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Jun 06 2013

What? No! Really?

I can’t believe…YOU CAN DO WHAT IN TEXAS? Jesus Fuck, but it’s time for a national intervention in that goddamn state. Redirect the drones from Afghanistan to this bloated tumor in our own country now, or if that’s politically untenable, rip out their rotten political core and replace it with something decent.

Decent Texans are bowing their heads in shame right now. Or planning to move.

52 comments

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  1. 1
    WithinThisMind

    There was a time in which this news would have shocked me to the core. I think I may have finally moved from cynic to full on pessimist.

  2. 2
    A. R

    My surprise meter reads zero.

  3. 3
    triamacleod

    WHAT! You have got to be kidding me. He hired her, he paid her but, because it was dark outside when he went up to her car and shot her, he gets away with it?

    I drove into that forsaken State once, to see my daughter graduate, and I hope I never have to set foot in that pool of insanity ever again.

  4. 4
    Andy Groves

    I’m not sure which is more vile – the shooter or the lawyer who felt it was OK to invoke the “night time theft rule” in his client’s defense.

  5. 5
    Sili

    On the plus-side, having a “night time theft rule”, should make it easy to get rid of the tax-dodgers and benefit cheats in the Tea Party.

  6. 6
    cubist

    [channeling VoiceType="good, decent, upstanding, devout Texan who loves him some Jesus"]
    Yeah, well, she was just a damn dirty whore, now wasn’t she? No good woman would ever be caught dead slutting around like that, especially not for filthy lucre. So that dirtysluttywhore got EXACTLY what she deserved. Amirite? Huh? Huh? Amirite?
    [/channeling]

    Yyyeah.
    Right.
    I’m thinking any sex worker in Texas probably wants to get the hell out of there. Not sure how many of them are in a financial position where ‘getting the hell outta here’ is a live option for them…

    Hmmm. Underground Railroad? Cash delivered in a plain brown package, with a note saying “This should be enough to get you to anywhere in the continental US, plus support you for the next six months while you’re finding employment”? The basic idea here is to reduce the population of vulnerable women by having them emigrate to places where they can’t be, you know, shot in the fucking head with total impunity. The menz who patronize sex workers will still keep having sex, because PENIS, but with a shrinking supply of sex workers to exploit, they’re necessarily gonna have to start moving in on the previously-untouched population of Good Girls™—women who are more likely to have the proverbial “(male) friends in high places”, hence less likely to just get shot and (figuratively) left to bleed out in the gutter.
    A similar strategy might be worth applying in those sanity-forsaken rectangular Midwestern states where they’re doing their damnedest to make sure women know their divinely-ordained place. Your State’s legislators want to make life hell for women? Fine. People in the saner States of the Union will work to rescue the women in your State.

  7. 7
    magistramarla

    PZ,
    There are a few intelligent people here. We’re just stuck here for a while because of the hubby’s job. We’re already plotting our escape. We lived in California for the last few years, so we’ve gone from paradise to hell.
    One good thing, though. We’ll be providing two more Democratic votes in Texas for the next few years. I’m hoping to see this state turn blue, or at least purple.

  8. 8
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Someone explain to me why jurors aren’t liable for this kind of shit?

  9. 9
    Inaji

    This is one of those events which brings about the initial thought of “Fuck humanity. We aren’t worth it.”

  10. 10
    bad Jim

    See also Amanda Marcotte, Texas Jury Says It’s Cool To Murder Prostitutes For Not Having Sex With You:

    Basically, you’re seeing the same problem that you see with “stand your ground” laws and other such laws that give people broad rights to shoot outside of immediate self-defense. It turns shooting cases into situations where the jury just basically rules in favor of the person who has higher social status. “White man” outranks “Hispanic prostitute”, and so shooting her is rendered legal, as long as you can cough up the thinnest of justifications. But if you’re a black woman who doesn’t even hurt someone while firing a gun in actual self-defense, too bad for you! These laws are custom made to be exploited for racist and sexist ends.

  11. 11
    redbeard

    Ah, the old “Grand Theft Auto Discount” defense, eh?

