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To Whom Is George Zimmerman a Hero? And Why?

 
 
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 06:55 am

To Whom Is George Zimmerman a Hero? And Why?

By Jay Livingston • March 25, 2014 • 2:00 PM

The narrative of righteous slaughter.


George Zimmerman was signing autographs at a gun show in Orlando recently. Only 200 showed up for the meet-and-greet, but Zimmerman has many supporters around the country, and, as Jonathan Capeheart says:

This leads to what should bean inevitable question: Who are these people glorifying the killer of an unarmed teenager in one of the most racially polarized incidents in recent history?

I keep wondering how Jonathan Haidt—with his theory of the differing values of liberals and conservatives—would explain this embrace of Zimmerman. The liberal reaction presents no problems. Haidt says that liberal morality rests on two principles:

Care/Harm
Fairness/Cheating

Killing someone certainly qualifies as harm, and, almost literally, getting away with murder is not fair.

The Zimmerman side is that he shot in self-defense. That argument persuaded the jury, or at least created sufficient reasonable doubt. But it doesn’t explain why some people on the right see him as a hero. What moral principle does he represent?

In Haidt’s schema, conservatives take harm and fairness into account but balance them with three others:

Loyalty/Betrayal
Authority/Subversion
Sanctity/Degradation

(A sixth foundation—liberty/oppression—underlies both the liberal and conservative side.)

It’s hard to see how any of these describe the autograph-seekers. What else might explain that reaction?

The obvious candidate is racism. If the races had been reversed—if a black man had confronted a white teenager, killed him, and then been acquitted on self-defense grounds—would the left have hailed him as a hero? I doubt it. Would those same autograph hounds in Orlando have sought him out? I doubt it. And if black people had then turned out to get his autograph, can you imagine what the reaction on the right would have been?

But it’s not just racism. It’s a more general willingness to do harm, great harm, to those who “deserve” it. The liberal view (harm/care) is that while in some circumstances killing may be necessary or inevitable, it is still unfortunate. But over on the right, killing, torture, and perhaps other forms of harm are cause for celebration, so long as these can be justified. In 2008, Republicans cheered Sarah Palin when she stood up for torture. In 2011, they cheered Rick Perry for signing death warrants for record numbers of executions. When Wolf Blitzer hypothesized about a young man who had decided not to buy medical insurance but now lay in the ICU, and asked “Should we let him die?” several people in the Republican audience enthusiastically shouted out, “Yes.”

My guess as to the common thread here is a dimension Haidt doesn’t include as a foundation of morality: boundary rigidity. In earlier posts, I referred to this, or something similar, as “tribalism.”

Morality is not some abstract universal that applies to all people. Tribal morality divides the world into Us and Them. What’s moral is what’s good for Us. This morality does not extend to Them.

Could it be that as you get farther out on the right, you find more people whose boundaries are more rigid? They are the hard liners who draw hard lines. Once those lines are drawn, it’s impossible to have sympathy—to extend care—to someone on the other side. If you imagine that you live in a world where an attack by Them is always imminent, defending those boundaries becomes very important.

That seems to be the world of the gun-rights crowd lionizing Zimmerman. Their cherished scenario is the defense of boundaries against those who are clearly not Us. They stand their ground and defend themselves, their families, their houses and property, even their towns and communities. It is a story they never tire of, repeated time after time in NRA publications. Zimmerman is a hero because his story, in their view, embodies the narrative of righteous slaughter.

This post originally appeared on Sociological Images, a Pacific Standard partner site, as “To Whom Is George Zimmerman a Hero? And Why?”
Jay Livingston
Jay Livingston is the chair of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 11 • Views: 14,191 • Replies: 309

 
Frank Apisa
 
  3  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 07:36 am
@bobsal u1553115,
To Whom Is George Zimmerman a Hero?

To the very sick...to the hate-filled mentally disturbed.



Why?

Because they are sick...because they are hate-filled and mentally disturbed.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 07:36 am
@Frank Apisa,
Just a guess, of course!
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 06:54 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Accurate enough.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 07:34 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
He is a very decent, selfless, thoughtful citizen of Florida.
We are all safer as a result of his ministrations.
He shud have better advice qua his choice of defensive weapons, tho.





David
bobsal u1553115
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 08:07 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
He's a murdering rat bastard. He'll kill again.
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 08:16 pm
Stand your ground is specifically designed as a legal means to kill off young black men, without admitting motive.
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 02:40 am
@bobsal u1553115,
bobsal u1553115 wrote:
He's a murdering rat bastard. He'll kill again.
1. He 's a man, not a rat; DNA will prove that.
IF he had been a rat,
then he wud not have been able to operate a pistol and the evil wud have lived.
2. His parents were married; he 's no bastard; u lied, as a true liberal.
3. If he keeps killing dangerous criminals,
then we citizens of Florida will have a lot more to be grateful
to him for, in terms of our personal safety. I hope he gets a BETTER gun.
A 9mm automatic does not make sense.
bobsal u1553115
 
  2  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 05:56 am
@OmSigDAVID,
He's a murdering rat bastard. He'll kill again.
bobsal u1553115
 
  4  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 06:32 am
The Good News About Race And Crime In America

This article is part of a Huffington Post series examining the state of Black America. To read more, click here.

