The loaded history of self-defense

first_imgAfter the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, Harvard historian Caroline Light felt compelled to explore the roots of the American right to self-defense, which has helped turned the United States into a country with more guns than people.In her new book, “Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense,” Light traces the development of the notion of self-defense from English common law to contemporary stand-your-ground laws. The Gazette sat down with Light to talk about her book, the rise of armed citizenship, and the idea that the right to self-defense has traditionally been wielded by the most privileged against the most vulnerable. GAZETTE: In your book, you trace the history of the American right to self-defense to before the foundation of the United States. Where does this notion come from?LIGHT: I traced the legal theory and ideology of lethal self-defense back to English common law principles, which are foundational to what would eventually become the United States legal system. But self-defense had serious limitations in the English context. People in the United States forget that originally English common law doctrine held a “duty to retreat” that meant that you were obligated to retreat in the face of an attack. The one exception was enunciated in a 1604 court case involving an intrusion of agents of the king into a man’s private dwelling. These are the origins of the Castle Doctrine, which says that you do not have the duty to retreat when you’re in your home because “a man’s home is his castle.” This doctrine originated as an exemption to the duty to retreat, but in the United States it turned into a very expansive set of notions about who is allowed to fight back lethally against whom. The ideology of lethal self-defense is very selective in the U.S., even if we claim to be gender-blind and race-blind. When people in the U.S. said, “A man’s home is his castle,” what they actually meant was, “A white, property-owning man’s home is his castle,” and he’s allowed to fight back.GAZETTE: How did the notion of self-defense that emerged in the 17th century as a privilege for white men who owned property, as you argue, evolve over the centuries?LIGHT: When we look back into the roots of self-defense laws in the United States, we also see that they’re tethered to colonialism, legalized slavery, and the legal doctrine of coverture, which meant that married women couldn’t own any property because their rights were literally “covered” by their husbands. All of these different principles of exclusion were embedded in what would become the United States’ legal system. And as I traced them through time, even as laws started becoming more inclusive, self-defense laws were adjudicated chiefly to protect white men and their property. That took off in the post-Reconstruction era, late in the 19th century, when we see court cases in several states where white men are allowed to fight back lethally even when they aren’t in their home. We don’t see anything like that happening for African-Americans because in the wake of the Civil War, black codes and vagrancy laws, etc., restricted black freedom and access to full citizenship. And most black codes prohibited African-Americans from possessing weapons for self-defense. Similarly, women couldn’t defend themselves against violence from their husbands. I argue that lethal self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged even if, rhetorically, we celebrate self-defense as something universal to all citizens.GAZETTE: What is the turning point at which the “duty to retreat” from threat becomes what you call a “selective right to kill”?LIGHT: The pivotal moment coincides with the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s. There are two crucial court cases, one in Ohio and one in Indiana, in which the state courts decide not to obligate white men to retreat in the face of danger even if they’re outside their homes. This coincided with the moment the federal government withdrew federal forces from the South, which meant it withdrew protections for newly freed people. This was done in the interest of protecting white property, especially given the end of slavery. This legal shift accompanied an effort by whites to retain a claim to what had been their property, to maintain control over formerly enslaved people. The 13th Amendment carried a loophole by which white Southerners could continue enslaving African-Americans under the guise of incarceration for criminal behavior. For instance, vagrancy laws could be used to keep African-Americans in prison. All of these things are part of a larger constellation in which self-defense laws were mobilized selectively in the interest of white property.GAZETTE: How would you describe the legacy of this belief system in today’s American society?LIGHT: Lethal self-defense, in many ways, has become naturalized as a universal civil right. What that means is that many Americans see it as their right to carry a lethal weapon in the interest of self-defense. I tracked the transition from the late 20th-century focus on hunting to what we see today, which is an urgent accumulation of firearms for self-defense. On top of that, stand-your-ground laws have spread to over half the states, declaring that you can “stand your ground” against an attack wherever you may be, even outside your home. But as we’ve seen with cases like Trayvon Martin’s, these laws are not adjudicated in a way that entitles everybody to protect themselves from what they perceive to be a reasonable threat.GAZETTE: You said that the killing of Trayvon Martin inspired you to write this book. How so?LIGHT: That moment was crucial for many Americans. Trayvon’s death and his killer’s ability to walk free were an awakening to the prevalence of racial violence in our supposedly color-blind society. And even though many people would say that the Trayvon Martin case had nothing to do with stand-your-ground laws, it still resonates in terms of how the jury was instructed to consider George Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence. Stand-your-ground laws provide an exemption from criminal prosecution for people who use lethal self-defense in response to a reasonable threat, and that’s what the jury acted on. They believed that it was reasonable for Zimmerman to fear for his life when he saw an unarmed black teenager. I think that speaks volumes to the pernicious injustice of stand-your-ground laws.GAZETTE: In your book, you call stand-your-ground laws part of the “Do-It-Yourself Security Citizenship” movement. Could you tell us what this means?LIGHT: “Do-It-Yourself Security Citizenship” is the idea that an individual can and will be heroically prepared to fight in defense of himself and other innocent lives around him. It’s a seductive narrative for many people. And gun ownership, this notion that you must be prepared to kill or be killed, is at the center of “Do-It-Yourself Security Citizenship.” Whether you have a gun or not, the core idea is that no one is going to protect you, the government won’t protect you, and law enforcement won’t protect you. So as a good citizen, you need to take your safety and security into your own hands. The National Rifle Association [NRA] plays a powerful role in distributing and naturalizing this knowledge, making it seem like an emblem of patriotism to accumulate and carry weapons. Gun ownership is no longer about hunting or recreation; it’s about an urgent necessity to protect yourself from danger and to participate in armed citizenship, which the NRA characterizes as the ideal of American patriotism. Their message is that when you protect yourself, you make everybody safer. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to protect yourself, but I’m asking people to be more self-critical about the way in which “Do-It-Yourself Security Citizenship” is based on anxiety and fear about criminal strangers, including the perception of black masculinity as a threat in and of itself.GAZETTE: Would you say that the notion of the right to self-defense is part of the DNA of the country? If so, how do you think it will evolve?LIGHT: Yes, in a way, it’s in our DNA, but we have our own particular genetic mutations. As the duty to retreat and the Castle Doctrine were transported to what would become the United States, they changed due to the influence of our specific economy, our ideal of Manifest Destiny, the legacy of slavery, and also our willful amnesia around the ways in which the violence of slavery has not been left in the past at all. It is in many ways built into our DNA, but does that mean we can’t change it? I remain hopeful that we may become more critical about armed citizenship and its impact on public safety. It’s going to take all of us to rethink and question DIY Security Citizenship as the emblem of patriotism.last_img read more

