Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Don't Stand for Stand Your Ground

In the wake of the verdict about the Trayvon Martin case, there are a lot of protests going on, and petitions calling for a civil rights case against George Zimmerman. 

With all honesty, I think that George Zimmerman is innocent under the law.  And what we need to do now is channel this energy, this passion, and change those bad laws, state by state.

Michigan is a "Stand Your Ground" state.  There have been rallies and protests going on in Detroit.  What we need to do is get this base mobilized to change these laws.  The Stand Your Ground laws perpetuate and exacerbate an already large problem of racial bias in our sentencing.  In states with Stand Your Ground laws, a new study has shown that whites who kill blacks are more likely to be found to be acting in self-defense than any other racial combination.  It's true in all states, but more so in Stand Your Ground states.

The studies aren't as thorough as they could be -- they don't compare home-invasion with non-home-invasion cases, for example. 

Even if Stand Your Ground doesn't perpetuate racism, it's still a bad law, however.  What we've basically been slowly instituting in this country is a system of shoot first and ask questions later; a system of bring a gun to a fist fight; and a system where guilt and innocence is decided by who is the fastest, quickest draw in the West, North, or South (not so much the East, which has fewer states with these laws).  In this system, the innocent person is the one with the gun.  The innocent person is the last person standing.

In this system we have, George Zimmerman was the innocent person -- he was the scared person with the gun, and the gun is the decider. 

We need to create a culture wherein it is not only acceptable, but better, to walk away from a fight.  We need to teach people to run away if they have the option of running away.  Stand Your Ground is a law that says even if you have the option of running away, you have the option to stay and take a life instead.  That's a bad decision.  It's a bad law.  Lethal force by civilians should always be left for where there's no alternative.  It shouldn't be a choice.

But we have the power to repeal these laws.  It'll take effort.  It will take a movement.  But I believe it can be done in Florida, and it can be done here.  

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