An Armed Society, Not So Polite As Terrified?

The estimable Dahlia Lithwick, on “How America Has Become a ‘Stand Your Ground’ Nation”:

[I]t’s not unreasonable to argue that, in America, you can be shot and killed, without consequences for the shooter, for playing loud music, wearing a hoodie, or shopping at a Walmart. The question is whether the wave of “stand your ground” legislation is to blame.

Let’s first define terms: “Stand your ground” laws are different from the Castle Doctrine, which has its roots in centuries-old British common law and allows you to use force to protect yourself in your home. “Stand your ground” essentially provides that you can bring your castle wherever you go. The rule allows you to shoot first, not just in your home, but anyplace you have a right to be and is a much newer, and more controversial, proposition. (The first “stand your ground” law was enacted in Florida in 2005.) Historically, United States self-defense laws have followed British common law by imposing a duty to retreat, requiring those in a dangerous situation to try to withdraw (if they could do so safely) before resorting to killing. (Under the Castle Doctrine there is no duty to retreat because you’re already home, in your safe haven.) “Stand your ground” by design cancels out the duty to retreat and, in sum, allows you to shoot first if you feel your life is in danger, just like you can do at home….

The fact that “stand your ground” defenses have been staggeringly successful in Florida in recent years (one study shows it’s been invoked more than 200 times since being enacted in 2005 and used successfully in 70 percent of the cases) suggests that it’s been embedded into more than just jury instructions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a Tampa Bay Times study from 2012 shows that “as ‘stand your ground’ claims have increased, so too has the number of Floridians with guns. Concealed weapons permits now stand at 1.1 million, three times as many as in 2005 when the law was passed.” Put bluntly: As Floridians sense that other Floridians plan to shoot first, they buy more guns… The gun lobby has single-handedly made certain that the very definition of what one might reasonably expect from an altercation at a Walmart, a movie theater, or a gas station has changed. By seeking to arm everyone in America, the NRA has in fact changed our reasonable expectation of how fights will end, into a self-fulfilling prophecy about how fights will end. It should surprise you not at all to learn that of the 10 states with the most lenient gun laws in America, seven support “stand your ground.” In those jurisdictions shooting first isn’t merely “reasonable.” It borders on sensible…

… “Stand your ground” laws, or at least the public conception of what they do, are changing the way the rest of us think about self- protection. This is, of course, exactly the world the NRA dreams of constructing: Everyone armed and paranoid that everyone else is armed. But the old canard that an armed society is a polite society is pretty much bunk. Ours is not a polite society; we are rude and hotheaded and terrified. Now we have guns to help us sort it all out.

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67 replies
  1. 1
    NotMax says:

    Boiled down to the sparest nub, it is deliberate erasure of a conventional, even doctrinal distinction. The home is “your ground.” Public spaces are “our ground.”

  2. 2
    Goblue72 says:

    Which is why I’ve crossed a number of these redneck states off my list of places I am willing to travel to, do business with or consider moving to.

    Congrats Florida, you’re chasing away exactly the kind of technocratic elite you need to succeed in the 21st century. Good luck with your swampland schemes to get rich quick as the waters rise around you.

    (And sorry Miami, you’re stuck behind the Redneck Line.)

  3. 3
    Anne Laurie says:

    @NotMax:

    The home is “your ground.” Public spaces are “our ground.”

    “There is no “our” in AmerIca!!!” (/wingnut)

  4. 4
    Chris T. says:

    In the end, the problem self-corrects when everyone in Florida has guns, everyone is terrified of the fact that everyone else already shoots first, and therefore everyone must shoot first, at everyone else they see.

    In moments, it is over, and with none remaining alive, the mass graveyard finally knows peace.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    Should append to my comment above that it is also a cynical ploy (which not coincidentally increases gun sales) to exploit fear, prejudice, bigotry and division and delegates allowance of same as an instigating factor which is granted precedence by virtue of claim over circumstance or requiring ample burden of proof of threat.

  6. 6
    Petorado says:

    What I hate about all the “stand your ground” BS is that the value of a life is no longer a rational concept — you no longer have to consider morality, just cause, or adhere to “thou shalt not kill” — you can merely act upon the emotion of fear. By giving fear legal standing, a person doesn’t have to offer a well-thought-out explanation for their actions, only express the presence of a negative emotion.

