I wrote earlier about the Tony Martin case. Martin shot a fleeing burglar in the back and left him to die. He was convicted of murder (reduced to manslaughter on appeal). Pro-gunners such as John Lott, Glenn Reynolds and John Derbyshire have written about the Martin case, apparently unaware of the facts that showed that the killing was not in self defence, and proceeded to make bogus claims that self defence was against the law in Britain. Claims which they have never bothered to correct.
Last week this story appeared in the Scotsman:
A man who stabbed to death an armed intruder at his home was jailed for eight years today. Carl Lindsay, 25, answered a knock at his door in Salford, Greater Manchester, to find four men armed with a gun. When the gang tried to rob him he grabbed a samurai sword and stabbed one of them, 37-year-old Stephen Swindells, four times.
Now, there are two possible explanations for Lindsay’s conviction:
- The jury knew more facts that those which appeared in the brief story and these showed that the killing was not in self defence.
- Self defence is illegal in the UK.
The reaction from bloggers was swift and extensive. At the time of writing, Technorati reports 61 blogs linking to the story, all going for explanation 2, none even considering the possibility that the killing was not self defence.
John Derbyshire called it the “Outrage of the week”. Glenn Reynolds expressed disappointment “at this barbaric infringement of human rights”. John Lott reckoned that it showed that there wasn’t a right to self defence in Scotland (apparently he thinks that Manchester is in Scotland). James Taranto said that Lindsay should have instead been “hailed as a hero”. Jerry Scharf claimed “Self defence outlawed because it deprives criminals of their livelyhood”. Michael Demmon called it a “moronic sentence”. Dean Esmay called the Brits “bloody well insane”. Dozens more bloggers expressed similar sentiments.
However, when more details emerged, it became likely that explanation 1 was the right one and the killing was not defensive. Lindsay was actually a drug dealer, and more importantly, Swindells had been stabbed four times in the back while fleeing. The reaction to this was mixed. Commendably, some updated their original posts and corrected their mistaken conclusions. Esmay and Demmon fall into this category. Some just ignored the new information. Derbyshire, Lott and Scharf fall into this category. Taranto adds an update that mentions the drug dealer part but doesn’t mention the more important fact that Lindsay literally backstabbed Swindell. Reynolds updates and mentions the new information, but instead of correcting his original opinion insists that it doesn’t really make a difference—just like in the Martin case, he is sure that the UK does not allow self-defence and all evidence to the contrary is ignored or discounted.
I guess we’ll see if these bloggers have learned from this and are less quick to jump to incorrect conclusions the next time a similar case comes along.
Update: Glenn Reynolds has added another update where he writes:
Matt Rustler notes that while the English shooting may have been good or not, it’s not clearly a bad call based on the additional available evidence.
True, but the additional evidence does not contradict the original story in any way. That is, it wasn’t clearly a bad call based on the original story either.