Over the years, I've had a healthy-growing distaste for our effervescent love affair with democracy. Each stripe on the colorful flag of populism seems like a strike against it. Creed, race, nation; football teams in a seemingly inevitable clash of culture, vying for our allegiance and merchandising dollars. From U.S. president to local pastor, majoratarian politics has just not been my bag.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm mistaken on that. Maybe there's a piece of information I just haven't processed yet, and all my opposition and frustration is just some unfortunate mistake, like an IRS accounting error. But then something grabs the attention of the American public, and the subsequent discourse kicks me right in the teeth. How silly of me. Some people really just are stupid. And, boy, the idiocy can really reach a majestic height. And, lest you believe I'm dipping too much into hyperbole, I'd like to turn your attention to the Trayvon Martin case.
As a formal disclaimer, I'd like to say that I (and the vast majority of us for that matter) do not know what happened in actuality. So none of my criticisms are on the basis of what did or did not happen. What I would like to draw attention to are some of the claims of many others (particularly regarding certain hypotheticals). And I won't even go into the nuances of positive law here (because God knows the people making the claims have made no attempt to grasp them anyways).
So, if I were to look at much of the discourse on this subject and view it as an American Civics class, here are ten things I would have learned:
1. Breaking the codes of conduct for your local neighborhood watch is illegal.
2. You're legally bound to said codes even if you're not on "watch".
3. 911 operators have executive authority (on par with police officers no less).
4. Investigating or stopping a potential crime is something that only police officers have the authority to do.
5. Following someone qualifies as assault and may be physically defended against.
6. Confronting someone verbally as to their intentions qualifies as assault and may be physically defended against.
8. Your life cannot be legitimately threatened unless you have already sustained serious bodily injuries.
9. One may not use a lethal (external) weapon unless being attacked by someone with another lethal (external) weapon.
10. Once it has been ascertained that use of a lethal weapon is necessary, one must use it in a non-lethal fashion.