Is Justice in America, Blind, Deaf or Dumb?

23 Feb

In 2012, A 47 year old Florida resident who carried a concealed weapons permit, along with a concealed weapon, sat in his car at a Jacksonville convenience store when 4 teenagers pulled in next to him with their rap music blaring from their car stereo. The man complained about the loud music to the teenagers and asked them to turn it down. One of the teenagers argued with the man and angry words were exchanged. The Floridian said that he felt threatened because he thought that he saw a weapon pointed at him from inside the other car so he pulled out his gun and fired 10 shots into the SUV, killing one of the teenagers.

2 years later the man was brought to trial on 1st degree murder charges and after listening to the evidence and witnesses a jury of Floridians deliberated for 30 hours over 4 days and decided that the shooter was guilty…of ATTEMPTED murder! Even though he had shot and killed a 17 year old boy, attempted murder was all they could agree upon.

And even though there was no weapon found in the SUV and even though the jurors still had the option of finding the defendant guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter, with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in effect, the jurors decided that they couldn’t decide if the shooter was acting in self defense or not…after all he did testify that he “felt threatened.”

Wow! So, I guess it was a good thing that there were other potential victims in the SUV that he was able to attempt to murder because otherwise he would have gone home a free man…apparently in Florida the teenager that was killed doesn’t count as actually being hit with the bullet just because he happened to be shot to death.

And this is what we get with more guns owned by more people who are given more rights to carry them around with additional rights to defend themselves whenever they see fit to do so. Which is exactly what our Founding Father’s hoped for the future of flintlock wielding American militiamen, and their targets, when they composed the Second Amendment…isn’t it?

Still I know there are gun advocates everywhere who believe that more citizens carrying concealed weapons make for a safer world. But what we are seeing rather, is a world of aggravated, angry and now armed citizens who still do not feel really safe unless they shoot first and ask questions later. Why wait for the intruder to break into your house when you can go outside and stalk him first?

So citizens beware! From now on when you travel from state to state check the laws of that land because these United States are fast becoming 50 autonomous territories free to set their own interpretations of the 2nd Amendment into the pages of their own separate but equal law books. And if while traveling, you happen across an angry citizen of that free state, who tells you to turn down your music or put away your annoying cell phone or take off your hat or pull down your hooded sweatshirt or to just stop looking so suspicious, you’d better say, “yes sir!” or “No Ma’am!” or “Excuse me. I didn’t know that I was bothering you. May I please be excused?” And for god sakes smile, and raise your hands…but not too fast…palms open…and avert your eyes perhaps…anything you can think of to look non-threatening and friendly and subservient will do… I guess…

Otherwise you might wind up dead! Shot by a fellow U.S. citizen with their legally concealed weapon.

Unless of course a convoluted law and a confused jury say that you weren’t.





17 Responses to “Is Justice in America, Blind, Deaf or Dumb?”

  1. A Voice February 23, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    Irrespective of whether or not a weapon was present, it seems to me that there are two facts that people steadfastly refuse to recognise: groups of ‘urban youth’, irrespective of race, who act in a highly provocative manner should be approached with caution for any of a number of obvious reasons and anyone approaching said groups will not do so unless they believe themselves to be in a position of power because they understand the first part.

    An understanding of sub-cultures and the experience of sub-cultures is significantly more important than wilful, politically correct ignorance. The situation that the defendant put themselves in was indeed a potentially dangerous situation, something that isn’t politically correct to talk about, but that does not give the defendant the right to KNOWINGLY place themselves in a situation that could be life-threatening.

    Was the situation actually life-threatening? No. Were the youth in the car antagonistic? I believe it likely that they were. Seeing the positive answer, why would they be antagonistic? The desire to participate in a particular sub-culture. Does this mean that they were going to act upon the defendant violently? No, of course it doesn’t necessarily mean that, but it isn’t reasonable to think that is the case.

    It’s important to note the real stupidity of the justice system in this country and the incoherence of States Rights in this system. But it’s more important to accept reality and do our best to acquire as many facts as possible, even the ones that don’t wash clean and leave us feeling dirty for touching them.

    • A Voice February 23, 2014 at 5:39 am #

      “No, of course it doesn’t necessarily mean that, but it isn’t reasonable to think that is the case.”

      Should read: No, of course it doesn’t necessarily mean that, but it isn’t unreasonable to think that is the case.

