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Am I Racist?

Ted Rall
© Ted Rall

Was it my imagination, or was the media trying to turn this into another blockbuster like the OJ Simpson trial? Everyone seems to be riled up, but we still don’t have any real answers as to what to do. I’m thinking that “stand your ground” laws are a very bad idea, but other than that, did we learn anything?



  1. Richard wrote:

    Agree, stand your ground should be gotten rid of. That led to an empowering of Zimmerman and the phone conversation with police that clouds the case.

    But, I don’t think the case is clear without that stuff.

    We don’t know what really happened but here’s a scenario:

    You have a hand gun. You’re walking down a street and you get attacked and beaten. During the beating you pull out the gun and shoot the attacker and kill him.

    I’d love to get rid of guns but put a knife in the same scenario and you can still have someone being killed, even in self-defense with no witnesses and your description of what happened as the only defense.

    No doubt that place and race play a part in preconceptions of what happened. If its in the NE or NW, you’re white, your attacker is black…

    If its in the south, you’re black, your attacker is white (with a confederate flag shirt)…

    Of course I live in the Northeast and we have folks in my little town with confederate flags on their trucks who shoot their guns off every chance they get. We also have a neighbor who’s an anesthesiologist, has plenty of guns (rifles) who happens to be black. Of course, the anesthesiologist doesn’t wear a hoodie, for what its worth and he uses his guns to shoot skeet and an occasional deer for the meat.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 5:06 am | Permalink
  2. westomoon wrote:

    What strikes me as most bitterly ironic about this case is that both men had “Stand Your Ground” rights.

    Martin’s SYG rights kicked in first, of course — some strange guy was stalking him. Any teenager — really, anyone at all — would reasonably be frightened in that situation. Since Martin was unarmed, the best he could do to stand his ground when cornered was attack Zimmerman with his fists.

    At that point, Zimmerman’s SYG rights began, and he had a gun. Scissors cuts paper — Zimmerman won. What happened after that was based on the races of the two men.

    Eric Holder is right (and that’s not something I ever expected to find myself saying): Stand Your Ground laws are a descent into chaos.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Westomoon, exactly! Both men “stood their ground” and it pretty much ruined both their lives.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  4. Hassan wrote:

    Honestly I believe it was just unfortunate situation triggered by Zimmerman “stupidity” rather than evilness. It just went out of control.

    It also reminds me of movie ‘Crash’ as well, where the “nice not racist” cop killed black man because of fear (based on inner most profiling even if he was not racist).

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  5. Max wrote:

    This case reminded me of the Bernhard Goetz case, even though the facts are completely different. They both have the elements of race, fear of crime, guns, self defense, and vigilantism.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Both men made a choice, Zimmerman to return and look for Martin instead of staying put. Martin for not just walking away and choosing to close the distance with Zimmerman.

    I think the big problem is people not talking. If they could have conversed the whole thing could likely have been averted.

    I don’t like the race baiters and I don’t like the racisits. I don’t believe Zimmerman was either of those. I can’t say for Martin he died before he could tell us. I think they both made poor choices and one is dead while they other will live with that death by his hands.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink
  7. Steve wrote:

    This case had nothing to do with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Zimmerman didn’t rely on Stand Your Ground for his defence. This was a simple case of self-defence, and these facts would have been treated the same way in any Common Law jurisdiction since the 19th Century as they were in Florida this month. The jury simply didn’t have the evidential basis to convict when Zimmerman may have subjectively believed he was in physical jeopardy, and so acted reasonably to protect himself.

    The media have seriously conflated the general law of self-defence with the specific Stand Your Ground law, and that’s caused a lot of confusion in the non-legally trained public.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
  8. Hassan wrote:

    Steve, it is not “simple” case of self-defence. It is a complicated and unfortunate case of self-defence. Both had fears and doing self-defence, one had gun and won eventually.

    As PATRIOTSGT said, only if they had talked. Or only if Zimmerman did not make a bad mistake of following him.

    Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 5:09 am | Permalink
  9. ebdoug wrote:

    And one woman on the Jury was not white.

    Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  10. patriotsgt wrote:

    The death of anyone is tragic and child just so much more. I don’t believe Zimmerman was a racist, and I do believe both parties played a part. But the discussion should be about something that was not part of this tragedy if we want something good to come of it.

    In our urban neighborhoods their is bias towards persons whose behaviors appear threatening. For me it goes both ways. I get just as anxious when I see a scraggly haired tattooed white guy strolling along as I do seeing a black kid with gold chains and his pants buckled around groin. In the presence of either I go on alert. I walk a few blocks in the city every day to a 7-11 to get lunch or a drink and more times then I’s like the poor kid working behind the counter is yelling for someone who just shoplifted something as they walk out the door. Now I have often thought about intervening since most people look at me and think military or cop by my appearance, but I don’t because if I run into a gun or knife or fight I’d likely kill someone. I don’t want that to happen over a couple dollars worth of stuff. Once confronted I would feel completely justified in retaliating so that’s not the problem. Most of the people the clerk is yelling for are black, but that’s not surprising as white’s are the minority in this neighborhood.

    I have good friends in the military who are black and they have told me there is prejudice from police and others. I believe them. But, they’ve also told me there are many people who are not prejudiced or racist. But just an incident or 2 can leave a lasting impression and color ones prism and maybe even make them racist or prejudiced. And so the problem goes full circle. All whites are prejudiced against blacks and all blacks are prejudiced against whites. Where does it end because it must end.
    The only way it will end is through non accusatory dialogue. Each side shares some blame. There are racists on both camps, it’s easy to spot them. We also need to recognize the difference between preference and prejudice because their is a big difference. So lets start with this small group in at PI and begin a dialogue on what we do and don’t like, what our part in this problem is and leave race out of it.

    Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink
  11. Iron Knee wrote:

    Well said, PSgt.

    A friend of mine died a few years ago. During her life, she worked tirelessly for civil rights. She taught at an all-black school in Alabama in the 50’s, when she couldn’t even be seen in public with other faculty members because they could get lynched. She did many other courageous things. But as she got older and aged, the racism she learned as a child started leaking out.

    Was she racist? Of course not, and of course. What is important to realize is that we all have racist tendencies. Genetically, we are predisposed to favor people who look like ourselves. And on top of that we are constantly socialized (by friends, family, and the media) to mistrust people who are different.

    Does this mean that the situation is hopeless? Of course not. There is a big difference between thinking racist thoughts and acting on them, just as there is a big difference between having inappropriate sexual thoughts and acting on them.

    But I have to laugh when someone says “I’m not racist”. Realizing that we all have some racist tendencies is a good step toward overcoming them.

    And I agree with PSgt that it works both ways.

    Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink