Al Sharpton Is Responsible For Zimmerman’s Acquittal

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Over the past months, the United States has been rocked by the murder trial of George Zimmerman. By now we all know the basic facts, Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin because he was unfamiliar in the gated community where Zimmerman lived following a string of recent burglaries. A fight broke out between the two men, and in the end Martin was shot once in the heart and killed.

We all know that already, this is the story of how Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, NAACP, and every other protester unwittingly caused George Zimmerman to be acquitted of murder. It goes like this:

Following the police investigation, Zimmerman was released from custody without being charged. The lead detective simply couldn’t find any evidence to suggest that Zimmerman’s account of what lead him to shoot Martin was inaccurate. He’s acknowledged that after receiving all the evidence, he believed Zimmerman’s account — that Trayvon attacked him for following him, pinned him to the ground, expressed that he was going to kill Zimmerman, and pounded his head into the pavement when Zimmerman fatally shot Martin. If Zimmerman’s account of events is true, he acted in self-defense.

Because physical evidence and eyewitness affidavits corroborated Zimmerman’s story, the police determined they should not charge him at that time.

This is where Sharpton et al. get involved. They have no facts, they have not seen the evidence, they have not read the affidavits. All they know, and all they understand, is that a black 17 year old was killed by a “white” guy (who wasn’t), and didn’t get charged with murder. They felt that this would make a perfect opportunity to turn the event into a civil rights issue, and would force the state’s hand into charging Zimmerman.

They organized protests, they bombarded the media with false reports, and the media rolled with it. Before any facts were publicly known, the media already convicted Zimmerman of murder. They convinced celebrities to make speeches and join the propaganda to spill racism into the event. Even president Obama, of whom those who know me know that I adore, said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon, before anything about Trayvon was known.

They got the media to post childhood pictures of Trayvon along with mugshot-esque photos of Zimmerman to make it look like a thug killed an innocent child. Zimmerman was stupid, but no thug, and Trayvon wasn’t the innocent child that America initially believed him to be.

So what happened? Protests. Mass protests calling for the arrest and trial of Zimmerman. Political pressure was too great, and the state had to cave in. They knew the public wouldn’t be satisfied with a voluntary manslaughter charge (which they may have been able to get at a later date), so they charged him with murder in the second degree — a charge they knew couldn’t stick to appease the general public.

As the facts of the trial came out, it was obvious that Zimmerman couldn’t be found guilty of murder two. Our legal system doesn’t work that way. Our legal system is designed on the Blackstone formulation: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” This is how we come up with beyond a reasonable doubt. Basically it means that if there is doubt that a charged person doesn’t meet the requirements of the crime for which he is charged, he has to be found not guilty of the crime. It doesn’t mean they are innocent. It doesn’t mean they are more likely innocent than guilty. The jury believed that Zimmerman’s story of self-defense matches the physical evidence and the witness testimony, so they had to accept that it was reasonable doubt to the murder charge. It may or may not be true, but it casts reasonable doubt. Once the jury determined tha thtey believed self-defense, the lesser charge (added last minute) of manslaughter wasn’t an option. If they bought self-defense for the larger charge, they had to accept self-defense for the lesser one. They had to acquit him.

This could have been avoided. The police may have in the future decided to charge Zimmerman on their own. Without the media attention and public outrage, the state would have had the option to give Zimmerman a plea bargain. The public outrage prevented that — it wouldn’t satiate the public’s bloodlust if Zimmerman got a deal, and they knew that. Murder 2 wasn’t an option, but without a trial to determine self-defense, voluntary manslaughter would have been an option. It would have been the smarter move, and likely would have been the move that would have convinced Zimmerman to plead guilty instead of force a murder trial.

There was also the possibility that if Zimmerman intended to kill Martin that night that down the road he would have confided that to someone. Then the state would have had him on murder — but that time never came because the media-fueled public outrage didn’t give him the opportunity.

Zimmerman may be in jail right now if it weren’t for the attention that Sharpton et al. put on the case. Their desire to turn it into a civil rights issue and give the nation a bloodlust let a man who was likely guilty go free.

I hope that made sense.

Now a few details about the case that I keep seeing on facebook, twitter, and news blogs reported incorrectly.

