Monday, July 15, 2013

Majestic Sophistry

So several have asked when I intend to blog about the Zimmerman - Martin issue(s). Rest assured I have blathered and ranted on about it ad infinitum and ad nauseam but the case, the trial and the issues have been far too multi-faceted and dynamic to put to ink before some other fascinating and/or maddening aspect came to light. I have however blasted off several email and twitter screeds to those particular commentators or "experts" who really got my goat. So here is a freshly minted response to Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. Dr. Hill is an extremely talented, erudite, and eloquent spokesman for the perpetual and eloquent intractably wrong. This is in response to Dr. Hills exceptional article "Travon Martin Was Put on Trial,"  found on the blog website: Black (

And my response:

Dr. Hill,

Though there seems no end to the race-baiting leading up to, during, and following the Zimmerman trial I have found you to be the most eloquent orator of straw man arguments that I have encountered in a very long time. Your straw man arguments in your article “Trayvon Martin Was Put on Trial” truly were a masterpiece of sophistry.
First to your statement, “While George Zimmerman entered the courtroom with the constitutionally mandated presumption of innocence, Trayvon Martin was afforded no such luxury in the court of public opinion.” Actually no. Those in the tank for Zimmerman assumed him innocent, while conversely those in the tank for Martin assumed him innocent as well. When speaking of the assumptions of the innocence of Martin I do not mean only in the confrontation but in Zimmerman’s initial assessment of him. Virtually all, including ostensibly the defense team have accepted the assumption that Martin was not casing houses as he walked with Skittles as unassailable fact, regardless of the FACT that no evidence whatsoever exists to either bolster or rebut Zimmerman’s initial suspicions. While it may be outrageous to assume Trayvon was casing houses with some nefarious intent (peeping, burglary, …) absent the least scintilla of evidence of such it is equally outrageous to assume Martin’s absolute innocence of such considering the exact same lack of evidence that he was not. That Martin had Skittles on him proves no more than Mark Chapman having the book “Catcher in the Rye” on him after gunning down John Lennon. What single piece of actual evidence do you have that Martin was not, as Zimmerman actually stated, “Just standing around… staring at all the houses” other than your oft’ stated belief that white people continually wrongly suspect black people solely because their skin color?

Imagine if Zimmerman had not met Martin that night but had rather, on a previous night, met the black youth living in the neighborhood who was arrested for burglarizing homes in that same neighborhood. Imagine if Zimmerman actually witnessed that burglar casing those homes that he intended to later burglarize. Imagine if Zimmerman saw him meandering seemingly without purpose, perhaps on a rainy night when any reasonable person would likely be hurrying somewhere to get out of the rain. Imagine if Zimmerman followed that person with the same result. Imagine if that black youth was returning toward his own home there with Skittles and ice tea from 7-11 while taking the opportunity to also case the houses he would later burglarize as he traveled. Those burglaries would never have occurred and Zimmerman would be on trial while you and others proclaimed this just another outrageous profiling of innocent black youth.  You would, as here, proclaim that a complete lack of evidence for or against innocence to be evidence of innocence.

You and far too many others have put forth the straw man argument of Zimmerman profiling Martin because of his hoodie unchallenged for far too long. While you and these continue to proclaim that Martin’s hoodie was a factor in Zimmerman’s profiling of him there is not the slightest evidence that it was a factor. Whereas Zimmerman described Martin as wearing a “dark hoodie like a gray hoodie, and jeans or sweat pants, and white tennis shoes,” that description was solely in response to the dispatcher asking what he was wearing. Just as NBC outrageously doctored the tape to remove the dispatcher asking Zimmerman’s race you conveniently conflate Zimmerman’s response to a request for clothing description with Zimmerman considering the hoodie as a factor in finding Martin suspicious. While Zimmerman may have thought the hoodie suspicious he never, ever indicated so, and your constant beating of that drum cannot make it so. Zimmerman could very well have had the same idea on hoodies that you do, that hoodies mean nothing suspicious, especially on a rainy night. And yet you continually proclaim as fact that Zimmerman profiled Martin because of his hoodie without the slightest evidence other than your belief that white people inherently find hoodies suspicious when worn by black youths. And how is that not an outrageously bigoted viewpoint?
Your straw man argument in regard to Rachel Jeantel is likewise a brilliant bit of sophistry and rhetorical sleight-of-hand.  While there were legitimate questions of Jeantel’s changing story just as claims of Zimmerman’s changing story the Martin/Jeantel apologists have continually put forth the magnificent sophistry that any challenges to Jeantel’s testimony were simply more white elitist attacks against Jeantel’s intelligence, appearance, and culture. And that bit of rope-a-dope is a time proven tactic of virtually all self-proclaimed victim groups of the last few decades. Now instead of dealing with the merits of the glaring discrepancies, problematic timelines, and newly added facts at trial, those challenging this prosecution witness are instead kept busy defending why they are not just more classic bigots. And this is in spite of the fact that so many Zimmerman apologists have carefully avoided such attacks against Jeantel for this very reason. I really would proclaim you brilliant beyond words in this tactic except that you are not the first to employ this tactic either in this case or myriad other interracial or inter-world-view collisions. You are however, one of if not the most eloquent at it that I have encountered.

And that unfortunately seems to be the fulcrum upon which rests most of contemporary black and white relations today and going forward. Those proclaiming victimhood need only state such allegations and the accused must constantly rush about like the proverbial Dutch Boy with their fingers in the holes in the dike that are never-ending accusations of blatant and disguised bigotry. It really is genius and an enviable position to be able to simply lob accusations and ones opponents must continually scurry about attempting futilely to disprove a negative.

And while you proclaim that Trayvon Martin has not been afforded the luxury of presumption of innocence in the public sphere the facts simply do not bear that out. While there are many who suspect Martin of being a hoodlum there are seeming endless commentators (like yourself), legal experts, black “Leaders,” and throngs of outraged protestors across American cities who have assumed Trayvon Martin innocent of Zimmerman’s suspicions that night without any evidence whatsoever to bolster such assumptions.


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