At the risk of inviting the ire of some readers: two more comments related to the Zimmerman trial.
“No justice, no peace” is once again making the rounds as people unhappy with the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case take to the streets and the airways. The phrase itself, however, is ambivalent. Is it an assessment or a threat? Does it mean, “If there is no justice, then true organic peace is impossible,” (think of a peaceful totalitarian state—secular or religious—totally lacking in justice) or does it mean, “If you don’t give me justice as I define justice, then I will act violently”?
We have a justice system. It is flawed. It is biased. It can and should be continually evaluated and improved. But the way we do that isn’t by violence. As far as I know, violent reaction to the verdict has been minimal, but even nonviolent protesters chanting “no justice, no peace” leave me uneasy unless I know what they mean.
The Stand Your Ground law wasn’t part of this case, but the trial aside, the law is troubling. I live in a Stand Your Ground state. As I understand it, if I’m in fear of losing my life or sustaining serious bodily injury I can kill the person who is frightening me. Does this mean that had Trayvon killed George, and has invoked Stand Your Ground as his defense, he would have been acquitted?
When living in Florida a guy in a pick-up truck who thought I said “F-you” rather than “Thank you” when he honked at me to slow down in a school zone chased me for many blocks until I finally pulled over and confronted him. When I told him what I actually said, he told me about his daughter being hit by a driver speeding through a school zone. We calmed down, chatted, and parted amicably. Had the Florida Stand Your Ground law had been in place, would I have been justified in killing this dad before we talked? I was pretty sure he was armed. Or, when I stopped and confronted him, would he have been justified in killing me, since he could see I was angry and could fear I was armed?
Don’t misunderstand me: I am not anti-gun. I'm just trying to figure out whether nor not to buy a gun. It seems to me that the only logical response to living in a state with a Stand Your Ground law is to buy a gun, get a concealed weapon permit for it, and carry it with you at all times. Not that anyone in particular scares you, but you might scare someone else, and, since they may be carrying a gun, any altercation with that person would legitimately cause you to fear for your life. Shooting first and fatally is the only way to protect yourself from both bodily harm, real or perceived, and a law suit if the person you fear and shoot lives. Is my logic flawed here?