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One law for white men, another law for black women

Florida, you suck. I can’t put it any other way: your state is run by evil thugs. George Zimmerman murdered a black teenager and walked off free; Michael Dunn murdered a black kid for playing his music too loud; and both of those cases were prosecuted by the incompetent Angela Corey, who now wants revenge, so she’s going to take it out on a black woman who didn’t kill anybody. Marissa Alexander was convicted for firing warning shots to dissuade her abusive from attacking her, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. That injustice got temporarily overthrown, and now Angela Corey is retrying the case, announcing that she’s going for three times the penalty.

Marissa Alexander could face a 60-year prison sentence instead of her original 20-year sentence when her aggravated assault case is retried in July.

The Florida Times-Union reports that the Office of State Attorney Angela Corey will try to put Alexander behind bars for 60 years if it is able to convict her for a second time.

Alexander, 33, was convicted in 2012 of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 20 years in prison by Circuit Judge James Daniel under Florida’s 10-20-life law. Daniel imposed three separate 20-year sentences but ordered that they be served concurrently, which meant Alexander would get out in 20 years.

What the hell is wrong with you, Florida? Have you no shame at all?

Comments

  1. bjornbrembs says

    According to Florida logic, Ms. Alexander ought to have shot her abuser instead: had she shot him, she could have claimed ‘stand your ground’. Not shooting him was evidence the situation wasn’t all that dangerous, so 10-20-life applies.

    Remember: when in Florida, shoot to kill if you plan to walk away.

  2. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @1 bjornbrembs

    She’s not a white dude. Had she killed him, she would have gotten a life sentence, if not the death penalty.

  3. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    also @1 sorry missed this bit. IIRC she tried to invoke stand your ground and was told she couldn’t. Again, not a white dude. Only white dudes can defend themselves, even on their own property.

  4. John Kruger says

    How the heck is this not double jeopardy? We don’t like your sentence, so we will just keep parading juries through until we get the one we want? How is this anything but completely unconstitutional?

  5. Chie Satonaka says

    What’s really appalling is watching the same conservative pro-gun crowd who trash Trayvon Martin as a “thug” who was obviously buying the Skittles and tea to make “lean” now argue that Marissa Alexander had a duty to retreat and had no right to retrieve her gun instead of fleeing the house. I’m sensing a pattern here….but of course these same people will claim that they are not racist at all.

  6. bittys says

    @5 She appealed her conviction and won a retrial. That has absolutely nothing to do with double jeopardy, which prevents the government from retrying someone who is found not guilty in the first place.

  7. says

    How the heck is this not double jeopardy?

    I think because the whole sentence was thrown out. Her “guilty” verdict was overturned, but that doesn’t mean she was found “not guilty”.

  8. Louis says

    Ahhhh another data point for the elucidation of the precise parameters of the inversely proportional relationship between epidermal melanin content and justice.

    Nope, that’s it. Drinking and sarcasm start early today.

    Louis

  9. sqlrob says

    I’m looking for a more direct source, but a comment elsewhere said she broke in and was hiding in his house when she had a restraining order against him. If that’s true, I’m having a lot of trouble having any problem with the book being thrown at her.

  10. Chie Satonaka says

    @sqlrob

    She had a restraining order against him. Her husband freely admits he was physically abusive to her during their relationship. She went to their SHARED home when she thought he was gone to retrieve some of her personal items. He was home and started in with accusations that her newborn child was not his. She got her gun out of her vehicle in the garage and fired shots into the wall to warn him off.

    You seriously think this woman who injured no one should get 60 years in prison for violating the rules of a restraining order by returning to her home? You seriously believe that she had less of a reason to fear her husband than George Zimmerman had to fear from a 17 year old teenage boy walking home from the convenience store?

  11. sqlrob says

    Supposedly denial of motion to dismiss

    Not quite broken in, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it self defense either. The original sentence was probably reasonable, going for sequential instead of concurrent doesn’t seem it.

    And PZ, how is going back into the garage for the gun in any way a warning shot?

  12. sqlrob says

    She went to their SHARED home when she thought he was gone to retrieve some of her personal items. He was home and started in with accusations that her newborn child was not his. She got her gun out of her vehicle in the garage and fired shots into the wall to warn him off.

    She went to the home she wasn’t at for more than two months and stayed the night. Then they came home. If there was a restraining order against him, why did she go to the house where he’d be?

    And no, 60 years is not reasonable. The 20 might be.

