Stand Your Ground!
At last a law that Roman can get behind. Get a gun and don’t take no shit from anyone. Stand Your Ground! Apparently some 20 states have “Stand Your Ground” Laws, allowing a citizen to chase down and harass another citizen, and then the moment that citizen makes a threatening gesture you are allowed to kill the person whether or not he or she has a weapon. Indeed, this may seem tantamount to legalizing gunplay or advocating vigilantism.
Did you give me the finger? Bam! Then it hits you, or rather the other guy. The only condition is that you have to feel that you have been bodily threatened, that the finger might lead to a fist.
As Adam Winkler writes of the Stand Your Ground law, in the NYT:
It provides that any person may use deadly force when “he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.” So long as someone reasonably thinks he or someone else is in danger, he can shoot to kill, regardless of whether the shooter is the one who initiated the hostile confrontation.
Roman wondered about the scope of Standing Your Ground. For instance, Roman is often hassled by the cops, even when he is not doing anything illegal. Can he stand his ground and shoot the bastards. After all they have weapons and will use them. And Roman is an American and often says, “don’t tread on me.”
Can he stand his ground when some politician steals his money or tries to take away his dignity? Can he shoot at politicians freely if they threaten his property or his position in the community? Can he stand he ground against “thought crimes” or “thought insults.”
You lookin’ at me? Bam, and then it hits you. Or, you criticizing me? Bam! You trying to arrest me? Bam! After all, arrest is a form of bodily violation and distress.
This brought to Roman’s mind the recent Supreme Court case of Reichle v. Howards, 11-262, as reported at Bloomburg.com:
The court was hearing an appeal by two Secret Service agents who were sued after arresting a man who walked up to Cheney at a shopping mall in Beaver Creek, Colorado in 2006. The man, Steven Howards, criticized the Iraq war and touched the vice president’s shoulder with his open hand.
Howards, who was afterwards arrested, claimed that the arrest was retaliation for his criticism, and felt the need to pursue a suit in order to stop this kind of control over legitimate protest. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia disagreed, suggesting that, “if law enforcement officers have probable cause to suspect a crime was committed, they should be shielded from claims that someone was detained in retaliation for speech protected by the First Amendment.” But what was the crime, touching a private citizen in the street, or criticizing Cheney. There was no physical threat and the arrest took place after Howards had walked away.
According to the Stand Your Ground philosophy Cheney could have shot Howards if he felt there was a threat. Or Howards could have shot Cheney. After all, Dick Cheney threatens everyone by his very existence. His presence in this world may well require a Stand Your Ground reaction.
Now, while it may be fun to think of blowing away Dick Cheney, Roman Stoad would never act on such an impulse. He is content with the thought crime itself. But these days thought crimes are enough to get you arrested. The Patriot Act can put you in prison for thinking un-American thoughts. So keep them to yourself. Do not (like that OWS protester) tweet your thoughts into the public sphere as fiction or anything else. Whoever is writing this article (and it is not Roman Stoad) could even be arrested for writing it, if someone in power deemed it constituted a valid threat. But the writer of this article (and again it is NOT Roman Stoad) isn’t advocated anything.
The Greeks and Romans got around the problem of persecution for public criticism by posing their ideas in public as dialogues. All their criticism of the rulers and corrupt businessmen was presented as a kind of drama. Thus the criticism was couched as part of a conversation that “could have” but did not happen. The author of the conversation has no accountability for the things the characters say.
Socrates: In a Stand Your Ground Republic, the possession of a gun solves many political problems. You could question the decisions or the authority of some sinister political figure such as say Dick Cheney. Then the minute his thugs made a move to remove you from his sight you could shoot them (or Cheney himself) and claim you are Standing Your Ground. He would actually be acting as a responsible citizen.
Roman: Wouldn’t that lead to lawlessness?
Socrates: Yes. But this is hypothetical. I would never advocate killing a government employee.
Roman: Even if he was about to kill you, even if he was holding a gun on you, and you had done nothing wrong. C’mon Socrates, “Stand Your Ground!”
Socrates: I am. But in dialogue form only.
Too bad the Zimmerman/Martin tragedy didn’t take place as a Socratic dialogue. Poor Trayvon would still be alive.
Socrates: In the Republic, if I see a black kid in my neighborhood, can I kill him? His color threatens me with bodily harm.
Roman: Only if the Republic has a Stand Your Ground ordinance. Then you may kill him. Otherwise, you must be subject to the laws of The Republic as are all common men.
Too bad the Bush/Saddam fracas didn’t take place as a dialogue. The Baghdad museum would still be intact and hundreds of thousands of lives would not be lost. But Bush had to Stand His Ground, even though he was nowhere near his actual ground.
The reason for the above dialogue form is the fear of thought crime arrest. It is already illegal to commit thought crimes. If I, or rather “Roman” were to think to himself, “Mayor Bloomberg is a megalomaniac asshole,” and Commissioner Kelly finds out about it, then Roman (or rather the writer of this article) could be put in jail. This is especially true if Roman was in physical proximity of Bloomberg or his minions. As Bill Maher might say—New Rules.
Currently a new law, H.R. 347, or “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011” was passed that will make it illegal to criticize politicians on the steps of the buildings or in the areas where they may be, if that area is considered to be restricted. The World Socialist Website at wsws.org had this to say:
A bill passed Monday in the US House of Representatives and Thursday in the Senate would expand existing anti-protest laws that make it a felony—a serious criminal offense punishable by a lengthy prison term—to “enter or remain in” an area designated as “restricted.”
Of course, any area can be considered restricted at any time and you may not know it.
Under existing law, the areas that qualify as “restricted” are defined in extremely vague and broad terms. Restricted areas can include “a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting” and “a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.”
In order to appreciate the broad sweep of the “restricted buildings or grounds” law, it is necessary to consider a few possibilities:
• A wide area around the next G-8 meeting or other global summit could be designated “restricted” by the Secret Service, such that any person who “enters” that area can be subject to a fine and a year in jail under Section 1752(a)(1) (making it a felony to enter any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so).
• Senator Rick Santorum, the ultra-right Republican presidential candidate, enjoys the protection of the Secret Service. Accordingly, a person who shouts “boo!” during a speech by Santorum could be subject to arrest and a year of imprisonment under Section 1752(a)(2) (making it a felony to “engag[e] in disorderly or disruptive conduct in” a restricted area).
• Striking government workers who form a picket line near any event of “national significance” can be locked up under Section 1752(a)(3) (making it a crime to “imped[e] ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds”).
Roman Stoad (and he is assuredly not the one writing this article) wonders, “What’s a concerned citizen to do? You can’t think at home (if you have one) and you can’t think in public. You certainly can’t vocalize your thoughts or someone might Stand Their Ground against you, or on you.
Participant in Dialogues
Candidate for Office