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Why California is Stupid # 1

el Guapo

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Read the Story first L.A. Man Shoots Car Thief, Charged with Murder

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A 26-year-old Los Angeles man who prosecutors say shot at two thieves stealing his car, killing one of them, was charged on Wednesday with murder.
Yoon Ho Song could face 50 years to life in prison if he is convicted of the first degree murder of Mario Sandoval Martinez and a special allegation of using a handgun, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.
Prosecutors say Song came out of his house to find two car thieves pushing his customized Honda out of his driveway in the predawn hours on Monday and opened fire, hitting Martinez, 25, in the back. The second suspect got away.

"The fact that your car is being stolen isn't a legal justification for killing somebody,"...[snip]
In Texas they would have given Mr. Song some replacment ammo and certificate of appreciation. I can't help but think the world is a better place becasuse of Mr. Song's actions. Your comments?
 

The Irish One

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Take it to the jury, and a lawyer worth his wieght in salt will make sure all of those jurors live in a war zone and understand the constant wave of crime that so much of LA deals with.
 

Lee Nellis

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You know EG, it would be so easy to agree with you. And I agree completely that the penalties for this in California are cruel and unusual. They clearly violate the US Constitution.

But these thieves weren't threatening Mr. Song or his loved ones. And if the article is indeed accurate they offered no violence toward this man. They were trying to roll away a hunk of steel and (mostly) plastic and the evidence appears to show that they were running away when Mr. Song opened fire.

Is a Honda worth anyone's life? My take on it is that deadly force is acceptable to preserve life, but not property. And from a practical view, if Mr. Song was awake enough and had time enough to get his weapon, he was also awake enough and had time enough to call 911.

Auto theft is wrong, but that doesn't justify any response. If the times we are living in don't prove that violence breeds nothing but violence, then I don't know what possibly could. .
 

H

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Well if you think you might get shot (legally) for stealing a car, you might be less likely to steal a car. But then you get into vigilante law, and this is dangerous. :-S

It is sort of a lose / lose situation.

Moral: Drive a beat up old American car that no one wants. :)
 

Repo Man

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If you don't wanna get shot, don't steal a car. Yeah killing someone over a car seems a bit much, but a first degree murder charge?
 

Lee Nellis

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H, there is a problem with that: they wouldn't be stealing a car if they could actually connect actions and consequences.
 

H

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Lee Nellis said:
H, there is a problem with that: they wouldn't be stealing a car if they could actually connect actions and consequences.
I disagree. Most people know what they were doing vs the preceived consequenses. It is a gamble, played on the stakes and odds.
 

GeogPlanner

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i bet if they were successful and say got into an accident, the guy would have been sued instead...
 

michaelskis

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[rant] I think that in places where crime is out of control, something needs to happen. I feel that if this is a situation that has repeated it’s self more than once, he had all right to pull a weapon and end the crime. It was in California that OJ got away with murder. I also believe that the police force in several places are amazingly wonderful people, who are there to “Serve and Protect” but in places like LA, being a cop is a power thing. I have a friend that lived there for while, and they watched a woman get mugged, with a cop standing across the street. He just stood there, like he did not hear it. But the cop was between my friend and the mugging. After that he never trusted the cops in that city again. [/rant]
 

nerudite

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Maybe the prosecuters picked Murder 1 on purpose, so the guy will get off scottfree. Doesn't Murder 1 take planning and forethought? If this guy was reacting to them and ran in and got a gun, I don't think that is forethought but reaction...

It would be a twisted way to look at it, but who knows... Californians are nut jobs ;)
 

otterpop

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I have a hard time having much sympathy for a person shot in the commission of a crime. That said, shooting and killing someone who is stealing your car and when your life or the lives of others are not in jeopardy is not right. Even the life of a supposed scumbag is more valuable than a car. I emphasize it is the lack of imminent danger to self or others that makes it wrong.

