Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


July 16, 2013

Lion and the Lamb: Standing your ground

The National Rifle Association has lobbied hard to get states to adopt "Stand Your Ground" laws. This law originally stated that a person could use deadly force in self-defense in one's own home if there was a reasonable belief that one's life was in danger. Many states have extended the "ground" concept beyond the home to include responding to a deadly threat in any public location. This expansion fits in well with the NRA's Second Amendment emphasis and its desire to increase the number of armed citizens in our society.  

An example of this has been the focus of a trial in Sanford, Florida, this past week. On the Sunday evening of February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old African-American, Trayvon Martin, was walking back to his father's apartment in a gated community from a convenience store when he was followed and then stopped by a 28-year-old Hispanic, George Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer and wannabe police officer armed with a 9 mm handgun.

Zimmerman, just before his confrontation with Martin, was recorded in a cell phone call to 911 as making racial slurs, and then being advised to stop following Martin. Zimmerman, however, got out of his car and a struggle ensued which ended with Zimmerman shooting and killing Martin. He told police afterward that he believed his life to be in danger, and that he had shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman wasn't arrested until almost a month later.

A jury of five white women and one Hispanic woman this past week decided that Zimmerman justifiably used deadly force and reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself. He was released from custody and his gun returned to him.

In the days following the verdict, protests have taken place around the country about issues of racial animosity and profiling, the penalties for walking around in a black skin, civil rights, and questions concerning Stand Your Ground laws. It is interesting to consider what might have been an alternative scenario: If Trayvon Martin had been a year older in Florida, he could have carried a gun. Encountering a threatening George Zimmerman, he could have believed that his life was in great danger, and therefore could have shot and killed Zimmerman in self-defense. Is there any doubt that the NRA (or the Tea Party, for that matter) would have supported such an outcome?

The death of Trayvon Martin provides several important challenges to us. One is revealed in stark figures: 116,385 children and teens, including 44,038 who were black, have been killed by guns since 1979 (when gun data was first collected in our country). 5,740 children and teens were killed by guns in 2008 and 2009, greater than the number of U.S. military personnel killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan (5,013). What can we do about gun violence, instead of the NRA's answer of more guns in people's hands?

A second challenge is lifted up in a longer segment by Henry Giroux, but one important enough to hear and ponder over: "When traces of the social contract and our responsibility to present and future generations were still alive in the United States (prior to the late 1970s), many Americans believed it took a social state and a strong community to raise a child. That is, they believed in social safety nets that offered social protections, decent health care, child care and important social rights that affirmed the centrality of, and shared experience of, the common good, if not democracy itself.

"What many Americans now accept is a mode of 'failed sociality' that has turned the principles of democracy against itself, deforming both the language of freedom and justice that made equality a viable idea and political goal. Community as a metaphor for the common good and social contract is dead in America. Community is now gated and policed, and responsibility is reduced to a private and privately contracted affair shaped by a set of values that breathe a kind of mad savagery into a new form of economic Darwinism. In this market-driven, hypermasculine and militarized society, shared modes of society that provide collective protections and expand the rights of the social contract are now viewed with disdain."  

How can we create a different kind of grounding for our communities so that "Standing Your Ground" can have a beneficial outcome for all people, young and old?

Text Only
  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Time for an oil change

    The land of Iraq, earlier known as Mesopotamia, has a long history going back to Neanderthal times some 60,000 years ago. Later, around 10,000 years ago, it became the site for some of the most important developments in human history: the invention of the wheel, planting of cereal crops, the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture. Today it is recognized as one of the cradles of civilization.

    July 8, 2014

  • We the People: American women, be informed and vote

    Voting for today’s Republican Party and its Tea Party members, means you are voting against more than most realize.  This is especially true for women.

    July 8, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014