  12. 12
    SallyStrange

    Yes, thanks bad Jim – the link in Amanda’s final paragraph goes to a story about a black woman in Florida who received 20 years in prison for firing a gun, hurting nobody except the ceiling, in self-defense. Her ex-husband had assaulted her and had a history of assault. She tried to use FL’s “stand your ground” law but the judge wouldn’t buy it.

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/06/05/2108171/florida-judge-rejected-stand-your-ground-defense-for-black-woman-who-fired-warning-shot-during-domestic-violence/

  13. 13
    Paul K

    This just makes me physically ill. What the fuck is wrong with all the people who had to agree with this for it to actually happen? When I first read about it, I thought, ‘This cannot be true as reported; something must be wrong here.’

    I was already a pessimist. Where do I go from here?

  14. 14
    left0ver1under

    Ah, but the dead person was a woman and working as a prostitute, so in the eyes of the christian right, that makes it okay.

    There are cases where multiple robbers tried to hold up a store, and the store owner killed a robber. The dead robber’s co-conspirators are charged with the murder because their own actions led to the death of the other. In the same way, the one who murdered the woman should be charged with the murder since he was a participant in the crime of prostitution.

    She took the money without performing a sex act? So what? He chose to engage in an illegal act, that means he forfeits any right to claim “theft”, ergo the “theft defense” shouldn’t apply. Without that claim, it was an unprovoked act of murder. How corrupt do Texas courts have to be not to see it that way?

  15. 15
    ibyea

    Wow those juries must have pudding for brains.

  16. 16
    lockout

    People claim that the Quran is the most influential book ever written, with the Bible being second. This is incorrect as the Quran appeals to a lesser-developed mind, and numbers do not equal influence. The third most influential book ever written in my opinion is Euclid’s Elements. It is kind of the anti-Quran, as it was read by few, but those who did read it created modern science, and great influence. It served as the standard textbook on Geometry from 300BC until around the year 1900.

    However, Euclid’s Elements only considered Length, Width, and Breadth. It was not until the element of Time was introduced that energy could be studied, allowing a greater engagement of Nature, and enjoyment of life.

    Herein, we consider prostitutes, religion, and the greater good. While prostitutes can be givers of life, recognize that Sampson engaged the services of a prostitute, and then went on a rampage. In excess of one thousand fell that single day. Therefore, we as a society should be very wary of the institution of prostitution. It being proven in the Book of Judges to be more deadly than gunpowder, and a net taker of life.

  17. 17
    Rey Fox

    #16: Please tell me you’re not for real.

  18. 18
    danielbjorkman

    What the fuck? Aside from how idiotic that law is, how did it even apply in this case? As things stand, you are not entitled to sex just because you paid for it, therefore he had not been robbed, therefore the law should not have applied. Why wasn’t that argument thrown right out of court?

    The OP turns this into an argument for legalising prostitution, for some asinine reason. Somehow, I don’t think that the piece of shit was plotting legal defenses when he pulled the gun, so I think that this woman would pretty much have died even if prostitution had been legal, and getting her murderer convicted afterward would have been scant comfort for her. I would consider it a far better argument for outlawing personal firearms. And, first and foremost, for striking that moronic fucking cowboy “I NEEDZ TO DEFEND MY PROPERTEEEEEE!!!!” law from the books.

  19. 19
    flyonwall

    Skip this comment if you’re averse to extremes ….

    BUT

    I can imagine someone in Texas planning to commit a crime in Texas, doing it with a gun at night, shooting the victim and claiming a clean kill because the victim cheated them. Why? A live victim can testify against you. With a dead victim, you can testify against them.

    Extreme, perhaps, but apart from the multiple injustices many of us feel at this crime the greater crime is the anarchy this Texas law and the Texas jury permit. We feel as though this will happen again and again. Why not, you can MURDER people in Texas and get away with it if you do it with the right story.

  20. 20
    Endorkened

    I’ve been watching this story creep up through the media all day now. It started in sex worker blogs, worked its way into Jezebel, then up into left wing news, then into mainstream news where my favorite authors started retweeting it, and then I saw PZ yelling about bombing Texas and without even looking to see what he was talking about, I just burst out laughing. I’ve been outraged all day and I’m out of rage now.

