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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- The Maryland State Lottery claims a winner has stepped forth to claim his/her share of the Mega Millions lottery. The winner has chosen to remain anonymous (MSNBC):

- President Obama to make a stronger push for the "Buffett Rule" (CNN Money):

- North Korea claims all the prep work for its controversial missile/rocket launch are ready and the launch should take place within the next few days (Fox News):

- George Zimmerman has spoken out for the first time via a website he established titled (Fox News):

*** Be sure to vote in the new weekly LME poll on the right ***                  


  1. Lottery - So, LME, anything you care to share with the rest of us? :)

    On a more serious note is this George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin incident. In my opinion, a large part of the blame here should fall on the FL State Legislature for having such an unbelievably half-assed law which puts no burden on the person who is supposedly protecting themselves. What this law really does is allow for legalized murder depending on who has the bigger gun. The law is meant to allow people to protect themselves but also allows for people to goad others into being the preemptive aggressor. I use the word preemptive purposefully as it seems that is the society many believe we live in (see yesterday's discussion on Iran). TM, in my opinion and from what has been reported, did nothing wrong but be in the wrong place at the wrong time in proximity to a vigilante. It appears that GZ followed TM for no other reason than he didn't recognize him. GZ was told by the police dispatcher not to follow TM but he did so, aggressively - first in a car, then on foot. Now, if I were TM, I would be the one fearing for my safety... who wouldn't? This is where the law is terribly and tragically flawed. Basically, this 'stand your ground' law allows for one to be aggressive, so long as they do not become physical. They essentially goad you into attacking them if you feel threatened and then are legally allowed to shoot you should they be carrying a gun as GZ was. Who was the aggressor in this situation? If you ask me, I'd tell you that GZ was and that it was TM who was protecting himself. I don't believe it was the intent of the law to allow this to occur but now that it has, the law needs to be re-written immediately. It is a shame it had to come to this in order for the FL State Legislature to realize (and I don't think that they have yet) that a law such as the 'stand your ground' law cannot exist without some sort of burden being placed on the protector (GZ in this case). It was likely the gun lobby that pushed this legislation and, if that is true, is another example of why money and special interests should be removed from the legislative process (but that's probably for another day).

    1. Whatsamattausa - Good morning! And mannnnnnn, do I wish! If I won that jackpot, I'd probably still blog. It's a way for me to blather about politics and economics without making the significant other go deaf. But I would for sure stop working. The winning lottery ticket was purchase only about 15 minutes from me. I thought maybe 32slim32 rolled through this area and bought a lottery ticket. Oh darn... :-)

      As far as the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman issue, I can understand your take on it regarding the law, but I respectfully disagree with the analysis.

      For me, I'm not a lawyer, but while I do agree that we should have laws that allow us to protect ourselves by any means necessary (I don't want to see any innocent person ever attacked, robbed, hurt, etc, and no one should have to endure any level of it from petty muggings to full-out attacks), my way of looking at it is a little different. The only part that scares me is if Mr. A wanted to kill Mr. B, all Mr. A would have to do is lure Mr. B into an area where no one can see them, kill Mr. B, and claim he was attacked. I'm not saying that's what happened in the GZ/TM case, but, in my opinion, that abuse potential exists. Actually, hmmm. You might look at this the same way, now that I reread your post... you discuss aggressiveness and aggressor. Perhaps we are speaking the same language.

      With regards to the specifics of the case, I really don't have a comment. We put up the poll on the right (but neither me nor the other two "staffers" of this blog vote in our own polls), but if I did, my choice would be the one about the court of public opinion, or the last one about not knowing enough information. To me, the reason is because all we have to go on is the media's information about this incident. Unfortunately, this has changed with regards to accuracy numerous times. Only two people know what happened, and one, sadly and tragically, can't testify. Perhaps, GZ really just wanted to kill TM and concocted this "self defense" strategy to cover it. Perhaps TM really didn't like GZ following him, and wanted to attack him to make a point. Perhaps GZ really actually felt fearful for his life and acted in self defense. To me, I am staying away from it. Justice is not automatically arresting GZ. In my opinion, if the only way justice is satisfied for the people that demand "justice" is to simply arrest GZ, then that's a mockery of justice. Trayvon Martin deserves justice, and GZ deserves fair treatment. A lot of people thought Casey Anthony committed murder, but she was put in front of a jury of her peers and according to the court, she received justice (fair treatment). In spite of public opinions, she was not found guilty. I just want to see the justice system do its thing. If they investigate and find they cannot bring charges against GZ, so be it. If they investigate and find he is a potential murderer and should be tried, so be it. I know that's me going on and on about it, but I just want to see the court of public opinion remain out of this one.

      Hope you're having a great day! I might be able to write back... I should be around (I think).

