Heather White

Life Story Recorder, Family Echoes


This conversation is closed.

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law is unconstitutional and thus illegal

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

To protect the right to venture out of your home (liberty) to purchase sweets for your kid brother (pursuit of happiness) and to expect to return home alive (life).


This is not a debate about US Gun Law in general.

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    Mar 24 2012: Heather,

    Your conversation strikes a chord after discussing "Stand Your Ground" with a police officer today.

    What so few American's are getting is the difference between police determining when to use deadly force and gun-toting citizens deciding when to shoot.

    Cops are professionally TRAINED over and over again on when to pull their weapon and how NOT to. Citizens are NOT trained as professional protectors. Except that one gun-safety video shown at the local bar, sponsored by NRA.

    Can cops make mistakes? Yes. But so can doctors. Does anyone do surgery on themselves? Not so much.

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      Mar 24 2012: Yes, I think the "Zimmerman is a racist" issue is only part of the story - he was acting as a vigilante. His comments, recorded by the police 911 operator "They’re always getting away with it" could be construed as his feelings about young people, males, hoodies, or black people - or young, black men who ware hoodies. In all probability he is racist - racism is not exclusive to the white population - there is no racist gene.

      The really disappointing issue is that the police didn't arrest Zimmerman immediately after the shooting. If the police had undertaken the shooting there would have been an automatic independent investigation (surely - in the US?). The police are the professional law enforces and protectors of the public. It was their duty to discover the facts of the case and act accordingly. We all expect the highest standards of police officers - where ever in the world - if they lose the public’s trust and confidence then society is doomed to a downward spiral of more vigilantes - blinded by their own world views and prejudices. Unfortunately, the police officers concerned appear to have accepted the SYG law as an automatic defence against arrest - which is why I suggested it is unconstitutional and thus illegal.

      On January 3rd 2012 the UK court convicted two killers of a young black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered by a gang of white youths chanting racist slogans. The murder took place on the evening of April 22nd 1983! Thankfully, the case would not go away and was subject to a Public Enquiry in 1988 the conclusion of which heralded the Metropolitan Police Service as being institutionally racist and the reason why the case was not conducted properly or efficiently. Further the Crown Prosecution Service was found to have been affected by issues of race. So, the parallels are clear. The US MUST ACT TO UPHOLD THE LAW FOR ALL PEOPLE - be they US citizens or visitors.
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      Mar 24 2012: this is a very dangerous thinking. people for long have chosen to specialize. we don't bake our own bread, we don't make our own clothing, we don't do surgery ourselves. this is because we think others can do a better job. so we better stick to what we do, and pay for others to do the rest. but it is our choice. i can decide that the bread in the shopping mall is not good for me. i can (and in fact i do) bake my own bread. overall, it is more expensive. but it is my choice. if the supermarket wants my money, they have to come up with better breads.

      but it is different in the gun control / SYG case. in this case, we are not talking about people giving up their self defense, and hire someone better to do it. but rather, we discuss that it must be forbidden not to do so. the police does not work hard to provide the services i need. the service provider does not try to convince me. they try to make their services mandatory. and this is not right.

      how would you like if there were a law that you can't bake your own bread? you can't tinker in your garage. only professionals are allowed to do so. i don't think that is a good idea.

      you want people not having guns? provide them with a safe environment, so they don't want it.
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        Mar 24 2012: Krisztian --

        The bread baking corollary is quite weak.

        For example. The National Rifle Association, the group which has pushed for conceal and carry, Stand Your Ground, etc. is now lobbying the US Congress for the "Right" to bring concealed handguns into school buses and daycare centers.

        There have not been assaults on people walking into daycare centers or school buses, so the self-defense argument is a red herring in these cases. I'd say others, as well. But I want to address your talking point here.

        Getting back to your bread-baking argument. If there were an ingredient in bread that was known to kill when accidentally mishandled. And if handling the ingredient was so dangerous that training was required to handle it. I would expect my government to prohibit its use except by trained professionals.

        If its proliferation was creating more havoc in spite of governments efforts to stop its use, I wouldn't prefer that untrained professionals use it anyway. I would push for greater efforts to support and hold professional to better training, higher standards, more of them and fewer opportunities for citizens to access the deadly ingredient.

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          Mar 24 2012: i don't think that being dangerous makes too much of a difference. we don't make car driving a profession either. maybe this is a better example then. let gun ownership require a license. but let this license acquirable to anyone, as commonly as a driving license. but any more control is unjustified.
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          Mar 24 2012: Actually most states in the U.S. require a permit a to carry hand gun but not all require a person to register the a gun.

          While I agree with Andrea that I'd rather have professional people with standards carrying a gun and make judgement calls ,but I also think that if a person is in a dangerous area with a high crime rate and tons of unsolved cases; should be able to carry weapon if its registered and permitted.
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        Mar 24 2012: The fact that in both the Martin and Lawrence murder cases the police failed to act properly (conjecture, so far, in Martin case) is not an adequate case for the public at large to become vigilantes - or to carry guns as a matter of course in the expectation of Standing Your Ground. A free-for-all regarding the use of guns / lethal weapons would descend the US into a wild west hell. It is essential the police regain the trust and respect of the public. Understanding failings and establishing corrective measures is the only way forward. The finding of the Public Enquiry which found The Met to be institutionally racist was a bitter pill for the service to swallow - but swallow it they had too.

        The interpretation / understanding of the SYG law by police and prosecutors is an important factor in this case, which I understand is now going to be investigated.

        It is also important to understand how the SYG law is commonly understood by the population at large. Laws can be widely misunderstood, for example, in the UK, legislation was passed in 2000 that gave the public a right to access specific parts of the British countryside - mountain, moorland, heathland and downland - each category being legally defined, identified and mapped. However, the law became known in common terms as the “Right to Roam” - implying that the public could roam at will anywhere they wanted. Not the case at all! Did Zimmerman believe that the SYG law gave him greater powers when he was acting as a local vigilante? Did he interpret his patrol patch as being the same as his home ground?
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        Mar 24 2012: You miss the point Krisztian. The intention of a person driving a car is to get from A to B. The intention of someone who purchases a handgun, is at some time, in a set of special circumstances to shoot another person, possibly to death. Its this saturation of violent intent that makes a violent society. The level of violence increases in tandem with the degree of handgun ownership, criminal or non criminal. Thinking that guns can reduce crime or violence in society is like suggesting that alcohol can fuel abstinence.
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          Mar 24 2012: first: the goal of a weapon can be to to deter, not to kill.

          second: shooting someone is not necessarily violent intent. can be defense.

          and yet again, you try to skip the convince part, and you try to force your ethics and views on other people. if you believe a gun-less society is better, try to teach it to people. how would you like the following scenario? from now on, advocating strict gun control is forbidden. anyone attempting that is punishable by two years in jail. does that sound a good idea to you?
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          Mar 25 2012: Ken,

          There are only two reasons I can think anyone would lobby for concealed weapons to be brought into daycare centers and buses by citizens. Neither involve self defense. Both involve self-interests.

          1. Mass coercion and/or indoctrination
          2. To sell guns

          I've been wondering why people proudly associate themselves as "members" of such groups. I'd imagine again, two reasons:

          1. They've been indoctrinated and/or coerced and are afraid of the lobbying group.
          2. They have an anti-social personality.

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          Mar 25 2012: Krisztian, I note you're Hungarian - a country with strong gun control. American's are living daily with the knowledge that many citizens carry or have access to guns. Yes, a gun is an inanimate object, but its form and purpose is to inflict fear, wounding or death. The mindset of the person behind the trigger, be they criminally minded, a potential victim, or a vigilante is rarely in a rational state when in the act of pointing a gun at someone or using it - either they are fearful, angry or in shock. Thus, does providing a Stand Your Ground law conflict with the US constitution for life and liberty...? I'm using the current case because it should crystallize thought about this potential contradiction.
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          Mar 25 2012: Heather,

          Your thoughts remind me of something I wrote about guns, emotions and social contagious which serve as triggers:


          And this from today's NY Times Magazine:


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          Mar 25 2012: Krisztian --

          Again, your hamburger correlation is weak.

          If I eat a hamburger and it gives me a heart attack, that is one thing. But my eating a hamburger cannot be reasoned away as "self-defense" if it gives you a heart attack. And, I'm not likely to eat a hamburger to protect myself from violence.

          And, I'm well aware that social behaviors are what incite trigger-pulling.

          With that in mind:

          Would you address the reason gun owners should have more freedom to carry a loaded gun into a daycare center and school bus than children in those places and all in relation to those children should have?

          And, related to that: what messages are children being taught when they see adults brandishing guns in places where there is no threat of violence?

