July 20th, 2013


Regarding Stand Your Ground

So, let's say you're a woman. You're leaving work or maybe an evening's entertainment. You're walking to your car. You're on a public street, but not close to any public establishments, when you notice you're being closely observed. The person observing you looks like he could be dangerous. He's certainly larger than you. Maybe younger than you. Doubtless stronger than you. And he's paying very close attention to you. He starts to approach you. What do you do?

If you believe what the Attorney General says, then you should start to run. Now. Get away. But what if you're not only smaller, but slower than this guy is? What if you're elderly, or you've got a bad leg? What if he's between you and your car, and so you'd be running away into regions you don't know well? How long can you keep this up? Where will you go?

Running away isn't a bad idea. It may be all you've got. But running TO somewhere beats running FROM somewhere any day. And if there's no friendly looking place or person you can find for shelter, then what do you do?

The Stand Your Ground doctrine isn't about giving permission to trigger-happy types to shoot people. It's clarifying that if you feel threatened -- using the "reasonable person" standard of perception -- then you can defend yourself, even with deadly force, and the law will back you up. You are not obligated to run away, when running away would be bad for you. Your inherent right to self-defense is not only invocable within your home, or when you're actually struggling with an attacker, but in any place you have the right to be, even before you've been hit.

How you defend yourself is up to you. Some people carry pepper spray. Wasp spray will shoot farther, straighter, and is probably as effective. Either allows you to try to defeat an attacker before you come to grips and are overwhelmed. But if you happen to be in legal possession of a firearm, you can also use that.

It may not come to that. Flicking your shirt or jacket as if clearing away encumbrances to drawing your weapon (even if you don't have one) has been shown to be pretty effective at getting muggers to back off and look for easier prey. Flicking your jacket also doesn't escalate the situation the way actually pulling a weapon and aiming it does. But let's be clear: the law recognizes that if you are being attacked, you have the right to defend yourself, even by drawing, aiming, and, if necessary, firing a gun at your attacker.

All Stand Your Ground does is state clearly that you are not required to run away until you're backed up against a wall before you can defend yourself. Nor do you have to wait until your attacker has actually made contact with you. It does NOT give you permission to go on the attack; once you go on the attack, you become the aggressor and you are not engaging in self-defense. Stand Your Ground is meant to give comfort to the weaker party in a confrontation, not the stronger party.

And it had no relevance to the Zimmerman case, where it was not invoked. So when AG Holder says that Stand Your Ground laws should be repealed, he's suggesting an action that would have changed nothing about the trial of George Zimmerman, nor would it do anything to prevent the killing of someone in Trayvon Martin's situation. All it would do is make weaker people -- like women -- easier prey for stronger people -- like thugs of all colors.

The lyf so short the craft so longe to lerne

Every now and then, I make a few more notes for my magnum opus -- or maybe I should just say, the monkey on my back -- namely, the Christian Education book I keep meaning to write. And I keep thinking that the way to do this would be to form a small group to get together every once in a while and review each chapter as I write it.

Of course, I could also just post the same on my blog and invite interested parties to comment on it there, but I don't know if I'd get the feedback I need. Anyway, I'd like to know who would be interested in forming a reviewing group to receive this work, assuming I start cranking it out.

For reference, I'm thinking the whole will require 15 chapters. Here's my proposed outline. See if you think this is comprehensive enough.

Section One: Theory
I. Models of Discipleship
II. The Three Columns of Christian Education
III. Every Church's Primary Task

Section Two: Programs
IV. Sunday School: How not to be one of the three most wasted hours in existence
V. Youth Ministry: Who knew fun could be such hard work?
VI. Scouting Ministry: God is an eight color patch
VII. Confirmation: catechism or cataclysm?
VIII. Small Groups: ecclesiolae in ecclesia
IX. Camps, Retreats, and Trips: Taking your show on the road
X. Bible Study: When all else fails, read the instructions
XI. Worship and Preaching: the one thing every church can do
XII. Children's Ministries: raising each other's children

Section Three: Leaders
XIII. Catchers of Souls
XIV. Watching the Watchmen
XV. Beyond Discipleship