  1. The jury wasn’t a jury of his peers — the law doesn’t require it. That’s a phrase from the movies. It was an impartial jury, which is what the 6th Amendment to the Constitution requires.
  2. The prosecution and defense selected the jurors out of a huge pool of potential jurors and together and BOTH sides agreed to it. The fact that it was 6 women (with a man and woman on reserve in case others proved to not be impartial later) is coincidence. The judge also approved of each member of the jury.
  3. Police did NOT order Zimmerman not to follow Martin. A dispatcher said that they didn’t need him to continue to follow Martin. That’s not an order not to, and even so, a dispatcher’s opinions (or orders) do not hold the legal weight of those from a sworn officer. The dispatcher is not a sworn officer and does not have the training that police officers have.
  4. The facts leading up to the fight do not negate Zimmerman’s Constitutional rights to defend his life once the fight escalated to a life or death situation.
  5. Stand Your Ground was not an issue in this case. Zimmerman’s attorney refused this defense, and it was not brought up in trial. You can stop attacking this law based on Zimmerman’s acquittal. It played no role whatsoever in the case. Stand Your Ground (see Supreme Court Cases Beard vs US 1895 and Brown vs US 1921) says that when your life is in clear, immediate danger, but you have the opportunity to flee that you have NO obligation to flee before using force. That isn’t what happened in the case, and that isn’t what Zimmerman used as his defense. What it does have in common to his defense is that both are affirmative defenses (they would acknowledge that he killed him, but that it was justifiable).
  6. Zimmerman’s claim was simply self-defense. He claimed that his life was in immediate danger and that he did not have the possibility fleeing. His claim was that when Martin expressed his intentions to kill Zimmerman and that when Martin had Zimmerman pinned to the ground and was pounding his head into the pavement that he was incapable of fleeing and that if he didn’t take immediate action he would be killed.
  7. Justice was served. Just because no one was sent to jail doesn’t mean justice wasn’t served. He was tried in court, an impartial jury found that his affirmative defense was more likely true than not (in an affirmative defense the defendant has to prove a “preponderance of the evidence”, not the same “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the prosecution has to prove, that the defense is true). Again, our legal system believes it’s better for the guilty to go unpunished than for the innocent to go punished for a crime they didn’t commit. That’s what happened here. Justice was served.
  8. Mob justice isn’t the answer. Violent protests such as those in L.A. following the verdict or the Black Panther $10,000 reward for the capture of Zimmerman prior to his arrest does nothing but hurt our justice system and collapse a free nation.

I can totally agree that some laws may need to change. That’s why it’s important for you to vote at every election. You can change the laws by voting directly on the ones up for vote and indirectly by replacing politicians you disagree with for ones with whom you do agree.

I can totally agree that Zimmerman is more likely guilty than he is innocent. That doesn’t mean our justice system is flawed. If I ever get falsely accused of a crime, I will be ecstatic that we’ve decided that our justice system requires beyond a reasonable doubt before punishing me rather than just punishing me because it might be true. I suspect in the same situation, any of my readers would feel the same way.

Please people, watch the trial if you want accurate facts about what happened — do not look to the media. Remember, media outlets look for headlines and stories that will give them the most viewers/readers and the highest ratings, they do not care about making sure the information is factually accurate. They don’t have the legal obligation that courts do to review facts and wait for evidence before pronouncing a person guilty. This case exemplifies that.

Finally, do not let the likes of Al Sharpton, the NAACP, or their cohorts trick you into thinking every situation where two people of opposing races is a civil rights issue. There is a reason that it has been said of Al Sharpton that he would show up to a car accident if one of the vehicles was black. His bias goes to an extreme and he stands to make significant financial gains and personal attention every time he convinces people that non-racially motivated circumstances are civil rights issues.

The New Gun Debate

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Lately guns have been on everyone’s minds. Approximately 7 weeks ago Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and 6 adults after first killing his own mother and ending with him killing himself. The nation froze at the tragedy — I remember being on a lunch break at work and reading a news article of the piece and really couldn’t believe what I was reading; it was just too shocking to be true.

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook, 1,280 people have been either murdered or accidentally killed by guns in the United States. Slate’s count was 1,475 including suicide and police shootings. It’s crazy how a centerpiece of American freedom, an item that without which we would still be British subjugates, can suddenly be on the low side of American opinion.

With all the media attention on the damage that guns are doing to innocent people, state and federal legislatures have been debating what needs to be done to reduce the number of killings with firearms.

