Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"I Will Fucking Shoot You"

I have some sympathy with the Stand Your Ground law because I had to stand my ground once. I was parked behind a mall as it was getting dusk. I'd just come out from Christmas shopping and had several bags hanging on my arm. Two teenage boys, one black and one white, began following me. They moved apart to flank me, one coming from each side. I was sure they meant to mug me and steal my purchases....or worse.

I backed up to a car and fortunately, when I slid my hand in my purse, my gun was right there. I drew it and said, "keep on going, boys, because I will fucking shoot you."

They were two fit young men; I was a plump, gray-haired old lady. I knew, because I was the poster woman for vulnerability, I'd better convince them that I meant it. And I did mean it.

They took off running and I made it to my car. I was shaking so badly, I could barely get the key in the lock.

What would have happened if I had shot one of them, even killed one? They probably didn't have weapons. I was a sheep to their wolves. They didn't need weapons to mug a female senior citizen. They would, of course, have sworn they had no ulterior motive while insisting I over-reacted out of fear.

So, maybe I'd have ended up the bad guy or at least, the misguided guy. But maybe not. Maybe the police would have considered me more credible than two young gangbangers and sent me on my way.

That's not what I would have expected though. I would not have expected the act of killing someone to be treated as lightly as getting a parking ticket. I would have expected to be charged with something. Then the legal system would have taken over and thoroughly investigated the case. Hopefully, I'd have been exonerated in the end. But if you deliberately kill someone, even in self-defense, there should be some serious consequences. Causing a death is a momentous event, no matter why you do it, and should be treated as such. If you aren't willing to pay that price, then don't carry a gun.

I consider my experience a classic example of "stand your ground".

The Trayvon Martin case is not "stand your ground". When you stalk your victim, you are not standing your ground. When the police tell you to back off and you don't, that is not standing your ground.

Trayvon was a boy with a perfect right to walk through a neighborhood with his tea and Skittles while talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone. He had done nothing wrong. It didn't not matter if he'd been suspended from school. It did not matter that he was wearing a hoodie.

Bill O'Reilly on Fox News suggested that media organizations should not "rush to judgment". He says we should remember that there are two sides to the story.

Perhaps, he's right but how will we know about those sides unless Zimmerman is arrested, (although I'd have no objection to his bonding out while the case moves forward), and the case is investigated? It seems to me that it is the Sanford police who pre-empted the "two sides of the story" debate. They accepted George Zimmerman's side without question.

Even police officers are put on administrative leave and relieved temporarily of their weapon when they shoot a suspect. They know they are in for a huge headache until the shooting is proven to be righteous. You should face a headache when you shoot someone. George Zimmerman didn't even have to take an aspirin.

"Stand Your Ground" should not be an all-purpose, get-out-of-jail free card. It should simply be one element to be considered in the normal legal procedure.

I venture to say that at this point, George Zimmerman wishes that he'd simply had to face those consequences rather than the universal scorn and loathing in which he is now held by millions.

Did the police really do him any favors?