From Pine View Farm

Gradations 0

In a larger discussion about the “warrior gene”* (follow the link–it’s worth your while), Elie Mystal explains the hierarchy of charges involving causing the death of another person.

But law school teaches you that we already have in place a sliding scale of “responsibility.” The law has already thought through the warrior gene question, even though the warrior gene wasn’t known to exist when these legal concepts took root. For the uninitiated, here’s basically how it works:

  • First Degree Murder = You killed people.
  • Second Degree Murder = You killed people, opportunistically.
  • Voluntary Manslaughter = You killed people, but I understand.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter = You’re such a dumbass that you actually killed people.
  • Self-Defense = You killed black people.


*The short version is that a certain gene, if present, alters body chemistry so as to make a person less able to resist impulses. The occasion of Mystal’s post is that the theory is being floated as a mitigating circumstance in a particularly horrific killing. Mystal is arguing that the law already recognises mitigating circumstances.


Comments are closed.