Monday, July 29, 2013

The Non-Lynching of George Zimmerman

(In response to a conservative claim that George Zimmerman is being "lynched" in the press.)

To be lynched, someone has to die. Someone did die. But it wasn't Zimmerman.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Do You Want To Conserve That?

Eugene Volokh, taking another jump over the shark, has defended the Zimmerman verdict. It was back in 2005 when he argued for torturing criminals before execution (commentary from Henry Quiggin Farrell.) I don't think this man's legal reasoning is sound.

OK, conservatism is about conserving what is worthwhile about the past. Racism? Torture? I think you guys are crazy!


A basic principle: the stalker does not get to claim they killed their victim in self-defense, even if the victim turns and fights. All Zimmerman had to do to avoid personal risk was go home.

Martin ran away from Zimmerman, who pursued in his automobile. By the account of Martin's girlfriend, who Martin called, he then stopped, breathing heavily. There was a bump and cell phone noise. Martin's girlfriend screamed. Then the phone was disconnected.

  1. Frederick Leatherman's law blog.
  2. Coverage of the case at Mother Jones.
  3. Ta-Nehisi Coates, arguing that the conclusion is in accord with Florida law.
  4. Trayvon Martin short biography (NPR), longer biography (Miami Herald)
  5. George Zimmerman short biography, longer biography (Sunshine State News.)
  6. The Onion: Nation Throws Hands Up, Tells Black Teenagers To Do Their Best Out There
I do not see a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman committed “the unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice," which is to say manslaughter under Florida law.

There is one ray of hope here: this is news. 50 years ago, this case would have sunk without a trace.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Libertarians: Pwnd By Peter Weiss

"Screaming in language that no-one understands / Of the rights that we grabbed with our own bleeding hands / When we wiped out the bosses and stormed through the wall / Of the prison they told us would outlast us all!"—Peter Weiss, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (defensively called Marat/Sade by just about everyone who writes about it.)

The play is about the failure of the French Revolution of 1793. But it occurs to me that the verse could equally apply to Tea Party Republicans or libertarians. Does anyone know what their leaders are talking about when they talk about "freedom?" How can freedom involve so much war, poverty, imprisonment, and pain?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Law is the Loser

Ta-Nehisi Coates, "On The Killing Of Trayvon Martin By George Zimmerman." He thinks that, by the law, this was a reasonable decision, however troubling. These are derived from my first thoughts in response to Coates in his comments.

Meanwhile in Florida, Marissa Alexander, black, with a stalker ex-husband, has been sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at the man, who was violating a restraining order.

By the letter of law perhaps Coates is right. There will be time, later, to pour over the trial transcripts and the minutae of the law. I will be watching Frederick Leatherman's blog for more thoughts. Meantime, though, I think the popular intuitions about these two cases are more accurate than the measured legal thoughts. This is unjust, and there is little chance, in the short term, of seeing Florida law turned in the direction of justice.

I am struck by the inability of the US legal system to render justice. We see it constantly: in the failure to prosecute anyone for the looting of the banking system, in the abrogation of the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects," in the mainstreaming of torture, in the gutting, on narrow technical grounds, of the Voting Rights Act, in the sentencing of Alexander to 20 years while Zimmerman walks. We are in a legal regime as corrupt as that of 1856.