"That's Specious Reasoning, Representative"

Many of you will know this classic scene from The Simpsons, when Homer celebrates the expensive "Bear Patrol" created by city government as an overreaction to a single bear getting into the city:

Homer: Not a bear in sight.  The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
 Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
 Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
 Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
 Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
 Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
        [Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
        [Lisa refuses at first, then takes the exchange]

Another person who would like to buy Lisa's rock is Florida state representative Dennis Baxley:

"Every time you have an adverse incident, immediately the anti-gun faction will say this law is the problem," Baxley, a Republican, said, adding that violent crime in Florida has dropped since its implementation. "As public policy, it is fulfilling its purpose and working well. The perpetrators know everyone has the right to defend themselves. … I think that has been a strong deterrent."

On its face, the idea that a declining rate of violent crime proves that the Stand Your Ground law is a "strong deterrent" is specious for the same reason as Homer's arguments about the Bear Patrol. New York's violent crime rates have decreased much more dramatically without a Stand Your Ground law. So to use Baxley's own standards, a law that essentially (at least as applied) requires the state to take even the most implausible and uncorroborated claim of self-defense as the gospel truth actually has a strong anti-deterrent effect.

But, of course, it's even worse than that. As the article goes on to note, "[s]ince the law was enacted in 2005, the number of justifiable homicides in Florida has skyrocketed." Arbitrarily classifying a number of murders as not-crimes is a good way to reduce reported violent crime rates, but it doesn't actually reduce violence. The fact that George Zimmerman hasn't been arrested doesn't make Trayvon Martin any less of a victim of violence.  

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