Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stretching the Boundaries of "Self Defense"

I've blogged before about the dangerous notions we carry around about "good guys" and "bad guys". Generally, people rationalize their behavior to think that what they're doing is right. This is why - the George Zimmerman case aside - so many self-defense claims are turned down by the courts: people get into fights and then want to claim that they were defending themselves - that they were the victim. But if you started the fight, or preemptively attacked the other guy, you're not the victim, whatever "rights" you think you have.

Along these lines, here comes a story from Florida (is Florida a magnet for this stuff?) of a guy claiming a pretty expansive view of self-defense:
Florida Man 'Preemptively' Kills Neighbors, Cites Bush
My guess is that his lawyers' appeal to the Bush Doctrine aren't going to get very far. But assuming that the attorney's filing is an accurate representation of his client, this guy clearly felt that he was simply "defending himself" by pulling out a gun and killing his neighbors. That notion of self-defense is, put simply, barbaric. That same logic leads to Hobbes' State of Nature (or, for those less book-inclined, to modern Somalia) - everyone for themselves and the heck with the state.

I have no doubt that this fellow feels sincerely aggrieved and believes himself to have been in the right when he shot three men. It's up to the rest of us to remind him - and everyone else with fantasies about preemptive violence - that he's wrong.

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