Obama on the Zimmerman Verdict

 

President Barack Obama’s statement on the acquittal of George Zimmerman:

The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.

First, Martin’s death was a tragedy just as all death is a tragedy, but it was not a specific tragedy for all of America, no more than the death of a child in a car accident in California is a tragedy for people in Montana. No more than the shooting death of a child in Chicago is a tragedy to politicians in Washington, D.C.

Second, the only reason this case “elicited strong passions” is because the media built the stake of racism and President Obama lit the match. Over the last several months, the media, racial activists, legal commentators, and Americans ignorant of the law have stoked the flames.

Third, yes, Mr. President, we are a nation of laws. You would do well to remember that fact when you make appointments like czars outside of the legal process, delay the implementation of laws as in the case of the Affordable Care Act, and ignore rules relating to foreign aid, such as the requirement to cut off money when a democratically elected government has been toppled in a military coup.

Fourth, we should not “ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence.” We should ask one another if we’re doing all we can to raise children who do not resort to violence when they feel disrespected, and we should ask politicians to stop exploiting tragedies to promote gun control legislation, twisting pain and loss into a political agenda.

Finally, collective guilt is as unacceptable as collective redemption. If the president’s call for the prevention of future tragedies is to be taken as he presented it—following a call to “stem the tide of gun violence”—then he thinks Martin’s death could have been prevented if Zimmerman never had a gun.

That’s technically true, obviously. But what Obama and so many others fail to see in this situation (and on the broader issue of gun control) is that if Zimmerman had not had a gun, he might be the one dead today. That’s because Martin attacked him and beat his head repeatedly against the cement. 

As the jury determined, Zimmerman didn’t murder Martin, so he must have acted in self-defense as he claimed. Without a gun to protect himself, he might not be alive today. Would that have been a national tragedy, Mr. President? Would we be spreading collective blame in that situation and calling for collective redemption?

It is not the job of each American to try to prevent tragedies by taking away every American’s Constitutional right to defend themselves. That is not the way to honor Trayvon Martin. The way to honor Martin, to honor anyone who has died, is to show love, grace, and compassion to their families. And, yes, where it is appropriate, to examine the cause and to seek justice if warranted. In this case, the cause was a violent attack by a teenager who chose hostility over communication.

That is a reason to reflect, to examine the state of our culture. But the question of why a young man’s impulse was toward violence and not peace is one that is not being asked. Not by the media or activists or social commentators, and not by the President of the United States. 

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam

    There are two lessons America is taking from this: America is a racist country, and you’re better off just not getting involved in the first place.  We are worse off for both.

    • #1
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    @BlackfordOakes

    Well said, D.C..

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    @MollieHemingway
    D.C. McAllister

    As the jury determined, Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

    Not to be a stickler, but did the jury determine that? It may seem semantic quibbling but the only question before the jury was whether the government made its case against Zimmerman. The jury determined that the government failed to make its case.

    They weren’t asked to determine how or why Zimmerman acted but they had reasonable doubt about the government’s case. It’s a much more limited finding, but it’s the bedrock of our legal system that the burden is on the prosecution.

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    @Antiphon

    Many good points.

    But as someone else pointed out on the site, you missed the Presidents specific use of “a jury” instead of “the jury”. I defer to the speechwriters here (or simply those with better grammar) but I can’t think that this didn’t flip a switch in my brain because this isn’t the way you refer to a jury. To me that use just screams ‘one opinion’, ‘this is not over’, or simply ‘there wasn’t “justice for Trayvon”‘. He acknowledges our laws and in the same sentence, and with a grammatical wave of the hand dismisses their authority.

    But hey, why should we be surprised? When has Obama believed in the law? Obamacare, DOMA, DREAM, etc. seemed to have been passed by “a congress”, not “the Congress”.

