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Rabelaisian Rhetoric

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The American justice system has been horribly undermined in sunny Florida by the absolutely psychotic “Stand Your Ground” legislation. The law says that people have no legal obligation to back down from a confrontation, allowing them to settle an argument with deadly force as long as they thought their life was in danger.

Not surprisingly, the law has created a “Wild West” rule of law in which people can shoot first and ask questions later. When an altercation turns violent, one has to worry that if they don’t draw their gun first, they will be the one looking down the iron barrel of their demise.

How could a law like this be passed? Why is the value placed on human life so low that it is legal to murder another person if you feel they threatened you?

Every person on this earth is precious and unique. And every person is born with the capacity for rational thought that we should be required by law to utilize in arguments. A human life is the ultimate price to pay, and no matter what the conflict or situation is, killing should never be an option.

The recent shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin has ignited a firestorm of national critique on racial profiling around the “Stand Your Ground” law. Seven- teen-year-old Martin was identified by his race as a criminal, followed, and shot dead by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, all under the protection of standing one’s ground. When I hear the story and listen to the police dispatcher telling Zimmerman not to pursue Martin, it appears to me that the vigilante sought out a confrontation, and Martin paid with his life.

Under Florida law, a minor was legally shot and killed by a twenty- five-year-old man who had no reason to instigate a confrontation. Even if Zimmerman is found innocent when this case is brought to court, he is guilty of taking a young and precious life, and all life is precious. It is absolutely disgusting that incidents like this occur and are sanctioned under the law.

I find it equally disturbing that Martin’s death was potentially motivated by race. Society has fabricated racial distinctions and stereotypes in order to place people in groups and make sweeping generalizations about entire populations.

The truth is, not one person can be identified in this way. Being called white, black, or brown is completely arbitrary when who we are is defined by our actions, not our appearances. What does it matter where someone is from when it is much more important where they are going in life?

There is an abundance of hate and intolerance projected out to the world when we are capable of so much love. As fellow habitués of this earth, it is time to stop expecting people to behave in particular ways and let them navigate through life along their own prerogative. Live and let live, and don’t shoot high school students.

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Rabelaisian Rhetoric