Here are some facts, straight from CNN:
“At the World Trade Center (WTC) site in Lower Manhattan, 2,753 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the north and south towers or as a result of the crashed. Of those who perished during the initial attacks and the subsequent collapses of the towers, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers and 37 were officers at the Port Authority. The victims ranged in age from two to 85 years. Approximately 75-80% of the victims were men.” (http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/27/us/september-11-anniversary-fast-facts/index.html, accessed August 13, 2017).
So, now you know some facts. Do the words above give you any sense of the meaning of 9/11? You can memorize the “facts” about 9/11, but completely miss the meaning of 9/11.
Having accurate facts won’t guarantee any sort of understanding. Often, words have more power as they move away from factual descriptions. For example, the words found in your favorite song may remind you more of an event than any factual description. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a song from the 80’s, and the song instantly transports me back, in a way that words on a page just can’t. Often, words in a song can convey more meaning than the words alone.
Songs work, in part, because we believe a phrase more if it rhymes. Kind of silly, right? It is said that “a man armed with a rhyming dictionary is a dangerous man.” (Bruce Springsteen). Rhyme works in criminal defense trials as well. Who can forget this classic: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Or, how about this one: “Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Words may not hurt you–but words can get you arrested, among other things. (I’m going somewhere with this, so please tolerate the cliches for a another three sentences) Here are some dangerous words: telling a TSA agent that you’ve got a bomb, or asking a 16 year old girl to have sex (unless, of course, you’re 16 years old, but even then, its a tad young, don’t ya think?). Our focus today will be the all too common threat to kill.
Now, if you do threaten to kill someone (hire me…), any threat to do harm is called an assault (a battery charge is physical, assaults are just words or actions). A basic threat gets upgraded to “aggravated” when the person is using a gun or weapon to make the threat more believable.
The question is, can you be convicted of assaulting someone who doesn’t understand what a gun is, or even understand the English language? To see how an assault plays out with a victim who does not understand what the heck is going on, we’re going to examine the real life case of Davis v. State, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 9415 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017). Continue Reading