A Philosopher's Blog

Discerning Racism

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on April 4, 2012

The death of Trayvon Martin has created a significant controversy in the United States and it has attracted attention around the world.

From a legal standpoint, the main points of contention are factual in nature. If Zimmerman acted in legitimate self-defense (as he claims), then he would seem to have acted within the law. If Zimmerman did not act in legitimate self-defense, then it would seem that he would have acted outside of the law and thus should presumably be charged with a crime. There also seems to be the possibility that both people believed they were acting in legitimate self-defense and, of course, perhaps there are other possibilities as well. From an objective standpoint, the currently available evidence does not seem decisive. That is, in a hypothetical trial a competent attorney could weave a narrative that accounts for all the existing evidence that supports either the defense or the prosecution.

Not surprisingly, media folks and other people have been rather busy digging up information regarding Zimmerman and Martin. Their proponents have, naturally enough, focused on presenting positive information whole their opponents have fixated on the negative. In the case of Martin, considerable focus has been placed on the claim that he was suspended from school because of an empty bag containing marijuana residue. In the case of Zimmerman, focus has been placed on past behavior that seems negative.

Also not surprisingly, race has been brought in as a factor. It has been claimed that Zimmerman acted on the basis of racism and that Martin was shot because he was a young black man. It is this aspect of the matter that

Sign for "colored" waiting room at a...

Clearly racist.

has served to generate considerable attention.

Given the history of racism in the United States, it would not be absurd to consider that race was a factor in the incident. However, an accusation of racism requires adequate support if it is to be anything but a mere accusation. Naturally, to assume that there must be racism involved because the parties involved were black and Hispanic would itself seem to be a racist assumption. This is because it would assume that a Hispanic must be motivated by racism and not some other factors.

The difficulty of discerning whether or not racism is a causal factor can range from very easy to very difficult. For example, if people in Klan regalia murder a black person while shouting racist slogans and make it clear that they are killing the person because s/he is black, then it would be eminently reasonable to believe that racism was a factor. However, the matter is obviously not so clear in the case of Zimmerman. As such, to confirm a hypothesis of racism as a causal factor would require sorting out what would serve as evidence for such a claim and showing that such evidence exists.

As might be imagined, sorting out what counts as evidence for racism can be a rather controversial matter. As noted above, there are some easy and obvious cases (such as those involving self-identified racists who make it clear they are motivated by racism). However, when there is no Klan hood or shouted racist slogans, then a more subtle sort of evidence is called for. This, of course, raises the concern that the evidence might be rather too subtle.

One obvious starting point is the ethnicity of those involved. On the face of it, for racism to be a factor, then those involved would seem to need to differ in ethnicity (although this could be disputed-perhaps a person could be a racist regarding his/her own race). While this might be a necessary condition, it is clearly not a sufficient condition-otherwise every (presumably negative) interaction between folks of different ethnic backgrounds would be at least partially caused by racism. This seems to be so absurd that, at the very least, the burden of proof would need to be on the person who claims that racism is always a factor. Interestingly, if it could be shown that racism is always a factor, then it would not be a special factor in any such cases-since every such case would involve racism.

Getting back to the specific case, the fact that Zimmerman and Martin are of different ethnic backgrounds means that racism is a possibility-but only a mere possibility.

A second avenue of evidence is what a person says. In the United States there is a reasonably clear collection of racist terms and the use of them can be taken as evidence for the possibility of racism. In addition to specific words, there is also (obviously enough) the other things that a person might have said before or during the incident in question. It must, of course, be noted that such terms and the use of certain remarks is not conclusive evidence of racism. To use the obvious example, people in an ethnic group sometimes use racist terms regarding their own ethnicity. In an interesting coincidence, as I type this, I am listening to Kanye West and Jay-Z singing “Niggas in Paris” courtesy of Grooveshark. However, it would seem unreasonable to say that West and Jay-Z are presenting evidence of their racism against blacks. Naturally, it could be contended that the use of such terms is privileged by race/ethnicity and if a person of a different ethnicity uses such a term, then it is racist. This view, obviously enough, seems to involve accepting that racial or ethnic differences are actually significant and meaningful differences-which might be regarded as being a form of racism. However, discussing this matter would take the discussion to far afield and it must be set aside, at least for now.

There is also the fact that when people are angry, they tend to use the words they think will do the most damage or express their anger and hence they often use terms with racist connections. To use the obvious analogy, when people are angry, they also tend to swear, mainly because of what such words express and what they do. As such, saying things that sound racist need not be strong evidence that a person is racist.