Steelers win first, now face mighty Titans

first_imgDennis Dixon started off slow but as the game progressed he was given more freedom which led to more confidence as he put the ball in the air more for a very solid first game. He was 18 of 26 for 236 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He quietly outplayed his much more noted opponent Matt Ryan, who many believe is going to be an NFL star. Ryan was 27 of 44 for 252 yards but was not able to get the ball in the end zone.The defense showed why they were the best in the business in 2008, the Super Bowl year, as they bent but didn’t break, and held an outstanding offense to three field goals. As usual, they shut down the running game, holding Michael Turner to just 42 yards on 19 carries.With Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith missing 11 games each last season, the defense dropped to fifth, but still was number one against the run. However, both Smith and Polamalu are back, along with cornerback Bryant McFadden and all played major roles in the Steelers victory, with Polamalu picking up a key interception that led to the overtime. They also did something very rare in the NFL. They stopped a team from scoring in overtime which set up Rashard Mendenhall’s winning 50-yard touchdown run.The secondary was the Steelers weakness last season but with the exception of Roddy White’s 13 catches for 111 yards, they pretty much controlled the air attack.The challenge will be much greater against the Titans and Chris Johnson who led the league in rushing last season. He opened the season with 142 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries as the Titans slaughtered the Raiders. Johnson, the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2010, extended his streak at 12 consecutive 100-yard games to break a tie with Marcus Allen. He trails only Barry Sanders, who had an NFL-best 14. This will be the ultimate test for the Steelers defense to stop or contain Johnson.But Johnson is not the Titans only offensive threat. Vince Young came off the bench last season to lift an 0-6 team into the playoffs. The young Dixon has been compared much to Young because of his ability to run the ball. Young doesn’t pass a lot but is very effective when he does. He was 13 of 17 for 154 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders.Former Steeler Nate Washington was his leading receiver with just three catches but picked up 88 yards and one touchdown. Expect Young to put the ball in the air far more against the Steelers because it’s not likely Johnson will be able to run as freely as he did against the Raiders. With no true outside threat the Titans must depend on the run for victory, which means the Steelers will gear their defense to stopping the run.Speaking of running, the Steelers looked good with Mendenhall picking up 120 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown, the biggest being the 50-yard run in overtime to win the game.Isaac Redman gained 19 yards on six carries, but was most impressive on short yardage situations when the Steelers needed one or two yards for the first down.Hines Ward once again demonstrated why he’s one of the best wide receivers in the game as he picked up the team in the second half with 108 yards on six catches. Heath Miller had four catches for 40 yards and Mike Wallace was held to just two catches for 62 yards.“It’s like Forrest Gump, I can’t explain it,” said Ward, who is from the Atlanta area and went to the University of Georgia. “I’m 34 years old, and every year regardless of what people say it’s my mindset that I have to go in and prove everybody wrong. That’s my motivation.”Look for a much more aggressive game in the air against the Titans, mostly because Tennessee has probably the third best defensive team in the league behind the Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. It will be much tougher to run against this team than the Falcons.Of the four games without Roethlisberger, this is the game most pick the Steelers to lose, including myself, but this is not written in stone. If the defense can contain Johnson they can beat the Titans which means they could go 4-0 instead of 3-1. The other two games are at Tampa Bay and at home against the Ravens.The only low point was the kick returns by Antwaan Randle El with just three yards on two returns. Also missing were the two outstanding rookies Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Look for more of them in the next three games because Randle El really didn’t look that impressive as the third wide receiver. The Steelers, who survived their first game without Ben Roethlisberger 15-9 over the Atlanta Falcons, now must face their toughest foe of the four game suspension in the Tennessee Titans who ran all over the Oakland Raiders, 38-13. VICTORY CELEBRATION—James Harrison jumps on Rashard Mendenhall to celebrate Mendenhall’s 50 yard touchdown run in overtime that gave the Steelers a 15-9 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener at Heinz Field. last_img read more

