Drug Policy

The Politics of the Murder of Sean Taylor

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Extreme Mortman worries that the shooting death of football player Sean Taylor might end up being politicized:

We'll watch closely to see if conversation about the tragic murder of Redskin Sean Taylor enters the political arena over the next few days.

Along with the immense sorrow we feel for Taylor and his family, we remember the equally devastating (if self-inflicted) cocaine death of Maryland Terrapins basketball superstar Len Bias in 1986.  That horrible incident led Congress to pass drug war legislation.

Mortman recaps the insane legislation that came out of Bias' death here.

Given the unclear circumstances surrounding Taylor's death–he was shot while defending his house during a home-invasion robbery, but not much more is known than that–I think it's unlikely that we'll see anything like a Len Bias response. But if other information comes out, who knows? One thing's for sure: You can never underestimate politicians' ability to exploit private tragedy for public gain.

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  1. I’d like to see legislation outlawing the “he was only shot in the leg” I saw around the Web after the shooting.

  2. What would be the angle? The NRA saying he should have had a Glock instead of a machete?

    I predict a lot of self righteous columnists pontificating on the “thug culture” in sports, but I don’t see a political angle. Not to say that someone wont invent one.

  3. I don’t think it will have a big effect. For one thing, everyone is a lot more jaded about pro athletes than they were in 1986. I’m a huge Redskins fan myself, and I’ll be the first to admit that my first thought upon hearing the news of the shooting was “what has Taylor done now?”

    Sadly for his family, the facts known so far point to this being something other than a burglary gone wrong. I hope I’m wrong about that.

  4. http://www.miamiherald.com/606/story/322222.html

    There is some strange stuff with this murder. The phone lines to his house were cut, and there was a prior recent break-in where the intruder left a knife on his bed. This is purely speculative, but his may have been more than a burglary gone bad.

    Whatever the background to this murder, he was a terrific football player, and while I am no Redskins fan, he was one of the few players on that team that I enjoyed watching. After some rough patches and run-ins with the law, he had appeared to turn his life around after the birth of his daughter. Just sad news

  5. How about legislation preventing the exploitation of someone’s death for purposes of speculative blog articles?

  6. I don’t know what political angle one would find here. He was arrested on felony weapons charges previously, which may explain why he didn’t have a gun if he was convicted of said charges. That would also mean he was following the law (felon = no gun). In this case, it sounds like a gun would have saved him in that he could have shot whoever kicked in his bedroom door instead of only having a machete.

    No matter what, it’s a shame. It would have been much better to have the home invader dying from a gunshot wound.

  7. “One thing’s for sure: You can never underestimate politicians’ ability to exploit private tragedy for public gain.”

    I’d change that to:
    “One thing’s for sure: You can never underestimate politicians’ ability to exploit private tragedy for political gain.”

    Minor quibble, that.

  8. I’d like to see legislation outlawing the “he was only shot in the leg” I saw around the Web after the shooting.

    Kinda reminds me of Band of Brothers, when the guy dies suddenly and unexpectedly from a luger going off accidentally in his leg.

    As Ron Livingston’s character put it, “there’s not much you could have done. You cut that main artery in the leg, that’s it.”

  9. I predict a lot of self righteous columnists pontificating on the “thug culture” in sports, but I don’t see a political angle. Not to say that someone wont invent one.

    “Guns are eeevil. Get rid of guns. If football players have guns they’ll shoot each other. It’s for the children.”

    The bullet severed Taylor’s femoral artery, causing massive blood loss. He underwent seven hours of surgery, and there were some initially optimistic signs after he emerged from the operation early Monday evening. Described at first as “unresponsive and unconscious,” Taylor had squeezed a doctor’s hand and made facial expressions, Redskins officials and a family friend said, providing some hope. But the trauma proved too great. The bleeding “could not really be stopped, only curbed a bit,” Sharpstein said.

    Precisely why we teach concealed carry licensees “shoot to stop” instead of “shoot to wound.” Although 80-85% (depending on the study) of people shot with a handgun survive, deadly force is deadly force.

    Taylor was charged with a felony count of aggravated assault with a firearm for allegedly brandishing a gun in a Miami neighborhood in 2005. Taylor reached a plea agreement and avoided jail time, but was fined $71,764 by the NFL for violating the personal conduct clause of his contract.

    I wonder if there was a “you can’t possess a gun” clause in the agreement.

  10. Somebody will say, “Well if he had been in D.C. where guns are illegal, he’d still be alive.”

  11. Was this a no knock raid at the wrong house?

    On second thought, nah, that kind of stuff never happens, and if it did the cops would fess up immediately.

  12. The only way this could be politicized would be if Taylor had played for some sports-crazy, self-important city whose leaders have the power to pass emotionally-charged, irrational, knee-jerk legislation.

  13. I wonder if there was a “you can’t possess a gun” clause in the agreement.

    A radio show interviewed Taylor’s attorney from that case. He said that there were no restrictions on that, and that Taylor was no longer under any probation, anyway.

