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The Prisoner's Dilemma is one of the most written about and studied "games" in the social sciences. It explores how "players" will choose to cooperate (or not) with one another. Economists have used it to model how buyers and sellers behave in the market. Experts in international relations use the Prisoner's Dilemma to explore how state actors could potentially respond to one another in a conflict or during negotiations. Social psychologists have studied the Prisoner's Dilemma in order to model human behavior and our propensity to cooperate with or betray one another.

Stand Your Ground Laws, and the legal murder of young black people such as Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin by Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman, are a "real life" example of the Prisoner's Dilemma in action. Do two parties with limited to no information about one another choose to cooperate, defect, engage in "tit for tat" retaliation, or do they attack preemptively?

Dunn and Zimmerman were not acting in an information vacuum: they had two important data points. Their victims were black and male. Stand Your Ground empowered Dunn and Zimmerman to shoot first and ask questions later because they knew that the law would legitimate their murderous deeds.

In thinking through the Prisoner's Dilemma, there is an additional implication of the use of Stand Your Ground laws by white people (and those overly identified with Whiteness and White Authority). Should black and brown people, men in particular, apply a similar standard, acting preemptively based on the learned assumption that they will likely be shot dead by white men who claim "self-defense"?

Stand Your Ground laws have created a feedback loop of escalating violence.

To point.

As a black man living in the aftermath of the Dunn and Zimmerman trials (and the data suggesting the racial bias of Stand Your Ground in practice), I am afraid that a white person will use said defense to "reasonably" decide to shoot me because of the color of my skin. A rational actor who is a person of color would choose preemption and "winning" the "game" over "losing" and being shot dead.

There is a very limited issue space in the mainstream news media. The approved discourse does not include any acknowledgment of how black and brown people should for reasons both historic and contemporary be terrified of white violence. Whiteness imagines itself as neutral and benign. Consequently, white privilege blinds most white folks of the ability to critically self-reflect on such matters.

And because the mainstream media operates through, and is empowered by the white racial frame, it is unlikely--if not impossible--that it will entertain the following and obvious question: Should black people be reasonably afraid of white people given Stand Your Ground laws and a frightening rise in white racial animus and hostility in the Age of Obama?

The mainstream media will most certainly not ask if black men, when faced with a threatening situation across the colorline, should shoot white people first under the reasonable assumption that the latter means them serious harm under the Stand Your Ground laws.

During the Black Freedom Struggle's counter-insurgency campaign against Jim and Jane Crow and American Apartheid, there was a group of men known as the Deacons for Defense and Justice. These African-American military veterans provided armed security for Freedom Riders and other civil rights activists. They made it clear that they would shoot back if fired upon by white racial terrorists and their allies.

Stand Your Ground laws will force African-Americans to make a similar pronouncement if we are to be safe and secure in our person from white vigilantism. Such a claim would not be "black racism" or "reverse racism" as Right-wing bloviators and race-baiters would inevitably crow and announce to their low-information, propagandized, public.

Self-defense is in keeping with the basic citizenship rights of all Americans, in a liberal democratic polity, and can be traced back to the writings of the Framers, as well as foundational political philosophers such as Locke, Hobbes, Burke.

Stand Your Ground Laws, the concealed and open carry of weapons, and the court's protection of white street vigilantes are creating an explosive mix where civic virtue, self-interest, and common sense demand that people of color win the Prisoner's Dilemma of their lives by acting preemptively.

Black self-defense is the inevitable result of white violence. Ultimately, Stand Your Ground laws may have a consequence that is very different from the one imagined by its supporters on the White Right.

Originally posted to chaunceydevega on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 08:58 AM PST.

Also republished by Firearms Law and Policy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Calling it the Prisoner's Dilemma (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, BleacherBum153

    is an interesting twist on the true concept thereof. Fitting, I think.

    I don't even want to contemplate the situation you're describing. The consequences... of either choice. Ugh.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 09:06:02 AM PST

  •  gun control (10+ / 0-)

    If you want strict gun control, start a charity that buys guns for young Black men.  Very quickly old White men will want the laws changed.  Alternately, encourage Black men to get a gun permit and use that as proof of residency for election registration.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 09:13:58 AM PST

  •  I'm white and i don't feel comfortable telling (0+ / 0-)

    others how to keep themselves safe, but, you know the msm and the republicans will propagandize against any African American using force in self-defense. OTOH, they may start calling for stricter background checks and capacity limits. You would also get even more white idiots with itchy trigger fingers. The Deacons For Defense sound good, perhaps in some areas (like, florida) adult volunteers should escort teenagers in certain situations, I don't know, I'm not a parent.

