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Author Topic: Murder trial of George Zimmerman
Tuukka
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I have to admit that it would make me feel rather nervous to know, that a stranger can follow me in the night, shoot me to death without anyone seeing, and then simply say he did it for self defense, and walk away free.

While many details in the case are confused, we do know that the above is what *did* happen.

Unless the killer can prove *beyond any reasonable doubt*, that he he *had* to kill me for self defense, then he should go to prison. At least for a year or two, at minimum.

If there is any confusion on whether the act was absolutely necessary self-defense, or not, then the default position should be to send the killer to prison. The burden of proof should be on him. And there is a *lot* of confusion on this case. So to prison he should go.

Because as a society we don't really want people to start randomly killing each other. The laws should protect us from this.

But at least I now know a good way to kill strangers in the night, and walk away free.

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King of Men
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quote:
Is it possible Zimmerman deliberately provoked it? Well yes and that would change everything.
Well, no. Short of throwing the first punch, he has the right to be as provocative as he likes; there's no "fighting words".

quote:
as far as medical testimony can assert, zimmerman's wounds are superficial and not consistent with zimmerman's story that he was having his head repeatedly slammed into concrete.
Well, let's see you stay a perfectly calm and objective observer during a fight. It is perfectly possible for a man to be reasonably in fear of his life, without actually having all that much damage inflicted on him. Anyway, what does "slammed" mean? You can get quite a hurtful bump without any visible damage.
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Wingracer
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Is it possible Zimmerman deliberately provoked it? Well yes and that would change everything.
Well, no. Short of throwing the first punch, he has the right to be as provocative as he likes; there's no "fighting words".

This is funny. I went looking for the specific statute in the SYG law that proves your statement wrong. I found it but unfortunately for my point, it has so many caveats to it that it basically proves you right:

776.041 Use of force by aggressor. —The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

So basically they say it doesn't protect you if you are the aggressor but then puts in exceptions for all the usual things anyway. Figures. [Big Grin]

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Stone_Wolf_
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Words should never be a valid reason for physical violence in and of them selves...unless of course you find really creative exeptions...but as a rule of thumb...
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Darth_Mauve
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I agree words should not lead to violence, but the whole "stand your ground" law states that if you are in fear of attack you have the right to defend yourself. Martin was conceivably in fear of attack from a strange man who had been stalking him. Does being stalked by a stranger give you the right to defend yourself with a gun? Martin didn't have a gun so he possibly defended himself with his fists.
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Slavim
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quote:
Originally posted by Wingracer:
(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

So basically they say it doesn't protect you if you are the aggressor but then puts in exceptions for all the usual things anyway. Figures. [Big Grin]

Basically it allows you to punch someone, say "Sorry", and if he punches you back you can shoot him.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
I have to admit that it would make me feel rather nervous to know, that a stranger can follow me in the night, shoot me to death without anyone seeing, and then simply say he did it for self defense, and walk away free.

Well, yes, this is my take on this situation as well. But to be fair, the man is receiving a trial.

And anyway, you would find it equally disturbing to imagine that you could be attacked while walking in the night, kill your attacker, and be sentenced to life in prison for murder. This is sort of what trials are all about: the details.


quote:
Unless the killer can prove *beyond any reasonable doubt*, that he he *had* to kill me for self defense, then he should go to prison. At least for a year or two, at minimum.
A horrible, horrible idea. Putting the burden of proof upon the defendant is an invitation from on high to see every poor disadvantaged person found guilty of every possible crime. It is not a crime to be poor and possibly not very smart: a poor and possibly not very smart person has a right to the benefit of the doubt.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Is it possible Zimmerman deliberately provoked it? Well yes and that would change everything.
Well, no. Short of throwing the first punch, he has the right to be as provocative as he likes; there's no "fighting words".

You're not a lawyer, of course. And this is not actually true. Common assault *is* a crime, and precipitating a murder, could be seen as making Zimmerman culpable.

