Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog


with 8 comments

So, it’s Saturday of what turns out to be Easter week–American Easter week, as we would have said when I was growing up–and I have yet another sore throat and yet another stuffy head. They’re not terribly awful yet, so I have my fingers crossed.  Usually I think my students are trying to kill me.  Today, I think the intention may have been only to maim.

Whatever.  I am at that place in the book where it is just impossible to stop, and I’m past my deadline, so I’m going to keep going.

And the semester has been more or less calm, and I’m pretty much caught up on my correcting, so that isn’t giving me a nervous breakdown.

It does feel, however, as if the entire year has sort of drifted. 

Even politics can’t make me angry any more.  I see political stories and the back of my head goes, automatically:  yeah, but. 

Al Sharpton has a program these days on MSNBC, which I usually only watch snippets of, because it consists of him stating the obvious political cliches and then shouting them, as if he had to talk above a crowd to be heard.

He’s sort of a left wing version of Hannity on FoxNews–both of them shout a lot, never say anything you’re not expecting them to say, and seem to know less than nothing about just about anything. 

Both of them seem trapped in narratives not of their own making and that neither of them realizes ceased to be coherent years ago.

I watch more than I did, though, because of the Trayvon Martin case.

Let me say from the beginning that Zimmerman lost my sympathy when he actually chased after Martin, who was running away.

To me, self defense ended when the kid took off.  No matter what the kid was or wasn’t doing, whether he had a weapon or didn’t, self defense ended once he started heading for the hills. 

It would be different in the case of a police officer, of course, but then nobody would be claiming self defense.

And that, I think, really ought to settle it.  But media blitzes being what they are, it won’t, and Florida law being what it is, it’s possible that Zimmerman could claim “self defense” if he roused the kid out of a sound sleep and shot him them.

What’s more interesting to me is the way the story has played out, and it’s interesting because it’s completely predictable.

First we had dozens of stories about how the kid was a first rate good kid with no record of violence of any kind, and those stories were accompanied by pictures of him as a skinny, weak looking little thing in an oversized football jersey.

Then we had the backlash reports–he’d been suspended several times from school, including once for vandalism and once for drug violations; the picture in the football jersey had been taken years ago, he was now six feet two and physically well developed.

Am I really the only person on earth who sees all this as entirely beside the point?

There was absolutely no point to portraying Martin as a plaster saint to begin with.  His family,of course, can be forgiven (and more than forgiven) for that.  They’d just lost their child.

But a lot of the impetus towards the original portrayal of Martin was coming not from his family but from media people and people in various activist organizations, who seemed to have thought Zimmerman would be justified in gunning down a fleeing man if the fleeing man wasn’t a cross between Martin Luther King and baby Oprah.

When I point this out, people tend to tell me that America is so racist that they just wouldn’t take the case seriously if there was any reason at all to suspect that Martin had been up to no good when the altercation with Zimmerman started. 

The problem with this is twofold:  first, that the facts about Martin’s life and reputation were going to hit the news eventually, whether his supporters and the supporters of his family wanted to or not; and that once those facts hit the news, Martin was going to end up looking worse than anything he ever was.

There is simply no way that shooting a man in the back while he’s running away from you can be classified under any traditional definition of self defense.

And it doesn’t matter if that man is an angel from heaven or an out and out thug.

Trayvon Martin’s character should not be the issue here.

By now, of course, it’s the only issue.  That, and whether George Zimmerman should be classified as “white,” since he’s at least half Hispanic.

The story seems to me to be about not much of anything by now, but it does present a curious demonstration of the fact that both the race narratives of the left and the security narratives of the right are now thoroughly exhausted. 

Nobody really believes either one of them any more–and we’ve reached a point where nobody cares about being called a racist any more either.

Which is another interesting question about where we go from here.

Written by janeh

April 7th, 2012 at 9:07 am

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses to 'Colder'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Colder'.