    "Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change." Muhammad Ali

    by blueoregon on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 09:16:13 AM PST

  •  Eh, (5+ / 0-)

    Young black males are far, far more likely to be killed by other black males.

    There is no "frightening rise" in white on black violence.

    Not to worry though, I understand that my " white privilege blinds most white folks of the ability to critically self-reflect on such matters' and that my 'facts' are invalid.

    Look, I tried to be reasonable...

    by campionrules on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 09:17:56 AM PST

  •  I thought you'd mention the Black Panthers! (5+ / 0-)

    That's what came to mind for me, especially when they descended on state offices in California to get their weapons permits. (OK, I was 5, but I've seen the photo.)

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 09:27:07 AM PST

  •  shohld black men takeup arms white vigilantes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, moviemeister76

    Doing research you see that law enforcement intervened whenever blacks fought against white terrorism. Robert Williams, Deacons of Defense are examples of this. Just think about the blacks that used self defense and still went to prison. Is it possible to reprint Vyan's articles on Trevor Dooley?  Those articles explain it all.

  •  I believe it's time to bring back Grey Panthers, (6+ / 0-)

    Black Panthers, the Brown Berets, and women's rights advocates.

    The right to live as a human being in this nation has been under attack since at least 1980 if you don't look / sound like

    Ronnie of the Raygun
    Dick of the Cheney
    A Bush League President

    we have got to get more women and brown folk into the Congress, into the State Lege, into the local city / county / school gov'ts -- but first we have to recognize and respect that under our Constitution they have exactly the same rights (not to mention responsibilities) as  ... (name your male GOP celeb here).

    Yes: we are past arguing whether we should be marching in the streets, writing letters or petitions or sitting in offices. Help is not on the way, and we need to admit that.

    So long as Faux Noise has free satellites, the rest of the nonwhitemalewasps are endangered.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 09:39:22 AM PST

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, LilithGardener

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 10:00:53 AM PST

  •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If there is going to be a free for all legislation about guns minorities need to get armed. And do open carry when possible.

    I 've been proposing creating a non profit that gives away guns, does permit paperwork an then offers to young armed minorities free rides to any suburban mall, park, town hall, church or bar.

    Of course these have to be a big scale movement because if not they will suffer the same type of state terrorism and targeted assassinations the Black Panthers suffered.

    •  You may find this interesting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Colin Noir

      Actively recruited by the NRA as a commentator and part of an ongoing effort by the NRA to recruit more minority members and have a moee diverse public face.

      •  ... AND good marketing! (0+ / 0-)

        Let a thousand inherently dangerous instruments bloom!

        2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 12:03:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We know (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TRPChicago, DavidMS

          There are many AA firearms enthusiasts. I see them at the gun shop, I see them at the range, I see their videos on youtube. It's a legitimate effort to counter the (incorrect) stereotype of the typical gun owner as a middle aged white guy. There are plenty of us as well, but we aren't the whole story.

          •  Point well taken! (0+ / 0-)

            I don't think guns - as such - are a racial thing, nor should they be. It's the proliferation that concerns me, not the owner or the carrier.

            But then, I've led a pretty protected and somewhat privileged life. And I now live in a safe part of an urban area. I know I have views about guns and race that others from elsewhere don't have or for reasons such as personal experience, just can't entertain. Heckuva world we live in, isn't it!

            2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

            by TRPChicago on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 12:17:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  ^^^ So (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FrankRose, Neo Control, DavidMS

      To answer your point, most gun people are THRILLED (I know I am) when we encounter African Americans who are gun enthusiasts and interested in gun rights. The sight of large numbers of African Americans (legally) exercising their 2nd amendment rights would practically send me into paroxysms of joy because while we know we are a very diverse group we have been stereotyped as other than that.

      •  You live in suburbs? (0+ / 0-)

        Cause I think they don;t share your view there

        •  I have (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Iberian, DavidMS

          Finally decided that it was the worst of all worlds. Or my exact quote was:

          "If I'm going to live this far away from everything I want to be able to shoot guns in my backyard."

          It's anecdotal. I am only talking about the gun enthusiasts I know, who are mostly liberal democrats with a few libertarians mixed in.

          You will note my link above though as one one of the rising stars in the "gun world" is an AA man. We know there are plenty of people in the AA community who agree with us on guns. We want them to be more public about that.

