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My Ethics: 'Stand your ground' laws are invitation to kill
The author says Florida legislators who supported the state's "stand your ground" law are responsible for Trayvon Martin's killing.
March 28th, 2012
02:53 PM ET

My Ethics: 'Stand your ground' laws are invitation to kill

Editor’s note: Edward L. Queen II directs the D. Abbot Turner Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership at Emory University’s Center for Ethics.

By Edward L. Queen II, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The true architects of the Trayvon Martin killing not only will not go unpunished, they also will go unnamed.

Those who created the conditions for Martin’s killing - those who, one might say, invited it - were the Florida legislators who voted for a law that undid not only decades of positive law regarding self-defense but also centuries of legal tradition.

In promoting “stand your ground” laws, self-proclaimed conservatives become grossly irresponsible radicals, drastically and dramatically undoing centuries of accumulated wisdom in their evisceration of the traditional formulation of self-defense.

They rip apart the traditional understanding of the legitimate use of deadly force in self-defense and invite people to kill.

Traditionally, the law understood deadly force to be justified in self-protection only when an individual reasonably believed that its use was necessary to prevent imminent and unlawful use of deadly force by the aggressor. Much of the tradition also argued that deadly force, outside of one’s immediate home, was not justified if a nondeadly response, such as retreating to a safe place, would suffice.

In adopting its "stand your ground" law in 2005 (officially Title XLVI, Chapter 776.013) the Florida Legislature, along with 20 other states with similar laws, both expanded the understanding of when deadly force is acceptable and eliminated the duty to retreat.

Florida’s law in particular remade the very nature of self-defense, turning what had been an “affirmative defense” into a presumption of innocence.

Before the passage of these “stand your ground laws,” most jurisdictions in the United States required one to demonstrate that one was acting in self-defense, that one had been attacked, that one reasonably feared for one’s life and that it was reasonable to use deadly force to protect oneself.

Unfortunately, Florida’s law expressly presumes that the individual using deadly force in self-defense had a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury. It also immunizes the individual from arrest or even being detained in custody, hence the failure of the police to arrest George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who has acknowledged shooting Martin.

One can only be shocked at this law’s idiocy. It is, simply, an invitation to kill.

Under the “stand your ground” law, any liar who kills someone and can concoct a reasonably plausible story cannot be arrested by the police or even taken in for questioning. Lest one think the Martin case is exceptional, justifiable homicide/self-defense claims have tripled since the law’s adoption, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The law also places police officers in a difficult situation; the killer’s story often cannot be contradicted because the person in the best position to challenge it is in no position to do so. That individual is dead - silent and cold.

That many people, including the legislators who authored the Florida legislation, have said the facts, as they emerged later, suggest that Zimmerman may not have acted in self-defense changes nothing.

The problem with the law is that, absent the outcry that followed, the facts would not have emerged. Unable to arrest and question the killer and to pursue the case, police find themselves in a situation where they are prevented from gathering the facts.

This structural limitation is exacerbated by the biases and prejudices that the officers bring with them regarding race, age, gender and criminality, to name just a few.

In their thoughtless attempts to undo the wisdom of centuries, extremists in the Florida Legislature went out of their way, if not to legalize murder, at least to decriminalize it. Each legislator who supported the law had a hand in Trayvon Martin’s killing and perhaps others.

With its craven attempt to garner votes by purportedly expanding individuals’ abilities to protect themselves, the Florida Legislature has made all of us targets and each of us a potential victim.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Edward L. Queen II.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Florida • Opinion • Race

soundoff (870 Responses)
  1. jack simmions

    here is a prospective? there is zimmermann , a guy that is trying to keep the block he lives on safe,part of a neiborhood watch,family man,and yes called the police 49 times( trying to get them to do there job! )a rash of house robberies in the area,

    then there is travon, a guy suspended form school for drugs,wearing a hoodie, 6ft 3in tall,and when asked who he was? punches a guy in the nose and starts beating the hell out of him!!!
    sounds like to me the new law worked just as intended! one less hot headed drugy!
    and a further note, if all u people that r out in the streets causing more problems, would get off welfare and disability and get
    a job! it would be better for the whole world, ( try contributing instead of causing trouble for everybody!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      jack simmions, thank you for providing all the "facts" now we can go home. But wait maybe, just maybe those are not all the facts

      March 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      And if we don't have enough facts then we can simply make them to suit ourselves. Whatever it takes to start a good old fashioned riot. Underprivileged of the world unite! Rise up!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Kevin McCarthy

      So, Alien, you want what happened in London to happen in the US? You're just another agitator, and I'm happy that my family is able to protect ourselves against the social strife that t-urds like you like to encourage.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • mike collins

      jack – don't forget to add assaulted a bus driver to the typical resume from this now deceased street thug.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Kevin, for what it is worth I did not post that. I am not 5 years old.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • sam

