About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

March 31, 2012

Couldn't have said it better myself...

...on the attempts to justify the actions of Zimmerman because on Martin's appearance and social media posts. So I'll just quote Ta-Nehisi Coates. First there is the interesting case of The Daily Caller, one of the organizations leading the charge to defame Martin. Coates says:
The Daily Caller is published by Tucker Carlson. Tucker Carlson is a man who once informed us, on national television, that he'd assaulted a gay man for subjecting him to the sort of treatment which nearly all of women-kind experiences hourly. This is not the assumption of a violent handle, or the quotation of rap lyrics it is the admitted commission of actual violence. Moreover, it's the kind of violence that's routinely dismissed as pathological in black boys, as well as the kind that had it ever been committed by Trayvon Martin would immediately serve as irrefutable evidence that he deserved to slaughtered in the street.
Coates continues:
I would not withhold the life of Trayvon Martin from scrutiny and investigation. When someone claims a vicious assault upon their person--as George Zimmerman has--it is only intelligent to investigate the relevant background of the alleged assailant. It certainly is relevant to ask what, precisely, Martin was suspended for. It surely is important to ask if Martin had a history of violence. Whether or not Martin had a criminal record, most certainly is pertinent.

But what, precisely, is the relevance of wearing gold grills? What, specifically, is the pertinence of having once given an obscene gesture? Why, exactly, does it matter that Martin's imagination sometimes ranged into profane thoughts of sex and violence? How does any of this help us understand his killing at the hands of by George Zimmerman?
Excuse me, Ta-Nehisi, but I'd like to take that one.

See, some people think they know what Martin was really like, something MSNBC will never tell you: Trayvon was just another n****r. So this country, real America, is better off with him gone. Now normally, thanks to all us horrible politically correct un-American non-gun-loving liberals, "These assholes always get away." Well here's one who didn't.

Zimmerman's killing of Martin reflects paranoid racist America's Id. So there's a greater storyline here, a patriotic battle, a veritable Zoroastrian conflict between the forces of light and dark, good and evil. Martin represents the dark, thus Zimmerman must be on the side of light. And if you believe that, then your Id does contorted cartwheels of logic to justify Zimmerman's actions. "You see," blurts Id, "Martin was a thug. A criminal. An asshole. A bad egg. He might have even been looking for a house to break into. I mean, we've never found the skittles, have we?!" Id just knows this to be true. Maybe can't prove it, but believes it to the end.

But, I'm sorry to cut you off, Ta-Nehisi. You were saying?
It does not--unless you believe that the fact that Martin once gave a middle finger to a camera somehow proves that he is the sort of person who would saunter up to a man who outweighs by nearly 100 pounds, summon the powers of Thor, deck the man with one-shot, and stove him against concrete. We do not draw such conclusions from most teenagers, or even most people. That those who see nothing wrong with labeling a black man as a "Food Stamp President," would draw them in the case of young black boy cannot be dismissed as coincidental.
And Coates again:
I'm sorry that Trayvon Martin's actual appearance obstructs your inalienable right to scandalize children. That you are forced into cartwheels, and rendered ridiculous, all in the laudable quest to justify bias is the true tragedy, one which pales when compared to an actual death. If I have in any way, contributed to your travails, I hope that some day you will be wise enough, or simply human enough, to forgive.
To say Zimmerman's actions were reprehensible but perhaps legally covered by the horrible and deeply flawed Stand-Your-Ground law is one thing. But I find it deeply troubling when people want to see everything through a prism that somehow morally justifies the death of Trayvon Martin.


Anonymous said...

I don't want to defend Zimmerman. It is arguable that following Martin makes him the initial aggressor, and even if Zimmerman's story is completely true, it might not qualify as self defense. Even viewed in the best light I don't think he comes out looking very good.

That being said the media has flubbed this story, and I think your attitude is an example of why.

