Just saw a Daily Show bit on the Zimmerman verdict. It failed for the simple fact that it tried to allege a connection between the black woman who could not use the Stand Your Ground law and got 20 years for merely shooting a gun in the air and Zimmerman, who allegedly got off using the same Stand Your Ground defense.
The problem is that Zimmerman’s defense did not use Stand Your Ground. They used self-defense.
The Florida Statute on Stand Your Ground is this:
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. 776.013(3).
With this spelled out – after watching the Daily Show bit – I wondered this: If Trayvon Martin, in fact, killed Zimmerman in his altercation with Zimmerman, what charges do you think would have been filed against him?
Trayvon’s situation seems to fit well with “stand your ground.” 1) Trayvon met a duty of retreat (a requirement that one must move away if able to do so) because while talking with Rachel on the phone, she testified that he noticed someone following him, but continued to retreat; 2) Trayvon would certainly be justified of meeting force with force, in my humble opinion, being as he was armed with a bag of skittles, and Zimmerman would be found with a gun.
I like to think that Stand Your Ground would have worked just fine for Trayvon. I like to think that charges would never be filed against Trayvon in such a situation. Sadly, I think I’m being terribly optimistic.
Let’s face it. This point that the Daily Show bit, above, accurately makes is this: “According to current Florida law, you can get a gun, follow an unarmed minor, call the police, have them explicitly tell you to stop following him, then choose to ignore that, keep following the minor, get into a confrontation with him, and then if at any point during that process you get scared, you can shoot the minor to death, and the State of Florida will say: ‘well, you did what you could.'”
As much as I want to say that race played no part in the decision, I am having a tough time imagining that if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon was white, that there would be any question of guilt. It’s almost as if there is an inherent, unsaid understanding in our society that a young black kid with a hoodie is reasonably suspicious.
The fact is, by all appearances, Trayvon stood his ground in this case, and he received the ultimate punishment for it when all he was doing was walking back to watch the NBA AllStar Game after buying some skittles and a soft drink. I would say, also, that Trayvon’s standing his ground was very reasonable considering the inherent differences in danger between a handgun and a bag of skittles.
What do you think?
Rob, as an attorney familiar with this case, you already know race is not an issue from a legal standpoint. Now, if you think this is an example of formalism being repressive, or that “Stand Your Ground” laws may have an inherent racial bias, then you have no means to measure those particular viewpoints in this case, as all present research deals with black/white incidents. As I have recently posted, because George Zimmerman is hispanic, you won’t find research to measure potential bias of hispanic shooter/ black victim, or black shooter/ hispanic victim. If you try to make George Zimmerman white, this would never pass experimenter bias claims in my field of psychological research. He is not white according to any criteria you can come up with: census report, student loan applications, voter registration, family of origin, self-identity, and anecdotally, physical appearance. The only way George Zimmerman could possibly be considered white is if one needs him to be white to support the memes of white racism and racial politics. This would be a clear straw man logical fallacy, which unfortunately, is being pursued by some. No, there is only white shooter/ black victim and black shooter/ white victim research. It is the case, that thus far, there does appear to some inherent bias in “Stand Your Ground” cases dealing with black/white victims/shooters. If one wanted to research this you could talk to son, David. He has expertise in “Stand Your Ground” research, as this is a major area of his work in Criminology at school. I recently contacted his lead professor, who is the go-to guy for many TV interviews concerning crime and race in order to interview him, and on “Stand Your Ground,” he referred me back to David.
You misunderstand… I’m not talking about George’s race. I am talking about Trayvon’s. California, you may or may not know, has a similar stand your ground law, so I have some knowledge, too, being as I went to law school. 😉
I thought you were referring to Zimmerman’s race because you said this:
“As much as I want to say that race played no part in the decision, I am having a tough time imagining that if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon was white, that there would be any question of guilt.”
My response was concerning accuracy of observation because you did not say this:
“As much as I want to say that race played no part in the decision, I am having a tough time imagining that if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon was hispanic, that there would be any question of guilt.”
I am familiar with California being a “Stand Your Ground” state and know you know that already, and even if California weren’t, you would know the law anyway because you know a lot about a lot of things.
Also, since most of the “racial bias” in SYG research is very recent, and you have a friend (David) who is working in this very arena, I just thought you might find it helpful to talk to him about these latest findings.
I meant in the sense that you were alluding to that race mattered in the law or the premise of the law itself. I agree with you here.
As far as my mention of race, I believe that we have an inherent racial bias that likely guided thejurors decision as wellas pundits analysis.
Sorry for errors in this. Typing from coffee shop.
Great minds can disagree… this my view.
To say that race played no part when the social discussion is solely about it is, in my humble opinion, shortsighted.
Agreed, as long as we are specifically talking about the victim in this case. I think the majority of social discussion is making a white shooting black case, which is not relevant in this particular situation. Unless we are talking about hispanic shooter/ black victim, or the argument is if the victim is black there will be more leniency to acquit, regardless of the “race” of the shooter, which both would be logically appropriate in this case.
BTW, if you read my blog post or listened to my radio show on this, you know that I fully speak of race as a large part of the social discussion, so I know you weren’t talking about me when you mentioned the “short-sighted” stuff.:)
Unfortunately, the bulk of the actual research thus far doesn’t deal with hispanic shooter/ black victim, asian shooter/ black victim, native american shooter/ black victim, black shooter/black victim…Only white shooter/ black victim and black shooter/ white victim, where, as I have already recorded, there does appear to be much greater leniency when the shooter is white, victim is black, and much less leniency when the shooter is black, and the victim is white.
And while I’m at it, if you want to speak about Neighborhood Watch procedures (who do you follow, how long, do you follow people at all, do you stay in your car, etc.), Neighborhood Watch procedures in states that have lenient concealed carry laws (ought you be especially careful about being overzealous in any pursuit if you are armed, or if you are doing Neighborhood Watch work, you ought not be armed in the first place, with anything other than a camera and a cell phone), then I have given you several instances of social discussion that has nothing to do with race.
We can’t possible know George Zimmerman’s though process, but I will give you an opinion on this, as well. If Trayvon Martin had been hispanic and his actions were identical, George Zimmerman would have reacted exactly the same way. As I have already recorded elsewhere, I think George Zimmerman was wrong, but I will guarantee you, there would not be an uproar like the one that has occurred, if Trayvon Martin had been hispanic.
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I think we need to invent a “truth” serum. There are only two people who know for sure what happened, and unfortunately one of them cannot tell his side anymore.
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