  2. Anne Chia February 23, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    The US is fast becoming like a war zone, these stories are scary. What is this “stand your ground”business? Everyone can carry a gun and shoot people like it’s the wild wild west and something out of the movies? Isn’t the US supposed to be the model of peace and freedom and justice. The world is watching in shock and disappointment as these cases are brought before jurors, and perpetrators of these acts are consistently set free. Whatever the case may be, it seems like a pretty straight forward solution should be applied; repeal the gun laws making it almost impossible for anybody to own a gun, and also work on amending the stand your ground law, as it is, it is not only too ambiguous, but it has given rise to Americans not accepting responsibility for murdering innocent people. In the interim, parents need to begin to speak to their children, teenagers particularly, about the dangers of putting themselves in a situation where they are perceived as threats. It seems almost too simple, but i understand that many minority Americans have been “saved from being shot” because of indoctrination from family from childhood. “Put your hands where they can see it, do as you are told, etc. The US is becoming even more interesting in a sad and scary way, and we are watching to see if you will clean up your act before taking your policies and “big-brotherliness” to the rest of the world.

  3. Doreen Gatien February 23, 2014 at 7:11 am #

    God sees everything. Man can think today that he can hide from us, but God says His eyes are over all of the earth and one day we will stand before Him to face our life’s record. This is our comfort. For this I am thankful.

    • makagutu February 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      Are you suggesting your god is fine with youths being shot because you expect him to hold court some day in future or do I misunderstand you?

  4. drshyamalavatsa February 23, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    The first para of A Voice is spot on. That man wouldn’t have got into this situation had he not considered himself in a position of power. I know I would never even have looked in the direction of a car full of boisterous teenagers. I would’ve probably quietly started the car and parked elsewhere. He was 47, he should’ve known better than to tell kids to lower the volume of their music – for kids the volume of their music is a statement of some sort.

    • A Voice February 23, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      It’s less about ‘kids’, generally speaking, than it is about ‘kids’ that assert allegiance to aggressive sub-culture groups.

      For example, if there were a group of boisterous girls with ‘My Heart Will Go On’ cranked up to 11 when Titanic was in theatres there wouldn’t be an issue in telling them to turn the music down. There would be no reason for fear. The same can be said if something by Rihanna was cranked up to 11. Generally speaking, the folks who would have that turned up are not going to appear aggressive or otherwise threatening.

      But if you have a group of boisterous white males blasting the Sex Pistols or something similar we would have a different story. The same can be said for various rap sub-genres, especially if the group looks the part of the music. Taking the above example of the Sex Pistols and extrapolate to various punk aesthetics.

      This is where legitimate profiling comes into play and came into play in that situation. It’s highly unlikely that Dunn was under some illusion that he was just speaking to a group like in the Celene Dion example above, who were just simply being loud but otherwise harmless teenagers. The fact that Dunn had a reasonable belief of the danger based on sociological observations, irrespective of whether or not such was stated, demonstrates why Dunn should NOT have put himself in that situation.

      Dunn CORRECTLY profiled this group as being potentially dangerous based on sociological observations. This meant that he had absolutely no good reason to intervene as he, again, whether stated or unstated, had a reasonable fear for his safety before entering the confrontation. That the group provoked him was incredibly stupid and only served to reinforce negative stereotypes about young black males, yet it was more stupid and dangerously so for Dunn to put himself in that situation.

      The worst part about this isn’t that negative stereotypes of young black males being reinforced or that the young black males seemed to actively reinforce them, rather that we’re having a talk about race and guns instead of a much larger conversation about why society in the United States is such that this could happen. This isn’t about race and it isn’t about guns, it’s about American society refusing to look in the mirror and see just how fucked it looks.

  5. onnovocks February 23, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Justice in America is largely a function of money, not of truth. States/Counties like to collect fines, Sheriffs like to get re-elected, Cops like a promotion, Corporations like to have their prisons filled to capacity, and Prosecutors switch sides once they have near 100% conviction rates so they can make the big $ in criminal defense.

    Justice: Blind, Deaf, and/or Greedy.

    Nice thought provoking post, of course the issue is much more complicated than what I stated here, but the $ aspect is usually ignored though it often explains what really happened in Court.

  6. Don Hartness February 23, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    A quick report from the wild, wild west…

    I’ve lived in Wyoming for a few years now. Gun laws? Don’t have them, don’t need them. You’ll see two popular bumper-stickers if you come here. The first reads, “Welcome to Wyoming: We don’t give a damn how you do it back home.” The second reads, “Welcome to Wyoming: Consider everyone armed.” It’s not a joke: even Grandma is armed with the “Pink Lady”, a popular little .38 caliber number, painted pink. She’ll proudly show it to you too, in broad daylight, as she draws it out of her granny bag. Just recently, Wyoming finally passed a gun law: you can’t carry a gun into state court (federal was always illegal). Growing up in California, it was quite the culture shock when I first arrived.