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          Mar 25 2012: andrea, it is worrisome on a level that you disregard my arguments.

          first, it is the second time you come up with the "hamburger only hurts yourself" response, which i don't think is relevant. but i gave you the other example of cars. so you are free to substitute the car example for the hamburger example, and go with it. but no.

          second, you again disregard that owning a gun does not imply using it. the fact that i have a gun does not violate the rights of anyone.

          btw having a gun in buses has a very obvious benefit: if i want to leave home and get to point B, where i would like to have a gun with me, i can't do that without having the gun with me all the way there. what other reason do i need?
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          Mar 25 2012: Jaime --

          How, then, does a society remove fear?

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          Mar 25 2012: Krizstian,

          It is worrisome that you dodge my Qs with diversionary tactics. And/or don't read my responses before responding. I addressed both your car and your burger arguments in my responses.

          Again, my Q is:

          Why would someone need to bring a gun into a daycare center or a school bus? And/or why would someone need to transport guns through a daycare center and school bus?

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          Mar 25 2012: andrea, you are the one trying to derail the conversation. why the guy wants a gun in daycare center? because he likes the smell of it. the touch of it. or he is simply a weirdo. who cares? it is not the point at all.

          and to make the case even worse, i already gave you a reason why do i want a gun on the bus. but you asked one more time. are we going anywhere with this?
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          Mar 27 2012: Krisztian--

          I, for one, care if, as you say "a weirdo" whose only justification for bringing a gun into a daycare center is that he "likes the smell of it."

          And, no, you did not answer why anyone needs a gun on a school bus. You only answered why you want to carry one onto a bus.

          And, no, I don't perceive that you and I are going anywhere with this.

          Then again, I can only speak for myself. I have no idea what your motives regards where this is going are.

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        Mar 24 2012: Krisztian,

        Your liberty to self-protection does not cancel my liberty to not be shot.

        Now, were I a gun-owner (which I'm not) and a gun advocate (which I'm not) and were I holding a handgun (which I wouldn't) to your head (which I'd never do) and coercing you to agree with my ethics (not my style), then one might conclude I was forcing my beliefs on you. But, I'm not.

        Conversely, if a hunter or a gun-retailer (neither of which I am) was lobbying a politician or political group that needed the hunters vote told the politician they would not get their financial support or their votes unless he passed legislation that allows people to carry a concealed pistol into, say daycare centers and school buses, one could conclude that the hunter and gun-sellers were forcing their ethics on the politician and citizens he represents.

        More ominous are potential outcomes, like :

        If a child is killed at a daycare center by someone who believes they need to defend themselves in one, I'd say others ethics are being forced, in deadly fashion, on the child, other children who witnessed the killing, teachers, parents, his community and, perhaps, it's entire society.

        All for the right to "self defense" in places where biggest threat is poop and boogers. Really? Really.

        Regards your argument that driving and handgun ownership qualifying as equally correlated rights. I'd again disagree. Though, agreed: it is far better than the bread-making = gun toting argument.

        Driving is not a liberty that permits people to use a deadly weapon in what they alone judge as self-defense. If driver's decided to defend themselves by driving their car into another person and killing them, imagine the causalities of road-rage.

        Imagine the defenses: "He cut me off! Didn't even bother to stop! Could have killed me! In fact, I think he did try to kill me! So, I drove my car into his."

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          Mar 24 2012: Why do you need a gun in a daycare? or even in a school bus? that's the most silliest thing i've ever heard of,are they actually lobbying for this?
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          Mar 25 2012: "Your liberty to self-protection does not cancel my liberty to not be shot."

          your liberty to not be shot (which does not exists, by the way, but skip that part now) does not cancel my right to carry a gun.

          "were I a gun-owner [...] one might conclude I was forcing my beliefs on you"

          surely. but also if you had a knife. also if you asked another guy to put a gun at my head. also if you appointed an organization called "state" to do so. and you want that latter. your example of a gun-nut lobbying is exactly the same. the government should not have the power to control gun ownership. lobbying is nothing else then trying to be friends with the bully.

          "More ominous are potential outcomes"

          potential outcomes does not validate gun control. similarly, potential outcome (heart attack) does not validate hamburger control. the law should not be preemptive. especially not in such invasive and pervasive way.

          i believe you escape in that thought. you don't want to see that not the guns, but something else cause such irresponsible, aggressive and unbelievably inhumane actions like shooting a kid on the street or such. you want to blame these things on guns. it might ease the mind, and give us a focus. but this is not a good, and not a responsible way of dealing with things.
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          Mar 25 2012: Andrea...the same as usual from old times....FEAR, FEAR AND FEAR.

          When fear appear, weapons appear....Then the equation is clear...stop fear.

          Fear is human . The "legal or not legal" issue is another thing.
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          Mar 25 2012: I think the question is does a persons right takes carry away form a persons right to feel safe in their environment?
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        Mar 25 2012: Krisztian. where are your reply buttons?....yet again you did not reply to my point. Or are you saying that the saturation of violent intent which I argue breeds violence, is an acceptable price you are prepared to pay in order to fulfill your concept of 'freedom' ( a simple yes or no answer will suffice).
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          Mar 25 2012: my answer is: i don't know, because i don't understand the question. please simplify this sentence for me:

          "the saturation of violent intent which I argue breeds violence, is an acceptable price you are prepared to pay in order to fulfill your concept of 'freedom' "
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      Mar 25 2012: Also we have to review the Maquiavelo "Prince" to see and read clearly about fear and love. The point is how a "democratic governement" (this is a cultural cheat and a political hoax) justify the perversity with words.

      In the Reinassance, Italy suffer the worst time in bloody crimes in all his history. More, much more than today, but also was an enlightment era for all the world. The contrast is just an example. An oximoron if you want. Any "law" is no more than a joke. The fair men doesnt need laws.
  • Mar 26 2012: Let's say I wanted to kill someone in Florida; a business rival, a rival gang member, or just someone of a race or culture I didn't like. I don't, of course, but let's say I did. My understanding is that under Florida's SYG law, all I would need to do is buy a gun (you can get them in hardware stores in Florida), wait until the person was alone in a place where there would be no witnesses, shoot them, and claim that I felt threatened and acted in self defense. Apparently, I could even chase them down first, and still not be arrested. Is this really OK with everyone? Does it make it more or less safe to walk the streets?This is a very bad law, and an embarrassment to Florida and the country as a whole. Combine wide open access to handguns, racial and economic tensions, and the right to shoot first and ask questions later, and the Travon case is the kind of travesty you end up with. I think that every sitting politician and candidate for office should be called on to state their position on this irresponsible, knee-jerk, anarchistic law. The constitution grants us the right to own a gun and to be secure (from Government) in our homes and possessions, not the right to kill anytime and anyplace.
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      Mar 29 2012: Thanks for your contribution Bill. I hope Trayvon's death leads to a proper public debate on SYG. I'm not against self defence or defending the life of another person, but, for a law to provide a legal defence for murder makes the legal system an ass. All killings should be investigated as though a prosecution was going to be made. If the evidence is that a person was acting in self defence - then by all means provide this evidence in court and allow a judge to direct a jury to acquit. If the evidence is not strong enough then justice will prevail.
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    Mar 26 2012: Although you stated that this is not a debate about US gun control ... it immediately became just that. You accurately quote the preamble of the Declaration of Independence and we as citizens are due those entitlements. However, there are those among us who who violate the rights given by God, Nature, and Man. When injustice occurs the prevailing authorities must take offence and isolate those offenders from the public for the common good. The Stand Your Ground law has been in effect in Flordia and until now has not been challenged. It is the claim of the shooter that he was in danger and protected himself. It is the claim of the parents that the danger did not exist. As is the case in many events emotions run high and facts become blurred. Investigations will occur and hopefully justice will prevail. Some will claim that justice did not occur and some will say it did regardless of the findings. As in many events the race card is the primary player and the law is the enemy. People like Jessy Jackson have become part of the problem and are seldom part of the solution. Your statement is that the SYG law IS unconstitutional . I would have supported your question of IS the SYG law Constitutional. I view the question as emotional and not fact seeking. In England I believe that there is a Subjurist Law that prohibits discussion in the press or statement of public opinion until investigations are made and charges perferred. Hope I got that right. I think that is wise and maybe we in the US should consider something of that nature. It would prevent people like Mr Jackson from fanning the fires of racial hate.
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      Mar 29 2012: Hi Robert, You are correct about Sub Judice. Under UK law the sub judice rule regulates the publication of matters which are under consideration by the court. Matters are considered to be sub judice (Latin for 'under judgment') once legal proceedings become active. Criminal proceedings are deemed active once a person is arrested, a warrant for arrest has been issued, a summons has been issued or a person has been charged and remain active until conviction. This law is meant to protect a person on trial from a jury that may have been subject to prejudicial information gained from outside the court. In the Trayvon case, no legal action was being considered - Zimmerman had not been arrested or charged and so trial by public media was perhaps the only way for Trayvon’s family to get justice.