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    @MTS
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    D.C. McAllister

    As the jury determined, Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

    Not to be a stickler, but did the jury determine that? It may seem semantic quibbling but the only question before the jury was whether the government made its case against Zimmerman. The jury determined that the government failed to make its case.

    They weren’t asked to determine how or why Zimmerman acted but they had reasonable doubt about the government’s case. It’s a much more limited finding, but it’s the bedrock of our legal system that the burden is on the prosecution. · 3 minutes ago

    My interpretation is that the jury determined that the government could not prove that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Self-defense does have to be a part of the verdict, because I think there was no doubt as to whether Zimmerman actually killed Martin.

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    @KCMulville
    We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this.

    That, in a nutshell, is the folly of liberalism.

    You can’t come up with a group solution to problems that happen between individuals.

    I freely admit that I don’t know what happened on that night in Florida between Martin and Zimmerman. But whatever happened, it was a result of individual decisions made at a particular point in time under particular circumstances. All the group reflection and government programs and national navel-gazing won’t do a damned thing to stop the next situation, because the next situation will be peculiar to that time, those circumstances, and to those people.

    Instead, like it or not, we have to depend on individuals to make prudent decisions.

    This isn’t time for “policy.”

    • #6
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    @DCMcAllister
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    D.C. McAllister: 

    As the jury determined, Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

    Not to be a stickler, but did the jury determine that? It may seem semantic quibbling but the only question before the jury was whether the government made its case against Zimmerman. The jury determined that the government failed to make its case.

    They weren’t asked to determine how or why Zimmerman acted but they had reasonable doubt about the government’s case. It’s a much more limited finding, but it’s the bedrock of our legal system that the burden is on the prosecution. · 5 minutes ago

    I understand what you’re saying, but the defense countered with Self-Defense laws and not Stand Your Ground. Like the defense lawyer himself said, “We had to prove that George Zimmerman was not guilty.” I can rephrase, though, in my post and say something like the jury didn’t find Zimmerman guilty of murder, and the defense, with it’s claim to self-defense, successfully opposed the prosecution. All we have to go on is Zimmerman’s claim to self-defense. That is to be believed until it is proven otherwise.

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    @DocJay

    The president used this for his Narrative. Guns are bad was his closing. White people are bad was his opening.

    • #8
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    @DanielJeyn

    21 people shot in Chicago this weekend.  5 of them died, including 16 year old Joseph Brewer, Jr., who was shot in the BACK.

    There are literally shootings every day in this country that are more unjust than what happened when Trayvon started beating on George Zimmerman.

    Who will remember the name ‘Joseph Brewer, Jr.’ or march for him?  Or any of the thousands and thousands of others?

    I tremble for my country.

    • #9
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    @DCMcAllister
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    D.C. McAllister: 

    As the jury determined, Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

    Not to be a stickler, but did the jury determine that? It may seem semantic quibbling but the only question before the jury was whether the government made its case against Zimmerman. The jury determined that the government failed to make its case.

    They weren’t asked to determine how or why Zimmerman acted but they had reasonable doubt about the government’s case. It’s a much more limited finding, but it’s the bedrock of our legal system that the burden is on the prosecution. · 12 minutes ago

    I think the change from this, “As the jury determined, Zimmerman acted in self-defense” to this might be better: “As the jury determined, Zimmerman didn’t murder Martin, so he must have acted in self-defense as he claimed.”

    • #10
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    @TheMugwump

    The president’s statement is the kind of boilerplate I expect when the administration gets snared by the truth.  He’s calling for calm only because he himself injected race into the incident from the beginning.  He doesn’t want civil disorder to make him look personally culpable.  The generic “gun violence” meme is his way of avoiding the sad truth that most such violence is perpetrated by blacks against blacks.  It’s a shame because as a black man and a father the president is in a unique position to actually do something.  The bromides are merely a tactic to obscure the fact that he doesn’t really care except where such incidents provide a chance to advance his agenda.  The man is both cynical and lazy.   

