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It's hard to measure this sort of thing, but I nominate the Trayvon Martin protests as the least effective protests in modern history. They might qualify as some sort of world record. And that is a tragedy on top of a tragedy.

You can Google Trayvon Martin if you're not familiar with the case. I assume it's not getting much coverage overseas.

My understanding of the Trayvon Martin protests is that the participants would like the public to stop believing that young African-American males are crime-prone. The strategy for accomplishing this involves holding largely peaceful protests in which a small number of young African-American males are likely to be filmed by news crews wearing masks, breaking store windows, threatening innocent motorists, and getting arrested. That's exactly what I watched on the news last night as Oakland was starting to heat up.

The trouble-makers are a small percentage of the protesters - maybe 1%. The problem is that the 1% gets the lion's share of news coverage, thus reinforcing the racial bias that the peaceful protesters are trying to combat. In terms of managing the public's impressions, the protests are an epic fail.

On a related topic, I'm fascinated by the way humans reflexively group things. In this case, most observers see this as a racial situation: black versus non-black. And yet no one believes Zimmerman would have made the same boneheaded moves if he had seen an African-American woman in his neighborhood instead of a man. Or an African-American child at age ten. Or even a middle-aged black dude in a sweater-vest. The fact that Trayvon was young and male was at least half of what made him seem suspicious to Zimmerman, one presumes.

As a male who was once young, I can confirm that most of my offenses against humanity happened in my early years. My testosterone was high and my frontal lobes were only partly formed. That's a recipe for trouble, and I caused my fair share. I also grew out of it, right on schedule.

The most effective type of protest I can imagine after the Trayvon Martin verdict would involve demands for greater science literacy. That sort of movement doesn't attract too many vandals and it effectively puts racists in the "ignorant" box instead of the "evil" box. That's a game-changer. In the year 2013, perhaps the African-American community needs fewer leaders who are ministers and more who are scientists. Just a thought.

 
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Jul 19, 2013
Just a note: this whole affair got a great deal of covage overseas (like everything else that happens here). I saw numerous stories in the UK press, on the BBC, and in the French press as well. Try going to lemonde.fr and type "trayvon" in the search window at upper left of the page. If you use Chrome it will of course offer to translate it, but you don't need to know French to see all the hits. As best I can tell, there was a general sense of bewilderment overseas at the verdict.

A few people in California broke some windows, but California is not the world. & all who expected riots to break out across the land, well, it didn't happen. But if Scott wants to think that's what he saw on tv, he is free to give in to confirmation bias. Being rational doesn't always mean we're right. And we can't always be rational; we are not Vulcans.
 
 
-16 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 18, 2013
Interesting comments on my last post. Some additional facts.

- Jurors deliberated for 16 hours on the verdict.

- They were tied 3-3 at one point.

- They asked asked for clarification one charge. Clearly some felt something should be done.

- Several cried when they submitted their verdict.

Analysts agree that the not guilty verdict was the only one they *could* render. They literally had no other choice. Why? The prosecution presented no "alternative" scenario other than the one claimed by the defense.

Legal analysts agree that this was the biggest flaw of the prosecution (there were many flaws).
 
 
Jul 18, 2013
Wow. I'm trying to find a group that you DIDN'T offend with this post. Let's see . . . Whites? Nope. Blacks? Nope. Ministers? Nope. The news media? Nope.

Oh, wait. Here's one: scientists. Gee, what a surprise.

You're wrong on one thing, Scott. The protesters were not trying to convince anyone that young black males are not crime-prone. They were trying to show people how angry they were that the jury did not convict George Zimmerman, regardless of his guilt or innocence.

Most observers don't see this as non-black on black. The media sees it as a story they can hype to get ratings. The black 'leadership' sees it as a way to maintain their power within the black community. Most rational observers see this as a tragedy, but one that can be blamed on both of the participants. As far as the law goes, the jury followed it and returned the correct verdict. If you don't like the decision, blame the law, not the jury. And, by the way, the stand-your-ground law was never a part of this trial, so if you blame that law for the verdict, you are incorrect.

The media has portrayed this as a white-on-black event. It's not. The New York Times called George Zimmerman a 'white Hispanic.' George Zimmerman is as much a 'white Hispanic' as President Obama is a 'white African.' Do you think the NYT will ever characterize the president in that way?

During the time between the event and the verdict, there were hundreds of young black men killed by other young black men in Chicago alone. I did not see Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson giving speeches condemning that violence. I wonder why?

