Monday, April 16, 2012

Prejudice - Trayvon

I have almost nothing to add to the general discussion. Steve Sailer had comments indicating he would be willing to be convinced either way depending on the evidence, which seem constantly changing at the moment. I confess I do usually root for the side that says the MSM jumped to conclusions and got the story wrong, but not so strongly that I think it would affect much. I can imagine plausible scenarios of Martin being a merely troubled innocent or a sociopathic thug, or similarly for Zimmerman. Furthermore, it is entirely possible to be a thug but innocent of one particular crime, or a sweetheart but guilty. I may form an opinion once this settles down into known facts versus speculation.

When Ben was turning 6, we had him tested to see whether it would be better to start first grade or kindergarten. (Overprepared in reading and math, still very spacey.) When we were asked which way we hoped the test would come out, Tracy and I quickly realised that we just wanted it to be accurate, regardless of result. I want the Supreme Court to get it right, more than come to my favored conclusion, because future cases may hinge on this one. I want my lab results to be accurate, not just pleasant.

We know this, and agree with it when it is put that way, of course. But we often forget that getting it right is the goal. I agree with Sailer that the prosecutor’s statement is not reassuring in this regard.

Another puzzle, also from Sailer: “It looks like to me that the cases that most get people worked up over who is the good guy and who is the bad guy tend to be the cases that are most arguable.” Why is that? I have a theory involving the general activation of emotions in ambiguous situations, but don’t have evidence near to hand.


james said...

I don't know if they are always arguable: Mumia comes to mind.

I suppose if the fellow tribesman is obviously guilty you want to disavow him, but if not you need to defend him.

Texan99 said...

There are two scenarios here competing very successfully for my sympathy.

(1) A teenager went out for snacks during a game and encountered an amateur self-appointed security guard who jumped to the conclusion that he was another of those bad (black) kids who had been coming around and causing trouble. The guard challenged him, maybe pushed him, scared him to death, and caused him (naturally) to fight back. Then the guard got alarmed or furious because he was losing the fistfight, so he shot and killed the kid, who has been robbed of his voice and deserves justice.

(2) A guy who spends his spare time selflessly patrolling the neighborhood and putting himself at risk ran into a kid one night who was casing the joint. The kid had a chip on his shoulder about privileged (non-black) homeowners and tried to intimidate or even badly hurt the guy, but miscalculated, because the guy turned out to be willing and able to defend himself with lethal force. Then the shooter was caught up in what amounts to a lynch mob who won't listen to anything he has to say in his defense and insists on pretending a 17-year-old thug was some kind of harmless little kid.

I really don't know which one is closer to the truth. My guess is that both of these guys had reason to resent and fear what they thought they saw in each other, and neither did what he might have done to de-escalate.