Around the time that Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, there was quite a bit of talk about so-called “stand-your-ground” laws. Those laws, along with so-called “Castle” laws have contributed to the killing of scores of young people over property violations, poor judgement, and long-standing ill will toward anyone who is not white, middle class, or a member of one’s group. These laws and others like them may have been brewing in the basement of someone’s mind for some time, but they certainly got a boost among the ALEC crowd.
For Wisconsin proponents of these laws, I would remind them that the Dakota Sioux, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Fox, and Sauk tribes hold this ground. They, and not ALEC, should be consulted about holding ground.
When I teach my psychology class at the university, I introduce myself as Dr. Gary Hollander, and I ask that they call me Dr. Hollander or Gary. Not “Professor,” because I am not one. Not “Sir,” because I am not one, either. I offer to call any student by their preferred name and stick to that pledge. So, when someone calls me “Sir” of “Professor,” I ask them to address me as I have asked.
Why such a stickler for protocol? I believe that outside the military or in certain government positions, the antiquated use of the term Sir expresses a system of rank that does not apply in the vast majority of cases. The term supports the notion of entitled property, castles, and protections that are unnecessary and harmful.
Our free floating fears have become attached to people who are harmless to our persons. Instead of admitting we are afraid, we now announce we don’t feel safe, implying an environmental change is needed instead of a self-assessment. We defend ground that is not ours and protect our castles that exist only in our imaginations.