An excerpt from the New York Times' story on Oscar Pistorius today:
Mr. Pistorius said he and Ms. Steenkamp had gone to bed early on Wednesday night, but in the middle of the night he heard a noise from the bathroom and went to investigate...This underlines precisely the point I was making earlier regarding feeling at risk and actually being at risk.
"I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes," he said in the affidavit. "I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9-mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night."
Pistorius felt at risk because of Things.
Reeva Steenkamp, however, actually was at risk because of Oscar Pistorius.
That's true whether it was an accident or whether it was murder.
I am not unsympathetic to Pistorius' feelings of insecurity. It is valid to be fearful of home invasions in a high-crime area. It is valid to be fearful after receiving death threats. It is valid to be fearful after having survived trauma. But fear of hypothetical harm is not a valid justification for killing.
Which is something about which we all seem to agree, when it's someone other than a white, straight, cis man doing the killing. In fact, when it's someone other than a white, straight, cis man doing the killing, we seem to have an unreasonably high threshold for what constitutes self-defense.
Funny how that works: The more privileged the shooter, the more inclined we are to define the crime by his intent. The less privileged the shooter, the more inclined we are to define the crime by hir victim's (claimed or presumed) intent. Whoops.
It is imperative that we stop treating feeling at risk and being at risk as the same goddamn thing. I am going to keep making this point until there is nothing left of me but shards of vinyl.