In February of 2012, black man Trevor Dooley shot and killed white man David James in front of James' eight-year-old daughter. His defense is that, under Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law, he was justified in the killing. Now, whether or not he was justified is not the issue. It's the media's coverage of this killing that should be considered.

One could make the case that the media considers white-on-black killings to be outrageous, but that black-on-black killings or black-on-white killings are no big thing. One might also conclude that black 'leaders' believe (and continue to promote) the same thing.

Perhaps, rather than Scott's suggestion, what the African-American community needs is to start thinking for themselves, rather than falling into lockstep with those who would use a tragedy like the Trayvon Martin shooting as justification for further dividing the nation along racial lines. Subscribing to the views of those who make race the issue rather than violence is in no way helpful to the black community.

One can only hope that new leaders will emerge within the black community who, as did the late Reverend King, preach love instead of hate, and peace instead of violence. But the black community needs to be open to accept that kind of leadership. As long as the media continues to push their racist narrative in order to garner ratings, it is doubtful that any such leader would be given a significant voice.

And that is truly disheartening.

 
 
+22 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 18, 2013
@KnowItAll, Despite blatant bias displayed by the Media and Zimmerman's accusers a jury spent weeks pouring over all the best "what ifs" motivated prosecutors could make against Zimmerman. Ultimately, after hearing the facts the jury was unconvinced. Sadly this seems irrelevant to people like you. If I have to put my money on the truth emanating from either a bunch of agenda pandering emotionally triggered bias, or the outcome of weeks of detailed testimony it's a no-brainer.
 
 
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 18, 2013
@KnowItAll

You're totally buying into the fictitious narrative spun by the media for ratings. The facts of the case do not bear out what you described. Stop being a gullible sucker and start using your critical thinking skills.

Zimmerman saw a suspicious person in his neighborhood, where there had been a string of burglaries. Trayvon was not passing through, he was sneaking around casing the neighborhood, looking in windows for loot to steal. Zimmerman asked the young man what he was doing. No gun was brandished by Zimmerman, so Trayvon had no reason to be scared.

If Trayvon was the innocent "child" that is being claimed, he could say "just passing through". Zimmerman would give him directions out of the neighborhood and he would be on his way.

Instead, Trayvon's adrenaline levels spiked, as tends to happen when criminals are caught in the act. Guilty people get this "fight or flight" response -- innocent people have no reason at all not to remain calm. Trayvon's history of violent fighting nudged him to choose "fight" and he decided his best chance was to take his opponent by surprise. He pushed Zimmerman down, and immediately leapt on top of his opponent in an MMA "ground and pound" straddle. This is what is described as "being jumped".

At this point, Zimmerman was fighting for his life. He screamed for help. Note: Zimmerman told police he screamed for help. At the time, he did not know what evidence will be recorded, so any false claims could have been easily disproved later, as far as he knew. If Trayvon screamed, how would Zimmerman have the presence of mind to lie about this fact to the police?

According to Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been !$%*!$%* of many things that were not so." In light of the actual facts of the case, how does your BS narrative hold up?
 
 
+14 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 18, 2013
"What if someone followed you and pulled a gun on you (for looking suspicious)? Maybe you got scared and tried to defend yourself."

KnowItAll,
I assume your user name is intentionally ironic.

1. Who jumps a person that's pointing a gun at them?
2. Assuming you DO jump a person pointing a gun at you...and assuming he DOESN'T shoot you, what's your focus?

Are you looking to control the gun that was pointed at you, or do you ignore the gun and begin pounding his head into the pavement?

The people who investigated and tried the case, utilizing science, agree that he was on top of Zimmerman and had pounded his head into the pavement. Your alternate theory doesn't fit what's been scientifically determined.
 
 
-17 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 18, 2013
@GLK - "pummeling people for any reason is risky and, oh, by the way, illegal."

What if someone followed you and pulled a gun on you (for looking suspicious)? Maybe you got scared and tried to defend yourself.

What if that person shoots you and subsequently tells everyone you attacked first?

And what if everyone believed that person?


(I see my previous comment got modded into oblivion. Very interesting.)



 
 
+14 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 18, 2013
The more we learn about Martin the more it becomes obvious he made many poor life choices. His overabundance of dirty laundry is why the civil trial is tentative. Unfortunately pounding Zimmerman's head into the sidewalk was the last poor life choice he made. Many in the black community don't want to accept that pummeling people for any reason is risky and, oh, by the way, illegal.
 
