Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The Trouble With "Stand Your Ground" Laws
Hey, that's my local newspaper! Yeah, I kinda disagree with this, even though I truly appreciate the sentiments it meant to convey.
See, I think that what the cartoonist is describing as "the trouble" is really the intended effect of these laws. If the institutionally racist system can't remove you from society using all sorts of draconian prison sentences, then it must find some other way to neutralize those perceived as threats to the socio-political hierarchy.
If you break a law, then they can take you and make you into a modern-day slave in a private corporation's prison facility. However, some of us are going to manage to avoid that fate. I've never had so much as a traffic or parking ticket. I'm so cautious that it drives my husband insane. You can honk your horn at me. You can ride my bumper. You can flip me off and swerve around me, but I will NEVER go above the speed limit. But how many people can do that? My avoidance of any kind of criminal record is more dumb luck than anything else, because you don't have to be doing ANYTHING to wind up sitting in a police car with your head cracked open from a billy club.
The "Stand Your Ground" laws are one of society's methods of culling the clever undesirables. Folks like Trayvon posed an even greater threat to the system than some kid who has been in and out of juvenile jails half of his life. The kid with the prison record is already cut off from almost anything beyond minimum-wage level jobs. The kid with no record will probably graduate from high school and can qualify for financial aid to go to college. With a degree or two or three, he would have an advantage over many of those who belong to a culture that is used to automatic preferential-treatment so mediocrity is not much of an impairment to their future success.
Trayvon had a mother AND a father who were active in his life. You can see it in the myriad photos of him with his family. He was solidly middle class, with all of the advantages that this confers. Those factors are what drives the bigots nuts. None of them are going to come out and say that they resent the life that this little black boy was being given, but it's still abundantly evident from my perspective.
I keep seeing these folks who simply don't think that Trayvon Martin's death is worthy of this much attention. I think it's relevant to mention that these folks are almost all white. They've complained bitterly about how the media shows him as a neatly dressed, baby-faced teen with an adorable smile. They seem to think it's unfair and a betrayal to whiteness for the media not to find some "gangsta" photos of Trayvon to help justify shooting an unarmed kid. It makes it harder for them to dismiss this injustice when there's so little in this kid's history for them to use as excuses to slaughter him in cold blood. He was once suspended from school for a few days. That's it. That's the worst thing they've been able to find in this kid's past. That's infuriating to them, because they know that there own kids and even they themselves probably wouldn't look so squeaky clean if their life was suddenly placed underneath the magnifying glass.
Okay, I want to write more about this, but I'm exhausted. I'll try and get back to it on tomorrow.