Skittles watch: Soul of the Times!

THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2012

The essence of millionaire culture: There are many questions to be explored and explained concerning the killing of Trayvon Martin. One example:

Do you understand the extent to which the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law affects a possible decision to file criminal charges in such a case? We don’t either! And we’ve seen very few serious attempts to examine that question on our cable “news channels.”

There are many questions to be explored, especially given the piles of misinformation which has been spewed to the public on cable. In the past few days, the Washington Post has begun to perform some basic reporting functions.

Then too, there’s the New York Times.

What issue does the Times examine today? Today, the Times examines the effect this event has had on the makers of Skittles!

Here’s the headline, and no, we aren’t making this up: “For Skittles, Death Brings Both Profit and Risk.”

People, we really aren’t making that up! The full-length news report appears above the fold on the first page of today’s “National” section. It's almost 1100 words long, accompanied by a photo. In our hard-copy Washington Edition today, this is the New York Times' only attempt to examine any issue raised by this high-profile case.

We've told you this for year after year:

The content of the modern New York Times represents the rise of an utterly fatuous upper-class culture. All the way back in 1992, Katherine Boo warned about the “creeping Dowdism” which was affecting the nation’s press culture.

Today, the nation is awash in rumor, confusion and misinformation about this very high-profile case. And the Times decided to let you know about the effect this event has had on Mars Inc., the makers of Skittles!

In truth, they can’t help themselves; this truly is who they are. On the professional level, the liberal world has failed to notice this cultural problem for the past many years.

Darlings! It simply isn’t done! Careers hang in the balance! Good jobs at good wages!

Tomorrow: Some good sound advice, from elsewhere

52 comments:

  1. The Skittles news article was a waste of space, I agree.

    I'd also like to note that surveillance video of George Zimmerman at the police precinct has been released today. News outlets and many others in the web have noted the lack of blood, bruising or any indication of a broken nose in Zimmerman's body in this video, which seems to be a boost for those defending Trayvon Martin in this matter. See video http://on.msnbc.com/Hsdt7G

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    1. Here are the Somerby Rules:

      One silly story totally negates everything else.

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    2. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      Another new development is the revelation that it is against the law to follow someone in public and attempt to ask them questions.

      You can be arrested for stalking as long as that person is a member of the royal court of.....oops...a public employee:

      "Sanford Police Warns Media: We 'Will Not Hesitate To Make An Arrest For Stalking' "

      "Media Advisory For Immediate Release, March 28, 2012 For Further Information Contact: PIO@sanfordfl.gov Sanford, Fla – March 28, 2012 -- The City of Sanford kindly requests that members of the media refrain from approaching, phoning or emailing city employees when they are in their roles as private citizens. It has come to light that there have been a few incidents where city staff were followed and approached at their home or in settings outside of working hours. Law enforcement officials will not hesitate to make an arrest for stalking. If members of the media require information, they should contact the City of Sanford Joint Information Center at PIO@sanfordfl.gov or 407-562-2778. If they are seeking information about the Trayvon Martin case, they are to contact the State Attorneys Office at 904-630-2400. ###"

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/sanford-police-media-memo-arrest-stalking_n_1386552.html?ref=media

      Apparently it is legal to follow someone down a Sanford street with a Glock 9 in your waistband and attempt to detain and question that person but it is stalking if that person is a city employee and the person attempting to question them is a member of the media.

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  2. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    "Do you understand the extent to which the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law affects a possible decision to file criminal charges in such a case?"

    It seems to me the ones to inform us about their interpretation of the law are the ones responsible for applying it and they ain't talking.

    Anything else is just speculation.

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    1. And is Bob seriously discussing his "question" that "Stand Your Ground" hasn't been "seriously discussed" in this case? On what planet?

      Note to Bob: There is a lot more to the "media" than "cable news channels" and even "cable news channels" have pretty thoroughly discussed this law. But of course, they can't possibly do it to satisfy whatever changing standard of "seriousness" you want to hold them to.

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    2. Note to Anonymous here and at 9:24: Mr Somerby is speaking specifically of The New York Times, the so-called "newspaper of record." What we have had for decades is more than "one silly story." If you could get past your derision of Mr. Somerby, to see through your obvious prejudice, to not think with your lizard brain, perhaps you will understand.

