Good for Goose and Gander? Or Just Foul Play? – The Bush Doctrine Redux

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

Ex-goose. Presumed cooked.
Ex-goose. Missing.
Presumed cooked.

There is an old adage, “What’s good for the goose is [not] sauce for the gander” or as phrased today “What’s good for the goose is [not] good for the gander”. The implication being that what is good for one is good for all or not good for all if stated in the negated form.  A case out of Florida provides a perfect example to give this adage a workout.

The goose is former President George W. Bush. 

The member of the gander in this case is William T. Woodward of Titusville, Florida. Woodward is charged with shooting three of his neighbors, two of them fatally, over the 2012 Labor Day weekend. 

His defense? The sauce.

Woodward’s attorneys are asserting Florida’s “Stand Your Ground’ law and the Bush Doctrine.

Let’s examine this case in the light of the history and consequences of “Stand Your Ground”, the Bush Doctrine and how an equally controversial foreign policy stance might impact a domestic criminal proceeding.

Stand Your Ground
Jeb Bush Photo by Gage Skimore
Former Florida
Gov. Jeb Bush

The controversial so-called “Stand Your Ground” Law came to the forefront of national media with the Trayvon Martin case.  Although his killer, George Zimmerman, and his attorneys decided not to pursue a “Stand Your Ground” hearing, that case was when many people first heard of this law. It probably won’t be the last. In 2005 when this law was adopted by Florida, Florida state Senator Steve Geller warned that it ran the risk of encouraging people to think that “you ought to be able to kill people that are walking toward you on the street because of this subjective belief that you’re worried that they may get in a fight with you.”

Originally enacted in 2005, the bill was signed into law by then Governor Jeb Bush and was sponsored by Florida state Representative Dennis Baxley and state Senator Durell Peadon, Republican allies of the former Governor. This so-called model legislation has been pushed for nationwide on a state-by-state basis by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy 501(c)(3) corporation that allegedly promotes “limited government, free enterprise and federalism” through sponsoring “model legislation”. Funded by the notorious Koch Brothers and such corporations as private prison industry giants GEO Group, Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America, ALEC has been described in less euphemistic language by John Nichols writing for The Nation as a “collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators” that pursues goals of privatizing government services, reduction and elimination of corporate taxes and regulation, seeks to classify environmental and animal rights activists as terrorists, and works hand in glove with the National Rifle Association (NRA) in “promoting gun rights”.  Gun rights such as the incredibly expansive “Stand Your Ground” laws.  It should be noted as a sidebar that ALEC is also behind the also controversial Citizens United case which greatly expanded corporate personality and essentially allowed unlimited corporate spending in election advertising. To put it bluntly, ALEC is an organization with a corporatist/fascist agenda. An agenda that would benefit by an increase in gun violence as a rationale for promoting the privatization of government services and institutions like prisons and law enforcement. For more information on ALEC, see the joint venture between The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy called “ALEC Exposed“.

To put “Stand Your Ground” in context, first consider that the common law doctrine of self-defense provides that 1) a citizen may use reasonable force 2) in defense of themselves, 3) others and 4) sometimes property 5) under imminent threat by an attacker and 6) may be justified in using lethal force in certain objective circumstances such as a reasonable fear of imminent serious injury or death, but 7) also has a duty to retreat or evade if possible.

It should be noted that this provides an affirmative defense.  This means that the defender may be charged with a crime but that the crime may be excused due to the mitigating circumstances of self-defense.

The first major modification of this doctrine came in the form of the Castle Doctrine, which although it has older roots in some disparate case law dating as far back as the late 19th Century has also been sponsored more recently by ALEC and the NRA. While it varies from state to state, the notable distinctions are that it 1) removes the duty to retreat or evade in your own home, business and/or vehicle and 2) sometimes provides immunity from criminal charges and civil suits for 3) what would otherwise be self-defense in one’s own home.  There are some general qualifiers to this doctrine which may (but not always) include: 1) the intruder must be making (or have made) an attempt to unlawfully or forcibly enter an occupied residence, business, or vehicle, 2) must be acting unlawfully, and 3) the occupant(s)/defender(s) of the home must reasonably believe the intruder intends to inflict serious bodily harm or death upon an occupant of the home although some states apply the Castle Doctrine if the occupant(s)/defender(s) of the home reasonably believe the intruder intends to commit a lesser felony such as arson or burglary and 4) the occupant(s)/defender(s) of the home must not have provoked or instigated the intrusion and/or an intruder’s threat or use of deadly force.

Often packaged and sold with the Castle Doctrine laws is the “Stand Your Ground” provisions at issue in the instant case.  To further differentiate “Stand Your Ground” from the common law doctrine of self-defense, “Stand Your Ground” essentially removes the duty to retreat regardless of where you are.  Or as Former US Attorney Kendall Coffey told NBC, “The ‘Stand Your Ground’ law is a license to kill. [. . .] The ‘Stand Your Ground’ law has become a huge obstacle to preventing exactly this kind of self-appointed vigilantism—this kind of vigilante justice. It used to be if you shot somebody in quote-unquote ‘self-defense,’ you were protected. But in 2005, Florida decided to become the pioneering state to extend this kind of self-protection to wherever the heck you go…”

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as of 2012, the number of so-called justifiable homicides in the state had tripled since Jeb Bush signed the “Stand Your Ground” law in 2005. It appears Florida state Senator Steve Geller was prescient in his warnings. Perhaps he is related to Uri Geller.

