I’ve recently taken a small break from being “The Smiling Skeptic” to concentrate on other matters. Other matters that don’t leave me with heart conditions from either pure rage brought on by frustration, or by hysterical laughter. However, I thought of this subject this morning after a long night, and I realized this would be something I should really talk about, because other skeptics are really either keeping their traps shut, or falling prey to media smear campaigns that are just as laughable as anything I’ve ever seen.
As most of you know, Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American high school student in Florida, who was gunned down by his own neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, one month ago today.
Police have been incredibly slow to act because of claims that this was a self-defense act, despite Trayvon Martin being armed with nothing more than an ice tea and a small bag of Skittles.
Since this happened, the media has been in a frenzy, sensationalizing the case, demonizing Zimmerman as a violent lunatic, making jokes to his grieving mom about Trayvon’s love for friend chicken, and numerous other seriously misguided things. However, if you examine the facts about the case (fried chicken jokes aside) the media hasn’t been all that wrong about it. And by “media” I refer to the mainstream media, and not Fox News, which was quick to take the side of Zimmerman. Geraldo Rivera even made note on national television that Trayvon was “asking for it” because his hoodie made him look like “a wannabe gangster.” It was then later on that same week that Fox News published a bunch of photos of Trayvon, contrary to those that had been shown in the media, depicting him as a violent gang-banger.
Notice, I gave you the story, and I started off with one of the problems. This info-graphic pretty much puts things into perspective:
The caption at the bottom is certainly correct, well, for those of us who aren’t living in the 18th century like so many of those at Fox News. I’ve got a feeling that most hosts on that network couldn’t tell the difference. Okay, now I’m just being rude, but it’s probably factual. As you can clearly see, the images posted at the start of this smear campaign were not even pictures of the right Trayvon Martin. In fact, just a slight peek at the fake Trayvon’s Facebook page, one of the first things you see is his origin: Georgia.
Was this a mistake? I don’t know. As a skeptic by nature, I can’t say I know one way or another without empirical evidence, but what I can say is that it’s nothing new for the right-wing media to blatantly make things up.
Next thing we know, all of Facebook is flooded with photos such as this one:
Notice the problem? Look at how they try to make Zimmerman look as “white” as possible, while portraying Trayvon as…oh wait! Oh, that’s right. We already discussed this. That’s not actually the Trayvon Martin who was killed. Well, it’s surely starting to look more and more as if the conflation was on purpose, isn’t it?
The next image I saw was posted by someone who decided to delete me after I offered up some criticism for the image she posted regarding how George Zimmerman had a wife, a job, and owned a house, whereas Trayvon had recently been suspended from school for marijuana. The argument was that Trayvon was a typical criminal and George Zimmerman is a stand-up guy, or as another might say it, as mainstream white as a fellow minority could be. I immediately shared this image along with my criticism, but with the connection deleted, so was the photo. But if you’d like to find the photo I’m talking about, simply find this person on Facebook:
After you find the photo, just take a look at it, then I suggest you delete the little bigot immediately.
And now for something completely different. How about we do what nobody is doing in this case thus yet: we look at the facts.
According to allvoices.com
In 2005, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with ‘resisting officer with violence’ and ‘battery of law enforcement officer’, and both these felonies are considered third-degree. Due to his desperate attempts, the charge was reduced to ‘resisting officer without violence’ and then it was completely waived off once he entered an alcohol education program.
In the same year, 2005, Zimmerman’s ex-fiance, Veronica Zuazo filed a civil motion for a restraining order alleging domestic violence. In retaliation, Zimmerman filed for a retraining order against Zuazo and both these claims were resolved with both restraining orders being granted.
These are not just allegations from a bias website. These are from Zimmerman’s official criminal background. Zimmerman also has a history of traffic violations, but those are hardly meaningful in this situation. In fact, they’re about as meaningful as Trayvon’s marijuana suspension that has been over-played by the right-wing media. Here would be a good time to mention Trayvon has a blank criminal record, but I digress. The fact of the matter is Zimmerman is hardly a stand-up guy. He has a history of assault and violence, and in any reasonable state with real standards, should not have had either a license to carry a concealed weapon, nor should he have had any right to be appointed a neighborhood watch captain. Well, he actually wasn’t appointed neighborhood watch captain, unless self-appointment counts. Another fact worth mentioning, I thought.
