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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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Jul 16, 2013
On the LA Times website, coverage of the Monday night protest featured a demonstrator carrying a sign reading "Being black is not a crime". Meanwhile a small portion of the black protesters broke away from the peaceful gathering and went on a mini-crime spree; tearing apart a WalMart, smashing windows, a hitting newsman covering the event over the head.
Jul 16, 2013
Ever since I saw the testimony that Zimmerman had no athletic ability I see it as a Nerd vs Jock story
In that way this story
The story goes that Zimmerman called 911 when a suspicious Martin came a crusing through his neighborhood. Zimmerman followed Martin and lost him. Then Martin Jumped out a bush and started thrashing Zimmerman who then shot him. It is very sad because Martin was young and was just starting his life, if Zimmerman had been more physically capable he could have restrained Martin instead of shooting him, or he should have hoped that the police would keep his neighborhood safe from any potentially nefarious versions of Martin
The story goes that The nerd called 911 when a suspicious Jock came a cruising through his neighborhood. The nerd followed The Jock and lost him. Then The Jock Jumped out a bush and started thrashing The nerd who then shot him. It is very sad because The Jock was young and was just starting his life, if The nerd had been more physically capable he could have restrained The Jock instead of shooting him, or he could have hoped that the police would keep his neighborhood safe from any potentially nefarious versions of The Jock

I am sure that thinking about it in this way makes me seem insensitive to some people, but I don't care about how those people feel so it works out.
Jul 16, 2013
It might help defuse violent street protests if there was a good online surrogate for smashing windows or looting. Maybe Google Maps could provide a virtual world where a click breaks a window, a double click throws a molotov !$%*!$%*! or 20 clicks with different IP addresses turns over a car.

Also, a site like that would help lower costs for police. Their agent provocateurs would be able to work from home, saving valuable taxpayer money.

News organizations would be able to safely collect violent footage from virtual cameras, and depending on their intended audience, skin color could be changed with a click.

Jul 16, 2013
I have to admit that with all the anger and threats on social media, it should have been obvious to protest organizers that peaceful demonstrations were a risky endeavor. I guess they had enough faith and decided it was worth the risk.

However, I'm moderately surprised that they have been very peaceful overall and the violence and vandalism has been minimal. I was wary of a re-run of 1992 and the Rodney King backlash. I think the respective communities have reasonably demonstrated that we don't live in the 1990's with regards race relations, even if this particular event has been very divisive and flared anger and strong opinions for a lot of people.

But then again, this is the 3rd day after the verdict, which came out at 10:00pm on a Saturday night. Personally, if we get through the next weekend peacefully, I'll call these protests a success.
Jul 16, 2013
What is a holocaust-denying, creationist, science-hating, (secks)-ist, sock puppet like you doing promoting science education? (here's hoping that my cleverness outsmarted your filter)
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 16, 2013
Just FYI, the case got quite significant coverage here in the UK
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