Had those men been repo men retrieving a car, then obviously the man would be charged and tried for a homicide. These men were apparently car thieves. Still, not a capital crime. Let the court system sort it out.
 

Wulf9

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If gun ownership is to be universally allowed, the gun owner should be responsible for proper use of the gun.

Shooting a fleeing and unsuccessful robber in the back is a pretty low threshold for killing another person. Is it permissible to kill a thief -- any thief -- in any situation whether or not the thief is a threat to your person? I don't think we want that standard for use of weapons -- even in Texas (sorry Texans).

I am not sure it is first degree, but second degree or manslaughter is generally an accidental use of force. I don't think the shooter can claim that this was an accident. "Oops, it just went off in the direction of the guy trying to steal my car."
 

el Guapo

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Lee Nellis said:
You know EG, it would be so easy to agree with you. And I agree completely that the penalties for this in California are cruel and unusual. They clearly violate the US Constitution.

But these thieves weren't threatening Mr. Song or his loved ones. And if the article is indeed accurate they offered no violence toward this man. They were trying to roll away a hunk of steel and (mostly) plastic and the evidence appears to show that they were running away when Mr. Song opened fire.

Is a Honda worth anyone's life? My take on it is that deadly force is acceptable to preserve life, but not property. And from a practical view, if Mr. Song was awake enough and had time enough to get his weapon, he was also awake enough and had time enough to call 911.

Auto theft is wrong, but that doesn't justify any response. If the times we are living in don't prove that violence breeds nothing but violence, then I don't know what possibly could. .
All reasonable thoughts Lee. I just can help but think that the cumulative economic, social, emotional and physical effects of crime upon the undeserving of our society would be dramatically lower if it was made clear to potential criminals (i.e. everyone) that the punishment of society will be so swift, devastating and unfeeling that no one but the mentally ill would commit crimes. To badly misquote John Lennon, "Imagine if there were no thieves...because we killed them all."

We allow our society to live with the high crime rate and resultant suffering, paid at both a societal and individual level, because we are too stupid or weak to make the punishment fit the crime. What we need to do is apply the old cold war theory of MAD to individual criminals. The costs of your crime will be so overwhelmingly disproportionate that you would have to be nuts to commit a crime. But, individual crime victims pay the cost of liberal compassion.

Yep, a bit of a Catch 22, but a workable one at that.
 

Wulf9

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el Guapo said:
The costs of your crime will be so overwhelmingly disproportionate that you would have to be nuts to commit a crime.
It's interesting that you would start this thread with "why California is stupid" because California actually has the most disproportionate level punishment in the U.S. The third offense puts you in prison, effectively for life. I think (didn't actually look it up) that California has the highest incarceration rate in the U.S. And the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any developed nation. We should be very safe here in California.

On the topic of appropriate punishment, there was a news article that businesses had been fined when supervisors reduced the number of hours on employee time cards. Those corporations paid fines. If the corporation steals from its employees, it gets a fine. If the employee stole the equivalent amout from the corporation, the employee would go to jail.

Back to the main thread. Would the employee be justified in shooting the supervisor who "stole" hours? What are the rules of engagement when a victim is allowed to shoot the thief?
 

Zoning Goddess

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I just have a hard time believing that if a burglar broke into our house, ripped the phone from the wall, and proceeded to steal everything we owned, we'd have to sit and watch (instead of blowing his a$$ away).

Actually, I could see the sense in the guy shooting the car thieves if they actually had gotten the car, but since he apparently had them on the run he should have stopped right there.

Having a car stolen isn't just a loss of a vehicle, it can also take away your means to get to work or take your kids to school, plus all the out-of-pocket expenses/deductables insurance won't cover. It could be a crippling blow to some folks/families. One of my co-workers had an older car (with only personal injury coverage) stolen and dumped in a lake. When it was recovered, she was hit with a $900 bill by the towing company and of course the car was a total loss. She's a secretary with 2 kids and no extra money.
 

jordanb

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Zoning Goddess said:
Having a car stolen isn't just a loss of a vehicle, it can also take away your means to get to work or take your kids to school,
:-c

Anyway. I agree that lethal force was totally unjustified. Not Murder 1, but this guy should do time.
 
