‘The Wire’ creator David Simon condemns Zimmerman verdict

Add David Simon, creator of the acclaimed HBO series “The Wire” and “Treme,” to the list of those appalled that George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

On his blog, Audacity of Despair, the auteur has been known to expound at length about controversial subjects in the news, from Edward Snowden and the NSA surveillance scandal to the Newtown, Conn., shooting to, um, Andy Cohen.

Not long after the verdict was read on Saturday night, Simon, whose nuanced portrayal of race, crime and urban politics helped make “The Wire” one of the most acclaimed shows in TV history, weighed in on the topic with a short but provocative post titled simply “Trayvon.”  

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Simon saw in the verdict a stark and troubling message: “You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.”

He went on to say that “in the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round” and that “tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American,” but it’s the following paragraph that has provoked the most ire:

“If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve.  I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.”

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The post has so far generated nearly 600 comments, many of them accusing Simon of encouraging violence and lawlessness.

But as Simon explained in a follow-up post Tuesday aimed specifically at criticism directed at him from Twitter from pundits Howard Kurtz and John Podhoretz, his intent was not to incite riots, but quite the opposite: to express his “admiration for the restraint and civic commitment that African Americans are displaying in the wake of an appalling betrayal of their citizenship” by not throwing bricks through courthouse doors. (Podhoretz has since apologized.)

For those who’d like a more complete understanding of Simon’s take on the subject, he has been actively participating in the, shall we say, lively comments section of the initial post, where he explains that while he doesn’t think that Zimmerman is “by any necessity a racist,” “his calculations and his behaviors were racially motivated.” (And where he also refers to one of his invective-spewing detractors as “hate-crusted and stunted.”)


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