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It's hard to measure this sort of thing, but I nominate the Trayvon Martin protests as the least effective protests in modern history. They might qualify as some sort of world record. And that is a tragedy on top of a tragedy.

You can Google Trayvon Martin if you're not familiar with the case. I assume it's not getting much coverage overseas.

My understanding of the Trayvon Martin protests is that the participants would like the public to stop believing that young African-American males are crime-prone. The strategy for accomplishing this involves holding largely peaceful protests in which a small number of young African-American males are likely to be filmed by news crews wearing masks, breaking store windows, threatening innocent motorists, and getting arrested. That's exactly what I watched on the news last night as Oakland was starting to heat up.

The trouble-makers are a small percentage of the protesters - maybe 1%. The problem is that the 1% gets the lion's share of news coverage, thus reinforcing the racial bias that the peaceful protesters are trying to combat. In terms of managing the public's impressions, the protests are an epic fail.

On a related topic, I'm fascinated by the way humans reflexively group things. In this case, most observers see this as a racial situation: black versus non-black. And yet no one believes Zimmerman would have made the same boneheaded moves if he had seen an African-American woman in his neighborhood instead of a man. Or an African-American child at age ten. Or even a middle-aged black dude in a sweater-vest. The fact that Trayvon was young and male was at least half of what made him seem suspicious to Zimmerman, one presumes.

As a male who was once young, I can confirm that most of my offenses against humanity happened in my early years. My testosterone was high and my frontal lobes were only partly formed. That's a recipe for trouble, and I caused my fair share. I also grew out of it, right on schedule.

The most effective type of protest I can imagine after the Trayvon Martin verdict would involve demands for greater science literacy. That sort of movement doesn't attract too many vandals and it effectively puts racists in the "ignorant" box instead of the "evil" box. That's a game-changer. In the year 2013, perhaps the African-American community needs fewer leaders who are ministers and more who are scientists. Just a thought.

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Aug 16, 2013
i just gotta say i find it f'ing hilarious that jeantel insinuated trayvon was about to be raped. that is the kind of joke i would make to a buddy to imply he was weak. what alpha male gets raped lol!!!

on top of this, trayvon is rolling over in his grave at how much of a pus sy the media is painting him as. constantly called a child, always needing someone to cover his personal life.

i find him quite hilarious as a spectacle of his selfproclaimed thug and media portrayed angel, fearing getting raped. lmao
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Aug 9, 2013
@scaramanga, you are clearly not a woman. I don't know a single woman regardless of her size or physical abilities who has never been afraid of suffering violence from a man at one time or another.

So your statement that there is no fear of men (you call it abnormal, interestingly enough) is based on YOUR perception of the world as a man, with little understanding of what it might look like to the other half of the population.

Which is exactly what you are accusing other people of doing in the Martin case.
-9 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 26, 2013
As an alternative to the protests to the verdict, calls to overturn laws, or to protect or to indict George Zimmerman, can we start to move to some type of positive action in response to this case? I've posted a petition on the White House petitions site:

promote race-neutral, positive responses to George Zimmerman

Encourage the populace to seek out race-neutral actions that would reduce
the likelihood of another Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman tragedy. Examples
include laws that prohibit neighborhood watch volunteers from carrying
firearms to discourage such volunteers from playing cop, or funding the
design of low-cost, fashionable, identification/emergency-contact solutions
for citizens so that victims, regardless of race, are less likely to be
treated as John/Jane Does by local law enforcement.

You can view and sign the petition here:


Jul 25, 2013

I'm simply curious how you know the sequence of events that night.

That's all.
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Jul 25, 2013
Well ironically named KnowitAll, for your information a non-violent event is synonymous with a situation where someone is not physically touched in a way that is objectionable to either party. In this case, the 6 foot tall Trayvon physically jumped on George and proceeded with his hands to bash his head into the sidewalk. At the point where Trayvon touched George, it became a violent situation. The situation could have been George telling Trayvon to get off the lawn or get out of the neighborhood. If Trayvon verbally answered in any way instead of a physical assault, both people would have walked away that night.

Hope this helps if you are indeed as confused as you say you are.
Jul 25, 2013

[So... was this topic so controversial that Scott has been laying low for well over a week? Nothing ignominious has happened to our beloved blogger, I hope.]

Probably on vacation. Hes done it before (taken a week or so off from blogging). Or dealing with a startup.
Jul 25, 2013
So... was this topic so controversial that Scott has been laying low for well over a week? Nothing ignominious has happened to our beloved blogger, I hope.
Jul 24, 2013
" People here pointed out to you that he escalated an otherwise non-violent situation.."

