Friday, April 08, 2005

Shoot First and Ask Questions Later

The State of Florida hasn’t been a laughing stock for almost a week. I guess they were getting itchy, thinking maybe they lost the knack. Don’t worry. If there was a Dumbass Award, Florida would have retired it by now.

Both houses of the Florida Legislature passed the “Stand Your Ground” bill by overwhelming margins (94–20 and 39–0) this week. People in Florida no longer have to try to get away from a life-threatening situation. They are now legally entitled to shoot your ass.

I’m a big fan of the HBO series “Deadwood,” but I don’t want to live there. You’re legally allowed to carry a weapon openly in Florida already. Now you have the right to use deadly force in a public place if you have a reasonable belief you are in danger of death or great bodily harm. “Reasonable” has a broad definition in Florida, where Terri Schiavo had a “reasonable” chance of recovery.

Now it’s not enough to be out at night hoping some malcontent doesn’t rob and/or beat you; you have to be alert for those “safety first” whack jobs who came heavy and think someone’s giving them the hairy eyeball and decide to draw down on the miscreant. Since the Second Amendment allegedly forbids requiring something as meager as a firearm safety class as a prerequisite to gun ownership, keep your head down. Innocent bystanders could be an endangered species if Floridians don’t shoot any better then they vote.

Florida may be nostalgic for the good old days in Texas, when “he needed killing” was a valid legal defense. Don’t piss anyone off in Florida and make any sudden moves for a handkerchief if you feel a sneeze coming on.

This is one more example of the Bush family doctrine of pre-emptiveness. Rain Man applies it to entire countries, and expects to go blameless because he had faulty intelligence. (It pains my fingers to type anything about Rain man and intelligence in the same sentence without typing “no” in front of “intelligence.") Now Jethro—er, Jeb—is going to grant the same right on an individual basis, without even George Tenet to tell them if there’s any danger or not.

Maybe Tenet could get a job as a consultant to Floridians. He might as well, being the only Bush Administration official involved with Iraq who wasn’t promoted.

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