Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Real Reason why Zimmerman Shouldn't have Followed Martin

In all the hubbub over the Zimmerman/Martin case, one fact stands out to me, and I found some confirmation of it in the New York Times:

There is less violent crime when it is raining. (at least fewer murders in New York)

Bad guys are just like the rest of us.  Actually until they do something bad, they are the rest of us!  They don't like rain, cold, or snow.  Just like us, they would rather be inside watching television on a rainy night than walking around outdoors.  Just like us, they'll postpone an errand if the weather sucks.  We just go to the Seven-Eleven for different errands.

Of course, it's possible Trayvon Martin really was scoping out the neighborhood to plan his next burglary... and it's possible that his jones for sweets was so strong he decided to walk to the store in the rain.  If Zimmerman had been rational and well-trained, he'd have known better than to worry about the kid being up to something.  His only assumption would be that the kid doesn't have a car, which may be unusual but it's not criminal.

As for what happened after Zimmerman made his decision to follow Martin, I'm not upset with the jury because juries match up evidence to their jury instructions.  If there's no match, they are required to make a finding of not guilty.  In the United Kingdom, the jury would say "not proved," which I prefer.  In the sequence of events, there would have to be a line crossed from "stupid" to "illegal" for a guilty verdict.  I listened to quite a bit of the trial, and I can understand the jury not being sure beyond a reasonable doubt about that.  If you follow someone and they turn around and punch you in the nose, you had it coming in a moral sense but not necessarily according to the law.  Sometimes the law and our sense of morality don't match up.  (When it comes to Wall Street it's more like all the time)

What I am upset with are irrational reactions to this whole incident and trial.  One of my Facebook friends demanded the rest of us defriend her if we weren't outraged.  My feelings about it aren't really that strong because I'm a grown-up and I understand that sometimes things don't go the way I'd want or expect.  I also don't expect my friends to agree with me 100% of the time.  Heck, I don't agree with me 100% of the time!  I have mixed feelings about this situation as I do with many others.  If I couldn't handle a friend who sometimes disagreed with me I'd have no friends.

My krav maga instructors often reminded us that just because someone doesn't show you a weapon doesn't mean they don't have one.  Martin probably thought that Zimmerman was unarmed.  Zimmerman didn't know whether Martin was armed.  Likewise, the fact that Zimmerman ignored the 911 dispatcher's advice is irrelevant because being a dumbass is not illegal.  Following someone is almost always legal, even though it's creepy.  Following someone because you don't like their look or their race is also not illegal, and it's extremely disturbing.  Being a dumbass will get you a punch in the nose or worse, but it's not illegal.  Another main teaching point of krav maga: don't start a fight, but if someone starts one with you, be sure you are the one who finishes it.  That's not an official stance of KM but that's the basic idea.  Our drills started with someone putting their hands on you or threatening you with a weapon.  Until then, your life is not in danger, and you most likely still have the Nike option.  Neither person took the Nike option in this case.

And a final point I learned in krav maga:  never go to ground if you can help it.  Very very bad things happen once things go to ground and you are much less likely to go home alive.  If you are on the bottom and someone is on top of you, you are in very very deep trouble.  Unlike Zimmerman, I learned a few wrestling moves to get the bad guy off of you.  Even if you know what you're doing, and you know your teacher or classmate won't kill you, and they are not doing something super crazy, it's very very difficult to do but it's possible.

In the law, if you start a fight and you end the fight, you're guilty.  If someone else starts the fight and you end the fight, you're not guilty because of self-defense.  If you start a fight and you're a bad fighter, then you shoot the other person, you're a dumbass and a murderer.  If you piss someone off and they start the fight but then you shoot them, you're a dumbass but not guilty.  The jury's decision was about the end of the chain of events, not the beginning.  If I had a gun and I'd gotten myself into a fight that went to ground and the other person was a better fighter, I'd use that gun even if it meant going to prison.  Once the situation went bad for Zimmerman, he did what anybody, black or white, who had a gun would do.

So like a plane crash, the killing of Trayvon Martin was due to multiple mistakes, miscalculations, and misinformation.  It should never have happened, not because he was unarmed, but because it was raining.  The first tragic mistake was of not crediting bad guys for having the good sense to get out of the rain.  Zimmerman shouldn't have suspected him; he should have offered him a ride or at least asked him if he was okay.


L.Long said...

Zimm was wrong to do what he did.
Yes it aint illegal to walk down a street, but being creepy may get you in trouble. Also the gun may have been legal but carrying one has one big problem...It gives you a very false sense of being able to handle any situation. And you normally can't handle it you usually end up doing something silly like killing someone for no good reason.If Zimm REALLY cared about monitoring the neighbor hood for crime then why didn't he have a partner and a video camera instead of being a lone ranger with a gun????
As far as the court and verdict, what's done is done and over. If he's the type I think he is then he will try something silly again and the ending may not be to his liking.

LadyAtheist said...

Yep, he was wrong... and STUPID. ... and ignorant.

The police partner with these neighborhood crime things so they share some blame too.

I agree about the false sense of security. It's like having a car with ABS and 4-wheel-drive etc. I don't have either and I'm a very cautious driver. When i used to have ABS and really good handling I was a wee bit more reckless.

In those old westerns of the 50s and 60s there was always this suspense of whether the good guy was as quick as the bad guy. Now people identify more with video games than shooters with actual skill and risk.

Bruce Lindman said...

"Being a dumbass will get you a punch in the nose or worse, but it's not illegal."
...unless it leads to a death, in which case it is called "manslaughter".
Or it should be.
The tragedy here is not that he was acquitted of murder, but that the jury did not even consider the charge of manslaughter. For this, I do feel outrage.

LadyAtheist said...

I listened to that Anderson Cooper interview of one of the jurors. It sounds like they were confused about the manslaughter instructions, so they felt they had to say not guilty because they couldn't make a definitive finding for that charge. She focused on the moment when the shot was fired, and believed Martin had thrown the first punch. I think before that, there were some words. Were they "fighting words?" or words that would make Martin feel he had to defend himself? I didn't catch that in the testimony.

There was clearly an escalation, so the jury had to choose a moment in the escalation to focus on. The court of public opinion seems to have chosen a moment earlier in the escalation.

L.Long said...

The juror is an idiot! When teaching self defense years ago, the self defense strategy is use only what was used against you unless there is VERY VERY VERY good evidence that you are in fear for life. IE...a 110lb woman is being punched by a 260lb pro wrestler. A 260lb man shooting some 100lb short kid for a punch is a bit over the top.
Anyway Did Martin throw the 1st punch? Who says so? Who witnessed this??
Next when you carry a gun the intent is killing. There is no such thing as self defense with a gun except by killing. If you pull a gun and just point it at someone and do nothing else the chances are that you will soon be dead. Its only on TV one can get away with that.
But this whole thing reminds me of when my wife was stalked by a suspected rapist. She ran to safety and then went to the police.
Their advice....
1st...Doing what she did is the 1st choice.
2nd...DO NOT hurt the rapist at all, cuz when you are in court the jury will see the injured guy and the arrogant unharmed girl, and you will be in jail for assault.
3rd....if #1 is out and you are being raped, then get hurt enough to have solid evidence and then KILL the bastard. And make sure he is dead. Now it is the injured girls word against??? no one.
Ya know the #3 sounds very familiar, like I heard something similar???