Public response to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin evidenced a drastic schism in community values. To some, the problem of "Stand Your Ground" represents purely a race issue that not only perpetuates endemic racial tensions amongst members of society, but also generally protects whites more often than blacks. On the other hand, some view the statutory scheme as a non-racist protection of individual liberties that makes the community safer. These two perspectives lie at the opposite ends of the spectrum, and both perspectives tend to oversimplify a complex issue.
In tracking the media coverage, protests, and commentary related to Florida's most recent "Stand Your Ground" cases, it is readily apparent that the various interest groups and individuals weighing in are sharply divided. This disagreement occurs for two principle reasons. First, the participants embrace fundamentally different value structures, so their acceptance of the legitimacy of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law will naturally create dissonance. Second, most viewpoints being advanced are far too myopic to account for the multi-faceted issues presented by Florida's version of "Stand Your Ground."
This Article attempts to account for each of the competing viewpoints related to the statutory scheme. This author's position is that in legalizing certain types of homicide by decriminalizing killings and other acts of violence involving self-defense, Florida has exchanged respect for human dignity with cold self-import. To examine the process by which this transformation occurred, this Article relies on a jurisprudential model, created by Yale professors Harold Lasswell and Myres McDougal, for the preservation of human dignity. It is important to note that this theory of legal inquiry was intended to be applicable to both micro and macro analyses, though most scholars have employed it as a tool for studying international law and politics. The peculiar feature of this model, however, is that it also specifically contemplates individuals, making it uniquely suited to the inquiry of any legal system.