What is your basis for saying the situation was "otherwise nonviolent"? I'm genuinely curious.
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Jul 24, 2013
@Scaramanga...circular reasoning

You tried to frame the argument that Trayvon was an innocent bystander just minding his own business when he was inexplicably gunned down by a racist white guy. People here pointed out to you that he escalated an otherwise non-violent situation by jumping on George and beating his head into the sidewalk.

You then said that the situation would be different if Trayvon were a girl. I explained to you that regardless of race or sex, someone pounding my heading into the sidewalk will likely result in me pulling the trigger out of fear regardless if its a man or woman.

In the face of lacking any real logical arguments, you then simply resorted to calling everyone who disagreed with you a racist (regardless of what race they actually are). That is simply circular logic in saying everyone is wrong in whatever they say because their position is wrong to begin with.

I can say fairly confidently that I am not white, that I have traveled more than you can ever dream of, lived and worked in multiple foreign countries, have a best friend who is black (though I simply consider him a good guy), and more than likely (95% probability) better educated than you. How would you explain that? Call me a racist?
Jul 23, 2013
You guys hear the news about Zimmerman rescuing someone from a burning car?


So far I have had a certain amount of sympathy for Zimmerman, but even so my response to this is '...Seriously? There are so many burning cars in Florida that he just happened across one he could pull a family out of? This almost has to be a set-up.'
Jul 23, 2013
I read many of these comments and my first thought is how to show their weakness of their arguments. But then I remember that it will have no effect, as most of you are not reasonable people. You are fearful people. And all you want is safety, the greatest of which is the womb of your current mindset.
If the discussion has moved towards brands (laughable since you certainly have no idea on what that word means) I am sure a great number those here in favor of the not guilty verdict are flat out afraid of black people. It would also seem that you consume too much media, never travel to non-English speaking countries, & never associate with people of color. The quoting of statistics used to justify your warped view of reality is just a cloak to hide your racist views. It’s stated that black men commit XX% of crime yet 90% of violent crimes are committed by men. Yet there is no abnormal fear of men. Statistically you are more likely to be killed by someone of the same race that someone of a different race. If defending against a potential killer was based on logic and being rational, then wouldn’t prudence and rationality dictate that keeping a healthy lifestyle be the best ‘weapon’ in one’s arsenal?

Also if you racists hate being called “racist” because it puts you into a group and ascribes a set of characteristics that negate your personhood, sees you as inherently evil and ignorant or the problem of a nation that wants to progress to its full potential or feels wrong because only you (meaning the white you) can be considered racist, then know that you have but a few hundred years to get so used to it, that you can be probably be used as a term of endearment.
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Jul 23, 2013
Wow. 'happy' just made me, well...happy! Nicely put!!
Jul 23, 2013
So much anger in the world at the moment. We have heard of this shooting in the UK and the fallout from it does not surprise us. So far, many of the protests have been peaceful which is great. Here too we have daily protests at damn near everything with people walking along pumping their fists in the air and screaming at others. Whether it is in protest at Government cuts or perceived religious intolerance, people are getting very, very angry. We see it on the news all the time in other countries. What the hell is going on? There are many reasons to get angry but it seems that violent protest is becoming the norm. Do 'those in power' not listen otherwise?
+41 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2013
When I buy a can of Coke, I see the label, and I know what to expect.

Stereotypes are wrong of course. But brands are good.

So if there are a bunch of people that dress a certain way, and act a certain way, they are creating a brand for themselves.

There's a nerd brand. There's a metro-sexual brand. There's a jock brand, a cheerleader brand, a gothic brand... I can go on but of course you know what I mean.

Then there is a gangster brand.

This may be shocking, but if you dress like a gangster - talk like a gangster - and ride around in a car like a gangster, people are bound to pick up on the brand you're showcasing.

I suppose it could be related to race - but I don't think so. I can have the above stereotypes in any race - no problem.

If you want to be treated like a nerd, dress like a nerd. You want to be treated like a gangster, knock yourself out, and dress and act like a bad-ass.

But when you do, don't get upset when people react to the brand you're pushing.

Does that make it right for someone to beat you up because you're a nerd, or shoot you in cold blood because you look like a gangster? Hell no - of course not.

But on the other hand - if you dress like a respectable member of society, the chance of getting treated better is certainly going to be higher.

So why bother acting like a bad-ass?

I don't get it.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of this case - that's not the point. The important thing to remember for us and our families is that it's important to portray the right, positive brand. It won't hurt to make the world a better place, now will it?

