With the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Jad and Kevin dive into the philosophical sides surrounding the case.

We look at gun violence in the United States, police forces, and as best two white guys can do, discuss the realities of being a black man in the United States. This is a two-part episode so be sure to tune in next week to get our full take.

Transcript of Podcast

[Recorded Audio]

Speaker 1: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?

Speaker 2: No, sir.

Kevin: Hello, and welcome to the JK podcast, an anti-authoritarian philosophical endeavor recorded in Austin, Texas.  We draw our topics from the entire scope of the human experience with central connecting themes focused on the grand ideas of liberty, humanity, and equality.  The JK Podcast is hosted by Jad Davis and Kevin Ludlow.  Welcome back to another episode.

With the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man accused of shooting and killing 17 year old Trayvon Martin, Jad and I dive into the philosophical sides surrounding the case.  We look at gun violence in the United States, police forces, and as best two white guys can do, discuss the realities of being a black man living within the United States.  This is a two-part episode, so be sure to tune in next week to get our full take.

Jad:     So man, what do we have for today?

Kevin: Well, it’s funny, at the dinner, the guy Mike – he knows that we do this podcast and I’m always talking how I really look forward to Wednesday night to do our recording – and they were asking me – and Javier, the owner of the company, he was very interested.  He’s like, “well, what is it that you guys talk about?”  So I kinda went into the details of what we do and I think one of the guys we were with, he’s like, “so you might talk about the George Zimmerman trial”, or something.  I’m like, “well, I think we could.  It’s not something that we wouldn’t talk about.”  I was like, “other than the fact that it’s such an unfortunate nuanced case, I don’t know that there’s necessary great political philosophy to pull from it perhaps”, but I was just saying that we typically talk about things that have this kind of over-arching philosophical side. 

And then the more I thought about it, I don’t know if the whole Zimmerman trial is something that’s worth discussing.  I know there’s some pretty hot heads in it right now and I’ve been pissed off about the whole thing just because to me, it’s like illustrative of the problems in the United States – not what happened, obviously that’s a travesty at every level – but the fact that it’s CNN 24-hour headline news, people talk about it, it’s kinda like, you‘ve seen the movie, The Cable Guy?

Jad:     A long time ago, yeah.

Kevin: The Cable Guy makes this wonderful parody.  In fact, if you’ve ever watched the movie again now, it’s funny.  I’ve seen it come up in libertarian circles and things like that, but it’s really interesting how predictive it was for the way that the culture of the United States would go.  And not unlike – what’s the movie that Gary’s always talking about – Idiocracy.

Jad:     Oh, right.

Kevin: Not unlike that, but the whole thing is like it’s based upon this giant trial that’s going on and it’s some stupid thing.  I think it’s supposed to have been modeled after O.J. because that was what was going on at the time and you know where just everybody around the world is like tuned into this one fucking thing that – it means nothing to them.  However many thousands of murders in the country per day – many of them racially charged, many of them not.  There’s so much of the exact same thing going on every single fucking day, but this is the one that gets picked up because it’s a sexy story – I hate that word even – but that’s what it is.  Like, you can sell it, you know?

Jad:     Sure.

Kevin: You can pollerize[?] people, no opinion is actually gonna be right because nobody really knows anything that happens, and you can make people get really mad at one another for it, so it’s great in the news.

Jad:     Yeah.  Well and it doesn’t – this is a debatable point – but it doesn’t touch on any of the real pillars of the establishment, right?

Kevin: Yeah.

Jad:     Like if it was a policeman, then you’re dealing with police brutality, but if you’re focusing on like you said, two people fighting each other in a witnessless situation, I think you’re right.  I think it fits all those prerequisites for a story that the media is likely to run with.

Kevin: Yeah, I watched just on Reddit today you know, I saw somebody – I don’t know why the fuck people do this, I really don’t – but they will write like, “guest speaker on Fox destroys Sean Hannity today”, and they purposefully use the word “destroys”, and so I’m interested because I’m like, “well I fucking hate Sean Hannity, let’s see him get a beatdown here”.  But it’s not, it’s never a destruction.  He’s never destroyed.  His arguments are never even invalidated and he’s still just a fucking horrific prick, he’s terrible.  But that’s completely beside the point and so somebody just goes in there and says, “well he’s – this guest destroyed him today”, but he didn’t at all, he just – you get these two guys – and this is one of the things that I watched today – Sean Hannity had these two black guests on. 

