Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Dangerous To Go Alone

So I went to an informal dinner party the other day. It was close by, perhaps only 250 yards or so as the crow flies. With flashlights and a decent knowledge of Morse code, we could converse from our windows without needing cell phones. There are no other residences between their condominium building and our apartment complex. But since we're on opposite sides of the expressway, the total walk is about 1 half mile.

In the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, my girlfriend expressed concern about me making that trip after dark.

Now, she didn't follow the whole Trayvon Martin case closely, and wound up getting most her information about the whole affair second-hand. And, in doing so, came away with the idea that the end result of the verdict is that it's dangerous for me to be on the street once it gets dark. Given that we live in the Seattle area, we're about as far away from Sanford, Florida as you can get without leaving the lower 48. Still, my girlfriend has an increased concern for my safety after dark. This strikes me as worrisome.

Florida's "stand your ground" law is, as nearly as I can tell, being neither a legislator or a lawyer, poorly written. As I understand it, a person may pick a fight and then resort to deadly force to extricate themselves if it goes badly, and attempt to cover themselves with the law. But, it is Florida's law. Not Washington's. While the Zimmerman case may or (more likely) may not be a springboard to a national conversation about race, the legal system and justice, one effect that it is having is to make certain segments of the population feel unsafe. Which is ironic, because the whole point behind "stand your ground" was to combat a feeling of being unsafe while out an about - even if that feeling of "unsafety" was courtesy, at least in part, of National Rifle Association fear-mongering, given that violent crime has been trending downward recently.

The smaller the segment of the population that feels safe, the smaller the segment of the population that tends to be safe, as people who feel threatened often come to feel that the best defense is a good (and proactive) offense. Laws that simply shuffle insecurity around, or worse, increase it, don't help deal with that.

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