Flight of the Fear Mongers

The State of Florida has beneficently granted its citizens the right to protect themselves. Extending Castle Doctrine to include personal space within the public sphere, the new law allows individuals to use force against force when "a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm" is extant. Rest assured, the fear mongers are aflutter. The Washington Post frets: "The bill . . . will allow people . . . to shoot, stab, or pummel to death anyone who causes them to fear for their lives outside of their homes . . . ." They continue, clucking: "This law . . . encourages people to be quick with guns, knives or fists. That's scary." What is scary is the Post's implication that innocent people should merely cower and run in the face of forcible aggression. Perusing the text of the bill reveals no mention of pummeling, or encouragement to hasty violence. It merely protects from prosecution or litigation anyone who stands their ground during a potentially deadly confrontation with an unlawful aggressor. One suspects what the good nannies really dislike is the individualistic aspect inherent in the law. They would rather innocent citizens give over their personal protection to the State and its agents'the 'proper authorities.' Too much rugged individualism will get you killed, or, worse, lend the impression that your well-being is your own responsibility.

On cue, a retired State enforcer chimed in. From a letter to The St. Petersburg Times: 'A police officer has no right to retreat as a citizen does and also has extensive training as to when to use deadly force.' Translation: 'Leave the nasty business of protecting yourself to us, mere citizens. We are superior in our bravery and dedication to your well-being. We are highly trained professionals, and you are but rank amateurs. Put down your weapons and resume groveling.' The aging statist fails to understand the right of flight implies the right of fight. The unflagging insistence of government sponsored control addicts on monopolizing violence and force is part and parcel with the anti-gun, victim disarmament movement. Outlaw guns and personal protection, then only State agents and outlaws will have them. Which to fear more?

The Times, not to be outdone, had earlier editorialized. Citing Supreme Court rulings holding the "sanctity of life" above "chivalry," they waxed hyperbolic: 'To friends or family who are thinking of visiting or moving to Florida , you might want to pass on this advice: Don't. Lebanon might be safer. Maybe even Israel .'

Impressive, if only for the unintended irony. We invite the editorial board of the Times to experience that comparison first-hand; suggesting, in the spirit of human interest, they do so armed with something more than their red pencils and overheated imaginations. And there is that 'sanctity of life' nonsense again--a glittering generality meant to impress the easily impressed and divert the easily diverted. Roll out 'sanctity of life' and your real motives will remain obscured. File it next to 'rule of law' and 'activist judges.' Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Nevertheless, the Times' column did raise a couple of salient points. It accused Democrats of voting for the bill to avoid being portrayed as soft on crime in subsequent elections. There is a ring of truth to that. Nothing kills a vacuous, glad-handing, pablum-packed political campaign quicker than the 'soft on crime, drugs, or whatever we declare the bogeyman du jour' accusation. (For 'soft on crime,' reference 'sanctity of life' and 'rule of law.') No doubt the Republicans-- the freedom and security loving ones, understand--who ride the coattails of America 's mythically growing crime wave as political cover for their own Big Brother idolatry would have deployed that old trick. Said crime wave having been at least partially perpetrated by their own propensity for criminalizing any perceived threat, real or imagined, to the public weal.

The other notable, if predictable, point raised by the editorial was that of the flagrant fellating by Republicans of the National Rifle Association. The political expediency of appearing 'pro-freedom' in the face of repeated assaults on individual rights shouldn't be completely discounted. The massive influence of the NRA induces more visceral terror in Republican legislators than does being locked in a roomful of gay, secular, pot-smoking, Birkenstock-shod Islamic jihadists. That we agree with the NRA on the issue is irrelevant in the face of its membership in the private club of political influence peddlers who seek sway above those who dictate the terms of our lives. They might just as easily pressure their charges in the other direction, were it to facilitate their agenda.

The passage of the stand your ground law is minimally laudable. The implication that the right of personal protection need first be granted by State decree is resentful and patrician. If the right to fight for one's continued existence must be granted by legislative fiat, isn't the right to exist at all in question until granted by the political class? A host of other basic rights, it seems, are held in abeyance pending the action of our betters. Consider, for argument's sake, the unalienable triumvirate set forth in the Declaration. Life. Duly covered. Liberty . Suffice it that beleaguered Liberty has been rendered meaningless by the volumes of regulation perpetrated in its name. The pursuit of Happiness. Small relief and wonder that our masters have yet to dictate to the indentured class just what is meant by Happiness, and how best to dictate the dispensation of same and the guidelines in pursuit thereof.

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Matthew Bryan's picture
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Matthew Bryan resides in North Las Vegas, Nevada. A college dropout, he claims no qualifications other than a fervent desire for self-sufficiency and a peaceful existence, free from governmental intrusion. His patient, understanding wife regularly goads him into high-pitched, libertarian rants--just for practice. They have two cats and a dog.  His blog can be viewed here.