    A part of the definition of tyranny is the unreasonable or arbitrary use of power or control. What could be more tyrannical than having someone shoot you for no other explanation than their having a without-reason emotion about how they perceive you. We’re becoming a nation where death is in the eye of the beholder.

  7. 7
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The important thing for the NRA is that they’re doing their job…marketing firearms for the merchants of death…very, very well.

    No complaints from Colt, Smith&Wesson, etc. Cash registers are humming along at those places.

  8. 8
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    “There is no “our” in AmerIca!!!” (/wingnut)

    Yup, yup. According to that creed the first word in “United States” is optional.

  9. 9
    KG says:

    @Petorado: what’s most frustrating is that the SYG laws seem to do away with the traditional subjective/objective test for fear of deTh or great bodily harm. Also apparently missing from the equation now is proportional use of force – traditionally in self defense cases you can’t respond to nondeadly force with deadly force

  10. 10
    Jordan Rules says:

    Great comments all around. Boiled down to the essence and expanded to all corridors (legal, moral, social etc). I also loved the response via one tweet after the Dunn verdict…”Florida needs a mind your business law”. There’s some viral, sinister mix of fear and privilege swelling.

  11. 11
    Emerald says:

    Stand Your Ground laws are simply legalized lynching. As they were intended to be.

  12. 12
    Glocksman says:

    It’s not nearly as expansive as Florida’s law, but California has had ‘stand your ground’ for over a century.

    SF Gate

    For more than a century, the state’s judges have declared that a person who reasonably believes he or she faces serious injury or death from an assailant does not have to back off – inside or outside the home – and instead can use whatever force is needed to eliminate the danger.

    The California Legislature has never enacted one of the National Rifle Association-sponsored laws, pioneered by Florida in 2005, that spell out the rights of a defendant in such confrontations and the procedures for applying them in court. But in California, the judicial rulings had much the same effect. The rulings are binding on state courts and are reflected in judges’ instructions to juries in cases involving claims of self-defense.

    The instructions say a person under attack is even entitled, “if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of death or great bodily injury has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.”

    Most states had similar rules until 30 or 40 years ago, when some passed laws barring a claim of self-defense outside the home if the person could have fled safely, said Andrea Roth, a UC Berkeley law professor. She said almost all states still allow the use of deadly force against home intruders.

    So we have one article claiming SYG is new, and we have another quoting a Berkeley law prof as saying the opposite.

    My own state didn’t go as far as Florida did in changing the self defense laws.
    The Indiana Legislature just added ‘does not have a duty to retreat’ to the pre-existing language in the law dealing with self-defense.

    Everything else remained the same as before.

  13. 13
    Greg says:

    Yes, but the bar for reasonable cause for fear is extremely high in California. I live in California and I can tell you for sure that you would have to have a really, really solid reason to believe that your life was in danger and you had no other recourse than killing someone. Popcorn in the face, loud music, or even claiming that someone was on top of you and hitting your head on the concrete would be viewed with skepticism, if not outright contempt. Unless there is a knife to your throat or a gun pointed at you, the SYG argument will not get you very far in California.

  14. 14
    Glocksman says:

    @Greg:

    It won’t get you that far in Indiana either.

    From the Indiana Code.

    (g) Notwithstanding subsections (c) through (e), a person is not justified in using force if:
    (1) the person is committing or is escaping after the commission of a crime;
    (2) the person provokes unlawful action by another person with intent to cause bodily injury to the other person; or
    (3) the person has entered into combat with another person or is the initial aggressor unless the person withdraws from the encounter and communicates to the other person the intent to do so and the other person nevertheless continues or threatens to continue unlawful action.

    The problem isn’t SYG as a concept, the problem is the mindset assholes like Zimmerman have where they use the existence of the law as an excuse for vigilantism or as a defense after they just blow someone away for no reason at all.

    You go looking for trouble and you’re likely to find it.

  15. 15
    John M. Burt says:

    “An armed society is a polite society”, as exemplified by the well-known courtly manners of pimps and crack dealers.

  16. 16
    Cervantes says:

    @Anne Laurie: “I, the Person”?