      Horace Feathers

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    3. Judith Miller.

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    4. "to not think with your lizard brain"

      Got all the Somerby-speak down, don't you? And those who can't even come up with new cliches are the only ones who think for themselves. Right.

      You know, once upon a time Somerby used to denounce the practice of dipping a broad brush into the silliest story you can find, then painting the entire "other side" with it. I well remember how he ridiculed the right-wing for taken an editorial written in some high school newspaper following 9-11 and claiming that was the way all "liberals" think.

      And at the same time, he had plenty to say about scaredy-cat "liberal" pundits who remained silent and allowed that bull roar to happen.

      But to borrow from his own frequent denunciations of Josh Marshall, THAT Bob Somerby has apparently been abducted by aliens and in his place, a new Bob Somerby, hatched from a pod, wrings his hands at "liberal" pundits who are finally standing up to the right-wing echo chamber because they aren't meeting his standards of precision and perfection in absolutely everything they say.

      So he picks out one or two things a day, dips his broad brush into it, then paints the entire media as inept.

      And the sad thing is, if you pile up all these crimes against journalism that Somerby alleges, they wouldn't even amount to a small hill of beans.

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    5. The term "lizard-brain" is not an invention of Bob Somerby. So it is inaccurate to call it "Somerby-speak."

      Also, your perspective on the size of the hill of beans is different from mine. What you apparently see as a pitching mound looks more to me like Pike's Peak.

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  3. So Etch-a-Sketch and Skittles are down very well, and the country is circling the drain.

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  4. Stand your ground really comes down to not having an obligation to retreat. If you are on the ground being punched, you can't retreat and there is no obligation to try. This is simple self defense.

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    1. Are you saying that if you are on the ground being punched that you have a right to shoot dead the person punching you? Cause that's not what the law says.

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    2. And upon whose "ground" was Zimmerman standing? His own or Trayvon Martin's?

      Because I still see nothing wrong that Trayvon was doing that would cause Zimmerman to leave his truck with a loaded gun -- even if his totally uncorrobrated story of a life-and-death fight during which he was somehow able to draw his weapon and fire has any basis in truth.

      Folks, this is a classic defense strategy of when you have nothing to argue with, put the victim on trial.

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    3. Are you saying that if you are on the ground being punched that you have a right to shoot dead the person punching you? Cause that's not what the law says.

      Actually that's exactly what it says:

      "776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—
      (1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

      (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred."

      So when Martin went over to kick his ass, Zimmerman had reason to believe that a forcible act was occurring (i.e., his ass getting kicked). Therefore under this stupid law Zimmerman was entitled to use deadly force to "protect" himself from getting his ass kicked after he harassed Martin to the point of pissing him off.

      I'm reminded of this South Park episode where Uncle Jimbo explains how to get around hunting laws by screaming "Omigod, it's coming right for us" and then firing in "self-defense."

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    4. Um, you skipped the first paragraph where it says "except deadly force". Being on the ground getting punched does not meet the burden of being in imminent peril of death.

      Fla. Stat. § 776.012. Use of force in defense of person

      A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

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    5. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

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  5. There are so many unanswered questions about this case I am thinking that "reporters" have never been taught the basics of their job.

    The lead investigator wanted a manslaughter charge, the state prosecutor didn't (maybe).
    Is this normal procedure? Is it legal procedure? How long after the arrest did the prosecutor decide there wasn't enough evidence for trial? One day? The same morning?

    A lead dectetive can hold a person that has been arrested for up to 72 hours in some states, then has to formally charge them or release them. Is this the case in Florida? Can a prosecutor overrule a lead investigator?
    Basically, how could the prosecutor decide that there was not enough evidence for trial and NEVER WOULD BE without a complete investigation?

    The lead investigator was said to be a Narcotics officer, not a Robbery/Homicide Detective. A Lt. Taylor at the scene called dispatch and told them to have Major Crimes respond to the scene. Did they respond? Was the Narcotics detective the one who responded for Major Crimes? Why?
    Was Zimmerman still at the scene when the lead investigator arrived? Did the two talk there?
    Did the investigator that interviewed Zimmerman at the police station visit the crime scene before the interview? Did he visit it at all?

