The Lunacy of Caitlin Dickson

This was on the front page of Yahoo.

A simple errand turned violent for Clarence Daniels this week when he went to Walmart for some coffee creamer and wound up in a chokehold.

Upon arriving at the Walmart in Florida’s Hillsborough County on Tuesday, the 62-year-old Daniels, who is black, grabbed his handgun from his car and slipped it into a hip holster underneath his coat. Watching this from inside the store was Michael Foster, a 43-year-old white man described by the Tampa Bay Times as “a well-intentioned vigilante.” As soon as Daniels walked into the store, Foster tackled him, shouting, “He’s got a gun!” Ignoring Daniels’ repeated yells of, “I have a permit!” Foster proceeded to put him into a chokehold. When sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, they confirmed that Daniels was indeed a concealed carry permit holder and Foster was arrested and charged with battery.

Think about the thousands of crime stories you read where the race of the perpetrator is never mentioned. Here, the race of the victim is mentioned first. If you have any awareness at all, you know what’s coming.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the scuffle, which might explain why the incident was not widely covered and why the local coverage chalked it up to an honest misunderstanding. And maybe it was an honest misunderstanding. But Foster’s instinct to take matters into his own hands and attack a man he thought might pose a threat to his fellow Walmart shoppers pulls into focus the state of vigilantism in the U.S., and Florida in particular.

As long as the U.S. has existed, so too have vigilantes: civilians who, with no legal authority, take it upon themselves to enforce laws and punish wrongdoers, typically operating under the assumption that government or police cannot be trusted to do so. Vigilantism, by definition, is illegal. But throughout history, state and federal laws have blurred the lines between what is considered illegal vigilante behavior and what qualifies as justifiable self-defense. Perhaps nowhere else has that line become more blurred in recent years than in Florida, where Tuesday’s Walmart tackle took place.

OK, maybe it was a false alarm. Instead of being a story about evil white people assaulting black bodies, it is a story about evil white men and their vigilantism. or, maybe a story about the dangers of concealed carry laws.

A decade before the country broke into Civil War, the budding abolition movement prompted Congress to pass a collection of bills known as the Compromise of 1850. One of those bills was the Fugitive Slave Act, which, among its provisions, included the requirement that citizens help in catching fugitive slaves. The spread of abolition — and later desegregation—was met with the creation of groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Council, that sought to restore “order” and intimidate civil rights-seeking African-Americans as well as their allies — often through violence.

Though much more loosely organized and existing further out along the societal fringe, racism is still at the heart of today’s larger vigilante groups. Only instead of free blacks and civil rights advocates, modern-day groups like the Minutemen militia target immigrants, sometimes even acting as volunteer Border Patrol agents in an unauthorized effort to crack down on illegal immigration.

Of course. It all makes sense now. Hyper vigilant white guy trying to be a good guy is really another racist like those slavers from last week who built the country on black bodies. Not only that, this incident shows that the very idea of borders and border control is a vestige of white racism!

Of course, not all vigilantes are motivated by race; nor are most of them affiliated with any sort of group. Benjamin John Francis Fodor, better known by his superhero name, “Phoenix Jones,” claimed to have been interested in breaking up brawls when he took to the streets of Seattle armed with a hooded mask, pepper spray and a stun gun before he was arrested in 2011 on four counts of suspected misdemeanor assault.

In attempting to enforce the law, vigilantes like Fodor often end up breaking the law themselves. This recent Walmart case is no exception. Because Florida is a “concealed carry” state, Foster had no legitimate reason to assume that Daniels was breaking the law before asking him to see his concealed carry permit.

Whew! It turns out that not all vigilantes are racists. There are some exceptions, like the one black guy arrested for vigilantism. But otherwise, all the white ones are racists!

In attempting to enforce the law, vigilantes like Fodor often end up breaking the law themselves. This recent Walmart case is no exception. Because Florida is a “concealed carry” state, Foster had no legitimate reason to assume that Daniels was breaking the law before asking him to see his concealed carry permit.

Florida is also, however, a Stand Your Ground state, a wide-ranging self-defense statute best known as the basis for the acquittal of George Zimmerman of the 2012 shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. In the wake of the controversial Zimmerman verdict, Florida lawmakers met last year to clarify that Stand Your Ground does not permit vigilantism. Still, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department’s response to Tuesday’s Walmart incident suggests vigilantes aren’t necessarily discouraged as much as they are urged to patrol responsibly.

You see, even when good-hearted black people break the law it is because the laws were written by white racists. You know, the concealed carry laws are all written by the KKK to facilitate the war on black bodies. C’mon! Everyone knows that!

Given the lunacy on display here, I suppose it is fitting that she winds it up with the Cult’s favorite myth. That is the nonsense about “Stand Your Ground” laws having anything to do with the Zimmerman defense. That was a case of lethal force in self-defense. When a guy is bashing your head against the curb, you get to shoot him. That’s been true for about 15,000 years.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this was written by some angry black person. At least that would make some sense, but that’s not how it goes these days. It was written by a pampered, upper middle-class white girl. As soon as she lands a husband, it is off to Connecticut and a whites-only neighborhood and a lifetime of lecturing the rest of us about racism.

7 thoughts on “The Lunacy of Caitlin Dickson

  1. Speaking of lunacy, did you see where Palin says she is “seriously” considering a 2016 run at the WH? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but — man, she draws the lefty loonies out of the woodwork like nothing else!

    The commenters are _foaming_at_the_mouth_ over at the WaPo.

    She’s rich, pretty, athletic, successful, smarter than the average bear, AND she loves and upholds traditional American values. No wonder they can’t stand her.

    I would vote for her just to see all the commie’s heads exploding like fireworks.

    Walker/Palin or Palin/Walker, 2016 !!

  2. Actually, this is sort of a good thing. A white progressive assaulting a black constitutionalist? In violation of the Constitution?
    This is something that should be pumped up like Ferguson….

  3. It’s always amusing when narratives collide. “He’s black! But he’s got a gun! But he’s black, but but…”

  4. I’d be interesting in knowing how the guy with the gun was dressed. I know we are not “supposed” to judge people based on their clothing, but of course everyone does. Unless of course this is solely about race. Which I don’t know. I’m also thinking that if I had a Concealed Carry permit, that there’s no way I’d allow someone to observe me handling my weapon. If you don’t know the meaning of concealed, perhaps you ought not carry.

  5. “As long as the U.S. has existed, so too have vigilantes[…]”

    Not “since time immemorial”. Not “throughout human history”.

    Vigilantism began in 1776, localized to the U.S.

  6. Maybe not, Z-man. Two out of the twelve articles on her daily beast page are about prison weddings. Maybe she’s got a pen pal on the inside already.

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