Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Trayvon Martin Narratives: The Stories the Evidence Tells

The Trayvon Martin story no longer feeds the daily news cycle.  Many people, however, remain interested in the incident. Also, the media still seizes upon any new item of information released regarding Martin's death.

Some conservatives say that the media frenzy has subsided because the flow of evidence from the case credits George Zimmerman's contention that he acted in self-defense when he killed Martin. Other logical reasons could explain the dip in coverage, however. For example, many activists simply wanted the state of Florida to charge Zimmerman. Now that this has occurred, they are on to other business.

Furthermore, many other items -- from the important to the mundane -- have occupied the national media, including the presidential race, LGBT rights, Cory Booker, and the economy. Needless to say, every development in this story will likely capture the media's attention. In any event, the public should learn from this process that the law operates very slowly. If Zimmerman is prosecuted, this might not take place until next year. It is impossible to expect the media to remain fixated on this story at all times.

Important Facts Related to the Prosecution's Evidentiary Submission

Angela Corey, the special prosecutor handling this matter, has released some evidence in the case against Zimmerman, as well as the documents charging him with second-degree murder. Although both sides want certain pieces of evidence shielded from public disclosure, some information that looks favorable to Zimmerman has already been released to the media by unnamed sources.

Regardless of the source of the leaks, people should remember that only a fraction of evidence that Corey submitted has been released for public scrutiny. Furthermore, Corey has not even released all of the evidence that investigators have collected in the case. Specifically, the prosecution has allegedly compiled several inconsistent statements that Zimmerman made to investigators and will file these statements into evidence. Zimmerman's attorney is fighting to keep that evidence shielded from public disclosure.

In addition, even though the prosecution has submitted the information that justifies charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder, it is not clear at all what parts of this information will be admissible at trial. For example, many commentators made noise over the coroner's report that found traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in Martin's body.  According to experts, however, the amount was so slight that it could not possibly have impacted his behavior the night he was killed. Indeed, he probably consumed it days earlier. If the experts' description of the drug test is accurate, then the judge probably would not allow the defense to mention the results. This information is nonprobative and irrelevant to the facts in the case. Furthermore, it would potentially excite prejudice and mislead the jury. Standard evidentiary rules in state and federal courts exclude nonprobative and irrelevant evidence from trial.

Ideological Narratives

Predictably, commentators have competing views of the evidence submitted in this case thus far. At best, it is probably safe to say that the prosecutor has overwhelmingly met the probable cause standard required to arrest and prosecute an individual.

The standards at trial are more difficult. Because the Constitution requires prosecutors to prove "guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," it is likely that guilty people can go free. Typically conservatives call rules that guarantee due process to defendants "technicalities" and ask about the "victim's rights." These rules, however, implement the Bill of Rights -- one of the most important additions to the Constitution. Accordingly, it is shocking to see conservative commentators embrace Zimmerman's rights in this case. Undoubtedly, their support of a defendant in a murder case -- especially a Latino defendant -- is situational.

On the other side, liberals who support Martin should remain true to their general support of liberal interpretations of the Constitution. Many media outlets have ominously reported that getting a guilty verdict against Zimmerman will be difficult. This fact should not constitute news. Getting a guilty verdict should present difficulties in any case.

Personal liberty is one of the most cherished rights secured by the Constitution. Although conservative judges and legislators continue to erode civil liberties with restrictive court rulings and legislation, liberty remains a vital part of the nation's legal culture. That the prosecution will have a tough time convicting Zimmerman should not upset anyone who values liberalism.

Perhaps conservatives will join liberals and fight for this principle outside of Zimmerman's prosecution.  Their anger over media and political commentary describing Martin's death and the treatment of Zimmerman as likely instances of racial injustice have lead them hypocritically to embrace defendant's rights. Their behavior is transparent.

Reading the Evidence

Some commentators have argued evidence that suggests Zimmerman sustained injuries the night that he killed Martin substantiates his assertion of self-defense. This argument, however, overlooks many aspects of the case. First, it overlooks the law. The law of self-defense allows a defendant to defeat a murder charge if that person reasonably believed the he or she would suffer lethal force or experience serious bodily injury at the hands of the defendant. The use of force has to be proportional to the threat. And the person must have a reasonable fear -- not just any fear -- that he or she will suffer the harm necessary to warrant lethal force.