    • #11
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    @MollieHemingway
    D.C. McAllister

    I understand what you’re saying, but the defense countered with Self-Defense laws and not Stand Your Ground. Like the defense lawyer himself said, “We had to prove that George Zimmerman was not guilty.” I can rephrase, though, in my post and say something like the jury didn’t find Zimmerman guilty of murder, and the defense, with it’s claim to self-defense, successfully opposed the prosecution. All we have to go on is Zimmerman’s claim to self-defense. That is to be believed until it is proven otherwise. · 3 minutes ago

    IANAL (obviously!) but just by way of extreme example, the prosecution could have said Z shot TM in cold blood. Zimmerman’s defense could have been *anything.* That the jury ruled Z not guilty is only a reflection of their view of the prosecution’s case. Z’s defense plays a role in that, but we can’t know what role.

    I’m probably not making sense.

    • #12
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    @DCMcAllister
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    D.C. McAllister

    I understand what you’re saying, but the defense countered with Self-Defense laws and not Stand Your Ground. Like the defense lawyer himself said, “We had to prove that George Zimmerman was not guilty.” I can rephrase, though, in my post and say something like the jury didn’t find Zimmerman guilty of murder, and the defense, with it’s claim to self-defense, successfully opposed the prosecution. All we have to go on is Zimmerman’s claim to self-defense. That is to be believed until it is proven otherwise. · 3 minutes ago

    IANAL (obviously!) but just by way of extreme example, the prosecution could have said Z shot TM in cold blood. Zimmerman’s defense could have been *anything.* That the jury ruled Z not guilty is only a reflection of their view of the prosecution’s case. Z’s defense plays a role in that, but we can’t know what role.

    I’m probably not making sense. · 0 minutes ago

    I’m not a lawyer either. You’re making perfect sense. I hope my edit works. :)

    • #13
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    @Pelayo
    ~Paules: The president’s statement is the kind of boilerplate I expect when the administration gets snared by the truth.  He’s calling for calm only because he himself injected race into the incident from the beginning.  He doesn’t want civil disorder to make him look personally culpable.  The generic “gun violence” meme is his way of avoiding the sad truth that most such violence is perpetrated by blacks against blacks.  It’s a shame because as a black man and a father the president is in a unique position to actually do something.  The bromides are merely a tactic to obscure the fact that he doesn’t really care except where such incidents provide a chance to advance his agenda.  The man is both cynical and lazy.    · 0 minutes ago

    Bill O’Reilly recently stated on his show that 91% of shooting deaths involving black men were cases where the shooter was also black.

    • #14
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    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I am sorry. Am I missing something here? Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman, knocked him down and beat his head into the concrete. That by any definition constitutes an assault, possibly an assault with intent to kill or, at minimum cause grievious physical harm. By any definition of law that makes Trayvon’s behavior criminal. Why should anyone feel the need to honor his memory? When did we start honoring the memory of violent criminals?

    • #15
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    @DCMcAllister
    DocJay: White people are bad was his opening. · 8 minutes ago

    You know what’s ironic is that Obama said that Martin could be his son. But, really, since everyone is describing Zimmerman who is half Hispanic and half White as White, then Obama who is half Black and half White should then be called White. Which means, Zimmerman, not Martin (whose parents are both black) could be Obama’s son or brother more so than Martin. 

    • #16
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    @DCMcAllister
    Eugene Kriegsmann: I am sorry. Am I missing something here? Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman, knocked him down and beat his head into the concrete. That by any definition constitutes an assault, possibly an assault with intent to kill or, at minimum cause grievious physical harm. By any definition of law that makes Trayvon’s behavior criminal. Why should anyone feel the need to honor his memory? When did we start honoring the memory of violent criminals? · 1 minute ago

    I agree. If Zimmerman had not killed Martin, but merely wounded him, Martin would probably be in jail now for assault charges.