  1. I read the brief the State of Florida gives out on self-defense. It’s broader than much of New England–let alone the UK. Basically, it’s what I understand as a “castle” system, as in “a man’s home is his castle” in which if an intruder is actually in your home or office, he takes his chances. The prosecuting attorney or the 9-11 people can’t say “well, yes, it’s self-defense in the living room, but if the intruder ducks into the guest bedroom you can’t do anything and he has the initiative.” Deadly fighting in close spaces doesn’t work that way.

    The alternative doctrine is “last ditch” in which if an intruder comes into you home you can’t claim self-defense if you could maybe have snuck out a window.
    Neither point is much help in a deadly quarrel in the open air.

    That said, when this one comes to trial–and I’m sure it will come to some sort of judicial proceeding–it’s going to be a mess. The defense attorney will be trying to explain why the victim was unarmed and shot in the back. But the prosecutor is going to be saying, in effect “well, yes, you were attacked and in fear of your life–BUT THAT WAS THREE OR FOUR SECONDS BEFORE YOU FIRED.” I’m not sure you can get that sort of distinction out of people. There will be talk of timing, distances, the prior histories of both parties and at least one psychologist for both sides. I don’t envy either man.

    Justice may not enter into the matter.

    As for fear of being called racist–yeah, that’s dead, and about time. It ought to have died somewhere around DUKE, when it became “racist” to set the same standard regardless of race, and certainly by the Brawley case. I think the cries of “racism” over the Clinton/Gingrich welfare reform were pretty much the last straw. All being called a “racist” these days proves is that someone on the left dislikes you–and they dislike lots of people. Most of them, in fact.

    People ought to still care about BEING racists, But between Black History Month, La Raza, separate dorms and admission standards and Kwanza, I expect we’ll kill that too. (What? You thought you could tell black and hispanic kids to be race-conscious and race-proud and look after their own, but tell the white kids to pay no attention to race? Doesn’t work that way, and the consequences of that particular bit of wishful thinking are likely to be horrifying.)


    7 Apr 12 at 12:43 pm

  2. I’m following my usual rule of ignoring what happens in the US. There does seem to be a sort of “reverse racism” involved. All the stories I’ve seen emphasize a white shooting a black. Surely with thousands of shootings a year, there must be a lot of blacks shooting whites. Why did this particular shooting make national news?

    See http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson040512.html for more comments more informed than mine.

    When the tag “racist” is used so often in such a wide range of incidents as it has been, it soon loses significance. Over use a word and it ceases to shock.


    7 Apr 12 at 5:50 pm

  3. jd, when a Black person shoots a White person, they actually get arrested.

    Cathy F


    8 Apr 12 at 5:30 pm

  4. And when white people shoot black people, they don’t? Never?


    8 Apr 12 at 6:49 pm

  5. CA, have you examined every single case in the last year of black shooting white and found that in every case, the black was arrested?

    If not, then you have no evidence for your claim.


    8 Apr 12 at 7:07 pm

  6. The Florida law boils down to if you shoot first, or most accurately, you walk — regardless of what actually happened, and without the police having much reason – or probable cause – to conduct an investigation.

    If the reports I’ve seen are accurate (and I suspect they are) “justifiable” homicides have have TRIPLED in Florida since the passage of, first, laws allowing any fruitcake with money for a gun to carry it, followed by the shoot first, er, “Stand your ground” laws.

    It’s really kind of beside the point to argue the race of the two people. Here, one guy had a gun, the other didn’t. Even if Trayvon attacked George (see how I’m carefully using both first names so I can’t be accused of distancing/dehumanizing one)first — seeing as he was responding to someone following him on a dark night he quite arguably was, um, reacting to a perceived threat.

    Except Trayvon didn’t have a gun. George did.

    And now Trayvon can’t tell his side of the story, AND the only reason there’s any investigation at all is because of the racial overtones.

    The LAW is is problem. Idiots being allowed to carry guns and use them almost without review is the problem.

    Rethuglican idiots pushing for these kind of laws is/are the problem.


    8 Apr 12 at 11:19 pm

  7. michaelwfisher@cox.net

    9 Apr 12 at 1:35 am

  8. michaelwfisher@cox.net

    9 Apr 12 at 1:37 am

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Bad Behavior has blocked 864 access attempts in the last 7 days.