Monday, April 30, 2012

Free speech doesn't need to be refined

The far left loves conservatives. They will bend over backwards to protect them.

Just as long as they're brown and don't come near them, that is.

Danish professor Lars Hedegaard was nearly locked up for two years for saying there is a serious domestic violence problem in the Muslim community, or as the authorities defined it, hate speech.

The case coming this close was a major victory for multiculturalists and cultural relativism. They don't dare pass judgment on the morals of a non-white culture, even if it's ripe with social conservatism. To them, dodging sticky cultural friction is more important than free speech.

This is a serious threat to human rights, but it could never happen here, right? National Review Online insists otherwise.
Four Democratic New York state senators have recently argued for a “more refined First Amendment,” declaring that speech should be “a special entitlement granted by the state on a conditional basis that can be revoked if it is ever abused or maltreated.” These legislators justified their proposed speech restrictions in the context of cyberbullying; there is always some hideous incident to use as the rationale for censoring speech.
Ouch! These vague anti-bullying bills require us to trust the government to apply them reasonably and not abuse the newly-minted power. No civil libertarian would ever fall for that.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Great Depression comparisons always fall flat

Yesterday on NPR a non-economist guest was trying to compare the recent recession to the Great Depression, and as usual, he had to use faulty logic to make his point.

In Yoram Buaman's newest book, he lists the Great Depression as having a 27 percent decline in real GDP, compared to a 5 percent decline in the last recession. World trade went down by 36 percent, compared to 20 percent today. There were 43 months without economic growth, compared to 18 this time around. Most importantly, unemployment peaked at 25 percent during the Great Depression, while the not-great recession peaked at 10 percent.

The NPR guest's response was that there are poor communities that have 25 percent unemployment rates today, so in some ways, the recession was on par with the Great Depression.

This is nonsense.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Choose one

I was reading up on the impossible trinity this week and it got me thinking about the trade-offs people have to make in public policy choices. Sometimes there are win-wins solutions, where two positive policies compliment each other, but in these cases only one is possible.

I'm reminded of my liberal friends who admire the successful social safety net in Scandinavian countries and want to bring that system here, but leave out the xenophobic immigration restrictions. The two are joined at the hip and one doesn't work without the other.

For each of the following items, remember that you can't have both. Choose one:

Unrestricted immigration or A generous welfare state.

Absolute safety and security or Civil rights.

Human rights or Multiculturalism and respect for other cultures

Free speech or Peace from hateful commentators.

Health insurance that covers all expenses or Low-cost health insurance.

Free markets or Consumer safety regulations.

Guaranteed safe workplaces or Minimal restrictions to businesses.

Organized labor or A labor force free of cartels

Insurance coverage of pre-existing medical conditions or the right not to buy health insurance.

Firearms for personal protection or Disarmed criminals.

Religious freedom or Protection from cults.

Fewer preventable deaths or Freedom to eat, smoke and drink.

Racial indifference or Celebration of diversity

Low prices during disasters or Readily-available supplies during disasters.

Most of the items in the list are good things to have. It's an absolute shame that we can't, for example, exercise full precautions against terrorism without sacrificing our personal freedoms. The important thing is not to throw up our hands in frustration, but instead to choose the one we value the most.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What do you mean by "access"

The American left has carefully chosen to word "access" to blur the distinction between legality and public funding for various issues.

Take the recent quagmire over a federal law forcing insurance companies cover birth control. The talking point was not that birth control would now be provided. Instead, activists went to great lengths to state it as "improving access" to birth control. As if birth control had been illegal or out of reach for the entire populace.

The same misleading wording is used to sell abortion funding and higher education. The simple spin is to present people like me who oppose the funding strategy as if we want to make it illegal. This false dichotomy is used to bogusly present moderate political opponents as extremists.

I don't think it would be appropriate for the government to spend taxpayer money designing and purchasing video games for the public. That doesn't mean I want to see video games banned, I happen to enjoy a good video game, but I think they should be funded entirely through private expenditures. We already have access to them thanks to capitalism.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Some local food is really good

Last year I wrote a post that defended the buy-local movement on purely aesthetic grounds, saying if someone enjoys knowing precisely where their food comes from, it's great they can pursue that as a hobby.

