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Are we all clear about the meaning of Black History Month?

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In asking this question I am focused on the second egregious killing of an African-American teenager in a very short time. I exhausted my outrage in the commentary that followed the murder of Trayvon Martin, and I think that subsequent events have showed that the death of this young man was followed by much rejoicing and the anointing of his killer as a minor celebrity.

But let me make my point: Black History Month is not open season on African Americans. It is not Black Hunting Month. Is that clear?

It seems to me that a group of people who make up the membership of the American Legal Exchange Council, or ALEC, have been casting about for a way to tone down the condemnation of murder, at least as long as the victim is black. They came up with the Stand Your Ground law: a law that says, in simplified form, that if someone presents you with an attitude that YOU construe as threatening, you can kill them. You don't have to duck for cover or run away; if you have a shootin' iron, just blow their heads off and the jury will not be able to find a basis to punish you.

The latest murderer, who killed another black teenager in Florida, describes himself as a victim, as does the murderer of Trayvon Martin. His hideous ordeal began when he was subjected to loud pop music when he pulled into a parking lot, and was compounded when he was actually arrested! He spent time in jail, and apparently he has suffered enough as far as the jury was concerned. You may be inclined to find out what sentence will be passed on him later, but because he "fought back" he is now a victim. The difference between the white victim is that the white "victim" is alive; the African American victim is not.

What this shooter is cannot be described as a victim; he is a perpetrator. When he calls himself a victim, like the killer of Martin, I would like to ask him if he is under the impression that he is dead. "Dead" is the word to describe a murder victim, and as far as I can see, both of these perpetrators are still alive.

So since the passage of the Stand Your Ground law in twenty-six states, it seems that the major activity now covered by this conspiracy law is the murder of African Americans. Many of them are now saying out loud that it is open season on African Americans today in the United States. The graph that I have referenced in this article under More Info will show the numbers of, and reaction to, the increasing numbers of blacks who are being murdered by whites.

Just to be clear, the case of Marissa Alexander in Florida illustrates what happens when an African American "stands her ground." Alexander's home was invaded by her former husband, against whom she had a restraining order in effect. Because she has children, she kept a gun in her garage for protection (hoping that she would be able to get to the garage in time if a situation arose). When her husband crashed her home she fired one shot--one--into the ceiling of the garage. She shot no one. For this she was tried and after the jury deliberated for twelve minutes, she was found guilty and eventually sentenced to twenty years in prison.

So if you are white and a pesky black teenager annoys you, you can kill him. But if you are black and someone threatens you life after having assaulted you on previous occasions, you will do serious prison time if you try to warn them off.

So could we be clear just once more: Black History Month is not Black Hunting Month. Furthermore, it is not open season on black or Latino citizens. Those who think that this new SYG law gives them a wonderful freedom to express their racism are doing far more harm than good. What would happen if African Americans began packing weapons to defend themselves? Would you like to be in line at a convenience store or gassing up your car when a gunfight breaks out with automatic weapons? You don't have to be guilty; you just have to be there.

We have called this "being in the wrong place at the wrong time." However, recent victims have been murdered in their own neighborhoods or buying gum and candy at a convenience store. I don't know what "the wrong place" means. And I don't know what "the wrong time" is because it could be any time that someone decides that a person nearby is getting on their nerves.

For more info: find the graph depicting the impact of Stand Your Ground laws here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/criminal-justice/is-there-racial...

You will land on the page, but you have to scroll down to see the graph. It is not allowed to copy the graph, so I could not display it for your convenience.

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