          Are there racists in the gun community? You bet there are. There are racists in every community. That doesn't necessarily define who or what that community is.

  •  Screwed either way. (8+ / 0-)

    As noted on the Daily Show last night, when blacks invoke SYG laws against whites, they are successful 1% of the time.

    So I guess maybe if you're faster on the draw, you can stay alive, but then you'll end up thrown in jail for decades, maybe even on death row, depending on the state.

    I don't see a way to win as long as SYG laws are still on the books.

  •  Just keep in mind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "An armed society is a polite society"


    •  if everyone's scared to death all the time (0+ / 0-)

      I can imagine a society with no laws because freedom, but where people (mostly men) go berserk with wounded honor and kill each other over protocol.

      Give me a society of law-abiding jerkasses any day; I don't have to worry about them even if I don't like them.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 11:48:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  so. a young (19 yr old) black friend of mine (6+ / 0-)

    posted this on fb yesterday.

    I'm starting to get to the point where, if a Older White Man approaches me, He dies automatically. I'll just say I thought he was going to think I had a Gun and shoot me, so I killed him.
    did i chastise him?  did I balk?  did I flinch?  NO.

    I shared it.

    so... (shrugs)

    my only comment on this (besides what I'm saying now) was also on fb a few days ago:

    f I talk about Jordan Davis, the trial, his murderer, or any aspect of the case, it will lapse from reasoned discourse into rant very quickly. my attacks will be scattershot. feelings will be hurt. fair warning.

    This comment is dedicated to my mellow Adept2U and his Uncle Marcus

    by mallyroyal on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 11:05:48 AM PST

  •  The economy of Florida would collapse if the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    3.5 million African Americans left. They should. It would be transformative.

    •  Depending on their circumstances (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      they might not be able to afford to move.  (Remember, before Hurricane Katrina hit, many low-income minorities could not even afford to leave town for a few days.  It takes money to move.)

      Also consider that when a situation is bad but one cannot escape it, one begins to psychologically support the situation.  Makes poverty rather insidious as an institution.

  •  I'm starting to wonder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if the stand your ground laws with the white ones getting freed is an attempt to get people to take arms against the white protect myself ones?

    It would be great to see all the young folks boycott FLand any other stand your ground states when they do that big get together once a year. Is it called Spring break?

    Boy I could sure support them on that! There does need to be an uprising but not with voilence, as I suspect that is what these rethugs are wanting to happen... I don't know why though?

    Another Civil war type thing? It's just too weird to me.

    I hope the young folks will uprise and not take their money to FL this year, in protest LOUDLY Announcing it and Why!

  •  Could be counterproductive. (0+ / 0-)

    Blacks load up on guns, become gun nuts, see Democrats push for gun control so they vote Republican

  •  Okay, much of this proves what I said 50 years ago (0+ / 0-)

    that few folk in the U S of A believe in individualism, dont, never did, save for the self dictum, "I believe in individualism for myself, and maybe, yes, my group of individuals, my cousin Larry, perhaps, yes, the guise of white... Yeah?"

    Few white men believe in individualism, except some believe it for white folk, few even extend that concept to white women, if they behave.

    Niggers never considered individuals. Sometimes considered Black community, but never community of individuals.

    I don't know Jesse Jackson - though he's my frat brother - and never elected him to speak for me, and I feel insulted when he's asked to denounce black individuals who have bad habits, criminal habits, and destructive habits.

    I belong to a group of individuals who have traveled time together, more or less, most of my lifetime and theirs, more or less, and we call ourselves friends.  We do still say, many of us, White and Black, sometimes Brown and Red, less often Yellow, to limn individuals in this society. That's wrong.

    My son says use of Black and White folk is racist. Black and white are not descriptions. Anyone who says so is racist and stupid. Thank Is that my son more advanced in humane than I am.

    My friends, we believe each an individual.  I, one, cannot remain friends easily with folk who easily have a strict racial taxonomy.

    I believe that folk who believe we are easily designated as members of groups can easily kill members in some groups, whether theirs or some other.

    I don't believe individuals can easily kill; they know that if you kill an individual you kill a whole world, a unique world.

    I hope this isn't just my fancy.

  •  Point of info - that's not prisoner's dilemma (0+ / 0-)

    There are other points in this diary I disagree with, but to start, you have not described the prisoner's dilemma game at all.

    PD is not about how adversaries behave.  It's about how people "on the same side" behave and fail to cooperate. Therefore "Economists have" NOT "used it to model how buyers and sellers behave in the market."

