Driving around in my car today, listening to political talk on satellite radio, I kept hearing people say, "Trayvon Martin had a right to 'stand his ground' also." Makes a lot of sense.
There Martin is, walking along, minding his own business, when a guy starts following him in an aggressive, intrusive manner. Eventually they get into some sort of altercation. At some point Martin realizes George Zimmerman has a gun.
Florida's Stand Your Ground law says you don't have to flee if you fear for your life, or if you are threatened with bodily harm. You can defend yourself on the spot.
So likely if Trayvon Martin had beaten Zimmerman to a pulp, even killing him with his bare hands, Martin could have gotten off by claiming that he thought he faced death or bodily harm -- just as Zimmerman did, garnering a "not guilty" verdict that absolved him of manslaughter or murder.
As noted in my previous post, Martin wouldn't even had to prove that he truly did face death or bodily harm; all that is necesssay is thinking that you are.
This shows the absurdity of Stand Your Ground laws. In this case, either Zimmerman or Martin could have used that Florida law to escape punishment. But Martin died in the altercation, so only Zimmerman got to claim self-defense.
Martin clearly could have also, though, if he had lived and Zimmerman had died.
After all, Zimmerman was the guy who got out of his car with a gun and followed the teenager in the dark. If a guy with a gun is following you in a threatening fashion, you certainly have a right to defend yourself.
Thus Stand Your Ground laws reward the survivor, not the deceased, even if the survivor was the person who provoked an altercation. Just tell a jury "I feared for my life," and you can get away with murder. Literally.
Hit men must be carefully studying Florida's Stand Your Ground law and the Zimmerman trial. It's a great way to murder someone legally.
All you have to do is confront them in a private place where there aren't any witnesses, then shoot the person. Make sure you bang your head on the ground several times and punch yourself hard enough to break your nose. Then claim that you feared for your life -- naturally leaving out the inconvenient truth that you initiated the encounter and were the aggressor.
I just signed a petition to boycott Florida tourism until the state's Stand Your Ground law is repealed. Its too dangerous to visit Florida when anyone can kill you for no reason other than their claim that they feared death or bodily harm.
Which gets me back to my post about free will and the justice system.
Neuroscientists know that we humans are crappy at identifying the reasons why we do something. We're clueless about the many unconscious causes of our behavior. Yet we make up explanations for our actions because we are meaning-seeking animals who hate to say "I don't know."
I'm not claiming that considerations of motivation never have a place in legal proceedings. But by and large, I believe that the objective facts are a better guide to whether someone should be punished for a crime.
In the Zimmerman case, the jury should have focused on who was the aggressor here. As noted above, both Zimmerman and Martin could claim that they feared death or bodily harm. Yet the juror who has spoken about the deliberations only mentioned Zimmerman's right to self-defense, not Martin's.
Plus, she ignored Zimmerman's behavior that initiated the confrontation.
COOPER: Because of the two options you had, second degree murder or manslaughter, you felt neither applied?
JUROR: Right. Because of the heat of the moment and the Stand Your Ground. He had a right to defend himself. If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right.
COOPER: Even though he got out of the car, followed Trayvon Martin that didn’t matter in the deliberations. What mattered was the final seconds, minutes when there was an altercation and whether or not in your mind the most important thing was whether or not George Zimmerman felt his life was in danger?
JUROR: That’s how we read the law. That’s how we got to the point of everybody being not guilty.
Disgusting. Seemingly the jurors ignored Martin's right to defend himself from a man with a gun who was following him around in the dark. The jury sure appears to have committed a travesty of justice.