The problem with ‘Stand Your Ground’

February 23, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Posted in Disinformation, Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment | 7 Comments
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2007 photo copyrighted by Jeff Dean, and uploaded by hime to Wikipedia, which describes it as a compact semi-automatic Smith & Wesson .45 ACP Chief's Special — Model CS45.

2007 photo copyrighted by Jeff Dean, and uploaded by hime to Wikipedia, which describes it as a compact semi-automatic Smith & Wesson .45 ACP Chief’s Special — Model CS45.

‘Stand your ground’ laws have figured in two recent cases in which young unarmed black men were shot and killed.
George Zimmerman killed Travon Martin, and Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis.

In both cases, the killer’s excuse was that he thought that the young black man had a gun.

The problem with ‘stand your ground’ laws is that it is too easy to claim that you feared that the person you shot had a weapon, and was about to use it on you.

You can claim this even if it wasn’t true.  You can make up your fear after the fact.

No one can ever disprove your claim, because it rests only on what you say you believed at the time.  Your claim need not depend upon on any externally confirmable matter of fact.

This is one of the most easily-abused legal ideas of all time.

One of the leading pushers of ‘stand your ground’ laws is ALEC.  Besides promoting ‘stand your ground’ laws, ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) acts as a mouthpiece for those who see short-term financial gains in delaying recognition of human-caused global warming.  According to the Sierra Club, Mark Zuckerberg recently had Facebook join ALEC, because he wants its support for some of his own agendas.  (The Sierra Club is urging everyone to sign a petition asking Mark Zuckerberg to withdraw Facebook from that unscrupulous organization.)

Although it is obvious, it bears repeating: neither of the unjustified killings that were cited above would have occurred if the killer hadn’t happened to have a gun handy.

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He got away with manslaughter

July 23, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Posted in Judicial Injustice | Leave a comment
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George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after Zimmerman's not guilty verdict was read in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, July 13, 2013.

George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict was read in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, July 13, 2013.

The not-guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial for shooting Trayvon Martin was an injustice to Trayvon Martin, and to all of us.  Eugene Robinson’s analysis in the Washington Post is particularly perceptive on the topic, and makes important points that have not been made elsewhere.

Two previous posts (here and here) on thepoliblog also stress crucial features of the encounter.  Indeed, thepolibog was started out of frustration with the then-current state of the public discussion of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, because, at the time, essential aspects of the encounter were being ignored.

George Zimmerman got away with manslaughter.

But the jury’s verdict was ‘not guilty’.  Within our legal system, George Zimmerman cannot be retried for the same crime (no ‘double jeopardy’).

Those who believe him to be guilty can only treat him as they would treat any other guilty person who escaped conviction because of the imperfections of the judicial system.

He can be shunned.

George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin

March 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Crime and punishment | 1 Comment
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Mug Shot of George Zimmerman, 11  April 2012, from Seminole County, Florida Sheriff's Office.

Mug Shot of George Zimmerman, 11 April 2012, from Seminole County, Florida Sheriff’s Office.

A handgun, not necessarily the one used by George Zimmerman. Walther P99 chambered for 9x19mm round. The photo was apparently taken by Sirimiri, on or about Feb 11, 2007.

A handgun, not necessarily the one used by George Zimmerman. Walther P99 chambered for 9x19mm round. The photo was apparently taken by Sirimiri, on or about Feb 11, 2007.

Anonymous.1

BloodSplat.1001avatars.net.137

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a follow-up of a previous blog posting on George Zimmerman’s fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

In my opinion, George Zimmerman is guilty of the exultant manslaughter of an opportunistically chosen victim.

Let me explain what exultant manslaughter is.

Like many of us, George Zimmerman’s personality includes a streak of vigilantism.  (The popularity of the YouTube video of a vigilante bus driver in Russia confirms that the vigilante urge is widespread.)

George Zimmerman was – probably only semi-conciously – looking for an opportunity that would provide a rationalization, an excuse, a cover, that would permit him to experience the thrill of power and accomplishment and of virtue from having blown away a bad person.  Any instance of the types of persons we all hate would do: the types of persons who cause us to gnash our teeth in frustration when we learn of their acts.

He had no particular person in mind.  The person was to be selected by fate.  George Zimmerman prowled the streets in his vehicle at night, because the history of nightime property crimes in his neighborhood favored stumbling upon a malefactor that way.

That is what is meant by exultant manslaughter.

I know this because of something in my own history.  When I was a graduate student I would work on my thesis until late at night, and then walk home through the empty and mostly dark campus.  One day there was news that over several nights lone students had been beaten up by a small roving band of rogue students.  Instead of changing my schedule, I went to a store that sold outdoor gear, and bought a blackened commando knife in a sheath.  Each night I strapped it on before leaving the office.  I walked home with my hand on the knife’s handle, scanning for lurking threats, and thinking of the satisfaction there would be in sinking the blade into astonished attackers.  Stupid but lucky, I never had the occasion to experience what the consequences would have been.

A dagger, roughly similar to the one I bought.

A dagger, roughly similar to the one I bought.

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