A member, and hoping to stay that way, of the reality-based community

25 February 2014

The unasked question

E.B., writing for The Economist's blog Democracy in America, discusses the various cases in which the so-called "Stand Your Ground" law (in some spheres it's being called "Open Season on Black Folks" law, but that's an opinion) has been suggested as a defense for some killing or assault or other. He notes at some length on the races of the defendants and other circumstances of the cases. I think he might be on to something, with his observation that:
This legal mess of anecdote, paranoia and gun violence has yielded some interesting statistics about which stories juries tend to believe. According to a report from the Urban Institute, a think-tank, when a homicide involves a white killer and a black victim, juries are far more likely to find the homicide justified than when the killer is black and the victim is white. In states with a “stand-your-ground” law, far more homicides are ruled justified, and the racial disparity is greater. 
Since Florida pioneered its “stand-your-ground” law in 2005, 23 states have adopted some form of it. The law’s protection of hot-headed gun-owners is profoundly unsettling given how many Americans now carry concealed weapons in public—from 1m in the 1990s to 8m today. Florida alone has more than 1.1m active concealed weapons permits. These gun-owners must be comforted by the fact that ever more slips of the trigger are considered justified—as long as the jury is inclined to believe their story. 
[Emphases mine]
I imagine they are.

I'll note that in the cases discussed in the piece, another pattern emerges: the victims of the assaults saw their attacker sentenced to jail. The victims of the killings saw their attacker go unpunished for their offense. I realize that (per the data cited in the quote above) it may require a change in thinking on the part of a large number of peaceable people, but maybe our African-American brethren in Florida should start carrying weapons. It's one way to make the ratio above work better.

Or, you could just come to Colorado. We could use an infusion of melanin.

Either way, it begs the question: why, if we are not a racist society, do we imagine that this disparity can exist?