If you are part of the camp that says, “You can’t eliminate firearm deaths by regulating firearms, so we shouldn’t make any regulations at all,” you might as well leave now,  because nothing more I have to say on the topic will appeal to you; mainly because you’re wrong.

There’s a large group that says, “We don’t need to regulate guns, we need to improve mental health.” I agree completely that mental health needs improvement. If the legislatures that were making that claim actually believed it, they would be putting mental health bills up for debate — however, to improve mental health they’d have to undo all the stuff they’ve worked so hard to get rid of for the last 20 years. They don’t want gun regulation, but they don’t want to seem callus — but they don’t actually believe what they say.

Ok, so I’ve trashed the other side: What do I think?

I believe we should have the ability to enforce the regulations already on the books. The NRA has been able to use their congressional members to push limitations on the ability to enforce gun related regulations that have already been passed — an example of which is the damage the patriot bill did the ATF — look it up, you’ll be amazed. And the clauses in there to limit them were written by the NRA directly.

I don’t believe that guns should be regulated extra hard because different pieces of plastic make them look scarier. Pistol grips on a rifle don’t matter to me. What I care about is the things that allow would be murderers to do as much damage as quickly as possible. I can’t understand why anyone would need 15 rounds or more to protect their house or to hunt. If your aim is that bad that you need to rapid fire to hit the target, you shouldn’t have a gun in the first place — a firing range for target practice is the only place you should be holding a gun.

I also think that background checks and registration of firearms are reasonable. The background checks don’t need to include every detail of the buyer’s life — just whether or not it is legal for them to own firearms. I also believe the government should have a reasonable idea of what firearms are located where and registration is the way to do that. It can protect legal gun owners from being in trouble if their former weapons are used in a crime (see my next point), if they publicly acknowledge that they no longer own that weapon. We have to register our cars annually and that has already been deemed non-intrusive, so I don’t see why a 1-time registration of a firearm is so much more intrusive.

The argument I hear from the conservative side is that all the regulations only affect law abiding, responsible gun owners. That’s why, to protect responsible gun owner’s, I suggest that if your weapon is used to commit a crime, you are in part responsible for that crime and should be criminally charged with something to the affect “failing to maintain responsible possession of a firearm” with increments depending on the affects the firearm had directly on any victims. The fact is, the legally owned guns belonging to responsible gun owners do not get used in shootings; but too often someone else’s gun is getting used to kill innocent people.

For example Christmas Day last year, 2-year old Sincere Smith killed himself while playing with his dad’s new .38 pistol. It is true, that the dad was charged with involuntary manslaughter in this instance, but surprisingly enough, it doesn’t always happen that way. For example 4 of the guns used by the shooters in the 1999 Columbine shooting were obtained from friends — did the friends or friends’ parents ever get charged? No.

The question comes about stolen weapons. Responsible gun owners know and report when their firearms are stolen. They keep them locked up and away from children. They don’t allow mentally incompetent or unstable use their guns. A gun reported stolen would obviously not result in the owner being charged, because they showed responsibility. If the evidence suggests that whatever crime a gun was used in was stolen before the gun owner could have noticed, they wouldn’t be charged either — the goal is not to be unfair, but to encourage gun owners to know where their guns are and make good choices about who has access to them; not to punish for being an owner.

NRA VP, Wayne Lapierre stated after the Sandy Hook shooting that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This argument has been proven wrong twice already. January 10th, a school shooter at Taft Union High School was talked down by a teacher and security guard to handing over his weapon. January 31st, a school shooter at Price Middle School had his weapon taken away by a liaison officer after shooting 1 student before he could continue. Some have pointed out that the officer was a good guy with a gun; however, the officer never un-holstered his gun — the gun didn’t stop the shooting. Even though it keeps getting reported that it was an armed guard that stopped it.

So where does that leave me? I am totally in favor of responsible gun ownership. I enjoy the rare occasion that I get to go to a shooting range, and would really like to own a gun — the only reason I don’t now is that I can’t afford one. I support the measures that Obama has put through executive order and generally support many of the measures being debated in Congress. Obama doesn’t want to take our guns away or make it illegal to buy or own a gun as some media experts choose to report; he wants to have the power to enforce the ones already in place.

What’s your opinions? Post it in the comments or a link to your own blog post about the topic!