      Jack...you're regurgitating what you'd like to believe. Zimmerman was told the police were coming. He had no viable reason to get out of his vehicle and confront anyone. Buy a clue.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Pat

      Buy a clue? You snot-nose dweeb. He was getting the crap kicked out of him. Let's kick the crap out of you and see what you do. You'll probably just cry.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • REALITY

      As a WHITE American living in America, my fear and hatred of BLACK Americans is so paramount, that I must embrace every opportunity to inject my venom of stupidity and ignorance, regarding the reality of RACIAL PROFILING in America. As a coward, I hide anonymously in my home, concealing my face behind my computer, that I may impart my innermost darkness and evil of RACISM upon society. Sometimes when hanging out with the boys...the KKK that is, I feel somewhat empowered as we hide underneath our HOODIES....oops, I mean HOODS. Even while wearing my costume, I still find it hard to escape the cowardly person that I am. What a miserable life I have, never really having understood who I am, or my worth. You see, my parents raise me to believe that I was superior then people of color. But DANG BLASTED @#%...the more I live, the more I realized that people of color are not only my equal, but in most cases, more educated, innovative, talented and skilled than I. Please understand that my ignorance of hate towards people of color was handed down from my parents. Hopefully I will not spend the rest of my life in gross darkness and ignorance. Maybe one day I will face my fears of black people, enabling me to embrace justice for all people, that I may live in peace, harmony and REALITY with all of humanity.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  2. Reality

    The hoodie as the new sign of crime?

    From today's local newspaper: "Mayor decries killing of Fla. teen"

    25 lines down another headline: "Man Shot Dead at Apartments"

    "The man was shot with a handgun at close range by a man in a gray hoodie".

    Couple this with almost daily news' accounts and photos of robberies of convenience stores and small grocercies by teens and young adults dressed in hoodies and no wonder the country is sensitized by the hoodie. And then there are all the TV cop shows with almost daily stories depicting the same scenario.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  3. Wayne

    Interesting commentary:

    http://home.nra.org/#

    I renewed my NRA membership today. I hope all freedom-loving Americans do the same before we turn into this:

    http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/80-year-old-homeowner-arrested-for-shooting-burglar.html

    March 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  4. JohnQuest

    I think the "Stand Your Ground" law is misguided. If you are armed I think it is your Duty to avoid this type of altercation (if possible).

    According to this Law, someone can assault another person and when that person defends him/herself they can be shot (read killed in any manner). The prep can then Lawfully claim self defense.

    This law is a license to kill, it can not be read in any other way.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  5. JohnQuest

    MickeyD., I agree, but in this case what was Mr. Zimmerman protecting?

    March 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  6. Keith

    I saw Maxine Waters lippin' off that this was a "hate crime". How does she know that? Why did Obama inject his 2 cents worth? Does he want to invite Zimmerman to the White House to drink a beer and eat some crow? And now this Congressman with a hoodie? If no one is certain of the facts, why make these statements and do these things? They would appear to be the real racist bigots in this case. And don't even start about the Black Panthers putting a $10,000 dead or alive bounty on Zimmerman. Wouldn't that be a contract killing? Murder for hire? Let the law do its job. Otherwise we a just another 3rd world, lynch mob banana republic.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      The Law in Florida is broken. It is time that the Dems stood up to the GOP / NRA.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Keith

      Even without the facts in the case? Gee, that's brilliant.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with Florida's Stand Your Ground Law what so ever! It is simply another tool same as Neighborhood Watch Programs! Empowering Citizen's Law-abiding Citizen's that is a chance to level the playing field so as to regain control of their communities from the Criminal Element per se! Every Man and Woman in this nation of ours has the RIGHT to depend your life and safety the lives and safety of your families and your neighbors period!

      March 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      It's broken if I say it's broken. And if I say it's broken long enough it you might even start to believe that it really is broken.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Friggen troll. That last one obviously wasn't me. Get a life, sucker.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • REALITY

      Hello World,
      As a WHITE American living in America, my fear and hatred of BLACK Americans is so paramount, that I must embrace every opportunity to inject my venom of stupidity and ignorance, regarding the reality of RACIAL PROFILING in America. As a coward, I hide anonymously in my home, concealing my face behind my computer, that I may impart my innermost darkness and evil of RACISM upon society. Sometimes when hanging out with the boys...the KKK that is, I feel somewhat empowered as we hide underneath our HOODIES....oops, I mean HOODS. Even while wearing my costume, I still find it hard to escape the cowardly person that I am. What a miserable life I have, never really having understood who I am, or my worth. You see, my parents raise me to believe that I was superior then people of color. But DANG BLASTED @#%...the more I live, the more I realized that people of color are not only my equal, but in most cases, more educated, innovative, talented and skilled than I. Please understand that my ignorance of hate towards people of color was handed down from my parents. Hopefully I will not spend the rest of my life in gross darkness and ignorance. Maybe one day I will face my fears of black people, enabling me to embrace justice for all people, that I may live in peace, harmony and REALITY with all of humanity.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  7. Observer