      Your concerns about the debate question: When starting a debate a question is posed from a specific stand point - others are then invited to challenge this position by giving rational reasons why it is not accurate or why the opposite point of view is valid. That is what a debate is. For example, which of the following two statements would most easily generate a debate:

      a) Global warming is a proven fact...discuss.... or
      b) Some say global warming is a proven fact, others disagree... discuss

      I would vote for a) since phrasing a question from one point of view encourages people of the opposing view point to respond.

      Using a current live topic creates a focus to the debate - one in which has unfolded across the world's media. I initially only alluded to the Trayvon case expecting people to do their own research, but some early contributors needed more input. I gave the facts as reported in the UK and on WWW news sites, adding my own points of view and questions as circumstances changed. The rest is up to TEDsters.

      Personally I feel the debate was hijacked by the gun issue. It's not ended up as a debate (either rational or passionate) about SYG. I hope the US has a debate.
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        Mar 30 2012: I agree that the debate was hijacked by the gun issue. How to frame a question is a choice that could be debated. The shooting has spun out of control. The parents and supporters are not seking justice they want the shooter arrested and convicted for murder not investigated. The black militants have put a bounty on the shooters head. Since this is an election year the politicians are lining up for votes and making arrangements for congressional panel to listen to the parents in a committee meeting. Gun groups (for and against), hate groups, and in general the uninformed are ready to riot in the streets. A year from now the kids name will not be remembered, the politicians will not remember any promises made, and a new issue will be causing a major issue in the streets. The citizens of the US have become sheeple and follow almost any lead and believe most lies especially if it contains the words FREE or how the rich are to blame for everything. President Obama's Chief of Staff Rhom Emanual said, "never let a good tragedy go to waste". He would spin it and use it for political gain. He cared nothing for people. It would be nice if someone like Mr Jessy Jackson would show up and say let us all be calm and let the police investigate and then seek legal recourse if necessary. Not to show up and stoke the fire. To be fair the media is also to blame for getting people fired up and in arms. The group who openly put up a ransom for the death of the shooter should be arrested as that is also illegal, but no action has been taken on that either. Hay it has been great talking to you and thanks for your response. All the best. Bob
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          Mar 30 2012: Hi Robert, I feel your exasperation!

          Taking legal action against Zimmerman is now highly impractical for the reason of sub judice. No court would be able to find a jury unbiased by the media debate. I now understand the police wanted to arrest Zimmerman but were advised not to by the prosercutors - so its a leason learnt for them - sometimes bringing a case to court, even if conviction seems unlikely, is a better choice for justice. Let twelve citizens decide.

          With a bounty on his head I gues Zimmerman wishes he'd been arrested too!

          Point taken about the phrasing of the debate question - I chose the way I was taught in my debate club - but either example would have surficed. I'm new to TED so I guess I'll learn for next time :-)

          Best wishes and I hope to debate with you on TED again.
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    Mar 26 2012: Weapons are not just guns......pollution, poisons in a river, wastelands, garbich, and a lot of rethorics....how many died from this weapons every day?....violence have many masks.
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      Mar 26 2012: neither pollution nor landfills nor rhetorics are weapons.
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        Mar 27 2012: Krisztian--

        Try telling people killed in ethnic cleansing and hate crimes that rhetorics aren't weapons.

        O.K., well, yeah, I know you can't, because they are dead. Because someone started a "rumor" or even a truth that catalyzed others to kill them....

        I'm beginning to wonder if you're a little to over-identified with your contrarianism.

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          Mar 27 2012: Andrea the 99 percent of the weapons that cames in Mexico buyed by druglords are from US.
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          Mar 27 2012: metaphors are very dangerous in the hands of a manipulator. it always starts with a metaphor uttered as a metaphor. but once it made its way to public acceptance, they start to use it literally. we first just use the word "war on drugs" as motivational phrase to indicate our great effort. but soon, we start to use real wartime measures. first we say words are weapons, just to illustrate their power. but then, we start to control words as we control actual aggressive behavior. and soon, we start to read 1984 as a users manual rather than a piece of fiction.

          i refuse to go that way. i reject the metaphor right away. rhetoric is *not* weapon. words don't hurt. words don't injure. words don't kill. never in the history ethnic cleansing was carried out using words. nor theories. nor propaganda. ethnic cleansing is done by actual weapons. and actual people are wielding them.
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        Mar 28 2012: Krisztian --

        While you refuse to accept that words and rhetoric aren't weapons, others who deal on a daily basis with these things in their profession would disagree:

        A 2009 warning by the US Department of Homeland Security cited the “charged economic and political climate” as “fueling a resurgence of Rightwing radicalization and recruitment.” It outlined how groups were “broaden(ing) their scope and appeal through propaganda (…) across the country.

        And this from longtime head of FBI, Robert Mueller, who has worked for bipartisan presidents, investigating everything from Muslim extremism and 9/11 to the home-grown terrorism of the Oklahoma City bombing, to now this Florida case.

        ""(H)ate speech and other inciteful (sic) speech,” and the proliferation of it on the internet “absolutely presents a challenge to us (FBI) particularly as it relates to lone wolfs."

        He made these comments after a "lone wolf" killed a little girl, a grandmother, a federal judge and others in Arizona, where hate crimes have skyrocketed due to the reasons Homeland Security cites, above, in the last few years. The killer was trying to assassinate senator Gabby Giffords, a progressive leader whose work triggered some significant ire in a largely conservative state. (Though in fact, she was far more bipartisan than the hate-rhetoric conveyed.) She didn't die, but the others did.

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          Mar 28 2012: so you are referring to the US homeland sec as an authority on what constitutes as a weapon and what is not? and surprisingly, they cited cases in which they have failed to provide security to US citizens from attacks carried out with weapons. they say, listen, people, it is not our fault! we need to control weapons, but we also need to control speech, the internet and all. you know, sounds legit. not suspicious at all.
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      Mar 28 2012: Jaime, While I agree with you that weapons are more than just guns - and can be as wide as your examples in different circumstances - in regard of the SYG issue, a weapon is likely to be a gun, knife or heavy object - indeed, anything to hand to use as a weapon (to cause physical damage to another person). To me Stand Your Ground implies more than self defence (which is already a legal defence). To my mind, it's more like an attack based response, going further than self defence - perhaps even into the realm of self imposed justice.
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    Mar 25 2012: Andrea theres some examples in history...

    1. Creta in the Mediterranean Sea, in the the prehomeric ages, keep the peace more than one thousand years.
    2. Michoacan in Mexico in the XVI, stop the fear with tenderness with the Vasco de Quiroga Utopia. He saves from extintion to the purepechan group, from fear to tenderness....trough care, love and labour...productive labour. They both stop the fear but not the presence of the weapons. I think that we need weapons of massive creation.
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    Mar 24 2012: @Eddie Soloman; sorry I could not reply to your comment 'in situ' as they reply option was missing on your comment. Firstly please note; I did not say the law affected anyone else outside of Florida, only that it is a by product of a rising culture of violence.

    Secondly, please take a look at this article for a clear concise explanation regarding the Canadian gun laws and why it has lead to a different climate/ gun culture. http://www.guncite.com/journals/dkcgc.html. Basically the article discusses that heavier restrictions on and the criminalisation of the misuse of certain kinds of guns. This has lead to a change in the kinds of crime committed with those guns, and lessened the impact of rampant gun usage on society.

    In my book, death by gunfire in Canada is still too high, there are also too many guns in Canada. That the presence of guns in any society create/breed violence is self evident, in my opinion.
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      Mar 25 2012: I agree we in the U.S. need tighter gun control and better weapon tracking system, and that the SYG law breeds violence and allows cover up to some degree.
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    Mar 23 2012: You seem to accept violence as a holy rite in your society, to me this represents a sickness, i.e. your society is sick.
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      Mar 23 2012: Joanne, I don't understand your contribution? I'm from the UK having a debate about a US issue of widely reported interest. Google the story and develop your thinking please.
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        Mar 23 2012: My apologies for being strident but we are all capable of having a respectful discussion and given the fact that you really did not provide enough information about the topic at all, I do not think its appropriate to try to point out Joanne's response as ignorance. Instead of resorting to personal attacks, try enlightening Joanne if you do indeed feel that she does not know enough about what your talking about. And being that Joanne is very intelligent, I'm sure you'll be up for a great discussion

        Now in regards to the issue you presented, Two questions:

        How does the murder incident relate to "Stand your Ground"?

