hudebnik: (rant)
Just heard a news story on the radio, as President Trump sent his condolences to the people of Paris about "another terrible terrorist attack" yesterday. The attack in question involved a guy with a gun going to a public place, killing one person and wounding three others. Terrible, yes, by European standards... but the same attack in the U.S. wouldn't even make national news, because it happens LITERALLY EVERY DAY here, because we have more guns than people, with almost no controls on who can have one or carry it in public places.
hudebnik: (rant)
I'm convinced that the jury reached the only conclusion they could under the law: in the absence of other witnesses, they couldn't say "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Zimmermann didn't believe Martin was an imminent threat, or even that Martin didn't attack Zimmermann. This was a case with lots of "reasonable doubt" and very little hard evidence.

Martin was effectively charged posthumously with assault and battery, under modified rules of jurisprudence: he was presumed guilty, and since there was insufficient evidence of his innocence, his death became retroactively a state-sanctioned execution, for which the executioner naturally faces no penalty. Of course, if Martin had survived and Zimmermann died, Martin too could have claimed that he was acting in self-defense, since he was (after all) being followed by a stranger with a gun. In other words, once the hostile interaction had started, either man could legally kill the other.

As others have pointed out, the Florida law effectively legalizes the premeditated murder of anybody you want to knock off, as long as you can persuade a jury that you THOUGHT the person was an imminent threat. For example, any young man with dark skin and a hoodie who met Zimmermann on the street tomorrow might legitimately conclude that Zimmerman was an imminent threat, and would therefore be justified in killing him. Which in turn means that in the future, Zimmerman can legitimately conclude that any young man with dark skin and a hoodie whom he meets on the street is an imminent threat, and would therefore be justified in killing him. And since the law applies to imminent threats to OTHERS as well as yourself, it's hard for me to imagine ANY murder of ANYONE by ANYONE that couldn't be justified under the law. Welcome to the Wild West.

Of course, no reasonable court will follow that _reductio ad absurdum_. When somebody with dark skin shoots Zimmermann next week, it will be treated as a revenge murder, and the shooter will get the death penalty.

A better outcome would be that the Martin family sues Zimmerman in civil court for wrongful death, where the standard is "preponderance of the evidence" rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt." They might well win that one.


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