Thus, even if Zimmerman acted in his mind to defend himself, a jury would still need to determine whether he acted reasonably. The jury would likely consider the extent of Zimmerman's injuries, whether or not Martin had a weapon, and other factors.

Furthermore, the law requires that initial aggressors retreat from the scene or otherwise indicate a desire to retreat prior to using force. Prosecutors will try to prove that Zimmerman started the aggression -- by leaving his car (after being instructed not to do so), chasing Martin, and frightening (or even hitting) him. If the prosecutors can convince the jury that Zimmerman was the initial aggressor, this would go very far in proving his guilt. Under those circumstances, Martin reasonably acted with force to defend himself from Zimmerman. Zimmerman's injuries are thus consistent with a frightened teenager fighting for his life. Rather than retreating from the scene, Zimmerman killed the frightened kid. 

The facts favor Zimmerman much more if one considers Martin as the initial aggressor. The defense will try to argue that Zimmerman was simply investigating a potential threat to his neighborhood when Martin spontaneously attacked him. Commentators who believe that the evidence substantiates Zimmerman's defense all seem to operate under the assumption that Martin was the initial aggressor. The evidence, however, does not necessarily prove this assumption. Looking at the totality of the facts -- beginning with Zimmerman's first call to police, a reasonable juror could conclude that Zimmerman instigated the fight by following Martin in his car and on foot at night.  Martin's girlfriend will testify that he said he was afraid of Zimmerman. If her testimony is credible, then the facts could support a guilty verdict.

Final Words: Race and the Law

Trials by media are loathsome. They mislead, rather than educate, the public about legal practice. They potentially influence juries. And they are simply a ratings draw for media. Last year, another Florida murder trial generate tons of media coverage. Casey Anthony was tried for murdering her daughter. According to media reports, it seemed that her guilt was a sure thing. From a legal perspective, however, the evidence was very weak. The prosecution did not even know how the child died, and the defendant denied killing her. The case against Zimmerman differs substantially. The prosecution knows how Martin died. Zimmerman has admitted that he shot Martin. The prosecution knows how Martin and Zimmerman's paths collided that fateful night. Now, both sides will construct narratives to weave the evidence together for jurors.

From a civil rights perspective, the tragedies in this case are Martin's death and the initial failure of the police to arrest Zimmerman. To the extent that race was involved in this case, the police inaction is probably the most likely place. Also, race could have impacted Zimmerman's decision to pursue Martin (the "fucking punk") and to kill him.

The prosecution has not alleged that race is a factor in the case; so the issue will not arise explicitly at trial. But race will absolutely play a central role in this case -- both in the media (already has) and in the courtroom. Zimmerman's lawyer will pursue any legal means to exclude black jurors; the prosecution will try to maximize the number of black jurors. The prosecution will probably want a good number of women on the jury as well. Women could probably relate to the prosecution's narrative that Martin felt horrified by Zimmerman, who had followed him in his car and then left the car to chase him down. Woman could also have a particular connection to Martin's mother, who will probably offer emotional testimony at the trial.

Zimmerman's lawyer will want several white men on the jury. This is not a "race card." Polls show that Zimmerman has the largest support among whites -- particularly among white Republicans and men (which at this point in history are redundant categories). While many people have tried to dismiss the factor of race inside and outside of this case, it remains relevant in society. On the other hand, the prevalence of racism does not mean that a conviction must turn on Zimmerman having acted out of racial animosity. Murder is murder - whether it is racially based or otherwise. The state is prosecuting Zimmerman for a homicide, not for a hate crime. Now that Zimmerman has been charged, let the state prove is case.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

IN DEFENSE OF CORY BOOKER: Why Think Progress Is Unfair and Unbalanced

Liberal blogs have fallen in line to excoriate Newark Mayor Cory Booker for describing President Obama's campaign attacks against Bain Capital as "nauseating." Although Booker has tried to walk back his commentary, he still faces a lot of criticism, especially since rightwingers have used his comments as a weapon against the president's campaign strategy.

For several reasons, I strongly support Cory Booker, and I condemn progressives who criticize him for his remarks. And as I explain below, I am especially troubled by a Think Progress article that seeks to raise questions about Booker by exposing campaign donations he received from Bain executives and other financial industry employees. Here is why I support Booker and disagree with Think Progress.