    2. Really quick, I know I said "I don't really have a comment"... I know that the long paragraph shows I do... I meant I don't have a comment on either side (TM's or GZ's).

    3. LME -

      I think you and I are pretty much on the same page. I voted for letting the courts handle it. My point was really that the law is a terrible one but nobody is talking about that. There could be abuses like you've pointed out or there could just be confusion. You are correct that only 2 people know, truly, what happened. But, IF what has been reported is accurate, TM was, in my opinion, the one who was protecting himself and GZ just happened to have the bigger weapon. Looking at the law ( - (3) is the pertinent section), it would appear that GZ did nothing wrong when, it reality, it appears he did his best to set this scenario up (following in car, following on foot, chasing TM). So, I do not think GZ will be arrested but, from what I've read, he should be. Had the law provided that you cannot instigate a confrontation, he would be tried and convicted (again, based upon what has been reported). You are right that TM deserves justice and that GZ deserves fair treatment. Unfortunately, that will not (and should not) happen - meaning GZ shouldn't be prosecuted under the current law and if he isn't than TM will not get justice. I just think that when governments pass such laws, they need to look at it on the whole and not from one aspect of it. This law was likely pushed by gun activists as a way for people to have the right to protect it was probably passed quickly and on the back of a prior tragic event that, within that snapshot of time, seemed to make sense (people will support anything that makes them seem safer when they are in fear - see Patriot Act). As a result, the legislature has provided an avenue for devious people to murder others (not saying that GZ was such a devious person). It is perfectly legal for someone to be an instigator, making another feel as though their safety is in imminent danger, and then claim self defense. The aggressive pursuit of TM by GZ should make the matter criminal if the law had been written with all of society in mind... unfortunately for TM and his family, the FL State Legislature failed them!

    4. Whatsamattausa - Always good to talk things out.

      I agree, I think we are on the same page with regards to the potential abuses of the law. Also, it's a good point that the law should be looked at (albeit before it or any law is written) from an aggregate scope and not a microscope...

      It's a fine balance between self protection and violence. Should anyone ever have to endure an attack? Nope. But how do we justly defend against them and protect the innocent. Perhaps a law like this isn't the comprehensive way of doing it. I'm not sure how I feel (to conclusion about that).

      I can see how you feel that GZ is more "in the wrong" in this one... but I respectfully disagree (somewhat), and I won't really make a call to conclusion on it either. I don't know all the facts, and it's hard for me to draw that conclusion. But, as with law, we are all entitled to our interpretation, and you've done that. I respect that, and I respect your thoughts on it. I just don't narrow it down personally in the same way for either side just yet :-).

    5. Additionally, I am definitely interested to see how the poll turns out. It has been marketed equally (on both "left" and "right" leaning media), so I hope we get enough voters to have a decent sample. I'm just curious as to how the public feels on this issue... through all the clouds and muddy water the MSM has created.

    6. Both made great points and I can see and agree with all that was said as well, good discussion. :)

      As far as the poll, I eared on the side of allowing the legal system to take care of the problem rather than the 'court of public opinion.'

  2. Good afternoon all.

    I'm sorry Whatsamattausa, I couldn't help but laugh when I read that you believe Zimmerman planned this out. Needless to say, I happen to disagree with you on this.

    First of all Zimmerman was not looking for Martin any more. He was returning to his vehicle as per the 911 operators SUGGESTION. He was told not to pursue Martin for his safety not Martin's. Additionally, I don't think not heeding the advice of a 911 operator is a crime.

    Martin approached Zimmerman from behind and engaged him in a conversation. Then TM attacked GZ. He punched him in the nose breaking his nose and knocking GZ to the ground. Then TM climbed on top of GZ beating him and slamming his head into the sidewalk repeatedly.

    My question for you Whatsamattausa is; how long should Zimmerman have allowed TM to bash his head in the concrete? Another 30 seconds another 45 seconds? We have eyewitness account of TM on top GZ beating him and GZ screaming for help. (My response would have been to stop the beating NOT calling 911, but, that's another story) We also have another 911 call where we hear GZ screaming for help for 41 seconds before we hear the gun shot.

    How many times would you allow someone to slam your head into a sidewalk before you felt it necessary to do whatever it takes to protect yourself?

    The statute 776.013 (3) states:

    A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    GZ was not engaged in any unlawful activity and was attacked where he had a right to be and I believe he had a reasonable belief that the continued bashing of his head into a sidewalk could possibly cause death or at least great bodily harm.

    Also, what kind of person can continue such a vicious assault while their victim is pleading for help that long?

    Yes, it stinks a 17 year old lost his life, but, TM brought it on himself when he attacked GZ. TM could have simply left after the sucker punch that broke GZ's nose and he would still be alive. Once he climbed on top of him and continued his assault on GZ he left GZ with few choices other than shoot him especially after such a prolonged and vicious assault.

