Failing Our Hoodies

[photo: Harlequeen via Flickr]

[photo: Harlequeen via Flickr]

Some of you may have been at Netroots Nation this summer, along with Team Emptywheel. I couldn’t go this year.

I stayed home because my teen son needs more parental guidance right now.

My once-sunny 15-and-a-half year-old who carried As and Bs all through grades K-8 suddenly became a difficult student. He failed a class one term, earned a C in another class; he might have done worse in other classes had I not leveraged threats ranging from dropping sports to elimination of all electronics. He’s going to have to re-take the failed class.

Girls discovered him. I don’t think it was the other way around, having accidentally come across text messages. He began to talk with one girl on a regular basis, bleeding his heart out to her about all the conflicts he used to discuss with me. In her he found a personal fan club; she patted his back about the crap hormonally-overloaded teen boys do to each other, as well as the horrors a “tiger mother” inflicted on her child, especially a parent whose partner is away from home a lot due to the demands of their job. You can imagine some of the dialog:

HE: OMG she made me study all eve i hate her

SHE: poor thing i feel so sorry for you come over and we’ll watch movies

At the same time, my son was burning his candle at both ends. He ran 30 or more miles a week with the cross-country team, attended at least two meets a week, while juggling advanced classes and the girlfriend. It was just too much for him.

Add dramatic growth spurts to this picture; he shot up nearly eight inches inside a year’s time, completely messing with his classmates’ and teachers’ perceptions of him.

I expected the separation between parent and child; distancing is a necessary part of growing up. But the failed grades and a sketchy first-time relationship? Nope. I have to double-down on supervision before he becomes an even more difficult high school sophomore.

He gets moody, takes off and hides out, cellphone in hand at all hours. The moodiness bugs me all to hell; he’s far worse than his older sister ever was. But this is another contributing factor. His sister left for college this year and now all the attention at school and home is on his back with laser-like focus. Because of his track record I need to watch him closely, but appear not to do so at the same time. It’s utterly crazy-making for both of us.

In spite of the painful occasional I-don’t-want-to/Yes-you-are-right-now screaming matches, I’ll be here. I’ll protect him as I guide him, with the help of his teachers and coaches. He may tower over me at nearly six feet, but his brain and nervous system have not caught up. I’m sure his IQ suffered on occasion, mirroring results of studies on teen growth. His frequent clumsiness and poor choices attest to ongoing changes (i.e., not studying, playing video games into the wee hours, eating a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting, so on). He needs me here to make sure he makes it through this last leg of the marathon from birth to adulthood. Just three or four more years of vigilance and he’ll be ready to take on most adult functions by himself.

You’ve got the picture now: pouty, moody, and alone, roaming the neighborhood in the evening, sweatshirt hood up while he’s on his cellphone with his girlfriend. My son is not unlike Trayvon Martin.

Which is why I am absolutely horrified and appalled about the Zimmerman-Martin case.

Who and what was George Zimmerman protecting?

Yes, I’ve read fellow Emptywheeler bmaz’s post about the anticipated verdict. What he says makes sense with regard to evidence and the law.

But what does not make sense to me is how an adult man could shoot a neighbor boy not unlike my own son.

I can’t fathom the thought processes and actions that would lead an adult man to confront a lone teen boy in a manner that would ultimately lead to the boy’s death. If my son were wandering around alone in the evening in my neighborhood, my neighbors would watch him at a careful distance. They might call the cops if they didn’t recognize him. If they knew who he was, I might get a visit from a neighborhood association board member if they were worried about a pattern of behavior.

How could anything my son ever do potentially lead to a gunshot and death, though?

He’s still legally a child. Our society has agreed that persons under the age of 18 cannot make informed decisions for themselves, unable to affirm contracts

Which brings me again to George Zimmerman, the adult present that fateful night, the person who should have been able to make mature decisions. As far as I can tell, he made bad ones, several times. I concur with Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim, that Zimmerman could have made different, better decisions.

But the worst decision Zimmerman made Grim did not mention. Zimmerman chose not to protect a teen neighbor boy; he chose instead to protect…

Well, what?

Isn’t a neighborhood watch supposed to watch the neighborhood, in order to protect it?

Wasn’t Trayvon Martin one of the neighbors’ kids. who lived in the neighborhood?

Why didn’t this boy, so like my own, get protection by the neighborhood watch?