A few days ago I wrote about Tyler Cowen's new book on food. In an NPR interview about the book, Cowen was asked how his criticism of the "virtue" of local food jives with his love of eating regional food when traveling. He responded:
A lot of local food is very tasty. I'm very happy to eat it. I just don't think it's the same thing as saving the world.
I want to make sure my position on this is crystal clear. There's a lot of dishes served in local restaurants that are made in small batches of a high quality. There are cheeses, jams and breads made by hand that come out better than some of the mass-produced versions.

My qualm with this is that it's an extremely expensive way to eat. Some of the local food is only marginally better - and some is no better at all. There's a spectrum here.

I was at a recent gardening event and they had a tasting booth to compare local and supermarket foods. It was billed as a way to prove to people that local produce tastes better, but the game was rigged. Everyone knew which was which before they tasted it. They compared local apple cider to apple juice, which is unfair. I grabbed a pair of carrot sticks and switched them around on myself and couldn't tell the difference.
Some local food certainly is a high quality product. However, it's rather silly to suggest that the way to save the environment and improve the economy is to ask everyone, including poor people, to buy high-end furniture, clothing and automobiles. The same logic holds true for food.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Countdown to Trayvon Martin riots

I'm far from the first person to reach this conclusion, but the fervor over the Trayvon Martin case, justified or not, is going to hemorrhage if and when George Zimmerman receives a not-guilty verdict.

At this point, I don't think it will even go to trial, and I'm far from alone on that point either. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said the court affidavit filed by the prosecutor is so weak it is both "unethical" and "irresponsible" to use it to try someone for second-degree murder. Ken from Popehat agrees, adding "The affidavit is argumentative, it's conclusory, and it lacks attribution."

He also called it "a piece of crap."

As I wrote before, I'm not saying Zimmerman is innocent (or guilty), as I lack godlike knowledge of the events. I am saying there is not enough evidence to convict him. From what we have in the affidavit, it looks like the prosecutor didn't want to dismiss the case because of activist pressure and is trying to go forward with a weak bag of evidence.

Will having the case knocked out by a judge reduce the mob violence? There have already been several cases of black youth assaulting white men in a racially-motivated reaction to the case, even though no white people were involved. This is a volatile situation. There's no way to ever know for sure, but I think there will be less rioting this way, as a judge will be seen as more impartial than a jury if and when the case is rejected.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is Tyler Cowen really a "foodie"

I am completely entranced by Tyler Cowen's new book "An Economist Gets Lunch: New rules for everyday foodies." There is an audio interview, a video clip and a free chapter. I have digested all of them so far, but I'm waiting for the price to dip down before I read the whole thing.

Cowen shares his bag of tricks in finding a good, cheap meal using economic detective work. If there are five carts selling fried chicken in a small foreign village, go out and try it, as competition produces better results. Avoid restaurants that can skate by on their atmosphere and focus on the ones with lousy decor, because they must have a great product to stay in business.

He also challenges some of the major assumptions of the "foodie" movement. In an interview about the book, for example, Cowen said:
I think as individuals, people overrate the virtues of local food. Most of the energy consumption in our food system is not caused by transportation. Sometimes local food is more energy efficient. But often it’s not. The strongest case for locavorism is to eat less that’s flown on planes, and not to worry about boats.
In the first chapter under the words "Food Snobbery" he says modern foodies (and food writers and commentators) make three major hoity-toity assumptions: The best food is more expensive, modern agricultural is inherently bad and consumers can't be trusted to make good decisions when it comes to food.

This raises a good question. Cowen calls himself a foodie, but wants to distance himself from the gullible, pretentious hacks that claim a monopoly on food appreciation, why would he bother wrestling for that soiled mantle? The term "foodie" sounds childish and brain-dead, like it was coined by a slack-jawed kid who's favorite meal is paste. Let the snobs have their label.

In the same vein, I strongly support progress, but I don't try to grapple with lefties for the term "progressive." The American left stole the term "liberal" from its classic and international usage, so people like me had to take the term libertarian.

As a former food columnist with a degree in baking and pastry arts, I am part of Cowen's same brand of food enthusiasts. Truth be told, I don't know anyone who doesn't enjoy food and seek to enjoy their meals on their own terms.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Africa is screwed (Jim Yong Kim edition)

I had the displeasure of learning today that Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth and founder of a successful HIV/AIDS groups, will become the president of the World Bank this summer.

I was routing for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, who was nominated in a rebellious act. Traditionally, the World Bank president has been an American and Okonjo-Iweala's nomination bucked that trend.

Okonjo-Iweala has experience in both economics and the World Bank while Kim does not. His list of qualifications ends with a rim shot. Don't get me wrong, he's a smart guy, but the World Bank is completely outside his area of knowledge. He has no experience with development, banking, policy or economics.