  13. A Masked Avenger says

    Michael Dunn murdered a black kid for playing his music too loud…

    And was convicted, and faces up to 60 years in prison. Are you saying Florida sucks for convicting him? I agree that it sucks he wasn’t also convicted of first-degree murder; apparently 25% of the jury accepted his bare assertion that he saw a gun, in the absence of any supporting evidence, and under circumstances that cast doubt on his credibility. And I agree that being white almost certainly gave him that little extra “credibility” to be taken at his word. Which also sucks.

    Marissa Alexander was convicted for firing warning shots to dissuade her abusive from attacking her…

    There’s no such thing as “warning shots.” She, and you, watch too much TV. Threatening with a gun (with or without shots fired) is illegal, full stop. It’s called assault, or aggravated assault if shots are fired. Firing it at all is illegal in many municipalities. Self-defense law operates by saying, “Yes, I committed the crime of threatening (or killing) someone with a gun, but my crime is justified by the need to save my life.” It starts by admitting a crime, and then arguing that the crime is justified. The law spells out circumstances under which a crime may be justified.

    In Marissa Alexander’s case, justification goes out the window because she left the scene of the confrontation, and went to her vehicle. At that point she was perfectly able to escape the danger, without committing any crimes (since driving away in your vehicle is NOT a crime). When she retrieved a gun and returned to confront her abuser, she was not “standing her ground,” because “stand your ground” does not authorize anyone to initiate a confrontation. She was also not justified in committing any crimes, because justification requires (among other things) that the commission of the crime be necessary to avoid harm, and that the one committing the crime not be the initiator of the situation necessitating self-defense. Legally, when she left the scene of the confrontation and went to her vehicle, the first confrontation was over. When she returned with a gun, a second confrontation began, initiated by her.

    So she was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. That’s what the law calls it when you threaten someone with a firearm, AND fire shots in the process. That’s one of the stricter gun laws that we generally approve of. They did not convict her of attempted murder. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what the law requires.

    As for Zimmerman, the problem is that the jury believed his claim that Martin confronted him, knocked him to the ground, and mounted him. If this were in fact the case, then it’s clearly the case that he was in danger of severe injury (a single blow of one’s head on a sidewalk can kill), and that his options were extremely limited (escape is certainly difficult with a young man straddling you). “Stand your ground” is not involved in any way. If the facts are as Zimmerman claims, then the legal requirements of self-defense are met–assuming, in addition, that Zimmerman didn’t initiate or escalate the confrontation.

  14. carlie says

    The 20 might be.

    That right there is the problem.

    An abused woman goes back to HER HOUSE to get HER STUFF when she thinks her abuser won’t be there. She then has to defend herself against him, and he has said under oath that if she hadn’t started firing the gun, he was absolutely going to attack her again. She shot specifically to not harm him, but to scare him off. Yet there are people who think that her actions deserve 20 years in prison.

  15. psweet says

    As I recall, during the George Zimmerman trial a newspaper in Tampa examined a bunch of cases where the “stand your ground” law was used successfully in cases where the defendant left the scene to grab a weapon, then returned and used it. I agree that your explanation makes sense, but it doesn’t seem to be the actual practice in Florida.

    They also found that the race of the victim made a huge difference — kill a white person and your chances of successfully invoking a stand your ground defence go way down.

  16. methuseus says

    As psweet says, there are plenty of instances where white men went to grab a gun and returned to kill a black man and successfully used SYG. Living in Florida it’s ridiculous how often it gets used. Also, from what the papers say, the jurors for Zimmerman were specifically told to consider SYG, whether Zimmerman invoked it or not. That’s why he didn’t, the judge specifically told the jurors they had to consider it.

  17. stevem says

    …because “stand your ground” does not authorize anyone to initiate a confrontation.

    Zimmerman initiated the confrontation that the jury excused as SYG. If Martin actually did attack Zimmerman and “mount” him, bashing Z’s head into the sidewalk; that was just his reaction to the confrontation. To quote Ham. “Were you there, did you witness Martin beating Z?” Neither did I, this is all just speculation about what really happened. What we do know is that Martin was unarmed and shot by a guy claiming SYG.

    This case is very different. To say she should have just run away instead of threatening her abuser with a gun she retrieved from her car is trivializing women. Tacitely saying women are too weak to defend themselves and only MEN can wield guns. Doesn’t it matter that the only thing she could do to intimidate her abuser is to fire a gun? She fired into a wall so she wouldn’t hit him, but to demonstrate that she could. Yes, that constitutes Assault with a Deadly Weapon, but does that automatically justify a prison sentence?

