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Law professor, blogging icon, and all-around nice guy Glenn Reynolds was suspended from Twitter last night, apparently for this tweet (the original is still deleted):
Some context here: If you watch the linked video or other video from that night, you’ll see that the
looters and rioters peaceful protesters were stopping cars and looting the contents of trucks on the freeway. This went beyond what we’ve seen before in such situations, and there was (and is) a very real threat that the riots would start to pull the passengers out of the vehicles, out, Reginald Denny-style.
Instapundit was booted from Twitter for suggesting that people facing such violence should power through it, and I agree with him. While I am not a lawyer like he is, it’s generally assumed you can use lethal force to defend yourself if you are in fear for your life or grievous bodily harm, in or outside of your domicile, and you pretty much have no “duty to retreat” when you in are in your domicile.
(You’re in your home. Where else would you go? If it’s your home, you’re allowed to defend it, and defend the lives of those with you.)
But when your life is in peril while you’re in your car, you can use deadly force to keep yourself from dying at the hands of a mob. Protestors waving flags and shouting? No problem, carry on. Protestors climbing on your car? Scary, but not life-threatening. Protestors screaming and trying to open your car doors? Different matter altogether.
Imagine the same thing happening in your home, with someone banging on the door and saying they and their friends are going to kill you: Would you consider using lethal force if necessary? Most people would say “Yes,” and that was exactly what the people on that Charlotte freeway were facing last night.
As I see it, Glenn Reynolds was right to advocate that people who are unintentionally caught in such violence use the means at their disposal to leave the area and go to a place of safety. To suggest anything else would be turning innocent people into victims.
Update: Reynolds is back on Twitter.