The death of Trayvon Martin and subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman has given rise to particularly cynical, pessimistic public discourse about race, crime, and violence in America.

Civil rights leaders and progressive activists have cited Zimmerman's acquittal and the proliferation of robust self-defense laws as evidence of a "war on black men" -- or, similarly, that it's now "open season on black men." Meanwhile, Zimmerman supporters and many on the political right have used the case to bring up old discussions of black-on-black murders in places like Chicago, and to argue that violence in black America is spiraling out of control. Both positions are cynical, and both tend to pit black and white America against one another.

But both are also wrong on the facts.

First, about the alleged "war on black men." The argument here is that laws like Florida's "Stand Your Ground" are encouraging white vigilantism, and moving white people to shoot and kill black people at the slightest provocation. But there just isn't any data to support the contention. Black homicides have been falling since the mid-1990s (as have all homicides). Moreover, according to a 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, more than 90 percent of black murder victims are killed by other black people. And if we look at interracial murder, there are about twice as many black-on-white murders as the other way around, and that ratio has held steady for decades.

However, it also isn't true that black America is growing increasingly violent. Again, black homicides, like all homicides, are in a steep, 20-year decline. In fact, the rates at which blacks both commit and are victims of homicide have shown sharper declines than those of whites. It's true that Chicago has had an unusually violent last few years, but this is an anomaly among big American cities. The 2012 murder rate in Washington, D.C., for example, hit a 50-year low. Violent crime in New York and Los Angeles is also falling to levels we haven't seen in decades.

The odd thing is, even in the face of encouraging data, media outlets still manage to find ways to make people afraid. One good example is this 2012 Scripps Howard study of interracial crime, which ran in 2012 just as racial tension was heating up over Martin's death. The news service analyzed 30 years of data on interracial homicide. The resulting headline: "Interracial murder rate growing in U.S." The problem is that the data shows precisely the opposite.

To get to the more sensational conclusion, the article considers interracial homicide as a percentage of total homicides. And indeed, measured that way the "rate" of interracial murder has gone up. But it's an odd way to measure. The vast, vast majority of murders are intraracial. And, as noted, those murders have been dropping considerably. The interracial murder rate has been dropping, too. According to the Scripps Howard review, the raw number of black-on-white and white-on-black murders combined was about the same in 2010 as it was in the early 1980s. But the United States population has grown considerably in that time, from 227 million in 1980, to 315 million today. So if you measure it the way all other crime is measured, the interracial murder rate has dropped, not increased.

It is true that the rate of interracial crime hasn't dropped nearly as much as intraracial crime. Why might that be? Believe it or not, the news here is encouraging, too.

We aren't seeing the same rate of progress with interracial killings as we're seeing in the overall murder rate because the country is becoming more integrated. That's a good thing. You're much more likely to be killed over someone you know than by a stranger. So as blacks and whites are increasingly living together and interacting, there are more opportunities for feuds over money, love, and whatever other sorts of quarrels lead to violence. This, too, is suggested in the data: "In the 1980s, about 47 percent of white-on-black killings occurred between people who were strangers. That figure dropped to 40 percent since 2000." So not only is the rate of interracial killing going down, the rate of interracial killing among strangers -- murders more likely to be brought about by raw racism -- is dropping even faster.

The Scripps Howard piece also takes a regional approach: "Contrary to popular stereotypes, interracial killings are relatively rare in rural Deep South states, occurring at a rate well below the national average. Several crime experts agreed this rise reflects increasing social contact between Americans of different races occurring in many, but not all, communities."

We tend to be cynical about crime -- even when there's no direct evidence in front of us -- that it's getting worse. Over the years, polls have consistently shown that most Americans think crime in general is getting worse, but feel perfectly safe in their own neighborhoods. Polls also continue to show that a solid majority of Americans think crime is getting worse, even though the crime rate has been in a 20-year free fall.

That pessimism, likely driven by the media's tendency to focus on sensational crimes and to interpret even positive data in ways the most alarming way possible, is one reason why we continue to get tough-on-crime policies from politicians, soaring incarceration rates, and it's why it's so difficult to get legislators to revise or repeal laws that that may have gone too far.

But when you add race to the equation, that pessimism can quickly become destructive. If black people are continually told that self-defense laws are creating a class of white vigilantes, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, they'll begin to view white people with more suspicion. If white people are regularly told that black America is growing more violent, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, they'll begin to view black people with more suspicion.

None of this is to say that there isn't still racism in America. And when you look at policies like New York's stop-and-frisk program, or the fact that blacks are arrested for drug crimes at much higher rates than whites despite similar rates of drug use, you could make a strong argument that at least with respect to the criminal justice system, there really is a war on young black men.

