Do “Stand Your Ground” Laws Represent Racial Bias?

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Trayvon-Martin

A year ago, Frontline did a report that found that the killings of black people by whites were more likely to be considered justified than the killings of white people by blacks.  The problem, however, remains: how does one measure racial bias?

As we see in the George Zimmerman trial, the question is not only difficult, but it is polarizing.

A report on July 31, 2012 in Frontline reported, “At least 20 states have laws with provisions that don’t require civilians to flee from an intruder before fighting back, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those, eight states, all of them in the south, specifically use the phrasing, “Stand Your Ground.” That includes Florida.”

Frontline noted, “Since Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, invoked the stand-your-ground defense, these laws have been defended by gun rights groups for empowering civilians. They’ve also been criticized by civil rights groups for encouraging violence and being racially biased.”

Fronline itself looked at a study from Texas A&M University that suggests “that laws may lead to more deaths.”

According to Cheng Cheng and Mark Hoekstra, “These laws expand the legal justification for the use of lethal force in self-defense, thereby lowering the expected cost of using lethal force and increasing the expected cost of committing violent crime.”

The paper finds that the laws “do not deter burglary, robbery, or aggravated assault.”  However, they do “lead to a statistically significant 8 percent net increase in the number of reported murders and non-negligent manslaughters.”

That ends up being an additional 600 homicides per year in the states that have enacted such laws.

The study analyzes FBI crime data from 2000-2009.  The results are not completely definitive here as they could mean that more people use lethal force in self-defense or that such situations are more likely to escalate to the use of violence in states with those laws.

“Regardless,”  the study said, “the results indicate that a primary consequence of strengthening self-defense law is increased homicide.”

But measuring racial bias is a difficult and often confounding exercise.

Frontline reports, “John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, recently conducted a study examining racial disparity using FBI data on 43,500 homicides from 2005 to 2009, the most recent years for which data was available. He sifted out only the killings in which there was a single shooter and a single victim, both of whom were strangers to each other – narrowing the pool to about 5,000 homicides.”

Frontline notes, “And Roman looked specifically at ‘justified’ homicides, which as defined by the FBI, are when police determine a private citizen has killed someone who is committing a felony, such as attempted murder, rape or armed robbery.”

He found that “the killings of black people by whites were more likely to be considered justified than the killings of white people by blacks.”

But that analysis did not compare Stand Your Ground states to those without the law.

Frontline reported, “At FRONTLINE’s request, Roman analyzed the pool of 43,500 homicides by race in states with Stand Your Ground laws* and those without them. Because he wanted to control for multiple variables – the races of the victim and the shooter, whether they were strangers, whether they involved a firearm and whether the murders were in Stand Your Ground states – Roman used a technique known as regression analysis, which is a statistical tool to analyze the relationship between different pieces of data.”

They report, “Using this analysis, Roman found that a greater number of homicides were found justified in Stand Your Ground states in all racial combinations, a result he believes is because those states yielded more killings overall.”

In addition, “Roman also found that Stand Your Ground laws tend to track the existing racial disparities in homicide convictions across the U.S. – with one significant exception: Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings.”

“In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.”

That is precisely what the end result was in Florida – though we did not know that at the time this report was written.

However, the figures do not prove bias.  The data only show correlation, not causation.  Moreover, as Professor Roman pointed out,  they do not show the circumstances behind the killings.

Writes Frontline, “There are far fewer white-on-black shootings in the FBI data – only 25 total in both the Stand Your Ground and non-Stand Your Ground states. In fact, the small sample size is one of the reasons Roman conducted a regression analysis, which determines the statistical likelihood of whether the killings will be found justifiable.”

In addition, they point out, “Whether a homicide is ruled justifiable only tells part of the story. Stand Your Ground laws can be applied at multiple points during an investigation.

“In Florida, for example, if a shooter invokes the Stand Your Ground law, police can determine whether to make an arrest when they arrive on the scene. If they do arrest him, the suspect then appears before a judge who determines whether Stand Your Ground applies to the case. If it does, the prosecutor then decides whether to go to court.”

Frontline reported last year, “The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced last month that it would investigate concerns about racial bias in the law’s application.”

Michael Yaki, the commissioner leading the probe, said in an email to Frontline “that he wasn’t surprised by Roman’s findings.” “It reinforces even more the need for a comprehensive investigation,” he said.

He added: “What the [commission] will do is more complete, more thorough, and ultimately aimed at determining whether SYG statutes by their nature, enforcement, or application, create opportunities for racial bias to enter into the system.”

Frontline reported, “Yaki said he planned to examine a handful of states that have enacted Stand Your Ground laws, most likely including Florida. His study should take at least a year.”

There are, of course, a number of different points where racial bias might enter the Trayvon Martin picture.  The first question is whether George Zimmerman would have focused on Trayvon Martin if Trayvon Martin were white.

The second, which focuses more closely on the question that the study attempts to resolve, is whether the jury would still reach the same verdict.  That is the more difficult question to answer.

We now know what the jury thought.

Anderson Cooper interviewed one juror.  He asked, “Do you feel that George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin? Do you think race played a role in his decision, his view of Trayvon Martin as suspicious?”

The juror responded, “I don’t think he did. I think just circumstances caused George to think that he might be a robber, or trying to do something bad in the neighborhood because of all that had gone on previously. There were unbelievable, a number of robberies in the neighborhood.”