    Now, I’m not an advocate either way, as I don’t own a gun. And I’m not trying to say that this kind of environment would work elsewhere either. Wyoming IS the wild, wild west, both historically and nostalgically (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? Filmed just north of where I live…). What I am trying to say is that, IF the culture is already established (and I think that is the key), then everybody armed does work, as it is working here just fine here. There are very few homicides here, and all of them are pretty obvious crimes, as we still have the occasional bandit, or the kid doped up on drugs. The person behind the trigger is always the culprit and charged accordingly.

    That incident in Florida? Never would have happened here. If the middle-aged man thought it important enough to ask those kids to turn it down, then they would have, since they know the guy’s got a gun and is more than willing to use it. However, chances are, the middle-aged man would have probably turned the other cheek and drove away, since he knows that the boys are more than likely armed too – and it’s 4 against 1. Simple playground math and no confusion.

    • gpicone February 23, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

      Unfortunately, I hate to think of what New Jersey would be like if we armed everyone. We have a population density that’s 237 times that of Wyoming. And Florida’s is 72 times that of Wyoming. When the famous marshals of the Wild Wild West were asked to come to a booming western town where violence was becoming a problem they did not hand out more guns…they took them all away.

      • Don Hartness February 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

        Well, yeesssss, but only temporarily (unless you were locked up, which is a different story). Permanently taking someone’s guns is like taking his horse – it just isn’t done. Still, you do have a point – it works for here, but probably not for Jersey or Florida. That is to say, it could work eventually, but only after the initial surge of blood shed subsided (talking rivers here), and I don’t think anybody wants to see that.

  7. avwalters February 23, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    There’s a particularly dangerous aggressive subculture here alright, skinhead (okay, so maybe it’s male pattern baldness), disenfranchised, gun-toting, middle-aged, men. But ALEC, and right-wing state legislatures around the county have decided to empower (and arm!) this disturbed subculture. It is the decor of their waning days.

    In defense of the law; note that the law has been perverted here by well-orchestrated legislative action. The common law does not permit one to create a potentially dangerous situation and then use that very altercation as the “excuse” to exorcize one’s fears in a flurry of violence.

    Recognize that “kids these days” will always present an imposing front. Didn’t we? Wasn’t our dress, hair length and music a threat to the powers that be, in our day? It’s a normal part of self-ideation. Does that warrant open warfare to determine whose “appropriate” wins? Not unless you live in some uncivilized distopian Mad Max world.

  8. appletonavenue February 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    It’s inconceivable to me that Michael Dunn did not get convicted of murder. If he felt threatened he should have gotten in his car and left. But he felt empowered by the knowledge that he had a gun and knew how to use it. He had the time to retrieve his weapon (I don’t believe he had it on his person, but I may be wrong). Point it and shout a warning to the ‘threatening’ 120lb kids. A big 6 footer like him had reason to feel threatened by a group of rowdy kids. If they had been rowdy white kids, this never would’ve happened. What Dunn was afraid of was a stereotype of black teens he had in his head from watching too many TV programs. I hope he goes to jail for the rest of his pathetic life. He deserves it. Attempted murder my ass!

  9. ontyrepassages February 23, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    So, he felt threatened. H’m, then why did he confront them about the music? If I thought they were just a bunch of dumb kids rebelling against society by playing their music too loud I’d have ignored them. If I thought they were part of a gang I’d have done the same. You couldn’t pay me to live in Florida.

  10. makagutu February 23, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    Maybe all the above. This is a scary prospect. You start a confrontation, kill a few of those you confronted and say you felt threatened. I think Florida, if they keep going as they are, will go to the dogs, literally

  11. westwickletimes February 23, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    I guess you don’t have to be James Bond to have a licence to kill, just move to Florida. It’s hard to believe that some states give authority for civilians to kill that extends beyond that of Police officers in most other countries.

    I suppose if you can’t kill young black men dressed in a white hood any more: just legalise shooting young black men who play their music too loud. .

  12. brucethomasw February 23, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    My wife and I love to travel in the US. In Canada we unused of your gun culture. I will remember to apologize profusely, and especially raising my hands slowly showing surrender, if ever I come upon someone who is angry. Seriously, it is wise but unfortunately iimportant advice. 😦

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