Skip to main content

It would be one thing if "Stand Your Ground" laws were actually enforced as written, and that would be insane enough - they basically put the legal value of one person's life in the arbitrary hands of another, and blame any victim who happens to stray into the sight of a bigot or a paranoid with a gun.  But they are not enforced as written, because they don't work in the other direction: A normal person going about their business in good faith who feels threatened by a bigoted nutjob with a gun is not extended the same impunity to deal out "frontier justice," especially if the shooter is black and the corpse isn't.  Had Trayvon Martin been found standing over the body of George Zimmerman under identical circumstances - i.e., deliberately stalking an unarmed man and then gunning him down in cold blood - he could very easily have been charged with 1st degree murder and sent on a prosecutorial express train to Florida Death Row.

This fact would be slightly less horrific if it were something new in the states that have these laws, but it seems to be nothing more than a continuation of the Jim Crow "lynch culture" that made being suspected of something - anything, really - a capital offense for black men, while those who openly murdered them and terrorized their families were completely immune from local or state-level prosecution.  In these states, the law isn't the law: Privilege and power are the law, and those who have neither simply have no rights beyond what those who do have them find convenient to observe.  No matter how draconian and psychotic the actual language of laws becomes in these places, black people will be treated even worse; and no matter how much impunity is granted to armed bigots to harm black people, their actions will be treated with even more tolerance if not open encouragement.  

The difference between then and now is that there are less theatrics involved, at least in the clownish sense of dressing up in robes and burning crosses - although right-wing talk show hosts seem to have compensated by ratcheting up the Munich biergarten oratory.  Back in the day, murdering an unarmed black man suspected of something was a festive community occasion for the whole family to enjoy; but as with so many things in the 21st century, this activity has become more personalized - something for individuals to do on their own time, at their own convenience: Bowling Alone for racists.

Even with these changes, however, the effect is the same: Maintenance of a regional culture of lawlessness where power and privilege are the only possible defenses against being a victim, and towering obstacles to justice when possessed by a perpetrator.  This is the system the Ku Klux Klan evolved to both reflect and uphold - a neo-feudal society existing in parallel to legal authorities that was held above all explicit laws and beneath all moral scruples.  They were a manifestation of a collective "Stand Your Ground" mentality that granted plenipotentiary powers of life and death over subordinate classes to private cabals of white landowners who neither had to seek permission from legal authorities to act, nor had to fear any kind of retribution from them no matter how arrogantly they behaved.  If they so much as "felt threatened" in any way, shape, or form - if their identity as a supreme race, class, and even regional culture was jeopardized - they had absolute impunity to commit murder and terrorism with the unconditional implicit support (and often overt endorsement) of authorities.

That's pretty much what happened with Trayvon Martin.  A young man was walking through the "wrong" community - i.e., one "above" his station in the racial hierarchy - and under the Klan Your Ground mentality, that granted anyone in that community authority to kill him in defense of their identity.  This isn't to say there isn't real (if paranoid) fear of crime involved, but enforcing racial power and privilege is the basic reason it has political support: A rich white guy shooting another rich white guy for "looking shifty" probably would have been charged with manslaughter, or at least sent to a psychiatric facility, and a shooting with a white victim and black killer would have had the system coming down on the shooter's head like a ton of bricks.  So basically, in Florida, it's okay to be so afraid or hateful of black people that you shoot them for walking in a neighborhood with different demographics.  

And that's the psychotically hypocritical, Orwellian aspect of Klan Your Ground laws that have made them so controversial, but frankly they would be insane and inhuman even if they were enforced with rigorous fairness across all racial and class boundaries.  There is no justification for allowing people to place the "sanctity" of their all-important property over the lives of other human beings, let alone to validate irrational fear as an excuse for murder.  

You are allowed to shoot someone robbing you at gunpoint because they're threatening your life, not because they're taking your money.  So guess what, Wyatt Derp?  You don't get to shoot people for mere property crimes and still call yourself a human being and an American.  You're a murderer guilty of manslaughter.  And that would be if a crime is even being committed by the guy you shot.  If their only "crime" is being a different race than predominates in the neighborhood and/or wearing clothing you find plebeian, you don't even have legitimate cause to call the police on them, let alone violently accost them - and if you go so far as to shoot them, you're a fucking psycho.  And any state which legally condones such behavior is lawless, immoral, and diseased.    

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Only one thing Troubie, and that's that this (8+ / 0-)

    regional thing isn't so regional.  Oregon banned blacks from residing in the state in its first constitution, and had a lynching in Coos Bay in the early 1900s.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:45:47 PM PDT

    •  The rate of progress is very different (6+ / 0-)

      along regional boundaries.  It would be PC to pretend this is all a completely undifferentiated national problem, but honestly dealing with it requires noticing how drastically different it is in different parts of the country.  It's been sublimated and turned into an insidious undercurrent in more liberal areas, but remains overt and culturally powerful in the more conservative parts of the country.

      Everything in moderation, including moderation.

      by Troubadour on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:51:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't forget, the Klan of the 1920's controlled (9+ / 0-)

      Indiana and parts of Illinois and Wisconsin. The Klan may have it's roots (and strongest support) in the South but it's a 50 state hate strategy these days.

      "What profit a man, if he gain the world, but has to pay taxes on it?" Paul 8:36

      From the Gospel of St. Ron Paul in the Teachings and Misunderstandings of the Words of Adam Smith

      by ontheleftcoast on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:54:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oregon STILL has a high concentration of (5+ / 0-)

      skinheads and white supremacist groups.