Example: "I am going to kill your family," "I have killed your family," "I am going to ABCDE you or your family members," etc. There is such a thing as fighting words, and uttering them can make you criminally liable for the results. Martin would of course *also* be liable for attacking Zimmerman, but his escalation to physical violence does not absolve Zimmerman- especially in the case that Zimmerman killed Martin during the altercation: whatever Martin did or didn't do, he can't be charged with anything now.

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King of Men
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quote:
Common assault *is* a crime
Right. Which is why I specified "short of throwing the first punch".
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Common assault *is* a crime
Right. Which is why I specified "short of throwing the first punch".
In which case you were wrong. One does not need to "throw the first punch" to commit assault. Under common law (and specifically Florida written law),

quote:
An "assault" is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to.
Any actionable threat can be considered an assault.
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Stone_Wolf_
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If someone threatened you, they might well be guilty of assault...but if you punched them, you would be guilty of assault... and battery.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
If someone threatened you, they might well be guilty of assault...but if you punched them, you would be guilty of assault... and battery.

Not necessarily, no. If I walked up to you and said: "I have a gun, and I am going to shoot you," and you punched me, you would likely not be found guilty of a crime, as I had assaulted you first (and what you did in response might be seen as justified).

But yes, generally, people do confuse assault and battery, and frequently conflate them.

It's all in the context: the law, as I am fond of saying, is not magical fairies: the rules are not about what you do, but more often about *why* you do it.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Fair point...but if someone walked up to you and said, "I'm going to kick your butt." and just stood there...and then you punched them, you both likey end up standing tall before the magistrate.

Same with a gun...it takes words AND actions to be a credible threat worthy of justifying self defense.

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King of Men
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I must say that "making credible threats" is not the interpretation that would naturally fall out of "deliberately provoked it". To say that there exist words Zimmermann might have said which would excuse the use of violence in return is apparently true, but does not actually respond to the discussion we were having.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
Fair point...but if someone walked up to you and said, "I'm going to kick your butt." and just stood there...and then you punched them, you both likey end up standing tall before the magistrate.

Same with a gun...it takes words AND actions to be a credible threat worthy of justifying self defense.

It *all* depends on the context. There is no magical key to making something a convictable offense- if you genuine *feel* threatened, and act on those feelings, and are seen as *justified* in those feelings, then no, no specific action has to be combined with a threat to justify self defense. Words are actions, after all.

Juries deal with these cases on an individual basis: if a defense establishes a justification seen by a jury as reasonable for virtually any act, a jury can acquit on that basis. Technically speaking (and keeping in mind IANAL), juries in the United States can acquit even on a confessed, stipulated first degree murder, if they feel that the actions have reasonable justification. There is a popular novel about this aspect of jury trials in fact, called "A Time to Kill."

Granted- this justification is murky and impossible to define in an academic sense (no amount of basic examples of yes/no binaries will give you an idea of what is and isn't reasonable), it is, in our system, possible.

[ July 07, 2013, 07:58 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
I must say that "making credible threats" is not the interpretation that would naturally fall out of "deliberately provoked it". To say that there exist words Zimmermann might have said which would excuse the use of violence in return is apparently true, but does not actually respond to the discussion we were having.

My initial point was to suggest that Zimmerman may have precipitated the encounter intentionally. In so doing, he may have established some foundation for a charge concerning his response to Martin's actions. I don't know if he did, I'm just saying he could. Martin's actions don't have to be justified in order for Zimmerman's *not* to be. It could be enough to deliberately precipitate violence in order to be held accountable for your reactions to it. It very much depends on state of mind and intention: if he was walking around with the assumption in his head that Martin was dangerous, and intentionally provoked him, then killed him, then he may be guilty of murder. It's just a possibility. My only point was to highlight that Zimmerman's intentions are very important in this determination.
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King of Men
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Unfortunately, they are also more or less unknowable. The jury will presumably have to make its decision on the basis of the external acts - and even those won't be that easy to get - not the motivations.
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Obama
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As you acknowledge, that's a whole lot of mays to sentence a man to life in prison.

Tuuka - He's stood trial, and even if he should be found not guilty he's spent two years in jail. He did not "walk."

