Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

“Standing Your Ground” and the Trayvon Martin case

Written By: Bob - Apr• 01•12

The comment left by “Lisa” in a previous blog post is sadly typical of the emotional response of Trayvon Martin’s supporters as read in comments around the web, on Facebook, Twitter, and various other forums. Speaking of George Zimmerman, she wrote:

Please- He knows the street address as he has called cops almost 50 times. The 911 operator told him it was not necessary for him to follow MArtin, howerver, he did anyway, which makes Zimmerman the Aggressor! MArtin was using self-defense against someone how was chasing him for NO reason. The “stand your ground” law does not hold up once you start chasing someone, aggressively, as Zimmerman did. If someone was chasing me, as Zimmerman was, in self-defense, I might break a nose as well.

The ignorance of the law on display by many Martin supporters is amazing.

She is right in one regard. Martin had a right to defend himself, and “stand your ground” laws would apply to him as well. But the fact of the matter is that SYG laws, like the 400+ years of castle doctrine common law they come from, are defensive in nature.

If Martin escalated the verbal altercation to physical violence by punching Zimmerman in the nose, it was Martin that escalated the conflict and became the aggressor. At that point, however, he was only guilty (If Zimmerman’s story is true) of something of the level of misdemeanor aggravated assault charge, and it considering the situation, he might be  forgiven for even that small sin.

If Martin then mounted a downed Zimmerman and began trying to smash his head into the sidewalk as alleged, however, he dramatically upped the stakes.

Using the sidewalk as a weapon is legally (and lethally) every bit as bad as trying to smash in Zimmerman’s head with a brick. If this is what occurred, Martin was in the act of assaulting George Zimmerman with a deadly weapon. His actions were no longer remotely defensive in nature, but an offensive, potentially deadly attack. He is in the process of what a reasonable man may judge as attempted murder. Trayvon Martin was no longer a victim at this point, he was the attacker, and potentially a murderer.

At that point, George Zimmerman has the legal and moral right to defend himself. From a use-of-force perspective, everything that happened prior to that point is irrelevant. If Zimmerman had a reasonable suspicion that his life was in danger–and someone trying to smash your head open on concrete is a “reasonable suspicion” as a matter of legal opinion–then Zimmerman would have been justified in taken action to stop the potentially lethal attack initiated and  pursued by Trayvon Martin.

There is a difference between what is legally right, and what is morally right. Zimmerman might have shown morally questionable judgement in leaving his vehicle to follow Martin, setting the stage for the verbal confrontation, and potentially the physical confrontation. He did not break any laws or violate a legal order in doing so, it just wasn’t very smart.

If Trayvon Martin then took the initiative of Zimmerman exiting his vehicle to engage him in a verbal confrontation, this was also not necessarily very smart, but it wasn’t illegal. If Martin pressed an assault into a potentially lethal attack, however, then Martin bears the legal responsibility for creating the conditions that justified the Defensive use of lethal force by Zimmerman, and his own death.

I am not saying that this is the series of events as described by Zimmerman are the definitive events. I’m merely making an observation of why Martin’s shooting was justifiable, if Zimmerman’s account is most nearly the right one.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. NevadaSteve says:

    This case has moved past the point where reasonable people can have a reasonable debate. Al Sharpton’s actions have pushed this to the point of absurdity. He is basically saying that unless Zimmerman is arrested he will can for an ‘escalation’, no matter what. If the investigation(s) does not find enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman then he should be arrested anyway.

    How can anyone imagine that any trial could be fair in light of these events? The simple answer is it couldn’t Either Zimmerman would be convicted because of unfair public pressure or he would be found not guilty because it is apparent no one can be found to be on the jury.

    This has turned into Kabuki theater where image is everything and I am thoroughly sick of it.

  2. Tam says:

    If Martin then mounted a downed Zimmerman and began trying to smash his head into the sidewalk as alleged, however, he dramatically upped the stakes.

    Unless he did it in response to the sight of a drawn gun, and we’ll never know the exact sequence of events.

    Given the way memory works, not even Zimmerman knows the exact sequence of events as they actually happened anymore. I’m sure he absolutely recollects it as he recounted it, which may be the way it happened.

    If Martin decked Zimmerman in response to verbal provocation or physical contact, and then jumped on Zimmerman in response to a drawn gun, it’s a completely different legal kettle of fish than if Martin decked Zimmerman, then jumped on him, and then Zimmerman drew his gun.

    Legal niceties have no place in the swirling ideological mobs tangling over this, however.

    • Bob says:

      True on all counts. I tried to make it clear I was merely citing this from Zimmerman’s account, and thank you for reminding me (and others) that just because it is his statement, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is what he remembers, or that what he remembers is necessarily accurate in any event.

    • Phelps says:

      Normal people don’t react to seeing a gun by attacking aggressively. There are two kinds of people who do — people who train for that situation (cops, military, other sheepdogs) and people who are already leading an aggressively violent lifestyle — criminals.

      The idea that his reaction to seeing the gun might be to jump on Zimmerman weighs more in Zimmerman’s favor than against him, in my mind.

  3. rumcrook says:

    for me personally im not a supporter of zimmerman, what I am is a supporter of moral justice, disdain for savagery, common sense and rule of law and the fight against the elevation of tribalism.

    over the last year we have seen horrible instances of flash mobs, engaged in savagely beating non blacks being suppressed by the media.

    and now we have had a our morally superior lib/leftist media and celebutards calling for and fomenting mob justice which is no justice at all it is tribal vengeance, lynch mobbery where no matter the situation blood debt must be paid.

    that is what is most upsetting to me. maybe zimmerman will end up being found culpable of something maybe not, maybe he’s responsible for a crime,

    but when people are tweeting his supposed address in order that he be killed, or supposed reputable news agencies like nbc cut his call to 911 to frame him as a racist to further escalate a race war, I think on a larger scale these things are much more important than the individual case.

  4. Orion says:

    Will you silly people stop letting FACTS get in the way of the narrative?! We need JUSTICE!!!

    KILL WHITEY FOR JUSTICE! (even though he’s Hispanic) C’mon, this is the 21st Century! The MOB knows what is RIGHT!


  5. LCB says:

    Nice post, Bob.

  6. Indigo Red says:

    There’s a reason Zimmerman didn’t know the street address – he wasn’t on the street. The incident took place between row houses facing two different streets. There’s a cement walkway in the middle of the shared backyards of the homes; everyone who called said the incident was in their back yard and back yard entrances do not normally have street address numbers physically attached to them.

  7. Indigo Red says:

    Here’s the Google Map of the neighborhood –,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1151&bih=681&q=1231+Twin+Tree+lane+Sanford+FL&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x88e7129831a4bbdd:0xb1fca9eb3b0a4272,1231+Twin+Trees+Ln,+Sanford,+FL+32771&gl=us&ei=gxx6T_LoOcy8iAeZmMjmBA&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CCAQ8gEwAA