It seems like I get a lot of requests to read articles on David Simon’s blog recently.
I find his blog strangely appealing in a hypnotic sort of way. Simon is one of those rare people that makes me want to read him even as I disagree with most of what I’m reading. He’s a talented writer, and he cops a straightforward, no compromise attitude that somehow doesn’t alienate.
But it really is just a hypnotic appeal. There’s a cadence to the prose, the words are well-chosen, the appearance of moral clarity is refreshing. The substance, by contrast, is degenerate.
Take this one – entitled simply Trayvon. It is a content-free expression of anger and nothing more. To be sure, people are allowed to vent. But only then when they have something to vent about.
You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.
It’s the first sentence of the article, and he’s already wilfully ignorant. And yes, I mean what I say. The relevant law is available online, and Simon is a (former) reporter. If a trained reporter can’t be bothered to do even 5min. of Google due diligence, he’s choosing not to know.
If he had read the law, he would know that it doesn’t cover situations where you are the attacker, nor where you’re merely being followed. Stand Your Ground does not allow you to pick a fight with someone just because he’s skeeving you out. Nor does it allow you to use deadly force out of convenience. You may only use deadly force (a) in self-defence, (b) after you have been attacked and (c) only then when you reasonably believe you are in danger of grave bodily injury or death. Martin didn’t have a Stand Your Ground right to use his fists just for being followed in Florida, and that’s not because he was black, but because that’s how the law is written.
In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all.
What season on African-Americans? Has there been a spate of killings of black people in Florida in response to this verdict? Is there even a minor, statistically insignificant uptick in white-on-black violence there? Has Simon checked? It’s people like this that I’m talking about in the last entry who need to hear that in fact 93% of all black homicide victims are victims of black perpetrators. The same report shows white-on-black homicides accounting for maybe 5% of all homicides, but has black-on-white clocking in near 20%. Keep your eye on the baseline of blacks as only 13% of the population, and I’m sorry, but that’s quite a significant gap. There is actually some evidence that whites have more to fear from blacks than from other whites. There is no such evidence the other way around. So I ask again, what “season on African-Americans?” Unless Florida is a massive outlier – which there is no reason to believe, and for which Simon has pointedly provided no evidence – then this is just a rank lie.
If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.
And yet, nothing is stopping Simon from marching toward that courthouse in Sanford with a brick, despite his lack of patience and patriotism. Except maybe his whiteness? In fact, that’s what he’s pretty clearly saying, isn’t it? He just can’t get that worked up about this because, hey, black victim, and he’s a white guy. Only “person[s] of color” are expected to feel enough outrage to pick up a brick and go to the courthouse, and only “person[s] of color” have to exercise any self-control not to do that. And David Simon, who deeply understands their inner feelings despite, you know, not sharing them because Jewish White Guy, knows how patient and patriotic they are. The theory that maybe they’re not that worked up because there’s nothing to be worked up about is too subtle or something.
Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies: Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible.
I wonder if Simon knows what “lewd” and “pornographic” mean. If there’s anything remotely “pornographic” going on here it’s the insistence, despite even a shred of evidence to suggest it, that there’s a racial angle to the Zimmerman case. Simon’s like one of those meatheads who forces himself on a girl because he “just knows” that she’s “that kind of girl,” and “just knows” that she wants him because she gave him one glance across a crowded room, and if she says no she’s a tease. Nothing other than Simon’s assumptions and imagination made this about guns and race, and yet the onus is on “America” to answer for its “pathologies.” What an asshole.
In Simon’s world, does it ever happen that a white man kills a black man for plain old-fashioned criminal reasons? Does it ever happen because of a misunderstanding? An accident? Does it ever happen in self-defense? Or does it only ever happen because of racism? And if, as would seem rational, Simon agrees that not all white-on-black killings are racially motivated, then how does he know that this one was? And if, as would seem rational, Simon agrees that not every time that the courts find someone not guilty on grounds of justifiable homicide it’s because the victim was black, what is it about this case that makes him so certain that’s what happened?
Going into detail about that would be informative. That would be commentary. This post is not commentary. Commentary requires engagement with the facts. It requires shedding light on aspects of a situation that are obscure. This, by contrast, is nothing but the pathetic chest-pumping of someone who has never once examined, much less questioned, his assumptions.
(See here for the title reference.)