The good citizen defends his castle. Punks, thieves, thugs, and rapists don’t stand a chance against a 44 Magnum in the hands of the good guy who stands his ground. That is the myth. The reality is that America’s love affair with guns and lethal self-defense has not made America safer, just more violent and more afraid.
Harvard Professor Caroline Light explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original “duty to retreat” from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her book, Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense, Professor Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories—from the original “castle laws” of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of “criminal” Black bodies during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.
Unlike the mythology of Dirty Harry and redemptive violence, America’s stand your ground culture and laws that accompany it do not protect the vulnerable against Mr. Stranger Danger. Just the opposite.
Professor Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable.
The Nag Hammadi library discovered in 1945 has provided a number of alternative Christian texts. They were not included in the Bible. Dr. Celene Lillie discusses three of these texts in her book, The Rape of Eve: The Transformation of Roman ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis. In each of these texts, “On the Origin of the World,” “The Reality of the Rulers,” and “The Secret Revelation of John,” Eve is portrayed as having been humiliated by the cosmic powers but experiences restoration.
They have been dismissed by many orthodox Christians as Gnostic or even heresy.
New scholarship has discovered that these texts are quite complex, even playful, as they provide alternative myths to the founding myths of Rome. She sees these Nag Hammadi stories are myths of resistance to Roman imperial power and to Rome’s culture of rape and domination.
Dr. Lillie is the director of the Tanho Center in Longmont, Colorado. The Tanho Center is dedicated to the exploration of the many discoveries of texts from the earliest Christ movements. The Tanhoe Center incorporates recently discovered texts into contemporary practices. Dr. Lillie was the Director of Translations for A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts and the coauthor of The Thunder: Perfect Mind: A New Translation and Introduction.
Justin Dillon is a former musician turned filmmaker and social entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Made in A Free World, a platform that brings together consumers, organizations, and businesses to dismantle the 150 billion dollar business of human trafficking. His latest book is titled A Selfish Plan to Change the World: Finding Big Purpose in Big Problems. His message to all of us, Find Your Riot.