    I was born and raised (till ’67) in Florida, so many stories of crazy Florideans makes me so glad I moved away.

  18. says

    I don’t think Alexander is entirely guiltless — she was involved in an acrimonious domestic dispute that got very, very ugly, in part because of her participation. And yes, it should be a crime to fire a gun even in the general direction of someone. But either…

    1. The intended punishment is excessive and unwarranted, and Alexander is being treated exceptionally and vindictively, or

    2. I expect all you fellows saying she needs to go to jail to be on the scene next time some good ol’ boy pops off a few rounds from his concealed carry, demanding that he go to jail for 60 years, too.

    Somehow, I don’t think either scenario will play out, ever.

  19. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    There’s an important difference. Right wing thugs LOVE when white people kill young black men, so they have the evidence in the trial to masturbate over. Whereas a woman defending herself against an abuser is their worst nightmare – it’d be like masturbating to the Human Centipede.

    Right, apologists?

  20. drowner says

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/man-accidentally-shoots-12-year-old-driving-by-his-house-immediately-shoots-self

    It appears that PZ is correct, and Florida does indeed suck. This man will not be charged, after firing his gun and hitting both a young girl and himself.

    Also, IMO Marissa Alexander had every reason to believe that retrieving her gun and firing a warning shot would help to avoid future conflict with her abusive ex. I can imagine it being rather scary to have your larger significant other pound on you.

  21. vaiyt says

    They could bring back drawing and quartering just for her sentence, and the apologists would still be screaming.

  22. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    They could bring back drawing and quartering just for her sentence, and the apologists would still be screaming.

    I’m pretty sure at that point you could delete the “s.”

  23. says

    From drowner’s link:

    Ventura Santos Mateo, 60, was in his garage teaching a friend how to clean his gun.

    You really have no place teaching people how to clean guns until you’ve first learned the simple lesson, before you clean the gun, take out the bullets.
    For that matter, there’s the even earlier rule, don’t load the gun unless you’re ready to fire it.

    I’ve never held a real gun in my life and I know these rules. My father taught me those when we got an air gun. I’m continually amazed at how people can apparently buy guns in America without knowing rules about as simple as “don’t run with scissors” and “look before you cross the street”.

  24. Chie Satonaka says

    …because “stand your ground” does not authorize anyone to initiate a confrontation.

    Florida’s self-defense laws explicitly say that there is no duty to retreat to avoid the use of deadly force. Zimmerman initiated the conflict with Martin. Dunn initiated the conflict with Davis. (And Dunn was NOT convicted of murdering Davis, he was convicted of shooting at the other boys). We have two men who are given the benefit of not being expected to retreat, and one woman of color who has not. The two men murdered people, the woman of color caused zero physical injury to anyone. The laws are not being equally applied and it’s very obvious.

  25. A Masked Avenger says

    Florida’s self-defense laws explicitly say that there is no duty to retreat to avoid the use of deadly force.

    That’s right: that’s what “stand your ground” means. However, removing the duty to retreat does not grant the affirmative right, when you find yourself in a position of safety, to re-enter the fray and start shooting. That’s why they call it “stand your ground” rather than “take the offensive.” There is no law anywhere in the United States that authorizes people who are out of danger to arm themselves and march into danger, and then claim self-defense.

    (The exception is police officers, basically, who are empowered to take the offensive in order to, e.g., effect an arrest.)

    Zimmerman initiated the conflict with Martin.

    It’s possible that he did initiate a conflict, but no evidence of that was presented. Following someone around, being annoying or creepy, pissing people off, etc., count as “starting a fight” in common usage, but legally they do not count as “initiating the conflict.” That’s not the legal definition. Legally, provocation is speech or conduct that a reasonable person would respond to with violence. Reasonable people don’t assault others for following them down the street. Reasonable people do assault others who claim to have slept with their spouse, or molested their children. So you can still claim self-defense after following someone down the road (exception: if stalking laws apply). However, you can’t claim self-defense if you tell someone you just fucked his wife, and then shoot him when he hits you.

    We have two men who are given the benefit of not being expected to retreat, and one woman of color who has not.

    She didn’t “not retreat.” She left the building, and entered her vehicle, and returned with a weapon. That’s not “not retreating.” There’s no law, anywhere in the US, that lets you leave the scene of danger, retrieve a weapon, and then come back and fire it in “self-defense.”

  26. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Masked Avenger:

    If you aren’t just twisting facts to fit your prejudices, then the law is badly, badly broken. Are you going to help fix it or just gloat?