When Mr. Cooper added, “So you don’t believe race played a role in this case?”

The juror responded, “I don’t think it did. I think if there was another person, Spanish, white, Asian, if they came in the same situation where Trayvon was, I think George would have reacted the exact same way.”

Some have suggested this confirms that the matter was “not about race.”

Of course, it does no such thing.  That is the juror’s opinion, but in a way it is an expression of her own unconscious perceptions and as such it merely acts as confirmatory evidence, and perhaps an ad hoc rationalization, justifying the juror’s decision in her own mind.  And, of course, it does not answer the bigger question as to whether the jury was swayed by its own unconscious biases.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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81 thoughts on “Do “Stand Your Ground” Laws Represent Racial Bias?”

  1. Growth Izzue

    [quote]Some have suggested this confirms that the matter was “not about race.”

    Of course it does no such thing. That is the juror’s opinion, but in a way it is an expression of their own unconscious perceptions and as such it merely acts as confirmatory evidence and perhaps an adhoc rationalization justifying the juror’s decision in their own mind. And of course it does not answer the bigger question as to whether the jury was swayed by their own unconscious biases.
    [/quote]

    Translation: dammit, I don’t care what no stinking juror said because I’m going to make this about racism one way or the other.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    And I translate your comment into: I didn’t understand the statistical analysis, so I’ll focus on the more subjective portion of this piece where I can demagogue.

    The juror is entitled to her opinion, just as you and I are, but that does not make it more or less correct than any other.

  3. Growth Izzue

    [quote]The juror is entitled to her opinion, just as you and I are, but that does not make it more or less correct than any other. [/quote]

    Actually her opinion is more correct than most others because she sat through the whole trial and had to weigh all the evidence as was presented right in front of her. You admitted yourself that you didn’t follow the trial too closely.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    One problem with that theory, they were not asked to decide whether it was racial profiling, so while they did wade through evidence, their discussions were not focused on that issue.

  5. Growth Izzue

    It looks like the FBI agrees with that juror too.

    [quote]What’s more, charging Zimmerman under federal hate-crimes law would defy the findings of the FBI’s own investigation conducted last year. All told, agents interviewed no fewer than 45 Zimmerman co-workers, neighbors and other acquaintances — including even his ex-fiance — and found no evidence of racial bias.
    [/quote]

    Here’s a very interesting article:
    [url]http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/071513-663808-fbi-report-undermines-race-case-against-zimmerman.htm?ref=HPLNews[/url]

  6. medwoman

    GI

    I have no idea whether or not there was racial bias in this instance. What I do know is that all humans have unconscious biases. By definition the word unconscious means “of which they are not aware”. So an individuals lack of awareness or inability to articulate a bias says absolutely nothing about whether or not they have that bias.

  7. Growth Izzue

    Medwoman:
    [quote]What I do know is that all humans have unconscious biases. By definition the word unconscious means “of which they are not aware”. So an individuals lack of awareness or inability to articulate a bias says absolutely nothing about whether or not they have that bias. [/quote]

    I agree with that Medwoman. So in turn you would also have to agree that race baiting liberals also have an unconscious bias to infuse racism even when it’s not there.

  8. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > A year ago, Frontline did a report that found
    > that the killings of black people by whites were
    > more likely to be considered justified than the
    > killings of white people by blacks. The problem,
    > however, remains: how does one measure racial bias?

    I don’t know if David has a link to the Frontline data, but I read something a while back that said that the majority of “killings of black people by whites” were white cops acting in self-defense against black career criminals while the majority of “white people by blacks” were killings like Willie Horton did (before a liberal Governor let him out to do some raping and torturing): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Horton

    Just like girls that grow up in the rich WASP culture tend to be involved with equestrian activities boys that grow up in the poor ghetto gangster culture tent to be involved in criminal activities. Most Protestant girls don’t own horses just like most black males are not criminals. Until we admit that it is not “white racism” but a “ghetto gangster culture” that causes a larger than average number of blacks to be involved with criminal activity we are doomed.

    Until people like David (that I believe really want to make things better for blacks in America) stop looking for something new to “blame” for the reason so many Blacks are in jail and try and make changes to the “ghetto gangster culture” we will not have any reduction in the Black incarceration rate.

  9. David M. Greenwald

    “found no evidence of racial bias”

    Racial profiling is not necessarily about racial bias that is going to be conscious or manifested. So that result is not surprising.

  10. David M. Greenwald

    SOD: all of the links are posted.

    “Until people like David (that I believe really want to make things better for blacks in America) stop looking for something new to “blame” for the reason so many Blacks are in jail and try and make changes to the “ghetto gangster culture” we will not have any reduction in the Black incarceration rate. “

    This is a long topic and I have to run off to trial. I think your characterization here is problematic. I think the causes of incarceration are multifaceted and difficult to disentangle. I don’t think our current policies and laws are helpful.

  11. David M. Greenwald

    “I have no idea whether or not there was racial bias in this instance. What I do know is that all humans have unconscious biases. By definition the word unconscious means “of which they are not aware”. So an individuals lack of awareness or inability to articulate a bias says absolutely nothing about whether or not they have that bias.”

    Medwoman: That’s the point that I have tried to make for several days and why I both discount the juror’s claim but also the FBI report on whether he exhibited signs of racial bias.