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There is a Law and Order episode where they try a jewelry store owner for murdering the guys that broke into his store. Short version: he does time and the reason why is all in the details. That is why we have a court system.

Someone supply me the name: The guy that shot all those punks on the subway system and essentially Walked when it went to court?

I know that people get all up in arms about things like the OJ trial but some things do go right. I haven't read the article and I don't think it really matters: whatever is contained in one article is probably not sufficient information to adequately judge if the guy is a danger to society or not. And that is one of the prime purposes of the criminal justice system: Not simply to punish but to protect society from folks who are likely to be repeat offenders -- people who are a "danger to society".

This is why someone who commits a pre-meditated murder for financial gain is much more likely to do time than someone who walks in on their spouse in flagrante dilecto (sp?), pulls the gun out of the dresser drawer and blows them both away: just don't marry the guy and then be stupid enough to screw someone in your bed at home where he can walk in on the two you and he isn't likely to be a threat to your life. Pulling the trigger in that situation... is a visceral reaction, like a knee-jerk response. It does not particularly indicate that he is deranged, violent, usually dangerous, etc. But the first individual, who will commit a premeditated (planned) murder for financial gain, is a danger to ANYONE.
 

Lee Nellis

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I'm not going to revisit the cold war, but I have never seen any evidence that severe punishment or the possibility of being blown away slows the crime rate. Otherwise, as Wulf9 points out, California would be crime-free, rather than bankrupt from the costs of incarcerating people.

My own opinion is complicated, but what I am focused on right now is simple enough: someone who is disadvantaged (and there are many ways to be, besides being poor) sees Kenneth Lay and his cohorts steal a huge pension fund and walk. So that person figures, I'll steal a car, its the same thing, just on my scale. There are few powers like the power of example.
 

Zoning Goddess

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jordanb said:
:-c

Anyway. I agree that lethal force was totally unjustified. Not Murder 1, but this guy should do time.
Yeah, I understand that the loss of a car doesn't mean much to single guys who live in places with bike lanes and transit systems, and don't mind sweating like a pig to ride to work.

But for the other 99% of us, those who wear pantyhose, those who have reproduced, those who have to chauffer the little ones about, or have to bring more than one dinky bag home from the supermarket, losing a car is a big deal.
 
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Lee Nellis said:
I'm not going to revisit the cold war, but I have never seen any evidence that severe punishment or the possibility of being blown away slows the crime rate. Otherwise, as Wulf9 points out, California would be crime-free, rather than bankrupt from the costs of incarcerating people.
I think that making punishment severe and all out of proportion to the crime actually promotes crime. One example: every time some extremist nut suggests that men ought to be put to death for the crime of rape, I cringe. Yeah, let's make sure the guy has no reason to leave you alive and able to testify against him since murder has a lesser penalty and, once you are dead, it is no longer "your word against his". The day some moron passes that law is the day that women's lives are forfeit in the face of ... what is sometimes just a misunderstanding. I have done two college papers on "date rape". Often, it boils down to "two hormone- and alcohol- soaked kids who failed to effectively communicate". Yeah, let's encourage some guy to murder the girl after such a tragic misunderstanding in a desperate attempt to save his own life.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

When the punishment no longer fits the crime, the Rule of Law ceases to exist. The world becomes less rational and rule-bound, not more so. People are going to lie and so on more, because no one is safe. It becomes a society where the paranoid criminal mentality runs rampant. And this not merely my opinion. Check out the history of places like Russia. A Reign of Terror does NOT create a Civilized and Safe environment. On the contrary: when you have more to fear from the authorities than from the criminals, all bets are off because Society has "lost its mind".
 
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Zoning Goddess said:
Bernard Goetz, I think.
Thanks. I think you are right. He is living proof that, in the right circumstances, vigilantes walk because everyone knows why they did it.
 