  21. 21
    anchor

    Armed white brat-man knew perfectly well he was shooting a woman.

    Woman dies of multiple gunshot wounds.

    White man lahyer knows perfectly well his client knew what he was shooting at and what-fer.

    But there’s this law, see.

    It was dark, so its ok.

    Woman died of multiple gunshot wounds delivered by his client. This is clear to everyone.

    Doesn’t matter.

    It was dark, so its ok.

    White brat-man coward with gun shot her to death – murdered an unarmed woman by shooting her in the back – because he was dissatisfied after soliciting her for sexual favors and she refused to return his money.

    Doesn’t matter.

    It was dark, so its ok.

    The woman died because the bullets struck the intended target. It is evident it was not so dark that white brat-man’s aim was in the slightest hindered.

    Doesn’t matter.

    White man lahyer knows the lah: It was dark enough, so its ok.

    White brat-men with guns should be able to shoot and kill anybody they please.

    It doesn’t matter.

    Is a law: if it is dark, its ok…as long as you are white brat-man with a gun.

    Guess Texas really DOES do everything bigger: the scale and stench of the bullshit is truly colossal. Their pride in piling it is even more tremendous.

    So, what does Texas need lahs and lahyers for again?

    If one is not a white brat-man with a gun, it may soon be safer to be under an EF-5 in Oklahoma than to be in Texas in the dark.

  22. 22
    Kagato

    I just… can’t get my head around this.
    There is no scenario I can formulate where this outcome makes any sense.

    One, as pointed out above and in comments on the linked articles, prostitution is illegal in Texas, so how can he possibly argue for theft in the course of a criminal transaction? He could only legally have paid her for her company, which he got; so as far as I can see, attempting to take back the money at gunpoint is armed robbery on his part (a felony) — that she ultimately died as a result makes it a felony murder (regardless of his intent to kill), which is considered first degree murder! *

    Two, if this outcome is justifiable then surely it would apply in all equivalent cases, right?

    I buy a TV on Craigslist and pay with a funds transfer. When I go to collect the TV that evening the seller stands by his door and smugly tells me “I dunno what you’re talking about man, I don’t got your money and I don’t got no TV”. I can just shoot him in the face because he “robbed me” and it’s dark out?

    I’ve heard lots of people are selling cocaine on Craigslist under the guise of “imported coffee”.** I order some expecting to receive drugs, but the guy drops off actual coffee at my doorstep. I shoot him because he’s got my money and I paid for cocaine, damnit! That’s cool, yeah?

    I pay a doctor for a night-time callout for a migraine. He comes around and says he can’t do anything for me beyond the ibuprofin I already took, but he’s charging the callout fee anyway. I can shoot him in the back on the way out because I had an expectation of treatment for my money, not just a visit, therefore he “robbed me”?

    Please tell me the prosecutors can and will appeal to a higher court in this case.
    If the US legal system can allow this jury’s decision to be final, then I’m not sure it’s a defensible system.

    * Wikipedia lawyering
    ** I’m making this up. As far as I know.

  23. 23
    lochaber

    And people wonder why I self-identify as a misanthropist…

    but srsly, fuck Texas

  24. 24
    R Johnston

    @8, 10, 15 etc.

    The problem here is the judge in the case, not the jury. If the facts as alleged by the defense do not constitute a justification under the law, that’s a matter for the judge to decide. Apparently the judge decided that shooting an escort at night because she didn’t have sex with you is, in fact, justifiable under the law and allowed the defense to proceed to make that argument. The jury had little choice. The judge should have barred the defense from making the argument it made, and once he failed at that he should have instructed the jury that, as a matter of law, the facts alleged did not constitute a defense under the law and that the jury must convict if it believed the defendant’s version of the facts.

    This case is a failure on a question of law, not a question of fact, and that means the blame lies with the judge.

  25. 25
    Kagato

    R Johnston @24:

    I don’t think that follows. That the judge allowed the defense to make the argument doesn’t mean that the argument automatically wins.

