August 21st, 2013
This week Jad and Kevin conclude their discussion of the Travyon Martin and George Zimmerman situation. This is the second part of a two part conversation that began last week. One part of the episode you’ll want to listen for is something called “The Conversation”.
“The Conversation” is a tidbit about black culture that Jad came across and unless you’re black or possibly in another minority group, you’ve probably never been taught it.
We also discuss the difference between people who identify as libertarians because of philosophical principles (as Jad and Kevin do) versus people who do so because a more limited government permits them to be freely bigoted. Throughout the episode, we remain passionate in our disgust for the entire unfortunate situation.
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.
This week, Jad and I conclude our discussion of the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman situation, a conversation that we began last week. One part of the episode you’ll want to listen for is something called, “the conversation”. It’s a tidbit about black culture that Jad came across, and unless you’re black or possibly in another minority group, you’ve probably never been taught it.
We also discuss the differences between people who identify as libertarians because of philosophical principles, as both Jad and I do, versus people who do so because a more limited government permits them to be more freely bigoted. Throughout the episode, we remain passionate in our disgust for the entire unfortunate situation.
Jad: I totally agree with what you said. Let me throw in one other maybe slightly positive thing, inside the context of the Trayvon Martin 24 hour story is that we turn the TV on to watch something or other and – Elisa’s actually interested in the case, or was interested in the verdict when it came out.
Kevin: I was following[?] her, yeah.
Jad: And when she’s excited about something, then I’m like, “okay, well I’ll go read the Wikipedia page at least”, and it seemed like pretty quickly, we both came to figure out – which I think seems to be the objectively, the Kevin Ludlow facts of the matter as it were – is that no matter what you think about it, the current structure of justice says that the state doesn’t have enough evidence to overturn the story of the one guy who is alive, and that’s classic, right? I mean like – and not saying that this necessarily relates to George Zimmerman – but that happens all the time. That’s how the mafia operates, right? Everyone who is a witness vanishes.
Jad: And so no matter how strong your case is circumstantially, you can’t ever overcome that burden of proof to show that the mob boss is racketeering or whatever. That’s a function of the structure of the system. If all the witnesses are dead or gone then you can’t really do anything about it, and that’s just what happened, right? But we were watching TV after that and the stories, everything we saw was not really focused on the case as it was focused on police and the African American community.
So they were talking about the fear of black men and black teenagers and whatnot, and that I think, isn’t a wasted conversation because that is what is actually what people are upset about. The thing that people are projecting their own feelings about onto this blank screen is the notion or their intuition based in reality that the justice system is hugely skewed to the disadvantage of poor black men. That is a fantastic conversation to have. That should be something that everyone knows is actually factually the case.
Jad: That is an important piece of reality to have when you’re filtering information. There’s nothing particularly scary about black men and yet, they are the ones who are 40% of the prison population.
Jad: Anyway, I thought that was at least positive and [?] we were watching was somebody talking about how they had to have this conversation with their son and this is like a speaking way out of my depth here, but this is apparently called, “the conversation”. So if you have a black male son, as you would if you were a black person with a son, then you tell them at some point, “look, human beings all joke with each other, we laugh with each other, we fuck around, you’re a free spirit, you have lots of energy, all that’s great. But if you ever see a policeman, do not fuck with them at all. Don’t crack a joke, don’t talk back to them, because that guy wants to kick your ass. He wants to fuck you up, that’s kind of his job. So don’t run from them, don’t fight them, don’t argue with them.”
That’s the talk and that makes sense, right, because that’s to keep your child alive. And so they were saying essentially that now they were having to have that talk, or they were saying that George Zimmerman takes that talk to the next level where it’s not just a policeman, it’s just anybody, like, “don’t look suspicious, walk slowly, don’t walk too slowly like you’re looking at things, try to keep a regular pace”, and all that kinda stuff. I don’t think it’s a context that most Americans have a lot of empathy with, you know?