Of course, it can be countered that people who are not racist do not use such terms even when angry. As such, a person using such terms when angry is saying what they really think, but conceal under normal conditions. This, of course, rests on the assumption that anger reveals what is truly in a person’s mind as opposed to the view that people say in anger what they do not really mean. As might imagined, this can be rather difficult to sort out as we do not fully understand the workings of the mind.

In the specific case at hand, the transcript of what Zimmerman said during his 911 call does not contain any blatantly racist remarks. Naturally, considerable attention has been paid to the unintelligible parts of the recording. However, these seem to be more of a Rorschach test for the listener than actual evidence of any racist comments. The mere fact that a garbled word or words might sound something like a racist word or phrase is hardly adequate evidence of racism-after all, people can hear “words” even in natural sounds and the sounds of animal and this hardly proves that the wind or a husky was actually saying specific words. Even if audio experts are brought in to work on the audio, there is still the obvious question of whether the “improvement” of the audio would reveal something that was actually said, or would merely make garbled sounds resemble a racist (or non-racist) remark. However, if the audio were properly cleaned up and then revealed unambiguously racist words, then this would be quite a different matter.

People do point to the fact that Zimmerman does say things that seem racist to them and this can be used to make a reasonable case in favor of the racism hypothesis. However, there is the obvious question of whether Zimmerman would have reacted similarly had the situation differed only by the person not being black. If Zimmerman would have said comparable things seeing a young Hispanic, white or Asian, etc., then it would be reasonable to infer that he was either not racist (or was racist towards everyone). Of course, there is the obvious question of whether such evidence is available or not.

It could also be replied that since I am a mostly Caucasian French-English-Mohawk mix, I simply cannot see the racism that would be obvious to someone of a different ethnicity/race. While it is tempting to dismiss such a response as being racist (after all, it makes assumptions about me based on my genetic background), it is reasonable to consider that different experiences that are often linked to ethnicity/race can lead to different perspectives. To support this, I will use my own experience.

While I look rather white, I have been a professor at an historically black university since 1993. While I would not claim that this enables me to have a “trans-racial” perspective, it has given me  a somewhat different perspective on matters involving race and racism. I have found that because I have white skin, people will say and do things around me without being “on guard” against seeming racist. Over the years, I have noticed that people will sometimes say and do racist things that they actually do not see as racist-though the certainly seem racist to me. One classic example is that when I first started teaching at Florida A&M University, people would innocently ask me “what is it like teaching those people?” I would, of course, say “You mean students, right?” Then there would always be a very uncomfortable pause as the person realized that they had just said something that seemed just a bit racist. These sort of experiences have served to make it clear to me that what might not seem racist to one person might, in fact, be racist when properly considered.  At the very least, it might truly seem racist to the person. As such, I would be a fool not to consider that my perception of the matter might be in error-that I am missing real evidence that others can clearly see. Of course, being a philosopher, I must also consider the fact the people sometimes see what is not, in fact, there. This raises the obvious problem of sorting out perception and reality-a matter that goes far beyond the limited scope of this essay.

Third, an obvious place to look for evidence of alleged current racism is to look for evidence of past racism. After all, people tend to act in accord with their character. This, of course, can run us in a bit of a circle: to find out whether past actions where racist or not, we would need to use the standards that we need for the current case. As such, turning to past cases would require establishing that those cases involved racism. If those past cases are in doubt, then they would not serve as very good evidence for the claim that the current case involves racism. If the past cases were clearly cases involving racism, then they would lend credence to a current claim of racism.

While there has been considerable focus on Zimmerman, as this is being written there seems to a lack of decisive evidence of his alleged evidence. While absence of evidence is not itself evidence of absence, the burden of proof  would seem to rest on those who claim that he is a racist. But, as noted above, perhaps such evidence exists and I simply cannot properly interpret it.

It might be argued, as some have, that Zimmerman cannot be a racist because he is “half Hispanic.” This is, obviously enough, not a good argument. Racism is, ironically enough, an equal opportunity employer.

My overall conclusion is, obviously enough, one of uncertainty. As this is being written, there seems to be a lack of truly decisive evidence showing that Zimmerman is a racist or that he acted from racist motivations.  Likewise, there seems to be a lack of truly decisive evidence that he is not a racist.

