The Shadow of a Beginning

That was the one thing that made me think, well, this may be the shadow of a beginning.

Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird

I often grow discouraged with the trajectory of our society, but this past week has been encouraging, and cause for hope. As someone who makes a living teaching lawful self-defense techniques and principles to private citizens, I’ve watched these numerous high profile murder trials and self-defense claims with great interest.

In thee distinct cases (the Kyle Rittenhouse, Ahmaud Arbery, and Andrew Coffey IV Cases) the defendants were tried for murder and other sundries, and pleaded not guilty by reason of justified self-defense. The first two are pretty famous, and in Mr. Coffey’s case he (a black man) shot at cops who were executing a no-knock drug raid, and whom he thought were criminal intruders. Mr. Coffey’s girlfriend was killed by return fire, and he was charged with murder for her death (since shooting at peace officers is a felony, and any deaths occurring in commission of a felony bring murder charges). In each case, from what I can tell based on my slightly-above-layman-level knowledge of violence and the law, and my following both cases, it appears to me that the juries of peers got the verdicts correct according to the facts of the cases and the law.

One jury recognized a fairly textbook case of self-defense and acquitted, and another recognized a fairly straightforward case of murder and a hollow self-defense claim and convicted. In the third case the jury ruled that Mr. Coffey acted reasonably to his door being kicked in in the middle of the night and acquitted him of the murder charge (He was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon). In none of these cases do I believe race influenced the juries’ verdicts. So in Wisconsin a white man was acquitted for shooting three white men in self-defense. Three white men in Georgia were convicted of murder for killing a black man. Then a black man in Minnesota was acquitted for shooting at police during a no-knock raid. I believe justice was served color-blindly by these juries and I am glad.

While this should be the norm, it is too often otherwise, and I’ll take encouraging signs wherever I can get them. Sometimes our system still functions as generally intended, if imperfectly. Justice is among the Seven Virtues, and is of paramount importance to a functioning society. As controversial as the cases were, in my estimation justice was served. I’m thankful and hope the quest for justice leads us to meaningful and respectful dialogue rather than division and strife.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

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