    Legislation on self-defense must be taken further. Almost everyone will be directly affected by crime at some time. In many cases it's violent crime. Everyone has to draw on law enforcement in such cases and therefore become a burden on the taxpayers. Clearly the fair thing to do is to require everyone to buy, keep and carry a weapon, preferably a handgun. I suggest a 9mm or larger. Anyone who refuses to protect himself/herself in this way should have to pay a penalty to help defray the cost of law enforcement.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      You are an idiot.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Amused

      So, the solution to excess violence and the unecessary proliferation of deadly weapons in our society is to INCREASE violence and distribute even MORE unecessary deadly weapons? Hmm? Yeah, right!? You REALLY think that makes good sense?????

      March 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Observer

      Actually, the Supreme Court has been hearing arguments of this kind for the past 3 days. Idiocy? Quite so.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Keith

      Luk 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Reason

      There are too many insane people who are on meds walking around. The gun should not be in hands of anyone and everyone. Only those that are mentally deemed fit to carry guns.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • sarge325

      Observer: I'm afraid your keen wit and sense of irony was lost of most of the bloggers. Hilarious take on the health care mandate. As Justice Alito said "Everyone participates in the food industry. Can the government make us buy broccoli?" (paraphrased) Nonetheless, while we shouldn't require everyone to carry, we should certainly allow any law abiding citizen who is willing to take on the serious responsibility of carrying to do so. It's called the 2nd amendment.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      Luk 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

      Thank You Keith Exactly! Why should anyone be led to the slaughter like sheep so as to simply appease the Criminal Element amongst us???

      March 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Gee, what happened to "turn the other cheek"? The bible and its mixed messages.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Keith

      AGuest9, Well that's why we have the whole counsel of God. When you take a verse out of context, it becomes a pretext. Opponents of God are always taking verses out of context-another favorite is "judge not lest ye be judged".

      March 29, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  8. Brad

    What did T'von do to raise sufor Z'man?

    March 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      He was born black. If this were two black men we would not have even heard about it. Racist plain and simple.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Never mind me. I'm just trying to stir the pot. Kick the sh t. You know. After all this whole thing is a great opportunity, why not try and take advantage of it?

      March 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  9. agooyers

    Zimmerman's lawyer has stated that the "stand your ground" provision of Florida's self-defense laws does not apply in this case, and is not being used as part of Zimmerman's claim of self-defense. ZIMMERMAN'S lawyer said this.

    When Zimmerman followed and confronted Martin, he could no longer use the "stand your ground" argument.

    However, there is strong evidence that Zimmerman's shooting of Martin was SELF-DEFENSE.

    Specifically an eye witness reported to police that Martin had Zimmerman on the ground, and was beating him up, and that Zimmerman was panicked and yelling for help.

    This scenario is backed up by the physical evidence of Zimmerman's broken nose (consistent with being punched in the head), bleeding on the back of Zimmerman's head (consistent with having his head bounced off of ground or pavement repeatedly), and grass/moisture on Zimmerman's back (consistent with him being on his back).

    Whether or not Zimmerman started the physical struggle, at the point where Martin (who was17 years old, 160 pounds and over 6 feet, a football player, not the "little boy" he has been portrayed as) was on top of him beating him, it was reasonable for Zimmerman to believe his life was in danger. He couldn't afford to assume how badly Martin would beat him. It might stop at a concussion. Or it might stop at serious brain damage. Or it might stop at a coma. Or it might stop at a severe brain hemmorage and death.

    The police detained and inteviewed Zimmerman for 5 hours, so whether he told the truth or not, the police got Zimmerman's side of the story. Unless the police have evidence to contradict Zimmerman's story, they are pretty much forced to act as if he is telling the truth when he claims he feared for his life due to being pinned to the ground and beaten by Martin.

    All of this has convinced police that Zimmerman acted in self-defense when he used his licenced concealed Kel-Tec 9mm pistol to shoot Trayvon Martin in the chest.

    If credible evidence arises that Zimmerman in fact started the physical confrontation (ie. threw the first punch, or even shove), and then shot Martin when the fight went against him, he will likely be charged with manslaughter, even though he acted to defend himself from death or serious injury, because he was the initial physical aggressor. No such evidence has been reported.

