The Edmond Sun

August 17, 2013

Oklahomans should stand their ground

By David Deming
Special to The Sun

NORMAN — In the wake of the George Zimmerman trial, Oklahoma Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, has called for a review of Oklahoma’s “Stand Your Ground” and Open Carry laws.  Sheila Jackson Lee, congresswoman from Texas, introduced a bill that seeks to induce states like Oklahoma to repeal “Stand Your Ground” laws or face Federal funding cuts.  You might call Lee’s legislation the “Criminal Protection Bill.”

The call to weaken our right to self defense has been coupled with an unbelievable barrage of incendiary rhetoric designed to inflame racial hatred. A major media organization altered an audio recording to make it appear as if George Zimmerman singled out Trayvon Martin on the basis of race. Oprah Winfrey compared the death of Trayvon Martin to the murder of Emmett Till. A letter published in a San Francisco newspaper by a self-described “angry black man,” claimed that George Zimmerman’s injuries were self-inflicted. But this is not 1913. Both slavery and racial segregation ended generations ago. The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman had nothing to do with race.

If we’re going to amend the law in Oklahoma, it ought done in such a way as to strengthen people’s ability to protect themselves from criminals. No one should have to undergo the political persecution that George Zimmerman was subjected to.  Zimmerman has been blamed for getting out of his car and following Trayvon Martin.  Nonsense. Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch duty. It was not only his right to follow Martin, it was his duty. If more people were as civic-minded as George Zimmerman we would have less crime.

Does anyone remember Kitty Genovese? In 1964, Genovese was attacked early in the morning while returning home from work in New York City. For half an hour, she was stabbed with a knife and tortured. At least a dozen of her neighbors heard Genovese’s cries for help but chose to ignore them because they didn’t want to get involved.  After killing Genovese, her murderer raped her dead body. He later confessed that he preferred women as victims because “they were easier and didn’t fight back.”

While the media sensationalized the death of Trayvon Martin, they routinely ignore thousands of cases in which innocent people are victimized by criminals. A couple weeks ago, a 93-year-old widow in Omaha was murdered inside her home. A strong, loving woman who had worked to age eighty-three, Louise Sollowin was described by her relatives as a “saint.” Sollowin was raped and viciously beaten. Her cheekbones, ribs, nose, and teeth were broken. Blood covered the bed, the walls, floor, and ceiling of her bedroom. Police discovered a 19-year-old suspect, Sergio Perez, lying naked on top of Sollowin. An illegal immigrant, Perez reportedly told police that he was angry at women because they had rejected his advances. The suspect apparently obtained access to the victim’s home by entering through an unlocked door. If a neighborhood watch volunteer had followed and confronted this man, Louise Sollowin might be alive and unharmed today.

The right to self-defense is ancient and universal. No one has an obligation to submit to criminal attack. Claiming that George Zimmerman provoked the attack on him by following Martin is analogous to asserting that a rape victim invited assault by dressing provocatively.

Legislators, listen up. Oklahomans are tired of being victimized by criminals. If we’re going to change the law in Oklahoma it should be to strengthen the right to self-defense, not weaken it.

DAVID DEMING is a professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma and the author of “Black and White: Politically Incorrect Essays on Politics, Culture, Science, Religion, Energy, and Environment.”