        How would such an incident qualify Florida as a violent state? As a person living in the U.S. and have known some people that live in Florida, it has never been deemed to be violent (it has it vices but what place doesn't?) By that logic its like saying, there is lots of crime in Los Angeles and San Francisco, therefore California is a violent state.
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          Mar 23 2012: The Stand your Ground is or at least was being used to justify the shooting of the young boy by the local police and Mr. Zimmerman.
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          Mar 23 2012: This is a TED Debate - not a place for a sweeping statement like "i.e. your society is sick". My response to Joanne was perfectly acceptable and respectful. I am not from the USA simply staring a debate on a US issue that is being widly reported around the world. I asked Joanne for clarification. Personally I do not beleive US society is a sick society - it has problems, like all other societies (parts of the UK especially parts of London have a problem with knife crime) but the fact that this case has caused such a strong response in US society is a positive sign.

          In my clarification statment I ended by asking six questions in support of the debate - it's up to people to challenge or support them without taking them as a personal affront to their sense of being. Debating skills are important - especially in a forum such as TED. A debate is started with a statement - it is then up to people to consider it, research it and support or refute it stating their reasons.

          As regards your question
          How does the murder incident relate to "Stand your Ground"?

          This is the point of this case. The gunman Zimmerman, who admints he shot the boy, has claimed he shot Martin dead in self defence - however the evidence presented in the media indicates he instigated an attack on Martin - thus making a claim under the SYG law irrelivant since this law applies only to people who fight back - even with lethal force - if they are attacked in their own home or in an unprovoken manner when out in public. So you're right - the SYG law has nothing to do with this murder - normal homicide law should be applied. Why hasn't it been? Racism? Poor understadnig of the law? You decide.
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          Mar 24 2012: Orlando,

          The US is rapidly becoming a violent place.

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        Mar 23 2012: Look, I'm just saying that more information could have been mentioned instead of saying:

        "To protect the right to venture out of your home (liberty) to purchase sweets for your kid brother (pursuit of happiness) and to expect to return home alive (life). "

        because there is not much to go on from there. I personally agree that the U.S. is a country that is in favor of violence and I could give you many reasonable arguments for it (but that's a topic for another discussion) and this is not the point of the discussion that I'm trying to make so I'll drop it.

        Now upon doing more research and relating it to what you mentioned about the murder of Trayvon I've attempted to answer your questions.

        Is race a legitimate issue in this case?
        Well it would certainly seem so. From what you say, there is not much evidence to suggest racism but I could see how it plays a role. I do have a question: If the situation was the other way around, would we still be arguing racism?

        Is it disguising a bad law which all too easily excuses excessive force - even lethal force?
        I think the entire second amendment does this. Although I understand the history and rational behind it, it gives a justification for violence but yes.

        Is such a law against the Bill of Rights?
        I would state that it violates the 5th-7th amendment

        Is it disguising bad policing?
        In regards for not arresting Zimmerman, yes.

        Is Florida a violent state where life is of no regard and the police powerless to control communities at war with each other?
        The entire state of Florida, I am not sure but if its is the law to allow such actions, then legally, nothing really went wrong here but we talking about moral/ethical behavior here and morally speaking I think such actions on the part of Zimmerman and the police could be deemed as unethical/immoral depending on what we are focusing on.
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          Mar 23 2012: Interesting point about SYG voltating the 5th and 7th ammendments!
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        Mar 24 2012: Thanks Orlando, for your kind words and it is nice to see you again too. Heather: you are quite right my remark was too glib.

        I wish to point out, that the 'Stand Your Ground Law,' gives too much latitude to the use of deadly force. A society which creates such legislation has therefore enshrined the use of violence among its citizenry in law. Is this constitutional? Orlando has already pointed out a problem with the fifth and seventh amendment, 'No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury'.

        Instead I see this case as a symptom of a greater problem. I see this law and the subsequent injustice which has arisen out of it, as a typical side affect to the social systemic violence that continues to rise in the U.S. One in four ordinary households are reputed to contain handguns, Among juveniles serving in correctional facilities, 86% owned a gun at some point, with 66% acquiring their first gun by age 14 .From Wiki; There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000.[4] The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides,[5] with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths'

        This degree of hand gun ownership alone creates a climate of violence. Since the handgun is designed for one purpose alone, to injure, or kill a human being a society is therefore created that is packed with a high level of violent intention. It is no wonder that violent laws such as the 'stand your ground' law are passed in reaction to this, or that an innocent life is lost as a result of this law. To me this represents, not a healthy society, but a society in need of healing, i.e. a sick society.
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          Mar 24 2012: While agree I with you the mere presence of a weapon does increase the likely hood of violence. But the thing is almost every state in the U.S. has lower or higher gun control. The Law in question is in florida and a few other states. This is a disgusting law allowing people to become vigilantes and make any given situation. But it doesn't affect the U.S. society as a whole.

          But if the mere right to own a gun makes the U.S. a violent society by that logic Canada as well is violent society because they too have similar law to the U.S.'s second amendment. While firearm related homicide was 60.2% in 2009 and 32% in Canada. Are you still willing to claim that the mere right to ownership of weapons breeds a violent society?
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    Mar 23 2012: maybe any details on the law itself, and how it contradicts the constitution? you know, not everyone is from florida
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      Mar 23 2012: The "Stand your ground law" allows a person to use force or deadly force when threaten in private and sometimes public places.
      It under controversy in U.S. because a young teenage boy was shot by one of his father neighbor. The man who shot the boy called police before he did it and they told him to wait till he arrived. The man took action into his own hands and confronted the boy. The boy was unarmed and on the way to his father when he was shot dead. So now this a bit of an uproar because the man has yet to be prosecuted because the law.

      I personally the law can be used for unlawful vigilantism and needs to be stopped now.
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        Mar 23 2012: i don't understand?

        how could the boy be "on the way to his father", yet, threatening the neighbor?
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          Mar 23 2012: Exactly ,but it seems that nothing in the U.S. is that simple. Seems like we need argue over everything to make a change.
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    Mar 30 2012: This debate will close shortly. I’d like to thank TEDsters who joined in and added something constructive to the issue of Stand Your Ground.

    In the Martin / Zimmerman case the enquiry will, no doubt, find failings at many different levels.

    My personal view is that in such cases the police should always fully investigate and gather evidence. Only after the police have completed this should prosecutors decide whether or not charges should be placed. If they decide to drop a case, the evidence should be put before a judge for a second opinion, and for a statement of clarification to be prepared stating the reasons for the decision to go to the victims family. If new evidence arises the decision can be reviewed and charges placed.

    If the justice system fails, the media will become the alternative means of gaining it.
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    Mar 28 2012: Heather the legal definitions (in civil terms) about weapons are allways short, because dont consider the art of war. Defense is not ofense and the advantages of defense are disvantages for ofense...If I need to defend my famiy I use all I can from a stone to a missil. but if I have to organiize a strategy to avoid ofense the intelligence and anticipation is most precious issues in the war.

    Any a-n-y law about is a minimum risk with a high range of manouver , so the missinterpretation of this laws are outrageous.The civil mind in the US is full of Hollywood war images, but anyone can't understand the real power of a real weapon until see the damages. Read Maquiavello. A shoe string could be used as a weapon. The real weapon is the will, not an object.
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    Mar 28 2012: Krisztian --

    You make a good point.

    A friend of mine, Coleen Rowley, would agree with you. She is the FBI whistleblower who called out Mueller and FBI for overlooking evidence related to one of the 9/11 bombers. As well as others. A Cuban exile comes to mind.

    That said, Rowley and he (also an expert in related matters) would also agree that the sheer amount of data agencies and people are called to sift and filter to keep wingnuts from destroying lives makes a good case for regulating gun laws. None (including Mueller and I) promote controlling speech or the internet. Though the FBI, as hate groups, the military, churches, etc. etc. uses it as a tool.

    I also have friends who come from non-policed, non-governed societies. Where any speech can get one killed by anyone. Somalia comes to mind. And, to a person, they say the US, is far preferable to a lawless country.

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    Mar 28 2012: Sorry Pat

    New zealand

    Scale effect.

    Quotes taken from an article on our police forces upping their taser fleet to the next model.

    The technology would increase safety levels by helping to prevent the "escalation of response if the first taser fails'', said Police Association president Greg O'Connor.

    If one prong didn't hit its intended target, police would be able to fire a second shot without having to re-load in what could be a volatile situation.