    • #17
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    @MollieHemingway
    D.C. McAllister

    I’m not a lawyer either. You’re making perfect sense. I hope my edit works. :)

    No need for an edit for a persnickety reader! This announcement from a juror with a book deal speaks to what I’m saying, though.

    • #18
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    @EugeneKriegsmann

    In my last years of teaching I was attacked from behind by one of my students. He had a diagnosis of Aspergers and a history ( missing from his teacher folder) of assaults on teachers. I was seated at my desk writing an anecdotal record of an incident that student had been involved in just previous to his assault on me. He came behind me, put his left arm around my neck, and began beating me on the right temple with his right fist. According to my classroom aide he landed about 16 punches before I was able to get up, break his hold on my neck, and restrain him. He was 15 years, about 2 inches taller than me, but not nearly as strong as I am, so the contest was in my favor once I realized what was happening. When you   hit in the head, pain is not immediate. What you feel is shock. I ended up with a mild concussion. He was suspended from school for the duration of the year. His intent was to do me serious harm. He wasn’t criminal, just insane. Trayvon was criminal.

    • #19
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    @DCMcAllister
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    D.C. McAllister

    I’m not a lawyer either. You’re making perfect sense. I hope my edit works. :)

    No need for an edit for a persnickety reader! This announcement from a juror with a book deal speaks to what I’m saying, though. · 11 minutes ago

    Are you kidding? A juror with a book deal?! If I were a juror I’d probably change my name not write a book.

    • #20
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    @TheMugwump
    Eugene Kriegsmann: I am sorry. Am I missing something here? Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman, knocked him down and beat his head into the concrete. That by any definition constitutes an assault, possibly an assault with intent to kill or, at minimum cause grievious physical harm. By any definition of law that makes Trayvon’s behavior criminal. Why should anyone feel the need to honor his memory? When did we start honoring the memory of violent criminals? · 13 minutes ago

    The press must maintain the fiction that Trayvon Martin was just child because it serves The Narrative.  Therefore, according to the leftist mindset, somehow justice was thwarted.  The president announced that “a” jury has spoken.  Obama wants his followers to understand that he agrees with them on the verdict, but he wants an end to the ongoing drama.  The administration lost the case; they can’t afford to lose The Narrative as well. 

    • #21
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    @RyanM
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    D.C. McAllister

    As the jury determined, Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

    Not to be a stickler, but did the jury determine that? It may seem semantic quibbling but the only question before the jury was whether the government made its case against Zimmerman. The jury determined that the government failed to make its case.

    They weren’t asked to determine how or why Zimmerman acted but they had reasonable doubt about the government’s case. It’s a much more limited finding, but it’s the bedrock of our legal system that the burden is on the prosecution. · 42 minutes ago

    You mis-quoted, Molly.  She said:

    “As the Jury determined, Zimmerman didn’t murder Martin, so he must’ve acted in self defense.”

    I read that last statement as an assertion of the author, not something attributed to the jury.  Whether he was found not-guilty on that defense doesn’t mean that he couldn’t have claimed it.  The lawyers obviously went with what the though would best win the case.  People are sometimes correct on many fronts, while the jury may only rule on one.

    • #22
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    @RyanM
    M. T. S.

    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    D.C. McAllister

    As the jury determined, Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

    Not to be a stickler, but did the jury determine that? It may seem semantic quibbling but the only question before the jury was whether the government made its case against Zimmerman. The jury determined that the government failed to make its case.

    They weren’t asked to determine how or why Zimmerman acted but they had reasonable doubt about the government’s case. It’s a much more limited finding, but it’s the bedrock of our legal system that the burden is on the prosecution. · 3 minutes ago

    My interpretation is that the jury determined that the government could not prove that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Self-defense does have to be a part of the verdict, because I think there was no doubt as to whether Zimmerman actually killed Martin.

    Self defense is an affirmative defense.  The prosecution is not required to disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt.  Rather, the burden is on the defense (to show self-defense).  Prosecution still must prove intent.

