Fear and Loathing in South Florida
By Theodore Sares
During my most recent trip to the East coast of South Florida, which turned out to be much lengthier than anticipated, I knew before hand there would be much to loath and probably more to fear. I was not disappointed on either account.
Upon arriving at the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, I purchased a copy of the Miami Herald and immediately sensed fear, for I read that Governor Jeb Bush was about to sign a bill just that week that would become known as the "Stand Your Ground" law. The law immunizes citizens who use deadly force in self-defense against criminal prosecution and civil liability. Quickly realizing that under this "Shoot First" law, as long as the shooter "is not engaged in unlawful activity" and is "attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be" the shooter has the right to use deadly force. Thus , if a fist fight escalates to lethal violence, the shooter could receive immunity under the law even if he initiated the confrontation, as long as he "reasonably believed" that shooting a gun was necessary to prevent "great bodily harm" to himself. Needless to say, even before I drove out of the parking lot, I swore to myself that I would be on my very best behavior and look straight ahead even after being insulted or otherwise abused during any road rage incidents....which, in Florida, are virtually impossible to avoid. Cautiously glancing at the faces of some of the drivers while driving north on dangerous 95 brought to mind Jack Nicholson in the Shining.