Zoning Goddess

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Michele Zone said:
The day some moron passes that law is the day that women's lives are forfeit in the face of ... what is sometimes just a misunderstanding. I have done two college papers on "date rape". Often, it boils down to "two hormone- and alcohol- soaked kids who failed to effectively communicate". Yeah, let's encourage some guy to murder the girl after such a tragic misunderstanding in a desperate attempt to save his own life.

.
OT: I'm all for the death penalty for rape. Date rape may be dicey, but violent, beat-the-crap out of the victim rape is not. It ruins lives, it takes every shred of self-esteem away from the victim, whether the victim is male or female.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

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Consequences, consequences.......the reason the shootees were stealing the car in the first place is because:

A: They probally thought they'd get away with it.

B: If caught, the legal system would either slap them on the wrists and give them some meager punishment or the case would be so back-logged in the judicial system, that they would either have time to disappear and/or steal another car in the process.

C: Insert your scenario here___________.

This country is becoming so messed up that if the victim takes action against the offender, then the offender is seen as the victim. Then the court system pulls this sympothy card out, like the offender is the victim and the real victim is some monster that should be locked away for life.

Come on, this is pure Bull Malarky :-@

If somebody is coming into my place to rob me, they better expect to get shot and killed because we all know what happens if they live, you'll get sued. I would expect the same if I was stealing somebody's car. This goes for any act against me. If your going to try and rob me when I'm walking down the street, expect to either get your gullet split open or your face bashed in. I'm sick of society trying to paint a picture of tolerance, when its okay for a offender to rob you, but its irrehensible for you to fight back.

Shame on the system and society. :eek:|
 

Zoning Goddess

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Well, the guy who had the car almost stolen will probably be skewered in court because he had a "customized" Honda which attracted the thiefs, like an attractive nuisance, or like a rape victim wearing a short skirt.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

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Zoning Goddess said:
Well, the guy who had the car almost stolen will probably be skewered in court because he had a "customized" Honda which attracted the thiefs, like an attractive nuisance, or like a rape victim wearing a short skirt.
Thats pure BS, but your probally right, they are always looking for the "well you were asking for it" defense.
 

Wulf9

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Rumpy Tunanator said:
I'm sick of society trying to paint a picture of tolerance, when its okay for a offender to rob you, but its irrehensible for you to fight back.

Shame on the system and society. :eek:|
There are always "rules of engagement." Police and soldiers are trained to use restraint because they have more lethal force than those around them. A gun owner has the same responsibility. It is not "okay" for someone to rob you. But it is also not okay to shoot a fleeing burglar in the back. That is not "fighting back." It is criminal misuse of a deadly weapon.

The rules are different when there is a threat to your safety or your family's safety.

In a society where gun ownership is deemed a right, responsibility and rules of engagement become extremely important. I don't favor the wholesale gun ownership we now have. But if we are to have it, each gun owner should have strict responsibility for the management and use of their weapon.
 
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Sorry if this is "hijacking the thread".

Zoning Goddess said:
OT: I'm all for the death penalty for rape. Date rape may be dicey, but violent, beat-the-crap out of the victim rape is not. It ruins lives, it takes every shred of self-esteem away from the victim, whether the victim is male or female.
ZG, I used to feel the exact same way. Then I had a baby boy. I felt strongly that if I did not change deeply, he would have no hope of growing up psychologically healthy. I re-entered therapy and began a long, strange journey. Sexual assault can be recovered from. To a greater degree than most people seem to realize. I have guided a few women in that journey. And I no longer see myself as defined by what "they" did to me. I am defined by what I choose to do with my life's experiences. To quote Aldous Huxley: "Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you."

Violent, beat the crap out of the victim rape is a situation where the outdated laws of Georgia get used to give someone 128 counts of this, that, and the other. I think that is a societally healthier way to handle such things. The vast majority of rapes do not fall in that category. When they do studies, what they find is that if you ask a room full of women how many of them have been "raped", half or less will raise their hand. If you ask "How many of you have had sex against your will, after saying 'no'?", something like 90% raise their hands. But I have two sons. So, the other side of the coin is never far from my mind. I know of cases where women threatened to “scream rape” if _______(fill in the blank).