Why did the adult in this case — one who isn’t supposed be suffering from hormonal overloads, requisite teen and/or family drama, and too much sugar — make such awful choices?

The law may have found for Zimmerman, but I cannot. He is an adult, believed to be the mature, level-headed person making sound decisions that night. A man who should have listened carefully to the dispatcher and respected their feedback about not following Trayvon Martin.

Here, though, is the problem with our culture, our society. It’s the underlying reason why Washington Post’s Richard Cohen is permitted a pulpit to write about “the death of a young man understandably suspected because he was black.”

We’re failing our youth. Men like Zimmerman believe that teen boys, particularly those of color, do not need protection. They don’t see them as neighbors or children of their village. These men swing their guns as proxies of their manly dicks, choosing not to be paternal or neighborly, but hostile and confrontational in both words and acts. Boys in their freshly-spun adult bodies, still operating with minds of children, are to be seen as the enemy, not coached or parented but accosted and assaulted.

We don’t hold these same men accountable for failing as the protective guides our sons and daughters alike need during their katabasis, the challenging, adrift time between childhood and adulthood when our progeny must delaminate from parents and build new identities as functional adults.

I could dig more deeply into the issue of race, but the problem is bigger than race alone. The same misguided attitude toward our youth has encouraged so many teen boys to access weapons before they are mature enough to make informed decisions. Years later I still cannot imagine how Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold could amass so many weapons without notice by parents and other adults before they shot up Columbine High School and themselves. How many times since then have we read other stories about teens arming themselves before threatening, hurting, or killing others? Why did these children in adults’ bodies feel they needed to acquire arms and attack others?

Did they feel unprotected?

How many times have we heard of rapes by youth of this same age, too? Often unarmed violence, but violence all the same — yet no parent or other adult saw any of these hostile acts brewing? With respect to rape, girls may more often be the disposable victim though rape affects both genders. I’m only surprised Richard Cohen hasn’t written about the Steubenville case as “the rape of a young woman understandably targeted because she was female.”

In Steubenville, the football coach and other adult members of the community rallied behind and supported the football players accused of rape in spite of video evidence. Worse, a coverup of the crime may have been attempted, fortunately thwarted by Anonymous hacking and leaking of materials germane to the case.

Why wasn’t the first reaction on the part of the football coach and other adults to call the cops and care for the victim?

Who or what were these adults really protecting?

Certainly not the victim; she was just another disposable teen.

We’re failing. It’s gone on for far too long, becoming a kaiju of epic proportions given the number of injured, dead, and raped teens every year.

Trace line of thought a bit farther and it’s not impossible to imagine that every atrocity committed by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, even domestic spying by the NSA, may be a result of this same pervasive problem. Unprotected youths turned into disaffected adults.

Think about it: an at-risk, unprotected generation shaped by years of violent video games, encouraged by our culture to be gun-toting dick-swingers, acting out of self-interest alone, without a proper sense of who or what they are really supposed to protect — then armed to the teeth with guns, or keyboards and software.

Imagine the disposable victims, understandably targeted…when does it end?

47 replies
  1. posaune says:

    Quite simply: TPTB and many others do … not … care …. about … children. period. or the next generation. It’s evident in soooo many ways: cutting Head Start, cutting housing subsidies (paying $4K/month to a shelter operator instead of helping a family with rent), cutting recreation budgets, social services, social workers, good quality day care and on and on. The message is that children are nothing.
    And now we see it in clear view.

  2. Rayne says:

    @posaune: Yes. Fatalities among children due to violence alone are more numerous every year than those on 9/11, but they just don’t count. We’ll spend billions on national security after 9/11, though; we’ll pay for them by cutting funding for education and food stamps.

  3. john francis lee says:

    “the death of a young man understandably suspected because he was black.” Wow. At least they wear their racism on their sleeve. You can cross the street when you see them coming.

    Like Abdel-Rahman Awlaki was “understandably suspected because he was Muslim.” No time for suspicions … or secretly gratified by them? They give you your chance to act out your innermost, most twisted desires. Abdel-Rahman’s murderer walked too. Wiping a crocodile tear for Trayvon from his eye as did so.

    I don’t know about Trayvon’s murderer, but Abdel-Rahman’s murderer is definitely going to kill again. He picks his victims every Tuesday.