There is a narrative out there that is completely false. Some Jew guy named Zimmerman saw a small 13 year old black kid walking down the street, was scared because black kids are scary and wear hoodies. So he stopped his car, beat him till he screamed then shot him. As you know white people are so completely racist they do this stuff all the time. This is a comforting narrative that people can rally behind. You see we are victims, all our problems are caused by those others. There is nothing more celebrated in our society than victimhood.

The media is always on the look out of the great white defendant, and when you write "Zimmerman's killing of Martin reflects paranoid racist America's Id", you seem to be proving my point. This story is the liberal wet dream that the Duke Lacrosse case was supposed to be and we know how that turned out.

Like the Duke case the facts don't back that narrative here either. First of all Zimmerman wasn't white, and the antipathy between blacks and hispanics is an interesting story. Made more so by the fact that Hispanics make up 1/3 of the population in the US. But this story isn't worth telling because it doesn't fit anyone's narrative. There are no hustlers like Sharpton who can use it to extort money. So the more interesting story doesn't get told

Second, eye-wittiness testimony seems to strongly back Zimm's story. As does the gash on his head seen clearly in the video.

So how is this going to play out? No one knows what happened in the initial encounter other than Zimmerman. Maybe he Zimmerman instigated the whole thing. Maybe Trayvon was casing acting suspicious and decided to act like a tough guy after an impolite question. No one knows, but it seems very likely Zimmerman was on the ground, being beaten when he shot the kid. What is a jury going to decide? There is a good chance they will let him go. But since the media is focused on this simplistic narrative, when that happens we will have riots, why because irresponsible morons like you are so attached to the notion that the biggest problem facing the black community is racism.

You write "See, some people think they know what Martin was really like", and your right. Some folks want to believe that his was a little punk who got what he deserved. Well I don't know, teenagers try on different identities, I don't know this kid. no_limit_nigga may have been a phase, it may have been last week's phase. We don't know, but in reality, blacks are 39 times more likely to victimize whites than the reverse, and most folks know this, cause they live in reality. They factor these things into their understanding of events. Not because they are racist, but because they are numerate.

When Florida burns to the ground, my parents are staying at your place!

PCM said...

Ah, so it's all about the media and Duke athletes and liberal wet dreams and everything *but* poor dead Trayvon Martin and the fact that his killer is still free and has not been charged. Of course...

But to stay on point: Have I ever said (or implied) the biggest problem facing black America is racism? I guess you have your own narrative and I play the part of "irresponsible moron."

But this moron wants to school you on a few things:

Eyewitness testimony has not been anything close to conclusive in this case. (In general, it rarely is.)

As to the facts, Zimmerman is white. And hispanic.

And your numeracy skills are lacking. Hispanics do not come close to making up 1/3 of the US population. The actual number is 16.3%. You do see how blatantly incorrect (and easily verifiable) statements of fact kind of make everything you say look stupid, right?

And speaking of stupid, that number 39.... The reason it stinks is because you pulled it out of your (or somebody else's) ass.

In reality, there are about twice (2 times) as many whites murdered by blacks as there are blacks murdered by whites. I would guess the ratio for robbery is higher. (Black-on-white homicides are about 5% of the total number).

As to the rest, I'll just let your sweet eloquence speak for itself.

And your parents are welcome to stay here. You, however, are not.

Anonymous said...

Amen, PCM.

S. Rubin A.

Batman said...

Totally support and agree with Professor Moskos :)

To whoever/whatever that responsed from above w/ name "Anonymous" at March 31, 2012 9:06 PM: The law "Stand-Your-Ground" sounds idiotic and retarded(what a coincidence, idiotic and retarded people support it), I hope your god bless Florida and let there be enough water to save it from burning down. *hint* swim to Cuba :p or sail if you can afford the cost ;P

Hammhead7 said...

Zimmerman opened up a can of worms the moment he engaged after he was told not to by the dispatcher.

This was completely preventable.


PCM said...

Hammerhead, that is a very well written and level headed link on self defense (admittedly I just skimmed it) . I'll just make it easier for people to click on:


IrishPirate said...

My brilliant comment at one related post on Coates blog can be found here.