Jad: But anyway, so that’s just a long way of saying it was interesting and I thought it was a positive conversation that would actually be very helpful to understand why people are projecting what they’re projecting onto this story, why this story resonates with them. I don’t really understand the other side of it as much, so I can’t really conjecture as to why people are really happy that George Zimmerman got off. But I think it’s important to understand the reasons why people had strong feelings about the case. How about that? Try to salvage something from the –
Kevin: Well good because I’m gonna turn right back around and try to look at some of it anyway. I agree with that. I think that in all cases right, that’s a really good thing. In any type of litigious case that could come about, I think that you see elements of that. I mean, you see elements of that in any type of high profile case like these ones where you know, moms have killed their kids after going crazy and there’s religion involved, and then there’s like an abuse of husband involved, and then there’s all sorts of postpartum and drugs play a role in this whole thing – I mean like legal drugs and pharmaceuticals – and you know, you can get into these really good talking points in virtually any one of those high profile cases, I think for the most part. Maybe the type of high profile case like O.J. type of thing, you know, where it just really is celebrity status. So at that point it’s just kind of over the top.
Kevin: But outside of that, I think that the majority of people can probably find pretty good things to talk about. But I do kind of have like a mixed feeling though on the notion of “the conversation”. I didn’t know that, first of all. I think that’s really interesting that this so-called “conversation” takes place and that’s what that is, and I think that it doesn’t surprise me to learn that. And of course, I assumed that a lot of fathers would tell children stuff like that. Now I kinda have like a double-edged point of view on it. First of all, I mean I’m in the majority in every way possible being a white educated male, right, so I concede that point. And that said though, it kinda reminds me of what we were talking about months ago with respect to the holocaust, and we were talking about standing up for – if you don’t have a society of people, you were saying like me, but just people who are willing to stand up for things, then how does that system ever change, right?
And so I guess I have kind of a mixed thought on it because I’m like well, I totally understand as a parent, last thing you’re gonna do is tell your kid something that very well may get him killed, right? You’d be a horrible parent if that’s what you’re doing. But on the other hand I can kinda see how by adding that protective layer in there, you’re really kinda perpetuating that same sort of “the Jewish” stereotype that we talked about in the holocaust. And even today it still persists in the Jewish culture where you just have this grouping of people who are taught from the get go that these people do not agree with your particular way of life. Do not fuck with them in any way, shape, or form because they are out to get you and if you put yourself in harm’s way, you’re going to lose, right? They’re going to overpower you and visa vie, that’s kinda the whole holocaust that happens right there, you know? Everybody kinda plays dead and then unfortunately, one ends up actually being dead.
But the other more important thing I think I have in this case with respect to “the conversation” is that that is kinda what I was getting at with the 1/15,000 murders, and I don’t think for a second that black people and people of color in general shouldn’t be afraid of police forces, and state agencies, and things like that. I really truly do think that there’s overwhelming evidence to suggest that that’s the case. But I actually did read quite a bit about this too you know, saying that because George Zimmerman was acquitted of these charges that now black people are gonna just have to look out for people in general, you know, almost kinda like it rolls it back to 1940 or something where a black guy just might not be able to walk down the street for fear of his life and I feel that that’s a little short-sided in the sense that this is just one particular case. It’s one fucking –
Kevin: And the weird thing is – what’s really funny about it is that it keeps getting compared to white culture, and last time I checked, George Zimmerman is a fucking Mexican anyway. So the fact that you know, it becomes kinda this black on white sort of thing and again not to denigrate in any way, shape, or form the reality of the culture that black people are forced to live in in our society – I mean, it’s terrible in so many ways, I am not at all excusing it – but I’m just saying that I feel that that’s one of the things that’s now coming from this is that it’s like you can just say that Hispanics, or white people you know are just all of a sudden out to kill blacks again, and I don’t personally think that that’s true. I could be dead wrong, but I don’t think that the bulk of our society – you know, your average white person walking down the street – wants to shoot a black teenager to death, or otherwise fuck them up in any type of way. Certainly some people do and George Zimmerman appeared to have, maybe it truly was all an accident but it certainly appears that that was his intent.