  27. greg hilliard says

    I had to go to National Review to find this, but it says it’s from the court documents:

    [Gray] moved to the living room where his children were. Subsequently, [Alexander] emerged from the master bedroom and went into the garage where her car was parked. [Alexander] testified she was trying to leave the residence but could not get the garage door to open. (The Court notes that despite [Alexander’s] claim she was in fear for her life at that point and trying to get away from [Gray], she did not leave the house through the back or front doors which were unobstructed. Additionally, the garage door had worked previously and there was no evidence to support her claim.) [Alexander] then retrieved her firearm from the glove box of the vehicle. [Alexander] returned to the kitchen with the firearm in her hand and pointed it in the direction of all three victims. [Gray] put his hands in the air. [Alexander] shot at [Gray], barely missing his head. The bullet traveled through the kitchen wall and into the ceiling in the living room. The victims fled the residence and immediately called 911. [Alexander] stayed in the marital home and at no point called 911.

    So if this is true, she did not fire a warning shot directly into the ceiling, she fired at what I presume is a man taller than she is, and the bullet lodged in the ceiling of another room. Not a warning shot, just a miss.

  28. A Masked Avenger says

    1. The intended punishment is excessive and unwarranted, and Alexander is being treated exceptionally and vindictively, or…

    I agree 100% with this. 20 years is ridiculous, let alone demanding consecutive sentences. Aggravated assault in Florida is any assault with a deadly weapon, and carries a maximum sentence of five years. If the weapon is a firearm, there’s a mandatory minimum sentence of three years, and if the firearm is discharged, there’s a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years, which is what the woman got. It’s utterly outrageous. If she had actually beaten him with a baseball bad, without causing serious injuries, she would have gotten five years. Putting bullet holes in the furniture quadrupled that, mandatorily.

    2. I expect all you fellows saying she needs to go to jail to be on the scene next time some good ol’ boy pops off a few rounds from his concealed carry, demanding that he go to jail for 60 years, too.

    I’d consider 60 years outrageous in both cases. We’ve been bitten by mandatory sentencing, and massive penalties for “gun crimes,” because they leave us no freedom to distinguish based on circumstances. Anything from an accidental discharge through a determined attempt at murder receive the same punishment.

    In the case of Michael Dunn, 20 years was certainly appropriate. I’d like to see a harsher sentence, and see him convicted of murder, but 20 years is not at all excessive. In the case of Angela Corey, it’s fucking insane. Even 3 years (the minimum for assault with a firearm, with no shots fired) seems excessive.

  29. A Masked Avenger says

    Azkyroth, #28:

    If you aren’t just twisting facts to fit your prejudices…

    I’m reporting the law accurately. (Modulo the fact that the law is immensely convoluted with a sea of caveats, and IANAL.)

    … then the law is badly, badly broken.

    I agree that it’s badly, badly broken. I have no idea if we agree which bits are most broken. (For example, it’s illegal to go fetch a weapon and then come after the person you were just fighting with; that absolutely should be illegal.)

    Are you going to help fix it or just gloat?

    “Gloat”? How do you get “gloating” out of accurately stating the facts? I think I’ve made it clear how fucked-up this case is. If instead of exercising reading comprehension, you’re going to infer that I’m what, a trigger-happy right-winger? A fan of Zimmerman? Then you can fuck right off.

  30. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @31 A Masked Avenger

    The problem is nobody is debating whether the letter of the law was followed. So when you saunter in here and ‘splain how everything that happened is clearly within the letter of the law, people get irritated. Because you sound exactly like the racist fucks who use that argument to justify trigger happy white dudes murdering black kids with impunity. I recommend you take the self righteous indignation hat off and stop acting like this is a debate over whether the law allows for these outcomes.

  31. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I don’t know Florida law, but A Masked Avenger is describing concepts accurately.

    The only place I see A Masked Avenger falling down is failing to call bullshit on the law when I would think it was necessary. The most relevant example I spotted was this:

    Legally, provocation is speech or conduct that a reasonable person would respond to with violence. Reasonable people don’t assault others for following them down the street. Reasonable people do assault others who claim to have slept with their spouse, or molested their children.

    Yeah. Legally a reasonable person does assault others who claim to have slept with the reasonable person’s spouse. In point of fact, **reasonable people** don’t do this at all. Reasonable men of wealth and status in 1800 found it socially necessary to engage in assault over such things. The law is willing to recognize previously unrecognized rights on rare occasions, but it is dramatically rarer to eliminate a right previously established at law, even if the justification for that right – reasonableness – has been entirely undermined.