Pitt looks to regroup after humbling loss to Penn State

first_imgPittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi , center, talks with his defense during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Penn State in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Penn State won 51-6. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi puts together a penalty chart that he shares with his players the day after every game, hopeful to use each to prevent similar penalties from happening in the future. Narduzzi found his name on the list on Sunday after being flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct in the first half of a sobering 51-6 loss to rival Penn State. He apologized to his players and pledged it was a one-time event.The fourth-year coach hopes he can say the same about the second half the Panthers (1-1) endured while getting drilled by the Nittany Lions, who ripped off the game’s final 44 points and didn’t let up in the final minutes.Narduzzi had made it a point to say in the run-up to the 99th meeting between the two schools that playing Penn State is different from any other game on Pitt’s schedule. That doesn’t mean there’s any difference in the emotions after the outcome. The pain he felt Sunday wasn’t any different from any of the 17 other defeats he’s experienced since taking over.“They all hurt,” Narduzzi said Monday. “I don’t care what they are … it doesn’t matter.”The goal this week will be translating that perspective — that as difficult and ugly as the final 30 minutes against the Nittany Lions were, there is plenty to play for — to his club this week. Pitt opens Atlantic Coast Conference play on Saturday when Georgia Tech (1-1) visits. Pitt lost each of the last two years the week after facing Penn State, though both times it was to nationally ranked Oklahoma State.The Yellow Jackets and their unique triple-option provide a different kind of test. Pitt’s biggest challenge will be finding the emotional resiliency necessary to bounce back after a miscue-laden final two quarters in which they were outclassed on both sides of the ball.“Our players didn’t respond to adversity, our coaches didn’t respond,” said Narduzzi, who reiterated that it starts with him.Maybe, but a little help from the passing game would go a long way. Quarterback Kenny Pickett spent most of the night under heavy duress, took four sacks and passed for just 55 yards, barely half of that (32) to wide receivers. Through two weeks, Pitt is 122nd in the country in yards passing.Narduzzi made it a point to defend Pickett, offering a reminder that the sophomore was making just his third collegiate start. At the same time, Narduzzi acknowledged there were receivers who were running open at times and didn’t get the ball due to either the pressure Pickett faced or his reluctance to let it fly.“He’s a great QB,” Narduzzi said. “We’ve got a lot of faith in him. It’s his first time going through something like that.”Still, Pickett wasn’t much in the mood for consolation. When asked after the game if things could have been different if the Panthers had scored on a fourth-and-3 from the Penn State 4 late in the first half, he shrugged his shoulders.“That was a good word you used there. You said ‘coulda.’ Could of doesn’t mean . I don’t want to curse in front of you guys, but, could of doesn’t mean anything. We’ve got to come out and answer and be better.”The sooner the better. The next month includes trips to Central Florida and Notre Dame.“We’re not going to measure anything after a game, one game, two games, three games,” he said. “You are where you are. Everybody’s got goals. Every week this is the most important game.”___More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25last_img read more

Manchester United’s most important player is….Scott McTominay?!

first_imgImage Courtesy: Getty ImagesAdvertisement qo4NBA Finals | Brooklyn Vsf592sWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre E178gc( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) f9jzWould you ever consider trying this?😱ce7Can your students do this? 🌚jom5pRoller skating! Powered by Firework Ah, the good ol’ Manchester United. The once undisputed kings of European football, now struggling to keep u with mid table teams. Five managers in six years, picking up promising youths, but still no major silverware since Sir Alex’s departure in 2013. What could be the reason behind the Red Devil’s lackluster performance? What can bring the their long prowess back? Scott McTominay!Advertisement Image Courtesy: Getty ImagesYes, Scott McTominay. As in a report submitted by freelance football analyst Statman Dave, the Scottish international midfielder’s much needed presence on field is the key behind United’s success. Why, you ask?According to Dave’s calculations, Solskjær’s side have conceded an average of 2.3 goals per game of the current season when McTominay was benched. However, the average drops to a substantial 0.8 in the matches he was present.Advertisement Check out Dave’s post on Instagram:Does this mean McTominay is the answer Ole seeks? The 22 year old mas made 12 appearances in the 2019-20 season yet, and this may just be the path for him to be a regular starter for the Devils.A youth academy product, Scott McTominay joined the senior team in 2017, and has made 43 appearances for the club. In addition to Dave’s stats, the Scotsman is behind 1/5th of all of United’s goals this season, according to Transfermarkt data. Advertisementlast_img read more