  17. 17
    Cervantes says:

    “The NRA” is composed of at least two parts: its “leaders” and its “membership.” If these two parts are not equally insane, then there’s an opportunity there.

  18. 18
    Cervantes says:

    @John M. Burt: And police departments, for that matter.

  19. 19
    Botsplainer says:

    @Goblue72:

    (And sorry Miami, you’re stuck behind the Redneck Line.)

    I’ll go to Miami and go to the Keys because that culture is different, but I sure in shit won’t ever drive through the rest of Florida ever again, if I can help it – flights only.

    And when I have grandkids, I’m not going to sponsor any trip to the mouse. I think I’ll have a word with WDW about that now.

  20. 20
    Botsplainer says:

    @Glocksman:

    The problem isn’t SYG as a concept,

    Bullshit. It becomes every negative white cultural imperative on steroids. In most instances, it winds up being the excuse that middle aged to older white guys with low T use to kill the type of person they don’t like, because one witness is dead. The thing is the very definition of moral hazard.

    As we’ve seen in Arizona and Central Florida, heavy concentrations of old white people fuck up everything – they feed and reinforce stereotypes, even ruining people who didn’t start out that way.

    I’ve watched my father in law slide down that rabbit hole in the more confined wingnut space of Hilton Head, and it is ugly.

  21. 21
    Gvg says:

    Romantisizing the Wild West.
    How far back did they check the gun sales? Because from here in Florida! I’d say the gun buying paranoia predates the SYG law. I would even say SYG was a symptom not a cause even though it must increase the paranoia after the fact. gun sales have been trending upwards for longer than that. 911 was the first wave of fear. terrorism stories after kept it going. pants wetting fear blabber mouth Cheny who masquerades as tough didn’t help. Obama’s election really unleashed something in that subset too. Remember Florida went for Obama both elections but we still have a racist subset who were frankly surprised they weren’t the majority anymore. the fear predates the law IMO.
    They sold the law to a lot of people who aren’t gun nuts as something much more reasonable than the reality. I wasn’t convinced but wasn’t able to find good words against it before hand. IMO people didn’t want to face investigations and trials for normal self defense. they think somehow their innocence is obvious to police without investigation and that the process is just harassment of the innocent. Self delusion plus ignoring that other people are NOT so innocent. A solution in search of a problem.
    There are a lot of fearful people. No one said after 911, perfect safety has always been in obtainable and we have to just live with some risk. People grow a spine. we survived the real dangers of the Cold War, why freak out over the lessor danger? I despise Cheney in particular but others also made fear sound patriotic. Gag!

  22. 22
    Botsplainer says:

    Wait – I just had an absurdly brilliant idea. You can monetize the central Florida gun craze in such a way as to surreptitiously poke fun at them.

    Gun rentals for tourists flying in to the mouse or Sea World.

    It could be brilliant, a drive through on the road leading from the car rental places at the Orlando and Tampa airports. Charge $200 a week for rent on a pistol and give them a refund on the week if they 1) use a round and 2) produce a police report stating that they killed somebody while standing their ground.

  23. 23
    jayboat says:

    @Botsplainer:

    As we’ve seen in Arizona and Central Florida, heavy concentrations of old white people fuck up everything – they feed and reinforce stereotypes, even ruining people who didn’t start out that way.

    Ain’t that the damn truth. I’ve seen the same sort of fishbowl behavior in a couple of online forums that I frequent.
    Wingnuts seem particularly susceptible to its allure- because there’s a group of em and the only input they get is from faux nooz and each other, the wingularity feeds on itself in the closed-loop.

    My personal observations of that generation, and I use my mother and her 9 siblings (raised lower middle-class in central NC farming community) for my lab rats- it may have something to do with the development of teevee as they were growing up. They seem to have this inability (unwillingness) to believe that the bullsh!t is really bullsh!t.

    Put em in a freaking group and it becomes another episode of The Amazing Race to Peak Wingnut.

  24. 24
    jayboat says:

    @Botsplainer:

    that ‘somebody’ better have the correct skin coloration.

  25. 25
    BGK says:

    @Botsplainer:

    As we’ve seen in Arizona and Central Florida, heavy concentrations of old white people fuck up everything – they feed and reinforce stereotypes, even ruining people who didn’t start out that way.

