We are all racists.Some are just better at it than others. Just as we are all sexists and ageists (I’m pretty sure that’s actually a thing). The point is, we all tend to me more comfortable around those who are most like us, and tend to categorize those who aren’t. Seeing others through the filter of their race, sex or age is a cheap and simple way for us to assign attributive shortcuts to others, such as intelligence or willingness to work for a living, or some other made-up set of characteristics. It requires little cognitive ability. Its a trait that many smart people share with idiots.
These attributive shortcuts are however, purely subjective and are assigned by any and all of us to anyone we like at any time. When you hear of a shuffleboard game being playing in Florida, you think old people. When you hear of a gossip session over herbal tea you think women, when you hear of a bunch of kids walking around in a bad neighborhood, yeah, you think of black people. Oh yes you do.
These things are part of our nature and reinforce the premise that we are good at seeing patterns (we’re not as good as we think) and so enables us to believe that we’ve got the world figured out. Once again, what I referred to above as attributive shortcuts.
The Florida Stand Your Ground Law (what a horrible name that is) reads, in part:
“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
The operative words in the above paragraph are “reasonably believes”. This is truly problematic since it relies on reasonableness rather than rationality. The problem is that it can’t be measured quantitatively. Assigning a degree of reasonableness to a decision is like assigning a specific degree of beauty to a poem or a specific degree of stupidity to an imbecile (Although god knows I try).
Reasonable belief lies solely within our consciousness and cannot be measured, nor can it be judged objectively. If an 85-year-old grandma who lives in an all white, gated community where the most difficult decision she makes all day is whether her pants matches her sweater has car trouble in a “bad neighborhood”, and is approached by 4 youths with their pants down around their asses (I’ll let your brain decide what race they are. Ready, ok, I’m sure you’re done), she will likely have visions of that overhyped “knockout game” that was so breathlessly reported by the conservative media a couple of months ago (I think it happened a total of about 5 times but was reported as rampant, especially in conservative media, kinda like they report shark attacks) and in all likelihood will “reasonably believe” that she is in danger and, according to that law, can pull out her legally concealed Glock 19 from the glovebox of her Caddy and go all wild west on them.
Now, if those youths happen to be approaching to help her, well, we’ll probably never know, especially if she’s a good shot. The Glock 19 gives her 17 tries since that’s its magazine capacity, so taking out 4 kids shouldn’t be too hard.
Michael Dunn might have truly believed that he was in some sort of danger. After all, black kids playing “thug” music in an SUV fits right into our attributive shortcut. All us white folk know that the site of more than one of them at a time is almost always trouble (wink, wink). And because there are more of us than there are of them (white folk, that is) we get to use our majority status to determine the relative value of a group of people who we have deemed dangerous. The fact that we have the money to purchase a gun bestows upon us the power of life and death, simply because something scared us. Rational options like driving away or simply putting up with the loud music are apparently not valid options (I am 58 years old and quite specifically remember playing loud music in my car when I was 17, as do most adults. Somehow, though, my life was spared).
Although I don’t have any facts on this, I’d be willing to bet that Michael Dunn, at least once in his life, was in a car with other kids playing loud music. But it probably wasn’t “thug” music, so that makes it OK.
But, according to Michael Dunn and his apologists, my life and his are more valuable than that of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, the kid he killed.
Kinda like the old lady from the gated community in the broken down Caddy. According to Florida 776.013, every time one of us white folk gets scared, we get to kill at least one black kid.