How not to correct the record

Third, and most egregiously, Zimmerman’s call (to the non-emergency police number) regarding a seven-to-nine-year-old black boy was placed because Zimmerman was “concerned for [the] well being” of that child, who was walking unaccompanied on a busy street (see page 37). …

But it’s TNR’s unacknowledged change in response to the third, most serious, error that really chafes. Here’s how the sentence now reads (once again, italics in the original):

. . . Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called the polics 46 times in 15 months, once to report on a seven year old black boy.


TNR replaced “report the suspicious activities of a seven year old black boy” with “report on a seven year old black boy.” The charitable characterization of this edit is that it is very, very lawyerly. Yes, the TNR piece no longer explicitly falsely claims that GZ called the police about a black boy because GZ found the child suspicious. But in the context of a paragraph meant to demonstrate that “[v]igilante justice . . . is especially menacing to minority racial groups who are often sterotyped as criminals,” and in the absence of disclosing the benign (indeed, laudatory) reason why GZ did call police, the reporting of GZ’s call about “a seven year old black boy” — complete with incredulity italics — strongly implies what the article only technically no longer says: that Zimmerman “reported on” a young black child because Zimmerman stereotyped that child as a criminal.

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