I managed to work into the comment references to Illinois Nazis, the New Black Panthers, Samuel L Jackson, South Africa, and Geraldo. One thousand years from now when a future Gibbon writes the book "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Rise of the United States of America" that comment will be referenced alongside the Gettysburg Address as a seminal statement of America's hopes and beliefs. Or not.

As for the first comment here if Zimmerman had a gash on his head I didn't see it. Let's wait and see what the cops and paramedics say who will inevitably testify. I'm amazed at how all the blood from a broken nose didn't seem to touch his clothing at all. I'm sure there's an unreasonable explanation for that too.

The eyewitness testimony varies. Early analysis of the "crying for help" on one 911 call indicates that it was Martin. Let's see what the Feds say.

I fully expect that Zimmerman will be indicted within one or two weeks. Best case he stalked and killed a kid after getting scared. Let's call it something akin to manslaughter.

Worse case he got pissed off and purposefully killed Martin because Martin either didn't listen to him in his position as self appointed Watch Captain or he just was frustrated that the "asshole" was likely to get away.

PCM said...

Pirate, your 1) brilliance is only surpassed by 2) your ability to mind read (see #1) because indeed, I *was* thinking, "I hate Illinois Nazis."

How did you do that?!

"I've always loved you."

PCM said...

You know, when this whole thing started, I didn't have much to say because I didn't think there really was anything to say. And then I thought it would turn into a talk about gun rights and Stand Your Ground.

It's not like my track record is one of liberal knee-jerk white-guilt reactions. I'm quick (perhaps too quick) to say things are not about race but criminal behavior. I mean, I've gone so far as to defend (on a criminal-guilt level) the cops who shot Sean Bell and the cops who shot Amadou Diallo. I was pleased when Bernie Goetz shot the bastards who were mugging him.

The fact that people are trying to defend Zimmerman by pretending to get all rational and intellectual and throwing around "let's wait for facts" is frustrating because these are the same people who usually don't care about those things in politics and ideology.

It's like they're looking at the sky on a cloudy day, and saying when the clouds lift, the sky will be green. Faced with what we do actually know about this case, people refuse to see the basic injustice of it all: Trayvon Martin was killed walking home. His killer is free. And were Martin not black, he would not have been judged suspicious and hunted and killed.

It's clear the crap was not beaten out of Zimmerman. Christ Almighty, I don't care if there's a cut on his head!

I usually get up in the morning happy to indoctrinate--I mean teach--the youth. I'm eager to think critically and learn from others. But I find this all very depressing. I'm at the point where I want to say, "I no longer care what you think." And I don't like that feeling. If these are the lines of the culture war, maybe I was too slow to see them. I'm ready to fight (democratically and peacefully).

This whole discussion makes me want to barricade myself in my house and become a survivalist. Or just cry.

IrishPirate said...


"The Blues Brothers" is playing this weekend at the Patio Theater on Irving Park. I took some youngsters from my extended family there on Friday. They wanted to go back today, but I think their mom isn't happy with them quoting profanity from the movie. She said something regarding "shitz creek" and I tuned her out.


Something like 1400 seats and resurrected by a now dead Greek immigrant. Now run by his kids. He reopened it in the 90's, closed it, and it just reopened again.

I was in there the first time a few weeks back and the place is amazing. The theater itself seems to be in good shape, but the lobby and other common areas are a mess.

Beats the hell out of some suburban multiplex that you have to drive to.

IrishPirate said...

I really didn't get incredibly angry regarding the Martin killing until last week. The more this goes on the more apparent it becomes that the Police Chief and prosecutor fooked this up. Remember that liberal scumbag homicide investigator wanted to charge Zimmerman.

I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but these idiots are pushing my patience. It was likely just a question of not wanting to litigate a difficult case and the fact that initially Martin was unidentified. Just a dead "asshole" in the Zimmermanian vernacular.

Although, how they didn't immediately think to check out his cellphone to help establish his identity is beyond me.

