The Corner

Self-Defense and Vigilantism

Over on the homepage, I offer my take on the Trayvon Martin killing.

Bottom line: Armed self-defense is a good thing, and there is no reason for Florida to repeal its “Stand Your Ground” law entirely. But this case isn’t about “standing your ground” — it’s about a man who deliberately provoked a physical confrontation by getting out of his car and chasing down an innocent teenager. If this man truly falls under the protection of Stand Your Ground, the law should be changed.

I think an important detail in the days to come will be that the Stand Your Ground law doesn’t protect people who are engaged in illegal activity when someone attacks them. On a plain reading, getting out of your car and chasing after a fellow citizen would seem to constitute assault under Florida law — but police officials have claimed otherwise. If the police changed their mind about this, it would achieve two things: One, the man could be prosecuted for assault, and two, he would fall outside the protection of Stand Your Ground, making it easier to convict him for the shooting.


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Language, of course, is generally employed by human beings to distract or deceive. So there is much to be said for critical listening.