    If credible evidence arises contradicting the eye witness account and physical evidence which supports Martin having Zimmerman on the ground and beating him, Zimmerman MAY be charged with second-degree murder. No such evidence has been reported.

    If no credible evidence arises that contradicts Zimmerman's claim that Martin started the physical aggression, or that contradicts Zimmerman and and independent eye witness's claims that Zimmerman was in reasonable fear for his life, then I would be very surprised if Zimmerman is charged with anything. You don't charge someone with manslaughter, let alone murder, if you have credible evidence to support a self-defense claim, with no credible evidence that disproves it.

    And let me just say, all the people still focusing on the "stand your ground" clause, when even Zimmerman's lawyer has said it has nothing to do with his client's self-defense claim, are simply idiots, or else wilfully ignorant. This whole thing has ignited a firestorm of irresponsible journalism and mob mentality. A mass leap to conclusions, without regard for the facts of the case or the proper legal procedures.

    If the police and district attorney's office believe there is sufficient evidence to support Zimmerman's self-defense in this case, then there is no reason for them to charge him with anything, AND it is not the place of the public or the media to Zimmerman to demand head on a pike if this doesn't fit the racial narrative they have constructed surrounding the case in their minds.

    CNN at least is responsible for undermining the justice system and putting Zimmerman's life in danger by continuing to spin this case into a race issue, makng it look like Zimmerman is a card-carrying Grand Wizard of the KKK out for the blood of a minority. When really the facts point to Zimmerman being just an over-zealous neighbourhood watchman who should have let the police do their jobs, got scared when he was on his back getting beat up by Martin, and shot the kid. It's a tragedy, but if the current evidence holds up it looks like Martin brought it upon himself by beating the tar out of Zimmerman and getting on top of him.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      This is BS. One guy had a gun, the other did not. You don't shoot an unarmed man. Fight like a man if you are going to go around asking for trouble.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Brad

      What did T'von do first to raise Z'man's suspicions?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • James Foley

      ok... I'll try this again...
      have you considered other ways in which Zimmerman might have acquired his injuries? Self inflicted perhaps? And I'm not talking abotu the notion that Zimmerman punched himself in the face, but that, as Trayvon Martin was standing HIS ground and defending HIS life that Zimmerman got hit by flailing arms holding an Arizona Ice Tea can [creating wounds consistant with a broken nose], stumbled [explainging him being on his back], and fell himself onto the wet grass and then hit his own head on the sidewalk going down [explaining the head injury]?

      What was the angle of the shot as it entered Trayvon's body? Have you got that information? The supposed eye witness did NOT see Trayvon Martin Bashing Zimmerman's head into the pavement, he only claims he saw Trayvon on top of Zimmerman. How he got there is as important as him being there. Is it also possible that what the eye witness supposedly saw was Martin stumbeling himself in an effort to run passed Zimmerman, appearing lower over Zimmerman? Is it also possibel that the eye-witness is a sympathizer who himself agrees that Zimmerman is being unfairly judged, you know cause he was always a nioce guy at the neighborhood watch meetingsn stuff, and decided to fudge his own version of the facts?
      Some of you are very willing to assume defenders of Martin are fudging the facts, but fail to consider that there are those otu there, including witnesses who would do the same.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      Mr. Zimmerman also has a very SHADY background NO one should attempt to deny that! But under Florida's Stand your Ground Law it most certainly does appear that this point in the investigation that Mr. Zimmerman has done NO wrong under the law if this said law does apply???

      March 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      There should be something under the law that protects others from being accosted and drawn into a confrontation. Under the current law, you could harrass someone until they hit you, then you can shoot them. The laws wordings do not take into account the shooter having initiated contact and bringing things to the point of physical confrontation, as may be the case with Zimmerman. He was playing cop since he failed the test twice, and ignored directions from a 911 operator. He may have been threatened or hurt by Martin, but he purposefully put himself in that position against clear directions.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      agooyers, that is why this law is dangerous, if someone attacks you and you then start to defend yourself the attacker has the right to kill you.

      Seriously, does this law as applied, make any sense to you?

      March 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • dcdray

      As you so correctly state, even Zimmerman's lawyer is not invoking the Stand Your Ground law in his defense. That being the case, and him just claiming he was acting in simple self-defense, it seems the police were derelict in their duties for not arresting him and charging him with murder or at the least, manslaughter. If you read the police report, they do in fact cite the STG law and state it as a reason for their not arresting and charging Zimmerman.