 
+17 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 18, 2013
@scaramanga

If it were a 6 foot tall girl pounding my head into the pavement I still would have pulled the trigger had I been in fear for my life.

Again, it seems as you have better information than the jury. If so, perhaps you should have been on the stand testifying with your inside information. I wasn't there that night nor did I sit through the whole trial so the verdict of the jury is more plausible
 
 
Jul 18, 2013
I'm amazed at the lack of criticism being directed at the appropriate target: THE PROSECUTOR!!!!

much as the torch-weilding mob would like it to be the case the jurors weren't stupid & made the only decision they could (in good faith - jury's do sometimes ignore charge/evidence/etc) based on the train wreck of a case she put on & that's not even mentioning the overcharging (or misconduct for which she'll hopefully be held accountable).
 
 
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 17, 2013
@scaramanga

[...I keep seeing these statistics used to justify racism. Not only are statistics not fact, they are often used to skew opinions at least 78.2% of the time. How the information is gathered, extrapolated, used and displayed have a great impact on the numbers. Do you trust the same government with statistics that lies about WMDs and spying on its citizens?...]

Irrelevant to the point. One may argue that the numbers produced by the government on these matters should be produced differently and that a random black man is not THAT MUCH likelier to be a burglar, drug dealer or murderer than a random white man, but this is irrelevant to the point shagbark was making, that its likelier enough to justify a certain amount of caution. And if you are going to try and tell me THAT isnt true you're going to have to do better than suggest the government should tell us the truth about all its secret programs.
 
 
Jul 17, 2013
@hankfu
Your answer presupposes two things: 1) Zimmerman’s account is an accurate portrayal of that nights events. 2) That Trayvon should have acquiesced to someone who is not an authority.

Again if Trayvon was Tracy, would she fear less for her safety and do whatever some in the dark stranger wanted? If its hard for you to make that mental leap, then maybe your preconceive notions on who the treat was may be preventing you.

I also wonder if it is not about race, then why all of the passion against a dead child? Tall? yes. Male? Yes. Strong? I hope so. A child? Yes. The age of consent says so.

As to the black on black crime mentioned by you and others with weak arguments, show me the data on the thousands of black on black crime perpetrators walking out of courtrooms, not guilty.

@ shagbark
I keep seeing these statistics used to justify racism. Not only are statistics not fact, they are often used to skew opinions at least 78.2% of the time. How the information is gathered, extrapolated, used and displayed have a great impact on the numbers. Do you trust the same government with statistics that lies about WMDs and spying on its citizens? Police find crime where police patrol. I’m sure they give more warnings in economically privileged areas with money for lawyers and political power. Economically depressed areas are taken to jail more often to feed the system.

Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow details the crime & race statistics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gln1JwDUI64


 
 
+23 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 17, 2013
And in other news...millions of people suddenly earned law degrees overnight...
 
 
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 17, 2013
@scaramanga: "A lot of denial on this site. No one can seem to answer this question with any reasonable answer: What should have Trayvon Martin done that night to spare his life?"

Answer: 1) he shouldn't have jumped on someone to beat their head into the sidewalk, 2) he should have backed down when confronted by the neighborhood watch guy

I wasn't there that night nor did I hear all the evidence the jury heard so I am not qualified to have an opinion. However, that apparently hasn't stopped anyone else from jumping to conclusions and start throwing charges or racism or use this tragic incident for their own political agendas. All I can say is, if I were the guy with the gun and I was getting my head pounded into the sidewalk by some guy, I would have no problem pulling the trigger to protect myself. End of story.

By the way, others have brought up the fact that since the incident, there has been thousands of black-on-black murders and there hasn't been one major march or protest in any of those. It's as if the message there is its okay for blacks to be murdered by other blacks as long as its not a white guy (questionable that Zimmerman is white even).
 
 
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 17, 2013
One of the few times I completely agree with Scott.

This incident was just a bunch of lose-lose with ignorance holding the top of the hill.

Where is Bill Cosby when you need him?
 
 
Jul 17, 2013
What I find saddest about this whole debacle, besides Martin's death, is that it profoundly demonstrates how poor most people's rational thinking skills are. (By "most people" here I mean those demonstrating the verdict and commenting on it online; I'm well aware that is only a tiny fraction of the actual population.)