    And yet, and yet…

    When I was on the county DEC here in SW Florida, the most fiercely loyal, tenacious, committed, and on-message Democrats I knew were the oldsters from the big retirement village. They may have needed canes and walkers to get there, but by Christ they showed up at every event. Which is more than I can say for some of the clowns from OFA.

  26. 26
    Jack the Second says:

    @Cervantes: I, Lord Jesus, in order to form a more perfect union under God, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and secure the blessings of Christianity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  27. 27
    Botsplainer says:

    @BGK:

    When I was on the county DEC here in SW Florida, the most fiercely loyal, tenacious, committed, and on-message Democrats I knew were the oldsters from the big retirement village. They may have needed canes and walkers to get there, but by Christ they showed up at every event. Which is more than I can say for some of the clowns from OFA.

    My take is that there are two groups of olds – the first (and best) consisting of those who came of age during the Depression and were adults during WWII and Korea. Those can be occasionally wingnutty, but can also be very committed economic populists. They’re dying off. The second, more poisonous group came of age right after Korea and before Vietnam. They got educated lavishly, and for free. If they served, it was peacetime service but still generated significant veterans benefits for them. When Vietnam came, they were draft deferred due to being parents by then. Medical care was cheap, and insurance took care of white folks in a great way. Banks required little in the way of ID, and credit lines were plentiful and unsecured for those born of white privilege.

    They were the bootstrappiest bootstrappers of any bootstrapper who ever bootstrapped.

  28. 28
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @Goblue72: As a Canadian, I have pretty much crossed the US off my list of places to visit. I live right across the border [just south of Port Huron, MI] but never cross the border unless it is to pick up my kids if they choose to fly into or out of Detroit.

    When I was younger I used to visit Detroit fairly often and stood up for the area as a safe and entertaining area to visit [for someone just out of University], but the weight of events and a couple of my own experiences convinced me that I no longer felt comfortable travelling in the states. Particularly Michigan. Now that I am married and have children, etc. these feelings have intensified.

  29. 29
    greennotGreen says:

    @Botsplainer: It’s not the concentration of old people per se, it’s the kind of old people who want to live in a community of nothing but old people. That says a lot about fear of, or at least distaste for, otherness that is exactly the sentiment that can be exploited by ambitious, if amoral, politicians and Satan’s minions like the NRA.

  30. 30
    Cervantes says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    As a Canadian, I have pretty much crossed the US off my list of places to visit.

    Just curious: is this a subject people discuss in your locality or in the media you pay attention to?

    (Thanks.)

  31. 31
    C.V. Danes says:

    Even the Castle Doctrine didn’t generally allow for you to just shoot first. You had to reasonably prove that you’re life was in immediate danger.

  32. 32
    The Rest of The US says:

    Because of SYG (and a host of other reasons), I am now mortally scared of Florida.

    Please nuke it to oblivion. Kthxbai.

  33. 33
    Cervantes says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Here’s Bateman (chez Pierce):

    Look, I know we are not culturally anything like the Japanese. But we have 30,000-plus dead per year and they have two? Are we really that inferior? I mean, just in our accidental rate, we so far outstrip even the deliberate rates of any developed nation, making us the laughingstock.

    And maybe, just maybe, the NRA does not care. Once, they were an educational foundation that actually did something good. Once, they spent all their money teaching people, well, how to not be so careless as to shoot themselves in the head, among other things. But those days have passed apparently, and now the NRA is about money. There can be no other explanation as to why they so comprehensively abandoned their educational mission and went into almost pure advocacy.

    If the NRA is “about money,” where is that money?

  34. 34
    Botsplainer says:

    @greennotGreen:

    You have a point. Old people who stay in the place where they grew up, worked, raised children are more attuned to the concept of community. Once they move to some oldster hellscape (particularly to an age restricted Del Webb asshole colony), they go down the rabbit hole.

  35. 35
    Lee says:

    @Botsplainer:

    I’ve been saying for awhile now that someone is going to come up with ‘hunting’ trips in Florida.

  36. 36
    Paul in KY says:

    @Botsplainer: I thought Anna Maria Island was pretty laid back, also St. George Island. You do have to go thru ‘crazyland’ to get to those places, though.

