A Philosopher's Blog

Demonizing Trayvon Martin

Posted in Law, Philosophy, Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on April 6, 2012

The death of Trayvon Martin has become a matter of great controversy and has served to spawn other controversies. One of these is the claim that Trayvon Martin is being demonized.

In terms of the facts, it has been revealed that Trayvon Martin had been suspended from school because marijuana residue had been found in a plastic bag in his possession.  It was also revealed that he had been suspended twice before-once for an attendance issue and another for allegedly marking on a locker.

On the one hand, revealing these facts could be seen as mere reporting. After all, the function of the news media (after making money) is to report information to the public. Just as information about Zimmerman is being revealed to the public, so too would information about Martin.

On the other hand, some concern has been expressed that the information about Martin was leaked to the media. After all, his school record is presumably supposed to be kept confidential.  Given that this information is negative, it is naturally for people concerned about Martin’s reputation to be worried that he is now the victim of an intentional demonizing rather than this being merely a situation of the media doing some legitimate reporting. It could also be speculated that this alleged demonizing is being done in anticipation of a criminal or civil trial and is intended to cast Martin as a troublesome youth who might very well have provoked Zimmerman into an act of self-defense.

Sticking to the facts, they show that Martin was not a perfect student. He was apparently suspended three times and some might consider the baggie as evidence of drug use. However, there are two important things to consider about these facts.

The first, and the least important of the two, is that while these facts show that Martin was not perfect, they hardly serve to show that he is a thug or prone to violence. At the very worst, they show that he missed school, suggest he smoked pot, and indicate he marked up school property. While I will not defend these acts by saying that they are common behavior for American students, I will note that they do not mark him as a special menace. Rather, they show that he seems to have acted like a fairly typical teenager and this seems no different from when I was a kid.

While I was never suspended, I did get in fist fight (after being attacked) in school and I once got in serious trouble for skipping out on detention. My cross country team did get in trouble once because a bus driver reported that they smelled pot on the bus after a race. While I was not a direct suspect (I was out with an injury for that event and hence not on the bus), I was “locked down” with the rest of the team until the culprits came forward.  None of us were thugs-we were just kids doing the stupid things that kids often do because they are kids and not adults (and, of course, adults do very stupid things as well). As such, these facts about Martin are hardly shocking and hardly damning. Unless, of course, they damn almost all American students.

The second, and most important, of the two is that these facts have no bearing on the case. Even if it is true that Martin was suspended three times, even if he marked up a locker, even if he was high at the time, it does not follow that his death would be thus justified. After all, none of these facts indicate that Martin would be likely to simply attack Zimmerman without provocation. There is, after all, considerable difference between what Martin is alleged to have done (cutting school, possessing pot and marking up a locker) and being a violent person.

Naturally, evidence of irrational violent behavior would be relevant-both in regards to Martin and Zimmerman.  If either (or both) of them had such tendencies and this could be proven, that would impact the case in terms of the likelihood of who attacked who. There is, however, currently no evidence that Martin was especially prone to violence.



Enhanced by Zemanta

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. urbannight said, on April 6, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Reblogged this on Urbannight's Blog.

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 6, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Not too unlike the demonizing of Dr King, after he was dead and couldn’t defend himself.

    Certain people preferred that Dr. King’s message of peace and social justice die with him. And people, today, are far more concerned with the death of Trayvon Martin than they are with the murder of Dr King, which is foolish.

    It was proven in US court in Memphis, TN (1999) that Dr King was murdered by Loyd Jowers and agencies of the US government, yet the media along with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson – are silent.

    No truth, no justice, no peace…

    Until we clear-up the King cold case there will NEVER be justice for ordinary American HS kids like Trayvon who are expected to believe the LIE that Dr King was murdered by James Earl Ray.

  3. Anonymous said, on April 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Since we have decided to try Zimmerman in the press, providing an accurate picture of the individual he faced on that dark, rainy night is not unwarranted. And since Zimmerman said to the police dispatcher that Martin appeared to be acting strange, like he was on drugs, evidence of Martin’s former drug use is relevant.

    Let’s not forget, too, that at the beginning of this business the images we had were of the angelic Martin as a little kid vs. Zimmerman’s mug shot.

    • dhammett said, on April 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      And in the beginning the image Zimmerman as a race fanatic were rampant–fueled by Sharpton et al. Much info to the contrary has surfaced since then. It’s to be expected that first reports of events and the people at the center will shift as new information arises. That should not lead us to any assumptions about the final outcome. That is, there may be more information that we haven’t seen or heard. No legal proceedings have been completed.

      Zimmerman said “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about.” Do we have the results of the Martin autopsy? I assume there was one or will be. Until then, Zimmerman’s assessment, the assessment of a neighborhood watch captain who at the time he made his statement had no hard knowledge of the suspect or his previous drug use–a ‘watch captain’ . not a trained police officer– will have to be taken for what it’s worth.

      Remember that Zimmerman also got excited about the possibility that Martin had something in his waistband. Did he? Was a gun (other than Zimmerman’s), a knife, or any other weapon found at the scene? Until we get more facts, we only have the assumptions that continue to rampage around the events of that evening.

  4. magus71 said, on April 7, 2012 at 11:55 am

    NBC Fires producer over manipulated Martin/Zimmerman tapes:


    In the original 911 call, Zimmerman is heard describing Martin as such: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”
    The dispatcher then asks: “OK, and this guy – is he white, black or Hispanic?”
    “He looks black,” Zimmerman responds.

    The version NBC ran, though, was much shorter and did not include the question posed by the 911 operator.
    “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” Zimmerman is heard saying in NBC’s edited version.

  5. WTP said, on May 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL (RNN) – Medical examiners found the drug THC in the blood of Trayvon Martin, the teen who was shot and killed by the volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in a Florida gated community.

    The autopsy is part of 67 CD’s worth of material were released Thursday on the state’s attorney website.



  6. WTP said, on May 21, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    What was once rumor is now evidence
    A witness told Florida cops that he saw Trayvon Martin straddling George Zimmerman and pummeling the neighborhood watch captain “MMA style” shortly before the unarmed teen was felled by a gunshot to the chest.


    Who has been demonized?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: