Obviously I haven’t felt like writing all that much lately. That having been said, I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, and discussing something reasonably current seems a good place to start.
The George Zimmerman trial is underway.
I’d been waiting for this, to be honest. The whole situation seems fit to provide fertile ground for conversations on a number of important topics, ranging from gun control, to racism, to the role of an informed citizenry in the prevention of crimes.
For the purposes of this post, however, I’m going to limit the discussion to one particular aspect of that night’s tragic events.
It’s an accusation that’s been a fairly common thread throughout the rhetoric of those calling for the head of George Zimmerman, specifically that if he’s stayed in his car, nothing would have happened. The police would have arrived (presumably after Trayvon Martin made it home), investigations might have been conducted, but either way Martin would still be alive and Zimmerman wouldn’t be looking at life in prison.
It’s often reinforced by the erroneous statement that the 911 operator told Zimmerman to stay in the car; in fact, he simply stated that they (the police) did not need Zimmerman to follow the suspect. It’s a vaguely worded statement at best, made for Zimmerman’s safety, yet sufficiently vague so as not to expose the operator to any form of liability.
Mealy-mouthed, in essence.
Regardless, the argument here is that Zimmerman sought a confrontation, and that in so doing forfeited his right to be protected by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute.
My response to that argument is fairly simple.
Leaving aside the dizzying array of speculation and statements regarding the specific events of what happened between the time that the 911 call ended and the screaming started, the fundamental situation can be distilled into a simple example:
A concerned citizen, intervening to prevent the commission of a crime.
Had he come across a man murdering his wife and intervened, would he have forfeited the protection of the law by doing so? How about a parent beating their child? What about a woman smashing up her husband’s car? Or a teenager out tagging houses for laughs?
At what point do we say that a crime is sufficiently trivial?
My answer is: We don’t.
The particulars of the event might alter the circumstances, of course, but we cannot immediately declare someone outside the law simply because they got out of their car.