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  1. #1

    Default Reasonable Force and Justifiable Homicide

    I was talking with someone at my work a while back, a staff member who is also an American, we were talking about stories in the media about incidents of violence and he'd told me about a news cutting he had from home in which someone in his home state, Washington State, had faced charges relating to his shooting dead with a revolver someone who had jumped him and demanded his wallet, the judge had closed the case and deemed it justifiable homicide.

    This seemed to me like a good indicator of cultural differences between the UK and US, given my knowledge of reasonable force. Here's a link to a good piece about reasonable force in the UK:

    The Law on Using Reasonable Force - Protecting Yourself (UK)

    One of the big factors I consider to be how subjective this is:

    In other words, did he really believe that the only way to prevent himself, or someone else, being harmed was to hurt the attacker?

    This is a question that will have to be answered by the jury. In answering it the jury will take into account both the particular characteristics of the individual – such as their age, gender and relative strength – and the circumstances surrounding their actions. The jury will have to ask whether the average, reasonable person sharing the individual’s characteristics would have acted in the same way if they had been in that situation. However, if the individual suffers from a psychiatric condition which contributed to them acting in the way they did this cannot be used as an excuse and should not be taken into account.
    I think its necessarily so, being attacked is a subjective thing, someone could be a six foot body builder and yet a fairly meek person who would endure punishment rather than meet it out. On the other hand is a jury of peers likely to recognise that? That's were I think culture is important.

    Do you think there is a cultural difference on the topic of defensive violence between the UK and US? If you do which do you think is nearer to being correct?

  2. #2
    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    I don't know too much about the UK's laws honestly, but I can point out that there's differences between the states and canada, or even within the states itself.

    For example, texas boasts, and flat out BRAGS about having the highest rate of death row inmates killed. Down there they LIKE the fact that they kill people, and justifiable homicide would be far easier to 'justify' than in other locations within the same country.



    The better question here, rather than "which do I think is more correct", is "does it matter if I am correct?".

    The answer to that is "not really".

    Culture plays a role in law, otherwise law wouldn't exist as it is an extension of the culture, not the other way around.

    If a culture values life to an abnormally large degree (such as the USA due to long lifespans and low infant mortality rates), then their cultural values will be inclined towards the protection of life for the most part. Things like murder will be harshly punished, and death penalty shall be rarely used except in the most extreme of cases.

    In a third world country, where there's high mortality rate, people rarely live to 40, and life just doesn't mean much, protection of life is not deemed as important to that culture, generally speaking. The death penalty will be used with far more lax controls on its' use, and murder won't be considered nearly as harshly, with far more situations where it will be deemed 'justified' to kill someone.

    I live in canada, I can't legally murder someone because they insulted me. There's some countries in the world where I *COULD*.

    For whot people like to consider as "absolute moral right and wrong", these concepts are anything but. They rely heavily upon the culture at the time and location, and other factors which affect that culture.

    Causing harm to a child is a horrible offense in the usa; in china, they're trying to cut down a massive overpopulation problem... coupled with the fact that they're still pretty sexist there and male children are considered to be more valuable by far due to being able to grow up to work a steady job and pay for their parents' retirement... there's laws in place which restrict or try to prevent the birth of more than 1 child per couple there; and if a couple *DOES* have a female child... it's far from unheard of for them to... 'accidentally dispose' of the child and try again for a male. Due to the situation their culture is in, that is deemed 'technically wrong' but generally turned a blind eye to such as well because it's required for survival in the world which they're forced to live in.

    Over in canada here, we have a declining population... without immigrants, the country would literally fall apart as the birth rate's so low. As such, our laws are quite different from those of china, as are our cultural views which shaped those laws in the first place.

    In short, it doesn't really matter whot I feel is right; my views are tainted by the culture I live within, so do not apply to other peoples' situations which are different than my own.

    So no, it really doesn't matter if I'm correct; I could be 100% absolutely correct on every view I have... for where I live. But across the ocean, the situation may be entirely different and those values may no longer apply in the slightest any longer.

  3. #3
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    I tend to cut homicide in self-defense a lot of slack. It would be nicer not to kill, and I'd like to only injure in such a situation, but I'm not so sure that I would.

    You have the panic of the situation, which can make it hard to assess how threatened you actually are and hard to intentionally avoid killing your assailant.

    Then consider, that your your assailant is getting what he/she bargained for. You were minding your own business. It's innocence vs guilt. We might also assume the the assailant will pose greater threat to society than you will. On top of that, for practical purposes, we just have to expect a human being will attempt to protect its own life. So if it's life and death, I definitely think the assailant should get the death end of the bargain, even if I would otherwise be sympathetic (like with someone raiding out of socio-economic desperation). When we tie this back into the fact that in the moment, you can't be sure how threatened you are, I find killing in self-defense fairly understandable.

    I have seen the argument go to far. Trigger happy people who shoot individuals that meant no harm, or punitive victims who pursue fleeing criminals and murder them, are not justified to me because they are neither in serious danger nor are they any longer in a situation where they cannot assess the threat.

    Which country do you think that sounds more like? The USA? I'll tell you one funny thing about American law, though. If you're attacked, you'll probably be in better legal standing if you kill the attacker than if you injur him/her. That might sound weird, but if you kill the attacker, they have no story to tell, no action to take, and you will be assumed justified. But in this ultra-litigious culture of ours, if the attacker lives, he/she can sue you, and actually has a decent chance of winning. This includes people proven guilty of armed robbery, for example.
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    Which country do you think that sounds more like? The USA? I'll tell you one funny thing about American law, though. If you're attacked, you'll probably be in better legal standing if you kill the attacker than if you injur him/her. That might sound weird, but if you kill the attacker, they have no story to tell, no action to take, and you will be assumed justified. But in this ultra-litigious culture of ours, if the attacker lives, he/she can sue you, and actually has a decent chance of winning. This includes people proven guilty of armed robbery, for example
    The funny thing about this is that is its probably the safest thing to do, I remember someone I know who used to teach safety and self defence classes for professionals with an emphasis upon escape, evasion and avoidance and de-escalation to begin with, they would say that if a serious struggle developed that the very, very worst thing that could happen would be that you would pull your punches or endure an attack or sexual assault out of fear of prosecution or legal consequences.

    The reasons why he used to say this were two fold, he'd say first the attacker isnt going to pull their punches, if you manage to injure them they're not likely to give up, give in or become resigned but would, should they recover, redouble their efforts (he used to use films like Wolf Creek as examples to illustrate this, although that is an extreme, extreme circumstance), the other being that it can result in a loss of credibility in the jury of your peers situation.

    I always find the "I'd shoot them in the leg" idea (metaphorically speaking) a bit mad, attackers and assailants are hard hearted or predatory, they're a different sort to the kind of person who will in all likelihood be fending them off and they count on that. So I'd say confronted by a situation were someone attacks with a weapon or serious intent it is complete madness to attempt to use an economy of force.

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    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Yeah, the whole "shoot in the leg" thing is unreasonable. If you're going to use a gun to defend yourself, you shoot to kill every time. You also take that responsibility while carrying the gun.

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