Given a presumption of innocence, it seems reasonable to hold that a person is not a racist until proven otherwise. As such, I would not be inclined to claim that Zimmerman of racism at this time. If additional evidence becomes available, my view could change-but, as always, a conclusion should be based on adequate evidence that is objectively considered. I am, however, keeping in mind that I could be just as blind to evidence of racism as the people who asked me about teaching “those people” in the example I gave above.

As always, my commitment is to the truth and if decisive evidence can be provided for or against a claim of racism, then I would accept such a claim based on the evidence.

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32 Responses

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  1. magus71 said, on April 4, 2012 at 9:01 am

    If race was the determining factor in why Zimmerman shot Martin (murder, not being a racist, is illegal; and shooting someone for being black is a hate crime) I’d have to assume that Zimmerman, given his position and neighborhood, had plenty of opportunities in the past to shoot a black person.

    • dhammett said, on April 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      I agree that ” Zimmerman, given his position and neighborhood, had plenty of opportunities in the past to shoot a black person.” But that he didn’t act on previous “opportunities”, few or many, doesn’t prove much. A rapist may have many opportunities to rape, but he may choose to act in only one or two or more particular cases because of specific circumstances (location, time of day, etc.)

      We need more evidence than what’s been revealed so far to prove that race played a role or didn’t play a role in this case. It amazes me, in this age of ubiquitous iPhones and electronic street surveillance, that nothing truly dramatic and conclusive has surfaced.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Race could be a factor even though Zimmerman did not shoot anyone before. After all, there is always the first time.

      I saw on CNN today that there were 8 break ins there in the past 14 months, 3 which involved black men, 1 in which the alleged perpetrator was said to be black, and 4 which involved unknown parties. In Zimmerman’s defense, it could be argued that his concern was based on these facts. This raises the obvious question: if Zimmerman reasoned that Martin was a potential burglar because he was seen as similar to 75% of those observed in past incidents, is this racism on Zimmerman’s part? It could, of course, be argued that any use of race in making such judgments would be racism-even if a person alleged that they were merely making an inference based on statistical evidence.

      • magus71 said, on April 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm

        Of course it could be a factor. But his defense lawyer is going to have so many defense tactics to work with he won’t be convicted of any hate crimes.

        I rarely performed any statistical analysis as a police officer; after a few years of working your instincts give you the impetus to look further at some individuals. Totality of the circumstances: A person who dresses like many criminals Ive arrested, hangs out after dark in high crime areas, and turns away when a police car passes may get a second glance. Anyone have any better systems? I never arrested a white person who afterwards complained I arrested him for being white. I mean, it’s possible I hate white people, right? Maine is the whitest state in America. I did arrest black people, but rarely. Everyone I arrested was because something or someone alerted me to potentially criminal activity, I found the person, decided if there was probable cause, and arrested them or summoned them if there was. Anyone has the right to approach another person and ask him or her what they are doing. They dont have to answer.

        Get ready for some wanton destruction if Zimmerman is found innocent. Now give me a case in America where a black person is found innocent and white people riot.

        Not a racial issue as far as I can see.

        • dhammett said, on April 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm

          Most is very reasonable here. ( Just as on most blogs, that means your statements don’t conflict with my perceptions :) )Your ex- police officer viewpoint is very helpful.
          Two questions related to two sentences you write:

          “I never arrested a white person who afterwards complained I arrested him for being white.”
          If you acknowledge that, historically, the white person’s experience with America’s legal system was–and still is in some respects–dramatically different from the black person’s experience, you probably see why a black person’s response to arrest, whether he is guilty or innocent, is likely to be radically different. There are still black people in our population who directly experienced the “legal” system in the South in the Fifties and Sixties. It wouldn’t be surprising if those people have told their children and grandchildren of those experiences. Sometimes in the form of cautionary tales.

          “Now give me a case in America where a black person is found innocent and white people riot.”
          Why? The same rationale applies here as it does to the first statement. There’s a history of oppression —and the conditioning that goes along with it—that should not be ignored. That’s not an excuse. It’s a simple fact. I’ll match your sentence with another: “Now give me an America in which the white race was enslaved and/or oppressed for three centuries and the blacks were the oppressors. Then show me a case where a white person is found innocent and black people riot!”.

          I always go by the the idea that if we ignore history (especially a long and recent history) at our own peril. Would we want to repeat that history—or something worse?

          • magus71 said, on April 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm

            I worked in the legal system for 8 years. I never saw the legal system to be radically different for any ethnic group. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are preying on people. At some point our system and country DID change. America is the least racist country I know of–besides maybe Canada. At some point the black community will have to reconsider if is any longer a victim of the system. I do not believe it is.