The cornerstone of rational thinking is the ability AND willingness to reevaluate your ideas in the light of new evidence, what Feynman called "scientific integrity" in a famous speech. In this case, the new evidence is the verdict of the jury. Six people saw all the evidence, heard all the testimony, had as much time as they needed to deliberate on it -- and decided that, according to the law, Zimmerman was not guilty. Apparently, three or four of the six went into the trial already thinking he was guilty, yet still voted against conviction afterward. That's a pretty strong statement in favor of not convicting, and unless some other new evidence arises, I don't see how it could not be taken as definitive.

And yet countless people still insist that he IS guilty, despite not having access to the same breadth and depth of information that the jurors did. They believed it before, they still believe it now, and NOTHING is going to convince them otherwise. That's really sad. I bet if a satellite video suddenly surfaced that proved Zimmerman's story was accurate, they would decry it as a fake or ignore it altogether. The cognitive dissonance on display is staggering. (And don't take me wrong, if the verdict had gone the other way, the pro-Zimmerman crowd would have been just as guilty of bad thinking. They just happened to get lucky that the truth corresponded with what they wanted to be true.)

Personally, I think any claim that either man was racially motivated is wrong. I *think* (because I don't have access to all the evidence, either) what probably happened was an escalating series of mistakes on both sides that had a tragic outcome, that could have been avoided if any one of those mistakes had gone differently. It was hitting the lottery in reverse, a series of unlikely events that had to happen sooner or later.

(BTW the Feynman speech can be read here: http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm. Funny and enlightening, like almost everything he did.)
 
 
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 17, 2013
Re: Scaramanga's question, what should Trayvon have done?
Trayvon would be alive if he had not chosen to attack Zimmerman, jumping him to get initiative by surprise, straddling him and pounding his head into the hard pavement. Trayvon has a history of fighting people, a fact that was suppressed in the trial. I guess he thought he would "teach" a lesson to yet another pushover who wouldn't fight back. Perhaps he wanted to "scare a man, gah!" Too bad it finally caught up to him and this time he chose a victim who was armed with a gun. Lesson: don't start fights with random, potentially armed strangers and you'll live longer.
 
 
Jul 17, 2013
"The most effective type of protest I can imagine after the Trayvon Martin verdict would involve demands for greater science literacy. That sort of movement doesn't attract too many vandals and it effectively puts racists in the "ignorant" box instead of the "evil" box."

You're assuming that a scientific investigation will give the desired outcome. The world doesn't guarantee that.

The FBI's crime statistics for 2011 (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-43) show that blacks comprise 12.6% of the US population but 49.7% of murder arrests. Whites comprise 72.6% of the population, and commit 48.0% of the murders. Blacks 18 and under comprise 54% of these murder suspects, and men commit 90% of all murders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_crime). Black males under 18 (like Trayvon) comprise 31.1% of the black male population (http://www.census.gov/population/age/data/files/2011/2011gender_table2.csv); let's add 1.87% for age 18 to get 32.9% under 19. So black males under 19 comprise 1.96% of the US population, yet commit 24.2% of the murders.

So a randomly-chosen black US male under the age of 19 is 18.7 times as likely to have been arrested for murder as a randomly-chosen white person. I'm sure there are underlying socioeconomic causes for that, but they don't matter to the person in the street trying to estimate whether his life is in danger.
 
 
Jul 17, 2013
“The new racism is the denial of racism” – Bill Maher

A lot of denial on this site. No one can seem to answer this question with any reasonable answer:
What should have Trayvon Martin done that night to spare his life?

What if he was a woman that fit the description of a suspect? What could she have done as well? Does that change the way Zimmerman’s actions should be view?

Also I say denial of racism in the judicial system because it is an open secret that courts tend to be lighter on women for similar crimes and women tend to get custody of children in divorce at far greater rates than men; women stories about abuse tend to get more attention than men’s stories of similar crimes. And what of a man to defend himself against a woman who instigates physical abuse with similar “force.”

All of that is to say that if this is slant in the law is possible then why wouldn’t a reasonable person/human being also consider that maybe, just maybe there could be a racist element to the law as well?
 
 
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 17, 2013
To those who say Zimmerman was not Hispanic I would counter that Martin was not African. Zimmerman's ties to Peru are much closer than Martin's ties to Africa. And on a related note it is found that Zimmerman also has some black ancestry through his mother's side. This makes this crime black on black which translates into "nothing to see here" for the politicians and media.
 
 
 
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