    Generally, the most common application is to understand how people or entities who own property together manage or fail to manage it -- village members trying to manage a common pasture, fishermen who have management responsibilities for a fishery, and so on.  

    The basic game is to imagine two prisoners of the police interrogators to have committed or may have committed a crime. They are interrogated separately.  By manipulating the penalties for confessing and implicating the prisoner's co-conspirator, it is possible to get surprising results, including the very strong likelihood of "ratting out" one's partner, a confession, or even a false confession.

    As for the larger issue -- no black men should not take up arms against vigilantes and I would have thought that the reasons would be obvious.

    •  again, you are incorrect on pd and other matters (0+ / 0-)

      PD has been used to look at behavior w. buyers and sellers in the stock market, collusion and oligopolies w. business, etc. etc. etc.

      PD is very fitting here as you to have 2 parties that should "cooperate" i.e. not kill each other, keep walking, or maybe even coordinate to some other end. But given this is a 1 iteration PD there is a judgement that is to be made. Moreover, if we think of these encounters across multiple cases and where one would learn about other results, i.e. black folks learning that white people are killing them, then it may make great sense to preempt in the 1 iteration or tit for tat if this is part of a bigger multiple iteration game.

      Not complicated. You are a troll and contrarian but I did not want others to be misled by you.

      •  Disagreeing with a factually incorrect diary (0+ / 0-)

        is not trolling or being contrarian -- although I've discovered that there are certain DKers who believe they possess some sort of papal infallibility and that anyone who disagrees with them must, to their minds, be a troll.

        Prisoner's dilemma involves parties who share something in common. It is about counter-intuitive outcomes -- where we would assume they should cooperate, instead they "defect" and don't cooperate, destroying or degrading the asset that they share (membership in the gang, shared pasture, shared oligopoly).  Even a cursory look at Wiki explains that:

        The prisoner's dilemma (or prisoners' dilemma) is a canonical example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so.

            Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned.

        So, while your example of two parties in an oligopoly or engaging in business collusion is covered by PD, buyers and sellers meeting randomly in the stock market is not, nor are random encounters between white men and black men on the street who are strangers to each other and who do not possess a shared asset.

        The main point of PD is to show the difference between "individual and group" logic -- while the group would benefit from cooperation, the individual would not, even to the point that the person pursuing individual self interest is worse off than he would be cooperating:

        A common view is that the puzzle illustrates a conflict between individual and group rationality. A group whose members pursue rational self-interest may all end up worse off than a group whose members act contrary to rational self-interest.

        If you wanted to apply PD to "stand your ground," it would have to involve a group with shared interests -- perhaps whether an agreement among white men not to shoot would hold or whether members would defect. It makes little sense to apply it to strangers meeting on the street.

        Also, black men shooting preemptively (1) isn't self defense and (2) carries such enormous risk of criminal prosecution in a racially discriminatory criminal justice system that is unlikely to recognize the SYG defense, that it could hardly be considered to be in the shooter's "rational self interest."  

        Sorry, but the "logic" of this diary falls apart on so many levels, including the misapplication of prisoner's dilemma.

        •  you are a consistent contrarian (0+ / 0-)

          which qualifies you as a troll in my experience w. your comments here and on my other posts.

          a basic search on web of knowledge, jstor, etc. reveals many uses of PD. it can be used to model the situation I have described where cooperation is survival, not fighting, going to war, etc. etc.

          there is a shared interest here--not killing each other. now we can discuss that point if you like given how maybe one of the agents, zimmerman, dunn, etc. actually wants to kill someone.

          as to your point about "self-defense", if there is an environment where you know that the other person is likely to shoot first, then yes why not preempt or play a version of tit for tat? if the criminal justice system is so broken--which it clearly is--there may come a time when self-defense and preemption trumps taking the chance of getting shot and then the murderer walking.

          this is the environment that syg creates with white vigilantism.

  •  John Carlos and Tommie Smith (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe it is just due to the Winter Olympics being on but I have been thinking of these two heroes frequently as of late.

    I have been wondering what effect it might have if LeBron James and Dwayne Wade stood at mid court during the National Anthem as did those two Olympians did and then sat out one game in protest.

    Anyway, it is just a thought. It is certainly easy for me to suggest. I guess I am just looking for a defining moment that might change the course of where we are headed, as the never ending quote"Justifiable" murders do not seem anywhere near there end.

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