    As POTUS, he’s the role model for all the George Zimmermans of the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  4. Greg Bean (@GregLBean) says:

    Rayne, I enjoy your posts, but as a 60 year old grandfather I’d like to suggest you may want to let go a bit.

    “I stayed home because my teen son needs more parental guidance right now.” Perhaps an alternative would be to buy him a GreyHound pass and tell him to go see America. If you’ve taught him well he will come back refreshed and ready to buckle down, if not he will come back mature and confident that he can take on the world and his parents respect his maturity.

    Your personal situation was not really about you, or your son, it was about how we are failing or children. I hear you. But failure is not about too little parenting, quite the opposite, it is about too much parenting and too little demanding independence, pushing them out of the nest.

    The issue is not created by lack of attention, but lack of demand that they be self-sufficient and wholly responsible.

    Have you considered providing less guidance and demanding they take more responsibility, earn their keep, pay their way, act like adults…. how else will they understand that is what we expect of them?

    BTW, my children call me the stupid-old-man, so I claim not to have all the answers, but I suspect their independence and their self assurance is not because I held their hand, though I was, and am still, always there, but because I pushed them to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes.

    I have a great quote from a song by Jim Carroll, it goes, “it is no contribution, to rely on the institution, to validate your chosen art, to sanction your boredom, to let you play out your part”.

    Teach him to pursue his dreams, make his own breaks, strive for his own goals, and you will have done much more than anything you can achieve by beating him up for not measuring up to a failing education system.

    But what do I know. :-)

  5. 1970cs says:

    1)Isn’t a neighborhood watch supposed to watch the neighborhood, in order to protect it?

    In a word, no. In New Jersey a person will get more time for arson than murder.

    2)Why didn’t this boy, so like my own, get protection by the neighborhood watch?

    If you truly believe that this is the function of the neighborhood watch or the police, it is time grow up and face a different reality. I have no doubt you have the best interests of your children at heart, others do not.

    The thinking behind this post very much unsettled me this morning.

  6. Rayne says:

    @john francis lee: Can you imagine Cohen’s reaction had he read an article including the phrase, “the death of a young man understandably suspected because he was Jewish”? Jeebus, what a stunning lack of introspection on his part. And his conflation of urban violence with what happened in a gated community in Sanford FL, population 54,000? Utterly ridiculous.

    @Greg Bean (@GregLBean): Thanks, but I’ll pass on the advice. As a 50-something year old, I’m no spring chicken. I’ve raised a 32 year-old stepson in addition to my two younger kids. We gave the first two their freedom; the first is permanently disabled but owns his own home, the second is doing fine but she still needs the assurance of a safety net which she is free to ask for as she desires. The third is his own person with his own needs, just as the first two were; what worked for them will not work for him. Do not presume to know my son or my household’s circumstances based on this brief peek I’ve offered below the tent flap. You don’t know at all what has been done to encourage the development of my son or his siblings. They get far, FAR more encouragement than the average child does in this country.

    I’m pretty sure, too, you don’t realize that giving a high school kid freedom as you described would earn a parent some jail time in many states.

    At the same time, I’m also certain you do not realize how very neglectful the average parent has become. I’m the parent my daughter’s friends came to because their own parents “gave them the freedom” to explore sex without ever talking to them about birth control or sexually transmitted diseases. It absolutely fucking boggles my mind that parents actively or neglectfully choose not to talk about sex AT ALL with their kids. Who are they protecting? Their own delicate sensitivities? This is an entire generation whose parents believe that their kids will simply get everything they need from the internet if they didn’t get it from public education.

    Utter bullshit. That’s why I ended up coaching my daughter about non-consensual sex after a drunken classmate had been assaulted. The girls’ first response on their friend’s behalf was where to find Plan B — not whether to take her to the ER, not whether she was screened for STDs. This is what happens when parents don’t actually parent. The perp refused to pay for Plan B, by the way. That’s all they got out of him.

    But hey, he was free. Yay freedom.

    And in the same episode I see Steubenville. The same inappropriate responses, at teens’ level. “Let’s make sure our boys remain free to play football,” in a nutshell. Sickening.

    Kids have had entirely too much freedom of the wrong kind. Not enough responsibility or accountability, not enough analytical thinking demanded of them for their entire K-12+ education. More importantly, their parents haven’t expected the same of themselves, chucking their kids out the door unprepared for real life, giving them freedom without the tools to handle it.

    No wonder at all why there are so many dead teens and young adults, so many unplanned, illegitimate pregnancies.


    @1970cs: I can’t help but think of the Geico ad with the pig on the airplane. Seriously, you didn’t just say that, did you?

    There’s something ridiculously wrong when a person’s life is worth less than commercial property.

    There’s something insanely wrong about a neighborhood watch when the adults believe private property is more valuable than the children who live within it.

    But no, I’m the one you believe is jacked up.

    You should be unsettled–very, very unsettled, because your values are wacked.

    And I’m not the one who needs to grow up; I’m pretty certain you’ll feel a lot more comfortable during illness or your dotage being cared for by my adult children than by someone like George Zimmerman. They’ll actually care about YOU, not your damned car or your bloody domicile, or their own guns.

    Jeebus, this country is so fucked.

  7. Kathryn in MA says:

    There is a meme floating around Facebook saying, “What if Zimmerman offered Trayvon a ride home to get out of the rain?”

  8. 1970cs says:

    Rayne, I didn’t write or say I supported the fucking law, merely pointing out that the law, much like your judgement is a bit askew.

    But never mind, just stick your head back in the parental fantasy land that you inhabit.

  9. Rayne says:

    @Kathryn in MA: Yeah. I sure hope somebody would do that for my kid.

    @1970cs: You did say this, yes?

    If you truly believe that this is the function of the neighborhood watch or the police, it is time grow up and face a different reality.

    Perhaps you should mind where your own head may be located. It’s probably with your manners.

  10. 1970cs says:

    @Rayne: Attacking me personally doesn’t change the fact that you believe the purpose of a neighborhood watch is to protect your kids. I go back to what I said originally, grow up.

  11. SpanishInquisition says:

    The problem was that Zimmerman was overcharged where at best given the available evidence and the laws in Florida, he could have maybe been found guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter. Florida basically lets anyone carry a concealed weapon plus there’s no duty to retreat and that just asks for trouble. There was many things Zimmerman should have done differently, but legally speaking the law there allows for that. I see this the same way if the scenario was reversed and Martin had killed Zimmerman…the evidence and the law just don’t support charging Murder or Voluntary Manslaughter.

    The recommended policy for Neighborhood Watch volunteers is to call the cops and leave it at that. However, this recommendation is not a law. Zimmerman was armed and didn’t follow the recommended NW policy, but Zimmerman is allowed to do that. I can see Zimmerman losing a civil Wrongful Death lawsuit because the burden of proof is both lower in civil court and the charge itself is less than what he was tried for. This really isn’t about youth in particular as Concealed Carry and Stand Your Ground affect everyone.

  12. bittersweet says:

    I can not help thinking that the commenters that are attacking you…are men. Those agreeing with you seem to be women.
    Men for the most part make the laws, and “man” the neighborhood watch. Many, especially those in older generations, have left the nurturing and raising of the children to the women, then swept in once and awhile to criticize, and try to paint a rosy picture of their own selfish neglect. These fathers do NOT stay home from “business” conferences, or “business” dinners, or “business” golf dates, because you know, “business”. And you know, “Father knows best”!
    Stick to your values, and tell these commenters that they are part of the problem, not the solution. Just because this is the approach they took, does not mean it was the most effective.
    What if Zimmerman had opened his car door and offered Trayvon a ride home? Indeed! This breaks my heart.

  13. P J Evans says:

    I read your first comment and was appalled.
    I’m older than Rayne and I don’t have kids.
    But I have nieces and nephews with young children, and some of them are not white. I worry about my family more than real estate.

  14. 1970cs says:

    @P J Evans: The point of my comment “that a person will serve more time for arson than murder”, is to point out how absurd and backwards the priorities are, christ, is it that difficult.

    My pissed off reaction to Rayne has everything to do with that in a country that has turned to full blown fascism and the security industrial complex turned on it’s own population, she believes in the need to inform the world that a neighborhood watch, with it’s origins in denunciations of fellow citizens to the Gestapo, should be the people watching out for her kids.

    If that appalls you, I’m sorry, but I’m not taking anything back.

  15. Desider says:

    @Rayne: Uh, Rayne – my kid is worth more than someone else’s property. Someone else thinks their kid is worth more than my property. Come to think of it, many people think their kids are worth more than my kids. But I’m sorry – I don’t want my car or house or my family inside as part of your kid’s growing up experience. (this is part hyperbole – if our kids play together, they may share good times & bad, but nope, not for strangers learning the ropes – you did see the testimony by the woman who hid in the bathroom with her young child while an intruder rattled the door – does that affect your view of “property vs. life”?)
    Still, this is all a strawman. Nowhere did anyone show that Zimmerman set out to kill a kid – he was just trying to keep the delinquent ones out of garages and homes. I’m glad you have the sense that more freedom isn’t the obvious cure for your son’s pubescence. After 3 suspensions, Trayvon’s father didn’t seem to see it that way either – note Trayvon was a guest, not a resident, and mostly to keep him out of trouble in Miami – oops, profiling by his father? At the same time, if your son knocks up a minor, are you going to excuse him? If Trayvon takes a swing at an adult, what the hell’s he thinking?
    White kids get followed through stores all the time, suspected of stealing. Cute girls get stared out and followed around all the time, as do stars by paparazzi. They usually don’t punch out their “stalkers”.
    [If you think Zimmerman threw the first punch, well, consider he knew the police were on their way – he’d called them – it wouldn’t make too much sense, vs. just keeping an eye on where Martin went]
    Kids are suspect because they do dumb things, especially during puberty. A lot of grownups are nice, give kids a second chance when they’re caught shoplifting, doing drugs, getting in fights or involved in gangs, driving drunk, etc. But it doesn’t always happen that way, life isn’t always forgiveness. Or sometimes the dumb thing is a fatal car wreck from speeding – taking the kid & others.
    In the case of the football players, some people thought they should do a favor to them, get past a dumb move. But where did that forgivenes leave the girl? She was a victim – they molested her on Facebook of all the ignominy with a ton of stupid insults to follow her around – but she also did a very dumb thing – get blackout drunk around a bunch of pubescent males. As Sabrina noted, “what the hell was she thinking?” Yet that girl got a teensy bit “lucky” – she could have blacked out in the road and gotten run over – who to blame then? – she could have gotten brutally raped and pregnant, etc. It’s not PC to dig into the alternatives, but it’s true to life.
    There’s a lot of stupidity out there, not all of it with a do-over. I think Zimmerman felt remorse from the beginning for what he’d done, and he seems to be stupid about how he followed (he could have easily gotten killed with a serious criminal ambushing him), but at the same time, if I were a guest in a complex and someone was following me, I’d either get the fuck where I was going quick or talk to the guy in a well-lit space about what the issue was. But I’m white and I’ve never noted people with authority being that nice. I had a cop run into my car and break my light one time – he told me if I wanted to do anything about it, he’d have to write me a ticket for “destroying city property”. I had an unmarked cop follow me for blocks and then pull me over because I had long hair in a beat up car. “Why’d you pull me over?” “we were looking for someone – now get out of here”. Charming. If people think all this is about racism, they haven’t been paying attention.

  16. Desider says:

    @bittersweet: Bittersweet, if one of these intruders gets in your house, you’ll likely be shaking for weeks. If they harm one of your kids, it’ll be much more unsettling. I don’t know that this is such a male vs. female thing, though often males get the defense role. Women often get the nurturing health roles along with the back-breaking grinding just-do-everything-around-the-house roles. Not sure where to go with this, but my mom has a gun for intruders whether they’re 17 or 35. Don’t think I’d trust her human compassion nor her shaky aim.

  17. geoschmidt says:

    You are an intelligent and involved parent. In my little view, as I recall high school, and the meltdown that happened to me, I would say push the sports and lighten up on the acedemics. He will pick up enough through osmosis from you anyway, and sports is where development is real and now is the time.

    I recommend Frank McCourt’s bood “Tis'” and another NYC retired teacher who writes meanfully about the role and history of the American school system and its origins and true aims…John Taylor Gatto: “Dumbing Us Down”.

  18. Don midwest says:

    Rayne: There have been many cases of ADD when people reached a certain age and the wheels fell off. It can happen in college. It can happen in High School.

    I mention this as something to look into.

    You could start with the literature with books like “Driven to Distraction.

    If this is a possibility, ask around for a recommended counselor or physician. ADD in itself is a complex condition and a person can have other conditions at the same time and some one who paints by numbers might not the right solution.

    Good luck,

  19. omphaloscepsis says:

    Perhaps what Cohen meant to say in his column was “unsurprisingly” rather than “understandably”. But under deadline pressure, he typed the first “un” word that popped into his head.

    Since the overall theme of this post is parenting — and beyond that, family — it’s unsurprising that there is so much back-biting in the comments. After all, in Tolstoy’s words, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

    If we accidentally see our kids’ text messages, what if they should stumble upon our web posts in Comment sections?


  20. bittersweet says:

    I am talking about parenting, not guns or crime.
    Hang in there with your son. He needs you. When I was 16, I had a mother that decided to spend the summer with her boyfriend instead of at home with me; my father had died when I was 11. I never did any homework. I barely got into college by remembering classroom content. I nearly failed out of college when a friend died in a motorcycle accident. Faced with real failure, I grew up overnight, went back, got straight A’s and had a very successful career. Point being, I needed a Mother, at the time she needed to be a teenager.
    I remember the violent hate that swept through me when my Mom asked me to stop watching T.V and do a chore. There is no cure for that hormonal rage. I also remember that she took it personally when I wouldn’t get up. It was a battle of ego. How dare I defy her, the adult? Sigh.
    I spent years afterward wishing she had known how to parent me. I fantasized that she should have sat down with me as I got home and helped with my homework. That she had taught me to do it before I played, so that I developed those skills. I remember distinctly how shocked I was when I started doing homework in college, how drastically easier it was to just do it, than to spend every waking hour terrified that I would not get it done, guilty of my failure.
    Anyway, hang in there. You sound like a terrific Mom. 3 years goes really fast!

  21. seedeevee says:

    “But what does not make sense to me is how an adult man could shoot a neighbor boy not unlike my own son.”

    Ask any cop what gives them the right to murder you if you do not comply to orders or “pose a threat” to them and you will get the reason why Zimmerman made his choice . . .

    They feel their life is worth more than yours.

    But I gotta call “bullshit” on “unprotected generation shaped by years of violent video games . . .” You are showing your age by bringing up an easily laughed at accusation. Can’t blame Comic books anymore?

  22. Desider says:

    @bittersweet: sorry if I got the context wrong. yes, parenting is tough, much is irrational and we’re fighting our own imbalances while trying to treat our kids’.

  23. Bay State Librul says:

    I agree with your assessment
    Thanks for sharing your personal view.
    in my opinion, the legal system failed. They said basically that it was justifiable homicide.
    it was a homicide, but not justifiable.
    The law is not color blind. Race played a factor

  24. Christian G. says:

    “A man who should have listened carefully to the dispatcher and respected their feedback about not following Trayvon Martin.”

    It is my understanding that this did in fact happen according to one of the accounts, and bmaz seems to think this is born out by the evidence, according to a comment I’ve seen in the other thread.

  25. cregan says:

    First, for your own son, I’d say don’t over react. I’ve seen it, happened with my son and daughter. But, they do come back–unless you over react. Lasts a few years. Be supportive.

    Regarding Trayvon, why has no one said this Why didn’t Trayvon simply tell Zimmerman he didn’t like him following him and to knock it off? Why did he have to punch him? Why did he have to jump on him? There is no evidence that Zimmerman did anything but follow Trayvon before that punch.

    There was a guy here in my town who had a run in with a gang member. He confronted him and mouthed off to him. The gang member, and his friends, then jumped him and that was that. They shouldn’t have killed him, but had he not confronted them and made the obvious mistake of mouthing off, he’d be alive.

    As Little Bill in “Unforgiven” asked, “Innocent of what?”

    Once you start banging someone’s head against the concrete, all bets are off. Unless, you think that the person who head is being banged should just let the person continue to bang their head.

  26. P J Evans says:

    Why was Zimmerman following him to begin with?
    Couldn’t he have spoken to Martin first?
    Did he say or do something that could have been hostile?
    We don’t know, because Martin is dead, and Zimmerman had more than one version of what happened.

    When your base assumption is that Zimmerman was telling the truth, you lose sight of the fact that he killed a 17-year-old-kid who was minding his own business.

  27. bmaz says:

    See Something, Say Something is a DHS led government wide slogan

    Insider Threats Program

    Paranoia, watching and snitching is the new paradigm. Hell, Zimmerman was ahead of his time. Problem is distrust in one’s neighbors, fellow citizens and co-workers breed all types of societal ills. It is not healthy, but it is a predictable outcome from the “War On Terror”. We have become terrified.