    Just because this odious “nighttime theft” rule might have potentially applied and the judge let the defense argue for it, that doesn’t show that the jury must accept it (unless so ordered by the judge, I guess).

    If the jury isn’t there to decide based on the evidence presented to them, what do you think their role is?

  26. 26
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    @16:
    The unjust, misogynistic travesty in the OP is more than enough “bad examples of humanity” for an entire thread. Take your racist, Islamophobic “…Quran is for lesser developed minds…” BS somewhere else. Along with the rest of that drivel you spewed.

  27. 27
    R Johnston

    Kagato @25:

    If the jury isn’t there to decide based on the evidence presented to them, what do you think their role is?

    The role of the jury is to decide matters of fact and apply the facts to the law. The role of the judge is to decide matters of law and to instruct the jury on how the facts the jury finds apply to the law.

    The jury found that the defendant had paid for sex, was refused sex, was refused his money back, and killed a woman in response. The judge is the one who decided that that amounts to a legal justification for killing a woman.

  28. 28
    Lofty

    Fucken justice, how does it work?

  29. 29
    randay

    Sometimes there is the possibility of the Federal government stepping in and trying a criminal for violation of someone’s civil rights after a state court finds the criminal not guilty of a heinous crime. I hope this is the case here. Also, I hope that the woman’s family files civil charges against the murderer.

  30. 30
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Caine:

    This is one of those events which brings about the initial thought of “Fuck humanity. We aren’t worth it.”

    This happens to me with increasing frequency. Maybe it’s because stories like this are better-reported these days. Maybe it’s just because my awareness of this kind of shit is increasing (thanks, Pharyngula, for this most painful education). Maybe it’s because this shit happens more and more often.

    But whatever the cause, I wouldn’t mind if the events of Vonnegut’s Galapagos come to pass. A nice easy sterilization of humanity, so we don’t take 99% of the world with us. Birds, bees, and Komodo dragons don’t need to pay the price of our party.

    If it weren’t for the wonderful folks with whom I associate (including the great bulk of all y’all), I’d have no hope left.

  31. 31
    birgerjohansson

    “Fuck humanity. We aren’t worth it”

    The late Philip Jose Farmer would have agreed with you.

  32. 32
    badgersdaughter

    Yeah, so the UK passed laws making it essentially impossible for me to quit my job and move in with my UK husband, and we are almost done with his green card process (we hope). So for now I’m afraid I am just going to have to hang my head a little lower in shame for this stupid state. At this rate I will be able to wipe my shoes on my head before long.

  33. 33
    Sastra

    The hope for humanity lies in the fact that this case is producing so much outrage in so many areas. 500 years ago the strong likelihood is that nobody would have blinked an eye over something like this — not even what passed for the bleeding-heart liberal elite of the time, who were too busy sifting out crimes which did not deserve torture, mutilation, and death from those which obviously did. Even 100 years ago, 50 years ago, there’d probably have been a lot more “shruggies” and a lot less outspoken protest. The wheel doesn’t turn fast enough, no. But it is turning. Over time. And statistically.

    In Texas it’s apparently grinding against the remnants of an ‘honor’ culture mentality which places a very high value on revenge and taking the law into your own hands: doing so establishes you as a high-status badass you better not mess with, that’s fer shur. Restraint and the centralized rule of law come later in history.

    So we should shame them. Hard. They don’t get their own rules; it’s not their fiefdom. Welcome to the 21st century. I’d love to smack some sense into that jury …. metaphorically speaking, of course. Otherwise I could claim they all “stole justice” from the rest of us and sneak up behind them one-by-one in the dark.

  34. 34
    David Marjanović

    Ne mutlu Türküm diyene.

  35. 35
    David Marjanović

    who were too busy sifting out crimes which did not deserve torture, mutilation, and death

    Keyword “and”.

  36. 36
    Azuma Hazuki

    @16/Lockout

    …uh…you are aware that Samson is a legend, are you not? One with, actually, many solar-deity elements to him?

    The same anthology you’re quoting from also has instructions to commit genocide, capture and rape girls and women from your enemies, and breed stripey goats by making white goat stare at a striped stick.