    Did the Orlando Sentinel reporter get an authorized interview, or was it an informant's tip (leak).
    Was the leak reported by the prosecutor's office in fact a leak and not a planted story?
    Was it by telephone or in person? Did the reporter approach the informant or vice-versa?

    Every one of these questions has an answer. Where are they?

    Putting witness on TV that have not been sworn in and signed an affidavit tells us nothing.

    Who said what? Who did they say it to? What that everything they said? Where did they say it? When did they say it? Why did they say it?

    Mr. Somberby has been railing about the sad state of or media for many years.
    This event proves his worst accusations.
    Our media members are grossly incompetent.

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    1. Really? How long was it after the burglars broke into DNC headquarters were all the questions answered about Watergate? Or are you too young to remember?

      Or are you saying that Bernstein and Woodward shouldn't have begun reporting this until they had all the answers first?

      You do realize that part of the job of journalism in its pursuit of the truth is to ask tough questions, not to answer them?

      As far as "grossly incompetent," I disagree. I think this case is one of American journalism's finest hour. Without some brave journalist somewhere picking up the Martin family's pleas and asking some pretty tough questions of authority and power, this story would have long been swept under the rug.

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    2. Woodward and Bernstein to my knowledge never wrote about the effects of the Watergate break-in on occupancy rates at the Watergate Hotel.

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  6. I remember Watergate, and if you remember it you should know that Ben Bradlee vetted the stories thoroughly with his attorneys before he published, much to the frustration of Woodward and Bernstein.

    You are implying a major cover-up that goes to the highest levels, which is what Watergate was.

    This killing is hardly on that scope, even if it were discovered that the Governor quashed the prosecution himself by direct order.

    Who are the courageous truth-seekers that have suddenly replaced the panders to our basest emotions?

    These reporters are flailing about releasing a mixture of fact and falsehood. That is incompetent .

    The job of reporters is to ask questions, verify the truth, and accurately inform the public. That is not being done, as every reader of The Daily Howler knows full well.

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    1. Try answering the question: Were Woodward and Bernstein obligated to know everything possible about Watergate before they could begin to write about it, or did they follow the trail where it led, writing along the way.

      And you are quite mistaken in the notion that Bradlee vetted their stories through attorneys. He might have done that a couple of times on especially sensitive stories, but they still got published. Even those stories where Woodward and Bernstein were later found to be wrong in some of the details.

      What Bradlee is famous for is requiring Woodward and Bernstein to find three independent sources to corroborate what one "anonymous" source (most notably, "Deep Throat") would tell them rather than rushing that into print.

      Now before you decry how that standard has fallen, bear in mind that Lawrence O'Donnell is on your side. That is EXACTLY what he went after Stutzman for -- taking a leak (pun intended) from information supplied to her by one anonymous source and rushing it into print.

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    2. Is the impact of the Trayvon Martin slaying on Skittles sales an important avenue of investigation, warranting reporter time and front-page treatment? Is it relevant in any way whatsoever to understanding what happened?

      The gross incompetence is in deciding to cover this non-story (Skittles sales) in the first place. A boy was shot dead, and you decide to write about this????

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    3. Bradlee vetted, and he took calculated risks. But he still vetted first.
      I don't think the shooting in Sanford has reached the level of conspiracy involving the highest officials of a sitting president and the top leaders of his campaign. The word equivalence has been worn out around these parts lately but in comparing the activities of the Washington Post investigating Watergate to the Orlando Sentinel investigating the Sanford Police Department about the Trayvon Martin shooting is BIT of a stretch. Even you will have to admit that.

      My questions are nothing a properly conducted police investigation, and a properly trained newspaperman would already have on record. They are simple questions about simple facts, and the answers are there for the picking. it shouldn't take a competent police reporter more than a MONTH to answer them, or give the reasons why not.

      Stutzman has at least provided some new information, but it was mixed with false information too.
      That only one reporter has come up with anything new, and got it through an informant, supports what I was saying.
      Where are the tough questions, and where are the facts?
      It seems the higher we go in the media food chain the worse it gets. Skittles anyone?

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  7. SSSShhhhh...... I'm working on a think piece for Salon about how Zimmerman is Bob Dylan's real name and isn't that ironic since he wrote "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carrol?" I do think the stupid skittles story in the New York Times is a fair shot at their overall lack of seriousness. If some people here can site journals who have done good work in putting the Stand Your Ground Law in context I wish they would note them here because I saw the legal experts on Handy Andy Cooper last night and it was pretty weak stuff.