Shameless attempts for blogging ideas

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Ok, so I obviously haven’t done tons of postings in the recent past. There are many reasons for this… at the beginning of my big break I just became so busy that I didn’t have time to blog. Then it became I was fresh out of ideas, so I never had anything to write about.

I’m going to try to come up with several new posts today that I can spread out for a little bit, but in the meantime, I highly suggest my readers (I can’t believe how many views I got with the last blog I posted, woulda thought everyone forgot about me), send an email to steven-ford@uiowa.edu with topics you want me to discuss….. anything is fair game; no topic is off limits. I promise I’ll work extra hard to make sure I have well thought out and researched things for you.

#OpRollRedRoll

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About 2 weeks ago I realized something about myself. I like vigilantism. For a guy that spent nearly 20% of his life (nearly my entire work career), this is a crazy thought — a few months ago I probably would have said I don’t like vigilantes because they go against law enforcement. Then I got to thinking…

Who are my 2 favorite “super” heroes? Batman and V. Neither of them is overly extraordinary — neither can fly or control elements with ESP. Yeah, both heroes have superhuman powers, but both of their superhuman abilities were developed through a lot of pain and hard work. The police are given orders to arrest both super heroes, despite that both are doing the work that the government is failing to do.

Neither Batman, nor V are perfect — in fact, they are both horridly flawed. Batman is a bit of a “horn dog,” he’s arrogant, and frequently ignores wise counsel. V is filled with hate; anger; blood-lust. He kills and allows innocents to be killed in pursuit of methodically destroying people who have wronged him. He cares more about revenge than he does about Evey Hammond (just like how she pointed out to him that Edmond Dantes cared more about revenge than Mercedes).

However, when it comes down to it, the vigilante heroes repair broken societies. They sacrifice their life, happiness, and comfort to make society better. Gotham City and London are terrible places, but because of a single vigilante in both cities, there is hope. Because of them people aren’t afraid anymore. I like that.

As I’ve been writing, it occurred to me that they are kind of like Robin Hood (another vigilante that I have always admired). When the government fails to protect its people, it’s up to people to protect each other.

So that’s where #OpRollRedRoll comes in to play. I have loosely watched a hacktivist group called Anonymous (hacker activist) for a few years. Lately, I have been really paying attention to them. They are this loosley-organized group that looks to do vigilante justice where governments have failed worldwide. When they meet for a real protest, it is easy to pick Anonymous out from the rest of the protesters because they are they guys wearing Guy Fawkes masks and suits.

On the 23rd of this month, they announced they were going to war with Steubenville, OH. This town loves nothing more than their high school football team — apparently, not even their children. Earlier this year a 16 year old girl was invited to hang out with the football team at a party at one of the coaches’ house. She was given so much alcohol that she passed out. From there, multiple boys on the football team, who call themselves the “rape crew” took turns in a several hour long gang rape — all the while taking nude pictures and videotapes of her passed out.

There was a big push by the school, police, booster club, and local media to hide the fact. Police refused to investigate the crime for over a week, teachers were instructed (and as reports from students evidence) and carried out instructions to say that the girl was a slut and it was her fault. That she wanted what she got and the football players involved were victims to false allegations of rape. She, and her best friend, are still receiving harassment by numerous students and townsfolk because their priority is the star football team.

Eventually, 2 of the players were charged, but the numerous other boys of the rape crew who were present and videotaped, photgraphed, and did nothing to stop it were not charged with any crime. That night and the following day, they started tweeting and video messaging many other people in the school the evidence of their involvement.

Again, the town has done nothing to stop it. It isn’t the first allegation THIS YEAR of rape that was covered up by the local authorities. Another girl reported being raped by another boy from that school, but after some quick media spin and efforts to suppress, the town quickly forgot about it. Who was the boy accused? The son of one of the News station’s execs. I find it hard to believe that’s a coincidence.

Despite clear evidence of an exploited child by numerous people, alcohol at a party of a school official with students present, rape of a child, and a group of boys who openly refer to themselves as the rape crew, the federal authorities were never asked to become involved. The town has too much to lose (a high school football championship) to protect their own children.

