As reported in the New York Times on August 7, 15 states in the last year "have enacted laws that expand the right of self-defense, allowing crime victims to use deadly force in situations that might formerly have subjected them to prosecution for murder." In Florida, for example, people now have the right to use such force "against intruders entering their homes." As one Florida resident declared, "I have a right to keep my house safe."
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, agrees. He explains that if people were to "make a decision to save their lives in the split second they are being attacked, the law is on their side." LaPierre adds: "Good people make good decisions. That's why they're good people. If you're going to empower someone, empower the crime victim." But what about bad people making bad decisions?
The NRA isn't famous for nuance, but what if we were to take this concept of allowing crime victims to legally fight back to a higher level? The U.S. government, the corporations that own it, and its allies abroad have poisoned the planet-oppressing billions in the process. Using bushels of American taxpayer subsidies, the power elite have made the decisions and taken the actions that have put all life on earth at peril. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, greenhouse gases, illegal military interventions that create global enemies-all of these (to name but a few) are potential murder weapons. All of these threaten animal and plant life with extinction.
Can the victims of these crimes claim self-defense and fight back? As Malcolm X reminded us, "It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks." But will the law protect earth's defenders as it protects a shotgun toting Floridian with an itchy trigger finger? Are some victims more worthy than others?
Also on August 7, the Christian Science Monitor ran an article by Anders Strindberg, a consultant on Middle East politics, on the current Israeli-Hizbullah conflict. Not surprisingly, Strindberg also talks of self-defense and empowering the victim. However, he turns conventional wisdom on its ear. He begins: "As pundits and policymakers scramble to explain events in Lebanon, their conclusions are virtually unanimous: Hizbullah created this crisis. Israel is defending itself. The underlying problem is Arab extremism."
Calling this "pure analytical nonsense," Strindberg explains: "Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports." Israel, he says, "has terrorized the general population, destroyed private property, and killed numerous civilians ... Israel has assassinated its enemies in the streets of Lebanese cities ... while refusing to hand over the maps of mine fields that continue to kill and cripple civilians in southern Lebanon more than six years after the war supposedly ended. What peace did Hizbullah shatter?"
In other words, Israel's neighbors also believe: "I have a right to keep my house safe." If only Hizbullah and the Lebanese (not to mention, the Palestinians) lived in Florida, their meager efforts at self-defense would at least make the NRA happy.
Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most recently 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at: www.mickeyz.net.
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