It's natural that the Martin/Zimmerman tragedy would be viewed through that lens, and in the context of America's turbulent racial history. But it's also important to point out that a single incident, or even a few incidents, are not indicative of a trend. Race relations in America aren't perfect, but they are improving. The worst possible legacy for Martin would be if the false claims about racial violence and animosity in America that have been made in light of his death were to become self-fulfilling.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 11:06 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

Stand your ground is specifically designed as a legal means to kill off young black men, without admitting motive.

I stand by my statement.
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 11:16 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

Stand your ground is specifically designed as a legal means to kill off young black men, without admitting motive.

I stand by my statement.


And you are one hell of a lot closer to the truth about this, Edgar...than most of the people opposed to what you are saying.

OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 01:16 pm
@Frank Apisa,
edgarblythe wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

Stand your ground is specifically designed as a legal means
to kill off young black men, without admitting motive.

I stand by my statement.
Frank Apisa wrote:

And you are one hell of a lot closer to the truth about this, Edgar...
than most of the people opposed to what you are saying.
No. We don t wanna get robbed by whites, either.
If there were no blacks in America, there 'd still
be no reason to require a victim to turn his back and run away,
instead of bravely standing his ground. He was not even 17% of a hell closer to the truth.





David
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 01:59 pm
@OmSigDAVID,

Quote:
qua his choice of defensive weapons, tho.


A defensive weapon in the same sense a military drone is supplied and deployed (in foreign countries, mainly) by the Defense Department.

In other words, a weapon of assault.
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 02:16 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
OmSigDAVID wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

Stand your ground is specifically designed as a legal means
to kill off young black men, without admitting motive.

I stand by my statement.
Frank Apisa wrote:

And you are one hell of a lot closer to the truth about this, Edgar...
than most of the people opposed to what you are saying.
No. We don t wanna get robbed by whites, either.
If there were no blacks in America, there 'd still
be no reason to require a victim to turn his back and run away,
instead of bravely standing his ground. He was not even 17% of a hell closer to the truth.





David


He was right on the button, David.

Kinda interesting seeing how that truth upsets you so. Wink
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 03:45 pm
@McTag,
DAVID wrote:
qua his choice of defensive weapons, tho.
He shud have used a .44 revolver loaded with hollowpointed slugs.
Automatics are mechanically un-reliable; 9mm is too lite a load.
If I ever meet him, I 'll try to convince him.
I almost met him (kinda) when he attended a Florida gun show,
but when I found out about it, it was too late.


McTag wrote:
A defensive weapon in the same sense a military drone
is supplied and deployed (in foreign countries, mainly) by the Defense Department.

In other words, a weapon of assault.
Well, Zimmy counter-attacked,
disabling the primary attack, as well he SHUD HAVE, but sooner.
I love it when the victim kills the predator. Its fun.





David
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 03:50 pm
@Frank Apisa,
OmSigDAVID wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

Stand your ground is specifically designed as a legal means
to kill off young black men, without admitting motive.

I stand by my statement.
Frank Apisa wrote:

And you are one hell of a lot closer to the truth about this, Edgar...
than most of the people opposed to what you are saying.
No. We don t wanna get robbed by whites, either.
If there were no blacks in America, there 'd still
be no reason to require a victim to turn his back and run away,
instead of bravely standing his ground. He was not even 17% of a hell closer to the truth.





David


Frank Apisa wrote:
He was right on the button, David.
U r being illogical, Frank.
Do YOU wanna get robbed by whites????



Frank Apisa wrote:
Kinda interesting seeing how that truth upsets you so. Wink
Y do u think that I 'm upset???
I 'm kidding around with u.


I made a joke, playing on words with u.





David
0 Replies
 
Wilso
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 04:30 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
OmSigDAVID wrote:

He is a very decent, selfless, thoughtful citizen of Florida.
We are all safer as a result of his ministrations.
He shud have better advice qua his choice of defensive weapons, tho.





David


Unarmed black teenager dies. Killer is a hero to this disgusting maggot. Conservatives are scum, as this worthless **** proves again and again.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 05:21 pm
@edgarblythe,
Did you challenge your own statement?
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Mar, 2014 05:33 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
I can't imagine any rational reason why anyone would consider Zimmerman to be a hero, but, of course, this doesn't mean that he should, perforce, be considered a villain.

He, for less than entirely noble reasons, put himself in a position of which the reasonable man would consider perilous. He wasn't coming to anyone's rescue and he wasn't preventing a crime in progress.

Having said this, it is utterly absurd, and irresponsible to suggest that he was on the hunt for a black man to kill.

Whether or not Zimmerman forced the confrontation is debatable, but even if we assume he did, this would not excuse Martin for escalating it to a level of violence that could easily lead to someone being seriously injured or killed.

Zimmerman wasn't in anyway heroic. He also wasn't guilty of murder.
 

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