FIRST, Booker was seemingly stating his true feelings. I understand that a surrogate for a candidate should stay on message. But to the extent that Booker deviated from a dictated message, this is a problem between him and Obama's campaign team. It is not an issue about his morality and value as a public official. If we have reached a point in our society where honest reflection and disagreement are sources of scorn, then public discourse in this country is in a state of extreme crisis.

SECOND, Obama has received more money from Wall Street employees and PACs than any other politician in recent US history. This is where Think Progress becomes relevant.

Think Progress reports that Bain and other members of the "financial industry" gave Cory Booker $565,000 dollars during his 2002 run for mayor of Newark. The article states that this fact "suggests a possible reason for [Booker's] unease with attacks on Bain Capital and venture capital." If this is a reason for Booker's unease with attacks on Bain and venture capital, then progressives should express similar discomfort regarding Obama attacking the same groups.

In the 2008 election cycle, Obama's top ten donors included: Goldman Sachs ($1,013,091), JP Morgan Chase & Co. ($808,799), and Citigroup ($736,771).  UBS AG, a large multinational financial services company, occupied the fifteenth position on the list ($532,674)(Please note: these figures come from employees and PACs of the companies, not from direct corporate donations).

Wall Street contributions accounted for 20 percent of Obama's big money campaign donations in 2008. Obama received $13,100,000 from bundlers in the financial services industry. This amount was second only to the $21,7000,000 he received from law firms, which undoubtedly included many firms that provide services to the financial sector.

Although Mitt Romney has overtaken Obama among Wall Street donors, Obama still hopes to collect money from the financial services industry, including from persons involved in the private equity business.

THIRD, Obama has received money from Bain executives. This is perhaps the most striking omission from the Think Progress critique of Booker.

Stephen Pagliuca, a Managing Director of Bain Capital, has given $38,500 to Obama Victory Fund 2012. He also gave $30,800 to the DNC late last year. Jonathan Lavine, the Managing Partner of Bain Capital, gave equal amounts to Obama and the DNC, as did Mark Nunnelly, another Managing Director for Bain. This information is collected in an article on Commentary Magazine, a conservative blog. But it appears originally on the Huffington Post "Fundrace" page.  It is not mentioned anywhere in the Think Progress critique of Booker.

Overall, "[e]mployees of Bain Capital and Bain & Company have given more than $152,000 to Obama's campaign and the joint fundraising operation he runs with the Democratic National Committee." Although Romney has received much more from Bain employees than Obama, as of today, Obama has received over $1 billion in campaign donations since he began running for the 2004 senate elections. He is the only politician ever to raise this amount of money in US history. Clearly, a large chunk of that money has come from financial services and other corporate sectors.

Final Thoughts
Reasonable minds can disagree over the relevance of Romney's history at Bain to his candidacy for president. An individual's past professional performance is certainly something that voters should scrutinize. But Obama's campaign is trying to make a broader statement about Romney, wealth, private equity, and the "middle class."

Perhaps this latter use of Romney's history by Obama's campaign caused Booker discomfort. It is definitely hypocritical to condemn private equity while relying on the profits it generates to run for president. Also, Obama's campaign has stated that it does not disagree with private equity, which makes Booker's comments even more compelling.

The liberal criticism of Booker has nothing to do with reasonable debate. Instead, many liberals are seeking to portray him as a corporate hack. These criticisms, however, ignore his political record; they also ignore the vast amount of money that Obama has received from the financial services industry.

Liberals have rightfully complained about the coarse nature of political discourse during Obama's presidency. They have no standing to complain, however, when they are engaged in the same type of harmful discourse.

Note: This article was updated to clarify that Obama has attacked Bain Capital - not Bain and Company.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trayvon Martin: Breaking News and Updates - May 14, 2012

Prosecution Evidence
Special prosecutor Angela Corey filed evidence that supports charging George Zimmerman with second-degree murder for killing Trayvon Martin. The Orlando Sentinel has details in this breaking story. This type of filing is done routinely in criminal cases. Zimmerman's attorney will now have the opportunity to prepare a defense for his client.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the evidence includes video from the club house in the housing development where Zimmerman shot Martin. Zimmerman stated that Trayvon was approaching the clubhouse during his call to police.

Zimmerman wants to keep the public from seeing the evidence. His attorney is filing a motion in that regard.