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    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Try typing "Stand Your Ground" into the search box at the Times site and see if Mr. Somerby is correct in implying this Skittles article is the only time they have addressed the law.

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    2. Imply? He flat out states it, and not only about "Stand Your Ground" but about ANY issue raised in the Trayvon Martin case:

      "In our hard-copy Washington Edition today, this is the New York Times' only attempt to examine any issue raised by this high-profile case."

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    3. Real, I suppose the Krugman column, where he traced the origin of "Stand Your Ground" to ALEC, doesn't count as serious.

      That would be the same column Somerby addressed on Monday, calling it "important" then spending the rest of his blog post obsessing about some perceived "mistake" Krugman made.

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    4. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 4:22 PM

      "Imply? He flat out states it..."

      I was attempting to be kind since Mr. Somerby chastises the Times for the Skittles article being the only attempt "today" to examine "any issue" related to this case.

      You see what he did there? Unless the articles appeared "today" they don't count.

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    5. Real, I did just what you said. I went to the NYT site and I typed in the search box "stand your ground." No articles today. None. Now will you do what you have been telling others to do? Shut up!

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    6. I guess not. You see what he did there? He used understandable English to say that today they didn't have any other articles, but I hate him so much that I changed it to mean what I thought he ought to have said, so I complained about that!

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    7. And his point? He clearly states that the Times coverage isn't "serious" because of this one, Skittles article. And really, it is a pretty lame way to dismiss the Times coverage of this issue.

      It's the kind of weasly construction he once condemned in others, and sadly, whether he is even conscious of it or not, it fits nicely into the way the right-wing is conducting "american discourse" on this and virtually every other issue: "Don't believe your lyin' eyes, and especially don't believe the press. They all have a liberal agenda. Our version is the only truth."

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  8. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    "No articles today."

    Its ridiculous to imply the article today is the sum of all the Times efforts to address "any" issue related to this case.

    The fact the Times didn't address "any" other issue related to the case "today" is meaningless unless given context.

    As well as a new found admiration for O'Reilly, Mr. Somerby has picked up a few tricks from his No Spin Zone.

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    1. "Its ridiculous to imply the article today is the sum of all the Times efforts to address "any" issue related to this case."

      And no one did.

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    2. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      "Today, the nation is awash in rumor, confusion and misinformation about this very high-profile case. And the Times decided to let you know about the effect this event has had on Mars Inc., the makers of Skittles!

      In truth, they can’t help themselves; this truly is who they are. On the professional level, the liberal world has failed to notice this cultural problem for the past many years.

      Darlings! It simply isn’t done! Careers hang in the balance! Good jobs at good wages!"

      Mr. Somerby is clearly clowning by pretending this Skittles article somehow represents the Times coverage of this case.

      Its what used to be called a "human interest" story meant to flesh out the news.

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    3. "In our hard-copy Washington Edition today, this is the New York Times' only attempt to examine any issue raised by this high-profile case."

      Bolded it for you, Real Anon.

      Not the only attempt EVER, the only attempt TODAY. More specifically, the only attempt in today's hard-copy Washington Edition.

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    4. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 6:38 PM

      "Not the only attempt EVER, the only attempt TODAY."

      And what is the significance of one edition of the Times, the DC print edition no less, as it relates to the headline "Skittles watch: Soul of the Times!" and the subhead "The essence of the millionaire culture"

      Do you even know what "essence" is? Is this story really the "soul" of the Times" coverage?

      Clearly Mr. Somerby is implying this single story says something about the overall coverage of this case by the Times.

      Clearly Mr. Somerby is playing us for rubes.

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    5. TRA,

      You constantly complain that Somerby talks about matters that you find trivial, when he should be talking about things you deem more important. He should do it that day. That post. You do it almost every day.

      But now you are defending the NYT, when they decided that the only article to put in the paper that day concerning this case (online and hard copy) was about Skittles. Now it is all about context and essence.

      You are a troll.

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    6. Oooo. I bet that one really hurt.

      And for the record (and Real Anonymous can speak for himself), NO, I am not defending that particular NYT story. I thought it was utterly silly as well.

