In most cases if you get tried for committing a crime and are found not guilty you are then free to go back to living the life you were living before being charged with a crime. If your name is George Zimmerman, however, your troubles are far from over after a jury exonerates you.
He was already tried and found guilty by the media and people of a certain political persuasion long before his trial took place, and nothing short of a guilty verdict would have kept them from continuing their pursuit of what they have decided is justice.
His detractors seem to have two main demands now that he’s been cleared of second degree murder: that he be charged by the federal government with violating Trayvon Martin’s civil rights and that the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida be repealed.
I have heard nothing beyond pure conjecture to suggest that racism played a role in Martin’s death, so any federal civil rights charges would have to be based purely on political pandering. So of course it’s entirely possible that it will happen, especially given the level of “integrity” that has been exhibited by our current scandal-plagued Attorney General Eric Holder.
As far as the “Stand Your Ground” law goes, I’m not the first to point out that many other states (including Georgia) have similar laws, but the protests and threatened boycotts (the state has already lost the opportunity to see Stevie Wonder play live for the foreseeable future) seem to be aimed solely at Florida. That’s because people who are prone to big public displays of outrage are motivated by what they read in the news and not by logic or good, solid information.
I put the odds of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law being rolled back at less than 10 percent. The fact is those laws are quite popular in conservative states like Florida and are strongly supported by Second Amendment proponents.
Frankly the whole “duty to retreat” idea that these laws replaced in states like Florida and Georgia is a little confusing to me anyway. I’m trying to picture myself in a public place, wearing a sidearm and having some menacing individual approach me with the intent to do me harm. Imagine that the law says I have to try and escape before I can shoot this threatening individual.
Do I have to run until I hit a wall? What if I trip and fall and they are able to overtake me before I can get my gun out? I’m not very coordinated, so that’s a real concern. If you’re armed and convinced that your life is in danger it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to try and beat the aggressor in a footrace. You’re much more likely to show him your gun and let him decide if he wants to meet his maker or be on his way.
Just in case the law doesn’t get changed, I have some helpful advice for anyone who is concerned about someone shooting them and using “Stand Your Ground” to get out of being punished for it. Note that the law only allows someone to shoot you if they fear that you present an imminent physical threat to them.
So here’s my advice: don’t attack or threaten to attack people in public places.
Let’s say, for example, you’re walking down the street minding your own business when someone starts following you and proceeds to question you about your identity and destination. I’d advise you to answer them with words, not your fists. Do not, let me repeat this, do not respond by climbing on top of them and pounding their head into the ground. That’s risky behavior and could end up getting you shot.
Always keep in mind that there are a lot of idiots in the world of all shapes, sizes and colors and some of them have guns. I assume every obnoxious stranger I run into might be armed, so I try to avoid getting into fist-fights (even when they are acting like fools) unless they start swinging first. I believe that if Martin had lived by the same philosophy he’d still be alive today.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at email@example.com or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.