    "It is a far more effective and safer way for everyone when subduing an out-of-control situation,'' he said.

    "Compare that with using a police dog, pepper spray or a baton. We are often left with no alternative than the next level, which is a firearm.''

    Also in the article

    Campaign Against the Taser spokeswoman Marie Dyhrberg said there needed to be more publication and debate before introducing the new technology.

    "The introduction of the new Taser may be seen by some front line police officers as being a warranted response to increasingly dangerous situations, whereas in fact this is not the case.''

    "If police were working at improving de-escalation skills then that would bring more confidence that the instances of any abuse would be greatly minimised.''

    Green Party police spokesman David Clendon , said the plan could be a "creep'' towards Tasers being used more regularly, something the party was worried about before they were trialled in 2007


    My Uruguan work partner told me after an incident in one of our schools where a toy pistol brought to school by a student triggered a lockdown and a arms defenders team callout said that we need guards with guns at every school,I said to him "This is not Uruguay,our children will be raised in a society where the power of the state will be their minders rather than their elected representatives" He told me "Wait til there's 25% unemployment" It was quite a heated argument.
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      Mar 29 2012: Better watch those tasers they used one here in the early 90's which indirectly resulted in 3 days of riots.

      On the other side if the criminals start using armor piercing bullets the police are going to feel naked. The police in Germany carry Uzis.


      I don't understand your comment about Uruguay other than that level of government intrusion sounds familiar to the U.S.
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        Mar 29 2012: Uruguay is a beautiful country and they are just coming out of their economic downturn,My work partner said he grew up with armed security guards at school where is i didn't and my countries population is considered to be on a par with a suburb of a modern city elsewhere in the world,it's too small a population to warrant handguns.The average kiwi though would like a handgun, will still turn around and be horrified if we turned towards handguns.

        I would rather be tasered than shot though crazed individuals that are hyped up on drugs have been able to resist a taser shot as we had a young pakistani man two weeks ago go on a rampage with a knife.
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          Mar 29 2012: I still don't understand your comment about Uruguay and the the statement:

          "This is not Uruguay,our children will be raised in a society where the power of the state will be their minders rather than their elected representatives"

          Yea they tasered Rodney King also but because he was hopped up on PCP it didn't stop him, something the wonderful media neglected to mention. But if the criminals have guns I would think you rather the police have guns? The rule of law and all of that...

          Something I think would be wise regarding the OP's point is to find out what the facts are because as with the King case the facts were not widely disseminated just the emotional crap.
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    Mar 27 2012: Ken,

    Not sure if he claimed SYG defense or if police offered/bestowed it.

    It would be murky, in any case. Because Trayvon didn't provoke him.

    He observed Trayvon then called the police. The 911 operator instructed him to let police handle the situation. Zimmerman than got in his SUV and followed Trayvon. At some point he got out. He claims there was an altercation. There have been no photos released of evidence of his injuries that he has claimed. He claims Trayvon knocked him out in one punch. Though he is significantly larger than Trayvon. At some point during the alleged fight, Zimmerman shot Trayvon.

    Trayvon's girlfriend, who he was talking with on the phone, said Trayvon was aware that Zimmerman was following him.

    He has been in hiding since. It is unclear if the FBI has been able to obtain a hair sample.

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    Mar 27 2012: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

    Isn't that in the US Declaration of independence?

    You'll need some other proof to show it is unconstitutional.
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      Mar 27 2012: Obey --

      "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure DOMESTIC TRANQUILTY, provide for the common defence, promote the GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the Blessings of LIberty to ourselves and our POSTERITY, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

      From the Dictionary of the US Constitution:

      "welfare n. 1. health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being. ["

      Domestic Tranquility:
      "One of the concerns of the Framers was that the government prior to that under the Constitution was unable, by force or persuasion, to quell rebellion or quarrels.(...) One of the main goals of the Convention, then, was to ensure the federal government had powers to squash rebellion and to smooth tensions."

      "posterity n. 1. Future generations. 2. All of a person's descendants. ["

      The Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms clearly refers to its purpose of establishing a "Well Regulated Militia." Nowhere that I know of in the Constitution does "Well Regulated Militia" Imply individual citizens are such. In fact, the US National Guard is the offspring of what the law meant.

      A critical Q in my mind is:
      How does the brutal debate and brutal violence around this issues "Insure Domestic Tranquility?"

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        Mar 28 2012: Thanks Andrea.

        Better to start with the constitution if claiming a law is unconstitutional. I'm not an expert but the constitution seems to more about the separation of powers and how federalism will work.

        I'm not aware of any parts of the constitution that directly relate to stand your ground.
        The sections you mention e.g. domestic tranquillity seem to relate to something different else.

        Having said that, I agree with the proposition that we don't want people following someone, perhaps provoking them, shooting them and claiming self defence. If that is what happened, and if the stand your ground law results in no charges against the shooter, well it may not be unconstitutional, but the law is stupid and should be improved.

        If someone attacks you or invades your home, I think you have a right to defend yourself.
        If they have a gun, you might be better shooting them first, rather than trying to run away or hide in the bathroom. These are spilt second decisions resulting from someone else taking the initiative to threaten you.

        But to stalk someone then shoot them is a completely different situation. It is unprovoked. It looks like murder or at least manslaughter.

        Underlying all this an idiotic and deadly gun culture in the US. I tend to agree that the right to bear arms is probably being misused by gun advocates. But I though that was in the BOR. There is a fair dose of racism thrown in as well.

        I do admit to some understanding towards being concerned based on race and appearance if they fit a profile. It's unfair, but a natural self defence mechanism. If I saw some potentially dodgy looking characters late at night I might be concerned, whereas I wouldn't if it was a little old lady or a guy in a suit. but this is not an excuse to follow and shoot someone.
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          Mar 28 2012: Obey,

          I'm not an expert on the Constitution, either. But my read, similar to yours, is it is about the structure or "architecture" of government, i.e.: separation of powers.

          My view is reasonable alertness to what seem to be "dodgy" characters is not only understandable, but likely prudent.

          But, as you note, stalking someone because of one's personal judgement of what is dodgy or not, and in the process provoking some sort of altercation that leads to the death of the person you judge is dodgy is not only unreasonable, but not self defense.

          What I view as dodgy might be entirely different than who you and others view as dodgy.

          Though I am a white, middle class woman who lives in a suburb, I am, in all honesty no less fearful of wealthy white hunters in my community than I am the poor black and other colored people in my community. In fact, I'm beginning to worry far more about the brutal behaviors of the former than the latter.

          But, to be clear: I think there are less truly "dodgy" citizens of any race than "good." But, even good people can misfire.

          Regardless their color, unless they are public safety professionals, if they are carrying guns around my community I don't give an, ahem, what they look like. They make me uneasy.

          Perhaps because I know and love many hunters and have seen some of the wing-nuts among them, I'm less convinced that they are any "safer" for the US than drug dealers. Which of course, some are. To be honest, I think this is what makes the issue feel personal to me.

          Otherwise good people seem to have lost their reason, due to the influence of groups like the NRA. Men who swore they'd never join NRA because of it's less-than altruistic agenda (brutal tactics) are being courted like Kings and, while they are, drinking the "Nativist," KKK and other Hate-Group Kool-Aid.

          Ironically, Martin's killer is Hispanic. Of late, Hispanics are the top ethnic target of hate violence in US, due to immigration debate.

  • Mar 26 2012: How many people know the actual specifics of what happened when this young man lost his life? Are you aware that Zimmerman has a broken nose, damages on the back of his head (he says from Trayvon smashing his head on the concrete), grass stains on the back of his shirt? I can not defend Trayvon any more than you can defend Zimmerman. The FACTS of the case are unknown to us and therefore require an investigation.

    The Police Chief that was in charge initially has stepped aside due to a media circus and the distractions the public and media were causing by saying he acted incompetently by not having charges brought forth against Zimmerman. He has been replaced, but still no charges against Zimmerman?---This has to tell you something about the legitimacy of Zimmerman's story or the lack of evidence to the contrary.

    If I attack someone who is carrying a gun, I expect to get shot---even if that person is "following" me. Why was Trayvon being followed?...the phone call suggests that he was checking out random houses while wearing a hoodie (identity concealment?), in the rain, and displaying possible drug impairment issues. Subjective reasons to be suspicious, but reasons none the less.