      What I am challenging is Somerby's notion that that one, particular story reveals something "deeply troubling" (to use his cliche) about the NYT's entire body of work on this issue, in much the same way he once railed (and correctly) against journalists who thought Al Gores' "earth tones," three-button suits or his cowboy boots revealed something "deeply troubling" about Gore's character.

      You do realize that it is possible for one story to be silly and the rest of the Times' work on this issue to be quite serious?

      But that's not the feed that Somerby wants to throw at his own herd of cattle.

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    7. The criticism is directed at the editors of the NYT. Questioning their choices of how to cover these stories. Of course, one day is not sufficient proof, but is this really an outlier?

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  9. I wish I could say the following is unbelievable:

    ABC News doctors Zimmerman video to peddle false story in Trayvon Martin case

    The Daily Caller has investigated the ABC News claim that police closed circuit television of George Zimmerman being brought to the Sanford, FL police station, in the news network claims that Zimmerman shows no sign of injury, in what appears to be an intentional effort by the network to cast doubt on Zimmerman’s accounting of events. Zimmerman claims he was forced to shoot high school football player Trayvon Martin after Martin knocked him to the ground and began slamming his head into the ground.

    ABC News blatantly lied about what the video showed.

    “A police surveillance video taken the night that Trayvon Martin was shot dead shows no blood or bruises on George Zimmerman,” ABC News reporter Matt Gutman wrote, noting that Zimmerman told police “he shot Martin after he was punched in the nose, knocked down and had his head slammed into the ground.”

    ABC News reported that Zimmerman appears uninjured in the video. But a still image from the video indicates what appears to be a vertical laceration or scar several inches long.

    In fact, not one both both camera views showed that Zimmerman has a laceration several inches long on the back of his head. Any blood had been cleaned up by the Fire Dept assets that had treated Zimmerman at the scene, and bruising would not have shown on the low-resolution video.

    More disgusting is the obvious fact that ABC News used a strategically placed chyron (graphic) to cover up the back of Zimmerman’s head for their broadcast, covering up the video that would have disproven their story. View the video at the Daily Caller, and you’ll not that they did not even need a chyron, their was no need to transmit any additional visual data to explain the story.

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  10. "What appears to be" is the key phrase in anything coming from Pajama's Peanut Gallery. O.K. David in Ca, you've convinced us, you're a crank. They covered up the scar but you can see the scar....

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  11. I don't want to add to the controversy, but all I saw on the back of Zimmerman's head was what looked like a bald spot. And it looks to me like his nose might have been broken well before this - it looks that way in the mug shot they first used.

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  12. Zimmerman's brother did a long interview with Piers Morgan and said there are medical records that document his injuries. He said Zimmerman's nose is swollen in the video and he knows this as someone who knows what his brother normally looks like, and that it is still broken.

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    1. Oh, by all means, don't believe your lyin' eyes. Believe Zimmerman's brother.

      And none of these serious wounds that required medical attention sometime after the cops cut him loose apparently required even a Band-Aid.

      And even if were true that Zimmerman somehow got his nose broken without bleeding all over himself, it is not exculpatory. The "ground" they were fighitng over belonged to Trayvon Martin, who was doing absolutely nothing wrong and had a perfect right to walk to an from a convenience store when Zimmerman got out of his truck and confronted him.

      Here's an analogy that carries the Zimmerman argument to its ridiculous extreme. A guy breaks into your home. You grab a ball bat and break his nose. He pulls out his gun and shoots you. Self-defense? After all, you went after him with a weapon, and the guy had reason to fear for his life.

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    2. You do know that your lyin' eyes are watching TeeVee, right?

      Don't get me wrong, if I had to guess, I would say Zimmerman was guilty of a horrible crime. But where does all of the certainty come from? The righteousness?

      The television shows us a pre-packaged presentation to try to make you believe something. If you do, fine. But it is the farthest thing from proof.

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    3. Do you know how else you would watch a video except on "TeeVee"?

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  13. Mr. Somerby,

    I made a donation, and filled out the "Special Instructions" box. I request confirmation that you have read it. As I do not know whether the email address on dailyhowler.com is still active, I'm making this request here as well as in email.

    Thanks,
    Eric D'Avignon

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  14. thanks a lot for sharing. i was looking for something like that.

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