“Stand Your Ground” is brilliantly framed. The NRA pushed this bill into politics, and surely their wordsmith/marketers tested this title plenty – what’s not to like? Creating a motto or meme is a very basic technique of framing. Many times the mantra is the only bit of verbatim on a topic that is memorable, that many people can recall and discuss/ refer to. Think about the frame, “Stand Your Ground” – what imagery does it conjure up? I think of a manly man defending his property and/or family. The guy that pops into my head is clenching a cigar in his teeth and his gun is either smokin’ or dead eye leveled at some threat. I think John Wayne and someone saying, “this here street ain’t big enough for the two of us…”, in wild west fashion.
Reminiscing about westerns is a little nostalgic, but then you remember that all the violence in those movies was fake with blanks. When you take real live sherriff wannabes, and insert them into the scene with real ammo – the scene looks more like a real life nightmare, for the victim’s family, for the shooter, for the shooter’s family.
The story of Trayvon Martin is heartbreaking on so many levels. I wrote on that particular travesty of justice here and the culture of bullying that allows for these tragedies here. That story continues to unfold and demonstrate to law makers and enforcers of how the “Stand Your Ground” law is problematic at the least, an excuse for cold blooded murder at the most. When cold blooded murder is allowed to stand, you can guarantee that retaliation is not far behind.
This from an ABC news article, ” “Stand Your Ground “really ties law enforcement’s hands,” says Florida law professor Elizabeth Megale, “because immunity is defined so broadly.” Immunity, she says, does not just mean you can’t be prosecuted. It means you can’t be detained. ”
I find this in striking contrast with how the U.S. has treated other humans who have been and are being detained for upwards of ten years without charge or even a clear picture of why they were detained.
Trayvon’s case has brought attention to the fact that nearly half of the states in this country have a similar “Stand Your Ground” law on the books like the one in Florida. The NRA put a lot of pressure and money behind getting these laws passed, they’ve all been passed in the last six years. iWatch News has a piece on the nation sweeping phenomenon here. This is an excerpt:
Opposition to the laws has gone beyond gun-control activists. Some of the staunchest critics the NRA has faced while promoting “stand your ground” laws have been state police chief’s and sheriffs’ associations and district attorneys’ groups.
In 2007, the Virginia-based National District Attorneys Association issued a report, “Expansions to the Castle Doctrine,” warning that the phenomenon “could have significant implications for public safety and the justice system’s ability to hold people accountable for violent acts.”
Scott Burns, the association’s executive director, said legislators’ decisions to buck law-enforcement officials on this issue can only be explained by “the volatile issue of guns rights and the 2nd Amendment.” He said many of these laws, in his opinion, have nothing to do with the true intent of the Castle Doctrine.
So the fear and fervor over the second amendment is the justification for this return to the wild west vigilanteism. Here is the Second Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
That’s it. The NRA has taken a simple line “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”, and turned it into a doctrine for vigilantes. They pushed this law within the frame of being on the side of law abiding citizens, the effect is to be able to Kill at Will. When the law is on your side to Kill at Will, you are still law abiding when you indiscriminately kill people. Apparently anyone can shoot anyone else, anyplace they choose, they have to just #1 make sure there are no witnesses left alive and #2 invoke “Stand Your Ground” – say they felt threatened. This is our culture of fear and bullying taken to a level that could quite possibly start our next domestic war – what is stopping it?
Kill at Will applies in these states, Propublica provide the list:
Beware in these states! In the case of Trayvon’s shooter, the defense is saying that they will not use the “Stand your Ground” law – which is a bit of a relief in that this law may not be the magical “get out of jail free card” that has been assumed up to this point in the case. However, in reading about this case and the laws that apply, you do not have to dig very deep to find a slew of stories that seem just plain wrong. Justice did not prevail because only the shooter is left standing. The only person alive is the only person who has the opportunity to tell the truth. Oh, and the “Castle Doctrine”….ooooh! (It’s tough to stay civilized sometimes.) I have so much to say about the “Castle Doctrine that I have to save it for another post.
The international community is watching in disbelief. America the brave? Can we seriously try to claim that title? We are literally scared of our own shadows. Please, let someone know – someone who influences state law in your region – tell them that “Stand your Ground” is nothing but “Kill at Will” and you want it repealed or never to be activated. Elections are a tiny part of the big picture of democracy, we need to be aware and active, we need to take our country back for what is decent and right for all humankind.