July 15, 2013

The holy war against pattern recognition

Another op-ed in the New York Times on the crime of Noticing:
July 15, 2013 
The Truth About Trayvon 
By EKOW N. YANKAH 
... Lawyers on both sides argued repeatedly that this case was never about race, but only whether prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman was not simply defending himself when he shot Mr. Martin. And, indeed, race was only whispered in the incomplete invocation that Mr. Zimmerman had “profiled” Mr. Martin. But what this case reveals in its overall shape is precisely what the law is unable to see in its narrow focus on the details. 
The anger felt by so many African-Americans speaks to the simplest of truths: that race and law cannot be cleanly separated. We are tired of hearing that race is a conversation for another day. We are tired of pretending that “reasonable doubt” is not, in every sense of the word, colored. 
Every step Mr. Martin took toward the end of his too-short life was defined by his race. I do not have to believe that Mr. Zimmerman is a hate-filled racist to recognize that he would probably not even have noticed Mr. Martin if he had been a casually dressed white teenager. 
But because Mr. Martin was one of those “punks” who “always get away,” as Mr. Zimmerman characterized him in a call to the police, Mr. Zimmerman felt he was justified in following him. After all, a young black man matched the criminal descriptions, not just in local police reports, but in those most firmly lodged in Mr. Zimmerman’s imagination. 
Whether the law judges Trayvon Martin’s behavior to be reasonable is also deeply colored by race. Imagine that a militant black man, with a history of race-based suspicion and a loaded gun, followed an unarmed white teenager around his neighborhood. The young man is scared, and runs through the streets trying to get away. Unable to elude his black stalker and, perhaps, feeling cornered, he finally holds his ground — only to be shot at point-blank range after a confrontation. 
Would we throw up our hands, unable to conclude what really happened? Would we struggle to find a reasonable doubt about whether the shooter acted in self-defense? A young, white Trayvon Martin would unquestionably be said to have behaved reasonably, while it is unimaginable that a militant, black George Zimmerman would not be viewed as the legal aggressor, and thus guilty of at least manslaughter. ...
We know this, yet every time a case like this offers a chance for the country to tackle the evil of racial discrimination in our criminal law, courts have deliberately silenced our ability to expose it. The Supreme Court has held that even if your race is what makes your actions suspicious to the police, their suspicions are reasonable so long as an officer can later construct a race-neutral narrative. 
Likewise, our death penalty cases have long presaged the Zimmerman verdict, exposing how racial disparities, which make a white life more valuable, do not undermine the constitutionality of the death sentence. And even the most casual observer recognizes the painful racial disparities in our prison population — the new Jim Crow, in the account of the legal scholar Michelle Alexander. Our prisons are full of young, black men for whom guilty beyond a reasonable doubt was easy enough to reach. 
There is no quick answer for the historical use of our criminal law to reinforce and then punish social stereotypes. But pretending that reasonable doubt is a value-free clinical term, as so many people did so readily in the Zimmerman case, only insulates injustice in plain sight. 
Without an honest jurisprudence that is brave enough to tackle the way race infuses our criminal law, Trayvon Martin’s voice will be silenced again. 
What would such a jurisprudence look like? The Supreme Court could hold, for example, that the unjustified use of race by the police in determining “reasonable suspicion” constituted an unreasonable stop, tainting captured evidence. Likewise, in the same way we have started to attack racial disparities in other areas of criminal law, we could consider it a violation of someone’s constitutional rights if, controlling for all else, his race was what determined whether the state executed him. 
I can imagine a jurisprudence that at least begins to use racial disparities as a tool to question the constitutionality of criminal punishment. And above all, I can imagine a jurisprudence that does not pretend, as lawyers for both sides (but no one else) did in the Zimmerman case, that doubts have no color.

34 comments:

countenance said...

Jury finds GZ not guilty; NYT and MSNBC hardest hit.

What else are we to conclude by reading the recent NYT fulminations on this subject matter here at iSteve but the left wants blacks totally exempt from criminal law?

Son of Brock Landers said...

Didnt Trayvon fulfill every stereotype of the angry young black male? If blacks will gleefully cheer on thug life and acting hard in their music and social media, can't they envision a 17 year old white teen in the rain at night reacting differently to a 'creepy' guy tailing them? I am more disgusted by the who-whom media leaders than the blacks they are manipulating with this story.