One of the guys was just saying what a tragedy the whole thing was and talking about how this has to do with race, and on, and on, and on, and then he had another black guy on there who he doesn’t even speak even in the partially excitable voice that I’m speaking in right now.  I mean, he just launches into this tirade against the guy, screaming at him, saying, “this has nothing to do with race and you have no comprehension of the law whatsoever”, and he just like – it’s just puppet theater.  Like none of this has any relevance and people just fucking eat it up.

Jad:     Sure.  Yeah.

Kevin: The two people that they had on there I mean, they’re supposed to be intelligent, articulate – they’re attorneys, you know?  I mean, these are people who should be very well spoken and should have the capacity to control themselves and speak very eloquently under any type of duress or circumstantial evidence and I swear to God, they picked them of course, because they’re gonna do exactly the opposite of that because then people get all excited that two guys are yelling at each other.

Jad:     Sure, yeah.

Kevin: So anyway, that’s a slash rant there for me, but –

Jad:     Yeah man, that’s the point, right, is that it’s harmless theatre, right, and not that the event itself is harmless, right?  But like you said, the fact that this one murder out of 30,000 or 40,000 a year is the national story and the headline for everything.  That’s just theatre.

Kevin: Yeah.  So the United States has – homicide rate is 4.8 out of 100,000.  Oh yeah, there’s the number right there.  There were 14,748 homicides in the United States in 2010 including non-negligent homicide.  So I mean, why do we focus on this 1/15,000th of the problem, you know, this situation here.

Jad:     Well, but to be fair, it’s not as if people are so interested in this that the news media had no choice but to cater to their fancy and play this thing 24 hours, it’s a hand delivered news story, right?  That’s what is on TV.  You can talk about something else –

Kevin: Sure.

Jad:     – but if you wanna talk about things that the people around you are gonna know what’s going on, you have to talk about this case.

Kevin: Right.  Oh, and I totally agree, [?] even remotely implied the opposite of that, I retract it fully.  I mean, there’s no doubt about it, all I’m saying is that this is a sexy story, there’s elements in it that like you said, they don’t hit the mainstream topics, that you can keep them away from politicians, but at the same time they draw into all sorts of race arguments, all sorts of gun violence issues, the whole stand your ground law that looked really attractive to people because you can spin it every different way, I mean, it’s just – you can take every single component of the story, spin it out of context really without knowing any of the facts whatsoever because let’s face it, nobody really does know any of the facts, and then you could turn it into whatever the fuck you want and just be angry about the fact that – and it’s tragic, too.  I mean, at the end of the day there’s no doubt about it.  You have a young kid who lost his life whether he was a gangbanger, or whether he was a straight A, charming young man, he’s still dead.

Jad:     Right.

Kevin: Anyway, it’s just you can’t win, and I guess I’m beyond being upset by it.  I mean, it’s just America for you, but it’s – what [?] started saying – it’s just one more of those illustrative points of what the United States has really degraded itself to, and that’s again, kinda how the end of that movie, The Cable Guy works is the joke is that at the very end, Jim Carrey dies on the main transmitter for the United States basically, like right when they were gonna read the verdict, and so the power goes out and nobody can see it.  Then like the punchline I suppose is they like pan around the world is that nobody really cares in the first place.

Jad:     Right.

Kevin: It doesn’t really affect anything.

Jad:     Sure.  Yeah.  Yeah, I think it’s just prepackaged stuff.  It’s like every – there’s very few news stories that aren’t, then that’s not what they are [?] they aren’t, either something that just keeps everyone’s mind off of larger, more pressing questions.

Kevin: Right.

Jad:     Again, for them personally, not for the people involved on the actual case itself, or it’s some cases – and this is slightly more conspiratorial – but I think it’s a deliberate – this is not one of those because usually it’s a you know, like the old Clinton firing cruise missiles at random camps of “terrorists” at the same time, the same day that a verdict would be released about him, some other crime he’d committed.

Kevin: Right.  Right.

Jad:     That kinda thing is [?] classic.  And so I mean, this is very helpful that this is going on while just come off a reasonable long season of touching the tops of a few scandal icebergs as it were with the IRS and the NSA, and drones, and the list of things that a responsible, conscientious journalist would be focusing on is so huge that it’s very convenient that this is the only story that’s being talked about by anybody –

Kevin: Yeah.

Jad:     – who has a national TV show.

