11/02/2013

Media Matters falsely claims Blacks don't benefit from Stand Your Ground laws and too many other false points to list in a title


Media Matters continues its hit-and-run tactics.  Their typical approach is: Make a charge, assume no one will check out their claims (after all most Media Matters links are to other Media Matters posts), not respond to any comments placed at other places because that might allow their readers to see those responses, and not allow me to respond to the attacks on the Media Matters website.  For a long list of previous false Media Matters claims see this link here.


The front page of Media Matters website now contains this headline: "Gun advocate John Lott Lashes Out at Trayvon Martin's Mother." Seriously?  I said Martin's mom was one of "two very sympathetic witnesses. . . ."  And that "it's very hard to say anything when you're having to deal with a mother who has lost her son, under any circumstances. I have five kids; I can't imagine what it would be like to deal with that situation."  What I did say was that they were sympathetic women who had undergone a horrible tragedy and that I couldn't imagine going through myself, but that Trayvon Martin's death wasn't caused by Stand Your Ground laws.  How exactly is that lashing out at Sybrina Fulton?

Media Matters responds to my last point about the Stand Your Ground law not being relevant by making a series of points:

Lott's testimony largely argued that African-Americans benefit from Stand Your Ground laws, a falsehood invented by the right-wing media. . . .
If you want to see evidence that blacks benefit more than whites, see my discussions here, here, and here.

As to the claim that Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis cases occurred because there wasn't the need to retreat, Media Matters claims: 

In Martin's case, Lott employed a right-wing media canard to state on NRA News that because "the defense was never raised," by George Zimmerman's attorneys that the law was absent from the case. . . .
As usual, Media Matters' discussion is at best selective.  I didn't rely solely or even primarily on "the defense was never raised."  In numerous places I have extensively discussed the ability to retreat.  Two options are possible:

1) Trayvon Martin was the aggressor and George Zimmerman was on his back with Martin on top of him hitting him repeatedly. In that case, there would be no chance to retreat, no possibility for that portion of the law to apply.


2) Zimmerman was somehow the aggressor.  If so, the Florida Stand Your Ground law is very clear and I had this in my testimony to the Senate.  Florida law already states that the Stand Your Ground provision is:

not available to a person who . . . initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless: (a) . . . he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant . . .  or (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.”
Isn't it pretty clear that even under Florida law if you initiate the confrontation you aren't allowed to Stand Your Ground.  Indeed, I read that portion of the law during the Senate hearing on October 29th on Stand Your Ground laws and Media Matters has put up a post on that hearing.  The reason why the judge gave the jurors the Stand Your Ground law is so that they could read the above passage. 

Media Matters goes on to assert:

In fact, Stand Your Ground was cited by local officials as the reason Zimmerman wasn't initially arrested, an explanation of the law was included in instructions to the jury, and a juror later cited the law by name as a reason for why Zimmerman was acquitted. . . .
Jacob Sullum has a useful discussion at Reason.com about the jury instruction and Juror B37's comment:
The "stand your ground" language that the jurors heard is part of the standard jury instruction in cases where the defendant claims his use of deadly force was justified. The defense asked for it to be included (why not?), and the judge agreed, but that does not mean it figured in the verdict. While Juror B37 did utter the phrase "stand your ground" a couple of times in the interview to which Fulton refers, she also made it clear that she believed the essential elements of Zimmerman's story: that Martin was the aggressor; that Zimmerman was pinned to the ground, unable to escape, when he fired his gun; and that Martin was assaulting Zimmerman in a way that made him reasonably fear for his life. That scenario has nothing to do with the right to stand your ground, and Zimmerman could have used exactly the same defense in any state, whether or not it imposes a duty to retreat. 
Perhaps the jurors were "confused," as Fulton suggests, misunderstanding what "stand your ground" means. If so, they were not alone.
The issue of the initial arrest was one of simple self defense.  If one actually reads the link provided by Media Matters, there is no specific mention of Stand Your Ground.  Instead, the city notes:
Why was George Zimmerman not arrested the night of the shooting? When the Sanford Police Department arrived at the scene of the incident, Mr. Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self defense which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time.  . . . 
As to the Jordan Davis case, I explained during the hearing that claiming Stand Your Ground defense of not having to retreat is applicable doesn't mean that it actually applies to this case.  I said that if Jordan Davis' Mom is correct and "her son was listening to music and someone shot him simply for listening to loud music.  There was no threat there," the Stand Your Ground law isn't applicable.  There was no threat that a reasonable person would believe risked imminent death or serious injury.

Again, to protect against Media Matters re-editing their post, here are screen shots of what they put up.  Click on either to enlarge.





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3 Comments:

Blogger Chas said...

If I was black, this is what I would say:
"After slavery, I want a fully automatic M-16. Now, I like y'all white people, you okay, but I still do want a fully automatic M-16, because that is the state of the art in self-defense. We black people are still a minority; we're still vulnerable, and I do not want that slavery thing coming back, no how, no way. So, can I have my right to bear arms, or do I have to go back to the Supreme Court to get it? And none of that Dredd Scott stuff this time, before y'all acknowledge that the Second Amendment applies to me as a black man. Okay? Can I be equal now? Can I have my Second Amendment rights now? Is that okay with y’all now?” Hello? Hello?”

11/02/2013 8:55 PM  
OpenID valentsgrif said...

Mr. Lott, I saw your testimony that day and I need to express my gratitude for your brave, well thought out testimony.

I can only pray that the leaders of this country will act upon scientifically valid data when formulating policy as serious as the right to defend ones own life.

11/04/2013 3:16 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Thanks, valentsgrif. If you want to help get more research done, so that we can obtain data and hire research assistants, you can donate at http://crimepreventionresearchcenter.org/donate/

11/04/2013 7:04 PM  

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