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DeltaMike
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Not only does your assailant have to have the desire and/or intention of causing you "serious bodily injury" they also have to have the ability to do so. If you were a police officer and a handcuffed prisoner in the back of your squad car said he was going to stab you, you still can't shoot him because he is handcuffed and unarmed and therefore does not pose a significant threat.

I find it hard to believe that Zimmerman truly thought he was going to be beaten by bare hands to such an extent that it could be classified as serious bodily injury.

(Georgia Code § 12-5-53, (4) The term 'serious bodily injury' means bodily injury which involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.)

The testimony that he received only superficial injuries certainly doesn't support the idea that he was in such danger even if he may have believed he was. Just because you have a gun does not mean you are legally justified to use deadly force in EVERY encounter of physical violence. This is, in my opinion, going to be the crux of determining his justification or degree of crime.

They'll probably never be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt who started the actual violence, so it can't (or perhaps more realistically: shouldn't) be used against a defendant to prove guilt. The undisputed facts are that Zimmerman received at least some level of injury and responded with deadly force. If the jury believes that he had a reasonable expectation of incurring serious bodily injury he'll more than likely be considered justified in the shooting.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Welcome to Hatrack!
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DeltaMike
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Hey, thanks for the warm welcome!
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Obama
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DeltaMike - Why is it so hard to believe that Zimmerman may have feared for his life? People can and do die in fights where no one is using anything but their bare hands, accidentally or otherwise. They can likewise suffer serious bodily harm - broken bones, internal injuries, brain damage. Trayvon Martin may have been a minor, but physically he was a full grown man.

That's not taking into account that Martin may (or may not) have seen the gun and reached for it. If that happened, it immediately became a life or death situation for them both.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by DeltaMike:

The testimony that he received only superficial injuries certainly doesn't support the idea that he was in such danger even if he may have believed he was.

It is more important to reasonably believe that you are in danger. This is the same distinction that excuses cops shooting people who point painted water pistols at them (this does happen), they have a reasonable belief that they are in danger. It's not necessary to be right about this, only to reasonably believe it.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
If someone threatened you, they might well be guilty of assault...but if you punched them, you would be guilty of assault... and battery.

Not necessarily. The law allows you to defend yourself if you are assaulted. If, for example, someone lunges at you, you can take reasonable measures to defend yourself, such as punching them, even if they never actually make contact.

[ July 08, 2013, 09:58 AM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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DeltaMike
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
It is more important to reasonably believe that you are in danger. This is the same distinction that excuses cops shooting people who point painted water pistols at them (this does happen), they have a reasonable belief that they are in danger. It's not necessary to be right about this, only to reasonably believe it.

The key here is reasonably believe and if you can't convince a jury that he was reasonable in his belief than the justification falls apart. If your water pistol is painted to look like a real gun, the police officer is excused, if your water pistol is clear neon green plastic and says "super soaker" on the side he doesn't get a pass for shooting you because no one could reasonably think that was a real gun.

quote:
Originally posted by Obama:
People can and do die in fights where no one is using anything but their bare hands, accidentally or otherwise.

I agree with you on this Obama, my point is that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this could not reasonably be expected to happen. Certainly we both can agree that not every fist fight becomes a life-or-death conflict. Merely Getting beat up is not grounds to shoot somebody. If you're being beaten to the point where you can legitimately fear for your life you don't walk away with only superficial injuries.

If during the fight Martin tried to grab Zimmerman's gun it becomes a much clearer issue. Is anyone alleging that this happened? I haven't been following this thing awfully closely to be honest.

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Wingracer
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quote:
Originally posted by DeltaMike:

If during the fight Martin tried to grab Zimmerman's gun it becomes a much clearer issue. Is anyone alleging that this happened? I haven't been following this thing awfully closely to be honest.

Yes, Zimmerman said Martin did reach for the gun in his statement.
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DeltaMike
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I see. I'd have to say that it's pretty reasonable to shoot somebody who's wailing on you and tries to get your gun.
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graywolfe
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
I have to admit that it would make me feel rather nervous to know, that a stranger can follow me in the night, shoot me to death without anyone seeing, and then simply say he did it for self defense, and walk away free.

While many details in the case are confused, we do know that the above is what *did* happen.

