Stand Your Mango
New Florida “Law”—The Mango Doctrine
It’s no accident that while the George Zimmerman trial for shooting Travon Martin festers away in Sanford that I’ve been thinking about the Castle Doctrine. It’s a law in more than half of the states in our country and it is simple: You don’t have to leave your home if said home is being attacked. Florida and other states step a bit past the Castle Doctrine and have the Stand Your Ground, Line in the Sand, or No Duty to Retreat laws. Those laws mean that if you are somewhere you have a right to be and an assailant presents him/herself, neither must you retreat nor do you break the law if it becomes necessary to use deadly force to protect yourself or your property in said place.
I’ve made up my mind regarding how I feel about Zimmerman (he’s guilty of murder), but I haven’t quite made up my mind about just how far the Castle Doctrine should go—and just how far citizens should go when enforcing the law to protect themselves and their property or to suit their own purposes.
A case in point was presented to me on a recent walk to a neighborhood park in Vero Beach. Across the sidewalk, that doctrine question reared a rather ugly aspect of its head. The sign in the front yard was clear: Mangos 4 Sale. The tree wasn’t lush with mangos weighting the branches. Few were even visible. But the property owner made it clear that mangos were for sale. I had no trouble translating the Spanish No and Nada. I figured Toca was a variation on take. In other words: Don’t steal the mangos. If you want one, buy it. The 357 Magnum text (for which I needed no translation) underscored the Don’t Steal the Mangos message and made it perfectly clear that Toca would not be tolerated.
I don’t know much about guns, but I gather that a 357 Magnum is a powerful weapon. I’m clear that it’s powerful enough to kill someone. And that’s where I have a problem with this property owner’s Stand Your Mango Law, or what I call the Mango Doctrine. I know about growing fruit and vegetables and flowers. I’ve been doing it for years and became a master gardener in Massachusetts. I understand the frustration a grower feels during that early-morning garden check when it’s obvious that the deer have once again eaten half of what I’ve planted. I understand that anger when I see a once ready-to-bloom sunflower minus the top eight inches of the plant. I no longer feel the “Oh, look that the pretty deer” sentiment when I see them frolicking in a field. All I think about is the incredible amount of damage they can do to a garden, a field, a backyard. I also think about the carnage they inflict on the highways when they blast in front of a car that doesn’t have enough time to stop before dashboard meets deer. But not once have I felt the need to pick up a gun to solve the deer problem.
Instead, I had males mark my garden territory. I left my dogs out as long as possible at night during the growing season. I wished for a fence—a tall, sturdy fence. When none of the above worked, and because I wasn’t desperate to feed my family with my garden, I left the deer alone and bought my seasonal veggies at a farmer’s market. Should I decide to garden again for food, I will build a fence, because even my meager attempts at a food garden in Florida have been digested by other creatures in the night.
I don’t like my gardening efforts stolen or otherwise taken, but I believe a 357 Mango Magnum (or even the threat of one) is extreme. I cannot imagine that a mango is worth any human life. If a mango is worth a life, then I imagine Florida could add several new laws to its Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground Law: Stand Your Mango, Stand Your Orange, Stand Your Grapefruit, Stand Your Tangerine, Stand Your Strawberry. Other states could follow suit: Georgia—Stand Your Peach; Washington State—Stand Your Apple; Vermont—Stand Your Maple; Maine—Stand Your Lobster; New Jersey—Stand Your Tomato; Louisiana: Stand Your McIlhenny Tabasco Sauce; California—Stand Your Carrot; Idaho—Stand Your Potato. The only way such violent aspects of such proposed laws would end is when a life ends. The existing laws have merit, indeed, and I’m for protecting my home and myself, whether within or without my castle. But that protection extends to the walls and to my personal space. If someone wants a mango of mine enough to steal it, they can have it.