Trayvon, on the other hand, as I mentioned had one school suspension for marijuana and no criminal record. A right-wing columnist alleged Trayvon had attacked a bus driver in the Miami Herald, but this story was later disproved. Imagine that. A right-wing columnist said something without any evidence to back it up. Back to the suspension, however; does that mean Trayvon was a bad kid? Absolutely not. Let me share a little something with you: I’m a functioning adult with degrees in psychology, sociology and evolutionary biology. One of my many projects is making videos to help younger children better understand the basic principles of science. I’m an avid reader, writer, published author, blogger, designer, web developer, web designer, product developer, and many, many more titles. Guess what; I was suspended more times in middle and high school than you could ever imagine. I was even booted out of my middle school, and was forced to attend and alternative learning center, just after returning home from a 6 1/2 month drug treatment program. Bet you didn’t know that about me.
Here’s my point: If someone were to gun me down right now, would that make it okay? If you think so, then you need to seriously reevaluate your morals.
Okay, enough about the background smearing, because it’s simply meaningless. Here is the one fact that matters in this trial: George Zimmerman was an armed adult who used lethal force, gunning down an unarmed minor. No internet photos (no matter how fake they are anyway), no background checks, no accusations can change that. That is what happened that day. Of six witnesses, only one of them confirms Zimmerman’s story that Trayvon attacked him first. No matter if Trayvon attacked him first, since that still doesn’t give the man the legal right to resort immediately to lethal force. The butt of a gun to the forehead would have taken Trayvon down.
When police arrived at the scene, Zimmerman had injuries consistent with his story, including blood stains and a broken nose. The problem here, again, is that only one of the six witnesses confirms this story, while others tell the story differently, and consistently with one another’s stories. One witness even says Zimmerman was chasing Trayvon through her own backyard while Martin was running toward his home. Zimmerman shot Trayvon after this. A kid running away from you is not assault in any state or country, no matter how backwoods their laws may be.
In regards to the allegations of racism, other witnesses have come forward alleging Zimmerman had previously gone door-to-door telling people to be on the lookout for suspicious looking black men in the neighborhood. This is according to a Miami Herald story that can be found here.
These racial allegations, much like other allegations and smears, are pretty much irrelevant, however, to the actual facts of the story.
Look, I’m not going to pretend this was an entirely impartial article. I’m at a severe point of frustration with all of this, and I’ve really been trying to avoid it like the plague in order to avoid a stress rash. Yes, though I’m more than willing to attack either side of the political spectrum, I do indeed have my political leanings and I’m honest about that. I have biases just like we all do. However, as I mentioned, the facts are the facts. Take out every slam against the right-wing media, and you’re still left with a piece exploring the facts of this trial, and under no circumstance is Zimmerman an innocent man who fended for his life, according to the facts that are known. Could more facts surface? Of course. New evidence could turn up, just like witnesses can change their stories, and I’m open to all of that. For now, however, you know where I stand.
For further information, you can visit Wikipedia here to listen to all of the 9-11 calls associated with the Trayvon Martin case. You may also like to visit some of the following sites for more indepth information that can help you in drawing your own conclusions about this case:
Update: Today, video was released of George Zimmerman being taken from the arresting squad car into police custody. Now, this was right after the incident – the same night – but Zimmerman alleged having a broken nose and numerous lacerations. Video quality may not be the best, but he sure seems just fine. He must have had a very good surgeon who cleaned him up very quickly. I’m still not saying one way or another, and I’m being skeptical of what I’m hearing, but if this is actually from the very night of the shooting, this is pretty damning, not only to Zimmerman, but also to the police who claimed Zimmerman’s wounds were consistent with his story: http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/george-zimmerman-police-surveillance-16024475 I apologize. I can’t post the video directly, so I have to do it through the link.
Update: April 1, 2012:
Even more evidence has surfaced that doesn’t corroborate Zimmerman’s side of the story. In the official 9-1-1 call, Zimmerman claimed he was the voice screaming for help because he was being attacked. As it turns out, now that the tapes have been released, forensics experts now say that the voice screaming for help in the 9-1-1 call was actually that of Trayvon Martin. You can visit Addicting Info to listen to the audio and read the official story from the forensics lab in charge of the case.
Again, Zimmerman, as anyone else, is innocent until proven guilty, but the evidence keeps stacking up against him. And I still attest that he is indeed guilty of murder no matter what, and there is absolutely no denying that. The only question is whether or not this stands to be ruled as a justifiable homicide due to backwoods Florida laws that have caused so-called justifiable homicides to triple since their inception.