Unless the killer can prove *beyond any reasonable doubt*, that he he *had* to kill me for self defense, then he should go to prison. At least for a year or two, at minimum.

If there is any confusion on whether the act was absolutely necessary self-defense, or not, then the default position should be to send the killer to prison. The burden of proof should be on him. And there is a *lot* of confusion on this case. So to prison he should go.

Because as a society we don't really want people to start randomly killing each other. The laws should protect us from this.

But at least I now know a good way to kill strangers in the night, and walk away free.

Yep, my own view is that this is a free pass for stalkers to murder their victims, an unintended consequence of the unintended (or intended) ideas of those that support Zimmerman's defense.

I can imagine myself being followed, and shot dead in numerous neighborhoods near where I live outside Lake Tahoe if Zimmerman's defense flies.

In a world in which the concept of justice has any value or merit at all, you don't get to stalk and harass strangers as you please, and shoot them if they eventually respond to your stalking and harassment aggressively (which is essentially automatic in most male stranger on male stranger interactions that involve following), whether they're beating your --- or not. You instigated this garbage to begin with for justifiable reason, and when your victim responds to stalking with fearfulness, or anger, its reasonable. Your stalking IS NOT.

The defenses I see of this guy are ridiculous in my view, even if his version of events are 100% true, and to live in a world where his actions are seen as defensible, or not criminal is truly sad, and a world bereft of justice, and without justice, the law really means nothing at all.

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Obama
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That's an awful small violin you're playing there, graywolfe.

If your natural reaction to someone following you is to physically assault them, then it sounds to me like you're the one with violence issues. Stop projecting.

George Zimmerman isn't the first man to have to explain a body to the cops as self defense, with no witnesses. He won't be the last. I can assure you that this case isn't going to open the floodgates of people committing murder and trying to pass it off as self defense.

A man is dead, and that's a tragedy. It would also be a tragedy, convicting another man of murder and putting him behind bars for life, if he was innocent. He didn't just shoot someone and walk away. He's on trial for his life, and if he can make a reasonable case that he acted in self defense, and the prosecution can't tear his story down, then the only travesty of justice would be a guilty verdict.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
"I can imagine myself being followed, and shot dead in numerous neighborhoods near where I live outside Lake Tahoe if Zimmerman's defense flies."
Just don't physically attack the people that follow you, perhaps call the police instead (like Zimmerman did), or even call out for help out loud (like Zimmerman did).

In that case Zimmerman's defense does nothing to hurt you.

The only people it hurts is the people who think it's okay to punch repeatedly the people that follow them, and that the latter have no right to defend themselves.

quote:
and shoot them if they eventually respond to your stalking and harassment aggressively
Stalking has a precise definition in Florida law, and what Zimmerman did doesn't qualify. ('stalking' requires repeated following in Florida law, for starters, it's not a one-time thing)

quote:
(which is essentially automatic in most male stranger on male stranger interactions that involve following)
Perhaps people should work to change the macho culture that treats physical violence as acceptable to an act of mere following.

I see justifications of *Martin's* actions as enabling horrid violence. A world where *Martin's* actions are seen as defensible is a world bereft of justice according to me. He responded with savage violence against someone merely FOLLOWING him. So, no sympathy for him from me.

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Obama
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Took me a few minutes to find it, but here's a story of a self defense shooting that I actually do find extremely suspicious, and yet the shooter didn't even stand trial. Perhaps you can point me to the masses of murders passed off as self-defense as a result of this case, graywolfe? It happened a few years ago, we must have had dozens at least, if you're to be taken seriously.

www.mycliffbuddies.com/arizona-hiker-kills-another-hiker-after-dog-confrontation-11994.html

eta - My mistake. Fish did end up standing trial, and he walked out a free man. His story was about a hundred times more suspicious then Zimmerman's though. Easier way to get a good look at the case is to google "Fish" and "Kuenzli," the names of the shooter and the deceased.

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Xavier
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I think that's the key distinction, 'Obama'. That very few know of that case on a national level.

(Though I don't think it likely there will be copy-cats, your counter-example doesn't mean much in dismissing the possibility.)

