Rock ‘n’ Roll icon Ted Nugent in a interview with the Rolling Stone in February described how he celebrates Black History Month every day because his “fire-breathing musical career was literally launched by Black musical thundergods,” including Bo Diddley, Little Richard, James Brown, Wilson Pickett and more.
The pro-National Rifle Association member is in the midst of his Black Power 2013 concert tour.
He has also described how Black-on-Black crime is epidemic. According to Nugent, our inner cities are cesspools of gangland violence. Cities such as Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and so many others see young Black men gunned down by other young Black men on a nightly basis. Interestingly, these “gun-free zone” cities have been controlled by Democratic mayors for years, often decades.
“All too often Black children are now raised in single-parent households with no father,” Nugent said. “Almost 75 percent of Black kids are now raised in a single-parent households. What a pity, what a shame!
“And so it was (for sic) a few weeks until the race-baiting industry saw an opportunity to further the racist careers of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, et al, who then swept down on the Florida community refusing to admit that the 17-year-old dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe Trayvon Martin was at all responsible for his bad decisions and standard modus operandi of always taking the violent route.”
Dan Fessler, Ph.D., an anthropologist and head of the UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture, believes irresponsible statements like this further paint a picture of the “Black Male Thug,” and does more harm in creating a picture of negativity regarding African American males. He believes this type of rhetoric worked to the advantage of the defense team in the George Zimmerman murder trial.
Fessler is currently conducting research partially funded by the Air Force dealing with assessing threats against the U.S.? Participants are shown images of a set of hands holding objects such as caulking guns, power drills, a large saw and a hand gun. Even though the hand belongs to the same person, when they were lighter complexioned (non-Black), viewers report that the hands holding the gun looked larger in photographs.
However, when a participant was shown an image of hands belonging to a person of African descent holding a drill, people said the image gave the impression of a more menacing individual than the image of lighter-complexioned person holding a gun, even though the lighter-complexioned hands were larger.
“The important thing to remember here is that we are trying to explore people’s perceptions as opposed to how they view the world through their eyes …” Fessler said. “That is, how they store and manage information in their heads. So we think that people form a mental image, a little picture in their heads of others in situations of potential violent conflict. And that summarizes all the different features of the other individual that contribute to how dangerous they might be to the observer. Then you inject race and the media perception of the African American male as a component of the stimuli.
“So, every time you have a piece of information that tells you this person might be dangerous, each of those pieces of information makes that little picture seem larger and more muscular in your mind. And then when it comes time to make a decision, you don’t need to pay attention to all the information that contributed to the shape and size of the image, you just pay attention to the image and integrate that with memory. Most African American males have been viewed in the media as a threat since slavery, from the turn-of-the-century newsprint to the Electronic Age of present day.
“The logic behind this research is for the military to determine how Third World inhabitants take sides during a conflict. Often alliances are solely based on power, or who will win a conflict.”
Fessler says the research is in its infancy and it’s not possible to measure fear at this time. But maybe one day it could be applied to legal cases similar to Trayvon Martin’s.
Oscar Grant’s family attorney, John L. Burris, believes the Zimmerman trial changed drastically when the defense called Zimmerman’s neighbor as a witness. Her home had recently been burglarized by an African American teenager. After that statement, according to Burris, it became a civil rights case. The prosecution became the defense and had to defend the idea that Trayvon Martin was a decent kid.
Patricia A. Wallace, Ph.D., a noted Michigan-based clinical psychologist, has had an issue with the Stand Your Ground law since its inception in 2005 in Florida. She says “fear is generally described as a basic emotion occurring in response to an arousal or sensation that invokes a unique response within each individual. She believes fear of certain people or situations can be learned and is easily explained by theories of conditioning. The level or degree of fear an individual perceives is dependent on his or her personal history, and the circuitry of the brain. Personal fear ranges in degrees from mild caution to extreme phobias.