    In the 1980s, political psychologists attempted to measure what they called a new racism, symbolic racism that differed from the more classical racism. I think they were were on the right path, but their measures were problematic because too often they coincided with political conservativism rather than isolating on actual signs of racism. But I think at the core, that is what we are talking about. Few people believe in segregation or superiority of the white race, but a lot more people have unconscious bias that might mean they are more likely to believe a black person a criminal than a white person in the same situation. Even some of the defenses here by well meaning people encroach on that.

  12. JustSaying

    “One problem with that theory, they were not asked to decide whether it was racial profiling, so while they did wade through evidence, their discussions were not focused on that issue.”

    One problem with this theory, you have little idea about their discussions and none, in fact, except what this juror has told us. We know that the judge did not allow “race” into evidence, but did permit “profiling.”

    Ar the risk of getting the same “you’re ignorant and a demagogue” treatment as Growth Izzue got this morning, allow me to point out that the jurors know what they considered.

    To say that she’s merely entitled to her opinion in the same way everyone is entitled ignores the fact that she is one of only six informed opinions in the universe. And, to stand her statement on its head with a claim that her answer is merely “confirmatory evidence, and perhaps an ad hoc rationalization” of the opposite is the strangest way to make an intellectual argument ever.

    This is the third attempt in three days to make the same unknowable and unprovable point, that this trial surely would have turned up a “guilty” verdict if Zimmerman’s and Martin’s races had been reversed. The only thing you offer is your own (dare I say it?) race-based biases that, then, bump into everyone else’s race-based biases.

    This is the third otherwise thoughtful and informative piece that gets contaminated by attempts to shoehorn in the same unwarranted conclusion. Will we get to the “stand your ground” law and how it dramatically affected the outcome of this trial? Probably not, ’cause we’re too busy off on the same old tangent and arguing the “big issue” that no one can prove.

  13. biddlin

    Before David or Don scrub it for “space” reasons, here’s the photo of Trayvon I think The Vanguard should be using:
    [img]http://thisblksistaspage.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/trayvons-body-shown1.jpg[/img]
    It is the one that might make an impression on the “well meaning” apologists.
    Biddlin ;>)/

  14. JustSaying

    Medwoman: “I have no idea whether or not there was racial bias in this instance. What I do know is that all humans have unconscious biases. By definition the word unconscious means ‘of which they are not aware’. So an individuals lack of awareness or inability to articulate a bias says absolutely nothing about whether or not they have that bias.”

    DG: “That’s the point that I have tried to make for several days and why I both discount the juror’s claim but also the FBI report on whether he exhibited signs of racial bias.”

    Ahh, there’s the rub. While most of us can admit our ignorance about the impact of racial bias in this case and about whether the juror actually was biased, DG insists he knows because the human condition includes unconscious bias.

    On the basis of this worldview, DG doesn’t just question what happens. He insists that that he knows that what happened is the opposite of what appears to have happened or what participants state has happened.

    There is a sad close-mindedness at work when we can adamantly discount what we have barely observed, such as a participating juror and an FBI investigation focused on the topic under discussion.

  15. Growth Izzue

    Here’s some pics of Zimmerman’s injuries:
    [img]http://www.google.com/search?q=zimmerman+injury+pictures&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=vmPlUZiTLaXHigK20YDoAg&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1344&bih=733#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=1PgOsOhgEt0h9M:;zOtSYma5RWC8UM;http://i538.photobucket.com/albums/ff349/FXD07/zimmerman-f-b_zps078e92da.jpg;http://www.gamespot.com/forums/topic/29412978/-)o-you-believe-zimmerman-is-guilty-or-not-guilty-of-murder-now-w-poll?page=28;529;269[/img]

  16. JustSaying

    Biddlin and Growth Izzue, your photos attest to the horrendous nature of this incident. Too bad they don’t make the points I think you’re trying to make, and they hardly contribute to the discussion that David is attempting to encourage with this article.

  17. Morpheus

    I read the headline to this article and, quite frankly, am shocked even for you, David. Really? A law that allows a person to defend themselves against an attacker [i]represents racial bias[/i]? Your assertion assumes that the attacker is [insert minority] and the person being attacked is WHITE. Good lord, [i]now[/i] who’s demonstrating unconscious racial bias!

  18. JustSaying

    GI, I see Biddlin’s photo did get “scrubbed” from view, but here you are again. I’ll point out that all this blood came from injuries judged as “insignificant” (two small cuts, one less than a quarter inch and the other less than one inch) and hardly the result of the serious beating Zimmerman claimed.

    i saw the photos as additional evidence that Zimmerman engaged in a series of lies to cover his unwarranted shooting of Martin.

  19. civil discourse

    I think the racial bias is less about Zimmerman himself and more about the justice system which, so far, has failed the victim and the victims family.

    This statement from Color of Change is worth reading:
    [url]http://www.colorofchange.org/press/releases/2013/7/13/statement-executive-director-colorofchangeorg-geor/[/url]

    “Were it not for Trayvon’s family and countless supporters taking action, Zimmerman would have never faced a single question about his actions at all. Tonight, as George Zimmerman walks away without penalty, the verdict sends a clear message about the minimal value placed on the lives of young Black men and boys everywhere”

  20. JustSaying

    Morpheus, eventually you’ll get used to it. The Vanguard tends to use inflammatory questions as “headlines” over articles that have little to do with the question and, sometimes, that contain direct contradictions.

