Today, in proper and enlightened jurisdictions, Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) could be prosecuted and convicted for failing to retreat from gunslinger Liberty Valence.
Stanley Fish, in the New York Times, tells us, once again, that the frontier has closed, and as Hollywood has testified, the old America of Gary Cooper and John Wayne, of rugged individualism and manly courage, is dead.
We are now a country more appropriately represented cinematically by Alan Alda, in which the feminine aversion to violence and dependence on the Leviathan State to handle our problems for us has triumphed. Personal honor, chivalry, and manhood are all obsolete concepts consigned without regret by our elite intelligentsia to the dust heap of History.
As civilization advances, and the law book replaces the gun… rationales for violence sound increasingly hollow, and more and more westerns are self-consciously elegiac — “High Noon,” “The Gunfighter,” “Ride the High Country,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “Lonely Are the Brave,” “The Wild Bunch,” “Monte Walsh,” “The Big Country,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” — caressing the lonely figures at their center even as they say farewell to the values they embody. Outright satirical comedies like “Cat Ballou” (1965) and “Blazing Saddles” (1974) announce loudly and without nuance what the genre as a whole had already implicitly proclaimed: the reign of what Bosley Crowther (in a review of “Shane”) called “legal killers under the frontier code” was over.
Stand Your Ground laws bring it all back. That is what President Obama meant when he said on Friday that such laws seem “designed in such a way that they encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations … that we saw in the Florida case rather than defuse potential altercations.” Do Stand Your Ground laws, he asked, really contribute to “the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?” The answer is that not everyone wants to see them. There are some who imagine themselves as the modern-day Wyatt Earp or Will Kane or Shane — bravely seeking out malefactors, confronting them in the main street, and shooting them down to the applause and gratitude of less heroic citizens. Stand Your Ground laws are for them.
Hat tip to classmate Richard Smith.
Hat tip to Rich Duff.
Yesterday, the more intellectually conformist element of my Facebook female friends began linking leftwing agitprop stories, like this one featuring a petition and all presenting one-sided, partisan, and axe-grinding accounts of the February 26th shooting of a 17-year-old African American by a 28-year-old Latino neighborhood watch captain in the Orlando, Florida, suburb of Sanford.
Zimmerman was not charged by the Sanford police, and accusations of racial bias being behind the failure of local authorities to prosecute the shooter originally leveled by the family of the 17-year-old were taken up by the local African American community and spread through the left-wing activist grape-vine to the Huffington Post’s Trymaine Lee, who one week ago produced a professionally researched, carefully drafted, and thoroughly partisan account complete with 12 pages of pictures of Trayvon Martin as a baby and small boy.
Coverage spread to standard extremist left-wing outlets like Daily Kos, Fire Dog Lake, and Mother Jones, and to mainstream media outlets which happily accepted the narrative carefully framed by representatives of the professional left.
Trayvon Martin, we are informed, was unarmed, innocently returning from a trip to the convenience store, carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. He began to be followed by George Zimmerman, an allegedly self-appointed neighborhood watch captain armed with a 9mm handgun. Zimmerman was racially profiling Trayvon Martin as his Sanford gated community had experienced 8 burglaries in the last 15th months, typically by young black males.
Zimmerman made numerous 911 calls (46 over 12 years) and on February 26 called and reported Trayvon Martin as a suspicious person. Despite being advised not to follow him, Zimmerman went after and accosted Martin.
Trayvon Martin recognized that he was being followed and phoned a 16-year-old girlfriend to discuss this, rather than calling the police. Martin also responded to finding himself under surveillance by deciding to “put his hoodie on,” i.e. to put his sweatshirt hood up over his head so as largely to conceal his face.
At that point published accounts of what happened omit vital details and contradictions begin to appear.
It is evident that Zimmerman confronted Martin and a physical struggle ensued which was ended by a fatal gunshot to Trayvon Martin’s chest.
There is a very incomplete version of events provided by Stanford Police Chief Bil Lee to the Miami Herald:
“Mr. Zimmerman’s claim is that the confrontation was initiated by Trayvon,” Police Chief Bill Lee said in an interview. “I am not going into specifics of what led to the violent physical encounter witnessed by residents. All the physical evidence and testimony we have independent of what Mr. Zimmerman provides corroborates this claim to self-defense.”
To claim self-defense, someone has to show there was danger of great bodily harm or death, Lee said. “Zimmerman had injuries consistent with his story,” Lee said.
Zimmerman had a damp shirt, grass stains, a bloody nose and was bleeding from a wound in back of his head, according to police reports.
“If someone asks you, ‘Hey do you live here?’ is it OK for you to jump on them and beat the crap out of somebody?” Lee said. “It’s not.”
Immediately before the shot was fired, a witness reports hearing “someone crying — not boo-hoo crying, but scared or terrified or hurt maybe.” This witness thought she was hearing a child. It is disputed whether the cries for assistance came from Trayvon Martin or from Zimmerman.
As of this moment, the activist left has gotten 821,488 people to sign a petition accepting their own one-sided, ultra-partisan version of events and demanding the prosecution of George Zimmerman, which I think shows that you can use racial stereotypes just as effectively to whip up mob indignation today as you could a hundred years ago. The stereotypes have changed, but the human inclination to respond with predictable emotions when the right buttons are pushed has not.
The truth of the matter is we do not know what Trayvon Martin was really doing. We do not know what actually happened. And we have nothing beyond the unsupported testimony of the same combination of the local black community and the activist national left that always testifies to the absolute innocence of every African American who gets into trouble with the police, or is shot during a hold-up by an ordinary armed citizen, to go on. It was precisely the same kind of reliable sources that, a few decades ago, told us all about what those white police officers had done to poor Tawana Brawley.
Meanwhile, the same Obama Administration Department of Justice that declined to do anything about voter intimidation by Black Panthers in Philadelphia has announced its intention of intervening to deliver its own version of justice. George Zimmerman would be well advised not only to lawyer up, but to Latino up.
Islamic armed robber picked the wrong convenience store in the wrong part of the country: Hendersonvile, South Carolina. Fox News Phoenix was rather gleeful about how things turned out.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has passed a bill rejecting the “obligation to retreat” theory and vigorously affirming the right of self defense.
“The General Assembly finds that:
“(1) It is proper for law-abiding people to protect themselves, their families and others from intruders and attackers without fear of prosecution or civil action for acting in defense of themselves and others.
“(2) The castle doctrine is a common-law doctrine of ancient origins which declares that a home is a person’s castle.
“(3) ... The Constitution of Pennsylvania guarantees that the ‘right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.’
“(4) Persons residing in or visiting this commonwealth have a right to expect to remain unmolested within their homes or vehicles.
“(5) No person should be required to surrender his or her personal safety to a criminal, nor should a person be required to needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack outside the person’s home or vehicle.”
The question is whether democrat, pro-Gun Control Governor Edward Rendell will sign the bill, or defy strong public support by vetoing it.
If the bill passes into law, watch crime rates plummet in Pennsylvania.