The Corner

Maybe Zimmerman Did Say ‘Punks’

I’m not any kind of audio expert — my only qualifications are recording the occasional recital for a work-study job in college, and trying without much success to record my own songs on my computer. But given that, as Rich noted earlier, different ways of processing Zimmerman’s alleged racist comment seem to yield wildly different results, I figured I’d take a stab at it.

What I did was pretty simple. First, I loaded up (into the program Cubase) the WAV file provided by the police — which is incredibly low-quality, by the way. Then, I fed a sample of the background noise to the program Redunoise. (Redunoise analyzes sounds, then uses some kind of technique to remove those sounds from a recording.) Finally, I used an EQ to take out the lower frequencies.

I’ve already gone on the record that the word “coons” sounds fairly clear to me on the CNN version of the audio. I’m not quite sure what to make of the new file that Rich links to — it doesn’t sound like “coons,” for sure, but it doesn’t sound like “cold,” either, and while it’s clear there’s an extra word at the beginning, I’m not sure it’s “it’s.”

On my version, I’m sure that the final word isn’t “cold” — there’s a clear “S” sound at the end. But it doesn’t sound like “coons” either. Actually, it sounds like “these f***ing punks.” This suggestion sounded completely ridiculous to me on the earlier versions, when I thought I heard a clear “C” at the beginning of the word — I thought it was something no one could seriously think unless he really, really wanted to deny that Zimmerman is a racist.

Then, I did a test on my wife. On the off chance she hadn’t heard of the controversy over this particular part of the tape — and as luck would have it, she hadn’t — I had her listen without prepping her in any way. Her idea? “F***ing bones.”

For what it’s worth, you can hear my version of the section of the recording here. Be warned that it contains the F word, as well as anything else you may hear in it.

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