Treyvon Martin’s death is a very sad tragedy. Whether it was murder or self-defense I don’t know, we’ll have to wait to see what evidence comes out in the trial for that. Whatever the outcome though, it is still a tragedy.
A preventable tragedy? Very Likely.
Let’s step back and consider for a moment why George Zimmerman was patrolling his neighborhood in the first place, why he followed Martin, and why he might have confronted Martin.
Zimmerman’s neighborhood had apparently become increasingly plagued by crime; mostly burglaries, but some assaults and drug dealing as well. Zimmerman and other neighbors had called police numerous times with little to no results. That can be pretty frustrating when you’re worried if you’ll be next.
Common law, going back to the Magna Carta, recognized people rights to defend themselves and their property wherever they were. Over time and with modern law enforcement, this was modified a bit to say that you can protect yourself and your property in your home (castle doctrine), but when you enter the public sphere this responsibility now falls largely on law enforcement. We gave up some rights for the benefits of a more peaceful society with law enforcement.
What happens though when law enforcement doesn’t hold up their end? At some point any sane person will step up to protect themselves, their property, and their neighbors if law enforcement isn’t doing it’s job. George Zimmerman and his neighbors apparently decided that it was time. This situation was also the advent of the stand-your-ground laws in several states. These laws gave back to citizens some of the rights they had given up earlier.
The Drug War enters this on several levels. At the top of the list is resources – our law enforcement spends nearly half their time and money investigating and arresting people for drug violations, including stuff as simple as smoking pot. What if all of this resource were instead directed towards protecting innocent citizens? Would this lessen the need for neighborhood watch duties like George Zimmerman was performing?
Likewise, spending less time on consenting adult prostitutes (over 95% of all prostitution surveillance and arrests) would give them more time to protect innocent citizens and help women who had not consented to work as a prostitute. How about spending less time with traffic violations that are revenue generation rather than actual road safety issues?
If law enforcement were once again focusing on keeping innocent citizens safe would this also lessen the need for Stand-Your-Ground laws?
Some gal going at it in a hotel room with some guy for $300 is not a threat. Someone smoking a joint or doing a line of cocaine is not a threat. Burglaries and assaults ARE a threat. Which should they be focused on?
Second, our wars on vice is the cause of a huge chunk of the violent and other crimes in our communities. It IS NOT the vices that cause these problems, but our wars on them. You don’t often here of people killing over a turf war on cigarette sales or robbing a house for their next Marlboro. It happens, but it’s not even remotely as common as that caused by illegal drugs. Ending our wars on personal vice would significantly lessen the violent and other crimes in our communities caused by these wars.
Just consider George Zimmerman’s neighborhood if personal vice was once again personal, not criminal. Drug sales and prostitution would take place in more appropriate locales, like within designated business districts, rather than residential neighborhoods like Zimmerman’s. With market instead of black market prices, there would be less need for people to burglarize others, such as those in Zimmerman’s neighborhood, for their next fix. This certainly isn’t the only cause of burglaries, but is a major contributor. And, if law enforcement reverted back to their once primary responsibility of protecting innocent citizens instead of chasing after people for their personal sins then perhaps we wouldn’t need gun toting citizens like George doing their job for them.
And maybe, the next Treyvon won’t happen.