Kevin: Couldn’t agree more.  I mean, that’s basically what I’m getting at with it.  And you’ve said it before; I mean I think for either of the two of us in our minds, it’s really just kinda child’s play at this point.  I mean, it’s so obvious how the attention is diverted to this level.  Like you said, I think it’s a good way to say it; the icebergs of new stories right now just with the IRS, the NSA, and drones themselves.  I thought – in my world – just the NSA is enough for me to say there’s not a drop of fucking conversation about that NSA thing right now, and yet there are literal dozens of hours – and there’s gotta be at least five or six news channels – mean, there’s gotta be 130 hours a day right now of news media dedicated to Trayvon Martín and George Zimmerman.

Jad:     Sure.

Kevin: And maybe an occasional ten minute spike towards what old Ed Snowden’s up to in Moscow.  And if I take that one even further – because you’ve certainly seen this posted in various newsgroups and would’ve thought of it as well – even when they talk about Snowden, they’re talking about Snowden.

Jad:     Right.

Kevin: Nobody’s talking about what Snowden’s information is accusing the NSA of.

Jad:     Sure.

Kevin: It’s just about like, well where is the guy?  Is he still in hiding?  It’s like, who the fuck cares where he is, like if you wanna go arrest him and kill him, fine.  He kinda threw himself on the fire for the benefit of others.  We should be talking about the fucking NSA 24 hours a day right now.

Jad:     Right.

Kevin: And that one I feel like does get kinda conspiratorial because let’s face it, that’s a reasonably sexy story, too, right?  I mean you’ve got a pretty good setup there, a guy who steals information, he’s young, he kind of is this political martyr, he’s flying around to other countries, you know, it’s like a real James Bond, Mission Impossible type of style, you know?  It’s like a real interesting scenario.  It’s like that kid who was – I forget what they called him, what the fuck was his name, Barefoot Bandit or something like that – it was that kid who was basically stealing –

Jad:     Oh, planes and stuff, right?

Kevin: Planes, and Ferrari’s, and just crazy shit, and he evaded police for months and months.  It’s the same type of story, only this one is for real and that kid was just a juvenile basically playing Grand Theft Auto in real life.

Jad:     Right.

Kevin: So anyway, it’s like I’ve said for the third time, it’s just so illustrative of what the United States has become, I think, which is a bunch of fucking idiots, I don’t know.

Jad:     Well but again, I’m going to take the position of defending the idiots, that there’s only so much you can really count on someone to do.  Like there’s only so much you can ask of someone, and if they have a half hour to explore the world by sitting down between their two jobs, and time with their family, and whatever else and turn on a TV show and I think a really good point that you made is this is a perfect blank canvas to project whatever your opinion about anything is, it can be race, guns, Florida, I mean anything you like or hate about anything can be put onto this story, and there’s no one that can contradict it because crime with no witnesses.

Kevin: Right.

Jad:     So I think that’s key to the story, like you were saying.  But anyway, in this half hour, you can watch this and this is the only thing you’re gonna be able to find on TV that’s about the news, and that’s – unless you have the energy to read blogs, and read Reddit, and all these things that really kind of are luxury activities for people who have excess time –

Kevin: Agreed.

Jad:     – there’s no way you’re going to bump into this other information.  And even if you did, like you said, the analysis of it is going to be you know, Snowden is in Russia, he’s hiding, you know?  And you can actually project pretty much whatever you want under that story with the coverage you’re given.  Anyway, my point is I don’t really blame people for not having the time and energy to research stuff that again, honestly in the same sort of way doesn’t matter like you know, so the NSA is recording everything you do.  Well, what are you gonna do about that?  You can’t do anything about it.  You can do just about as much as you can do to stop George Zimmerman from living a free life the rest of his days.

Kevin: Yeah.

Jad:     It’s outside of your control entirely.  I mean you know, this is the perception and I think it’s largely true, and you’ve gotta go back to work, so in many respects, there’s no point in torturing yourself.  You might as well just have an opinion about this thing that the people you get to talk to on a day to day basis have an opinion about, and compare your opinions.  I don’t think it’s a degraded state, I think it just is the state of things.  It is not – and I’m gonna say a mutable[?] human nature – but that is just what human beings are going to do.  They’re going to absorb what’s around them, and fit into the glass in which they’re [?] as it were for the most part.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s the way it should be, fine.  The problem is that everything is shaping the glass in nefarious ways outside of their control, you know?  That’s the problem is the people who are presenting this world view and making it the universal world view and taking everyone’s money to pay for it.

Kevin: Yeah I mean, I think that’s a good defense.

Jad:     Yeah, it’s kind of weak.

