As you all know by now, the Zimmerman trial is over and the verdict was “not-guilty”. During the trial and right after, there was all sorts of nonsense spread by the media, pundits and pretty much anybody with a Twitter or Facebook account. The media is one thing; they have a vested interest in promoting their own agenda and tailoring their reports to suit that goal. I think it’s disgusting and even criminal but I doubt this will ever change. There’s simply too much money involved; people sell their souls for a whole lot less.
It’s also been a while since I heard so many uninformed and flat out erroneous opinions on both the case itself and self-defense laws in general. In part, this is due to the media constantly pushing disinformation. In part because of NBC News trying to compete with Joseph Goebbels in spreading a lie. It got indeed repeated loudly and long enough for a vast majority of people to believe it is true. It’s still a lie and they admitted to it, but that little tidbit of information is not a headline anywhere. Their faux-apology didn’t impress me one bit. News professionals do make mistakes but even an amateur working with raw audio material would spot that he was taking things completely out of context. I believe it was a major factor in inciting the public at large to view this as a race-related crime.
This is also the reason why I won’t comment much on the trial itself even though I think it was handled terribly and won’t allow any comments on it here. People (black, white, green, yellow or polka dot colored) stop listening and using their minds as soon as they think race is involved. They collectively go apeshit and stop making sense altogether. When you point this out to them, they accuse you of all sorts of evil crap, including racism. If afterwards they realize they are wrong on specific parts of their argumentation (like the audio tape…) they ignore that part and focus on the rest.
I saw and heard some of the most outlandish things about legal self-defense in this case too. People with absolutely zero knowledge (as proven by their words) about the law and case law pontificate as if they have law degrees and dozens of years pleading murder trials. Even a first year law student would be able to correct them on everything they say. But they refuse to let go of their opinions (as unfounded and erroneous as they may be) when professionals and experienced experts who’s job is just that tell them otherwise. If find this even worse when movie stars and other celebrities jump on the bandwagon. Only very few of them actually made some sense when they spoke up. I particularly liked Charles Barkley’s balanced and fair view.
All this together brings out the cynic in me (in all fairness, that doesn’t take much…) and makes me feel the human race might not deserve to survive, seeing what a mess we make of things. Or maybe I should just pack up and go live on a deserted island. Can you tell I have a strong opinion on this?
Moving on to the reason why I wrote this.
George Zimmerman and the future of self-defense laws
The result of this verdict, the media circus and all the opportunists trying to push their personal agenda is that I believe self-defense laws will gradually start to change. Perhaps I’m wrong but I think the Zimmerman trial will be used and abused to push through certain self-defense laws or make changes and amendments to existing ones. In my opinion, it’s unlikely these will be for the better.
Here’s the thing: laws need to be accepted by a sizable portion of the public. If they aren’t, those laws get ignored and broken systematically. Then governments try to enforce them, which they obviously can. However, democratically elected governments also know they can’t charge people by the millions when they break such a law. That’s just not realistic. The flip side of that coin is that come next elections, people won’t have forgotten. All put together, most politicians aren’t fully stupid (evil, corrupt, soulless, yes but I digress again.) and understand that their power is limited. Which is why rhetorical skills are so important, along with the role the media play: they have to sell those laws to the public.
So what happens if the public at large starts to swing towards a specific view on self-defense laws? What happens if a case like the Zimmerman trial ingrains that mindset you can see more and more now after the verdict: “Change the self-defense laws! They suck!” President Obama, who is no fool in using the media, spoke out before the verdict and after. He isn’t one to let such an opportunity go by.
I’m not blaming him, he’ just doing what any politician does. My point is that another percentage of the public has shifted towards the “all violence, including self-defense, is bad” camp and want something done about it. The larger that camp becomes, the easier it will be to change those self-defense laws to become more restrictive. Which I think is a mistake.
For decades now, most people in a modern society have been living in a sheltered environment. Violence is a rare thing for most of them. They don’t have to face it often in their daily lives. Many people even live out their lives without ever having to defend themselves or others. I’ve written about this before and won’t rehash it, here are the details. So to them, all those self-defense laws are silly and out of touch with reality. Isn’t violence just, you know, bad after all?
This mindset has permeated into the rest of society, including most school systems where any sort of violence means both parties get expelled. And so people learn form early childhood that they should avoid all violence, regardless the reason. Then they live a life where they typically never encounter it, which reinforces that message. But when it does, they are shattered. Their world crumbles and many can’t face it. I know, I’ve taught many such people over the years when they finally decided to rebuild their lives and stop being afraid. But they’re still a minority though.
Here’s the thing: human nature hasn’t changed, modern society or not.
You can lie to yourself and pretend it doesn’t exist but people still go nuts over all sorts of things: jealousy, anger, alcohol, you name it. Mankind is inherently violent, no matter what kind of society it builds for itself. There will always be violence.
Hence the need for self-defense laws that are in touch with the reality of violence.
But as there are less and less people who understand violence, there is less and less support for self-defense laws that actually make sense. And then comes along a case like the Zimmerman trial…
What a useful opportunity to start making some changes to self-defense laws.
Like I said, President Obama has already announced his intentions. People like Al Sharpton get away with saying the most idiotic things like:
If he was raining blows, MMA-style, you think there would be some physical evidence of that on his fists.Second, it was testified that Zimmerman had MMA training. If Zimmerman had MMA training and there was an MMA attack going on, why didn’t he use his MMA training to defend himself?
If you have no experience with violence, this makes sense. It’s total nonsense in real life though. Just as Sharpton’s claim that a grown man should be able to handle a 17-year old “kid” is ludicrous too. But people are buying it. And will say “Yeah! Remember Treyvon!” when new self-defense laws are proposed.
And so the cycle will repeat.
I believe things will get a whole lot worse before they get better, if they ever do. But that’s just me.
What’s the point of all this?
In my post on preemptive strikes for self-defense, I wrote about the need to look up your self-defense laws before you decide and train how to use them. What I should have mentioned too is that laws are always a work in progress. They are continuously changed, altered, amended and so on. It never stops. Given how the Zimmerman trial will likely affect the self-defense laws in the US rapidly, I think you should definitely do your research right now. And then regularly follow up on it.
Yes, this is boring. But do you want to go through the same thing as Zimmerman did? Whether you believe he acted in self-defense or not is irrelevant. A court has decided he did and we all have to accept that ruling now. But win or lose, a murder trial is a life-shattering event. It has the kind of consequences you can never get away from, ever. So I believe it is in your best interest to not only track changes to National self-defense laws but specifically state-specific self-defense laws. I believe it is on the local level you’ll see the changes first.
So once again, look up your laws. Do it in the library or get this book that lists the laws for all 50 states, plus case law. Go talk to police officers and criminal defense lawyers. Get informed and then stay informed.
Like a friend of mine said, when you are in a self-defense situation, you need to win three fights:
- The fight with yourself and your adrenal stress.
- The fight with your attacker.
- The fight with the legal system.
Most people only train for the first two fights and forget the last. My goal with this article was to point out why now, after the Zimmerman verdict, focusing on that last fight is equally, if not more, important.
P.S.: I welcome all comments, as always. However, whoever starts on a political rant or pontificates ad nauseam on their own opinion will be blocked. So play nice and I will too.