Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Most Frightening Article I Have Read in Years

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate:
I might go further. I might say that whether or not specific jurisdictions define self-defense to include a duty to retreat, and whether or not specific juries are charged to apply it, America is quickly becoming one big “stand your ground” state, as a matter of culture if not the letter of the law.
And this is not just in Florida. We are quickly becoming a nation that would rather shoot than stand down, or at least one that thinks everyone has the right to. We are a nation of jurors who carefully consider the emotional state of a killer who had no obligation to even investigate the emotional state of the person he believed was attempting to kill him. We are a nation whose courts and legislatures have enshrined the American values of individualism, property rights, and mistrust of the state while eroding our duty to retreat.
After Trayvon Martin was killed, for a long time it was fashionable to say, “I am Trayvon Martin,” in solidarity with him and his family. But a far more worrisome possibility has begun to creep into our culture. With each successful “stand your ground” claim, explicit or implicit, we are all in peril of becoming more frightened, more violent, and more apt to shoot first and justify it later. The only thing more terrifying than the prospect of becoming a nation of Trayvon Martins is the possibility that we are unconsciously morphing into a nation of George Zimmermans.
Maybe some of you are happy to read something like this, but not me. I've trusted Dahlia Lithwick's legal instincts for a long time now. If she thinks this is happening -- as I've recently feared, as well -- then this trend doesn't bode well for American life moving forward.

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