  28. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Hopey Changey – and the surveillance state he happily supports – seems to be doing everything he can, except in the odd speech, to persuade us to treat everyone as a potential threat: fellow workers, commuters, and users of public spaces, even family members. Surveillance ueber alles. Neighbors, hawk-eyed-Iowans included, are as old hat as Meredith Wilson and the Fourth Amendment.

  29. Bill Michtom says:

    @1970cs: First, support this claim: “neighborhood watch, with it’s origins in denunciations of fellow citizens to the Gestapo.”

    Second, neighborhood watch is explicit about not carrying weapons and not engaging with a “suspect”, both of which Zimmerman did. He’s a vigilante, not a neighborhood watcher. If his neighbors think he’s doing right by them, they must think vigilantes are doing the right thing.

  30. greengiant says:

    Nice to try to have a constructive post without politicizing or demonizing either Martin or Zimmerman.
    I have been told not to use the term “neighborhood watch” in this case. Two different spokespeople disowned Zimmerman from such groups on TV the other day. Some neighborhood programs are to have signs on doors so that latchkey kids can have a refuge if they need it. Others are do nothing, just report property crimes and “suspicious” people.
    I’m not sure about Zimmerman’s gated community, but others have no public property and they post no trespassing signs so that even random joggers and walkers don’t end up tripping on a crack and suing them. I guess all of these owner associations specifically do not condone any confrontations in their name. To give some thought to what has going on. A justification agenda is kind of pointless after this tragedy.
    The Clinton administration had volunteer responder program that some viewed as a catastrophe response program and others viewed as list of government “helpers”. How many people remember Nixon’s enemy list and know people who were on it? How many people know of how the FBI went out and got people fired from their jobs? Ever take a loyalty oath as part of your job, not now, never have been a member of the communist party …?
    If you can not trust your neighbors to have guns then what kind of life is that? In the last hour I have heard about 100 rounds. On the other side a lot of kids are getting killed by gun cleaners, quick draw artists, law enforcement persons not locking their car or home gun safe, and other kids. And my aunt did have a round hit her house.

  31. geoschmidt says:


    Really good point you make there Professor! If I could condense it down to some of the terms, it is: “Social Atomization.”

    And no you ain’t got to be no rocket engineer to get it… the powers such as… (Such as such as, Such Ass…!)

    Remember that North Carolina star/emblematic?

    Atomization! IE: everbody is just one singleton a-hole, and they tend to not relate or trust any other.

    Social Atomization was the aim, and that’s way back, I started reading about it, when I started reading. after I got canned from high school. Well to give it a little background, you will remember when they cleaved the women from the men with the cigarrette deal? (“You came a long way Babbe… ‘smoke a cig, tell them men to go check themselves!”)

    Hense: Broke down the family, and it went on and on, but the real thing is, that all of the things that were human, and things that made human life possible, now, these are under readvisement as: “Not proffitable!

    So… See, it is going toward something worse than 1984 the book, it is going toward something really more Apocolyptic, because in the coming time, … I don’t have any point to make, I got stranded… haha.

  32. cregan says:

    @P J Evans:

    First, there is no law against following people. There is a law against punching them in the nose.
    Could he have spoken to Martin first? I suppose, except Martin confronted him first. He wasn’t bothering him in any way except following him. He wasnt harassing him, impeding his progress, anything.
    Trayvon’s friend did not report hearing anything hostile from GZ. Do you have the right to punch someone if you don’t like the way they look at you?
    Zimmerman had the same, basic version of events from day one. A few minor details might have some variation, but the basic version is the same.
    I don’t call pounding someone’s head into concrete minding your own business. Or punching them in the nose if they have not thrown a punch at you.

    The fact is, the story was originally reported as “White man shoots black teenager while he was walking through a gated community.” Translating to, “A black teenager was simply waling through a neighborhood of gated mansions when a rich white guy shot as he was simply walking along.”

    When the “gated community turned into a working class group of town homes, and the rich white guy turned into a working class hispanic, and the teenager was on top of the hispanic beating him up, the news media and parts of the public stuck with the original outline because it made a better story.

    Since Trayvon’s friend also told Anderson Cooper on Monday that she told Trayvon on the phone that she thought GZ was “that way…” and maybe out to rape him, who knows if Trayvon didn’t punch GZ because he simply thought he was gay.