    Moreover, while this is entirely fucking sexist and justifies injustice by releasing people earlier than they would otherwise be released, in general prison is over-used in the US and I’m not nearly as opposed to the occasional injustice of lesser sentencing as I am to the injustice of excessive sentencing. And thus the complement – where reasonable women pull a gun on men who have abused them many times in the past, occasionally firing even when their threatening abuser holds no overt weapon – going **unrecognized** at law as a reasonable response leads to greater travesties IMNSHO.

    There is much hemming and hawing among law professors about the implicit racism and sexism of the reasonable person standard – a natural result of the case law developing over 400+ years of time when POC and women didn’t count as “persons” (in Canada, that was 1929 de jure for women, later for POC de jure, still working on de facto for both) – but no one has a real plan for doing anything about it. The closest anyone has come is introducing legal concepts such as BWS which depend on very specifically declaring the defendant **unreasonable**. While it may help defeat a mens rea requirement for a particular crime, it actually reinforces the problems at tort and elsewhere.

    This crap makes me sick.

  32. A Masked Avenger says

    Crip Dyke, #33

    The only place I see A Masked Avenger falling down is failing to call bullshit on the law when I would think it was necessary. The most relevant example I spotted was this:

    Legally, provocation is speech or conduct that a reasonable person would respond to with violence. Reasonable people don’t assault others for following them down the street. Reasonable people do assault others who claim to have slept with their spouse, or molested their children.

    Yeah. Legally a reasonable person does assault others who claim to have slept with the reasonable person’s spouse. In point of fact, **reasonable people** don’t do this at all…

    No argument from me! The “reasonable person” standard has lots of problems, and this is one. There’s a reason I failed to call bullshit on this, though: I was focused on the other side of the coin. For some strange reason, some people seem to be saying that if you follow someone down the street, and he assaults you, then you’re to blame for “provoking” the assault. (I’m not affirming or denying that’s what actually happened to Zimmerman; I’m only saying that if you call following someone “provocation,” that’s what you’re saying.)

    So I was interested in the aspect that you aren’t considered to have “provoked” an attack simply because some random person became pissed off and attacked you. The bar is higher than that, and it should be. Matthew Shepard’s killers claimed to have been “provoked” by a sexual advance; there’s no way in all the seven hells that should count as “provocation.”

    You’re absolutely right that on the flip side, what does count as provocation often shouldn’t. The “reasonable man” standard basically takes whatever the prevailing culture considers grounds for assault, and calls it “provocation.” That could include, depending on the time/place/jury, anything from insulting someone’s mother to a black man asking a white woman for the time. It’s a deeply problematic standard. And it does apply differently to different sexes, races, sexual orientations, etc., which is completely unacceptable.

    On the flip side of THAT, I don’t think I want the bar raised too high in a self-defense case. If someone ends up claiming self-defense, I want to know they were not culpable for inciting an attack just so they could shoot their attacker. I’m uncomfortable with the idea that Zimmerman didn’t “incite” the attack, assuming it occurred as claimed: legally he didn’t; and assaulting people for following you down the road is criminal; but if I were going to take a life in self-defense I’d want my hands to be cleaner than that.

    And on the fourth side, although the “reasonable person” standard sucks, we have nothing better to offer. It gets attached to questions where objective standards are impossible to define. Any solution we come up with is going to suck.

  33. anuran says

    @20

    I don’t think Alexander is entirely guiltless — she was involved in an acrimonious domestic dispute that got very, very ugly, in part because of her participation. And yes, it should be a crime to fire a gun even in the general direction of someone.

    You really don’t believe there is ever any place for legal self defense?
    Really, PZ? I believe you are lying for rhetorical effect.
    If your life is threatened by someone bigger, stronger, more aggressive and unwilling to listen to reason what do you do?

    Lie down and die? You’re a damned fool
    Try to reason with him? See above
    Gently restrain someone who can curl you with one arm? Ditto
    Call the police to come with their guns? Then it’s alright to point guns as long as someone is paying you to point them. Trot over to the Phil department and get them to parse that for you.

    Now go back a few years to before your son was paid to do something you consider to be a crime. Consider for a moment someone – again bigger, stronger and with criminal intent – who wanted to rape or kill your children. I’m guessing, just a guess mind you, that you would react like almost any parent and defend your kids even if it meant pointing a gun and shooting him if he failed to stop. You would believe you had acted perfectly ethically, at least until you had time to overthink later. You would be right, and any Court from Denmark to Dahomey would agree with you.