And so I guess I have a little bit of trouble with the fact that I feel like the conversation – the societal conversation for all of us now – is gonna kind of regress a little bit and it’s gonna kinda go in that direction and I guess I feel it just – I don’t know, maybe I can’t say this because I am white – but I feel like it’s almost kind of like regressing racial progress and it just makes it even harder for us to communicate on that once again because it’s like if I were speaking with a black person and I go, “you’re afraid of me”, like, “would you tell your kids to watch out for somebody like me?” I mean, I want nothing more than for people to all be on the same plane and I guess it would upset me if that were – if this trial somehow changed that conversation again where all of a sudden, all non-black people are against black people again, and I might be saying that a little to cavalierly, but I hope my point is at least recognized in it.
Jad: Oh no, I totally understand what you’re saying. So yeah, I agree with your point that this is an instance. I think the argument for the other side is not that there are suddenly an increase in the number of people who want to go out and shoot black people, but there has never been a decrease in the number of people who when they see a black person got shot are saying to themselves, “well, he was probably robbing somebody”, or whatever. When they see it – the Trayvon Martin story – say, “well, yeah, he’s a little punk kid”, I mean this is not the case, “but a punk kid in a white neighborhood, and so he was probably up to no good anyway”, because statistically, that’s not the case and that I think is the mismatch they’re trying to point out is that a black man is not more likely to hurt you than a non-black man.
Jad: I saw something that was kinda interesting the other day. They were talking about black on black crime and somebody was taking the point that – it was Lupe Fiasco actually, I think he’s a Hip Hop artist of some sort, I’m not really totally familiar with, but I’m now following him on Twitter because he’s very interesting – but he was saying, “until we stop killing each other, there’s no way that the white man is going to value our lives if we don’t value each other’s lives.” And he was saying like some 85% of African Americans are killed by other African Americans, and somebody else came in and pointed out that 82 or something percent of white people are killed by white people, and so it’s not like a black on black crime, it’s just that usually you’re killing people you know, and you’re killing people in your neighborhood, and you’re killing people that you know, that’s who you kill.
Jad: So to go back to the original train of thought is that you don’t have to worry about a strange black man, if someone’s gonna kill you it’s gonna be a white person around you that you know. So it’s a misperception of the threat and then that misperception gets translated via the passiveness, because you think that’s the case then when someone says, “oh, isn’t it strange that black people are 10% of the population, but they’re 40% of the prison population” –
Jad: – that doesn’t bother you because you’re like, “oh, well black people are criminals”, right? That’s what I know to be true, you don’t necessarily have that as an explicit thought process, but that’s why you are able to not be bothered by that fact, right? So anyway it’s kind of subtle, but I think that is ultimately the argument being made by the people who are legitimately concerned and not just trying to stir up a [?] –
Kevin: Oh, sure.
Jad: – and not trying to promote their talk show or whatever, the people who are – the thoughtful people I’ve seen discussing this from that perspective – that’s kind of their position and I think that’s a valid position. I think that’s true. I mean, it’s clearly the case that – I think, I’ve never seen any evidence to the contrary – that the police, the incarceration apparatus of the United States specifically targets minorities, and specifically among minorities, black people –
Jad: – and nobody cares. No one’s standing up to stop it and part of that reason is because there’s this sort of subtle narrative in media and everywhere else that that’s just the way it is because these people are criminals, that that is the criminal class. So I think you know, that’s definitely worth discussing and from a libertarian perspective or a message promotion perspective, I think watching these guys – and there’s a couple that I follow their work – that are basically saying, “look, this is the rule of law, the rule of law says this.” I understand that, I agree – I think that’s right. Like when I look at the evidence I’m like, I see why this happened the way it did. But that’s not the point, right? That’s not why people are mad.