    Again, I didn’t say GZ was “that way…” or that he might rape Trayvon, that is Rachael J. told Cooper.

  33. David Closs says:

    george zimmerman may have made a bad choice or 3 that night, but he broke no laws and did nothing wrong.

    trayvon tried to kill a man, and he made the mistake of trying to kill someone that could fight back. He paid for his stupidity with his life.

  34. cregan says:

    @Bay State Librul:

    Quite a fact free post you had there.

    Which was bullshit?

    1. GZ did nothing more than follow Trayvon before TM punched him?
    2. Punching someone in the face is against the law?
    3. Had TM simply told GZ he didn’t like him following him and “don’t” he would never have been shot?
    4. GZ had injuries of broken nose and banged head?
    5. This is a clear case of a hispanic/Black encounter that has nothing to do with White/Black? (OK, if you are willing to call Obama White/African American and not the first black President, then, I’ll concede that point)
    6. Rachael J. said she told Trayvon that GZ was “that way…” and a rapist? (sorry, that is on video tape, so no doubt).

    Really though, it would not matter what the facts were, you’d believe what you believe and there is no changing your mind. There could be a clear video with audio showing GZ’s account is correct and you would still believe what you believe. You got sucked in by the “rich white guy shoots black kid as he was simply walking through a gated community,” and you won’t let it go.

    But, you aren’t alone.

  35. Bay State Librul says:

    Thanks. I’ll keep it simple without the legal mumbo-jumbo.
    Who began the chase?
    If you we’re the defense counsel what would be your theory.
    Self defense.
    Who shot who?
    Who had the gun?
    I rest my case.
    Simple Don’t complicate the chain of events with the defendant ‘s alibi to escape culpability

  36. JoeP says:

    “Men like Zimmerman believe that teen boys, particularly those of color, do not need protection.” —- what kind of TRASH is this?!? How could the author POSSIBLY know what George Zimmerman thinks about teen boys of color? I cannot believe that this kind of crap is being thrown-up on emptywheel and it’s disgusting!

  37. JoeP says:

    @David Closs: Well said, David, and none of the race-baiting, delinquent-apologists who want desperately to excuse or justify Trayvon Martin’s criminal behavior can negate the fact that he is dead because he criminally assaulted George Zimmerman, who had the right – and the means – to defend the very life he feared for: his own!

  38. Rangoon78 says:

    “I can’t fathom the thought processes and actions that would lead an adult man to confront a lone teen boy in a manner that would ultimately lead to the boy’s death.” Evidently it was Trayvon who confronted Zimmerman. Read Bmaz or Jerilyn’s accounts of the chronology.

  39. fritter says:

    So your son starts acting like a teenager and its Zimmerman’s fault for not getting beat to death? Really.

    “Imagine the disposable victims, understandably targeted…when does it end?”

    Its like people can’t see stuff from other peoples side. Like they can’t imagine what those disposable kids go through. they get all analytical trying to justify stuff. I’m losing control of my kid and I think its all somehow related cause people out there won’t take the time to put themselves in other peoples shoes. Just like the author won’t do with Zimmerman.

    Cut your kid some slack. It may be your a control freak that is part of his behavior. You can’t expect him to start acting like an adult until you start treating him like one. A lot of things are outside of your control, scary though they may be, that doesn’t make them wrong.

  40. geoschmidt says:

    Rayne, I see you are online, see, … Little nobody me, I shouldn’t even be allowed to post anything, hey I aint’t no wonderfull Colleege guy,, And tell you this, I contribute to bloggs, and hell! like some of them banned me from commenting: IE: FDL: the estimal… Geoshmoe… banned. I axed them why, no answer!

    Oh by the way, Rayne, I said something yesterday, like something like: use more word economy. I stand by that, not that you are any real abuse of the freedom to pile on words.

  41. geoschmidt says:

    @geoschmidt: I have a lot of respect and admiration for the snippets and comments from the likes of EoH… tell you this: I might be drunk, I think that that is sort of OK, but I do know better in my own estimation, and to tell you one more thing: don’t be one of those who throw out the babe with the water: IE/RE: Please consider before you jump. It might be that somebody is somebodies… Mother! Like the Duck?

    I don’t know if there would be any audience for the genius of Vaudeville, in these times…

Comments are closed.