Multiple op-eds on a local crime story 1000 miles from NYC. Maybe they can get around to the fellows on Wall St which I hear is located in NYC and has an outsized influence on national politics.

hbd chick said...

here's a somewhat sane opinion piece from the wapo:

"Racism vs. reality
"By Richard Cohen

"I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize. I don’t know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist....

"Where is the politician who will own up to the painful complexity of the problem and acknowledge the widespread fear of crime committed by young black males? This does not mean that raw racism has disappeared, and some judgments are not the product of invidious stereotyping. It does mean, though, that the public knows young black males commit a disproportionate amount of crime. In New York City, blacks make up a quarter of the population, yet they represent 78 percent of all shooting suspects — almost all of them young men. We know them from the nightly news....

"In the meantime, the least we can do is talk honestly about the problem. It does no one any good to merely cite the number of stop-and-frisks involving black males without citing the murder statistics as well. Citing the former and not the latter is an Orwellian exercise in political correctness. It not only censors half of the story but also suggests that racism is the sole reason for the policy. This mindlessness, like racism itself, is repugnant."

Anonymous said...

Most of this rage seems to directed at the fact that...there isn't any rage.

Anonymous said...

Ekow Yankah, African immigrant... American whitey sucks so bad, I just can't wait to live with him.

Semi-employed White Guy said...

Steve, Steve, Steve, quit with your pesky analytics and annoying tendency to examine facts. Now this is the way to be:

"I have a greater duty than to be an attorney and that's to be a social engineer"

-Jasmine Rand, attorney, Parks and Crump Attorneys at Law LLC on "On the Record with Gretta Van Susteren"

This is the kind of white (I think) woman that Whiskey assumed would be part of a Seminole County jury:

Prior to graduating from law school, Jasmine worked for Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s litigation department in Atlanta, Georgia under the tutelage of Ernest Greer, Esquire, and for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project on human trafficking cases and immigrant justice issues.

David said...

>what the law is unable to see in its narrow focus on the details<

They're angry it wasn't a political trial, that's all. All the talk of "the larger context" is about the imperative of punishing Zimmerman for Jim Crow, 400 years of slavery, disparate impact, etc., etc. "What about THOSE details?" whine the Stalinists; "what about Emmett Till?"

It recalls sci-fi stories about populations mindlessly worshiping a pulsating machine-god. When investigated, the machine-god turns out to contain "holy tablets": the instructions from a bygone millennium, left as advice from ancestors to descendants in an emergency but now out of date and misunderstood. The Communist Party was renowned for members who never improvised. What we have today is the Communist Party line re. blacks in America becoming the leftover instructions of a dead age, but incapable of being questioned by latter-day mental children, who just keep worshiping the mental Moloch, repeating the same lines about the girls in Selma, Emmett Till, the Clinton 12, the Scottsboro Boys, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam ad infinitum.

Atticus Finch is their Christ and life is a morality play in which the goal is to most closely emulate Finch.

Mental midgets - whether Communists or medieval-mentalities - are legion, and are the same in all eras. They seem to be the majority of humans at any given time. Modern communication tech (such as TV) is showing us more of them, but I suspect the ratio of brights to dims is fairly constant. Another culprit is probably democracy: it encourages the low-lifes to give vent to their vacuity, validates their vanity, puffs up their sense of importance, even if they can't even spell importance. It stirs up a lot of riverbeds, a lot of muck that is always there. Turn on cable and behold the clouds o' clods.

Phoenician said...

I would notice a casually dressed white teen who was spaced out and looking at houses in the rain.

I would wonder what he was doing and whether he is casing them or whether he wants a bit of action, if you get my drift.

Anonymous said...

Especially noticing that the NYT is very much concerned with directing people's attention to Florida and away from LA, DC and especially New York where the NYPD are doing what Zimmerman did all day every day with the silent blessing of the NYT.

Manhattan will be schwarzenrein!

Remnant said...

Drudge has a link titled "Trayvon Thought Zimmerman Was A Rapist", which takes you to the following article about a new interview with Jeantel.

This is barely one step removed from Steve's explicit conjecture that Martin gay-profiled / gay-bashed Zimmerman. And Jeantel is essentially admitting this.

Further, by even going down this road, she is all but admitting that Martin attacked Zimmerman. One almost wants to help her finish her sentence: "Uh, Jeantel, and therefore...." "Well, therefore Travon circled back and kicked the shit out of this crazy ass cracker!"

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/07/15/jeantel_i_told_trayvon_zimmerman_might_have_been_a_rapist.html

Anonymous said...