  14. A radio show interviewed Taylor’s attorney from that case. He said that there were no restrictions on that, and that Taylor was no longer under any probation, anyway.

    Hmm. That makes me wonder why he didn’t have one, then. It’s not like he wasn’t prone to having weapons. It said he specifically had a machete next to the bed for protection; why not a gun if no restrictions?

  15. And why no gun, especially considering he had just been burgled a week before?

  16. It’s not like he wasn’t prone to having weapons.

    Quibble alert. I’m kinda slow sometimes (most times?), and double negatives always make me stop and reread the phrase before comprehending it. I won’t impose a punishment this time, but …

  17. Episarch, those felony charges were plea bargained down. In fact, one could argue Sean was the victim in that case, trying to retrieve stolen property from thugs. He stupidly brandished a weapon while off his property which led to the charges, but ultimately plea bargained and received no felony conviction.

  18. There is some strange stuff with this murder. The phone lines to his house were cut, and there was a prior recent break-in where the intruder left a knife on his bed. This is purely speculative, but his may have been more than a burglary gone bad.

    Between the knife on the bed a week before and being shot in the groin, my wife’s first reaction was that this sounds like a crazy girlfriend.

    We haven’t heard even close to the full story about this.

  19. And why no gun, especially considering he had just been burgled a week before?

    He didn’t even have a security system at that house, according to the reports I’ve read. Very unusual for a well-paid pro athlete. Previously, he had kept a few pit bulls at the property (who presumably would have had some input against the intruders), but he moved them after they kept burrowing under the fence.

  20. I don’t know how much football players make, but you’d think he’d have the brains to have a great security system.

  21. “Between the knife on the bed a week before and being shot in the groin, my wife’s first reaction was that this sounds like a crazy girlfriend.”

    I was thinking the same thing.

  22. ranra | November 27, 2007, 12:22pm | #
    “Between the knife on the bed a week before and being shot in the groin, my wife’s first reaction was that this sounds like a crazy girlfriend.”

    I was thinking the same thing.

    I was thinking a bad guy from his past coming to mete out revenge, but this makes a lot of sense.

  23. What this is really is a call for strong, effective gun control laws to keep guns out of criminals hands.

  24. Was there a boiled rabbit on the stove?

  25. “Was there a boiled rabbit on the stove?”
    Only then will we know for sure if it was a crazy jealous ex-girlfriend.

  26. Between the knife on the bed a week before and being shot in the groin, my wife’s first reaction was that this sounds like a crazy girlfriend.

    Why risk jail time or death? She could just accuse him of rape, become famous, and settle for millions. Gotta think with your head, not your heart.

  27. Girlfriend’s ex husband/boyfriend. That would explain the groin shot.

  28. “One thing’s for sure: You can never underestimate politicians’ ability to exploit private tragedy for public gain.”

    Since when is a politician gain “public” gain? Try public loss.

  29. “What this is really is a call for strong, effective gun control laws to keep guns out of criminals hands.”

    When guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns.

  30. I’m a huge, life-long Redskins fan and a fan of Taylor’s–terrible tragedy! God comfort his friends and family.

    We don’t know much, but a few things have been reported. …like that days before he was murdered, someone broke into his house and left a kitchen knife on the bed in his bedroom. Now I’m assuming he was using a machete and didn’t have a gun to defend himself because he was on probation.

    …so if there were a government reaction to this, maybe the Supreme Court should allow the residents of Washington D.C. to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves in home invasion robberies? …just a suggestion.

  31. …so if there were a government reaction to this, maybe the Supreme Court should allow the residents of Washington D.C. to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves in home invasion robberies? …just a suggestion.

    In most places that is murder. How about they exercise their right to call the police.

    You are more likely to be accidentially injured than successfully use a gun.

  32. The police exist mostly to investigate homicides, not prevent them.

  33. I would guess he didn’t have a gun in the house because maybe he was afraid of shooting his daughter by accident.

    The jealous lover angle kinda makes sense, but let’s not forget this happened in Florida, where it seems that the batshit crazies outnumber even the immigrants.

  34. In most places that is murder. How about they exercise their right to call the police.

    You are more likely to be accidentially injured than successfully use a gun.

    Very lame attempt at being a troll. You can contemplate this while you’re re-hydrating your whithered taint.

  35. You are more likely to be accidentially injured than successfully use a gun.

    Spoken like a true idiot. OMG GUNZ ARE HARD 2 UZE!

  36. The jealous lover angle kinda makes sense, but let’s not forget this happened in Florida, where it seems that the batshit crazies outnumber even the immigrants.

    Yes, and he lived very near the U. Miami football player that was killed last year.

    Jockicide?

  37. One thing’s for sure: You can never underestimate politicians’ ability to exploit private tragedy for public gain.

    Totally.

    I don’t think the bodies were cold in Blacksburg before the NRA started waving the bloody shirt to condemn colleges that banned guns from campus.

    But that’s different, right?

