I can't tell you how upset I am to even be writing this column. It's Hate Michigan Week, I was going to insult the state and defend Detroit #atthesamedamntime. But when chicanery in the state legislature is afoot, Ain't No Love In The Heart shall ride. HB 203, aka the Stand Your Ground bill, passed the House last Wednesday. The chances of it becoming law are high (I mean, can you really count on Kasich doing something that resembles the actions of a caring, humane individual TWICE?), but there' still time, and if we raise enough hell, then maybe, just maybe, because on the real y'all, Stand Your Ground laws are the embodiment of everything that prevents us from actually living together in peace. Most of the arguments against Stand Your Ground are about the ways in which it disproportionately affects black and brown youths, that people's latent racism can now serve as a justifiable reason for killing another human being, that black and brown people must live in constant fear that their actions will be misconstrued by some angry (almost always a) dude and the result will be their death. Those arguments are all well and good, but they do not get at the nature of evil present in these laws. They presume that if we could just eliminate racism then the principles behind these laws would be acceptable. Perhaps the gaggle of NRA neckbeards are right, and HB 203 is not strictly a Stand Your Ground bill with the ALEC watermark and everything, but the crux of it, and of all Stand Your Ground bills, is the same: that in a situation where you perceive a threat to your life, no matter how real, you do not have a duty to retreat before using deadly force, that though you will not initiate violence, you will walk around on a hair trigger looking for any excuse to deploy it. At this point, we are in the realm of straight dystopian logic, where humanity itself is the enemy, where killing is not just a necessary part of survival but a part of everyday life. And this is a mindset of one's own choosing. In the world's richest country, in gated communities built specifically to keep out “dangerous” people, in cities where the vast majority of time spend outside of one's house or workplace is spent driving from one place to another, and in places where the ease of obtaining a gun borders on the absurd, there is no reason for this mindset other than willful misanthropy. But misanthropy on its own isn't enough to sustain this toxic brand of tomfoolery, the straw that stirs the drink is a very masculine, and in many ways white, insecurity and paranoia. From that scene in Breaking Bad where Hank tells Skyler the first thing she has to do is give him the kids “so that they're safe” to our global imperial military apparatus that operates under the banner of providing “security,” safety is the name of the game as the foundation of any sort of society, but only a particular kind of safety, chiefly: safety from the other as opposed to the dark forces in oneself, safety that can only be provided by a man, and safety that is usually established through violence. This idea has a rather Nietzchean flavor. Instead of submitting to the grand forces of nature, or God, man can single-handedly forge his destiny through sheer force of will. This is of course, in practicality, largely impossible, and it reveals a greater insecurity, an insecurity of one's place in the world, in the cosmic scheme. Added into this mix is the uncomfortable reality that the “other” is often times people who have been conquered, enslaved, or otherwise oppressed in sundry ways. The evidence of this insecurity and paranoia in Stand Your Ground is manifold. Perhaps the most hilarious part of HB 203 is the provision that allows “to permit investigators employed by the Attorney General to investigate Medicaid fraud to go armed,” coming of course on the back of Medicaid expansion in Ohio. The idea that a Medicaid fraud investigation might turn violent says everything about the vivid imaginations of these Republican legislators and about whom they think they need to stand their ground against. In an interview with News Hour on PBS on March 22, 2012, the honorable Dennis Baxley, one of the state legislators who helped author the Stand Your Ground bill in Florida had this to say in defense of his law: “We live in a violent age, and a lot of it has to do with something we don't really acknowledge anymore, and that's the broad substance abuse problem, drug abuse. And we all know addicted people will sacrifice themselves, their family, and anyone else to that addiction. And that's an environment that's part of this culture, even if you decriminalized it. The use of these things and the addiction is part of this dangerous environment.” It's very unclear as to what drug he's even talking about, especially considering that marijuana is the only drug anyone's seriously considered decriminalizing, but an education on the different pharmacology of various substances and their psychosomatic effects would not help here. The point is that Señor Baxley has found a convenient other to justify his posture (ignoring, of course, all the ways in which ginned-up racial fear prompted the criminalization of many of these drugs in the first place). If it weren't drug addicts, it'd be some other violent irrational indefinable group. Indeed, empirical facts form almost no basis in the argument for Stand Your Ground. Baxley says that his law “preserves life,” but justifiable homicides (your Orwellian phrase of the day) in Florida have risen over 200 percent since the law's passage. A Texas A&M study said that states that pass Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws can expect an 8 percent increase in homicides, which would translate to 40 additional lives lost in Ohio every year. How can you support a bill that you know will result in more people dying? The only answer can be that you believe those people didn't deserve to live in the first place. A few months back, a former roommate and I were having a discussion about the appropriate use of violence. He wanted to argue that it was acceptable to kill someone just for breaking into his house. His reasoning was along the lines of “So somebody breaks into your house, is on your property, and threatens violence against you and your family. Are you just going to let him take what he wants and be weak? Or are you going to be strong and defend yourself?” It is important to specify what exactly is being defended here: it is not your life, nor is it even your honor, but your manhood, your conception of yourself as someone who is not to be messed with, and the logic of Stand Your Ground is that preservation of this conception is justification for taking the life of another human being. Because part of defending yourself is understanding how to extricate yourself from dangerous situations, or attempting to defuse them (methods of self-defense that women have had to develop for centuries). The response is called “fight-or-flight” for a reason; both options are valid methods of preserving one's life. Part of the struggle of humanity is navigating through this dichotomy, figuring out which fights are worth it, knowing when to turn the other cheek. This is something that even Ohio police understand. The Ohio FOP opposes the bill. In the world of Stand Your Ground, the other cheek is carrying a 9mm. To jettison half of this equation because you don't feel like it, or because you're afraid of looking like a pussy is to fail at humanity. Address all hate mail to

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