    If the implied point is in the form of a question and, subsequently, gets challenged, that allows the editor to state: “I didn’t say that; it was just a question.”

  21. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > I think the causes of incarceration are multifaceted
    > and difficult to disentangle. I don’t think our current
    > policies and laws are helpful.

    A very low percentage of whites and/or blacks that have well educated married parents who live in low crime areas ever have any contact with the criminal justice system.

    A very high percentage of blacks AND whites that have gangster criminal never married parents who grow up in high crime areas end up in jail.

    In 1961 Dr. Martin Luther King said that blacks “are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes? We’ve got to face that.”

    We all know that there is some racism in America and that there are some innocent black (and white) people behind bars, but in the 50+ years since Dr. Martin Luther King said “We’ve go to face that” we have done more “We need to blame someone or something” (this week it is “white-hispanics” and “stand your ground”) than talking about the real problems we have.

  22. David M. Greenwald

    The headline is the last thing I write for an article. In articles like this it tends to be a provocative question that at least gets addressed in the article. In this case, the answer would be inconclusive. BTW, if you go to the Frontline link, you see that my headline was also similar to theirs. One of the reason I have taken to this approach is that when the article links to Facebook and social media sites, the viewers there only see the question and it serves the dual purpose of driving discussion there as well.

  23. David M. Greenwald

    SOD:

    In my opinion your view fails to take into account a number of critical factors, the most important of which is that to some extent the system has already been set up, and when certain kids are born they are behind. There are choices in everyone’s lives and some people through fortunate or strength can escape, others are trapped.

    I don’t think we as a society recognize the interplay of substance abuse, trauma, depression, emotional and physical abuse and neglect on the ability for adults to make wise choices and escape their conditions.

    Having personally and first handedly watched children who grew up in abuse and neglectful situations, with substance abusing parents, I think the line between choice and trapped is a lot more difficult to traverse than many give it credit for.

  24. Frankly

    David, with all due respect, after reading this you appear to be coming unhinged on the topic of racism. I frankly suspect that the arguments on this blog have you desperate in preventing a crumbling of a worldview that is part of your identity and persona. You are exceedingly reaching for non-existent “truths” about racism. You are projecting race-motivated maliciousness and race-based conspiratorial intent into every action of any white-skinned person and every outcome of perceived white-controlled institution. It is troubling for me because I know you to be a smart dude that truly cares about people.

    You simply cannot be respected in this topic of racism when you go so far to make assumptions about how other people think and feel. You go to great lengths to demand specific facts and controlled studies from others, but for racism “you just know” it to be the case.

    I think the fallout from this case is going to be a crucible for the media and our public discourse about it and those inserting themselves into every story they can to make it about race. The race-baiting has gone way to far. It seems to have three origins: 1 – to sell stories and make money; 2 – to use it to gain and hold political power; 3 – an obsession that satiates some social, emotional or psychological need.

    Remember Tawana Brawley and the Duke Lacrosse bullshit?

    92% of black men that are killed in this country are killed by other black men. So why then is this single incident getting so much attention as a racial topic? The answer… see the previous list of three.

    It has got to stop. Time to start calling race-baiters on their bullshit. They are the ones enflaming race relations. I see it as the last significant impediment to making the next step in our civil rights march.

  25. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > In my opinion your view fails to take into account
    > a number of critical factors, the most important of
    > which is that to some extent the system has already
    > been set up, and when certain kids are born they
    > are behind.

    It sounds like we are on the same page that a kid (of any race) is born in a bad situation that they start out “behind” and have a much tougher time in life.

    Where is seems like you (and many others in the media) and I differ is that you seem to put “racism” as a big problem kids face.

    Racism does exist and is bad, but I don’t think it even makes the top 100 reasons of why some kids have a hard time in life (like lack of good food, lack of affection, lack of sleep, lack of exercise…)

    > There are choices in everyone’s lives and some
    > people through fortunate or strength can escape,
    > others are trapped.

    I would change “trapped” to “have a much harder time in life”, but I basically agree.

    > Having personally and first handedly watched children
    > who grew up in abuse and neglectful situations, with
    > substance abusing parents, I think the line between
    > choice and trapped is a lot more difficult to traverse
    > than many give it credit for.

    I also have a lot of firsthand experience working with kids “who grew up in abuse and neglectful situations” and the abuse and neglect had a lot more to do with their problems than racism or stand your ground laws (that have almost nothing to do with their problems, but for some reason you and others in the media keep talking about racism and stand your ground laws that represent about .0001% of the problems but I have not heard anything in the media about bad parenting and gangster culture that causes a kid to pick a Twitter name of “NO_LIMIT_NI**A” and end up dead after a jury decided that he beat a neighborhood watch volunteer)…

  26. Morpheus

    David – the headline and your theme itself demonstrates inherent racial bias. The assertion that stand-your-ground laws represent racial bias ASSUMES that the BAD GUY is [insert minority] and the victim who has to ‘defend themselves’ to benefit from the asserted racial bias is white. If such an instance involves two people of the same race, how does this law represent racial bias? If the “bad guy” is white and the victim black, how does it represent racial bias?

    The stand-your-ground laws in various states are meant to allow someone to defend themselves from an a violent attacker without having to retreat first. YOUR headline assumes such a violent attacker must be [insert minority] and the victim white. THAT, David, demonstrates YOUR racial bias!

