Saturday, July 20, 2013

Injustice, hoodies, and gun nuts

Reaction to the Zimmerman trial.

Apologies for a political post, but I was surprised by the Zimmerman verdict. While second degree murder was indeed a stretch, a verdict of voluntary manslaughter seemed a foregone conclusion. When one participant in an altercation is dead, the remaining evidence is unavoidably tainted and partial. There should be a presumption of responsibility on the killer, not simply an assumption of innocence.

In this case, there was no question who killed whom, and who was armed. The only question was why, which led to the legal hairs being split down the degrees of murder. Zimmerman gave us very little to go on in the core of this case, not even testifying in his own defense. After doing everything he could to provoke a confrontation, he evidently got into a confrontation, and bit off a little more than he could chew, with Martin, (as the trial seemed to establish), beating him from above.

Those circumstances don't justify murder, as far as I understand it. If you start a fight, you don't get a free pass to murder just because the other person fights back. The whole "stand your ground" concept thankfully didn't come up in this case, because Zimmerman wasn't on his own ground, except in the guise of a neighborhood vigilante and faux-cop. So the defense was simple self-defense, based on a decided lack of evidence, the main source of evidence having been conveniently killed by the defendant, while the defendant was tellingly silent on the key events that precipitated the fight. It is a case where lack of evidence speaks volumes.

In the larger picture, we rely on our justice system to deter communally destructive behavior. And the kind of race-tinged vigilate-ism that this verdict approves is certainly toxic and destructive. America used to stand for law, justice, and, you know.. the American way. The South keeps getting in the way of such decent ideals, however. And justice in Florida seems to retain a distinctively Southern flavor, exemplified by this jury. A juror has said that Zimmerman's heart was in the right place, and that the jury was not racist at all. If only the dead could speak, eh?

Incidentally, this case is also a classic example showing that guns kill people. If Zimmerman didn't have a gun, both these people would still be alive today. The gun enabled an idiot to execute the target of his suspicions and hatred with little thought, or, more to the point, careful, polite, interaction. His emotions were to some degree understandable, in a dumbly profiling, stereotyping kind of way, since the neighborhood had seen several crimes over the prior few years. Still, the gun spelled the difference between amateur policing and murder.

  • Some other self-defense cases that give pause. And statistics.
  • Stevie Wonder takes action.
  • Maybe black people should carry more guns?
  • "Florida leads the nation in the number of death row inmates who were subsequently exonerated."
  • Jesus- real or imagined? Rebel hot-head or mystic cool cat?
  • Further annals of narratives, magic, and "dopey sheep".
  • Javascript may have hit a performance wall, in the garbage department.
  • Stiglitz on Myriad, rent, and the inequality of intellectual property.
  • "Respected" economists say everything is fine.. no more jobs needed.
  • H1B visa fraud- no wonder they can't find qualified domestic candidates!
  • Pakistani girl has Taliban on the run.
  • Should we travel in pneumatic tubes?
  • Economics quote of the week, on Bernanke at last calling a spade a spade. Not that Republicans care.
"But he warned that Congress itself remains the greatest obstacle to faster growth. Federal spending cuts are reducing growth this year by about 1.5 percentage points, he said. While the Fed expects the impact to diminish next year, he said there was a risk Congress would create new problems for the economy."

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