Sexual ethics are incredibly tough and complex issues. I do not believe it benefits women as individuals or the "women's lib" movement or society to take an extremist position on such matters. Because of my own personal life’s journey, I simply can't advocate the death penalty for “rape”. It is antithetical to all that I have learned about how one recovers fully. But I also believe that the kind of assault you describe goes way beyond mere “rape” and can be handled based on the degree of violence involved and not specifically that it revolved around a lack of sexual consent (the cornerstone of the definition of rape).

But there is this fact too: countries that torture prisoners universally assault the genitals of the person. To quote the blind priest from the Kung Fu tv show: “The tongue that laughs also screams.” The ability to experience great pain and great pleasure are inseparable – and we all contain those two extremes within our sex, physically and psychologically.

In other words: what you describe is rarely about “sex” per se.

When I was in therapy, I often shared my thoughts and therapeutic process with a close friend. At about the time I stopped doing therapy, she filed for divorce. Her estranged husband kidnapped, choked, tortured, beat, and raped her for 4 hours for the crime of leaving him (and had bought a gun, stalked her with every intent to kill her, etc). When I returned from Germany, where I had been while in therapy and where I still was when she was assaulted, I told her that I felt bad for “not being there” for her in her hour of need. I felt that I had failed her. Her reply to me was “But you WERE there: Even while he was beating and raping me, because of the things you had shared with me during therapy, I knew that it didn’t matter if it was his penis or his fist that hurt me. It was not about sex. It was about hurting me.”

The night of the attack, she slept in her boyfriend’s bed, at his home. They very gently made love the next day, with her bruised from head to toe and looking like hell. They later married. Her sex life hardly missed a beat – in spite of the fact that she was so traumatized that she experienced Post Traumatic Shock – flashbacks, the whole nine yards. She refers to the assault as “I was murdered”. And she genuinely isn’t the same person she used to be. It did, in a very real way, utterly destroy her. But she knew it was not about “sex” and that protected her in some fundamental way.

She taught me that I am not defined by what men did to me, I am defined by what I do with my life. I am not a victim. I am a shield. And innocent men need to be shielded as well, from the bottomless rage of women who have been put through hell at the hands of some monster who just happened to be male. Decent men played a very big role in my journey of healing. Decent men do not need to live with the terror that some misunderstanding or unjust accusation might cost them their life because they were born the wrong gender to merit protection under the law. Women are not going to become safer by making this world less civilized generally.

The men who healed me took serious risks to do so, if only because I was filled with so much rage that I was genuinely a dangerous person to get close to. I can only assume that it would have been that much harder to find men to help me heal in a climate of general terror where simply having the equipment to commit rape is potentially life-threatening. If attempts are ever made to pass such a law, I might have to reverse my “I am not interested in the News or Politics” laissez-faire attitude and go to “war” against it.

Just my view.
 
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Doitnow

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I wouldn't be the right person to comment on American law but reading that thread made me think similar to Lee .

All reasonable thoughts Lee. I just can help but think that the cumulative economic, social, emotional and physical effects of crime upon the undeserving of our society would be dramatically lower if it was made clear to potential criminals (i.e. everyone) that the punishment of society will be so swift, devastating and unfeeling that no one but the mentally ill would commit crimes. To badly misquote John Lennon, "Imagine if there were no thieves...because we killed them all."
If examples have to be made then people like Mr. Song will be sacrificed again and again. The examples take a toll on both the committer as well as the victim. If its a larger socio-economic and cultural problem then it has to addressed at that level opnly. I doubt if deaths like this will actually deter a large number of potential car thieves from doing it again and again.
For example Mr song could have fired in the air, warned them. What I would like to knaw is that did he really take an aim and shoot or it just happened.
I think the best way to balance it is to punish Mr. Song with a lighter sentence and not the life sentence.