Trayvon Martin Shooting Target
In one of the most despicable events related to this case, an anonymous online vendor has created a likeness of Trayvon Martin for use as a shooting target. The seller has not announced how many items were sold, but says that the product sold out in two days with "overwhelming" response. Sickness sells.

Trayvon Martin's Mother Films Mother's Day Message 
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, filmed a video message for Mother's Day. In the video, Fulton expresses grief over the loss of her son. She also campaigns against gun violence and "Stand Your Ground" laws, similar to the one in Florida.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Questionable Journalism: Washington Post Explores Romney's Teen Years

Mitt Romney as a teenager
 The Washington Post wins today's "questionable journalism" award for publishing an article that delves into Mitt Romney's high school years in order to unearth "troubling incidents." The article reports that Romney engaged in acts of bullying with several other students at the elite prep school he attended. Romney is now 65-years-old.  Most of the events the article describes occurred nearly one-half century in the past.

The article is not even remotely relevant to Romney's worthiness as a president. If he were still assaulting and harassing young boys, then, clearly, the content of the article would have significance. It would establish a possible pattern of unacceptable behavior. Neither the Washington Post nor any other credible news source, however, has presented evidence which demonstrates that Romney continues to harass and abuse other people. This article is simply a hit piece.

The article is similar in its lack of substance to a 2008 New York Times report that dragged up rumors about John McCain having a close relationship (no specifics -- just a "relationship") with a female lobbyist. The story received a lot of criticism. At the very least, both of these stories press against the boundary of good journalism.  It is also fair to say, however, that these stories cross that line. The Washington Post article has given readers another reason to question the fairness of the media.

There are many important issues to examine regarding Romney and President Obama. Hopefully, the Washington Post will attend to these matters, rather than providing useless and questionable information concerning the candidates.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Obama's "Support" of Marriage Equality: Read the Fine Print

The headlines, including on this blog, are buzzing about President Obama's sudden support for same-sex marriage. Obama stated this position during an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America. Excerpts of the interview will air tonight on World News and Nightline. The full interview will air tomorrow on Good Morning America.

Although Obama stated that he personally believes that gay men and lesbians should have the right to marry under the law, he also qualified this position in a way that is very important from a legal standpoint. Obama believes that states should have the power to decide this issue on their own.

Why is this qualification important from a legal standpoint? This qualification means that Obama's support of same-sex marriage is strictly personal - not legal (even though he speaks about it as a "right"). If states retain the authority to define marriage in opposite-sex terms, then gays and lesbians cannot claim a constitutional right to marry each other.

To understand this argument, consider the quintessential liberal setting in which this type of reasoning frequently appears: abortion. Many opponents of abortion argue that states should have the sole voice on this issue and that it is not a matter for the federal government or federal courts. Ron Paul and many other conservatives have embraced this very position.  The Supreme Court, however, held in Roe v. Wade that the Fourteenth Amendment gives women the right to terminate a pregnancy. Although the Court has severely weakened Roe since it was decided, this right is still protected by the Constitution.

Because abortion is a constitutional right, the federal courts and Congress have the power to protect it.  Article III of the Constitution gives the federal courts the authority to decide "cases or controversies" that involve questions of federal law -- including constitutional law.  The Fourteenth Amendment gives Congress the express power to enforce the rights it contains.

Accordingly, when critics argue that abortion should remain solely within the purview of state law, they are effectively arguing that it should not qualify as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Constitution. States do not have complete authority over constitutional rights. This fact is well established and supported by constitutional text.

Applying this same reasoning to marriage equality, the argument that states should have autonomy over the subject of marriage means that states could prohibit or permit same-sex marriage.  The Constitution, which is federal law, would have no bearing on this decision.

Accordingly, Obama's new position on marriage equality implies that the Constitution does not or should not guarantee marital equality for gay men and lesbians. Instead, it is up to states to recognize this interest.

Unfortunately for people wishing to enter into a same-sex marriage, only six states and the District of Columbia currently allow them to do so. While advocates of same-sex marriage have loudly applauded Obama's new position, I implore them to read the fine print!

I Do! Suddenly, Obama Endorses Marriage Equality (Updated)

President Obama stated today that he supports marriage equality. The administration's position on this issue has suddenly evolved. Throughout his candidacy and for all of his first-term (until today), President Obama has stated that he personally opposes same-sex marriage. At the same time, he has stated that he opposes efforts to make it illegal (specifically making that argument in the context of California's Proposition 8).

