The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another voice on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story

Mansfield Frazier wrote a post on the Daily Beast site this morning. The main title talks about the need to try George Zimmerman, but it is another point he makes that I want to emphasize:

At heart, this case is really about the type of society some want to have versus the one the National Rifle Association wants to foist on an unsuspecting public. Just imagine for a minute that Trayvon Martin was an adult instead of a juvenile; further, that he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon; and still further, that he had a gun on his person when Zimmerman approached him. Under “Stand Your Ground” laws Martin could have just as easily shot and killed Zimmerman instead, and (if not for the fact he was black, and that laws—when race enters into the picture—have been applied unequally in this country for centuries) he then could have made the same self-defense claim. Under this type of Wild West mentality fistfights can (and will) escalate into murders.

Nonetheless, more laws are being proposed in some states to allow concealed weapons to be carried into bars, schools, and public buildings, all in the name of creating a safer society.

According to a study published in the prestigious American Journal of Epidemiology, however, “Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home …”

Writing on the website for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Violence, Dennis Henigan said, “The NRA has a wonderfully simple story to tell. In the NRA’s world, people are neatly divided into two readily identifiable groups: good guys and bad guys. In this imaginary world, we know that legal carriers of guns must be good guys and that good guys use their guns only in legitimate self-defense—that’s what makes them good guys in the first place. The Trayvon Martin tragedy reveals the real world to be far more complicated.” Indeed it is.

In the streets there’s a phenomenon called “pistol courage” which poses the question, would Zimmerman—if he wasn’t armed—have approached Martin in the aggressive manner in which he did? Put another way, are cowards, when they’re empowered with the advantage of firepower, willing to take more risks, and even provoke situations that could have been handled in another manner if they were not armed?

Many gun nuts brag about how they could blow someone away and sleep like babies, and for some of them that’s the gospel truth. But for others (even case-hardened soldiers and police officers) once they’ve taken the life of another human being they’re forever changed—and not for the better. And there’s really no way to know in advance how a person will be affected.

In the Martin/Zimmerman case, issues such as who was crying out for help and what Trayvon was saying to his girlfriend in the seconds before the confrontation cannot be dismissed, and can only be thoroughly examined in a court of law. But the real upside of a trial is that a much-needed spotlight will be placed on “Stand Your Ground” laws. Even if Zimmerman is found not guilty, if those dangerous laws are changed, society will have won a victory.

I'm glad to see this post. As I said earlier, it's really these gun laws that need to be blamed for the Trayvon Martin death. But I was perplexed that others didn't see it that way. Mansfield Frazier clearly gets it.

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