By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
The Huffington Post has perfected the smear technique of expressing shock and anger at things that conservatives say which make complete sense and are factually based. “Hannity’s Awful Reaction To Obama’s Trayvon Martin Comments” was the headline over Fox News host Sean Hannity’s reaction to President Obama comparing himself to Trayvon Martin. Hannity said he wasn’t sure how to interpret Obama’s remarks because “he was part of the Choom Gang and he smoked pot and he did a little blow” and “we know that Trayvon had been smoking pot that night.”
Obama, of course, was not deliberately comparing himself to Martin because of their common interest in smoking dope. But the comparison by Hannity was not unreasonable, since Obama was in fact a heavy dope smoker, a member of what his biographer David Maraniss called the Choom Gang, and Martin was smoking dope before he was killed by George Zimmerman following a violent confrontation. Obama had also admitted doing cocaine, or “blow.”
It was an opportunity for Obama to say something important, such as that young blacks should avoid the drugs that got Martin into trouble, and that black parents should strive to keep their children out of trouble. Instead, Obama harped on racism.
The alleged “awful reaction” of Hannity would only be awful if Hannity had said something about Obama and Martin that was not true. But it is true and worthy of comment because of the effect that marijuana may have had on Martin the night he was killed. The subject came up during the Zimmerman trial.
The influence of marijuana in the Martin-Zimmerman confrontation has taken on more significance in the wake of the exchange that CNN’s Piers Morgan had with Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel:
Morgan: What about drugs?
Jeantel: Drugs. OK, weed, marijuana. In my area, we say weed. My area, we—for Trayvon, I can explain one thing, weed don’t do make him go crazy, it just make him go hungry.
Morgan: But he did—
Jeantel: Like it’s the best thing I can say. It made him hungry.
Morgan: Did he take a lot of weed?
Morgan: How much would you say?
Jeantel: Like twice a week.
Morgan: Twice a week?
Morgan: Is that normal for teenagers in your community?
Jeantel: Yes. Real normal.
Writing in The New York Times on July 11 under the headline, “Reefer Madness, an Unfortunate Redux,” a professor named Carl L. Hart ridiculed the idea that Trayvon Martin was aggressive and paranoid from smoking marijuana, and that his marijuana use led him to attack George Zimmerman. Hart, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University, claimed there wasn’t enough dope in Martin’s system to affect his behavior.
But marijuana can have lasting effects on the brain, depending on how much he had been smoking and for how long. During the trial, Shiping Bao, the medical examiner who autopsied Trayvon Martin, testified that marijuana “could have” altered Martin’s mind and body the night he died.
A pro-marijuana website site, “The Weedblog,” also ridiculed “the pot made him do it” line of attack on Martin. But one writer responded, “How many times does weed have to be in someone’s system and end in a violent situation for people to start paying attention? This isn’t about ‘reefer madness,’ this is about the paranoid delusions, which are a VERY real side-effect of marijuana use, that lead to violence. Weed advocates need to STOP ignoring these truths and trying to bar evidence from a trial in which a man could spend life in prison for self-defense. I’m sure if Zimmerman had been the one with weed in his system people would be blowing it up all over the place, but because the stoned aggressor ended up a ‘victim’ they want to ignore it? Pathetic!”
According to his exchange with Jeantel, Martin thought Zimmerman was a “creepy ass cracka” and possibly a rapist. Rush Limbaugh commented that this constituted a potential hate crime on the part of Martin, when the additional point has to be made that marijuana’s long-term effect on the brain may have been a factor in Martin attacking Zimmerman.
Morgan asked Jeantel in the CNN interview: “And he was freaked out by it?”
She replied, “Yes. Definitely after I say may be a rapist, for every boy, for every man, every—who’s not that kind of way, seeing a grown man following them, would they be creep out? So you have to take it—as a parent, when you tell your child, when you see a grown person following you, run away, and all that.”
If Martin had a paranoid delusion that led him to believe Zimmerman was a rapist, that could have led him to violently confront Zimmerman.
Calvina Fay, the executive director of Drug Free America Foundation, told AIM, “It is very sad and alarming to know that smoking pot is ‘normal’ for most teenagers in Ms. Jeantel’s community. Research has solidly shown that marijuana use impedes the development of the young brain and has been linked with significant drops in IQ as well as mental illness. Our kids today have far too many challenges in life without the impediment of marijuana and other drugs. It is time for America to wake up to the tragedy and do all that can be done to protect our children from the dope pushers.”
But Obama has not addressed this problem.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.