    Please stop race-bating and help us heal.

  27. JustSaying

    David is correct. The [i]Frontline[/i] website article on the program is:[quote]“Is There Racial Bias in ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws?”[/quote]All of your criticism, Morpheus, can be directed toward PBS as well.

    I prefer headlines that summarize, illustrate or indicate the content of the story they lead.

    Since David provides a business justification (and he’s certainly in good company this time), I’ll keep my opinions about sensationalism in headlines to myself in the future..

  28. David M. Greenwald

    “David, with all due respect, after reading this you appear to be coming unhinged on the topic of racism.”

    That’s a strange characterization based on an article that cites actual research on the topic.

  29. David M. Greenwald

    “Where is seems like you (and many others in the media) and I differ is that you seem to put “racism” as a big problem kids face.

    Racism does exist and is bad, but I don’t think it even makes the top 100 reasons of why some kids have a hard time in life (like lack of good food, lack of affection, lack of sleep, lack of exercise…)”

    I view it as part of what a kid has to face. Part of that is the impact of past de jure practices, part of that is the institutional bias, and a smaller part of that is present bias.

    Everyone has made a big deal out of my comment that I had no doubt that race played a role in this, but far less out of the fact that I gave it about a 20% weight.

  30. David M. Greenwald

    “the headline and your theme itself demonstrates inherent racial bias.”

    The headline asks a question – provocative one, but it is still a question.

    “The assertion that stand-your-ground laws represent racial bias”

    There is no such assertion

    “ASSUMES that the BAD GUY is [insert minority] and the victim who has to ‘defend themselves’ to benefit from the asserted racial bias is white.”

    Based on this comment I question whether you read or understood this article. The key point that the research cited in this article makes is that SYG is less likely to be asserted in cases of minority on white killings than the reverse and if asserted less likely to be upheld in a court.

    And the researcher makes clear that correlation here is not enough to determine racial bias because we are not accounting for the specifics of the case.

    In other words, your comment has absolutely nothing to do what was written here.

    I’ll skip to your bottom point: “Please stop race-bating and help us heal.”

    Please read the articles and quit jumping to conclusions because you got your assessment completely wrong.

  31. David M. Greenwald

    “Al Sharpton is out and about right now doing his “Help us Heal” campaign for the good of the country.”

    I think conservatives pay more attention to Sharpton than anyone else at this point.

  32. Morpheus

    No, no, David, I read (and re-read) the article, and am disturbed by it’s racial implications. As it states, “the figures do not prove bias. The data only show correlation, not causation. Moreover, as Professor Roman pointed out, they do not show the circumstances behind the killings.” But even in acknowledging that the circumstances are not known, in assuming that there is some correlation, one MUST assume that the bad guy is [insert minority] and the good guy is white.

    “What the [commission] will do is more complete, more thorough, and ultimately aimed at determining whether SYG statutes by their nature, enforcement, or application, create opportunities for racial bias to enter into the system.” Why else would they want to do a more thorough study, if the assumption is [i]not[/i] one of ultra left-wing and race-bating LIBERAL racial bias that assumes, as I have said, that the bad guy is [insert minority] and the good guy is white?

    Here’s a reality: bad guys – CRIMINALS – come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Ordinary citizens, also of all shapes, colors, and sizes, have a right to stand up against bad guys when they try to bring harm to others.

    I’m not jumping to any conclusions, David. Please stop the race baiting and be the first in the responsible media to take a stand. Help us heal.

  33. Morpheus

    “I think conservatives pay more attention to Sharpton than anyone else at this point.”

    Just like liberals pay more attention to Rush Limbaugh than any other “conservative” voice.

  34. Don Shor

    [quote]I think conservatives pay more attention to Sharpton than anyone else at this point.[/quote]
    I tend to lose interest in a topic when I see that he’s gotten involved in it, because I figure the facts will get lost in his invective and I have less than zero respect for him.

  35. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]But even in acknowledging that the circumstances are not known, in assuming that there is some correlation, one MUST assume that the bad guy is [insert minority] and the good guy is white[/quote]

    Why is that? You have cases where the shooter is one race and the person killed is the other race and you look to see how the law is applied, I don’t understand this one must assume that the bad guy is x…

    ” Why else would they want to do a more thorough study”

    Because statistical analysis is highly complex and to properly analyze these cases and even test for correlation, you need more cases (more n) and probably more robust statistical analysis than regression. And that only shows whether there is a correlation between race and verdict, it doesn’t drill into the data.

    “Here’s a reality: bad guys – CRIMINALS – come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Ordinary citizens, also of all shapes, colors, and sizes, have a right to stand up against bad guys when they try to bring harm to others. “

    That’s not the point in question. The point question at least with this research is whether the law is being applied equally and the preliminary indication is that it might not be but it’s too soon to tell and complicated to measure precisely.

  36. David M. Greenwald

    “Just like liberals pay more attention to Rush Limbaugh than any other “conservative” voice.”

    What I was actually trying to say is that conservatives pay more attention to Sharpton than blacks, liberals, mainstreamers, etc. pay attention to him.

  37. B. Nice

    [quote]What I was actually trying to say is that conservatives pay more attention to Sharpton than blacks, liberals, mainstreamers, etc. pay attention to him.[/quote]

    I think you are right. WIsh the reverse was true for Rush Limbaugh.