    Or am I just wasting my time on any idiot who’d say the ridiculous crap you do in public and expect to get away with it?

  37. 37
    quidam

    In my post yesterday on this topic this isn’t unique. It’s also legal in Florida to kill your wife’s lover.

    Florida Man Shoots Wife’s Lover Dead, Jury Acquits Citing Stand Your Ground

    Ralph Wald, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran, walked into his home around midnight, and less than ten seconds later, fired three shots at Walter Conley, according to ABC News. He told the jury he thought Conley was raping his wife when he saw them having intercourse in his home. But during a 911 call, when the dispatcher asked Wald if the man was dead, Wald responded, “I hope so!” and refused to help the man. He asked for medical help for his wife, Johnna Flores, since he thought he accidentally shot her also.

    I guess his wife is unlikely to testify against him “Sorry officer, I thought the hair dryer she was holding was a gun so I shot her first” or even “She owed me for her share of the dinner, since she didn’t spread them when it was over”

    Now it seems that in any ‘your word against theirs’ dispute, shooting the other person is a winning strategy, since dead women can’t testify.

  38. 38
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    So I’m never spending time or money in Texas and Florida again, at least as far as I can help it.

  39. 39
    twas brillig (stevem)

    These “Stand Your Ground” Laws are so easily distorted beyond the ‘good intentions’ that brought them into being, they really need to be seriously reconsidered and rewritten. The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case brought it home to me. All the discussion around the case only focuses on “was Zimmerman a racist or not?”. No one ever questions his use of the SYG law as justification to kill the unarmed Trayvon.
    Just like this case where the “intention” is to justify shooting a thief stealing your property, but has been distorted to define “thief” as someone who doesn’t honor their end of an illegal bargain. I mean, pfffw, did she pull the money out of his pocket without his consent? He GAVE her the money, how is that theft? So she didn’t fuck him like he wanted, so he shot her. How can ANYONE claim SYG applies?
    So easy to claim, “unintended consequences”, result from every law, but these consequences, while unintended, were easily predictable.
    “The only defense is a gun and your eagerness to use it”, is all they say.
    AMERICA, what has happened to us?
    {sob, lament, sob}

  40. 40
    Amphiox

    While prostitutes can be givers of life, recognize that Sampson engaged the services of a prostitute, and then went on a rampage.

    That would be Samson.

    Many Sampsons have engaged the services of many prostitutes many times over the years, I am sure. I am not aware of any of them going on rampages.

    And besides, all it tells us is that men should groom themselves properly, and cut their hair, before engaging in said services.

  41. 41
    unclefrogy

    nothing happened to america as in we have changed into a violent irrational nation. It is more we are in the process of changing into a society where this sort of thing is becoming less violent and less excepting of violence. What we are seeing is the resistance of a segment of society who is resisting this change. These kinds of laws were not needed 100 / 150 years ago maybe even 80 years ago someone shot a prostitute how much outrage would have been generated?
    These laws were passed because courts and law enforcement began to have less tolerance to this kind of thing and the reactionary conservatives felt the need to try and prevent the change and enshrine the “right to use deadly force” in law.The only outcome I can see to such action is to insure a less secure less peaceful less cohesive society.
    It is irrational and it only insures more irrational behavior as in this tragic absurdity.
    uncle frogy

  42. 42
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    stevem

    These “Stand Your Ground” Laws are so easily distorted beyond the ‘good intentions’ that brought them into being, they really need to be seriously reconsidered and rewritten.

    No, they need to be abolished completely.

  43. 43
    eoraptor

    This event being in the sovereign State of Texas, and without having read the original news article, I’m willing to bet a fairly large sum of money that the… thing… that did this is a white-boy, and that the actual victim was some shade of brown.

  44. 44
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    Fucking seriously? I’m glad I finally left that state.

    Stories like this are why im looking into going to law school. I want the power to stop rulings like this from occuring.

  45. 45
    WharGarbl

    @eoraptor
    #43

    thing… that did this is a white-boy, and that the actual victim was some shade of brown.