      He needs to appear in court before a jury of his peers and in fact prove he did act in self-defense and not in callous disregard for another human life.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • AGuest9

      In a paper in Maryland was the story of a woman arrested this weekend after being tailgated by a pick-up truck on a state highway. Her friend, a passenger, even threw something at the tailgating truck. The truck followed the woman to her home, which she entered. She returned with a rifle, pointing it at the truck. The pickup driver left and called the police, and the woman was arrested. Moral: you can tailgate and harass someone, and when they attempt to defend themselves, you can have them arrested. Glad I don't live there.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Susie

      You all weem to be3 missing the point. The police need to have enough evidence that Zimmerman started the fight or attacked Trayvon before they can charge him. You know, innocent until proven guilty? The actual evidence points to Zimmerman's defending himself at this point. If they can find evidence showing otherwise, only then can they arrest and charge Zimmerman.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Susie

      You all weem to be missing the point. The police need to have enough evidence that Zimmerman started the fight or attacked Trayvon before they can charge him. You know, innocent until proven guilty? The actual evidence points to Zimmerman's defending himself at this point. If they can find evidence showing otherwise, only then can they arrest and charge Zimmerman.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Susie

      seem*

      March 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  10. James Foley

    have you considered otehr ways in which Zimmerman might have acquired his injuries? Self inflicted perhaps? And I'm not talking abotu the notion that Zimmerman punched himself in the face, but that, as Trayvon Martin was standing his groudn and defending his life that Zimmerman got hit by flailing arms holding a Arizona Ice Tea can, stumbled, fell himself onto the wet grass and then hit his own head on the sidewalk going down? What was the angle of the shot that entered Trayvon's body? Have you got that information?

    March 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • agooyers

      No, and neither do you. But the police probably do. And the eye witness report of Martin being on top of Zimmerman beating him kind of supports the physical evidence provided by Zimmerman's injuries.

      You seem eager to will Zimmerman into a state of guilt. You seem to want the relevant evidence to condemn Zimmerman. Unless you believe that the police and district attorney's office in Sanford, Florida concocted an elaborate coverup and evidence dump to avoid charging a hispanic man with shooting black teenager, endangering all of their jobs and risking imprisonment, you should assume Zimmerman will never be charged with anything.

      If it makes you feel better, the irresponsible, reactionary, race-baiting journalism surrounding this case probably means Zimmerman will have to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • mike collins

      did he throw in a few barrel rolls and a game of hop scotch in your fantasy too?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • James Foley

      You seem eager to will Martin into a state of guilt. You seem to want the relevant evidence to condemn Martin.

      Unless you believe that the police and district attorney's office in Sanford, Florida wouldn't concoct an elaborate coverup and evidence dump to avoid a black teenager's parents suing them for mishandeling a case involving a hispanic man with shooting their son, endangering all of their jobs and risking imprisonment, you should assume Zimmerman will be charged with negligent homicide.

      If it makes you feel better, the irresponsible, reactionary, race-baiting comments you've just posted surrounding this case probably means Zimmerman will have to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      I can not understand why Trayvon felt compelled to attack Mr. Zimmerman? Maybe just a BOLD wrong move on Trayvon's part? Was it the result of a Gangstra Tough Guy persona that Trayvon has been cultivating over these past few years, you know time to prove that he was the MAN and this Fat Dumpy Obese Totally Out of Shape Mr. Zimmerman presented Trayvon with a tempting opportunity to PROVE his MANHOOD to the WORLD???

      March 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • James Foley

      Trayvon DIDN'T attack Zimmerman; Zimmerman attacked Trayvon... glad I could clear that up for you.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      James Foley

      Trayvon DIDN'T attack Zimmerman; Zimmerman attacked Trayvon... glad I could clear that up for you.

      So JimJim Yo was there??? Have Yo come forward and spoke to the Authorities yet??? WHAT JOKE! NO need to reply and simply just waste Yo time and Mine! GOOD DAY to Yo SIR!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • James Foley

      Sorry. I meant that Zimmerman was attacked. This can all be so confusing. I don't think the police are even sure who attacked who, thus, no arrest has been made.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • James Foley

      Trayvon did NOT attack Zimmerman, Zimmerman attacked Trayvon.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • James Foley

      and in the future, do not post as me... ever.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • James Foley

      I'll post my video on youtube. The video is just me talking, but what I'm saying is correct.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Susie

      Truthprevails...the homicide rates in Canada and the the US are about the same for each racial group. The ONLY reason Canada has a lower murder rate is because the US has a mlinority population of 36% and Canada has a minority population of 16%. Most murders occur in low income minority populations.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  11. PC

    "Before the passage of these “stand your ground laws,” most jurisdictions in the United States required one to demonstrate that one was acting in self-defense, that one had been attacked, that one reasonably feared for one’s life and that it was reasonable to use deadly force to protect oneself."