  38. Morpheus

    David –

    You ask “why is that?” Because the question you asked in the headline asks “Do “Stand Your Ground” Laws Represent Racial Bias?” It assumes race to be a factor in determining who is the bad guy and who is the victim, and how SYG laws show racial bias in its application. Dude, it’s YOUR blog!

    As for your comment that “conservatives pay more attention to Sharpton” – do they? Do you have statistics to confirm that blacks and liberals do NOT listen to Sharpton? (I’ll grant you that “mainstreamers” -whomever they are – probably do not pay much attention to him.) It seems to me he has a pretty large following amongst the ultra-liberals and race baiters, judging from the air-time he gets and the marches/protests, etc. that he organizes or is involved in

    B. Nice – you are not being nice. Limbaugh is just as extreme and divisive for the extreme right as Sharpton is to the extreme left. Even some of my conservative friends find him too extreme.

  39. David M. Greenwald

    On your first point – the question doesn’t assume anything. It simply asks the question. The answer to the question is as discussed.

    I only have anecdotes. I know quite a few people that you would consider to be on the ultra-liberals, black and white, I don’t know any that follow Sharpton. Now maybe if I went to NY, it would be different. My guess is most younger people don’t even know who he is.

  40. Growth Izzue

    We’ll soon see how many blacks and liberals listen to Al Sharpton with the upcoming riots and mobs. Something tells me that there won’t be too many conservatives participating.

  41. B. Nice

    [quote]B. Nice – you are not being nice. Limbaugh is just as extreme and divisive for the extreme right as Sharpton is to the extreme left. Even some of my conservative friends find him too extreme.[/quote]

    How about I hope the reverse is true for Rush Limbaugh….

  42. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > I think conservatives pay more attention to
    > Sharpton than anyone else at this point.

    Then Don wrote:

    > I tend to lose interest in a topic when I see that
    > he’s gotten involved in it, because I figure the
    > facts will get lost in his invective and I have
    > less than zero respect for him.

    I don’t know if David agrees with Don about Sharpton (I hope he does), but it is the liberal stations, newspapers and magazines that give Sharpton a platform for his race baiting (just like conservative stations, newspapers and magazines give Ann Coulter a platform for her liberal bashing). Ignorant liberals are the ones that read and listen to Sharpton on a regular basis (just like ignorant conservatives read and listen to Coulter week after week). It is only when people like Sharpton or Coulter say something incredibly stupid that the mainstream media and regular people (that are not part of “Team CNBC/Democrats are always right” or “Team Fox/Republicans are always right”) pay any attention to them…

  43. Growth Izzue

    Maybe David can write another story tomorrow morning to try and convince us (and himself) that the Trayvon/Zimmerman confrontation was all about racism.

  44. B. Nice

    [quote]Maybe David can write another story tomorrow morning to try and convince us (and himself) that the Trayvon/Zimmerman confrontation was all about racism.[/quote]

    For the level of distain you show for David and his work I’m surprised you keep reading his stories.

  45. JustSaying

    [quote]“Everyone has made a big deal out of my comment that I had no doubt that race played a role in this, but far less out of the fact that I gave it about a 20% weight.”[/quote]A 100% statement gets attention, particularly when there no proof offered.[quote]“There is no doubt – none – zero – zilch – that if the roles were reversed here, the verdict would have been different. Had Trayvon Martin killed George Zimmerman under the exact same conditions, he would have been convicted. No doubt in my mind.”[/quote]There’s no room for any subsequent parsing or nuance in a statement like this one. And, it hardly can be fairly paraphrased to state that there’s “no doubt race played a role in this.”

    If you’d written that there’s one chance in five (applying the 20% weight concept) that a conviction would have resulted if Martin had killed Zimmerman, you wouldn’t have set off such astonishment. But, it wouldn’t have been close to the point you obviously intended to make.

  46. Growth Izzue

    [quote]For the level of distain you show for David and his work I’m surprised you keep reading his stories. [/quote]

    Someone has to keep him straight, obviously you won’t because your posts always seem to just regurgitate his same thoughts.

  47. jimt

    Re: “The paper finds that the laws “do not deter burglary, robbery, or aggravated assault.” “

    Really? This would genuinely surprise me, if valid. Would like to see the statistical design and results of this aspect of the study. Of course as David acknowledges, it is extremely complex (but not impossible) to make casual links for social behavior, because of the myriad of ever-changing social conditions, in addition to ‘stand your ground’ laws, that influence the rates of burglary, robbery, and assault.

    Re: “However, they do “lead to a statistically significant 8 percent net increase in the number of reported murders and non-negligent manslaughters.””
    –which category increases, the reported murders or the reported manslaughters? If it is the reported manslaughters (presumably of attackers) that increased; I would be surprised at the other result (mentioned first paragraph in my comment) that the laws do not act as a deterrent.

  48. Ginger

    To be precise here, the Zimmerman defense team didn’t invoke the Stand Your Ground defense in court.

    It was included, however, with the jury instructions. They needed to understand that it was legal for Zimmerman to get out of his truck, AND ALSO for Trayvon to not flee home during those four minutes.

  49. Don Shor

    [quote]with the upcoming riots and mobs. Something tells me that there won’t be too many conservatives participating.[/quote]

    If there is “race-baiting” on the left, there is panic-mongering on the right. The upcoming riots and mobs? Let’s see: a couple of incidents in Oakland. They blocked the freeway for a little while in L.A. and Oakland. A handful of arrests.
    Don’t bother posting your links to specific incidents. Your narrative isn’t holding up, either.

