When Fighting Back Creates A Catch-22

From my perspective…

I am a strong proponent of self-defense. Anybody who threatens me or god-forbid my child better expect to be met with brutal force. The principle of self-defense is so deeply engrained in me that I think if I had come of age in the seventies I would’ve been a member of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. But I am a child of the eighties and nineties. Groups built around an ideology of self-defense are limited to separatist militia, the US military, and the National Rifle Association (NRA). I have allergies so I’m not moving into some bunker in the middle of the woods with a bunch of stinking men. Militias are out. I’m not the “take orders” type so the US military is out. And that leaves the NRA, which given their public and political record isn’t an option.

This makes me an individual willing to go to any length to protect myself and my family but without any group affiliation. If I’m arrested for a violent confrontation, it’s just me. No organization is going to come to my aid. No newspapers are going to flock to my cause. No fancy lawyers. Just me.

When I was a kid the school I attended had a no-fighting policy. You’d think this would create a congenial environment among the students but you would be wrong. Kids bully. They taunt. They tease and harass. And how do you defend yourself against verbal and mental attacks? How do you do it without sinking to their level? Without exploiting others’ weaknesses? Without name-calling? Without promoting stereotypes and intolerance? Granted these options weren’t against the rules explicitly but as a person of great integrity they were not options that I allowed myself to consider. On the other hand, I could very clearly see myself escalating the verbal confrontation to a physical one. And this did happen on a few occasions. Keep in mind, I never instigated the conflict. I was the victim, responding to a personal assault. But from the school’s point of view we were both breaking the rules and we both deserved punishment, if not expulsion. However, if I ignored the bullying and allowed it to continue then nobody would’ve been punished. Not me, not the bully. Fair?

Marissa Alexander Stands Her Ground

Marissa Alexander, a Florida mom and survivor of domestic violence, fired a warning shot at her abuser. Here is how she described the incident:

Marissa endured a year of violent abuse. And only a few days after giving birth, her husband attacked her once again. She locked herself in the bathroom but he broke the door down and threw her to the floor. Marissa’s husband then chased her into the garage. The garage door would not open so she grabbed a pistol. Seeing her with the gun he threatened to kill her. She raised the pistol and fired once into the air. He backed off…and called the police…on her. He claimed she fired at him and his 2 sons. She was promptly arrested.

Marissa was charged with 3 counts of aggravated assault because the judge reasoned although she did raise the gun over her head, the bullet hit the wall not the ceiling and could’ve struck her husband or his sons. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

After Florida’s very public Zimmerman trial, Marissa’s case received some much-needed public scrutiny. Marissa’s legal team has secured a new trial set to take place in July 2014. This time around the state has decided to pursue a sentence of 60-years instead of the 20-years she was originally sentenced to serve.

Read more about Marissa Alexander here.

Is it me or have these people lost their minds?

Nobody has the right to limit the most basic of human instincts—survival and protection. Are we truly a society that grooms girls and women to be victims? Do we expect it, as if it’s a fact of life? There doesn’t seem to be any debate over Marissa’s status as a survivor of domestic abuse. And nobody, in fact, was harmed by the warning shot. Yet, she’s being charged with a crime.

Honestly, I don’t care about the legal arguments. I don’t care that there is a minimum sentence law for the crime of aggravated assault. The system is built with people not robots. Use your brain, heart, and common sense! This woman should’ve never been brought up on charges let alone convicted.

I can’t help but think it’s time to push the envelope further. The progress that we like to think we’ve made over the last century is slipping away. Every woman and girl has the right to defend herself from attackers (known and unknown) by any means available to her. You don’t get to second guess her because you weren’t in her shoes! You don’t have the benefit of knowing what she does and what she’s experienced. You are on the outside looking in! She is the expert on her situation, not you. If she tosses a pot of hot grits on his lap, cuts off his member with a kitchen knife, or fires a solitary warning shot into a garage wall that is her prerogative.

Perhaps the good kind folks on the other side worry that women will use this as a get out of jail free card. Well, I don’t give a damn if they do. What we having going on now with our criminal justice system is so far from  perfect that I’ll take the get out of jail free card imperfection any day.

I’m in favor of a new kind of justice system. The kind where rapists get the death penalty. Where rape is a hate crime. Where any woman can shoot a man in his sleep if he abuses her or her children. It’s too damn easy for these assholes to get away with this stuff. They need to know if they cross that line they’re opening themselves up to a whole world of hurt. That’s how it stops.


What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


5 thoughts on “When Fighting Back Creates A Catch-22

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