By John M. Phillips
An original civil rights pioneer, Abraham Lincoln, often said “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
We, as a country, were founded on freedom- freedom to do, say and act how we wish. It was a system of ideals – a literal Constitution– that stemmed from oppression and longing for expression. But that very freedom was tucked inside Pandora’s Box. Because my free expression and your free expression (or desire to avoid my expression) may contrast. Our grandfathers may not have valued each others’ rights, but that doesn’t mean that we have to hold on to that dowry of hate. We cannot hold on to that. Pandora’s box of freedom is open and making everyone upset, some people crazy and dividing this nation further. As KRS-One rapped, “Self destruction, (we)’re headed for self destruction.”
Even though some hold sacred the Constitutional Right to the violent ‘defense of self’ guaranteed by the Second Amendment, other Amendments were drafted to provide rights to women and minorities- to force peace and quality. It means our forefathers were wrong sometimes, too. Even Thomas Jefferson thought the Constitution of this nation should be redrafted every generation or so. Yet, some now use those very Second Amendment guarantees to define freedom in America. Lincoln would undoubtedly define that as- “faltering.” We cannot impinge or insult one another and use the Second Amendment to bail ourselves out of mere free or misunderstanding. We cannot be violent mice waiting for our tail to be stepped on to teach the great elephant a lesson.
What if -and this is just a hypothetical- George Zimmerman is as much of a “wanted man” as his own family and legal counsel claim. And what if -to continue that hypothetical- someone he considers menacing (a black child with candy, soft drink and a possible bad attitude, perhaps) comes at him in his car or in a store- fist in the air. Can he shoot and claim he was standing his ground or was in defense of self? And do it again? And do it again? Where is the line of defense of self and reason? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world where the Stand Your Ground killer is not only legal, but he (or she) is festering among us. ‘Dexter’ could run four more seasons if the writers dare approach the laws of lethal force and Stand Your Ground in Florida.
I respectfully ask -so what- that you agree Michael Dunn was wrong to kill Jordan Davis. It won’t bring Jordan back– a college bound kid with a more potential than Dunn ever had. It is time to stop the faltering. Or it is time to give up on some freedoms. Or just to find some common thread of kindness. We are headed towards self destruction. I don’t need you to agree, I need you to act.
As for Zimmerman, the jury has spoken. Yet, the jury had a -still- unanswered question before it spoke- a question I still ask -why didn’t anyone explain manslaughter? When you drive recklessly and kill someone, it is arguably manslaughter. When you act carelessly with a firearm, it is arguably manslaughter. When you kill someone with the intent to simply pull the trigger, it -legally- is manslaughter. And it was never argued. And I don’t believe it was self defense for any of about 50 reasons located here. The Prosecutors’ silence to omit manslaughter is only made louder by their desire to go on every talk show and justify their failures.
My only request, you have trial in less than two and a half months of a murderer who never had a hair harmed, ever called the police, who just went to his hotel and ate pizza after shooting ten times in a car, killing Jordan Davis- Because Stand Your Ground told him he could. And this nation falters under bad attitudes and worse laws. Get to work, please. Justice depends on it.