    Every legal system in the modern world – and with certain class/caste exceptions every one of which I am aware period – holds that a person is entitled to use force including lethal force when confronted with murderous violence. Even before the Black-robed Klansmen of the Roberts Court the SCOTUS had ruled that self defense is a fundamental human right to the point where it was legal for a convicted felon barred from possessing weapons to pick up a gun and use it in what would otherwise be legal defense of his own or another innocent person’s life.

    I’m sure someone will jump on me for saying “Yes, but in this case….”
    We’re not talking about this case. We’re talking about PZ’s rather silly blanket statement.

  34. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @34 A Masked Avenger

    You keep saying “following someone” as if Zimmerman just happened to be strolling down the street at the same approximate time as Martin purely by coincidence and Martin turned and attacked completely apropos of nothing.

  35. Amphiox says

    Reasonable people do assault others who claim to have slept with their spouse, or molested their children.

    Um, the general implication for these actions, and the only reason they are considered acceptable or understandable, is that they are done in the heat of the moment, ie when emotional circumstances overrule reason.

    Reasonable people do NOT do these things. People who have lost, temporarily or not, their capacity of reason, do these things.

  36. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Amphiox, 37

    A Masked Avenger said:

    … but legally they do not count as “initiating the conflict.” That’s not the legal definition. Legally, provocation is speech or conduct that a reasonable person would respond to with violence. Reasonable people don’t assault others for following them down the street. Reasonable people do assault others who claim to have slept with their spouse, …

    AMA doesn’t disagree with you. This was clearly in the context of explaining legal definitions, both before and after the part you quoted. AMA has, at all times that I can tell, been responsive with critique, but not proactive with critique. The detached explanation of the law without commentary that initially occurred does feel dismissive and I didn’t like it. But that doesn’t mean that AMA would affirmatively endorse the law as is. You’re getting an “ought” from an “is”.

  37. unclefrogy says

    PZ “What the hell is wrong with you, Florida? Have you no shame at all?”

    no!
    its Florida, a former land swindle
    uncle frogy

  38. atheistblog says

    PZ but you won’t ask Angela Corey has no shame ? You are part of the problem. Because she was on the right side in some cases doesn’t means you can overlook her atrocities. No one forcing Angela Corey to pursue further in this case.

  39. ck says

    Consider for a moment someone – again bigger, stronger and with criminal intent – who wanted to rape or kill your children.

    What is it about this gun-fondler fantasy that makes it so popular? It’s not like it’s a common scenario, and you’re probably more likely to be hit by a stray bolt of lightning on a clear day than have this happen to your family, but it’s always, always used as a justification for owning and using guns.

  40. Amphiox says

    Re @42;

    One is frankly more likely to be injured by one’s own gun than to ever find oneself in a situation where use of that gun would be one’s best available means of self-defence.

  41. says

    An essential part of gun-nut philosophy is the idea that a real man™ is something akin to a Marvel superhero. He’s a mighty defender of all things right; standing up for justice, freedom and the American Way (for people of the right color and socio-economic status).

    It’s really about enforcing some adolescent fantasy about how the world is supposed to be and their role in it. They hate any idea of gun control, because it undermines their fantasy about one day, one day, being the hero that saves everybody from the bad guys.

    We all have those fantasies. There’s nothing wrong with having them and engaging in a bit of wishful thinking. The problem occurs when people don’t realize that they’re fantasies and expect them to form the basis of public policy.

    Die Hard was just a movie. The idea that one grunt of a cop can single-handedly take out all the bad guys and save the hostages is fiction. It’s a great story and it speaks to our love of the underdog, but it’s just not how reality works.

  42. anuran says

    @ck

    Do try to process, child.

    This isn’t a “gun fondler fantasy”. It’s a textbook-classic thought experiment about the legal and ethical parameters of self defense. It’s done in law schools as an exercise. It’s been in the Courts countless times because it’s something that actually happens. It’s addressed in the legal codes of every State in the Union and every nation on Earth back to Hammurabi. It happens because there are criminals and the Law has been forced to make a distinction between criminal violence and the less bad choice of violence used to prevent it.

    I’m calling PZ to task because he said something stupid. Note that unlike you I’m not calling his intelligence or sexuality into question. He’s smart, but he has prejudices and blind spots as do we all.