On Drudge right now: "JEANTEL: 'THE JURY, THEY OLD. THAT'S OLD SCHOOL PEOPLE. WE IN NEW SCHOOL. MY GENERATION'... "

Didn't somebody make a movie about just that a few years ago?

eah said...

Mr. Martin

I'd like to see an album of every foto of "Mr. Martin" published by the NYT. Something tells me each would probably not look very 'Mr-y-ish'.

Also I won't hold my breath waiting for a piece entitled, eg, 'The Truth About Mohamed' written by "Ekow N. Yankah", who's "a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University". According to his bio on YU's web site: "Outside of the law school, Professor Yankah is active in Democratic politics.". Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

From the Richard Cohen article:

The problems of the black underclass are hardly new. They are surely the product of slavery, the subsequent Jim Crow era and the tenacious persistence of racism. They will be solved someday, but not probably with any existing programs. For want of a better word, the problem is cultural, and it will be solved when the culture, somehow, is changed.

We keep hearing that it's cultural, but where is the evidence? All over the world blacks have different cultures, but the same genetics and the same crime rates.

Anonymous said...

That Jasmine Rand chick, I'm certain, considers herself a black woman. Go to the Crump firm website and read her bio. I wish Greta had asked her, "in what world would you be considered black but George Zimmerman is white?"

eah said...

OT

An initial vote was split. Three of the jurors first voted Zimmerman was guilty,...

Now that's fuckin' scary.

Phoenician said...

Mr Wankah should learn to read.

Mr. Anon said...

"Every step Mr. Martin took toward the end of his too-short life was defined by his race."

Indeed.

eah said...

That Jasmine Rand chick...Go to the Crump firm website and read her bio.

OK, I did.

As they say, you could not make this stuff up. Check out her foto (she has a kind of dumb broad look to her). Then read how she majored in "African American Studies", "...served on the Black Law Students Association", and "served on the National Black Law Students Associations Advisory Board". Her CV looks like a compendium of useless liberal bullshit, including being associated with the SPLC. But I'm sure it will keep her employed for life.

Ichabod Crane said...

"I can imagine a jurisprudence that at least begins to use racial disparities as a tool to question the constitutionality of criminal punishment."

I just imagined another really exciting way to eliminate disparities through laws against racial profiling, and my way doesn't involve letting black murderers and rapists go. Here's my idea: we can decide how many white people we want to lock up, and for how long, and institute penalties for looking at a black man funny. Or avoiding eye contact, or being overly friendly, or not friendly enough, or asking to touch somebody's hair! "One in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime"? Just institute mandatory jail time for walking quickly away from a black man after dark. Because the main problem isn't that we have too many arrests for violent crimes, or too few: the problem is disparities in the prison population.

Anonymous said...

@Ichabod

I think we may have gone through the mirror on that one.

David said...

1913: Take race into account. Negroes habitually lie and sniffs tons of cocaine.

1953: Do not take race into account. Be color-blind.

2013: Take race into account. Anyone harming a black is a cracka, who habitually harms blacks for the hell of it.

Anonymous said...

Turns out, he really was "one of those punks" only because of his punkishness, he didn't get away.

Concealed carry is a good idea.

Anonymous said...

I can't even figure out why logical people think Zimmerman did anything wrong.

There was an unfortunate confluence of events but I watched the trial, read about it, and see no "wrongness" at all on his part.

Anonymous said...

"Imagine that a militant black man, with a history of race-based suspicion and a loaded gun, followed an unarmed white teenager around his neighborhood. The young man is scared, and runs through the streets trying to get away. Unable to elude his black stalker and, perhaps, feeling cornered, he finally holds his ground — only to be shot at point-blank range after a confrontation. "

I don't have to imagine it, that's the Nightly News Report!

Now, I have a little game of make-believe for you. Imagine the response from the black community if Mr. Zimmerman, a Peruvian hispanic, and a white companion had been in the process of robbing a black mother pushing a baby stroller when, disappointed by their take, they shot the black woman's newborn infant in the face, ending its MUCH "too-short life" and then uttered some throwaway line like "Bring more money next time".

Is it possible, based on ANYTHING in recent memory to believe that such a thing could happen in modern-day America?

Where's the black outrage over that?

Where's the white outrage over that? How come New England isn't burning over it,like Oakland is over Trayvon?