    Well there you go: Martin did attack Zimmerman, and Zimmerman feared for his life when Martin beat him and banged his head on the pavement. Rather than die of a concusion/fractured skull, he pulled out his 9mm pistol and shot Martin. Maybe not meaning to kill him, but certainly to keep from getting killed. Zimmerman is exonerated..thank you, Mr . Queen.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • mike collins

      exactly...and since zimmerman was pinned to the ground, retreat is no longer a viable option.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Zimmy should not have been allowed to be sneaking around with a deadly firearm.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      I truly believe that George Zimmerman was frantically screaming for help because George knew he was packing HEAT and desparately was trying his BEST not to use resort to this LETHAL FORCE in order to save his life! George was Screaming hoping wishing that someone anyone would come to his aid diffuse the situation pull Trayvon off of him put an end to the confrontation that was taking place put an end to the horredous beating that he was being subjected to at the hands of one Trayvon Martin??? Finally after so much time had elapsed and NO one had come forward unable physically himself to stop Trayvon from repeatedly bouncing Mr. Zimmerman's head against that concrete sidewalk! George Zimmerman finally realized that he MUST make a split second LIFE or DEATH decision to pull his 9mm gun! Shoot Trayvon Martin or simply allow the horredous beating to continue and most likely risk CERTAIN DEATH himself??? While the back of his head was being repeatedly pounded against that concrete sidewalk by one Trayvon Martin George came to the decision that he George did not want too die that fateful night! That is the BEST that I can surmise thus far by the evidence and the eye-wistness testimony thus poffered!!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • James Foley

      Quite the imagination you have there. Complete bull but still imaginative.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      Don't DISREPECT me JimJim I am telling Yo Brother DO NOT DISRESPECT ME!!!! lol!!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  12. mike collins

    trayvon martin, and trayvon martin ALONE created the conditions for his death.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Brad

      He was supposedly walking home. Is that a crime?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • mike collins

      walking home is not a crime.

      striking someone, breaking their nose, pinning them to the ground and slamming their head against the concrete is...and deadly force to prevent further attack is justified.

      next question.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • James Foley

      mike collins you're simply ass-uming Zimmerman's account is true and accurate. Nah, he wouldn't lie or anythign to cover hsi own assets now would he? :/ Come on man, think before you post.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • momoya

      mike collins why hasn't the news expressed statements like yours?. Or, how is it that you know these specific details when they've not been reported?. Were you there?. Are you Zimmerman?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • mike collins

      a witness has backed up his story and there are no witnesses to the contrary so in essence his version for now is the truth and will "cover his assets".

      everything I've posted was taken from various news sources. you may want to delve a bit further than cnn's manufactured tales.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Brad

      Why did Z'man accost T'von in the first place.?
      He was supposed to be observing him. Right?
      Why did he confront him? What did T'von do to arouse Z'man's suspicions?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • James Foley

      Incorrect mikey boy. A witness has NOT backed up his story, only made it seem more plausible. Take your own advice on the news sources; I dont' need it.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Trayvon had a bag of skittles and a bottle of iced-tea! Zimmerman had a gun! Trayvon weighed 100 pounds less. There are 2 women who say they saw Zimmerman standing over Trayvon while Trayvon was on the ground. There is no-one who has come forth publicly to say that they witnessed Zimmerman being attacked by Trayvon. When Zimmerman called 9-1-1 he was told not to follow Trayvon but he did. It is not self-defense when the kid did not have a weapon. Zimmerman belongs in jail and in case any one has missed this fact, if the police do not protect him-be that to arrest him or put him in protective custody, he will be suffer at the hands of the Panthers. This whole stand your ground garbage is basically a license to kill...hell the dead can't speak, so anyone could kill a person and use the 'stand your ground' thing as a defense!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      Michael, at this point in the investigation thus far it most certainly appears that way!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      mike collins

      a witness has backed up his story and there are no witnesses to the contrary so in essence his version for now is the truth and will "cover his assets".

      everything I've posted was taken from various news sources. you may want to delve a bit further than cnn's manufactured tales.

      EXACTLY MICHAEL & THANK YOU! I have already read everything that Yo have posted thus far on various news websites!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Unnamed witnesses. Not to mention that if trayvon was on top of Zimmerman, then Zimmerman would have had to pull out his gun, while getting pounded, then shoot at extremem close range, which would cause a good amount of blood splatter, and bleeding. I haven't heard anything about Zimmerman having trayvons blood on him in a pattern that would suggest that trayvon was on top of zimmerman when he was shot. There's al lot of unanswered questions in this case, and to say that it is definitive that Zimmerman shot in defense is jumping the gun at best.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      then shoot at extremem close range, which would cause a good amount of blood splatter, and bleeding. I haven't heard anything about Zimmerman having trayvons blood on him in a pattern that would suggest that trayvon was on top of zimmerman

      Hawaii, Yo and I both know that anytime men get together like that Brother! One has to be the TOP and one has to be the BOTTOM!!! Just ask any Brother that's been in Prison they'll BACK me up on this!!! LOL!