  43. stevem says

    That’s right: that’s what “stand your ground” means. However, removing the duty to retreat does not grant the affirmative right, when you find yourself in a position of safety, to re-enter the fray and start shooting. That’s why they call it “stand your ground” rather than “take the offensive.” There is no law anywhere in the United States that authorizes people who are out of danger to arm themselves and march into danger, and then claim self-defense.

    I agree; That’s what it MEANS. The outrage here is that it is rarely interpreted that way, especially if the victim is black and the offender is white.

    To add to the outrage, recently there was a case where somebody was upset that his neighbor was having a loud party. He went over, complained, and when they didn’t break up the party, he went home, got his gun came back, and started shooting. When the neighbor called the police, and they arrived; the shooter claimed SYG. [I stopped reading at that point, I was so disgusted, so I don’t know if they accepted SYG as justification.]

    returning to the OP: We are not lawyers (Masked Avenger), arguing legal definitions etc. We are outraged that the law is interpreted so differently when the defendant is a Female of Color vs White Guy. Stop nitpicking M.A.

  44. ck says

    anuran wrote:

    This isn’t a “gun fondler fantasy”. It’s a textbook-classic thought experiment…

    And yet, in any thread even tangentially associated with the ridiculousness of American gun culture grows in length, the probability of someone invoking the “but what if your wife and/or children were being threatened by rape and murder” approaches one. It’s always this one specific “thought experiment”, too. It’s almost like it’s not really a thought experiment at all, but rather a hero fantasy that can also be wielded as an emotionally manipulative club to use against others who aren’t gun fetishists. Implicit in this dishonest “thought experiment” is the idea that anyone who would answer in the negative would just stand by and let their wife and/or child die a violent, brutal death.

    So, no, this particular scenario is not a “textbook-classic thought experiment”. It’s something very different, and it’s time to start treating it appropriately.

    Note that unlike you I’m not calling his intelligence or sexuality into question.

    … earlier …

    Do try to process, child.

    Sure, cupcake.

  45. diego says

    I don’t get how they can be pushing for a longer sentence. I thought the awful excuse for the original verdict was based on 10-20-Life, so how can they now ask for up to 60 years?

  46. anteprepro says

    In a world that was just, having a lawyer publicly salivating over the prospect of getting someone to serve 60 years due to one single instance of firing a gun threateningly, with no intent to harm or kill, would result in immediately firing and banning from the legal profession. But we live in a world where that sentiment barely raises an eyebrow. Fuck.

  47. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @diego:

    She fired 3 times. That’s 3 separate counts, each eligible for 20 years. She was originally convicted on all 3, and the judge gave her 20 years for each – but to be served concurrently – meaning each day in jail counts separately against each sentence, so she’d be in jail 20 years total not 60 years total.

    Note that this is standard practice when the crimes in question are done as part of a continuous criminal effort. Even in frauds taking place over years and involving multiple acts to deceive against each victim, the sentences are generally concurrent **at least** for each victim, if not for all crimes involved. Thus for an ongoing fraud scheme, you might effectively serve only the longest sentence.

    In a situation where a gun is fired 3 times and the crime was entailed by the discharge of the weapon and the discharges were all in the context of one confrontation, it’s practically unheard of for the sentences to be served consecutively. But it is possible, legally speaking.

    My guess? A high-profile, status-conscious prosecutor is trying to scare Alexander into a plea bargain where her sentences could be served consecutively, so that the state wouldn’t “lose face”. The prosecutor could be worried about losing face with different constituencies for different reasons. A new sentence equal to the old sentence could be interpreted by some as “proving” that racism and sexism were not at play in the original convictions and sentencing. Likewise it could be interpreted by some as “proving” that errors resulting in the overturning of the conviction did not indicate incompetence on the part of the prosecutor’s office of the Attorney General, Florida. There are probably other political considerations as well.

    It’s a threat. It’s scary. But it’s largely empty in the sense that I’d be surprised if a judge actually went for it.

  48. says

    Though, I have to kind of back away from that because it seems weird to me that only right wing sources have reported on this. Apparently a lot of right wingers think that Corey wanted to convict Zimmerman but was too incompetent in trying to rig the evidence.

  49. says

    Another (to my eyes, more credible) source, The Grio:

    But to Alexander’s supporters who have followed all of the high-profile cases prosecuted by Corey’s office that have made national news, Corey appears to have a vendetta against Alexander. While Corey’s office is arguing that they are following state precedent, it’s also true that prosecutors have a huge amount of discretion and power. If Corey wanted to, she could easily conclude that three years behind bars for defending yourself from your abuser is enough and send Alexander home after this ugly ordeal and grave injustice.