    I have the right to own a gun in this country (liberty). I have the right to join a neighborhood watch program to help keep my neighborhood safe (liberty, life, pursuit of happiness). I have the right to follow someone in a public area if I feel he or she is acting suspicious (liberty). I have the right to defend myself if that person physically attacks me (Life).---All of these points are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

    Again, I am not defending Zimmerman's actions because I do not know the facts. No one else knows the facts other than Zimmerman. Emotional outbreaks without knowing the facts or getting the ones that are known completely wrong seem to be the norm so far.

    I say the "SYG" law is constitutional. Whether it is a good idea or not is debatable.
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      Mar 27 2012: Jason,

      I suspect, but don't know for sure, that the Police Chief stepped down for more reasons than are apparent at this point.

      Whether he screwed this one up or not is as yet unclear. However, the just-released police report doesn't look good. It indicates that the dead body of Trayvon Martin was tested for drugs and alcohol. But the shooter, Zimmerman, was not. Even though Zimmerman showed impaired judgement by not, as the 911 operator instructing him, waiting for police to come and investigate the alleged threat Zimmerman claimed Martin was posing, based only on his looking suspicious in Zimmerman's mind.

      What is known is that he has not been a civic star.

      "According to the US Justice Department, last year pharmacies in Sanford, Florida ordered enough painkillers to supply a population eight times its size. Sanford has a population of 53,000 but the supply ordered would support 400,000. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, in 2010 a single CVS pharmacy in Sanford ordered 1.8 million Oxycodone pills, an average of 137,994 pills a month. Other pharmacy customers in Florida averaged 5,364 oxycodone pills a month. DEA investigators serving a warrant to a CVS pharmacy in Sanford on Oct. 18 2011 noted that ‘approximately every third car that came through the drive-thru lane had prescriptions for oxycodone or hydrocodone.’ According to the DEA, a pharmacist at that location stated to investigators that ‘her customers often requested certain brands of oxycodone using street slang,’ an indicator that the drugs were being diverted and not used for legitimate pain management.” -- Wikipedia

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        Mar 27 2012: Well then that's simple,test zimmermans hair as that would contain levels of whatever he has taken in the last six months.If it's minimal then psyche assess him.He might be suffering from extremism brought on by other underlying factors that has resulted in unstable or impaired judgement.

        Did he invoke the SYG law or did the police bestow it?,Did he know of the law or did the police by law had to inform him of the right to use the SYG?.
      • Mar 28 2012: Andrea,

        I wasn't going to reply because I have dealt with your straw men, non sequiturs, dodges, deflections, dismissals, false analogies, etc, but... I will bang my head against this wall again.

        The question raised in this debate is to the "Constitutionality" of the Stand Your Ground Law. My post was in response to that question. Your opinions on whether or not the case has been handled properly or your implication that because this certain city has a Wiki write up about drug abuse gives you any firmer ground to stand on has nothing to do with my response to the original poster. Why so argumentative all of the time? Insecure?

        If you would like to debate the specifics of this case with me, I suggest you start a new thread and invite me to it. I hope that I will have the strength to decline for my own peace of mind, but that remains to be seen.

        Good day to you.
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          Mar 28 2012: Jason,

          There is an odd irony to be debating "stand your ground" and then being personally attacked for, well, standing my ground.

          I think you are personalizing my comments which aren't intended as personal. No need to bang your head against the wall. Or make personal attacks, for that matter.

          And, no I would not like to debate the specifics of this case with you. I'm not sure why you are getting that impression. But, in any case, save your strength and don't over-internalize my comments.

          You asserted the importance of "facts" and shared some details from the leaked police report. I did the same, in the interest of filling in the blanks regards Trayvon's body having been tested for drugs, and Zimmerman not having been administered a drug test, as well.

          You brought up the police chief, I offered information, provided by the police chiefs superiors (Dept of Justice) to shed more light on possible (and possibly not, we'll see) information relevant to why he was asked to resign by city leaders. You indicated the police chief left due only to this case, I offered expanded information related to your comment.

          Again, don't take it personally. Not about you -- only about the police chief. And,at that, only a comment -- not an accusation.

          If you for have a "dog in this race" for some reason, I can see how you might. But, I had no reason to believe you did. Until this latest comment from you.

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      Mar 28 2012: Thanks Jason, for adding your perspective in line with the debate! I am aware the case is on-going, and not all information is available. I have explained why I used this case as the basis of the debate in previous comments. As you are aware this was never supposed to be a gun law debate - simply a debate about whether SYG is considered constitutional or otherwise.

      Do you live in a state with SYG legislation, and if so, do you have a view about how the SYG law is understood in the minds of the public?
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        Mar 28 2012: Krisztian --

        Regards your concerns of FBI, et al's role.

        Yesterday a US senator (Richard Durbin) urged FBI director Robert Mueller to take action on serious flaws in FBI training and policies, revealed in an audit of their practices.

        Durbin's concern is somewhat similar to yours. Today it was announced Mueller took the action that Durbin suggested. .


        No doubt, more "policing of the police" will always need to be sustained. But this is progress, I think, in the directions you and others seek. .

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          Mar 28 2012: i would not say i have too much concerns about the FBI, homeland sec, senate and other government organizations. their role is quite clear. and i can tell you this: i'm not going to learn from them. their opinion doesn't matter to me. my teachers are morally as well as intellectually way above these people.
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        Mar 28 2012: Heather --

        Apologies for comments of mine that sidetracked from Constitutionality of SYG. Tricky to sort SYG without some dialogue about how and why the US got to a place where SYG and other similar laws now exist.

        My personal view, as I alluded in one of my comments to Jason, is there is reason to consider the possible unconstitutionality of SYG. And, even if one can defend the constitutionality of Right to Bear Arms, the checks and balances intent of the Constitution implies a good case could be made for Amending our understanding of it's intents.

      • Mar 28 2012: Heather,

        My state has a "Castle Doctrine" Law, which after being recently expanded, is quite close to the SYG Law. Initially this law stated that if a person is attacked in his or her own home, deadly force could be used if necessary for protection. The expansion of the law was to cover a person if he or she is in a personal automobile or public place if there legally.

        I think most people feel it is common sense to be able to legally defend yourself from "bad people". The issue comes from dealing with prejudices, poor judgement, or "bad people" using this law for twisted or evil purposes. Most of the disagreement with any law in this country seems to fall along political lines. We have two major political parties (other parties really don't have a voice to speak of) and members of those parties are all too often happy to be indoctrinated by them. Information bias runs rampant once people start to be programmed to think a certain way.

        I feel the Democratic Party "left wing" went too soft on all areas of Gun Control issues once they realized that the National Rifle Association was picking them apart in election after election. Due to this, the entire country has been slipping more toward the "Right Wing" in this respect. When one party controls the entire conversation, the indoctrination and information bias becomes lop-sided.

        Before this case, I feel the general consensus of this law was more toward an unquestioned acceptance. I feel that the irresponsible reporting of this case to this point is casting an unwarranted criticism that will eventually be fairly responded to (not to say that there shouldn't be criticism applied), but that greater conversations about gun control and deadly violence laws will be rightly brought back into the public dialogue and therefore people will start to question again before they accept. Hopefully this questioning will lead to more education, conversation, free thinking and less indoctrination. ...We can only hope.
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          Mar 30 2012: Jason, thanks for your contribution. Makes sense to me.
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    Mar 26 2012: Krisztián

    To me reconcile means: To become compatible or consistent or in alignment.

    Gun control lowers crime or it doesn't.

    The link only points out that gun control does not make a difference regardless of your view on gun control.
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      Mar 26 2012: Pat that article is dated in 2005 on gun availability,though i'm not arguing against it's points. The SYG law was pushed that year,is there any data,other than what you read and hear in the media that can confirm this with up to date data?

      It's written into the/your constitution "The right to bear arms" with that as a given it would be far more reasonable to make sure the/your people know how to use them up to a level nearing that of a professional.
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      Mar 26 2012: i didn't intend to dwell on it so long. he claimed that gun control reduces 'gun crime' (whatever it might be), not crime in general. you state that gun control does not reduce crime. and my point is that it is not a contradiction, there is an obvious way how can both statements be true at the same time.
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        Mar 26 2012: I thought you explained this in a earlier post kris? It confuses me as i'm not a gun owner and live in a country with strict gun laws.I'm not against them but we're too small to warrant the use of personal handguns as protection though some feel different.

        We're trying to avoid the scale effect but i think it's not going to last as economic pressure stresses the public to irrational mob driven lawmaking.
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        Mar 27 2012: @ Pat

        1 for 1 or Force with Force,A few years ago we passed into law the use of guns by our police as there was a few deaths of policemen by guns and other means but due to human error the use of them in situations our police faced resulted in unnecessary loss of life.Our police are human,they make just as much mistakes as the rest of us so they don't carry them on their person but have them in their cars locked away in strong boxes,they have tasers but they are a last resort aswel.