Lant Pritchett, professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, was less kind when Kim was nominated. From Forbes:
“There is no way you can say with a straight face that this man is more qualified to head the World Bank than Ngozi,” insists Pritchett. Okonjo-Iweala has tackled corruption in Nigeria and because she has worked inside the Bank and as the Bank’s government counterpart in a developing country with complex problems, Pritchett insists she has precisely the kind of experience needed in a World Bank leader.

“At best, Kim has worked with ministers of health, but they are in one of many, many government agencies,” says Pritchett. “A minister of finance has to make hard choices across sectors. Having the experience of a minister of finance is the optimal experience for being president of the World Bank.” Adds Pritchett, nominating Kim “is like picking the short stop for the New York Yankees out of the scrub leagues.”


For Pritchett, there is an important distinction between the kind of work Kim has done, which he calls “charity work,” and the complex tasks engaged in by the World Bank. “Development is about countries becoming prosperous, democratic and capable, like being able to deliver the mail, having police forces that work and kids who get educated,” says Pritchett. “Charity work is helping people cope with the fact that they live in places where they don’t have those things.”
It's worse than Kim simply being clueless on what to do. Bill Easterly collected some quotations on growth from papers co-authored by Kim, and it's not pretty. Here's one:
Through a series of specific cases, we have demonstrated how growth – the market-led economic growth sought by governments, the growth in profits celebrated by businesses, and the growth in power and influence of transnational financial and corporate interests – often comes at the expense of the disenfranchised and vulnerable… As the imperatives of growth at any cost increasingly determine economic and social policy and the behavior of global corporations, more people join the ranks of the poor and greater numbers suffer and die.
Electing a World Bank president that believes growth is harmful to the poor is like putting a Jehovah's Witness in charge of the Red Cross. This negligent error will not harm the people capable of reading this blog, but it will rob the world's poor of a chance at a better like.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another look at on-disc DLC

A while ago I wrote that downloadable content for video games gets a bad rap, and that there is no difference between having to pay to download DLC or pay to unlock optional parts on the disc.
It's as arbitrary a difference as correcting a test by starting with a score of 100 and subtracting a point for each wrong answer, or starting at zero and adding a point for each correct question. Both add up to the same thing in the end.
Now the issue has come roaring back, as Capcom allegedly made the same point in messages to whiny consumers. DLC critics seem offended that people like me are correctly saying they feel "entitled" to the content.

Cliff Blezinski of Epic Games said the same technological factors that cause some DLC to be released simultaneously with a game - DLC production begins during the three month period after a game is built and before it hits stores - is causing some DLC to be burned into the disc. I don't understand Blezinki's logic in why it's better than releasing it digitally, but let's assume the worst and say he's wrong. That still doesn't mean companies shouldn't be able to charge consumers again for certain parts of the game.

These locked-away portions of games are a complication in determining the price of a game. Last year in a post about how video game prices have fallen over time, Michael Hawkins made a good point in the comments sections that the added cost from DLC add-ons was missing from my equation.

Just as Brad DeLong showed comparing the price of encyclopedia book sets over time is problematic because of the emergence of digital encyclopedias, comparing video game prices is now complicated by DLC costs.

The solution is not to merely add the cost of the DLC onto the retail price. So far, no one has released a game that is unplayable with specific DLC. Instead, we have DLC that enhances games. Consumers can skip the DLC and still enjoy the product.

Some games turn out to be duds and players have already paid the retail cost, but are not on the hook for the DLC. With that in mind, the counter to viewing DLC as a hidden cost is to see it as consumer insurance that allows players to stop throwing good money after bad.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Can food ever be sustainable?