  37. 37
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cervantes: The NRA is a lobbying organization, funded by gun manufacturers.

  38. 38

    @jayboat:
    In the age of cable and the internet, learning to spot scams is a basic life skill. Did they have to learn it as they grew up?

  39. 39
    greennotGreen says:

    @Botsplainer: I gave a talk at a Del Webb community – I had never heard of them before. It was like Stepford! (As in “Stepford Wives.”) I wonder if any of them were robots?

  40. 40
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @Cervantes: Yes, but I am in the decided minority. A lot of my neighbours, co-workers, and in-laws regularly cross the bridge to buy cheap gas and groceries in Port Huron. Others will regularly travel in the States for vacations, again because it is perceived as being cheaper and there is more choice for things to see and do.

    Every once in awhile there is a horror story about a Canadian getting hurt or sick in the States and having to fork out a few thousand extra bucks because our health care does not fully cover the inflated US costs of treatment. That causes some angst, but soon it is forgotten and people get excited about saving fifteen bucks or so on a tank of gas.

  41. 41
    Cervantes says:

    @Paul in KY: Sure, the NRA is now simply a conduit. So if we follow the money, there’s a cycle: more NRA lobbying (about $3.5 million last year) and more campaign contributions (about $0.5 million) make for more laws that enrich gun manufacturers and hurt everyone else; wealthier manufacturers therefore keep funding the NRA, which pours more money into lobbying and campaign contributions; and so on.

    Where does this end?

    How can the cycle be broken?

    There seems to be no role for the public, not even those families directly harmed by gun violence.

    Does (or can) the NRA’s “membership” play any role?

  42. 42
    Botsplainer says:

    @greennotGreen:

    I gave a talk at a Del Webb community – I had never heard of them before. It was like Stepford! (As in “Stepford Wives.”) I wonder if any of them were robots?

    They’re assholes, all the way down. My (now) wingnut-curious father-in-law, his wingnut lady friend and their wingnut friends steer clear of the Del Webb development people.

    The deal is this – minimum age for any resident is 55. Apparently, you can’t even have grandkids spend the night, hence the hotel next to the entrance of the premises. Your neighbors are the sorts of shitty people who angrily peer out the kitchen window, looking for violations of the zillion pages of covenant restrictions (such as a grandchild staying over, or a dog pooping under a bush), and all there is to do is to play golf with other shitty people while griping about those awful negroes, Latinos, Arabs and Jews.

    They’re probably not too fond of Catholics, either.

  43. 43
    Ben Cisco says:

    For these fearful, ignorant people, “Stand Your Ground” means defending your home.

    They just think that their home encompasses their person no matter where they are or what they are doing, and given their irrational fears, their home is in their mind.

    As to what is ACTUALLY in their minds… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR2oNQLEW84

  44. 44
    dopey-o says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Gun rentals for tourists flying in to the mouse or Sea World.

    This is so simultaneously evil and brilliant that it … it … just … leaves … me ….speechless…..

  45. 45
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    Color me unsurprised that the larger reaction to this article and others like it have been either along the lines of ‘Trayvon was the killer thug!’, ‘Dunn had a right to be afraid’ or the usual dash of ‘GUNS ARE THE ONLY FREEDOM/SAFETY EVER’. With equal dash of pretending that premeditation means you have to walk out of your door in the morning with the intent to kill someone that afternoon.

    Anything to insist that guns are forever the answer to everything and anything even suggesting that ‘shoot first’ is not a viable solution is wholly unAmerican and possibly even more thuggish than shooting someone for playing loud music.

    It’s amazing and galling by just how much the NRA and the like has won this war. Not to mention deflating, depressing, and just…guh.

  46. 46
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Botsplainer:

    It could be brilliant, a drive through on the road leading from the car rental places at the Orlando and Tampa airports.

    Just do it at the car rental counter. Get your GPS and a hand gun at the same time.

  47. 47
    J says:

    You’d think the irrationality of a law that allows an armed person to seek out a confrontation with an unarmed person, shoot him or her dead, and claim to have been acting in self defense would be plain. Alas…

  48. 48
    Botsplainer says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Just do it at the car rental counter. Get your GPS and a hand gun at the same time.