        We are a island nation,there is no where to go but that doesn't mean our crimerate is any different than anywhere else in the world it's just that our view of the gun is completely different.A couple of incidents don't warrant the wholesale arming of the citizens.

        A couple of my more nutty cousins were brought up on charges of conpiracy and training with al qaeda style camps in the deep bush,They want self determination which is stupid as there is not enough land in our country for it.Training video's were found in that molotov's were used in these training exercises aswel,They state they were training for security work but the use of the molotov's should of sealed their fate,it didn't,i suspect it was due to political reasons and their lawyers.

        When the megaupload owner,Kim dotcom was arrested on behalf of the FBI,we sent in 70 police and our armed defenders team to go get him on the pretense of him owning a few shotguns when a letter and two police officers would have done the trick just aswel,it was a sad day for my country because of how they went about arresting just one man.
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          Mar 27 2012: Can you define the "scale effect"?

          What is your country?
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    Mar 25 2012: This vid is relevant to the original question, the first 7 minutes:


    It appears like Zimmerman is a whack job.

    It appears that this is a bad law.

    Typically in these horrendous acts of violence prescription psychiatric drugs are the real culprit that never get talked about. The argument goes that they were already "disturbed" but if you look back in history you did not have as many of these horrific acts of violence by an individual.

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    Mar 25 2012: If I may say there is only one thing that irks me with this case: that its becoming a issue of racism when we do not even know the motive.

    and instead of looking at it as a white indivdiual killing a young black teenager

    how about we look at it as one human being killing another very young human being for very bad reasons.

    I am glad that such an incident is galvanizing the people but at the same time it is balkinizng us. Justt look at how CNN is only having the African-American news anchor cover the story.

    Being an African American myself it is really disturbing to see that racism is distracting from the real issue here which is justifce for a young man who was unjustifably killed...

    Now I understand how racism is an issues (for obvious reasons) but until we know the facts about why, then we should leave reacism out of it.
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    Mar 25 2012: I would never start a debate about US gun law - its as intractable a subject as religion. However, I found the issue of Stand Your Ground (SYG) intriguing. To my mind, its use didn’t seem logical, in the Trayvon Martin case, hence my debate question.

    Things have moved on considerably over the past three days - even Zimmerman's lawyer is of the opinion that SYG does not apply in this case. So the issues up for debate are:

    If the police are using SYG as a legitimate defence against arrest after a killing - does this mean the end of the US Constitution - a persons right to life and liberty - a persons right to a trial by jury etc…? (I’m not an expert on the US Constitution).

    Are the police wrongly using this law? Is this widespread? Is it being applied in a racially biased way?

    Is there widespread confusion about what the law means in the minds of the public? Is it leading to more shootings by the public?

    Should the law be repealed?
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    Mar 24 2012: In the comments below I see the use of the word ethics but the context seems like you mean morals?

    Gun control does not decrease crime it is scientifically proven not to lessen crime this is just a fact.

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      Mar 25 2012: Are you being serious? Which means free circulation of guns reduces crime. Do you really believe that?

      For a start there is such a thing as 'gun crime' which is the use of a firearm to threaten or inflict violence or harm. It will lost its meaning in the absence of firearm. More handguns in circulation equals more 'violent crime'. Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals prevents gun crime - hence crime in general. This is common sense you do not need to consult science or any statistics to know that.
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        Mar 25 2012: so we have two statements:

        1. gun control reduces the number of gunshots
        2. gun control does not reduce crime

        don't you see a way to reconcile?
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          Mar 25 2012: Krisztián, Where did you get both statements from?
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          Mar 25 2012: Hi Ehis,No worries - nothing you've said is a problem at all - I get confused about Krisztian's contributions too. I'm trying to get the debate back to SYG as this law appears to be a "get out of jail free" opportunity to anyone who'd like to kill. If I lived in the USA I'd feel very vulnerable in any state with this law - it's a bizarre law that makes murder legal! Have you noticed the reply buttons missing? It adds to the confusion, since replies are not always in sequence.
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        Mar 25 2012: Ehis, I'm so sorry you feel unable to continue with this debate on TED. I hope you can see that the debate was supposed to be about the Stand Your Ground law - unfortunately, its been hijacked into a debate about gun control in general.
        Best wishes
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          Mar 25 2012: Sorry Heather if you feel i am introducing any form of diversion to the debate. My initial comment were directed to Mr Pat, as you can see. I think Krisztián is trying to say something which i find very hard to understand.
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        Mar 25 2012: "Where did you get both statements from?"

        one: "For a start there is such a thing as 'gun crime' which is the use of a firearm to threaten or inflict violence or harm. It will lost its meaning in the absence of firearm."

        two: "Gun control does not decrease crime"

        not hard to find. this thread.
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          Mar 25 2012: "I am responding to pat gilbert who happen to think that Gun control does not decrease crime". Next time read the complete statement.
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          Mar 25 2012: This debate is about Stand Your Ground legislation Please start your own debate if you wish to persist in a general debate about gun law.
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        Mar 25 2012: ehis, first quote is from pat gilbert, not you

        and the question is still: don't you see a way to reconcile? because there is.
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          Mar 25 2012: I don't see a way to reconcile it is sort of like 2 statments:

          The Amazon is the longest river in the world.

          The Nile is the longest river in the world.

          One of the statements is wrong.

          Of course I'm not saying negate the rule of law. Hmm I wonder if they have more SYG problems in Somalia or less?
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        Mar 25 2012: Ethis

        I know it is counter intuitive but none the less gun control does not lower crime.
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          Mar 25 2012: i react here as i can't up there. the reconciliation of course is that if you take away some guns, and crime does not drop, you know that one or both of these are true:

          1, some crimes that usually done with guns are now committed without guns
          2. while less crimes are committed with legal guns, more crimes are committed with illegal ones
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          Mar 25 2012: Okay with this law number of "justifiable homicide" has tripled and so did gun sells. Showing that making guns available and giving a person reason to uses does increase deaths period.
          Can say we that all those deaths were legitimate life or death self defense cases?
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        Mar 25 2012: Krisztián

        3. I think the main reason, is the most obvious one, criminals are deterred from committing a crime where they might get shot.
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          Mar 25 2012: well, yes, if crime not only hasn't gone up, but in fact went down. my cases apply if it remains the same. (must admit i didn't follow your link. for me, it is not relevant, as i oppose gun control on moral / natural rights grounds. i'm not much of a utilitarian.)
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    Mar 24 2012: From what i've read and how the american media has displayed his picture and phone recordings and previuos history of calls to the police(I'am not a conpiracist)The florida police might want this to blow up into a public uproar,they might see this law as a scape goat that needs addressing but that would all hinge on if they have a high count of people that have invoked the law.

    This all could come down to the florida police being severely undermanned,overstressed police due to cost cutting and zero wage increases that don't scale to economic stresses in their lives.Basically the police on the scene at the time chose to brush it under the carpet,job finished,onto the next one.

    They could have flagged this guy as a possible loose cannon but could not do anything to deter him from continuing without a possible incident occuring or just plain didn't connect the dots which is the usual case.

    The gun culture has to change rather than the gun itself,a more rigorous licensing system must be put in place,a three year staged system where citizens that want a full license has to go through to obtain the right to carrying one.The first year will be the learners license where you can only fire the weapon on a government approved firing range and that weapon is stored there.The second years license will only allow you to carry a loaded weapon between certain times of the day after that time it must be unclipped or face immediate prosecution and forfeit of second license.The third is a years worth of rigorous seminars on safe use and storage of their weapons.Treat it like a trained hazzardous materials license or something similar all at the expense of the user who wants the license.I don't know the florida gun system or the u.s gun laws but every farmer here has a gun and so does their sons and so does their sons but they are used for hunting only,to carry one in public is not good form.
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    Mar 24 2012: Zimmerman’s lawyer now admits that SYG law does not apply in this case. What a relief! I thought I was suffering from an altered state of topsy-turvy reality.

    It looks like Zimmerman will now be claiming self defence - Trayvon Martin's family lawyer has challenged this saying there is no self defence against a bag of candy.