  38. You are more likely to be accidentially injured than successfully use a gun.

    The figures behind that are based on “use a gun” meaning “fire a gun at an intruder.”

    I’m not one of those wishful-thinking types who extrapolate self-reported figures about “deterring crime” into 70 billion muggings prevented per year by peopling waving their guns around, but that’s just a bogus figure.

  39. “In most places that is murder. How about they exercise their right to call the police.

    You are more likely to be accidentially injured than successfully use a gun.”

    Defending yourself against an armed intruder is murder? Accidentally injured…

    He’s joking! …c’mon guys, even I didn’t fall for that, and I fall for everything!

  40. “You are more likely to be accidentially injured than successfully use a gun.”

    John may actually be right. Though I successfully use a gun every time I go shooting (and have even sucessfully defended myself with one), that doesn’t change the fact that I still smash my thumb with a hammer, sprain my ankle, and sometimes get flashed with a welder.

  41. It was murder. There were some guys that sprayed his car with bullets. I think that these were the guys who stole his ATV’s. Remember when he was threatning some guys with a gun who stole his ATV’s. Those guys have a bad reputation and did it for revenge.

  42. “You are more likely to be accidentially injured than successfully use a gun.”

    Even if he is right, shouldn’t I be the one to decide whether to take that risk?

  43. Is there a waiting period in Florida to get a gun? Handgun? Maybe he was in the “waiting zone”?
    Or, was looking for one off the books, so he wouldn’t have to jump through the hoops. Lotsa folks don’t want no paper trail, no way.

  44. “It was murder. There were some guys that sprayed his car with bullets. I think that these were the guys who stole his ATV’s. Remember when he was threatning some guys with a gun who stole his ATV’s. Those guys have a bad reputation and did it for revenge.”

    I do remember that. …and I assumed that leaving a knife on his bed was a warning. You hate to jump to conclusions, but I suspected as much. I know we’re not going to win any converts suggesting that people on probation for whatever it was he plead to should be allowed to own a gun, but this guy really needed one!

    I mean, leaving a kid like that, who obviously had people who were after him, people who knew that because he had plead no contest to charges, he couldn’t have a gun in the house… If that’s what happened, he was like a sittin’ duck! Poor guy.

    And what a player! If he wasn’t the most intimidating defensive player in the league, he was gonna be soon. Nobody wanted to go across the middle with Sean Taylor back there. No way TO would have gone across the middle in that game if Sean Taylor had been there. No way.

  45. He was good, but he whiffed more often than he hit. Like the Cowboys’ Roy Williams, he looked for the Sports Center highlight too much and got exploited in coverage. But, when he hit – man o man he hit.

  46. I mean, leaving a kid like that, who obviously had people who were after him, people who knew that because he had plead no contest to charges, he couldn’t have a gun in the house… If that’s what happened, he was like a sittin’ duck! Poor guy.

    His lawyer has said that there were no restrictions on gun ownership because Taylor pleaded down to a misdemeanor and his probation was over.

    BTW, another thing that’s come out–apparently the phone lines weren’t actually cut. I still think that this wasn’t a burglary, though.

    As a player, Taylor had made big strides this year and was leading the league in interceptions when he was injured. He had a big future.

  47. The location of the shot (groin) could have just been by chance. One report had two shots being fired, one that missed him completely. At night, in the heat of the action, I wouldn’t assume somebody would hit exactly what s/he was aiming at.

  48. I’m still thinking burglary. They probably thought he was in Tampa with the rest of the Skins. He surprised them and bang.

  49. What this is really is a call for strong, effective gun control laws to keep guns out of criminals hands.
    Absolutely right! Just like all those strong, effective drug laws that keep drugs out of criminals’ hands! Why, illegal drugs are completely unavailable now that we’ve had that War on Drugs. Don’t even bother trying to get any of those, they just utterly don’t exist any more. Just do the same with guns! Problem solved!

  50. A loving tribute to possibly the greatest play in Pro Bowl history:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=lHQH8TuWJWo

  51. Given the unclear circumstances surrounding Taylor’s death–he was shot while defending his house during a home-invasion robbery,

    So it was the cops who did it.

  52. I don’t think the bodies were cold in Blacksburg before the NRA started waving the bloody shirt to condemn colleges that banned guns from campus.

    …in response to the Brady Campaign’s waving the bloody shirt for the other side.

    In any case, if there really is a major policy failure that contributes to a tragedy like that, it should be discussed sooner rather than later, no?

  53. “May the tragic loss of another young man who was on his way up personally and professionally alert his young fans to the life he was building and the necessity to control guns in our city and in the nation,” Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said in a statement.

    The politics have already started and this is shameful. The delegate is using this as a soapbox for the current Supreme Court challenge to the DC Gun Ban Law.

  54. As tragic as this situation is. It’s kinda ironic how the girlfriend didn’t see the intruder enter the room. I don’t know how you had time to go get your child and not see anything. I know i’m no homicide investigator, but she knows what’s going on.

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