Reno Berkeley

A week has come and gone since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. A week is a long time by media standards, but due to the remarkable nature of the case, controversy about the verdict continues. Conservative pundits insist on perpetuating an image of a violent, drug addled young man who viciously attacked a dedicated neighborhood watch volunteer.

We will never know both sides of the story, as there were no witnesses to the altercation leading up to Martin's death. All we know is George Zimmerman's account, and also Rachel Jeantel's testimony about her phone conversation with her close friend just moments before the fatal gunshot.

And yet, the politics of character assassination continue, driven by rumor, speculation and an unwavering need to paint Zimmerman as a hero who made an honest mistake. So-called political doyens have even gone so far as to espouse completely unsupported claims regarding Martin's penchant for drug use.

One such pundit is Andrea Shea King of World Net Daily (WND). WND is a conservative news website that reports on such things as a 900-year-old prophecy of Jesus' return and how legalizing gay marriage will inevitably lead the way to government-sanctioned pedophilia.

Ms. King's report is no less preposterous. In her opinion piece, 'It Wasn't Just Skittles Trayvon Was Carrying,' she claims that Trayvon was a hardened drug user, whose addiction was so severe that he sustained liver damage. King even provides a helpful link to the autopsy report done by the medical examiner in Daytona Beach, Florida.

On the first page of the autopsy report, the cause of death is concluded to be a shotgun wound. Manner of death is listed as homicide and is signed by Dr. Shiping Bao, the doctor who testified during the trial. Upon researching the claim that Martin had a drug problem, I found no evidence of this in the autopsy report, although Ms. King claims it is there.

She references another conservative blog, The Conservative Treehouse, as being a reliable source for information about the victim's drug use. She writes:

"Among its reports, Trayvon Martin’s drug use, explaining how the Skittles and Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail drink he carried that night are ingredients that, when mixed with dextromethorphan (DXM) cough syrup, create “Lean”, a concocted high which can cause psychosis and aggression over the longer term. According to the autopsy report, Martin’s liver showed damage consistent with DXM abuse."

This last sentence I emphasized for a reason. It is because DXM ,or 'lean', is mentioned nowhere in the 20 pages of information on the Martin's autopsy report. On pages four and five, Bao lists the conditions in detail of the body organs, including the liver. On page six his reports lists the condition of the liver as having "no diagnostic abnormalities."

Yet King and the rest of her conservative compatriots would have the world believe that his liver was damaged because he was a drug addict. The only kernel of truth to this -- and it is a stretch -- is that a trace amount of THC was found in his system. The amount specifically was 400 times less than necessary to be intoxicated. No other drugs were found in his system. None.

Marijuana can stay in the system for up to three months, depending on the method and frequency of use. This gives one a completely different vision of the high school student. Because the amount found in his system was so minute, the last time he ingested it could have been weeks prior to the shooting.

The misinformation in King's story can only be described as egregious, for it appears that she did not bother to read the Bao's autopsy report. If she did and reported Martin as having a drug problem, then she has committed libel against a boy who can no longer defend his own character.

The question, therefore, is why is Andrea Shea King willing to spread such gross misinformation? Are she and her conservative colleagues are incapable of detatching themselves from their preconceived biases and rationally analyze their own information? Perhaps she will come forward with an explanation as to why she is perpetuating the myth of the violent junkie.

Regardless of whether Trayvon Martin threw the first punch on that fateful night, he does not deserve to have his name continually dragged through the mud.