It's been more than two years since historian James McWilliams inspired a post here. This time McWilliams has declared that not only is factory farming unsustainable, but all the small-scale locally-produced meat production niches are unsustainable too:
Grass-grazing cows emit considerably more methane than grain-fed cows. Pastured organic chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming. It requires 2 to 20 acres to raise a cow on grass. If we raised all the cows in the United States on grass (all 100 million of them), cattle would require (using the figure of 10 acres per cow) almost half the country’s land (and this figure excludes space needed for pastured chicken and pigs). A tract of land just larger than France has been carved out of the Brazilian rain forest and turned over to grazing cattle. Nothing about this is sustainable...
He also thwarts the claim that these systems are more natural because the animal breeds farmers raise are either far removed from nature or their animal urges and life cycles require interference.
...Rotational grazing works better in theory than in practice. Consider Joel Salatin, the guru of nutrient cycling, who employs chickens to enrich his cows’ grazing lands with nutrients. His plan appears to be impressively eco-correct, until we learn that he feeds his chickens with tens of thousands of pounds a year of imported corn and soy feed. This common practice is an economic necessity. Still, if a farmer isn’t growing his own feed, the nutrients going into the soil have been purloined from another, most likely industrial, farm, thereby undermining the benefits of nutrient cycling.
Still, I disagree with his thesis. He takes the position that our current "factory farming" system is unsustainable and the small-scale alternatives are unsustainable, therefore eating meat and animal products is unsustainable.

By that logic, he might as well say that food production can never be sustainable.

The critics of "factory farming" have a history of exaggerations, but suppose they are accurate and we shouldn't produce food on a large scale the way we do now. That's simple enough to fix; we follow agricultural economist William A. Masters suggestion and revamp large-scale food production.

There's nothing preventing us from producing an industrial system for food production that deals with the legitimate problems raised by critics, like run-off and animal welfare. If sustainability is a legitimate hurdle to overcome, then we have to make smart changes. Inefficient, wasteful and expensive small farms are not the solution.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Matt Welch on the future of journalism

Matt Welch, editor in chief of Reason magazine, wrote a brave article this week about the future of journalism. Welch argues that there's a major conflict of interest in letting the established media tell us that the death of their business model is the end of good journalism. Welch compares it to listening to a life-long employee of a displaced chain store write about the history of retail sales.
That is largely where we find ourselves in the journalism conversation of 2012, with a dreary roll call of depressive statistics invariably from the behemoth’s point of view: newspaper job losses, ad-spending cutbacks, shuttered bureaus, plummeting stock prices, major-media bankruptcies. Never has there been more journalism produced or consumed, never has it been easier to find or create or curate news items, and yet this moment is being portrayed by self-interested insiders as a tale of decline and despair.
As an active reporter currently working for a company that is trying to make ends meet with less and less advertising money - that is, someone who's job is very much at risk from these innovations - I agree with absolutely everything Welch wrote. The milkman may have opposed refrigeration, but it didn't mean that customers lost access to cold milk. Progress is still progress, even when I'm the one displaced.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Not many atheist superheroes

Tyler Cowen shared a link to a vast list of the religious beliefs of various characters in superhero comic books. I don't know which is more surprising: The low number of atheists in comic books, or why the number isn't zero.

There are sub-categories for agnostics, communists and general secular people like Tony "Ironman" Stark, but the comprehensive list only lists three DC characters as atheists. Villains Sabertooth and Mystique are among the Marvel universe's eight atheists. Additionally, Wolverine is listed as occasionally depicted as an atheist. The rest of the characters are somewhat obscure.

There's a few possible explanations for this. The list could be incomplete or atheism may not come up as often between super-powered punches. Some characters may not have an opportunity to demonstrate their secularhood.

But there's one bigger explanation. These comic book characters don't exist in our world. Marvel has gods like Thor walking around and interacting with people. There's real evidence there. The DC universe has visible gods too. Maybe not enough characters are foolish enough to be atheists in world where people regularly come back from the dead or fly and giant space beings eat planets.

That's very different from our world where people's religious convictions are based on internal beliefs and invisible cause-and-effect scenarios. In our world, women don't engage in acrobatic combat while wearing skimpy outfits. The lack of "wardrobe malfunctions" in comic books seems to be the biggest case for a supernatural presence in those worlds.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Why I tolerate homophobes

Nick, the Narrator in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, opened the book with this unforgettable remark:
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had."
Just as Nick couldn't let go of that advice, I too have kept it in mind over the years, especially when I encounter people who are intolerant of gays.

I grew up in the 1990's when it was still acceptable to say "fag" in casual conversation. It wasn't out of malice; it's something we said without a second though. There wasn't something evil or sinister about my generation, or those that came before us. It's just how things were when we grew up.

Until middle school I was opposed to gays in purely hypothetical terms, since I hadn't met anyone who was openly gay. It was a combination of watching The Kids in the Hall episodes over and over and realizing I was on the same side of an issue as the Ku Klux Klan that caused me to abandon my position and accept gays.

Opposing gays was the default position when I was growing up. That's not the case any more and the younger generations have done a great job of being open and accepting. However, if they had been born in the 1970's or 1980's, a lot of those individuals would have been on the other side.