            In fact, I believe this type of thing has been drilled in to black people for so long, that many automatically resort to accusing people of racism. Example, right here in the US Army. A black Private in my unit is assigned to punitive extra duty. He’s told to go shovel the parking lot. He refuses, saying it’s too cold. he then calls his mom on his cell phone and tells her that the Sergeant on duty is telling him to shovel snow because he’s black. The officer on duty orders him to shovel snow and hang up the mommy hotline. This kid had obviously grown up in a culture, not of racist oppression, but in one that couldn’t even recognize when he was in fact wrong.

            I believe this anecdote applies to many stories like Zimmerman/Martin. Even if they are hyper-sensitive due to past abuses, isn’t it time someone tells the black community to just do the right thing and they are, in fact, being hyper-sensitive to past abuses? And I’m not saying they are sensitive in all cases; in some cases, it’s just a cop out.

            I also believe that the racism issue is kind of like the Army’s suicide issue: The more you talk about it the worse it gets, at least at this point in time.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

              You do raise an important point, namely the possibility that people can be in error when they think they are victims. In fact, I wrote up the victim fallacy to codify this sort of flawed reasoning. Of course, there is also a flip side to this, namely the assumption that a person who thinks s/he is a victim of racism/sexism/etc. is in error because they merely think they are being mistreated because of their race, gender or whatever.

          • dhammett said, on April 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

            Magus: I don’t in any way doubt your personal experiences with the legal system. But the legal system is wide and deep. Have you seen that system from the other side? Have you been an offender? Arrested? Black? Are you intentionally avoiding commenting on the 300+ years that the legal system existed when you weren’t in it. How do you plan to get around to that? Because it won’t go away in 40 or 50 years. It won’t go away while there are still whites in the South fighting the Civil War. It won’t go away until until the last living member of the 60’s generation passes on. And even then it won’t be gone until the racial memories that those whites and blacks have passed on to their descendants have died.

            Is this part of our history we should forget? Put in a drawer like a high school report card we’re not proud of? We’re expected to ignore this history while simultaneously calling forth and praising the positive aspects of our history. We have a black president. Some black corporate executives. A growing black middle and upper class. But we still have black ghettos. And a high black crime rate that we assume should have disappeared when we graduated from the turbulent Sixties—the 1960’s, not the 1860’s. We might want to believe the best of ourselves . It might be what we call patriotism. But I don’t believe it’s honest. I don’t believe I’m alone among Caucasians who believe that NEITHER race has entered a post-racial America.

            I was in the educational system in an all white school district ( all white with two or three exceptions over the time ) for thirty years. Take my word for this: The “mommy hotline” is not merely a black problem. Hasn’t been for 30 years at least.

            Do you believe the Army’s rising suicide rate is due to talking about it?

  2. T. J. Babson said, on April 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that despite the media circus Trayvon Martin is no Emmett Till.

    Moreover, the attempt to portray hispanic George Zimmerman as an unregenerate racist is likely to backfire as it begins to dawn on Latinos that the race card can be played against them as well.

    • T. J. Babson said, on April 5, 2012 at 10:49 am

      Shelby Steele:

      And this points to the second tragedy that Trayvon’s sad demise highlights. Before the 1960s the black American identity (though no one ever used the word) was based on our common humanity, on the idea that race was always an artificial and exploitive division between people. After the ’60s—in a society guilty for its long abuse of us—we took our historical victimization as the central theme of our group identity. We could not have made a worse mistake.

      It has given us a generation of ambulance-chasing leaders, and the illusion that our greatest power lies in the manipulation of white guilt. The tragedy surrounding Trayvon’s death is not in the possibility that it might have something to do with white racism; the tragedy is in the lustfulness with which so many black leaders, in conjunction with the media, have leapt to exploit his demise for their own power.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303302504577323691134926300.html

      • dhammett said, on April 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

        I personally do not care about Sharpton’s “power”. Perhaps we should take an opinion that’s the reverse of the idea that’s been expressed here: “If we keep talking about racism it’ll always be a problem. It’ll never go away”. Let’s turn that around and say “If we stop pointing out the “ambulance chasing leaders” and allow black society to find its own level, things will settle out to everyone’s satisfaction”. Will that work?

        A race had been exploited through slavery for 200 years and had been debased and sometimes killed for another 100. And that was no mistake. The resulting harm was, for the most part, intentionally inflicted. It’s not like we mistakenly imprisoned a man for 15 years, then released him on society with minor reparations. Lopped 15 years from his life and offered relatively nothing in return. We’ve done that, too. Only 27 states offer any reparations for wrongful conviction.

