The Right-Wing Reaction to the Trayvon Martin Case: Still Terrifying

Since the Trayvon Martin case became a national issue, I'd been doing something I never used to do. I've been reading the comment threads at right-wing blogs and at Fox Nation to see how folks are reacting to the story. It's been really depressing on many levels. I want to stipulate that some of the right-wing pushback has been warranted. NBC made a very irresponsible edit to Zimmerman's 911 tape. It's true that Trayvon was a taller more mature person than was being depicted in the media. There is some witness testimony that corroborates part of Zimmerman's story. And, while the tape of Zimmerman arriving at the police station shows no obvious injury, it's also possible that he had a mark on the back of his head. I don't mind people pointing out flaws or bias or overstatements in the media coverage.

But the comments sections have been filled with a lot of very concerning stuff. There is a lot of overtly racist terminology being thrown around, and there's very little pushback from other commenters or the moderators. It's as if this kind of talk is tolerated and so expected that even people who don't like it don't feel the need to object.

Another problem is there is an obsession with a threat that was issued by the New Black Panther Party. It's getting a little ridiculous. What are there, like three confirmed members of the New Black Panther Party in the whole country? And then this is tied into the idea that blacks are on the verge of rioting. On top of that, there is a total obsession with the fact that the Attorney General Eric Holder is black. And, of course, there's the constant abuse of the president, very often cast in racial terms.

So, the racism that has been unleashed and tolerated at these sites is very worrisome. But there's much more that I don't like. There is an outright assumption that the only facts in this case that are true are those issued by the Zimmerman family, the Sanford Police Department, and the one or two witnesses whose accounts are helpful to Zimmerman. If we were inclined to give the right some credit for exposing some bias in the media against Zimmerman, they lose that merit badge by engaging in even more extreme bias in the other direction.

In following the thread (linked above) that began once it was announced that some charges would be pressed and continued through the announcement that those charges would include Second Degree murder, only two commenters stopped to wonder what the prosecutor might have uncovered to warrant such a charge. The rest assumed that the charges were trumped up, politically motivated, inspired by the fear of riots or pressure from the DOJ or the president. That the prosecutor is a Republican who was appointed by a Republican governor wasn't considered relevant.

It's a frightening level of group-think.

Let's think for a minute. The prosecutor looked at the evidence for three weeks and determined that she should charge George Zimmerman with intentionally killing Trayvon Martin (or, at least, pulling the trigger with depraved indifference to whether it would cost Trayvon his life). It's possible that she went with the strongest available charge to try to get Zimmerman to plea to a lesser charge, but it's clear that she has some evidence. It's also pretty clear that there must be some serious problems with the stories the Zimmermans have been telling. There might be some problems with the police reports. There might be some problems with the witness accounts that lent support to Zimmerman's version of events.

I think we can reasonably conclude that the prosecutor, working in conjunction with the FBI, has tested the voices on the 911 tapes and determined that it was not Zimmerman crying for help. Why do I say that? First of all, we have some independent analysis that says that. Secondly, if it were really Zimmerman crying for help, it's hard to imagine that she would charge him with murder. It's hard to imagine that she would charge him at all.

I think we can also reasonably conclude that there is a problem with Zimmerman's account of his injuries. He or his surrogates have claimed that he sustained a broken nose, head injuries, that he was beaten up very badly, and that he received medical care on the scene and then again later on after his release from custody. They claim that they have medical records to support this. Their story is partly supported by the police report of Officer Tim Smith.

If most or all of that were true, it's doubtful that Zimmerman would be getting charged with murder.

And we have some direct evidence and some circumstantial evidence that supports the idea that he wasn't that badly injured and he may not have received any medical attention at the scene.

We know now that a second ambulance was dispatched to the scene, but then recalled. We also know from the timeline that there wasn't much time for Zimmerman to have received medical care prior to arriving at the police station.

Let's assume that the paramedics who arrived on the scene sometime around 7:20 focused all their initial attention on trying to revive Trayvon Martin. They pronounced him dead at 7:30. It's an approximately sixteen minute drive from the gated community to the police station. Zimmerman arrived at the police station at 7:51. That means that the paramedics had five minutes to look at Zimmerman between the time they pronounced Martin dead and the police left for the station with Zimmerman.

He arrived at the station without any bandages and without any signs of blood or obvious signs of injury or discomfort. So, while Officer Tim Smith's police report says that Zimmerman was attended by the Sanford Fire Department medics, it's hard to see how that is possible. And if he concocted that part of his police report, who is to say that he didn't concoct the other parts that helped rationalize Zimmerman's release from custody?

Granted, I'm making some assumptions here, but I have to explain why this man is being charged with murder. My best guess is that the police report didn't check out. Because, if it did, I don't think the prosecutor would believe she could overcome a self-defense argument.

But I don't see any evidence of this kind of reevaluation of the facts by right-wing commenters. Their assumption remains that Trayvon Martin broke Zimmerman's nose, crawled on top of him and began pummeling him and slamming his skull into the pavement, and then he reached for Zimmerman's holstered gun. It should go without saying that the prosecutor not only does not believe that version of events, but has good solid evidentiary reasons for not believing it.

If you listen to the 911 tape that captures 45 seconds of screeching pleading prior to the fatal gunshot, and you know the person heard on that tape is not Zimmerman, then it becomes easier to see what happened. Regardless of who threw the first punch, at some point Zimmerman got control of Martin and had him pinned down. From the sound of the voice, it is quite clear that Martin was absolutely terrified, which probably means that he had a gun pointed at him during those 45 seconds. And then the shot rings out, with the finality of an execution. I've listened to the tape many times, and that is what I hear.

I believe that is what the prosecutor heard, too.

I can put together a defense for Zimmerman. It isn't one that allows him to walk free or avoid accountability, but it makes him less than a cold-blooded killer. I've been punched in the head a handful of times in my life, and I've always reacted with unthinking fury. Something just snaps in me and all fear disappears and I fight like mad until its finished. I'm glad that I never had a firearm in those circumstances, because I wasn't acting with even an iota of sense. That could be what happened in this case. The two of them may have come together. Trayvon may have decided that it's always best to get off the first punch. And Zimmerman might have taken a blow and then just went nuts. It fits the description of several witnesses who say that right after the shooting Zimmerman had the look of a man who couldn't believe what he had just done.

Based on the evidence I've seen and the actions of the prosecutor, this is the best case I can make for Zimmerman. He never should have carried a weapon. That's the bottom line.

But, there will probably be a trial. And we'll see if my speculation is more accurate than the stuff these right-wingers are writing.

Booman Tribune / By Booman | Sourced from

Posted at April 12, 2012, 6:52am

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