Standing Your Ground

July 20, 2013

Stand Your Ground (Little Barrie album)

Stand Your Ground (Little Barrie album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing that bothers me about the so called “stand your ground” laws, the only person who really has the right to stand his ground is the guy with the gun. Whether he’s right in his perception that you are dangerous or not, whether he really is a “creepy cracker” following you on a dark, rainy evening or not, the rest of us, apparently, are just supposed to back away because the guy with the gun doesn’t have to.

The other thing that bothers me about these laws, they allow us to feel safe in our fears of “the other” without ever looking at whether they’re justified or not. After the Trayvon Martin killing, the media made a great deal of the fact 93 % of blacks are killed by other blacks according to FBI and Department of Justice figures. That “black on black” crime statistic certainly seemed to justify white fears of those “violent” blacks and George Zimmerman’s suspicions of Trayvon Martin wandering around his neighborhood.

I didn’t hear, see or read any media that discussed “white on white” crime, the figures from that same FBI and DOJ showing that 84 % of whites are killed by other whites. In fact, as this article points out, ( as the majority ethnic group, we whites commit the majority of crimes. We also commit the majority of violent crimes at a ratio of 2-1. And it’s not just white on white or black on black. Other ethnic groups have similar figures for violent crimes against their own.

This year, Census Bureau projections indicated that by 2024, the population of non-hispanic whites will peak and begin to decline and by 2043, will be a minority in the United States – although they will be the largest minority, for the first time, there will be no “majority” group.

We’ve already heard a whole bunch of crazy crackers beginning to yell that, “Those damn minorities/immigrants/others are stealing OUR country right out from under us. Even though – lets be honest here – we crazy crackers stole it from the American Indians and the Spanish who were already here when we came. And the ancestors of a large portion of today’s blacks were brought to this country involuntarily, also by us crazy crackers, as slaves. In fact, we majority whites have always had a less than stellar record of treating minorities – even white minorities like the Irish and Germans – kindly as they struggled to assimilate here in the United States..

We’ve known for some time now, whites would eventually become just another minority in this diverse nation. Those powers that be certainly know it; after all, they’re the ones who keep the statistics on such things. And, as I’ve said repeatedly on this blog, they are not above playing on all of our fears of the other. After all, a shift in majority status inevitably leads to a shift in their own status as all these growing numbers of “others” exercise their right to vote or take more control of their lives in other ways.

One of the most effective ways they have done this is through model legislation written and pushed by ALEC and its sister organization, Americans United for Life (AUL) and enacted by mostly conservative legislators both state and federal, of whom more than 2000 are ALEC members along with (until the Trayvon Martin killing stirred up protests against them) around 300 corporate sponsors.

There have been few well done studies of the effects of stand your ground laws on crime statistics because of the difficulty in getting solid data. One of the best studies I found was done by two University of Georgia professors. Here is the abstract from their study:
The controversies surrounding Stand Your Ground laws have recently captured the nation’s attention. Since 2005, eighteen states have passed laws extending the right to self-defense with no duty to retreat to any place a person has a legal right to be, and several additional states are debating the adoption of similar legislation. Despite the implications that these laws may have for public safety, there has been little empirical investigation of their impact on crime and victimization. In this paper, we use monthly data from the U.S. Vital Statistics to examine how Stand Your Ground laws affect homicides. We identify the impact of these laws by exploiting variation in the implementation of these laws across states. Our results indicate that Stand Your Ground laws are associated with a significant increase in the number of homicides among whites, especially white males. According to our estimates, between 4.4 and 7.4 additional white males are killed each month as a result of these laws. We find no evidence to suggest that these laws increase homicides among blacks. Our results are robust to a number of specifications and unlikely to be driven entirely by the killings of assailants. Taken together, our findings raise serious doubts against the argument that Stand Your Ground laws make America safer.

So, as we approach an era where white Americans are likely to find themselves just another minority in a country many whites had assumed was “theirs”, it seems to me we face the same choice we’ve always faced – stand our ground against false enemies while the real enemies keep us divided by playing to our ugliest fears, or once again ask ourselves the age-old question, “Who is my neighbor?” If we’re really honest with ourselves, we might find out that we’ve been standing our ground against the wrong people.

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6 Responses to Standing Your Ground

  1. Hartson Doak says:

    Right on.

  2. graveday says:

    Linda, that was one of your best pieces yet and brought together cogently the loose threads of stand your ground. I especially appreciated the fresh perspective on skin color on skin color homicide. You stood stand your ground on its ear, heh.

    • theozarker says:

      Hey herc, I did read this book a long time ago. Thanks for bringing it to our attention again. Still timely. Another thing that bothers me about the CJS is privatization of prisons and the increase in prisoners at a time when crime overall is still going down. Don’t understand why people can’t see that privatization requires profits and profits require an increase in prisoners – whether or not there is an increase in actual crimes. Duh.

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