    LME.....I only buy lotto tickets when Whatsamattausa and I agree or when the jackpot is over $100 million. If it's only $80 or $90 million I am not tempted by it. I went all out for the $500 Million jackpot......I bought 5 tickets. The guy at the store told me one person had just came in and bought 1,000 tickets. I thought I was crazy for buying 5.

    Hope everyone has a super duper day.

  3. Slim -

    You misunderstand my point. NEVER did I say or even insuinuate that GZ planned this. My point was that it is reasonable to think that someone could easily do so - as an example, Man A and Woman A are married but get seperate in a nasty dispute. Man A has a history of beating his wife. Man A follows here first in a car and then on foot. Woman A carries mace and one of those compact batons. Woman A notices Man A following and maces him and begins to beat Man A, who, all the while wanted this so he could shoot Woman A... Far fethched, I think not. Meanwhile, Woman A is dead and Man A goes and has a nice lobster dinner. The law is tremendously flawed. I believe that could have been the case here. GZ put TM in a state where he feared for his safety. TM could have attacked preemptively (in (1) of that same section, under the home invasion statute, one only needs to feel something is imminent) though section 3 does not allow for that.

    Also, what actually happened is in dispute. I am not taking a side either way here as I do not know the facts and the story seems to keep changing/evolving. My point is that GZ COULD have been and/by all accounts was an instigator via his aggressive pursuit. That is my opinion based upon what I've read. IF he was indeed the instigator then a road map into how to goad someone into taking physical action for the purposes of murdering that person is now in place. The law needs to be changed. I believe, GZ could be guilty under a better law meant to protect everyone but I do not believe he is guilty under the current law.

    Hope that helps define my position a bit more clearly.

    1. Whatsamattausa, we are not talking about Man A and Woman A in this discussion. We were talking about a specific event that actually happened.

      My question again is, how long should GZ allow TM to slam his head into a sidewalk before he defends his life the only way he had available to him? How many times would you allow someone to slam your head into a sidewalk before you were imminent fear of your life?

      There is nothing wrong with the law.

      Is it your contention that GZ should have just laid there allowing TM to bash his skull into the concrete until the police showed up since TM may have felt harassed?

      I could see some of the media outrage if TM had sucker punched GZ and then GZ shot TM. However, that isn't what happened. TM engaged in a very violent and vicious prolonged attack on GZ.

      I have tried to objectively look at both sides. If TM felt threatened by GZ why did he track him down? Why didn't he just get the Skittles to his brother/sister (I forget which now)? GZ was a neighborhood watch captain and TM was technically a stranger there since he normally lived with his mother in the Miami area.

      Again, if TM would have attempted to handle the situation like a rational human being instead of wanting to teach GZ a lesson he'd still be eating Skittles and drinking Arizona iced tea.

      You may not realize it Whatsamattausa, but, you are implying that because GZ harassed TM that TM has a right to physically assault GZ without mercy until he is bored with beating him and GZ has no right whatsoever to defend his life.

      Is that your rationale? That TM was well within his rights of trying to kill GZ and GZ over stepped the bounds when he defended his life.

      What happened is not really in dispute. There is an eyewitness that saw TM on top of GZ beating him and GZ begging for help. There is a 911 call that clearly plays the pleas for help for 41 seconds before the gunshot.

  4. yah, whatsam - i didn't think you said that either. how did you pull that one out, slim? i think this last paragraph by whatsam and the onces by lme make a good point. gz might not have had that as a motive, but yes the possibility for that dangerous grey area could exist. at the end of the day, if it's done right, dead men cant testify. if this was gzs motive, he definitely wins

    1. Race race race! So many people talk about the George Zimmerman issue as a racial one. Blacks march and march and march.

      What about this???

      There, it's a bunch of jungle bunnies beating up on a white man, with other jungle bunnies watching and doing nothing. It's also no surprise they rob him.

      If the white community marched for justice, they would be racists. If black people march for justice, they aren't? Double standard? Why is this video not causing people to march? I'm tired of it.

    2. Tired of it: I understand your views, your issues, and your passion, but please refrain from using any kind of language that can be considered offensive, racial, or hate-based. Regardless of your feelings on the words "jungle bunnies," others might be offended, and to us at The Elephant in the Room, that's unacceptable. We want to promote a positive, hate-free blog where anyone can come and share their views regardless of which side of the political spectrum they fall on.

      I'm going to leave this post up so that people can see your views regardless of how controversial they are, but if people comment that they would like it removed, I or LME will remove it. We value all opinions, including yours, but we also promote the peaceful, open exchange of ideas. I hope you understand. Thank you.