How come it's easy to imagine a black racist stalking a white boy and shooting him for being in the wrong neighborhood neighborhood and absurd to envision a young white man shooting a black infant in the face?

You want to have a conversation about race? I'm ready. Let's start there.

Anonymous said...

Over the course of the next 6 months, Trayvon's history of anti-social behavior will be revealed.

Life went downhill for him when his father divorced his second wife, Alicia, Trayvon's stepmother.

Trayvon was not close to Sybrina, his biological mother, the one you saw in court. She raised him for only the first 3-4 years of his life.

Alicia loved him, doted on him, and he was quite close to her. Then Daddy started fooling around and they divorced, the kid getting shuffled from his mother (who didn't get along with him), to his dad, and then, a 2-3 years ago when he started getting into serious trouble at school. It was thought his uncle would be a stern disciplinarian.

Teenage testosterone, family upheavals, moving around from town to town, school to school, black cultural influences....bang.

One thing the libs can't claim--that Trayvon adopted negative black cultural behavior because of poverty. No poverty in this family. Biological mom Sybrina works for the Housing Authority. The dad was employed. He didn't come from any ghetto.

Anonymous said...

"I would notice a casually dressed white teen who was spaced out and looking at houses in the rain.

I would wonder what he was doing and whether he is casing them or whether he wants a bit of action, if you get my drift."

Yeah,cause white teen robberies are an epidemic these days.

I just have a simple question is robbery HOW white people create white privilege or is it something they do on the side when they're not oppressing others from the tops of Fortune 500 companies and such. It would seem kind of difficult to believe that white people are out burglarizing the homes of blacks during the night AND constantly oppressing them with their jobs...er..I mean white cis-privilege positions of power during the day simultaneously.

Just how many angels are dancing on the head of this pin,anyway?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cohen's article is fine, as far as it goes. (BTW, plenty of evidence that George Zimmerman was the epitome of the anti-racist).

However, even IF we could get society to talk about black rates of crime, they and the white libs would blame it on poverty, discriminatory practices, etc.

WE can't seem to talk about the biological differences between races. Science knows of some of those differences but discussion of any biological reasons that blacks worldwide are more aggressive than people of other races is off the table.

They could fine alleles tomorrow that explained it all and it would STILL be off the table.

Anonymous said...

Saw the Rand interview with Greta Van Susteran who ripped her a new asshole.

The Southern Poverty Law Center needs to be put out of existence.

Social engineering=$$$$$$$$$$$ for those engineers!!

Shouting Thomas said...

The NY Times' article, although almost incoherent, seems to be arguing that blacks should be held to a different standard than whites in the legal system.

Judicial affirmative action!

Anonymous said...

There's no war against patterns, there's a war against white people. Playing the Left's semantic games enables that war.

Harry Baldwin said...

The anger felt by so many African-Americans speaks to the simplest of truths: that race and law cannot be cleanly separated.

I'm tired of the assumption that the anger of African Americans must always be honored. Ooooh--black people are angry again! What to do? What to do?

Why not explain to them that we're tired of them being angry, that if they were to examine the situation objectively (if that were possible) they would see that they have nothing to be angry about, and in fact other people are actually pretty angry about them and all this politely repressed anger might explode in their faces at some point.

It just occurred to me that maybe that's why the Trayvon affair is such a big deal--Trayvon was a young black man exercising his right to be violently angry at a non-black person who was annoying him and he got killed for it. That's a really alarming precedent for some people.

Anonymous said...

Why sexual harassment is all too common.
Men too often confuse 'harass' with 'her ass'.

Anonymous said...

"The problems of the black underclass are hardly new. They are surely the product of slavery, the subsequent Jim Crow era and the tenacious persistence of racism. They will be solved someday, but not probably with any existing programs. For want of a better word, the problem is cultural, and it will be solved when the culture, somehow, is changed."

"We keep hearing that it's cultural, but where is the evidence? All over the world blacks have different cultures, but the same genetics and the same crime rates."

It's total BS. They got the same problem in Europe with African immigrants who arrived as free people who were then showered with all sorts of government programs.
And black Africa is full of crime and violence.

It's just another case of a Jew using 'white guilt' to control whites. Jews are mainly interested in blacks for 'white guilt' reasons. Jews fear white majority and wanna control it, and one effective way to browbeat white folks is to play on 'white guilt'.

Anonymous said...

"An initial vote was split. Three of the jurors first voted Zimmerman was guilty,...
Now that's fuckin' scary."

Whisky was almost right.