Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Martin Case and “Stand Your Ground”

UPDATED April 14, 2012

It is mystifying why Florida’s “stand your ground” law is even discussed in the context of Trayvon Martin’s fatal shooting by George Zimmerman on February 26. The law bears no relation whatever to the case. It says simply that a law-abiding person who is attacked “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.”

Where’s the connection to this case? According to his own 9-1-1 call, Zimmerman says he pursued the unarmed 17-year-old Martin before shooting him dead.  Zimmerman was not standing his ground.

And he uttered a racial slur (“fucking coon”) in reference to Martin, who was black, while following him and still on the 9-1-1 call. Why he is not under suspicion of murder by the authorities is curious to say the least.

[UPDATE: A prosecutor's affidavit filed after Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder states that Zimmerman said "these f------ punks" in his 911 call rather than the racial slur that had been reported earlier and that I heard in an enhanced recording played on television. However, the Associated Press reported: "In yet another passage in the affidavit that caught the attention of those watching the racially charged case, prosecutors said Zimmerman 'profiled' Martin just before the shooting. The document did not elaborate, and a spokeswoman for special prosecutor Angela Corey on Friday refused to explain it."]

As Roderick Long points out, some cable television pundits can’t make up their minds whether the killing was consistent with a law they don’t like or unlawful, which would enable them to condemn the authorities for letting Zimmerman remain at liberty.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it possible that the law should not apply here, but was none the less was applied (incorrectly) by the police department.

Anonymous said...

"It is mystifying why Florida’s “stand your ground” law is even discussed in the context of Trayvon Martin’s fatal shooting by George Zimmerman on February 26. The law bears no relation whatever to the case."

"Stand your ground" seems applicable here, according to my understanding of the law. Martin stood his ground when he was pursued and attacked by a stranger in the night.

Sheldon Richman said...

Could be. But of course he was not the shooter, so the law would not apply.

Brian said...

It applies because the "stand your ground" law makes it much easier to plead self-defense and more difficult to sort out the injuries. The stand-your-ground law is in question because, in some states, your first obligation is to RETREAT from the threat, not to "meet force with force." This is not because self-defense is considered a bad thing in itself, but because violent cases are far more difficult to investigate when a more "generous" definition of self-defense is applied AND the victim is NOT obliged to get away from the perpetrator. It applies to the Martin murder precisely because it's ridiculously easy to escape prosecution by pleading self-defense under stand-your-ground standards. If he is not under suspicion of murder, it is because, with a self-defense plea, the state is obliged to prove that it was NOT self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anonymous said...

Hi there Sheldon,

My name is Luke Mullins and I am a senior writer with Washingtonian Magazine here in Washington, D.C. I hope this message finds you well.

Say, I'm working on a story about the current shareholder dispute between the Kochs and Cato's management. The story is a profile of Cato through the lens of this controversy, exploring the institute's establishment, history, culture, as well as the key figures behind its ascent.

If you had some time over the next couple of days, I would love to get your thoughts on Cato's management, the institute's role in the national public policy debate, as well as some background on Libertarian thought (as I am new to the area.)

I'm sure you are real busy, but I promise I wouldn't take up much of your time and I would really appreciate your perspective. If you had some time to chat, could you please pass along to me the best time and number to reach you? You can reach me at lmullins@washingtonian.com or 202-258-8603 (cell). Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you. Luke