Calibrate your savage beatings carefully

In response to State’s Witness: ‘You Probably Don’t Want’ to Wait Until You’re Almost Dead to Defend Yourself:

This is one aspect of the Zimmerman case that seems baffling to me: the assertion that you’re supposed to let yourself be beaten to within an inch of your life, as long as you’re somewhat confident that you won’t lose the last inch.  Which is not an easy calculation to make in the heat of a fight.  Especially if, as Zimmerman has testified, Martin actually told him he was going to die.  It was pointed out at the trial today that you can’t wait until you’re on the edge of unconsciousness before making the decision to change the terms of the encounter.

That’s one reason all the hubbub about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law was always a pile of media flapdoodle.  There’s a good reason that law was passed: people in the course of suffering a violent criminal assault shouldn’t have to spend precious moments computing possible escapes, and perhaps getting killed while they dither.  In this case, Zimmerman was pinned to the ground and had no retreat options anyway.

The “Stand Your Ground” law came up again at the trial today, because the prosecution is trying to demonstrate that Zimmerman acted more aggressively because he knew he had the SYG defense to fall back on.  They’re also putting a lot of effort into painting him as an overzealous wannabe cop.  All of which has absolutely nothing to do with what he was charged with.  And if knowing the law can get you sent up the river for Murder Two, then the only way to defend yourself is to maintain a state of complete ignorance.  

I’m not even sure how the big argument over “profiling” is supposed to provide the depraved or murderously malevolent state of mind that gets a second-degree murder conviction.  Again, if following someone who matches the general description of people who have been committing crimes in your neighborhood can set you up for life in prison, the only defense is a state of willful ignorance.  Throw in a state of willful helplessness, and be ready to compute precisely how much of a pounding you can take before you no longer have the option of defending yourself.


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