  50. medwoman

    GI

    [quote]So in turn you would also have to agree that race baiting liberals also have an unconscious bias to infuse racism even when it’s not there.[/quote]

    Actually, I do not feel compelled to agree with your statement. If you are speaking of people who are “race baiting” does this not imply that they are deliberately trying to stir up emotion with regard to race. If they are taking a deliberate stand based on racial differentiation, this would imply that they are acting on acknowledged racial bias, not unconscious racial bias. If you believe that their bias is unconscious, then I fail to see how you feel that they are “race baiting” which implies intent.

  51. medwoman

    I would like to ask people’s opinion about the juror’s statement that the police investigator’s comment that he believed Zimmerman’s account was credible strongly influenced her even though the judge’s instruction was that they were not to take this into account.

    For me, this would represent juror misconduct. Anyone else’s thoughts on this issue ?

  52. Frankly

    [i]That’s not the point in question. The point question at least with this research is whether the law is being applied equally and the preliminary indication is that it might not be but it’s too soon to tell and complicated to measure precisely.[/i]

    And then there is OJ.

    There is also Tawana Brawley.

    And also there is Mike Nifong going after the Duke Lacrosse team.

    I think the evidence at this point proves that white racism is being injected into the judicial process by the race-baiting foot soldiers of social justice and political correctness. That is the story to write about the Martin-Zimmerman trial. The fact is that Zimmerman is screwed by these people because he has white skin. Had he come out looking more like his mamma’s side of the family, dark-skinned… and with a first or second generation Latino hard luck story, the media would have moved on, and neither David or others obsessed with race in crime would have paid it much attention.

    There probably would not have been a trial. The media coverage would have melted into an obituary only… like for the 1,000 or so young black men that have died in our US cities from minority on minority violence since Trayvon lost his life.

    But here we have a white guy doing the shooting… well white enough at least. Now here is a story that the race-baiters can sell, exploit, leverage, etc. It will grab the race-enflamed public’s attention to enflame them more. It will help white liberal Democrats continue to deflect minority anger away from their wealth and exclusivity and focus it instead on those “gun-loving” bible-belt conservatives. And in Joe Biden’s words to “never let a good crisis go to waste” with the words of Obama and his partner in crime Eric Holder, they can again try to nibble away at everyone’s rights and stick their fingers into the eyes of those foolish enough to think that states still have sovereign rights.

  53. Ginger

    Links, medwoman?

    Until I’ve had a chance to read about that (and I’ve searched a bit but can’t find anything), my thoughts would be that this is another in a series of finger-pointing at the jury (maybe all deserved, I dunno) such as these I’ve noticed:

    *Melissa Harris-Perry’s post lamenting how the jury came to the wrong decision because they were all white, and VERY few white people are intellectually capable of understanding racism. Plus whites still systemically dehumanize African Americans (then she discusses moving to Paris where there is no racism, it seems) and so what can you expect of a white jury and a black defendant? As inevitable as something [i]super[/i] inevitable.

    *Al Sharpton said something similar, that a jury of black men would have come to a different conclusion (ignore the inference there that it’s bad enough they were white…but white WOMEN? Geesh. They got the vote last for a reason, doncha know.)

    *The attorneys for the Marvin family also stated that THEY never endorsed the jury, and don’t believe that the jury really properly considered the evidence (code for racists).

    Anyway, like I said, I don’t know.

  54. jimt

    As a tangent to the line of some of Frankly’s comments; you need not invoke a kind of conspiracy theory of orchestration of social unrest by media & politicos in order to ‘divide and conquer’ the population by means of distraction away from the misdeeds of the corporate/financial/government elite; nontheless the inaccurate and biased ways in which such events are reported and commented on by mainstream media and politicos do in fact, help to achieve a more divided and polarized population.

    Meanwhile, more and more % of national wealth is continuing steadily to be consolidated into the accounts of fewer and fewer among the already wealthy…

  55. medwoman

    Ginger

    [quote]Links, medwoman? [/quote]

    Unfortunately, I was referencing excerpts from a taped interview of Anderson Cooper and the jurist which I was listening to on NPR while driving home. I have not had time to do so yet, but I imagine that the entire interview could be easily seen by Googling Anderson Cooper interview of Zimmerman trial jurist.

  56. Don Shor

    [quote]For me, this would represent juror misconduct. Anyone else’s thoughts on this issue ?[/quote]
    Once they begin deliberations, a jury can do pretty much whatever it wants with regard to what they’ve heard and seen.
    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juror_misconduct#Mistrials_and_alternatives[/url]

  57. B. Nice

    [quote]Once they begin deliberations, a jury can do pretty much whatever it wants with regard to what they’ve heard and seen. [/quote]

    Even if it goes against what the judge orders?

  58. Growth Izzue

    Don Shor

    [quote]If there is “race-baiting” on the left, there is panic-mongering on the right. The upcoming riots and mobs? Let’s see: a couple of incidents in Oakland. They blocked the freeway for a little while in L.A. and Oakland. A handful of arrests.
    Don’t bother posting your links to specific incidents. Your narrative isn’t holding up, either.
    [/quote]

    Don, you need to catch up on the news. Al Sharpton is calling for action, I wasn’t talking about what happened the last 2 days.