    Dammit, the Invisible Hand of the Market (Peace Be Unto It) is already effectively competing against my concept. The car rental joints are going to garner all the damned business, as they can get the tourists afraid before I can get them afraid.

    Now, I have to offer crazy, low, low prices, a week’s free gun rental every time one is used for standing ground, and probably some sort of rebate on fees paid to publicists.

  49. 49
    msj says:

    Then you must not go to lots of places in Canada as well. Winnipeg for example is not exactly a safe haven.

  50. 50
    Mike in NC says:

    @Botsplainer: Welcome to my world!

    PS – I have zero interest in playing golf even though we live on a course.

  51. 51
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cervantes: I don’t see how it ever ends, barring either a sea change in the way average Americans think about having all these unregulated guns.or major changes in how lobbying operations can be funded & oiperate on Capital Hill.

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Glocksman:

    Here’s the thing with California, though: you are not immune from prosecution if you kill someone and claim it was self-defense. You can use it as a defense at your trial, or the DA can look at the circumstances and decide to drop the charges, but you can’t go in front of a judge and have that judge decide you’re immune from prosecution, which is the “novelty” of the current Stand Your Ground laws.

    Also, California’s laws and jury instructions clearly state that if you started the fight, you can’t claim it was self-defense if you kill the other guy, unlike Florida’s.

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    When this came up after the Dunn trial, some kind soul found the Media Matters article I was thinking of that showed how Florida’s self-defense laws were changed after SYG was passed. It really is a pretty startling difference.

    (Also, interestingly, the Zimmerman juror interviewed by Anderson Cooper quoted in the story says what I think may have happened in the Dunn trial to cause them to deadlock on the murder charge — they have so many options, from Murder One to self-defense, that it’s confusing and difficult for 12 people to agree.)

  54. 54
    Splitting Image says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I don’t see how it ever ends, barring either a sea change in the way average Americans think about having all these unregulated guns.or major changes in how lobbying operations can be funded & oiperate on Capital Hill.

    It ends when blacks, Hispanics, women, and other undesirables start to buy more weapons than white males and the NRA begins to focus their advertising in their direction. The NRA will then become a secular-socialist Islamofascist fifth column and carrying a concealed gun will become as much a badge of thuggishness as playing rap music or wearing a hoodie.

    As it stands the NRA is one of the only organizations that still openly panders to what used to be the highly-desirable 18-to-49 year old white male demographic. (Now closer to 48-to-79.) Fox News is another, and they cling to the NRA the same way they cling to Fox News.

  55. 55
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @msj: I assume your comment is aimed at me. Let me relate a short anecdote that convinced me not to travel through the US as much as I used to.
    We were headed through Michigan to Northern Ontario [it is much shorter this way] and I got a flat tire on my camper in Flint, Michigan at about 10 AM. I pulled over on an off ramp and parked to change the tire. I did not have the proper nut wrench [new camper] to get the tire off. So I left my wife and two daughters by the car and I walked up the road to see if there was a gas station to borrow a proper wrench. The gas station attendent was behind three inches of plexiglas and completely unhelpful. I saw a Goodyear station down the road and walked over there. I left some money behind as a deposit and one of the mechanics lent me the wrench I needed. When I started walking back to my car, a police cruiser screeched to a stop in front of me and he asked me if I was the guy with the flat on his camper. He gave me a ride back to my car and family along with a lecture about how dangerous this area was and how foolish I was to leave my wife and kids and walk through this neighbourhood. When I returned to the car my wife and daughters were locked up in the car and another person had stopped to “guard” them. I thanked the police officer and the “guard” stayed with me as we changed the flat together. He also emphasized how dangerous the area was and how lucky my family was not to be killed or worse.
    He said he could not believe that they would be out of the car and sitting on the grass when he drove up.
    I thanked him for his help and protection and drove back to the tire station and then continued on to Lake Superior Provincial Park [one of the best parks in Canada in my humble opinion].

    Maybe I am stupid or naive, but I did not feel threatened by anyone [and I met up with a few people on my walk] or at risk until the cop and good samaritan spoke to me. Their fear [which was fully passed on to my wife and daughters] was palpalable.
    And this was in a populated area, late morning, on a warm and sunny July day.
    I guess If Americans feel that way about their own country, who am I to disagree.