Jad: They’re not mad because they really honestly think the rule of law was subverted in this instance. In most cases, they don’t know anything about the facts of the case to the level of detail where you’re like, “oh, well there’s just no witnesses so the burden of proof is not met and the state does not meet its demand, blah, blah, blah, and has to acquit or has to find him not guilty”, they’re not thinking about it at that level. They’re saying this is another instance of this clearly racist system and there are a large number of people who are saying this verdict is good and they’re interpreting that to mean the state of affairs as it exists is just, is right, is good, right? So it’s just a miscommunication in a huge – amalgamating large groups of people together but it’s just people not really listening to what the other side is concerned about.
They’re just saying, “well, I think you’re wrong because this, and so I’m not going to really think about what is it you’re trying to communicate”, and they’re going to pick your argument apart on the details of the argument, not taking the time to try to empathize and understand what it is you’re actually concerned about – I don’t know, –
Kevin: No, your point is really well taken. I mean, I can’t disagree with any of that at all and I think from that side, I’m very sympathetic to the situation – I mean, I am very sympathetic to the situation overall. You know, I had a number of people who immediately afterwards were like, “oh, what did you think of the whole Martin case”, and people would then follow up by saying like, “I think they did the right thing”, and I get pretty snappy with all of them because I knew them – all the people that told me this – and I said, “they probably did do the right thing.” I was like, “but you’re completely missing the point if you have any interest in discussing this whatsoever because you’re not an attorney and so to start thinking about it as if all of a sudden the law has any relevance to anything”, and I think what I was really going on telling people is that the law doesn’t mean anything. It’s an abstract notion, it means nothing.
So the law is subject to change at any moment and it does so regularly, so to suggest that all of a sudden, your whole basis of your argument now is to say, “well, they followed the rule of the law, so therefore the right decision was made”, and I was like, “you can’t say that.” I was like, “it’s fucking asinine to say that. At the end of the day, there’s still a kid who lost his life for no particular reason, so whilst Zimmerman – I don’t think he is guilty, or he wasn’t guilty clearly – but while I agree with you wholeheartedly that the burden of proof is not met, that doesn’t change the circumstantial evidence to the facts of the case and you should still be pissed off that this sort of thing happens at all. There’s just so many tragic points to it.”
So I’m very sympathetic to the situation overall and I think that if those are the talking points that are coming out of it right now, if those are the things that people are talking about, if those are the things that people are really upset about – or that the black community specifically perhaps is upset about – then I would have to wholeheartedly agree with that because I was pissed off on the exact same token when people so very nonchalantly said to me, “they made the right decision.” It’s like, there’s no fucking way you can say that. And I’m not saying that they made the wrong decision. I’m just saying you can’t say that they made the right decision. There is no right decision in this case. There’s no good answer here, it’s terrible all around. So to just all of a sudden fall back like you’re the attorney in the case and like, “thank God we won”, that’s the wrong attitude and that attitude really pissed me off just in the last two days when people were kinda spewing that off to me.
So I’m completely on the side of what you’re saying here, if that’s the case. Interestingly, one of the notes I had jotted down while you were talking was the fact that I find it very difficult to discuss this topic from a libertarian mindset and the reason is because I remember when I was a representative of the republican party in 2008 mainly because I was representing Ron Paul on the libertarian side, but I actually was a delegate to the conference and it took me a while to understand. This is the first time I had really been introduced – one of the big things of the Texas republican platform is to completely get rid of the idea of a hate crime and I remember asking some of the guys that I was with – none of whom I knew, I just met them all by doing this, but they were all cool guys, I keep in touch with some of them – and I was like, “why are they interested in removing a hate crime? Like, aren’t there times where that could be applicable?” And of course, people take the side – which I think that you would take also – is that a crime, is a crime, is a crime and it’s like is shouldn’t matter if a person’s white, black, or purple, if you murder them, you murder them, and you should suffer the consequences of having murdered somebody. You shouldn’t be more penalized because you killed somebody because they were black, or because they were white – that shouldn’t matter. And I couldn’t disagree with that logic and to this day I still, in principle, agree with that; everybody should be treated equally.
