Rachel Jeantel, "star" witness for prosecution in Trayvon Martin case.

Rachel Jeantel, witness for the prosecution in Trayvon Martin case.


These are Twitter and Facebook messages recently “scrubbed” from Trayvon Martin witness-for-the-prosecution Rachel Jeantel’s accounts:

“16months later wowww I need a drink” . . . “Wat will happen I mix everything uhmmmm” . . .  “Jus got home n hear wat was going and I’m angry” . . .  “remember who cause the funeral to happen keep it 100% Mr. ass hoe” . . .  “damn they p*ssed me off… and I’m sick too “HELL NAW” . . .  “In church wit friends n im jus think bout last year sunday wow I should have been in church the whole day and night omg made lord be with me” . . . “they black ass laugh bout last year…they ass goin to hell for laugh bout that shit” . . .  “Lol we going to hell for smoke on Sunday I need some more drink” . . . “I hope I dnt hit no one tonight lord plz watch my driving” . . .  Omg people calling n praying n shit lol I need a drink smoke and a pray my head killing me right now cannot wait when this day end” . . .  Shit always happen when u doin Gud wit life .last year I had to deal wit people dyin n I’m tired of all those shits makin me not think right” . . .  I do not know if I want to be a homicide detective u got to tell the family they love one died n shit they crying n shit oh lord I dnt kno” . . .  “3.get ready for count” . . .  “4.deal with the bull come with it” . . . “7.I’m going need a lot of drinks for dis summer oh lord” . . . “ Plz plz lord dnt make me start next week” . . . “ 16 months later wowww I need a drink” . . . “ CNN and HLN is killing me bro” . . . “ Court nails” . . . “ Last drink for the week long ass week too” . . . “ studied criminal justice at Miami University” . . . “My mama n daddy do all the work I just spend it” . . .

This is an update including the rather embarrasing, there’s a “jackass on my ass.”  http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/zimmerman-witness-gets-twitter-scrub-748092 .

Perhaps, Jeantel should read “Orwell’s ‘Politics and the English Language.'”  Or, maybe she should refer to the life and writings of a true master, African-American woman writer, in fact, the first African-American woman writer, Phillis Wheatley.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillis_Wheatley]

Wheatley lifted herself out of appalling conditions, with much less going for her than Jeantel (who we can assume from the above that she attended Miami University at her parents’ expense).  Wheatley wasn’t distracted by technology such as social media, in all fairness.

Phillis Wheatley, as illustrated by Scipio Moorhead in the frontispiece to her 1773 book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

Phillis Wheatley, as illustrated by Scipio Moorhead in the frontispiece to her 1773 book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

If there’s a valid excuse for Jeantel’s social-media language, which found its way into her very-public service as a witness under oath and now calls her integrity into question, regardless of whether it’s socially acceptable on Twitter or Facebook to write like that, I’d like to hear it.

It has nothing to do with race.  It has to do with lack of education, in my view, not just on her part, but on the part of anyone who writes similar tweets and posts.  I, personally, have seen similar language on Facebook from some of my nieces and nephews, and it disheartens me as their uncle, but also as a university graduate with a degree in English.

I was once as young as Jeantel, my nieces and nephews, as we all were, and perhaps a credit can be given for “reckless youth.”  I failed at my first attempt with college studies, largely due to my “party mentality” back in the late seventies, but I soared in my second attempt (the cost of which then came out of my own pocket).  Perhaps also at play, there’s a lack of willpower in being able to resist pressure from peers and from the temptations of ever-changing technology.  Willpower is something Phillis Wheatley surely knew about, and it had to come from somewhere.

Orwell said that the English language is degenerating due to the creation and retention of words useless toward the all-important goal of speaking and writing:  clarity of meaning.  Much of what is found on Twitter and Facebook can be, as Orwell would suggest, tossed into the “dustbin.”  Clarity of meaning in one’s writing and speaking takes education, but also the willpower of habit formulation.  Was he right?

[Please note that I clarified my position on the above due to the kind comments of a reader.  It’s certainly a “touchy” subject and deserves clarity of meaning, which I think Orwell and Wheatley would both agree is always a struggle worth pursuing.]

Please also see:

A Spoonful Of Effort Helps Competent Grammar Go Down  (10 September 2013)

Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.”  (28 June 2013)