Kevin: No, it’s not.  I mean, I can’t argue with it, right?  I mean it’s – you know, it comes across, I think, as very pompous, and arrogant, and you know, self-centered, and a number of other phrases that I could come up with that are fairly negative towards myself when I say stuff like that, and I think at the heart of it, I mean I don’t believe that people are idiots, I think that people do very idiotic things and I think they’re unfortunately, subjected to an environment where they’re not given the resources to learn on their own, they’re not given the analytical skills, and they’re kinda forced into this and starts to draw people away with conspiratorial claims like this.  But almost kinda forced into this corporate slavery where you basically have to perform the functions that are expected of you as a United States citizen, or you’re fucked because that’s just the way that our system kind of governs itself. 

And so something that’s very true to your heart and mine as well, but always coming back to the education claim that people are just not educated, and so they ultimately become ignorant of topics.  So, to the defending point that you’re making though about – yes, people should be able to do these things and they should just be able to enjoy the things that they see and talk about the simple claims with one another, but I guess it makes me feel distraught when I look at the fact that you’ve got these really serious issues going on, and nobody has interest in following those more serious issues and the reason that I feel that way is because like you said, it’s – what are you gonna do?  So I know that the NSA is spying on me.  Well I mean, there’s one side of that that agrees with that, but it’s like well yeah, clearly just because you’re getting angry about it, it’s not just gonna change.  But then it kinda goes back to every other thing that we’ve ever talked about, and I believe this very wholeheartedly that if you have a collective – you’ve said this before, kind of in flattery of me – you have a country full of people that just think the way that I do, that have that kind of outward looking view towards things and they’re just not gonna tolerate stuff like this, there’s no way that shit like this happens because the collective entity would be smart enough to get together with one another and say, “you know what, let’s put our differences to the side because we clearly have a common enemy right now”, and that in this case is the NSA, or the CIA, or the government, or whatever the case may be. 

Again, it comes to the whole, does democracy work or now, or does anarchy really need to prevail, that sort of thing.  But you know, if you assume that the individual does have some level to change the system from within provided that they all work together to do that, I don’t know – I don’t know where I’m going with this, but –

Jad:     Yeah, I remember that point and I think that still stands that a nation of Ludlows is ungovernable, as it were, in the most positive way.  With that in mind, it’s kind of one of those arguing in midstream things, saying that people should do this, it’s just not possible, right?  People might’ve done that if they hadn’t had twelve years of government indoctrination camps.  They might have had retained that ability to analyze things critically, to be independent, to be angry about things that are done to them without their consent.  That may have been there, but somebody who comes out of public high school 8 times out of 10 is not going to have those feelings, they’re going to feel like they should do what they’re told and try to fit in and try to get along so that’s not a possibility. 

Anyway, I’m definitely not trying to shame you for wishing that people would behave differently or anything, I’m just pointing out that that’s not really something that can happen.  Again, there are circumstances under which those things do happen, and those circumstances are manifesting themselves, which is why every day, more and more people are like, “wait a second, I think this is all bullshit”, and they’re taking steps to rectify their world view to try to realign it with perceived reality.  But again, I think the human nature is not to do that, human nature is to get by and enjoy oneself as best one can in the moment and without those tools that are giving you the early warning that shit’s about to collapse and become  very damaging to your wellbeing.  Without those early warning signs, people are going to stay in a relaxed state. 

Anyway, so your point is extremely well taken and I think it’s impossible to suppress the part where people are comfortable when they don’t perceive danger.  I think it’s not impossible to change the way that people perceive danger, and I guess that’s what “waking up” is, right?

Kevin: Right.

Jad:     And that’s what happens when people lose their houses, and lose their jobs, and you know, have an encounter with the police, and have an encounter with a city government, or have one of those moments where they’re like, “wait a second, I need to reexamine this”, and once that happens you know, it all comes unwound pretty quickly but everything is geared to keep people from having that moment.

Kevin: And that’s where we’ll stop for this episode.  As always, thank you so very much for tuning in to the show.  If you haven’t done so already, please stop by our podcast website at www.JKPod.com, where you will find all of our episodes, show notes, links to material, and full transcriptions.  We always wanna credit the amazing work our staff does to help breathe life into this show.  Many thanks to Lee Caffey[Sp?] and Chris Bazon[Sp?] for providing us with quality sound engineering and editing.  Hosting services are provided by CityCore, LLC.  Our graphical caricature was provided by our friend Sayeed Mohad Batru Haseem [Sp?] in Malaysia, and Transcription services are provided by Deidra Alexander of Galaxy Creative Media. 

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for the show, or if you just wanna say hello, we love receiving email.  You can find Jad at Jad-Davis.com, and you can find Kevin at KevinLudlow.com.  Thanks again for tuning in, and we’ll be back with another episode soon.