Last weekend, however, Vice President Joe Biden stated during an interview that he supports marriage equality. The Obama administration immediately began walking back the comments. Instead of supporting marriage equality, both Biden and the President supposedly endorsed only "equal benefits" for same- and opposite-sex couples. Now, just a couple days after clarifying his stance, Obama has suddenly reached a new position favoring same-sex marriage.

Political Implications
Since I am already extremely cynical about politics and politicians, this move does not surprise me. Obama's shifting positions on same-sex marriage, however, put a wrinkle in any strategy that seeks to portray Mitt Romney as a waffler. Because it seems that Obama will instead portray Romney as a "severe conservative," perhaps he does not deem the appearance of waffling too important. Certainly, Romney cannot use that line of attack against Obama.

Also, Obama's new position should do much to impress or at least silence critics of Obama's record with respect to LGBT rights. Obama has endorsed the "crow-jewel" of the contemporary LGBT social movement. Indeed, during his presidency, Obama has been more responsive to LGBT politics than to any other liberal cause. LGBT social movements deserve a lot of credit for pressuring the president on these issues. Also, because these issues typically involve questions of formal equality, endorsing them is not particularly threatening -- relative to questions of equal opportunity and economic distribution.

Obama, Race and Poverty
With respect to equal opportunity and wealth concerns, it is deeply troubling that the groups who are most vigorous in their support of Obama get less attention from him in terms of policy. Blacks and Latinos delivered Obama the 2008 election by helping him win key swing states. Without black support, Obama would, in fact, have lost many blue states. A majority of white voters in many states that are deemed liberal voted for McCain and have selected Republican presidential candidates in the recent past.

Despite their value to and overwhelming support for Obama, poor people and persons of color, many of whom are LGBT, cannot get the type of visible support for and quick responses to their concerns as LGBT groups. In September 2011 after some black members of Congress complained that Obama was not paying attention to poverty and unemployment among blacks, he said in response: "Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying."  Obama has never never used this type of harsh rhetoric in response to complaints from other liberal constituents, including LGBT individuals. I highly doubt that he would ever do so.

Racial justice movements, however, bear some of the blame for the president's silence on many race and poverty issues. Racial justice activists have been very generous in their support of Obama, and they have refrained from criticizing him for the most part.  Tavis Smiley and Cornell West are popular exceptions -- yet they have received very harsh criticism from blacks for their critiques of Obama. Some of Smiley's and West's criticisms have been unfair and somewhat personal, but the responses to their arguments from many black commentators seem to oppose any criticism of President Obama on issues of race.

Even Rev. Al Sharpton, who has criticized other presidents and candidates for not openly addressing the "concerns" of blacks, has defended Obama's reluctance to address issues of race and poverty. Sharpton has stated that Obama must solve these issues in a colorblind fashion, which contradicts the race-conscious politics he has advocated in the past and in which he continues to engage. Sharpton has also dismissed Obama's critics as being biased. What evidence does he offer to support this accusation? Some of them supported Hilary Clinton in 2008 (gasp!).

If having a black president means virtual silence on issues of race in the White House, then Obama's election seems only to provide symbolic gains with respect to race. Poor persons of color need material change -- not symbols.

UPDATE: Does Obama really support marriage equality under the law? See this important update: Obama's "Support" of Marriage Equality: Read the Fine Print.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Junior Seau: Mental Illness -- Not Brain Injuries -- Is Leading Suicide Risk Factor

The tragic death of football star Junior Seau has led to a renewed discussion of the relationship between brain injuries and football. Indeed, the first round of articles that reported his suicide raised the subject -- even though very few details surrounding his death were available.

This conversation will probably continue for at least a few more days (realistic thinking about the rapid media cycle) now that Ta-Nehisi Coates, a popular blogger for The Atlantic, has written on the subject. In his latest column, Coates announces that he has made the difficult decision to stop watching football, pointing to the failure of the NFL to address the subject of brain injuries: "What's fairly clear to me is that football and its surrounding apparatus--the players, the big media, the NFL--aren't really ready to think about all that brain injuries might mean." Coates says that he has no other choice but to give up the sport:
I now know that I have to go. I have known it for a while now. But I have yet to walk away. For me, the hardest portion is living apart--destroying something that binds me to friends and family. With people whom I would not pass another words, I can debate the greatest running back of all time. It's like losing a language.
Obscuring the Powerful Link Between Mental Illness and Suicide
Although the media has speculated about whether Seau had a brain injury, it has not looked at a more likely explanation for his suicide: mental illness.  Numerous studies show that at least 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a "diagnosable and treatable" mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. I could not find any studies that list brain injuries as a common risk factor.