    [quote]“It’s not over, and we are going to make sure it’s not over. That’s why we’re calling people to … organize in your city. I don’t care if it’s 20 people. We want to show the nation that over 100 cities a week later is still demanding justice. We’re not having a fit, we’re having a movement,” Mr. Sharpton said. …

    “The one thing the ‘60s taught us is you’ve got to stay on an issue. You can’t just get mad and go home after you’ve expressed [views] one time,” Mr. Sharpton added. “You’ve got to stay on it, and we’re going to stay on this until we get some justice.”
    [/quote]

  59. medwoman

    Ginger

    There is an approximately 19 minute taped of the interview I referenced which can be Googled as above. The jurist’s quote can be heard at approximately 3:20 minutes in to the interview. Anderson Cooper asks if the testimony of the lead investigator saying that he found GZ’s account credible had an impact on her, she responds yes that it was very influential in her thinking.

    Although one commentator stated that the jury instructions included a statement that the jurors were not allowed to consider this statement by the lead investigator, I was unable to find this specific instruction unless they were alluding to the instruction that only “expert witnesses” can state opinion, and then only in their own area of expertise.

  60. B. Nice

    [quote]For me, this would represent juror misconduct. Anyone else’s thoughts on this issue ?[/quote]

    Medwoman-I posed your question to a law professor friend.

    Here is the link to the interview. (forgot to add the link before)

    [url]http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/16/us/zimmerman-juror/[/url]

  61. JustSaying

    [quote]“I would like to ask people’s opinion about the juror’s statement that the police investigator’s comment that he believed Zimmerman’s account was credible strongly influenced her even though the judge’s instruction was that they were not to take this into account.”[/quote]medwoman, I heard part of this interview. As I understand it, the juror was stating that the lead investigator was convincing because she figures his experience would make him a really credible judge of whether suspects have broken the law.

    I found the lead investigator’s testimony baffling, barely supporting the prosecutors who called him and acquiescing completely and eagerly to the defense suggestions about various possibilities.

    My immediate reaction was that the state’s case was in terrible trouble, and a wonderment why the witness hadn’t been better prepared.

    A little later, I realized that the investigator was part of a very reluctant team that already had decided against Zimmerman’s guilt and that felt invaded upon by the state’s imposition of another team of investigators and prosecutors.

    Whether consciously or not, the local folks weren’t about to provide wholehearted support to help the invaders who would have revealed the earlier incompetence and/or biased work of the locals if Zimmerman had been convicted. It was a shameful performance, I thought.

    Back to your question. The judge’s ruling (coming after the prosecutors were caught asleep for one of many times) dealt with the very specific question of vouching for the defendant’s truthfulness (a no-no). I think there’s no juror misconduct in deciding that the investigator himself was credible and that his testimony contributed little to getting the state to a “no reasonable doubt” bar.

    I don’t think we can look to jurors for someone to blame. It’s believable that the jury instructions are complicated and that the changes in the self defense law and instructions left them little room for conviction.

    Don Shor provided the requested link yesterday:[quote] “According to the juror interviewed by Anderson Cooper, they believed Zimmerman was defending himself.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/15/…?hpt=hp_t1[/quote]

  62. B. Nice

    [quote]The upcoming riots and mobs? [/quote]

    As far as I can tell there were worse riots after the Giants won the World Series.

    [url]http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Riots-break-out-in-San-Francisco-after-Giants-wi?urn=mlb-281806[/url]

  63. medwoman

    Don Shor

    I don’t know if you were addressing your comment to me, but I would like to respond. I have not been on a jury. I have lasted a few rounds into the selection process several times and then dismissed. There is a particular instance in which I was dismissed which was a bit disturbing for me.
    The jury selection was being done in a “drugs for sale” case. All of the prospective jurors including myself who stated that we engaged in drug counseling of any sort were dismissed. When I enquired about this of a lawyer acquaintance, it was told to me that doctors are almost never seated in cases of this type since their knowledge is considered too extensive and presumably they may incorporate outside knowledge into their decision making whereas only the facts presented are to be taken Into account. I do not know whether or not it has implications for this situation.

  64. Growth Izzue

    [quote]GI: I get the sense that you will be disappointed if mass rioting fails to occur. [/quote]

    B. Nice you don’t know squat about me.

  65. B. Nice

    “B. Nice you don’t know squat about me.”

    That’s not true, I know you are not an Al Sharpton fan, and that you think David injects race issue’s unnecessarily into his articles…I think it’s also safe to assume you didn’t vote for Obama, but I could be wrong….

  66. Growth Izzue

    B. Nice…. no I don’t want mass rioting. I do think it’s a possibility this Saturday because Al Sharpton is calling for people in 100 cities to demand justice. I resent that you feel that I’ll be disappointed if mass rioting fails to occur.

  67. B. Nice


    “B. Nice…. no I don’t want mass rioting. I do think it’s a possibility this Saturday because Al Sharpton is calling for people in 100 cities to demand justice. I resent that you feel that I’ll be disappointed if mass rioting fails to occur.”

    I apologize, I’m glad I was wrong.

  68. wdf1

    7/12/13, Milwauke, WI: Pair of men with concealed-carry permits engage in shootout ([url]http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/pair-of-men-with-concealed-carry-permits-engage-in-rolling-road-rage-shootout-b9953189z1-215267661.html[/url])

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