      March 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @MickeyD.

      So instead of addressing the point, you make a joke about it, and attempt to dismiss it. Why is that? Is it because it is something that might point toward Zimmerman actually being guilty of murder and not shooting out of self defense?

      March 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Keith

      TP, No one here cares about what a Canadian atheist thinks in this case. You losers can't even own a handgun in Canada. Keep your opinions to yourself.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Keith

      Oooo look it's cappie!

      March 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Oh look! Time to update the scorecard!

      March 28, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Keith: Good thing we have rules in Canada that make sense. It prevents idiots from killing at random! We actually have a gun registry that goes a long way in protecting us! As for you not liking us, ah our hearts are so broken-NOT!!
      If this were your kid that was killed while unarmed, you'd be outraged also and as a parent of a terrific 17 year old I have every right to my say! If the kid had a weapon and had pulled it on Zimmerman, this might have made sense but the kid was unarmed and did not deserve to die regardless of what his past may have been.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  13. National Ethics Director

    As the National Ethics Director, I overrule Edward Queen and have found through exhaustive study that this is a credible and standard to be adopted nationwide by 2013.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      No, I am the National Ethics Director and I say the NRA is an extension of right wing extremism. Guns kill people.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  14. Jonathan

    The Stand Your Ground law is not relevant to this case. Even George's lawyer has said as much. It is a self -defense case pure and simple. There is nothing even remotely new about self-defense.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Brad

      Why would you accost someone unless they were actually committing a crime?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      The kid had a bottle of ice-tea and a bag of skittles, not a weapon...so please enlighten us as to how this is self-defense!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Brad (the other one)

      Zimmerman may claim self-defense, but that should be tried in a court of law. The man should be arrested and arraigned on a charge of of homicide or manslaughter.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      Brad

      Why would you accost someone unless they were actually committing a crime?

      George was a Over-zealous Neighborhood Watch Captain! George made a mistake in doing so thus George should have laid quietly as Trayvon Martin repeatedly bashed his head against that concrete sidewalk until he was DEAD at the hands of one Trayvon Martin because George made a mistake in being a Over-zealous Neighborhood Watch Captain??? Is this what you are suggesting??? GOOD GOD!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      Brad

      Why would you accost someone unless they were actually committing a crime?

      George was a Over-zealous Neighborhood Watch Captain! George made a mistake in doing so thus George should have laid quietly as Trayvon Martin repeatedly bashed his head against that sidewalk until he was DEAD at the hands of one Trayvon Martin because George made a mistake in being a Over-zealous Neighborhood Watch Captain??? Is this what you are suggesting??? GOOD GOD!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • James Foley

      The only one saying Martin was smashing Zimmerman's head into the sidewalk was Zimmerman. Your argument fails, your point is moot.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  15. hippypoet

    its a dog eat dog world – god said that was ok...but only if those whom you kill are not of your tribe and religion...also you can enslave them if kiiling isn't your thing! yeah i know, its pretty sweet!

    March 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      Just gots to LOVE that GOOD BOOK now two ways around it! lol! Thank You for pointing that out! Oy Vey!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  16. Brad

    If Z'man was just keeping a watch over the neighborhood, then why couldn't he have just observed T'von from a safe distance?

    March 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • mike collins

      if trayvon answered him respectably instead of physically attacking him he'd still be alive today.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Brad

      duh *rollseyes*, watching someone from a safe distance does not mean bullying someone.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • mike collins

      "duh *rollseyes*"...

      I expect that from my 10 year old.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • James Foley

      mike there are no eye witnesses other than Zimmerman, whose testimony is suspect at this point, that say they saw Martin attack zimmerman.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Amused

      Why did Zimmerman continue to PURSUE Trayvon who was NOT breaking ANY law whatsoever even after the E911 dispatcher advised him NOT TO DO THAT? If YOU were unarmed and being pursued by a man with a gun, YOU would defend yourself against that threat, wouldn't you? But you think it is OK that Trayvon was shot dead for defending himself against Zimmerman who CHASED him down with a gun for NO apparant reason? I'm sorry, but there is just no logical way you can twist that into Zimmerman defending himself against an unarmed man that HE PURSUED with a gun for no apparant reason!

      March 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      You have a 10 year old Mike? Who allows people like you to parent?

      March 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      mike collins

      if trayvon answered him respectably instead of physically attacking him he'd still be alive today.

      THANK YOU MICHAEL, I always believed that it simply came down to a question of RESPECT on both sides! That concept of Repect has been BIG in the hood for a long time now! Personally that there Repect thing is so OVER-RATED in my opinion, I myself would much rather suffer a little Disrespect from you Michael than have you pop a cap in my you know what???