Some young people today still grow up in communities that treat gays cruelly. However, I feel the proper way to deal with these unfortunate people is with understanding, not hate. The way some social conservatives talks about gays is truly awful and I would never defend their statements.

But at the same time, I am not as willing to condemn the person along with the statements. A lot of those people didn't have the same advantages when they grew up, and their contempt for gays is a product of their upbringing and lack of exposure to critical thinking.

For example, the working title for the Beastie Boy's amazing album License to Ill was "Don't Be A Faggot." That was 1986, and the group has rewritten a lot of their own lyrics since then as they started to "get it."

Just like the Beastie Boys, I was born at a time where I got to be on both sides of the gay rights cause. I had an unthinking aversion to gays as a child and was the token straight guy at my first college's gay-straight alliance. We are all products of our environments.

Earlier tonight I was listening to a pop-rock YouTube play list and came across this song high school student Jarrod Matthew sang to what appears to be a far-away romance. He changed some of the lyrics to be about Sunny, his beloved. It is absolutely sweet, endearing and heartwarming.

When I realized that Sunny was a boy, it didn't change a thing about how this video made me feel. It was no less tender or romantic.

Yet, I know there are people* out there who would have shut it off the second they realized what was happening. I don't want to sound condescending, but how can you feel anything but pity for people who can't take joy in witnessing beautiful acts like this because they were brought up intolerant?

As Nick's father said, whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.

*Granted, few of them would want to listen to a Hellogoodbye cover song.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Abortion still doesn't cause breast cancer

We should all oppose all state laws that require doctors to inform patients getting an abortion that the procedure will increase their chance of getting breast cancer. I don't consider my opposition political, as factually speaking, abortion doesn't cause breast cancer.

This law would punish doctors who refuse to lie to patients and present broken theories as medical information. I understand wanting to discourage abortion, but this is dishonest and wrong.

When I looked through my archive for posts that mentioned abortion, I found out I already wrote about this issue more than a year ago when a Republican state rep from Pennsylvania was pushing it. Now the latest state to see this bad policy make progress is New Hampshire.

I do not champion abortion as a sacrosanct human right the way my friends on the left do, but this issue is not about the moral dilemma over abortion. This is about using the armada of the law to promote bad science to trick people into making the decision you want. Even people who oppose abortion should see attempts at passing these bills into legislation as wrong.


Monday, April 2, 2012

I don't know what happened to Trayvon Martin

...and I seem to be the only one. Everyone else seems to think they know exactly what happened.

For me, the case started two weeks ago when a friend posted a ThinkProgress link claiming to tell all the important facts of the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman shooting. The post began with the statement:
On February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white man.
It included statements like "Martin’s English teacher described him 'as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness'" and "Martin had no criminal record." There were also claims about Zimmerman having an assault charge on a police officer in the past (which was later dropped), making 46 calls to the police since 2004, "Zimmerman was not a member of a registered Neighborhood Watch group" and "According to neighbors, Zimmerman was 'fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.'”

This painted a clean good-versus-evil story, where an obsessive neighbor attacked and shot an innocent honor student just for being black in his gated community. But as Tyler Cowen warned us about telling good-versus-evil stories, real life is never as simple as black and white.

In this case, it wasn't even black and white, as Zimmerman was quickly revealed to have a Latino mother - and based on his last name, a Jewish father. ThinkProgress amended the list and continues to add to it, with no mention that the racial introduction has been amended. I recall a line originally about Trayvon never getting in trouble at school, but this was found out to be false and I believe, removed with no admission it was ever there.

This was the first great revision in the case. There were many more. It turned out the photo everyone keeps using of Trayvon is from when he was 12. Trayvon was 17 at the time of his death and fully capable of causing bodily injury to someone like Zimmerman, as could be seen in the modern photos of Trayvon that turned up.

Then one of these updated photos turned out to be fake, and was at one time posted on a white power website. Some of them were legitimate, it turns out, and a white power hacker (who knew there was such a thing) said he had hacked Trayvon's social media accounts and posted screenshots of Trayvon setting up a cocaine drug deal, speaking of women in the crudest of terms and a friend praising him for taking a swing at a bus driver.

Of course, screen shots are easy to fake. I could pull it off with MS Paint in a few minutes if I wanted to. Instead of trying to check the authenticity of the screenshots, the Trayvon activists switched gears: How dare anyone carry out these "character assassinations" of a shooting victim?