    Well…
    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Jury-acquits-escort-shooter-4581027.php
    Shooter looks white, and his name sounds white.
    The victim’s name is Lenora Ivie Frago. From Google Image search… still not sure. Could be white or Asian. Or mixed with Hispanic heritage. (The only “race” I’m somewhat confident in ruling out is that she’s not black).
    Well, she’s a woman, that should be enough for the shooting.

  46. 46
    Francisco Bacopa

    You would think they could have done better in Bexar County. How many women were on the jury? It doesn’t matter. There are plenty of women who would let a supposed slut be killed to prove they are not a slut. Phyllis Schafly has killed plenty of “sluts” with her hate.

    And I don’t think there really is such a thing as an unhuman slut. There are simply women expressing their sexualities in multiple ways. I may think it is unfortunate that some of these ways are common and wish that things were otherwise, but I don’t see the women as killable subhumans because of this.

    Of course, the last couple of years have taught me that MANY men and not that few women see women as killable subhumans. I used to think the problem was sexism, unexamined biases and not thinking things through. Now I know the problem is pure hatred of women.

  47. 47
    Francisco Bacopa

    As a Texan I have the right to hate on Texas more than any of you. You cannot imagine the horror I feel as the progressive Texas that brought about “The Strange Demise of Jim Crow” I grew up in turned into the source of many American evils when Richards lost to W in 1994.

    But at least Texas has the mayor of the largest city that has ever elected a gay mayor And we voted for her twice, Fuck you Annise Parker. I voted for you twice, but you screwed over Occupy Houston as soon as you could. Tool!

  48. 48
    woodsong

    From the linked article (bolding mine):

    His defense said that it is perfectly legal because of the “nighttime theft” rule in Texas which states that it’s OK “to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.”

    Just what property, pray tell, was he expecting to recover by shooting his hired escort? I’m assuming his money, but if not–ewww!

    Sorry, that’s just where my mind went. I’ll go catch it now.

  49. 49
    David Marjanović

    Florida Man Shoots Wife’s Lover Dead, Jury Acquits Citing Stand Your Ground

    HULK SMASH

    But during a 911 call, when the dispatcher asked Wald if the man was dead, Wald responded, “I hope so!” and refused to help the man.

    Where I come from, that’s the next crime, called unterlassene Hilfeleistung, “neglect of performing aid”. Want that in fucking Biblical terms? You are your brother’s keeper.

    they really need to be seriously reconsidered and rewritten

    Nope. Deleted without replacement.

    The whole fucking point of having a government at all, as opposed to Somalian anarchy or the Wild West, the point of having a country as opposed to a hole in the political map like much of Somalia, is the rule of law, which means that the state – in American terms, the government – has the monopoly on violence!!! You are not allowed to wage your own private war, and you are not allowed to take the law into your own hands. You’re allowed immediate self-defense, and immediate defense of others, but you’re not allowed to punish.

    If you’re not outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.

    (And that’s even before we get to the question of whether the death penalty should be allowed at all.)

  50. 50
    ealloc

    The story above isn’t quite accurate. The jury *didn’t* aquit because of the property law, they aquitted because he didn’t mean to shoot her: It seems he actually shot at her tire, and a small piece of shrapnel bounced from the tire and hit her.

    http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/06/08/no-texas-law-does-not-say-you-can-shoot-an-escort-who-refuses-to-have-sex/

    However, his defense attorney did make the property argument, which is really gross.

    There are plenty aspects of this story that are messed up, but it’s important not to sensationalize. There’s enough patriarchal stuff to compain about without making more of it up.

  51. 51
    breaplum

    They aren’t hanging their heads in shame and trying to leave, PZ…they’re all coming here to Austin and fucking up my fabulous town. I wish they’d leave the state instead, we’ve lost too many wonderful places to those goddam highrises as it is.

  52. 52
    carovee

    Thanks, ealloc. I was just coming here to post the story at RHReality Check. To my shame I totally jumped all over Texas without ever looking at any original reporting. It goes to show that one really needs to follow all the links back to some kind of original reporting before making a snap judgement.

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