Several studies, however, show a small but statistically significant correlation between severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and suicide. These studies, however, do not find a correlation between suicide and TBI standing alone. Instead, the studies that find a link between TBI and suicide also find that the vast majority of persons with TBI who commit suicide also suffer from major risk factors such as mental illness and substance abuse. In other words, even in cases where brain injuries make persons more vulnerable to suicide, mental illness remains a substantial contributing factor.

Dr. John Reed, the CEO of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, California, is conducting research on neurological disease and traumatic injuries.  Reed cautions the public against rushing to attribute Seau's death to TBI.

Reed says that TBI together with mental disorders (including depression) can lead to suicide. He also states that Seau could have suffered from a mental illness unrelated to any brain injury: "It’s important to remember that it’s also entirely possible he could have had an unrelated mood disorder. . . . One in four Americans sometime in their life will develop clinical depression.”  Despite this reality, most media discussions focus almost exclusively on the possibility that Seau had a football-related brain injury.

At this point, it is unclear whether Seau had a brain injury. It is also unclear whether he suffered from a mental illness. But given the overwhelming data related to suicide, speculation should lead the media to a conversation about mental illness first, rather than brain injuries. At the very least, the facts about suicide should lead to a discussion of mental illness and brain injuries, since the two can act as co-risk factors. Instead, the media has chosen to focus on a topic that is more sensational: the victimization of innocent football players by a greedy corporation.

Mental Illness and Stigma
Many studies find that stigma deters people from getting help for mental illness. This stigma is most powerful among persons of color.

At least one psychiatrist has raised the possibility that stigma surrounding mental illness might have contributed to Seau's death. In a column written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dr. Winston Chung, a psychiatrist at the prestigious California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, considers whether cultural factors that deter persons of color from seeking mental health services and that make toughness an asset in the NFL might have prevented Seau from receiving treatment that could have prevented his death.

Even if a brain injury played a role in Seau's death, Chung rightfully observes that the focus should remain on mental illness: "Whether it’s from brain damage, a genetic predisposition or environmental stressors, depression is a treatable condition and suicide can be preventable." The almost exclusive focus on brain injuries replicates the social stigma surrounding mental illness. It remains an issue to avoid.

Final Words
Returning to Ta-Nehisi Coates, I encourage him to discuss mental illness as he continues to struggle with his decision to abandon football. I also encourage other media commentators to overcome the social stigma associated with mental illness and use their coverage of Seau's death to educate the public about the factors that lead people to suicide. Although brain injuries are possibly relevant to a discussion of Seau, mental health is undoubtedly relevant to his death as it is to most other suicides.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trayvon Martin: Miami Herald Reveals George Zimmerman's Myspace Page

MySpace has become a relic, but it still houses personal webpages that users created long before Facebook became a reality. As the Miami Herald reports, George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin, never deleted his account. The page contains interesting commentary. The Miami Herald summarizes some of the content:
“I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book. . . . Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!”

Another line suggested his friends went to jail and did not rat him out. “They do a year and dont ever open thier mouth to get my ass pinched.”
The blog section boasts about having two felonies knocked down to misdemeanors and describes a court battle with an ex-girlfriend. Zimmerman faced two felonies in 2005 for obstructing justice and battery on a law enforcement officer, but the cases were reduced to misdemeanor simple battery, and he was left with no criminal conviction on his record.
 Zimmerman described the ex-girlfriend as his "ex-hoe."

What Does This Mean?
I am not sold that these types of pages really mean much in terms of guilt or innocence.Yet, many of Zimmerman's supporters cited Trayvon Martin's Twitter feed and a Facebook page belonging to another teenager who shares his name in order to portray him as a young, violent thug. I wonder how these same folks will react to Zimmerman's unflattering MySpace page. My guess: DIFFERENTLY.

Frankly, I am surprised the webpage remained on the Internet for such a long period of time. Zimmerman's lawyer has now instructed him to erase his Internet history, which is precisely how I would advise a live-wire client like Zimmerman.

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