        But what we did to the entire black race is not “quite” the same. Slavery was not a mistake. It was not “wrongful” in the sense of that word as it’s used in the phrase “wrongful imprisonment”. It was a business. Bigotry and all that accompanied it was not a mistake. It was ingrained in our society. As Steele so elegantly, briefly ,and too forgivingly puts it , “society [was] guilty for its long abuse of us.”

        What active role did whites take in assisting with the task of identifying a “central theme of [black] core identity”. Or provided blacks with the wherewithal on which to build that identity? They had been their superiors for nearly 300 years; they should have been able to provide valuable input. Is it surprising that the ambulance chasers dashed in to fill the void? Why are we shocked?

    • dhammett said, on April 5, 2012 at 11:52 am

      No. He’s certainly no Emmett Till.
      “Three days after his abduction, Till’s swollen and disfigured body was found by two boys fishing in the Tallahatchie River. His head was very badly damaged. He had been shot above the right ear, an eye was dislodged from the socket, there was evidence that he had been beaten on the back and the hips, and his body weighted to the fan blade, which was fastened around his neck with barbed wire. He was nude, but wearing a silver ring with the initials “L. T.” and “May 25, 1943″ carved in it.[” The note attached to that passage in Wikipedia assures us that he wasn’t castrated. That’s nice to know. That was 1955. 57 years ago.
      Race considerations aside, Martin is no Till, but he’s just as dead. And this is 2012. And, it should be noted again, the case has yet to be settled. All the facts aren’t in.

      The circus you refer to, unfortunately, comes with the territory. We’ve got freedom of the press and freedom of speech in this country. Sometimes, if we agree with the views freely written or spoken, we think the First is wonderful. If we don’t agree, the freedoms seem a bit , shall we say, unpalatable . And the 24-7 news cycle only exacerbates problems that were most likely unforeseen by men who wrote the amendment before telephones, television, cell phones, electronic surveillance, etc.

      I’ll crawl out on that sturdy limb with you and say that Till’s death did not stop racism in this country. I’ll go a bit further and say that the Civil Rights Act did not stop racism in this country. Martin’s death, whether it’s proven to be motivated by race or not, will not end racism in this country. Another inch further: We’re not a post- racist country. An inch further. Focusing a light on the “possibility” that racism may have played a role in the Martin case is not a bad thing. And further. Focusing, Sharpton and Jackson aside, is not always “playing the race card”. And another inch. Ignoring ‘any’ possibility before the investigation is completed would be a sin.

  3. magus71 said, on April 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” Barry said in remarks on Tuesday night first reported by WRC-TV. “They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2012/04/barry-we%E2%80%99ve-got-do-something-about-these-asians-coming/448886

    • dhammett said, on April 5, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      What Barry should have said was “We’ve got to do something about the few Asians who come in and open up businesses and dirty shops.” As I’ve pointed out on here many times, words like “some”, “many”, “all”, “none”, “few”, and “most” are important to the meaning of statements. Failure to use those words properly can lead to major problems of understanding.

      What Barry will likely do, if he hasn’t already , is what seemingly every politician–black,yellow, white, liberal, , conservative, or independent– does in similar situations. He’ll add, qualifiers to his original statement, seek forgiveness for his error, try to recast his statement in a different light, dissemble, or stonewall.
      Quelle surprise.

    • T. J. Babson said, on April 5, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      Magus, don’t you see that it doesn’t really matter whether Zimmerman actually is a racist? The fact that he *could* have been a racist is all that matters. You mustn’t allow trivial things like facts to get in the way of a good story.

      What I want to know is why no one seems to care about the 200 Americans who have been gunned down in cold blood by our Afghan “friends”?

      • dhammett said, on April 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm

        What matters is finding out whether he was guilty of racism or not before judging his guilt or innocence. Simple as that.

        • dhammett said, on April 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm

          Actually, both matters should be dealt with at the same time , but , with the realities of the situation being what they are, dealing definitively with the racism issue first would help speed the entire process.

      • dhammett said, on April 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm

        One has to be willing to deal with the possibility that Zimmerman “could” be a racist (along with the possibility that he is not) before the issue of race in this case can be viewed objectively.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 6, 2012 at 9:28 am

        It does matter. If he is not a racist and did not act from racism, then the incident is not a racist incident-at least as far as Zimmerman’s involvement. If Zimmerman shot Martin in legitimate self-defense, he is an innocent man. That matters.