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Obama
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Funny how this much more obvious case of shooting someone when it wasn't necessary didn't get that kind of media exposure, isn't it, 'Xavier?'

It's almost like the media saw what they thought was an open and shut case of some white guy (woops, our mistake, he's not white) shooting a poor innocent black kid and decided that that thar molehill needed some expansion.

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TomDavidson
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You know, "Obama," it's rather ridiculous of you to get snarky when you've deliberately chosen the name of the current President. Blayne went by "Sid Meyer" for a while here, and the criticism he received for that decision was just as valid.

Your pseudonym is a bad idea and you should change it.

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Obama
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Thank you for the advice, "TomDavidson," but I think I'll keep it as is. If putting quotes around people's names makes me look mean and snarky, I guess that'll have to be my cross to bear. We'll see how long everyone else keeps on with the passive aggressive method of telling me to change it. At least you're direct.

eta - I mean, what, are we afraid that someone is going to mistake me for the President?

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Xavier
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Yeah, I've had hundreds of discussions on this board in the past 14 years, and yours is probably the only one I've felt the need to put quotes around.

It just seems odd to direct my comments towards "Obama" in a non-ironic way.

Edit: I'd probably do the same if your username was "Angelina Jolie" or something like that as well. It's adopting a real person's name as a pseudonym. That its the current president is a contributing factor, I'm sure.

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Obama
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Well, nobody's perfect, "Xavier." I'm sure with a little effort you can overcome it. Take all the time you need, I'm a patient man.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I mean, what, are we afraid that someone is going to mistake me for the President?
No. But believe me, it makes you look like an ass. You really should change it.
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If people want to believe that I'm an ass because I use a famous name as a pseudonym, Tom, then honestly, that's their problem, not mine.
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Xavier
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I think that's a bit disingenuous, else you wouldn't have made a kerfuffle over it.
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I didn't make a kerfluffle about it. Everytime someone decided to get their passive aggressiveness on by putting my pseudonym in quotes when addressing me, all I did was put their name in quotes without saying anything.

Tom, being more direct then any of the rest of you, told me directly that he didn't like the name, and that I should change it. I declined to do so.

Where, exactly, is the kerfluffle?

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Rakeesh
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People are probably referring to your choice of the name and your reaction to people remarking on it as though it were a surprising and unintentional side effect.
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MattP
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I don't know that you look like an ass just because of the handle, but it does strike me as weird to use the name of a living person, famous or not, as a pseudonym. It's an identity that already belongs to someone else, so it's at the very least distracting to see it attached to the words of a different person.
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Samprimary
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you chose a name for your latest alt which is also the name of an important figure which will also be frequently talked about and then get hassled by the fact that people are taking measures to textually differentiate Obama (president) from "obama" (alt)

yea ok

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I honestly don't understand what the big deal is. It's a pseudonym. I bounced through a few options that I didn't like, and Obama jumped into my head. I thought it would be funny. I mean, nobody's going to come on here and mistake me for Barack or Michelle Obama. I'll admit, at this point it's stubborness, but I'm confused as to why it's eliciting the type of response and quiet glares that are normally reserved for someone who tells you they've started dating your mother.
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
you chose a name for your latest alt which is also the name of an important figure which will also be frequently talked about and then get hassled by the fact that people are taking measures to textually differentiate Obama (president) from "obama" (alt)

yea ok

Well yes, we wouldn't want people to think you all are talking to the President. Best take precautionary measures.

Not to mention, I haven't said a word to object to people using quotes; I've just been putting quotes around their names in return, and then *they* started getting pissy.

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GaalDornick
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The defense calling Tracy Martin as a witness was a dumb move. Also, this judge seems fairly biased towards the state.
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Samprimary
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ok do you think it's really remotely that dramatic
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Obama:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
you chose a name for your latest alt which is also the name of an important figure which will also be frequently talked about and then get hassled by the fact that people are taking measures to textually differentiate Obama (president) from "obama" (alt)

yea ok

Well yes, we wouldn't want people to think you all are talking to the President. Best take precautionary measures.
ok you don't get it, cool
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As a cucumber.
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