So put away the gangster image. Don't do it - and don't let your family do it. The world will be a better place for it.
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 22, 2013
@treekiller: a pistol disarm is very much possible though obviously risky. Not a good decision point to put yourself into, but only impossible if you don't know what you are doing. This is not mere opinion, but good solid professional training from experts. On the flip side, if you are carrying and allow the possible hostile to come within arm's reach - you risk losing control of your firearm. Also not a good position. Either way, training beyond excessive action movie consumption is advisable. I'm tempted to suggest you actually attempt your nerf gun experiment, but really giving it a go risks actually ripping someone's trigger finger off. So don't. There is second or so of mental delay between the "must shoot now" thought and the pulled trigger. A lot can be done in a second. Practice helps. Not something to attempt for the first time on the fly.

If your neighborhood has had a series of break-ins and the police are unconcerned/under-manned/ineffective one's options for doing something about it would certainly include forming a neighborhood watch. IMO forming or participating in a watch is not in and of itself paranoid. If someone were to suggest that having failed to consider possible outcomes from aggressively patrolling while armed was naive, I would not argue that conjecture.

Scott's statement speaks to the disadvantages of having "ministers" as leaders. I think he is being deliberately obtuse in choosing terms. While it is weird as an atheist to say that I don't think ministers in general are the problem, I do think several ministers in particular are the problem. And the problem is that they are not really ministers interested in turning the other cheek but that they are activists interested in radicalizing and rousing the rabble to bully the media and the white-guilty powers that be into submission, handouts and ceding political power to the activists. Real ministers and real leaders are not necessarily exclusive sets. Though one could certainly suggest that perhaps real ministers might want to be a little choosier about who they let into their club.

I think well-formed expectations might have allowed Martin to survive the night. If he had expected to be caught, convicted and punished for attacking someone, perhaps he would not have attacked. If Martin expected to be caught (again) for burglar activity, he might not have been scoping out a score in his new neighborhood. If Martin expected other people to be armed and not be soft targets, he might not have attacked. Clearly Martin could have used a little more science in thinking things through. Maybe some real community leaders could help the community youth work through those concepts. Or maybe a social studies class could explain to students that committing assault opens oneself to a robust defense. (That might have been more relevant than a tired history of the Revolutionary War.) And maybe that class could also point out that the other guy might be exercising a constitutional right that might influence the outcome of an attempted assault. Dude don't gotta be gansta to bust a cap. Dude might be carrying legal all legal and *&^%.

On the other side of it, if Zimmerman had expected to need to draw his weapon and draw blood, perhaps he would not have followed so closely. Clearly he didn't relish the outcome. If Zimmerman had expected the cops to patrol effectively in the first place, he wouldn't have been out there to begin with. Seems like a different leadership vacuum on Zimmerman's side.

An interesting essay suggesting that the civil rights movement has become corrupt and irrelevant is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324448104578618681599902640.html
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Jul 22, 2013
An interesting idea is to contrast this with the WTO protests in Seattle.
The WTO protesters were white, but they were "Anarchists."
I find myself thinking that what happens is that we see something we don't think we would do (or don't want to think we would do) and try to find a way to say it is "not us."
In the case of the WTO, because the protesters were white, we needed to find out why they were being violent and destructive. Once we had an answer, even a pretty crappy one (why are they anarchists? Why are the anarchists being destructive? Doesn't matter, we know they are "not us," so who cares) we can now write it off.
If the protesters are not white, then we don't need that extra, flimsy, explanatory step, they are a different skin color, therefore "not us."
If the WTO protesters had all been blonds, then as a dark haired person, I might not have needed to know that they were anarchists, I could have just watched them, said "gosh, blonds sure are violent," and went on my way.
Jul 22, 2013
my maiden post seems to have vanished into the æther, so I'll try a shorter version:

For the record: this story has indeed been followed by the foreign press, or at least that part of it I understand: BBC, The Guardian, Le Monde, Libération, France Info, i>Télé, in fine, all the UK & even the French press. (Not the coffee maker, the online newspapers and broadcasters.) Try going to lemonde.fr and searching the term "trayvon'.

They followed it like they do everything else that happens here. Believe me, the overseas press is kind of obsessed with the United States. You should've seen the French papers grappling unsuccessfully with the Strauss-Kahn proceedings (and with even the most basic aspects of the common-law system we use and they don't). It drove them nuts. But even when morally compromised French politicians are not involved, they report on just about everything happening over here that our news media report on, and much else besides.

[prior text re confirmation bias and Vulcans deleted in the interest of this post, which would like to not be itself deleted....]
Jul 22, 2013
The author of this quote argues not even for scientific literacy but just basic literacy:

"People achieving a lesser standard, partial sentience perhaps, can see that until blacks decide to essay literacy, even education, things will stay the same or deteriorate. "

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 22, 2013
+19 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 19, 2013
...and KnowitAll takes the prize for confirmation bias...
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