25 April 2012

Stand Your Ground: Just change the law?

So one of the most constant responses that I've been hearing from my conservative friends about the whole Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case is that "you shouldn't be upset about this case, you should be upset about the law." Often, this is phrased as "if you're upset about this, you should vote for somebody who will repeal the law."

There's a big, big problem with this logic, though, and it's one that the case of Marissa Alexander clearly exposes. From a Daily Kos article titled "Stand Your Ground: Just Not If You're Black or Female", we have a case that seems like a far more clear-cut example of the kind of situation the law is intended to address.

Alexander's husband, Rico Gray, who has been arrested for domestic battery in two previous relationships, threatened her. She stood her ground, eventually firing a warning shot into the ceiling of her house.
This case was subjected to a stand your ground motion hearing in 2011, but the motion was denied by Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt, who told Alexander that she "could have exited the house during the altercation"
You catch that?  The judge said that she could have run away, so she didn't have the recourse of Stand Your Ground. Which is a law that is freaking named for the fact that it removes your legal obligation to run away.

This is the problem with trying to fix laws:

They don't get applied evenly.

They don't get enforced fairly.

The law isn't the whole problem. It's only a small part of the problem. So saying that people should just focus on fixing the law is stupid, shortsighted, and relies on an entirely, entirely undeserved and naive faith in the cops and the so-called "justice system."

If you can afford to have that faith, congratu-freaking-lations. But don't expect anyone who's ever actually had to deal with cops or the legal system to share it.

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