And so I feel that that’s kinda one of the things that makes this very difficult to discuss on the libertarian side is that at the end of the day, I don’t personally think – by saying this, when it’s on tape I certainly hope people would listen to the entire statement and not take this sound byte – but at the end of the day, I don’t think Trayvon Martin’s life as a black man is worth any more than Trevor Martin’s life as a white man, you know? There’s no difference to me, but at the same time I appreciate that the reality of our society is that a lot of people think just the opposite. A lot of people do think that his life is perhaps worth less than that of Trevor Martin.
And so it becomes very difficult for me – if I wanna remain principle – to say, “No, you’re right, it shouldn’t matter that the kid is black. The fact is is that it was murder and he was killed, and that’s tragic in and of itself”, but unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of people, predominantly people who are probably far right-leaning people who all of a sudden want to take this very libertarian type of stance and of course, they immediately start talking about the whole black on black violence or you know, in fact, I saw somebody today post a story about a white kid who was exactly the same age – I forget the kid’s name, he was a star football player and looked like a real handsome kid – and he was murdered by a 30-year old black man. So basically, somebody was setting up the exact same case but just the opposite, and of course there’s no media story for this kid or anything like that and again, my answer is to say, “well that is equally tragic, I 100% agree with you, but again, you’re missing the point that there is still a big racial problem in this country and that’s why it’s an issue.”
So I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m frustrated that people see half the problem. You’ve got people who are using that argument, but they’re only using it for half of the issue. I’m willing to sit here and say all day long that there is a tremendous problem with racial inequality in the first place, and that needs to disappear and we should do anything we can to make that disappear. And yes, Trayvon’s life isn’t worth any more than any white kid of his equal status, but to just take one of those two things, to just take the side that says, “I don’t think that this kid’s life is worth any more than this other kid’s life”, and to ignore the tremendous racial indifferences and injustices that exist, too – that’s a little fucked up to me – and I’m seeing a lot of that on Facebook. And Facebook really gets me because it’s people that I know, but I see it on Reddit as well and other such larger public forum.
Jad: This is what has always concerned me about even self-identifying as a libertarian / anarchist is pretty safe, but I consider myself a libertarian in the sense of classic libertarian –
Jad: – the person who believes in no government, believes in individual liberty because it’s just that unfortunate fact that libertarianism or small governmentism or whatever, just happens to also be the perfect place for people who want to assert personal authority over other people based on whatever, based on gender, based on race, based on whatever. This may be going too far, this may be too disconnected from your point, but from people who explicitly feel that way to people who just more subtly don’t fathom the race issue and get upset whenever it comes up – I will call them racists – but I’m not saying that they’re necessarily like, flaming virulent racists, I think a lot of them are – but even if they’re just a subtle like, hadn’t really thought it through sort of racist, like libertarianism really appeals to those people a lot.
Jad: And it really sucks because – and it’s so complicated, there’s so many ins, and outs, and what have you’s that it becomes an immediate dismissal of any idea that has to do with individual liberty is that, “oh, well those people are racist”, and a large number of them are and so it kinda sucks. But on the flip side, that’s where I kind of find myself being like, “I wish this wasn’t a discussion about race”, because that’s where I feel like racism is misused as a dismissal of related ideas, do you know what I mean? So I don’t like people playing the race card sometimes. When people are playing the race card to dismiss the idea that we should dismantle the Federal Reserve or whatever, that’s a misuse of that, right?
