Correction, 9/30/2013: The original version of this post said that the "creepy-ass cracker" comment from Martin came from a recording of his cell phone conversation. The actual source was the testimony of Rachel Jeantel. The error has been corrected below. I am indebted to George Taylor for the correction.
Initial apology: A completely unqualified opinion for which it is likely you will have very little use, and even less likely that you will want so much of it
A warning about authority and mainstreamness and whether you'll know any more when you're done than when you started
A semiotic angle on the Trayvon Martin case: there were at least two stories, and they served different purposes
- the testimony of Martin's friend Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with him at the beginning of the conversation, and who testified that he knew he was being followed and was angry about it, at one point referring to Zimmerman as a "creepy-ass cracker."
- recordings of Zimmerman's conversation with the dispatcher.
- a neighbor who described one man straddling another such that the description of the man on top is a better fit to Martin
- the autopsy revealed a point blank shot in the heart that apparently occurred while Martin's clothing was sagging away from him, i.e. consistent with his being on top and leaning forward.
A brief pause for some semiotic terminology
- the silence of the smoke alarm most of the time
- the frame around an object on the wall that tells you that what it encloses is art rather than just a stray object hanging there
- the lights dimming between scenes of a play
- the difference in shape between mandatory, octagonal road signs and triangular, advisory ones
- the white space around a black letter on the page
- the scent added to natural gas so that it doesn't just smell like air
How the interpretants of the two stories shaped their representema
one, something that might have been what happened
two, supported by enough corroboration so that at least one juror would consider it too likely to dismiss.
if the span of time between frightening and harassing a teenager on the street and then getting out of a car with a gun is long enough,
and if events reverse who is attacking and who is fleeing (but not too quickly or fluidly, as the reversal must be clear),
then the ensuing fight is to be considered separately from the provocative escalation leading up to it,
and therefore the only facts to be considered were that at the moment he pulled out the gun and pulled the trigger, Zimmerman was losing a fight in which he said he reasonably feared death or serious injury,
and the sparse corroboration of Zimmerman's story was strong enough for the jury to think the story could not reasonably be ruled out,
by considering only the small slice of time in which Zimmerman was losing the fight (that he provoked, and we only have his word that Martin started it long enough after Zimmerman's initiating aggression),
it might be possible
for a willing jury to acquit him.