, but would be willing to bet, that some cop photographed the back of Zimmerman’s head, and the back of his shirt. I don’t think I am owed the opportunity to see the photos, just because it might answer some questions. They’re done when they’re done.

    Can the either/or garbage. Go spend some time in the sun. Wait for the police report.

  15. 20

    spews:

    19 – LOL! Bob it’s been over a freaking month.

    When Cheney shot his buddy how long did it take to sort out what happened?

    It could have taken less time than it actually did IMO..

    Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas said he had learned of the incident moments after it happened, in a call from Capt. Charles Kirk, who said that he had been told of it — in a way not explained in the sheriff’s report released Thursday — and that Kirk was on his way to the ranch. Eight to 10 minutes later, the sheriff said, a Secret Service agent called him to report a shooting involving Cheney.

    Then, the sheriff’s account went on, Kirk called to say he had been turned back at the ranch gate by a Border Patrol agent who said “he didn’t know anything about the accident.

    Salinas said he then called a former sheriff who worked at the ranch, Ramiro Medellin, who said, “This, in fact, is an accident.” Salinas said he confirmed that with another unnamed “eyewitness” and decided to send his chief deputy to the ranch the next morning.

    http://www.statesman.com/news/.....heney.html

  16. 21

    Michael spews:

    2. or a 17 year old kid (who may have been pissed off at being followed or harassed in a place where he had every right to be) decided to try to settle things with his fists with a guy he didn’t know was armed and got himself shot for it

    Not sure how it works in Florida, but in Washington you can go to jail for bringing a gun to a fist fight. Plus, if Travon was scared out of his wits because some unidentified dude was following him in the middle of the night wouldn’t he have the right to defend himself. And at what point does Zimmerman lose his right to self defense? He go out of his car and ran after Travon.

  17. 22

    Bob spews:

    @20

    Seriously, YLB?

    I think you have the wrong Richard. Think Jewell, not Cheney.

    Pretty sure Secret Service were on the scene when Cheney’s incident occurred. Kinda reduces the urgency for the locals to be involved right away.

    But whatever. Scramble, as best as you can, to give some face-saving opportunity to the race-baiter with his own show on MSNBC and the former candidate for president who made the Hymietown comment.

    I wonder if Obama would still say that his nonexistent son would look like Trayvon. Or perhaps he should have left his comment at an expression of sympathy to the parents for the sudden loss of their son. Although it’s hard to gain advantage by doing the right thing, so of course he went one step further.

  18. 23

    spews:

    22 – Bob a shooting investigation in Cheney’s case was BLOCKED until the next morning…

    In the Martin case a FREAKING MONTH has passed. What if it was your kid?

    Cheney’s case blocked as it was didn’t take a freaking month. Secret Service? Neither here nor there – the principal was secure. Harry Whittington? Not their problem.

    What a miserable excuse for a life you have Bob – bringing some more race baiting bs into this exchange. Obama can say it’s sunny outside and you’ll find some racial component to it. The point was that the parents no longer have a son.

    And the parents still want to know why their son’s killer is walking. Anything “racial” about that Bob?

    Disgusting..

  19. 24

    Bob spews:

    @23

    Cheney is irrelevant. Period.

    I guess the lesson to be learned here is that assaulting someone could put you at risk of self-defense demonstrated by your victim.

    I suspect the parents will know why when the investigation is complete.

  20. 25

    spews:

    24 – Bullshit.

    Cheney SHOT someone..

    Zimmerman SHOT someone..

    It’s been a freaking month. VPOTUS got much more lively service – BLOCKED as it was by the Border Patrol.

    According to this the investigation was actually complete the night of the shooting. The states attorney beauracracy in FL have been throwing this hot potato amongst themselves ever since.

  21. 26

    Lauramae spews:

    Anytime issues of race come up, people who tend towards racism, but wish they didn’t, will come up with all sorts of convoluted reasoning to demonstrate that an incident occurred simply because of something the victim did. They will go crazy to prove it that the victim wasn’t simply a victim of something he had no control over–the color of his skin and the perceptions that creates in peoples’ minds.

    And in that process they will reveal loads of information about what is in fact peoples minds. I’ve actually read defenses of Zimmerman based on people concluding that most black victims of crime are victimized by other blacks. Like that has anything to do with this particular case. Besides, the converse is also true. Most white victims of crime are victimized by other whites.

    Versions of the same absur racist arguments can be found in every instance where racism was the basis of action. Japanese internment, slavery, the Indian wars. One could hold the arguments up side by side to the horseshit spewed in support of Zimmerman and easily see the pattern.

  22. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @18 Killing someone because they hit you with their fists is neither morally nor legally justified.

    In Washington, the law of self-defense is that you are justified in taking a life only if you are in imminent danger of death or grave bodily harm.

    A pushing or hitting assault does not fall in that category.

  23. 28

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 Obama didn’t cross the line the way Nixon did. He simply empathized with the victim’s family. That’s not a statement about the guilt or innocence of the perpetrator.

  24. 29

    Rael spews:

    @27

    Shooting someone because they are on top of you
    pounding your head into the pavement probably would be justified in any state. That falls under “grave bodily harm.”

    I’m not saying that’s what actually happened,
    but that is one of the stories.

    In Florida it’s probably a better case for self-defense than it would be in Washington.