Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
Everybody's trying to ride the Trayvon Martin case's publicity coattails -- politicians are making statements about it left and right, a column in the Huffington Post tried to connect an FAU student's freakout to racial anger
, and now, the University of Missouri is trying to tie a psychology study to the situation.
The release sent out today says that "many are questioning the psychological motivations of everyone involved" in the Martin case, then explains the way that shooter George Zimmerman could have been drunk -- on imagery.
"Simply seeing images of alcohol, but not drinking it, influences behaviors like racial bias on a subconscious level," researcher Bruce Bartholow said in the release. "Walking by a bar or seeing an ad for beer could be enough to affect someone's mindset. You don't have to be aware of the effects for it to affect you."
Bartholow's research has already shown that drinking "can lead to increased expression of racial bias." But the new study, done with Florida Gulf Coast University researcher Elena Stepanova, shows that just seeing "alcohol-related images" will do the same thing.
Yup. Even a picture of booze can make you more racist. Now, the real question -- does George "These Assholes, They Always Get Away" Zimmerman have a Heineken billboard on his front lawn?
As for the experiment, it doesn't look like it has anything to do with the specific events of the Martin case -- participants, after being shown pictures of white and black men, were then quickly shown either a picture of a tool or a handgun. Studies have already shown that people have a tendency to misidentify tools as guns after being shown a black face -- Bartholow's study found people make that mistake more often after being shown "a series of magazine ads for alcoholic beverages" when compared to others who had seen ads for water or coffee.
"As for the Trayvon Martin case, it very much reminds me of the Amadou Diallo case in 1999, when an unarmed black individual was shot to death by New York City police officers," Stepanova said. "Diallo was shot because officers claimed that they thought he pulled a gun, while in fact he reached for his wallet. The wallet was misconstrued as a gun by police officers."
Yes, the study seems to have a lot in common with those infamous 41 shots. But what's the connection to Trayvon Martin? A black person killed by someone who wasn't black?
"Associations between blacks and guns, violence and criminal behavior played a role in Mr. Martin's case," Stepanova said. "Mr. Martin was essentially a victim of racial stereotypes that so many in our society hold, and that cost him his life."