Wallace’s concern is that the range of ways that a claim of reasonable fear can be interpreted provides extraordinary opportunities for misinterpretation. She believes a quantitative or numerical range should assigned to fear, if Stand Your Ground proponents would agree, but they refuse to discuss it. This numerical range would allow a forensic psychologist to prove whether an individual was scared enough to take a life.
They would then realize that by employing a standard measurement, the possibilities of misuse of the genuine intent of the law are lessened tremendously.
Valerie J. Callanan, Ph.D., at the University of Akron, specializes in critical criminology, corrections, media and public opinion of crime, and two of her abstracts are entitled “An exploration of Gender Differences in Measurement of Fear of Crime” and “The Influence of Media on Penal Attitudes.”
Her research examines the influence of crime-related media reporting on public opinion of crime and crime control.
Callanan believes the prosecution in the Martin trial may have made a mistake by allowing a majority of females to serve as jurors on the case, an opinion she bases on her research of fear and motherhood. Fear is a basic evolutionary emotion that females may be more susceptible to, she believes.
Many academic studies, particularly in feminist criminology, have theorized that women are more fearful of crime than men, although they are less often victimized. Indeed, women seem in general more fearful of all kinds of events that might imply a physical injury. The gender differences of fear could not be explained by an understanding that fear is a result of boys taking more risks than girls. The majority of studies dealing with the emotion of fear concluded that the observed gender differences may be the result of sexual selection that favor risk-taking and status fights among males, and being cautious and protecting one’s offspring among females.
The female jurors in the Zimmerman trial have children and are concerned with maintaining a safe surrounding for their children. Callanan says this may have overruled the belief that because the female jurors have kids they will side with the grieving mother that has lost a child. There is also the other issue of how African American males are viewed. If Martin had been a Black female would the verdict have been the same?
Jody David Armour, Ph.D., a USC Law School professor, was asked his views on the not-guilty verdict. He believes most jurors are told to focus on such questions as whether the victim initiated the confrontation, was the victim armed, was the victim committing a crime that led to the confrontation, did the defendant pursue the victim, could the defendant have retreated to avoid the conflict, did someone witness the attack and was there physical evidence?
“When one looks at self-defense laws you would think typically that you can only use legal force to avert a lethal attack, but there are stipulatory principles built into the self-defense law in different states,” he said. “Florida is one of them,” making Stand Your Ground a very confusing concept for jurors.
“An experienced attorney can use the self-defense laws even when a life isn’t in danger, just to stand your ground and win. So it’s applicable not only when your life is in danger, but also when you think that you’re threatened …,” he said. “This is a bombshell when you take into account how Black males are seen as a threat throughout the nation by Whites. Whether it’s a learned behavior from media or culture, the self-defense law could lead to open season on African American males, whose presence may intimidate others.”
If you look at these past Stand Your Ground cases, by injecting race or reversing the race of the defendant or assailant and taking into consideration the geographical location of most Stand Your Ground trials—the South—the outcome can be polarized Blacks get convicted at a higher rate than Whites.
One can only ponder the outcome of the trial involving the shooting of Jordan Davis, Armour said, referring to the Nov. 23, 2012, shooting of the 17-year-old African American. The killing took place at Gate Gas Station in Jacksonville, Duval County, Fla. It involved a legally armed 45-year-old White male, Michael David Dunn, who pulled into a gas station parking lot and parked next to a black SUV with tinted windows that may have been playing loud music. Dunn asked Davis, a passenger in the back seat, to turn the music down.
There were words exchanged, and Dunn pulled a gun and shot at least eight times the SUV. Dunn said he fired in self-defense because he saw a shotgun and didn’t know how many people were in the SUV.
He said he didn’t think he hit anyone so he just left the scene and drove 159 miles to his home in Brevard County. Davis was hit twice and killed. No one else in the SUV was injured and no weapon was found at the scene. Dunn was arrested the following day and charged with murder and attempted murder. A Stand Your Ground motion is expected. Trial is pending.