    How can Zimmerman follow that? Plead guilty and seek mercy?
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      Mar 24 2012: why are you so much interested in this single case? zimmerman can burn in hell for all i care. our concern must be on a more general level. how to organize justice systems? are there any problem with our current ones? what is that? how to fix it? what is the root of the problems? and so on.

      or even go theoretical. what about the SYG law? is it ethical or not? are you obliged to retreat when attacked? are you expected to try to reduce harm? do we need to minimize "overall" harm, if such a thing exists at all?
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        Mar 25 2012: are you obliged to retreat when attacked?
        You're not obligated to retreat if attacked. Its Simple something you may perceive you as a threat you can take it down with any amount of force.

        is it ethical or not?
        It's not at least not in a country with a well trained police force like U.S.

        o we need to minimize "overall" harm, if such a thing exists at all?
        they're more than one way to defend yourself without killing
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        Mar 25 2012: You have odd views Krisztian, both extreme and contradictory - sometimes delivered in a confrontational, personal manner. Being provocative is okay in a debate so long as you're consistent in your argument, progress your argument, stay within the remit of the debate, keep your examples relivant and remain respectful - otherwise you lose credibility and people will switch off.
        • Mar 25 2012: Heather,
          I've been reading this thread with interest and hadn't intended to post.
          But now I feel compelled to, because I sincerely believe that this is a very
          unfair comment. I've noted a lot inflammatory comments in this thread and
          some serious factual errors, but they weren't from Krisztián. Clearly our
          perceptions are different. Respectfully,
          John Penn
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          Mar 25 2012: The facts of the case are not fully released yet,for all we know trayvon would have noticed zimmerman following him and took it upon himself to confront zimmerman.Two people suspicious of each other,one an overzealous security freak and the other thinking he was being stalked.

          If the gun wasn't there then what would be the outcome?Probably zimmerman would be carrying some other weapon,a knife which would result in the same outcome but with the possibility of flight and life or a baton with a low probability of death as a result without discounting it.

          A car is a transport device used to get us from A to b but in a split second this can change to a lethal force on wheels that takes alot of lives everyday but we are trained to drive these things and taught to obey the road rules and to keep our eyes peeled,of course we can't control or anticipate everything on the roads, we're only human.

          The gun is a different matter,it's design is specific,it has no other purpose other than to shoot a projectile.If the training is inadequate as it is clearly seen in this case then it's the system that's at fault for not making sure that that person had enough training to understand the full impact of it's use.It takes three years for our kids here to get a car license.How long does it take for someone in the states to get their gun permit?
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        Mar 25 2012: John, I stand by my challenge to Krisztian. He can look after himself.
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          Mar 25 2012: what challenge would that be? all i saw was an opinion on my comments in general, with no arguments or anything backing it up.

          and it is especially strange, considering that i asked the same questions that you asked in another thread a little later.

          i was indeed rude ... to zimmerman. in what way does that concern you?

          i try to minimize the amount of talk about myself. it is not the first time some people set themselves the task to "fix" my way of presenting arguments, instead of replying to them. i tried to tell you multiple times that it is neither relevant nor interesting. but it seems that you care more about my person than your own topic. just take some minutes to skim through my posts here to find dozens of very much on topic observations which you simply ignored. instead, you went on to talk about me. not interested, sorry.
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    Mar 23 2012: We had a similar case to this several years ago, a young tagger was cornered by a 50 year old businessman and killed,he was 15 i think.This man was arrested and duely prosecuted,the young man suffered from 11 stab wounds and died at the scene before emergency services could reach him.

    One should have the right to self defense but not to take the law into your own hands unless you are being assaulted and in grave fear of your life.

    This doesn't seem to be the case since it was the killer that accosted the victim first.
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    Mar 23 2012: To clarify for those unaware of this high profile case...

    Florida and 27 other states across the USA have a law which protects people who “stand their ground” and fight back against an unprovoked attack - the Stand Your Ground law can be invoked even if lethal force is used - so long as the person who stood their ground was subject to an unprovoked attack and were acting in self-defence.

    In February 2012, a 17-year-old unarmed student, Trayvon Martin, was killed in his own neighbourhood in Sanford, Florida. Martin was walking home from a nearby convenience store when George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighbourhood watch captain, spotted him and called the police. In that call Zimmerman referred to Martin as a “real suspicious guy”. The police call centre officer told Zimmerman to wait for police support, but Zimmerman chose to chase Martin down. After a brief physical altercation in which Martin can be heard screaming for help in police 911 recordings, Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

    The local police never arrested or charged Zimmerman - accepting the defence of Stand Your Ground. The race card has been raised in this case since the police recorded Zimmerman as being white (yet he is of mixed race having a Peruvian mother and white father) and Martin was black.

    Is race a legitimate issue in this case?
    Is it disguising a bad law which all too easily excuses excessive force - even lethal force?
    Is such a law against the Bill of Rights?
    Is it disguising bad policing?
    Is it disguising bad prosecuting decisions?
    Is Florida a violent state where life is of no regard and the police powerless to control communities at war with each other?

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      Mar 23 2012: question. how is that related to the "stand your ground" policy other than the offender uses that law as a defense? since when we condemn a law just because someone arbitrarily refers to it? should the guy refer the the second law of thermodynamics, we would call for abolishing physics?

      this law clearly states "in self defense" and "unprovoked attack". in order for the law to even apply, zimmerman must prove, beyond doubt, that he was attacked, he didn't provoke, and he acted in self defense. if he cannot prove this, the law does not apply.

      suppose the police, the DA or the court will free him based on SYG law. would that mean the law is wrong? no, it would prove that the justice system does not work. if the justice system does not work, it is entirely useless to tweak the law.

      how i see it is the following: people who oppose gun ownership, SYG law, castle law and similar doctrines, shamelessly use this tragic case to further their cause. it is easier than using real arguments.
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        Mar 23 2012: This is one of the most bizarre cases to be followed in the UK about a domestic US issue. Timely, in an election year - race and gun law…

        I can't quite understand the issue over the Stand Your Ground (SYG) law either - it’s illogical to my reasoning - but I may not understand US law well enough. In this case (from what has been released) the SYG law should not apply - Zimmerman failed to refrain from getting involved as directed by the police 911 officer “don’t get involved until police officers arrive”. He over stepped his self imposed remit - becoming the violent attacker. Indeed, if Martin had punched Zimmerman’s lights out he would have due cause to invoke the Stand Your Ground law, as I understand it, since he was going about his lawful business and was subject to an unprovoked attack.

        If this law is being used as an excuse to avoid prosecution it's being miss applied by the police and prosecutors. Zimmerman should be charged with murder. This is where the race issue arises.

        A young black man wearing a hoodie! Why, he must be up to no good - he was asking for it! Shooting‘s too good for the likes of him!

        Now, if that’s the attitude behind this case and the practical application of the SYG law being used to halt arrest and charge for murder - the SYG law is being corrupted. If this is allowed, a precedent will have been set, and US citizen’s should consider that the Bill of Rights no longer applies. Black people are no longer able to expect life, liberty.... However, if it doesn’t apply to one group, it doesn’t apply to any.

        The Supreme Court (is that the correct legal body?) needs to back justice correctly by seeing that Zimmerman is charged with murder. It also needs to accept that the application of the SYG law, in this case, is in conflict with the Bill of Rights and is thus unconstitutional and needs amending to prevent its use in this way again. Those responsible for this mess should be arrested for bringing the law into disrepute.
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          Mar 23 2012: That the U.S. my home is becoming more and more "Unconstitutional". That we keep making these laws that impede our rights and perverse the ideas that our country was founded on.
          And case hasn't made it to the Supreme Court its one the state level. It was taken out hands of local prosecutors and police hands to try and calm a racial unrest that it has caused.

          I figure the issue over (SYG) is that of one of gun control. This issues is one big one that divides the U.S. politically, some saying we need less gun control making it easier to get and own a gun, and others fighting for more gun control trying to make sure the wrong person can't get one.
        • Mar 23 2012: Hi Heather,It's up to the prosecuting attorney of the local jurisdiction to decide if there's a case and how to proceed. The local county has more than enough jurisdiction to prosecute the case if they choose. The Supreme Court would only become involved to decide on constitutionality, something I very much doubt will happen.

          A lot of parents, myself included, have strong reactions to the shooting. African Americans especially so, and it's easy to see why.

          Contrary to popular opinion, the use of lethal force is only legitimate for a narrow range of events in the US. All are based on the legal theory that one has the right to defend themselves. The alternative to Stand Your Ground is the duty to escape and/or avoid conflict if possible. I.e. you can not use lethal force if you have an escape route. Which standard (and they vary from these two cases) is used depends on which state you're in.

          All of the self-defense standards are intended to be a last resort. None of them should be construed as giving a person the right to accost another.

          Best wishes,
          Doug Bell
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    Mar 23 2012: If it's like what my lil country just amended,that by law the police can obtain a warrant to place surveilance cameras on your property at anytime then yeah that is not good.

    I live on two little islands at the bottom of the world,i think we must have an Al Qaeda embassy here somehwere.