    Surprisingly the gun rights supporters who spoke up in support of “Stand Your Ground” laws during the George Zimmerman trial remain silent. Second amendment supporters who have encouraged women to get guns to protect themselves from domestic violence and sexual assault are no where to be found in Alexander’s defense. Many who praised Zimmerman’s actions and those that believed his self-defense claims should theoretically support Alexander, but her treatment throughout the legal process shows that only certain people are able to stand their ground.

    Corey’s office seems to be spurned by Alexander’s refusal to accept a plea deal before her first trial. Alexander refused to plead guilty in the case and chose to go to trial, as is the right of every American. When she was confronted by Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL) about the harsh treatment of Alexander, Corey said she gave Alexander “mercy” and she referred to the plea deal.

    Sorry for the dithering.

  50. says

    Crip Dyke,

    A high-profile, status-conscious prosecutor is trying to scare Alexander into a plea bargain where her sentences could be served consecutively, so that the state wouldn’t “lose face”

    Which is actually even better reason for her to be drummed out of the prosecutors office at a bare minimum, and ideally the legal profession and all ancillary professions.

  51. says

    anuran:

    Consider for a moment someone – again bigger, stronger and with criminal intent – who wanted to rape or kill your children.

    I agree with others that this scenario comes up frequently and yet, how likely is it to happen? Does anyone have any information on the frequency of such an event? How about you use an actualy scenario that’s occured. One that happens with sufficient frequency to justify needing to worry about defending you and/or your family. Not hypotheticals.

    Also

    I believe you are lying for rhetorical effect.

    Take off your damn gun goggles and stop trying to mind read.

    ****

    atheistblog @40:
    I see your reading comprehension hasn’t improved in this thread.

  52. anteprepro says

    And yet, in any thread even tangentially associated with the ridiculousness of American gun culture grows in length, the probability of someone invoking the “but what if your wife and/or children were being threatened by rape and murder” approaches one.

    True.
    Also:
    Guns = Cars
    Criminals as a distinct group of people who want nothing but mayhem and destruction.

    Some of the most prevalent assumptions/memes.

  53. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Dalillama:

    Unfortunately her elected position carries with it an immunity to Bar action. She can be punished for complaints to the bar after she leaves office for things she did while in office, but the Bar can’t take action while she’s in office.

    Only the Governor can remove her from office before the next election. That’s unlikely to happen. So she’ll be keeping her license and privileges for a while yet. I’d like to see complaints against her go forward, but I wouldn’t at all be competent to comment on the merits of same (I know **nothing** about the Bar complaint procedure in the States, it’s very different up here in Canadialand).

  54. says

    CD
    I don’t have words for how stupid I find the idea that this is an elected office in the first damn place, to be honest. I mean, I know it is, but this is right up there with electing judges and sheriffs.

  55. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Yeah.

    The canadian PPS is, well, kind of bizarre in how it supposedly functions as part of the executive and independently of the executive (the positions are all appointed at the higher levels, hired at the lower levels, and paid by the executive; the MoJ is also the AG; and yet, decisions rarely go through the AG and the PPS acts largely independently in everything but investigations – but it doesn’t primarily do investigations, but it employs investigators, but it is only supposed to use them after charges have been laid, but there isn’t a law against it, but it can request investigations by the RCMP so why would it use it’s own investigators, but…). Despite the weirdness, it kind of works, and people generally respect it as far less political than many of the prosecutors offices in the states. That doesn’t mean PoC don’t have issues and women don’t have issues with how the PPS works, but there’s not a sense that people are doing it to get elected, and there’s no primary system to push for extreme candidates, etc.

    Really, I think culture and tradition make it work, mostly, but culture and tradition mean it can change slowly in response to issues that affect subsets of the pop that aren’t rich and white. But it’s not like it changes more slowly than the US, so, y’know?

  56. Anri says

    anuran @ 45:

    I think in that case, we should hypothetically ask Princess Celestria of Equestria – she’s very wise, she’ll know what to do.

    …what?
    My hypothetical is just as attached to reality as yours!

  57. peanutcat says

    Yeah, it’s horrifying to know that if Dunn had killed all those young men, he would have walked!

  58. =8)-DX says

    @Anri #62

    My hypothetical is just as attached to reality as yours!

    Hey! Some of us are actually more attached to your hypothetical than anuran’s one! (And besides I think asking Twilight has precedence now).