The attitude of maybe twenty percent of this country regarding this killing is appalling. Remember, 45.7 percent of American voters thought Sarah Palin as Vice President was a fine idea in November 2008. Many of them also assume President Obama is a "mooslim".

What will be interesting is watching how well Romney does among the hardcore Christianst base of the GOP. That base hates four things. Moolies, Mooslims, Meskins, and Mormons.

The four M's so to speak. If I were Romney I'd try to find an evangelical Christian to be my VP to shore up that base. Someone who was less threatening that Palin and with a higher IQ. That second part shouldn't be difficult.

IrishPirate said...

Given my grammr and spelin in thse posts perhaps I should not be so qick to criticizze Sister Sarah!

PCM said...

That theater on Irving Park sounds great. What hundred west?

When I was a youngin', the Varsity and Coronet were still open in Evanston (I met Senator Percy at the latter, and was very impressed when he said in his deep voice to his wife, "I'll get the car." It was raining and I impressed he didn't have a driver.

And the M&R Evanston Theatre, come to think of it (where I had my first legal job at the illegal age of 15). And the wonderful Grenada by the Sheridan L stop. She was a gem.

There was also the Sunset Drive In in Skokie, where I saw Smokey and Bandit, many decades before I got my first car, as a cop in Baltimore, a 1970s T-top Trans Am with a big bird on the front. Like the Bandit, but white (automatic transmission, unfortunately).

It's funny how The Blues Brothers got an R rating back in 1982(?) but seems so tame by today's standards. I miss John Belushi more often than I should. You know his gravestone is maybe 100 feet from my grandfather's? And my father's too, now that I think about it.

Belushi's picture is on it and the epitaph is "He gave the world laughter." Yes, he did.

I used to give a great Blues Brothers tour of Chicago to visitors. Alas, by the time they re-did Lower Wacker Drive, I didn't see the point. At least 1060 W Addison is still there. ...funny... very funny. I was an usher there in 1988. It was long, hot summer.

But back on topic, that unnoticed cell phone is a sign of gross police incompetence. Christ, one of the shittiest jobs I had as a cop is submitted all the bloody infectious clothes of a murder victim (unlike CSI, it was sorted in a stairwell in the basement of headquarters by the evidence room).

I would have loved to have found a phone and identified a John Doe. That real (easy) detective work.

IrishPirate said...

The Patio Theater is at 6000 W Irving.

The Portage Theater is at 4100 N Milwaukee and some Evangelical/Pentecostal Church with origins in godddamn NYC is trying to buy it. Slightly smaller and not quite as grand.



The Granada was torn down in about 1994 and is now a crappy looking senior citizens building. The seniors are fine. The building looks like shit on steroids.

The main northside regional library was supposed to be built there, but our former aldercritter didn't approve of the idea, so it got built in Lincoln Square.

This guy did a documentary on all the sites where the Blues Brothers was filmed.


I had the DVD but lent it to one of my friends who "misplaced it".

It looks like Rahmbo may be squeezing the owners of the Uptown Theater to reopen it. He doesn't strike me as the shy type.


Here's a video some wannabee filmmaker with Greek ancestry put together on the Uptown.


Stand clear because the Uptown Counter Revolution is gaining steam!

I've left you with enough links that you should be busy for awhile.

PCM said...

Sixty hundred west?! Wow. I didn't know there be anything but dragons and winds out there... Arrgh.

IrishPirate said...

Yeah, it is purdy fur west.

I try to avoid going west of Western Avenue, but sometimes it can't be helped.

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter

Most of what you say regarding this grim topic is eminently sensible - but i do take issue with the following- not the statement of fact, but what you make of it

"In reality, there are about twice (2 times) as many whites murdered by blacks as there are blacks murdered by whites. I would guess the ratio for robbery is higher. (Black-on-white homicides are about 5% of the total number)."

This statement doesn't show what you appear to think it does- why ? Because blacks are about 12% of the US population, while whites are still way over half.

