The number of states with "stand your ground"–style laws is growing. This is an extremely disturbing trend. These laws promiscuously grant private citizens the state's ultimate sanction: the use of deadly force. (For more on the local effort to enact such a law in Massachusetts, see Chris Faraone's "Standing Their Ground," on page 9.)
The possibility of injustice under the law can never be erased, but "stand your ground" provisions — as the Martin-Zimmerman case clearly suggests — all but guarantee the multiplication of tragedy.
Back to Martin and Zimmerman.
Someone — presumably the police — leaked the fact that Martin had been suspended from high school when he was killed. His suspension was due to the presence of marijuana residue on a plastic bag found in Martin's possession. Additional reports suggest that school officials caught him with women's jewelry and a possible "burglary tool" — a screwdriver.
This, no doubt, distressed Martin's parents. But not as much as the teen's killing.
Zimmerman has been described by some as a wannabe cop. It turns out, however, that Zimmerman has a record. He assaulted a police office and was accused of slapping around a girlfriend. (Though that doesn't make him guilty of manslaughter.)
You do not need a degree from Yale Law School to suspect that the local police made a huge mistake and are now trying to cover it up.
If it were not for a national campaign to bring this case to attention, it would have faded away.
As soon as President Barack Obama — rightly — added his voice to those questioning the justice of the situation, it has become explosive.
Once again, the weird, tropical, redneck, transient-filed state of Florida illuminates the dark psyche of America.