I think this is an accurate use of it, but it’s such a touch thing and any time this sort of thing happens it gets touchier and I think people who just want to skip it – let’s say that might be to give people the benefit of the doubt – they’re not necessarily racist themselves overtly or even in a more subtle way, but they just don’t understand to the point that they don’t want to deal with that question, right? They wanna skip that part and get to the part where we talk about getting rid of hate crimes laws.
Jad: They are correct that in a just society, all people are the same, blah, blah, blah. They’re not fathoming why this sort of law exists. They don’t understand the impotence[?] behind the law and so they don’t really wanna think about once racism comes up, they’re kind of off their footing, right? They’re in a defensive position, or they’re for whatever reason, that’s not something they want to talk about. So when someone brings it up, they get upset about it or they’re like, “this is bullshit and you’re trying to get around the point, blah, blah, blah.” So again, it’s just this really crafted thing as if it were engineered to make it impossible for us to again, like you said, see our commonality, our common humanity and see our common enemy as[?] a conundrum. And look here, we’ve spent an hour and forty-five minutes on the George Zimmerman case. Well done.
Kevin: Yeah. I know it was not the intent, but there’s a lot that comes out of it. I mean I guess it is a little bit more politically philosophical than perhaps I otherwise gave it credit, but I understand what you’re saying there and I wholeheartedly agree with you. It’s one of the things that bothers me all the fucking time about the libertarian type of crowd. And to be fair – let’s not kid ourselves – this is exactly where people like myself got out. You know, in 2007, there was this tremendous movement – I mean, this is when the tea party came about – and I fucking hate it and it upsets me to some degree when I walk around hearing people talk about the tea party and how they’re just a bunch of ignorant, racist, redneck fucks and for the most part, that’s not an inaccurate depiction of them.
But when it started – as I’m sure you well know – it started because it was one of those so-called money-bomb days – which I never really like that term either – but a big fundraising day for Ron Paul, which just happened to coincide with the Boston Tea Party anniversary in 2007, which is like December, 5th or something like that – I forget the exact day – but early December or something and so that was the day that they raised like 4.5 million dollars in a single day for a candidate through grassroots efforts and it was just – even every single media channel had to pick it up and be like, “well, we don’t know who the fuck this guy is, but he certainly has a lot of people passionate about him”, right, and thus the notion of the tea party was born. And then of course, once Obama won the following year and then at the very beginning of 2009 I guess it was, or late 2008 when all of a sudden, Sarah Palin is like the spokesperson for the tea party –
Kevin: – and people were like, “what the fuck are you talking about? This woman couldn’t be any further from my views of the world and she’s somehow the spokesperson for this group that I feel that I was financially responsible for creating in the first place? What the fuck to you mean?” And that’s kinda like that whole you know, state takeover thing that we’ve talked about time and time again.
Kevin: Just on a larger point it’s just upsetting to see people identify with a particular ideology that has philosophically good intention behind it and somebody like yourself or myself certainly would use it to its fullest extent to explore that goodness. Libertarian for example, if you take libertarianism at its face[?] and say, “I don’t think that anybody should be mistreated or treated badly by anybody”, that’s like the fundamental root of the whole thing, but then you see how people abuse it be them in racial senses, or in violent senses, or by letting starving kids die because fuck them, they don’t need a safety net, that type of thing.
All of those things are just contrary to the actual principles of the philosophy, but those are the things that get surfaced and I think that’s the same thing that’s happening in this case right now where you’ve got all these people, they are not purposefully doing it, I think they just don’t understand what they do. I think they feel justified in saying that – it’s just like reverse racism. It’s like when people make the reversed-racism claims.
Jad: Yeah, sure.
Kevin: Which do exist I mean, at a logical level. That is true, it might be reversed-racism, but it’s not simple to say that. To try to make yourself the victim of it is absurd.
Kevin: Anyway, I think we’re on the same page with it.
Jad: Sounds like we’re on the same damn page, as usual.
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’ll 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 Mohed Badru 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.