      March 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Mike's is probably like my parents. They think they know it all, and in actuality they're totally lame. They tried to tell me things for years that I knew were stupid. Now they don't even bother talking to me. They can go to hell as far as I'm concerned, and so can you, Mike.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • fred

      TruthPrevails
      So, your parents are the source of your anger and hatred of Christians?
      Even if you do not believe in God forgiveness works wonders and like an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      to the dolt who posted using my alias: you're an ass...first off you'd have to believe in hell to tell someone to go there and second, how f'ing old are you that you'd be such a coward to use another person's alias?

      March 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • mike collins

      understandable why your parents would disown you...good luck in prison.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      TruthPrevails

      Mike's is probably like my parents. They think they know it all, and in actuality they're totally lame. They tried to tell me things for years that I knew were stupid. Now they don't even bother talking to me. They can go to hell as far as I'm concerned, and so can you, Mike.

      TRUTH, NO really, Yo will go blind if Yo continue to do that! Don't believe me just ask that dude Stevie Wonder!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Fred: That wasn't me and I'm not angry with a god I do not believe exists. My mother was a devout christian up until she passed and my father is catholic now-after years of speaking of how bad catholic's are (hypocrisy at its best), so my disbelief has absolutely nothing to do with them. Actually I started questioning my beliefs after meeting my daughter's father who follows pagan tradition and then I met my present husband-AtheistSteve and it all came together. My point to Mike is that, if this was his child killed while unarmed, would he not be angry also? To blame an unarmed kid who weighed 100 pounds less than the guy with the gun, is just sad. Even you Fred would not be so ignorant to say an unarmed kid deserved this but I don't think you'd say anyone deserves death-that doesn't seem to be you.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Prison Mike? You're raising your kids to believe that what Zimmerman did was right...so if this was your child Zimmerman had shot, what would you do? People like me don't go to prison...we're good law abiding citizens who work and pay our taxes.

      My parents didn't disown me you idiot...learn what a troll is!

      March 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • fred

      TruthPrevails
      Your right, plus you hit me square on. Perhaps I believe because death is something I would not wish on anyone myself included. Yeah, even if death comes my way I need Psalm 23 assurance that God is by my side at that time. I think that anytime someone passes and pray God is by their side. I even pray God is by the side of atheists at their funerals I just keep it to myself so as not to offend.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      I never said they disowned me, Mike. They just don't talk to me anymore.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Bob

      "I just keep it to myself so as not to offend." There we have Pinocchio (fred) telling yet another lie, this one so blatant that it is contradicted by him in the same post.

      fred, you must have trouble navigating s-turns with a nose that long.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • fred

      Bob
      S turns are no problem but stand back when I catch a cold

      March 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • MickeyD.

      TruthPrevails

      Prison Mike? You're raising your kids to believe that what Zimmerman did was right...so if this was your child

      Maybe Mike is simply raising his kids to not just lay there quietly as some 6' 3" Gang-banger is dribbling Yo head on a concrete sidewalk like it is a Brand New Voit or Wilson B-ball that Yo Daddy just bought Yo yesterday??? Oy Vey!

      March 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Bob

      fred the lying weasel, try responding directly instead of digressing and squirming.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Fred: And kudos to you for being who you are. You're one of the politer, less offensive christians on here. Psalm 23 was my Mother's favorite and was read at her funeral and imprinted on her headstone. AtheistSteve and I will go in to a church out of respect....we're not that ignorant. We just choose not to believe until we see evidence.

      (so to whoever the moron was that used my alias & stated my parents don't speak to me: you obviously failed reading class...I don't speak to my father and as is clearly have stated my mother is deceased)

      March 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  17. Tim

    "Stand Your Ground Laws" aka "Castle Doctrine Laws" are to protect law abiding citizens from erroneous overzealous prosecution and possible frivilous civil law suits. Liberals are always trying to weaken Civil Rights of victims here....not to sure why. Any "Invitation" is strictly by those committing the offense in the first place. Citizens have rights too.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  18. 500V

    BS by a clueless writer of this article. Sorry. Take a stand, ace.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  19. Alien Orifice

    Woo Hoo, shoot 'em up cowboy! GOP sucks. NRA sucks. DEMS suck for laying down and letting the NRA run roughshod over those of us with common sense. Shame on America.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Keith

      Who's "us"?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Let me repeat myself. DEMS suck. We're all a bunch of pus sies for letting everyone else wipe their feet on us. Problem is, we have no clue what to do about it. So we just whimper, blubber and make threats like little children. Now, where's my damned allowance? You're late with it again.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  20. geckopelli

    These laws simply give the same power to the people that the police enjoy.
    If you want to take it away, you'd better start holding police officers accountable for THEIR actions.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.