If you take a stance then its no longer a catch-22 really.


P.S I am sure that the partner in crime who got away may think twice before stealing another car though. ;-)
 

Cardinal

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You steal, you die. It sounds fair to me. The guy probably has a long criminal record, but he won't be committing any more crimes or hurting innocent people any more.

I suppose if I found somebody stealing my car I might take out a knee first. I am a good shot and confident in my ability to hit what I want. But if they were breaking into my house or if I thought they were armed, they get it in the head.

Ultimately, I believe that people have the right to defend themselves and their property against criminals.
 

Wulf9

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Cardinal said:
You steal, you die. It sounds fair to me.

Ultimately, I believe that people have the right to defend themselves and their property against criminals.

I hate to keep jumping into this thread, but are you really thinking about what you are saying.

Let's say you have a 10-yar old child, who, as a prank, goes out with some friends to steal a bunch of ugly pink flamingos from a neighbor's front yard. The neighbor shoots and kills two or three, including your child.

Who would you think did the right thing? From the above quotes, you would defend the flamingo owner's right to kill your child.

That's why we have a justice system. It gets to evaluate the crime, the criminals, the evidence and the intent -- then mete out punishment equivalent to the crime.

That's why the LA shooter is going to be prosecuted. He was the illegal judge, jury, and executioner for a crime that does not deserve the death penalty.
 

el Guapo

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Wulf9 said:
That's why we have a justice system. It gets to evaluate the crime, the criminals, the evidence and the intent -- then mete out punishment equivalent to the crime.
Not really. It sucks and justice has nothing to do with it. :)
 
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Wulf9 said:
That's why the LA shooter is going to be prosecuted. He was the illegal judge, jury, and executioner for a crime that does not deserve the death penalty.
Respectfully, I would like to point out this comment strikes me as you presuming to be "judge and jury": you were not even there. You do not know how much danger the individual was in or what indications he might have had that he was in real danger. Often, the only way to "prove" your intuition and insight is correct is to go ahead and die so the nay-sayers will be on your side and feel that, yea, verily, the person who murdered you for your car was, indeed, a very dangerous person, etc.

That is part of why I have not commented specifically on this particular case: I have not bothered to read the article because ONE news articel does not begin to tell the story. I took a journalism class and I have been trained to write by my sister, who has a degree in journalism. I have a pretty good idea of how news gets written -- and "the facts, just the facts" is NOT it. :)
 

Wulf9

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Michele Zone said:
Respectfully, I would like to point out this comment strikes me as you presuming to be "judge and jury": you were not even there. You do not know how much danger the individual was in or what indications he might have had that he was in real danger. Often, the only way to "prove" your intuition and insight is correct is to go ahead and die so the nay-sayers will be on your side and feel that, yea, verily, the person who murdered you for your car was, indeed, a very dangerous person, etc.

That is part of why I have not commented specifically on this particular case: I have not bothered to read the article because ONE news articel does not begin to tell the story. I took a journalism class and I have been trained to write by my sister, who has a degree in journalism. I have a pretty good idea of how news gets written -- and "the facts, just the facts" is NOT it. :)
Thanks. I stand corrected. I was responding to the "facts" as presented in the original post.
 

Wulf9

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el Guapo said:
Not really. It sucks and justice has nothing to do with it. :)
Perhaps. But I prefer it to the "I have the right to shoot anyone that appears to be a thief" type of justice. I think California's legal and penal system is wrong. Too many people are in prison. The Republicans want them in prison because of law and order. The Democrats (Gray Davis in particular) wanted them in prison to give jobs to the prison unions. (The latter is criminal in my mind.) But I would like to correct that through law, rather than "right to shoot" justice.
 

BKM

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el Guapo said:
Not really. It sucks and justice has nothing to do with it. :)
Its still far better than the example Wulf gave. (random vigilante justice).
 
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