This one is transparent; they were trying to have it both ways. We were sold a story that Trayvon was a squeaky-clean boy, but it quickly came that was not true. He was previously suspended for having a prying tool and a bag of stolen jewelry and at the time of his death, was suspended for having a marijuana baggie in his backpack. Talking about these facts is being mischaracterized as saying drug possession makes someone free game for target practise. No one said this, of course. Apparently, correcting the activists on their falsehoods was off-limits.

Other stupid things happened. Geraldo Rivera said dressing like a thug makes people perceive you as a menace, which is true, but went on to that wearing a hooded sweatshirt was as much to blame as Zimmerman. That was idiotic, and the Trayvon activists seized this single statement that no one else supported and acted like it was a pivotal defense of Zimmerman.

The race baiters and bigots came out to get Zimmerman as well. People like Spike Lee tweeted what they thought was his home address, then apologized for sending the lynch mob to the wrong house, but not for sending a lynch mob in the first place.

The racist New Black Panther Party put a reward out for Zimmerman's address. CNN's Anderson Cooper called them on it, saying the authorities have not called his arrest and any agency they turned him over to would release him. Their spokesman countered that yes, the white man's law has not found him guilty but he has been found guilty by "street people law."

There is nothing wrong with demanding a more detailed investigation than the one Flordia police initially performed. I hold that position as well. It's another thing entriely to say because the innitial investigation was not conducted transparently and did not reach the conclusion ones limited grasp of the facts implied, that lynch mobs are now justified.

Reasonable people have also spoken out against Zimmerman. I have a lot of respect for John McWhorter and he has a record of calling out black activists for making phony cries of racism. In this case, he's taken the position that racism against black boys created the incident.

Zimmerman said he followed a suspicious person, even after the dispatcher told him to stand down. That's very different than if Martin had jumped him for no reason. However, disobeying police orders is not on par with murder. Despite what ThinkProgress implied, Zimmerman was the captain of a neighborhood watch program (which explains all those calls he made to the police). If it's not accredited, should we say it was an "undocumented" group?

What happened next in the narrative is murky. Zimmerman said Martin attacked him and beat his head in a little and he shot him to save his life. People are saying Zimmerman is automatically guilty for shooting someone who was unarmed. Infact, it depends on the situation. If someone does indeed attack you and prevent you from running away, why should you be honor bound to engage in "fair" combat with them when your life is very much in danger?

A few days later a blurry video in the police station didn't show Zimmerman bleeding from the head. Then a few days after that we see in an enhanced screen shot what looks like a wound to the back of his head that was cleaned up by paramedics.

With the public's view of the story changing again and again as new evidence and narratives come forward, MSNBC's Chris Hayes said:
We've all been baited into essentially litaging, trying the case on the facts. and we don't have the facts. Right? So now it's, oh here's the video... and it shows... it contests the family members of Zimmerman's account...

All of this vaccumm is created by the fact that... the way that we establish facts in this country is we have an arrest and a trial. Right? So all of this is flowing into the vaccum that has been created by the absense of the legal process which is the way that we deal with this. Right? He can go before a jury... he can say all these things, but instead it's being tried in the media.
Sorry Hayes, but you don't get it. We don't assume people are guilty until a trial clears their name. Instead, we investigate and if there's enough evidence to prove guilt, we take it to trial and let a judge or jury reach a decision. Hayes thinks the weirdness in the case means Zimmerman should be assumed guilty and locked away until a trial occurs.

Instead, Zimmerman should be free unless the police conclude he should be arrested to stand trial, because that's the proper order of operations. The strength of my position is revealed by how it's remained unchanged even as new information came out. Here's what I wrote on March 20 when my friend posted the ThinkProgress link:
These things have a habit of being distorted, and we should be prepared for that. This is what trial by media looks like. After the Richard Jewell case, we should caution people from conducting their own advocacy trials. It's one thing to press authorities into investigating a case, it's another to reach a conclusion and try to ruin someone's life before a trial happens. This is not a defense of Zimmerman. It is a defense of the presumption of innocence our court system uses.
I'm glad to see there are a few other people out there who are avoiding reaching a premature conclusion, including lawyer Ken from Popehat, journalist Piers Morgan and even President Barack Obama, who deserves credit for trying to stay out of this story as long as he could until forced into making a vague comment.

The good news in all the mess is that all of this attention to the Trayvon Martin case has completely knocked Kony 2012 off the radar.