The shooting of Trayvor Martin has raised a fundamental rights issue that most of us have for long thought was a done deal in a free society – namely, whether a law-abiding citizen is still allowed to defend himself with deadly force should he be the victim of an attack that may leave him dead or maimed.
Before the progressive assault on the law abiding and victim, there was no question that such a permission was a fundamental right of a free citizen. It is ensconced in the Bastiat Triangle (q.v.) and was interpreted as such by our Founders. Until recently, ‘stand your ground’ SYG was not even called out per se in our legal codes – it was naturally assumed to be the right and the proper thing to do when criminally assaulted.
Today things are different, and should you find yourself having your brains battered out or about to be stabbed, your instincts to defend are subject to severe post mortem scrutiny by our justice system should you prevail in your defense and in the process the assailant is killed, injured, or suffers some other form of inconvenience. Amazingly, the first question the victim is supposed to correctly answer is ‘could you have followed some other course than put yourself at the mercy of your alleged assailant?’ In short, justify that you had to be there and then when the low life decided to make his move on you.
But if the victim successfully manages to survive this legal maze of questions, the interrogation proceeds to whether you could have successfully escaped after the assault began. The implication being that again a reasonable law-abiding person would have seen an available escape and taken advantage of it, thereby obviating the entire SYG issue and defusing the assault-in-progress before anyone got hurt. The victim’s response, that perhaps he was then not in a position to perform a deliberate search for alternatives and go through a decision process as to which would be the most beneficial for the low life, is guaranteed to escape the nuanced thinking of the interrogating legal beagle. Again the victim will be painted as having defended ground that should have been relinquished. That you were scared beyond measure, by the low life who threatened your life or was already in the process of taking it, is swept aside in such proceedings, and most certainly by the lamestream pros covering the case.
Speaking of the lamestream, God help you if there’s a hint of ‘race’ involved the encounter. The whole situation sells a lot more advertizing and satisfies a whole host of established ideology if the victim can be painted, even if with just a hint, as a racist thereby making the whole thing a candidate for, yes, a hate crime. And, of course, the victim is the putative criminal who three generations ago had an uncle in the KKK. However, if it happened to be one of the uncounted assaults and murders that the minorities perpetrate on each other every day, then no one gives a crap. And so it goes today.
My own feelings on the SYG matter is that once the assault has started, the victim has the right to do anything to the assailant that will increase the victim’s perceived odds of not being murdered or maimed during the assault.
There, I’ve broached the inclusion of uncertainty and how it must be considered in choosing a response that, in the mind of the victim, maximizes the probability of his survival (the ‘odds’ favoring an event happening is calculated by dividing the probability that the event happens by its complement, the probability that it will not happen). Therefore if during the stress and excitement of an assault, the victim has the presence of mind to consider the alternatives of attempting to flee or using counterforce (deadly or otherwise), and he chooses counterforce, that is his right and prerogative. The assailant’s rights were taken out of the equation the moment he initiated the assault.
If the victim has available deadly counterforce, then clearly the proper choice would be to use it since that increases the victim’s odds of surviving (murder or maiming). Choosing to flee – presenting your back to one who, perhaps, is much more fleet of foot, and who already has threatened your life - raises the question of how likely to succeed would such an attempt be, given the contingencies of the situation. And again, that assessment remains the prerogative of the victim, and not that of a post hoc smart-mouthed lawyer.
In the universe I live in, all critters from a gnat to a nobelist are evolved Bayesians. They and their long line of ancestors learned to exercise their hard-wired Bayes rule decision makers eons ago. Granted, they did not compute out the probabilities to the third decimal place, or maybe even to the units level, but they got it close enough, and often enough that here we all are.