      "Converts are the worst bigots." -- Max Headroom

      by jethrock on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:34:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It doesn't seem to have poisoned their politics. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, Larsstephens

        Or at least there is an equally strong if not stronger liberal current balancing it.  Although there are obvious disadvantages for civil rights in a relatively homogeneous state (93% white in 2005) - not necessarily in terms of lacking support for civil rights, but in terms of a lower level of passion and personal involvement.  

        The Northwestern quadrant of the country has a different strain of racism than the South - very much retreatist / survivalist types who acknowledge (and to some extent revel in) being against dominant social values.  They find vindication in being targeted by authorities.  Southern racism, however, seems to believe itself to be defending the dominant culture, however delusionally, and may find support for that viewpoint in how much their attitudes are tolerated and reflected by political authorities.

        Everything in moderation, including moderation.

        by Troubadour on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:59:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There is always (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Michigan and Idaho. But hey that don't fit the narrative of "the racist south".


        There are no sacred cows.

        by LaEscapee on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:44:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is not the forum for WATB snippiness. (0+ / 0-)

          A hell of a lot more work has to be done in the South to bring it up to par with civil rights than in Michigan and Idaho, so don't shovel that bullshit.  If you're defensive about how the South is perceived, work to change the reality, don't get petulant with people who talk about it.

          Everything in moderation, including moderation.

          by Troubadour on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:51:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What is this forum for (0+ / 0-)

            in your opinion?

            Is it a forum for spreading lies about all people from the south? I'm pretty sure that's the other place you post this type of drivel.

            There are no sacred cows.

            by LaEscapee on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:31:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  These entire line of complaint (0+ / 0-)

              is unbelievably self-involved.  Just get over whatever subculture inferiority complex is motivating this crap and start dealing with the issues being dealt with here.

              Everything in moderation, including moderation.

              by Troubadour on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:05:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  The other George W. Bush (3+ / 0-)

      You’re right, Oregon Territory had laws forbidding black people from settling south of the Columbia River. The future state of Washington was more amenable. From

      George W. Bush (c. 1790?-1863) was a key leader of the first group of American citizens to settle north of the Columbia River in what is now Washington. Bush was a successful farmer in Missouri, but as a free African American in a slave state, he faced increasing discrimination and decided to move west. In 1844, Bush and his good friend Michael T. Simmons (1814-1867), a white Irish American, led their families and three others over the Oregon Trail. When they found that racial exclusion laws had preceded them and barred Bush from settling south of the Columbia River, they settled on Puget Sound, becoming the first Americans to do so. Bush established a successful farm near present day Olympia on land that became known as Bush Prairie. He and his family were noted for their generosity to new arrivals and for their friendship with the Nisqually Indians who lived nearby. Bush continued modernizing and improving his farm until his death in 1863. Named George Washington Bush in honor of the nation’s first president, he has no known connection to the family of the two later presidents who share with him the name George Bush.

      But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

      by Dbug on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:36:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  just want to thank you (5+ / 0-)

    for this comprehensive and beautifully written post.  your work is consistently excellent, and i appreciate it.

  •  Thank you. (5+ / 0-)
    seems to be nothing more than a continuation of the Jim Crow "lynch culture"
  •  I was reading the Atlanta Great Speckled (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Bird underground newspaper in 1970 and those folks didn't have any problem going along with this premise. In all of my years since then I sure haven't seen anything to dispute it also. Personally, I've visited every state in the deep south (49 of the 50, actually) and have spent a total over the years of more than a year in Florida.

    You get my Seal of Approval. (With the caveats that south Florida and New Orleans are part of the same world that the rest of us are.)

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:17:42 PM PDT

  •  Godwin's law diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaEscapee, johnny wurster

    The Klan considers Mormons to be non-Christian apostates, so there was never any organized Klan activity in Utah.

    Yes, all gun owners are Klansman.  We'll make a note of it.

    Utah passed its initial stand-your-ground law in 1994. It was sponsored by Rep. Steve Barth, a Democrat from Salt Lake City, and billed as a way for victims of domestic violence to defend themselves without fearing criminal charges.
    •  The underlying mentality is the same. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But congratulations to Utah for managing to avoid a major racial incident involving its grand total of 37,000 black people spread across a state bigger than Scotland.

      Here's the deal: Everyone has a right to defend human life.  No one has a right to take human life in defense of property or identity.  So whatever the motive of some for initially supporting Utah's law, and whether or not it has had racial implications for the state, it's still just a bad and morally deranged idea largely promoted by atavists who can't deal with living in the 21st century.

      Everything in moderation, including moderation.

      by Troubadour on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:02:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The KKK was an elitist group. committed (3+ / 0-)

    to the proposition that some people are inherently better than others and, on that basis, entitled to dispose of subordinates.  It's the same principle underlying public executions, with the additional convenient fiction of the "rule of law" -- an impervious virtual middleman.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:22:34 PM PDT

    •  I'd say it underlies all executions (4+ / 0-)

      and most wars too.  But I wouldn't say elitist, because that implies some kind of meritocracy that certainly isn't part of racism.  It's not like a warrior culture that is violent because it rewards strength - it's violent in order to uphold dynastic privileges and rigid authoritarian castes, like medieval Europe.

      A better word would be narcissism - the absolute conviction that I, and by extension others like me, are inherently superior to others simply because I have a will to dominate and a willingness to be ruthless in securing power.  Although a less clinical term would just be "evil."

      Everything in moderation, including moderation.

      by Troubadour on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:27:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site