  56. 56
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Just do it at the car rental counter. Get your GPS and a hand gun at the same time.

    Or near Nawlins, at the drive-through liquor store.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  57. 57
    Larv says:

    @NorthLeft12:
    Are you white? Were the people who told you that white? Because my guess is that by “dangerous”, they were referring to the fact that Flint is ~60% black. This is a common shorthand in white America. Actual danger is not necessary, any area which is majority black will be labeled “dangerous”.

  58. 58
    Cervantes says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    I guess If Americans feel that way about their own country, who am I to disagree.

    I am sorry you and your family were put through that experience.

    As for the Park, those pictographs are … wondrous.

  59. 59
    TooManyJens says:

    @Larv: Flint genuinely has a high crime rate. Even so, that doesn’t mean that it’s crazy to walk around in it, like you’re guaranteed to be a crime victim just by existing there. I do find it interesting when people who are afraid to be in a particular area get mad at people who aren’t.

  60. 60
    Tone in DC says:

    And this was in a populated area, late morning, on a warm and sunny July day.
    I guess If Americans feel that way about their own country, who am I to disagree.

    I’ve lived here in Humidity Central for most of my life. I grew up here.
    Your description of those fearful folks in Flint sounds very similar to how many non-Washingtonians describe this small southern town.

    Admittedly, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, things were crazy, for a minute. We were the murder capital (using per capita numbers), for years. The vast majority of the violence was concentrated in certain areas, but that detail wasn’t played up on the news.

    Having said that, all these years later, many visitors I run into seem to think the area is no different than it was in 1991. Thing is, city and nearby ‘burbs have changed. Gentrification has benefits, and it has a down side. But if all people remember is a CNN headline from 20 years ago, they’ll think DC still means Dodge City. Very few new stories or second hand narratives can depict a city (or country) accurately, IMHO. Just my two cents.

    Rambling over.

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    NorthLeft12 says:

    @Larv: Yes, the frightened people who spoke to me were white [cop and good samaritan], and people I met on my walk and at the two stations were black.
    Yes, I picked up on that right away. So did my wife. We talked about it for awhile on the drive north.

    I remember the phrases “bad area” and “dangerous neighbourhood” spoken a few times.

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    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tone in DC:

    Admittedly, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, things were crazy, for a minute. We were the murder capital (using per capita numbers), for years. The vast majority of the violence was concentrated in certain areas, but that detail wasn’t played up on the news.

    Remember that study that came out recently about how reduced lead levels were correlated with reduced crime rates? DC had (may still have) some of the highest levels of lead in its drinking water of any city in the US.

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    Helmut Monotreme says:

    @The Rest of The US:Our collective inaction on climate change will do that for you in slow motion. So, you’re welcome?

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    boatboy_srq says:

    @Goblue72:

    Congrats Florida, you’re chasing away exactly the kind of technocratic elite you need to succeed in the 21st century. Good luck with your swampland schemes to get rich quick as the waters rise around you.

    They’ve been doing that for many years. Here’s one temporary-Floridian who bailed on the state because a) the job market sux and b) the employers’ attitude sux worse. Expect (as a technical professional) “we’re paying you all this money” and/or “your Christmas bonus is – you get to have a job in January! Now shut up and be grateful” for salaries blue states pay receptionists, doing jobs that require advanced training and certifications/degrees. Now add to this the obligation to arm oneself just to ensure you don’t get offed at the office or in the morning commute: it’ll be interesting to see how quickly daily-commute road rage morphs into Death Race.

    @Botsplainer: Your biggest competition won’t be the rental car agencies – it’ll be the pawn shops.

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    Tone in DC says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I didn’t know that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    I attribute a significant amount of what went wrong around here to the policies of Ronnie Raygun, Leroy the amphibious menace, and similar folks.

    And the flouting of EPA’s clean water rules is definitely a right wing policy.

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    BruceJ says:

    @Chris T.: “In moments, it is over, and with none remaining alive, the mass graveyard finally knows peace.”

    Gahan Wilson described it decades ago.

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    Paul in KY says:

    @Splitting Image: That might change it, but the end result (women, blacks, hispanics buying more guns…) is that the gun manufacterers are even wealthier & there are even more guns on street.

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