#OpRollRedRoll was started on December 23rd when Anonymous and #KnightSec hacked the fan page of the football team (self-admittedly a private website, not affiliated with the school). They offered a Vendetta. They reviewed the photographs and videos taken at that party as the 16 year old girl was being raped, and they identified multiple boys who were involved and not charged or stood by while it happened and either filmed it or did nothing. In the message (delivered by a man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask) he announced that he had hacked the private information for each of those boy (name, address, phone number, email, twitter, facebook, social security) and would publicly release it on the internet if they did not record themselves admitting to their actions (or inactions as the case may be) and ask for forgiveness and post it to the internet by Midnight on January 1st. He also stated in the video that owner of the fan site rollredroll.com (Jim Parks) had numerous interesting things in his email including pornography of young girls (he didn’t say child pornography), pictures of the 16 year old victim, and email correspondence with some of the boys that suggested that he was paying at least some of them for pictures and videos of their “exploits”.

Of course, Jim Parks filed a criminal police report for hacking with the county sheriff — a longtime supporter of the football team and booster club. The sheriff, Fred Abdalla (who in 1996 was convicted of 6 counts of extortion and 1 count of obstruction of justice) immediately called the FBI to investigate the hacking.

Ignoring the fact that the FBI doesn’t investigate the hacking of private.com fansites, why does hacking a small fansite constitute an immediate federal authority action request, but the rape of a child doesn’t get investigated for over a week and the FBI isn’t requested ever, even after a student’s phone obtained by the police shows pornography of that child.

I’ve viewed the responses to Anonymous’ decision to get involved on Twitter — Every response from a towns-person has fit into one of three categories. 1) It’s about time someone is coming to save us from our corrupt town. 2) Don’t you dare attack our football team. 3) That girl is a slut.

I urge all my readers to support Anonymous on this cause. I find it scary that in a society as advanced as ours, people convicted of corruption charges can be elected to power and suppress crimes against the very people they swear an oath to protect. I know releasing things like social security numbers of minors is not good business, but why is it that the only people really taking a stand and demanding action and justice for the 16 year old girl are either hackers or Roseanne Barr (Yes, from TV).

In spirit or in person if you are near Steubenville, OH, join Anonymous at noon on the steps of Steubenville City Hall and demand justice. Rapists cannot go free to protect a football team and high school tradition.

2012 March Madness Bracket

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Alright, so this is my first time trying my hand at march madness. Go ahead and critique my bracket and respond with your own! I’d love to get advice and tips from someone more practice for next year!

Steven L Ford Bracket 2012

Don’t worry, you can trust the download. Couldn’t find a good way to upload the actual bracket to my blog. Here’s the break down:

  • 1st round picks:
    • Kentucky
    • Iowa St
    • VCU
    • Indiana
    • UNLV
    • Baylor
    • Notre Dame
    • Duke
    • Michigan St
    • Memphis
    • Long Beach St
    • Louisville
    • Murray St
    • Marquette
    • Florida
    • Missouri
    • Syracuse
    • Kansas St
    • Harvard
    • Wisconsin
    • Cincinnati
    • Florida St
    • West Virginia
    • Ohio State
    • North Carolina
    • Alabama
    • Michigan
    • NC State
    • Georgetown
    • Purdue
    • Kansas
  • Sweet 16
    • Kentucky
    • VCU
    • Baylor
    • Duke
    • Michigan St
    • Louisville
    • Marquette
    • Florida
    • Kansas St
    • Wisconsin
    • Florida State
    • Ohio St
    • Alabam
    • Michigan
    • Georgetown
    • Kansas
  • Elite Eight
    • Kentucky
    • Baylor
    • Michigan St
    • Florida
    • Kansas St
    • Florida St
    • Michigan
    • Kansas
  • Final Four
    • Baylor
    • Michigan St
    • Florida St
    • Kansas
  • National Championship
    • Michigan St
    • Florida St
  • NCAA Champion
    • Michigan St

Praying Puppies

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I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve had a few ideas and a lot on my mind, but in the end (out of respect for peoples’ privacy) I decided there was no way for me to share without over-share. So instead, I’ve got a video of puppies praying to share with you. Amen.

 

New Feature

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There have been a few recent updates to WordPress, and it inspired me. I’m not using of the new stuff at the moment, but I did decide to make a menu. Hopefully it will be easier to find specific posts with the new menu. You can see it on the top right of the screen! I’m hoping to add new choices in the menu, but as it turned out most of my stuff fits into just a couple categories so the overflow just went to a ‘Misc.’ tab.

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