The photo above is still circulating on Facebook, even though it's been confirmed that the teenager on the right is NOT actually Trayvon Martin.
In Slate, Dave Weigel asks, "why is the fake photo so popular?" He answers,
It's part of a new cottage industry of "truth about Trayvon" content, calibrated to convince people that they really shouldn't worry about the implications of this killing. Why, the kid wasn't even a saint!
In the last day or so there's been a flurry of stories focusing on Trayvon's school suspension for possessing an empty marijuana baggie, his hoodie, his supposedly gangster-like appearance, and now his tweets.
Now, some liberal columnists are pushing back, asserting that even if Trayvon is a less than perfect person, it's irrelevant to the facts of his shooting. Michelle Goldberg points out,
Even if Martin had gotten high every day, it would have had zero relevance; it's not as if marijuana use is linked to violence. [And] it's not unusual for a teenager to come across as obnoxious on Twitter.
Salon's editor Joan Walsh writes,
Wow. A teenager might have smoked weed. Stop the presses.
According to Judd Legum of liberal site Think Progress, "thus far these attacks have fallen into two categories: false and irrelevant." He makes the sane-but-easily-ignored argument that we should resist the impulse to subject either Trayvon or Zimmerman to a trial-by-media:
Whether Martin was a perfect person is irrelevant to whether Zimmerman's conduct that night was justified. Clearly, there are two different versions of the events that transpired on February 26, the night Trayvon was killed. There are conflicting statements by witnesses and conflicting evidence as to who was the aggressor. Zimmerman has the right to tell his side of the story. But his opportunity to do this will come in a court of law after he is charged and arrested. In the meantime, Zimmerman's supporters should stop trying to smear the reputation of a dead, 17-year-old boy.
What's your take - do you think details about Trayvon's character are irrelevant? Are the recent stories about him fair?