        While the death of Americans in Afghanistan is a red herring for this issue, it is still an important issue. I am unsure if we can build a nation in Afghanistan. I’d say most likely not-in general, people have to build their own nations if they are to be a success.

      • magus71 said, on April 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

        They don’t care because they are cultural relativists. It’s ok, because Pashtun males are easily insulted which can have lethal results. We should be more sensitive to this and understand their need to shoot us in the back of the head in order to defend their honor.

        This cultural relativism is hurting us both at home and abroad. Cultural relativism essentially says there is no measure for a good or bad culture and that there is no such thing as success or failure. And if that is true, then all behavior is ok, as long as it can be contextualized as being part of a culture–apart from the Anglo-American culture, of course.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm

          Yes, moral relativism is a fatally flawed moral view. It collapses into subjectivism which collapses into moral nihilism. As such, one cannot actually be a moral relativist in a meaningful sense.

          I am not sure how many people really are moral relativists. In my years of teaching, I have found that while people often think they accept moral relativism, a few moments of reflection tends to show that they do not, in fact, really believe what they thought they believed.

          I’m a moral objectivist, so appeals to moral relativism do not explain my motives. In any case, I’m against people killing American soldiers.

          Naturally, a person can hold the view that cultural values should be respected, but that is another matter.

          • magus71 said, on April 7, 2012 at 8:06 am

            Mike,

            I agree that not many people are moral relativists. In the case of cultural relativism, my major concern is how the relativists rhetoric effects law and policy.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

      The evidence is lacking for that. While there are garbled comments made by Zimmerman that could be racial slurs, they are just that-garbled remarks that could be racial slurs. One obvious problem with garbled audio is that our brains work hard trying to assign meaning to such sounds. While this process can get things right, it also allows us to hear huskies say “I love you” when, in fact, they are just making noises. From a rational standpoint, I would not give a great deal of weight to processed audio of this sort.

  4. T. J. Babson said, on April 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Frankly, I don’t think it matters whether Zimmerman is a racist or not. The only question is whether his shooting of Martin was legitimate self-defense according to the law.

    Zimmerman can be a racist and still be innocent, or not be a racist and be guilty. Racism is not a crime. People can (and do) hate other people for any number of reasons.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      True-he could be the greatest racist of all time and still be completely innocent. He could also not have an speck of racism in his soul and be a murderer. However, racism (or its lack) is a piece in the puzzle of sorting out what happened.

  5. T. J. Babson said, on July 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    This just in:

    FBI interviews: No evidence Zimmerman a racist

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-07-12/news/os-george-zimmerman-evidence-release-20120712_1_trayvon-martin-neighborhood-watch-volunteer-george-zimmerman

    To those paying attention to the facts, this is no surprise.

    • Anonymous said, on July 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      Some here, made the decision that Zimmerman was not likely a racist quite early in the game. Review the posts above.

      But note what dhammett said at 9:57 on the fifth of April:
      “What matters is finding out whether he was guilty of racism or not before judging his guilt or innocence.”

      And at 11:52 am “And another inch. Ignoring ‘any’ possibility before the investigation is completed would be a sin.”

      Given the racial history of this country, I don’t know how anyone could think the legal process could have successfully proceeded before the racial issue had been dealt with. And guess what? Now it has. Now defense and prosecution can deal with Martin’s integrity, his “bad temper” –the mixed positive and negative evaluations of his character by co-workers and ex-fiance–and the credibility of the two new witnesses,

  6. WTP said, on June 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    No one considered Trevon Martin might be a racist? Three words of testemony, “creepy-ass cracker”

  7. WTP said, on June 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Where’s the racism, Mike? It’s definitely there, but where exactly? Aided and abetted by tools such as yourself.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/george-zimmerman-witness-cantt-read-letter-wrote-shooting/story?id=19504826#.UcxhSFMQ_wY


    A teenage friend of Trayvon Martin was forced to admit today in the George Zimmerman murder trial that she did not write a letter that was sent to Martin’s mother describing what she allegedly heard on a phone call with Martin moments before he was shot.

    In a painfully embarrassing moment, Rachel Jeantel was asked to read the letter out loud in court.

    “Are you able to read that at all?” defense attorney Don West asked.

    Jeantel, head bowed, eyes averted whispered into the court microphone, “Some but not all. I don’t read cursive.”

    It sent a hush through the packed courtroom.


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