December 9, 2008

Castle Hassle

Hatched by Dafydd

A number of states have recently adopted laws enshrining the "castle doctrine," which says you do not have to retreat or flee before you can use deadly force in your home, business (sometimes), and personal vehicle. Like any other legal defense to manslaughter, murder, or ADW, sometimes the cop, judge, or jury buys it, and sometimes he doesn't.

But AP evidently considers it inconsistent and "uncertain" that the outcome varies depending on the circumstances:

A convenience store clerk chased down a man and shot him dead over a case of beer this summer and was charged with murder. A week later, a clerk at another Jackson convenience store followed and fatally shot a man he said tried to rob him, and authorities let him go without charges.

Police say the robber in the second case was armed, while the man accused of stealing beer was not.

Just the same, the legal plights of the two clerks highlight the uncertain impact of National Rifle Association-backed laws sweeping the nation that make it easier to justify shooting in self-defense.

I don't see an "uncertain impact" in this story, except insofar as the exact circumstances dictate whether a doctrine of self-defense will fly in a particular case. You cannot have "one size fits all" justice, because it's inherently unjust not to consider both the provocation and the nuances of the response.

And thank goodness we have a legal system set up to do just that. It's just another example of how much better off we are with ours -- which assumes that self defense is, at least, a debatable and rebuttable justification for using deadly force -- than the European model, where even honest self defense is no defense.

Two officers in Greece shot and killed a "youth" (an Anarchist, not a Moslem radical) who was evidently attacking them -- and Athens and Thessaloniki have seen day after day after day of increasingly violent revenge-protests by Greek radicals:

The circumstances surrounding Saturday's shooting were unclear, and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos has promised a thorough investigation and the punishment of anyone found responsible.

"It is inconceivable for there not to be punishment when a person loses their life, particularly when it is a child," he said [meaning "older teenager"]. "The taking of life is something that is not excusable in a democracy."

Police said the two officers involved claimed they were attacked by a group of youths, and that three gunshots and a stun grenade were fired in response.

The two officers have been suspended, arrested and charged, one with premeditated manslaughter and the illegal use of a weapon, and the other as an accomplice. They are to appear before a court Wednesday. The Exarchia precinct police chief has been suspended.

Notice that not a single person asks anywhere in the article whether the officers were legitimately in fear of their lives, or whether there was an actual threat to them; evidently, the rule in Greece is that defending your own life or the life of an innocent party is still no license to use deadly force. (The same rule holds in many other European countries, such as Japan.)

In other words, to quote from an old DayGlo poster I had in the 1960s, "Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?"

I've mentioned this before as the Case of the Disappearing Context Adjectives. Rewrite the sentence to reinclude them, and the question answers itself: Why do we kill guilty people who kill innocent people to show that killing innocent people is wrong?

Another reason to fight against the mounting Europeanization of America.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 9, 2008, at the time of 7:12 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Dick E


I wonder if there’s any chance the AP didn’t quite get the story completely right. No … that couldn’t be true. Perish the thought. After all, it’s the vaunted AP.

But how can it always, under any circumstances whatsoever, be unlawful for police to take a life when they are provided with firearms?

If the AP article is correct, the Greeks have taken the pro-gun slogan, “Guns don’t kill people -- people do,” to a ridiculous extreme.

More likely, the story is just AP anti-gun bashing.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2008 11:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: brutepcm

We had a local case where a man shot and injured a teen who had broken into his garage and was running away. The rule of thumb that applies: If the perp is coming in, shoot. If he is leaving, call 911. Your DVD player isn't worth killing someone over.

The above hissed in response by: brutepcm [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 10, 2008 3:06 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Your DVD player isn't worth killing someone over.

I don't know that I agree with that very liberal sentiment; it depends upon the circumstances. If it's just a kid you know who has gone a little wrong, then it's certainly not worth killing him over a minor crime.

But what about a habitual criminal, a big, intimidating teen who simply walks into people's houses or stores, picks up anything he wants, and strolls out again, laughing at his own audacity? I'm not at all sure I would automatically say that my DVD player is not with the life of such a thug.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 10, 2008 1:03 PM

The following hissed in response by: TheBeardedDragon

To update on Greece, apparently there is a ballistics report soon to be released supporting the officers account that they shot several warning shots and that one must have ricocheted and hit the "youth" fatally. What I can't figure out is why the police can't shoot to “render inoperative” (subdue) or kill those rioters who are throwing large rocks and Molotov cocktails (deadly force) at the police.

I for one am very thankful that I live in a state that recognizes ones right to defend ones life AND property.

The above hissed in response by: TheBeardedDragon [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 10, 2008 1:17 PM

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