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Science & Social Justice

Science often gets framed as outside the discourse on social justice. After all, it is 'objective' research. What does biology, chemistry and computer science have to do with issues like gender equity, racism, homophobia, and wealth disparity? There are scientists of conscience working to answer these questions and to incorporate their findings into research approaches and pedagogy. This page is a collaboration between the ACSJL and Harvard University's DIVISION OF MEDICAL SCIENCES OF HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL.

Standing Our Ground

By Regina Stevens-Truss, Contributing Editor, Science and Social Justice

When did we lose our humanity and accept circumstances in which we are allowed to say, “I have a right to be here and to prove that I’m going to shoot you”?  As I ponder on the multitude of “stand your ground” laws that have been enacted in states across the country, I agree, in one sense, that we all have a right to be wherever we want to be. In fact, the Declaration of Independence gives all Americans the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” After all, this is the United States of America, the welcoming land, is it not? What I disagree with is this:

“The law removes a person’s duty to retreat before using deadly force against another in any place he has the legal right to be – so long as he reasonably believed he or someone else faced imminent death or great bodily harm.”

 

But if we all step back and think about this law, it suggests that retreating is equivalent to cowardice, which is ridiculous. When one is faced with a life or death situation, retreating can be the wise and brave thing to do.

Okay, so I can imagine what you might be thinking right about now: “not another piece on Florida’s stand your ground cases.” But rest assured, what I actually want to suggest is that there are other important issues we should stand our ground on: education, health, and climate change. With so many pressing issues of life and death in the world today, perhaps if laws existed that prevented us from ignoring people’s needs, we would be better off.

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