Check my math here- never my best subject ----

If whites are 5 times the population percentage as blacks, yet blacks kill whites in twice the absolute numbers as vice versa, then, per population, blacks are killing whites at least 10 times as often (in relation to population percentages) than the other way around. The 39 times number looks pretty bogus, though. I have no idea where that was pulled from.

I will also add, and jump me if you think the base % I give is incorrect,but I think it's off FBI stats, that black males of murdering age, about 4% of the overall population, are responsible for 51% of murders overall in this country. If this is an out of my ass figure, in your opinion, let me know.

We can talk all day about why this ugly fact is true, or what it might mean, but it is a fact. The fact that most of the victims are also blacks of the same age group doesn't make this any less awful.

Regards &c

Eddie said...

When I read comments like the one posted by Anonymous, I am quickly reminded of one of my favorite comedians, Ron White. In particular the punchline of one of his funny jokes, "You can't fix stupid". How apropos. By the way what are "black males of murdering age"?

Anonymous said...

to Eddie

"Murdering age" is roughly 16 to 35, maybe 40. Statistically speaking. most people age out of violent criminal behavior past about 40 or 45. it's all in the table I am linking to at the bottom - which is FBI UCR.

Sorry about that, it is a damn rude way of putting it, I will agree.

beyond that, what exactly did you find stupid about my comment ? If the stat cited is off base, let's see it. I might be stupid in a host of different ways, but the facts are the facts, make of them what you will.

go here for the source - I will grant that the 51% is only for race reported, which leaves out almost a third of homicides


Adam B. said...

Wow, wow, wow:

Miami judge decides fatal stabbing was self-defense

And the case was featured on
The First 48.

Anyone who is serious about discussing these "stand your ground" laws should take the time to read the article and watch that episode. The worst part is this: the law, as it is written, really isn't THIS flawed. Despite what people say, it doesn't (outside the "castle" scenarios involving houses and cars) excuse much beyond what common law self-defense doctrine does. What is going on here? Is there a "stand your ground" culture in Florida courtrooms of using this law to excuse more behavior than it's supposed to? This case is so outrageous (really, watch the video), I'm tempted to believe this judge secretly hates the SYG law and hopes this stunt will pound the last nail into its coffin. That's probably wishful thinking, though.

PCM said...

I suspect he was referring to the earlier anonymous. Unless that was also you.

So people... why not pick a handle? It's not hard. Or not take offense when somebody attacks "anonymous."

As to the 2:1 ratio...

I think you're confusing rate within a group (intra-racial killings) with inter- or trans-racial killings (I just made up that term, by the way).

No matter what the minority percentage is, one would expect to find an even *number* of inter-racial killings (white on black and black on white) on both sides. The fact that there are fewer people to do the killings balances out with a smaller number of people who can be killed. The numbers should be the same, right?

Since (roughly) 1 in 7 Americans are black and (roughly) the same number of blacks and whites are killed each year, that does indeed mean that blacks are more likely to kill and be killed. Seven times so, in fact. And yet one does not find seven times as many whites killed by blacks as vice versa.

But the question we were getting at, was not the greater rate of homicide among African-American males. But rather the danger of being attacked by somebody of another race, specifically, whites being attacked blacks.

I think these are the stats that matter: Of whites who were murdered (n=6,717) 10.5% (n=706) were murdered by blacks. Of blacks who were murdered (n=6,647), 6.7% (n=443) were killed by whites.

If one only looks at cases where the race of the murderer is known, the percentages above rise to 13.8% and 10.6%, respectively.

It is not, as "anonymous the idiot" put it, that "blacks are 39 times more likely to victimize whites than the reverse." It's not even "twice." It's more like 1.5--at least for homicides.

Things do get a bit tricky, though, at least in my head, because there are not equal numbers of whites and blacks. If the black percentage of the population increased, one would see an increase in the number (not the rate) of intra-racial killings. But the effect on trans-racial killings wouldn't be so obvious (at least not to me).

The bottom line is this: If you're afraid of being killed, keep your eye on your own kind, no matter what race you are!