    • #23
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    @RyanM
    D.C. McAllister

    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    IANAL (obviously!) but just by way of extreme example, the prosecution could have said Z shot TM in cold blood. Zimmerman’s defense could have been *anything.* That the jury ruled Z not guilty is only a reflection of their view of the prosecution’s case. Z’s defense plays a role in that, but we can’t know what role.

    I’m probably not making sense.

    I’m not a lawyer either. You’re making perfect sense. I hope my edit works. :)

    Apologies to Molly for my accusations of misquoting…  I didn’t realize there had been an edit.  I like the edit.

    That said, it should be clarified (as I also pointed out in response to MTS) that self-defense is an affirmative defense.  It is not assumed simply by being claimed.  It does not have to be dis-proven; it must be shown by the defense.  I was not following this case so I don’t know what was claimed either way.  My impression was that the prosecution grossly over-charged, and the defense could have won simply by requiring the state to meet its own burden.

    • #24
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    @DutchTex
    Eugene Kriegsmann: I am sorry. Am I missing something here? Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman, knocked him down and beat his head into the concrete. That by any definition constitutes an assault, possibly an assault with intent to kill or, at minimum cause grievious physical harm. By any definition of law that makes Trayvon’s behavior criminal. Why should anyone feel the need to honor his memory? When did we start honoring the memory of violent criminals? · 42 minutes ago

    Depends on who you mean by “we.”  The left honors the memory (or in this case, someone who is still alive) all the time.  Mumia Abu Jamal is one that just popped into my head.  I know there are others…maybe other Ricochetians have a better memory than I?

    • #25
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    @Leigh

    To be honest, I read his statement and thought “it could’ve been worse” and was relieved accordingly.

    • #26
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    @WesternChauvinist
    ~Paules

    Eugene Kriegsmann: 

    The press must maintain the fiction that Trayvon Martin was just child because it servesThe Narrative.  Therefore, according to the leftist mindset, somehow justice was thwarted.  The president announced that “a” jury has spoken.  Obama wants his followers to understand that he agrees with them on the verdict, but he wants an end to the ongoing drama.  The administration lost the case; they can’t afford to loseThe Narrativeas well.

    Agree strenuously with everything you wrote, except I don’t think the Left is all that concerned with losing The Narrative. It’s pretty tough to lose when you’ve got the media watching your back, you’re willfully facile or opportunistic with the truth, and you’ve miseducated the public to such an extent it is incapable of discerning the truth when confronted with the facts. 

    Obama doesn’t have to be all that careful. He just has to be careful enough not to completely expose his contempt for his base.

    • #27
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    @GroupCaptainMandrake
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

     The jury determined that the government failed to make its case.

    I think that the spirit of this is similar to the verdict under Scots law of “not proven”.   It comes with an acquittal but it’s different from “not guilty” which is, of course, also an acquittal verdict.

    • #28
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    @ProudSkeptic

    I’m sure it wasn’t by accident that Obama issued a written statement.  He probably couldn’t have stood in front of people and spoken without revealing his true feelings.  I’m OK with what he said in general.  The one sentence that is extraneous and should have been left out is the one about gun violence.

    I liken this to giving a eulogy at a friend’s funeral…a friend named Joe, who died of a heart attack…and ending it by saying, “And I see that many of you who have come here to show your respects are seriously overweight.  You should learn from Joe’s example and get down to your correct BMI level.”

    Of course, this is probably exactly what Obama would say at a funeral.

    • #29
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    @FloppyDisk90
    Leigh: To be honest, I read his statement and thought “it could’ve been worse” and was relieved accordingly. · 45 minutes ago

    Agreed.  I actually somewhat sympathize with Obama, and all Presidents in general, in these sorts of situations.  No matter what they say, and how bland and neutral they try to be, their words inevitably get semantically picked apart by both sides of the issue.

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