If an aggressor goes out of their way to antagonize a defendant (who is doing no wrong) and a fight breaks out that goes badly for the aggressor to the point where they feel their life is in danger, do they actually have the right to kill that defendant and get off with no punishment?
To put it another way, is it okay to antagonize someone into a fight and if it gets out of hand, claim self defense and kill the other person? Because that's exactly what's going on in this Florida case. That's what the defense is arguing is "lawful," and depending on how this verdict goes down, I'm a little worried about what it means for the rest of us.
In states that support a self-defense law, it will be okay for enemies to stalk you and antagonize you into a fight in the hopes that they can justify that they "feared for their life" and had to put a bullet in your heart to stop you from killing them. Does anyone else have a problem with this? Does anyone else believe that it's wrong that an aggressor pay no legal penalty for setting deadly events in motion?
I don't think that this trial is just about what happened that fateful night in Florida. Nor is it about what you or I believe what happened and whether or not Treyvon was in the wrong and Zimmerman conversely in the right. The bigger picture is about how we can grant some citizens the right to kill on fear while systematically denying that right to others.
If you haven't been paying attention to the Treyvon Martin case, you should be. The ruling could very well be a matter of life and death for any one of us in the future if aggressors are emboldened by the knowledge they can face no legal punishment as long as they can claim self-defense, even if they started the fight.
I will be skipping my post tomorrow to enjoy a Pacific Rim weekend. I'm seeing it tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday. If you wonder where I'm at, just think "watching monsters and robots slug it out on the big screen."
Have a good weekend. I look forward to reading your comments on what I've said here and whether or not this thought occurred to you about the trial.