The Bush Doctrine
Former President G.W. Bush
Former President
G.W. Bush

The Bush Doctrine describes a foreign policy stance adopted by the George W. Bush administration and primarily constructed by neoconservative hawks like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and the “think tank” known as Project for the New American Century (PNAC). While the Bush Doctrine is a little (but only a little) more complicated than a doctrine of preemptive warfare,  it has four primary features: unilateral action in place of cooperative action or consensus building (because we are the John Wayne of Nations, naturally), attacking countries that harbor terrorists (which, considering terrorism is a tactic, essentially means whomever the administration wants to attack and can even remotely paint with a broad brush), preemptive warfare and promote (ironically) democratic regime change (which the last time I checked was interfering with the sovereignty of a foreign nation in addition to being next to impossible to impose by external force given the nature of the term “democracy”). Perhaps not so coincidental, Jeb Bush was a signatory to the original statement of principles issued by PNAC.  However, for the purposes here, it is the preemptive warfare component of that disastrous doctrine that is relevant. Citing Enoch v. State, No. 1D10-3443, July 27, 2012 and the Bush Doctrine, attorney Robert Berry has requested a “Stand Your Ground” hearing to clear his client William T. Woodward of the charges against him in the fatal shooting of two of his neighbors and the severe wounding of a third man.

The Case of William T. Woodward
William Woodward Defendant
William T. Woodward

A neighborhood feud culminated in a “preemptive strike”.

At 12:30 AM on Sept. 3, 2012, police arrived to 1950 Smith Drive in Titusville, Florida to find that William Woodward had snuck up on his neighbors and shot them while they were having a Labor Day barbeque. The incident started with a fight over an allegedly stolen roll of duct tape before exploding into gunfire.  In the aftermath, Gary Lee Hembree dies on the scene and Roger Picior later died from their injuries. The third victim, Bruce Timothy Blake, survived. He had been shot sixteen times.

As with many such situations, this was the result of ongoing conflict. Before the shootin, police had responded numerous times to the ongoing dispute. Woodward and Hembree even went to court before Judge John D. Moxley, who did not issue an injunction or any other court orders. In the motion filed by Woodward’s attorneys, it says that in the hours prior to the shooting that Hembree, Picior and Blake were yelling at Woodward, calling him names and saying “Come on boys. We’re going to get him. We’re going to get him, all three of us.” This kind of behavior had been allegedly ongoing for over a month. The question is was this an imminent threat a reasonable person would take as a threat imminent of death or necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. Stealing a roll of duct tape in and of itself is not a felony. Insofar as imminence is concerned though, there is no concrete legal definition.  As Assistant State Attorney Wayne Holmes explained “As with many things in not only the law, but life in general, you’ve got to have a certain amount of flexibility. [. . .] There’s a certain amount of ability to take the facts, whatever they may be and apply it to that law. Sometimes it fits perfectly; sometimes it doesn’t fit at all.” Does this seem to fit? Woodward’s attorney Robert Berry told Florida Today that “[he thinks] legally that term has sort of been evolving especially given changes of our government’s definition of ‘imminent. It’s become more expansive than someone putting a gun right to your head. It’s things that could become, you know, an immediate threat.” [emphasis added]

Did the definition of the word imminent change with the Bush Doctrine?

According to OED, “imminent” means “about to happen”.  “Could” as the past tense of “can” means “used to indicate possibility”.  One is a statement of probability, the other a statement of possibility. Likely versus might. I don’t think the meaning of the word changed, but that there are those with a vested interest in changing the definition in a polar and nonsensical manner.  Keep that in mind the next time you hear a politician use the word “imminent”. You have been and will continue hearing that word a lot from politicians in days recently past and in the near future.

Did the original common law doctrine of self-defense need to be changed at all?

I don’t think so. It served its purpose and it served it well. Those acting in reasonable and proportionate self-defense did not go to prison for their actions.

Can a questionable national foreign policy stance be used to bolster an affirmative defense or a serve as an excuse for exculpation in a “Stand Your Ground” hearing over an individual’s – not a state’s or Federal – actions?

Unlikely, but it illustrates the common macho/cowboy ideals behind such “thinking”. However, the cloudy and certainly propagandized distortion of language used in formulating a poor foreign policy stance neither translates into either a semantic drift in the English language nor a properly asserted affirmative defense or exculpation of an individual’s actions. As Melbourne, Florida attorney Kepler Funk said “it was ‘valid’ that Woodward would want an independent jury to make this decision rather than a judge, but felt it was unlikely the court would convene one for this pretrial hearing. ‘It’s novel for sure, and I’m all for thinking outside the box, so I commend him for that.  I don’t know the court’s going to grant the motion though.”

Is what’s good for the goose good for the gander?

Is what’s good for the goose not good for the gander?

What do you think?

Source(s):, Raw Story,, The Daily Mail (UK), PBS, The Nation (1, 2), Enoch v. State, No. 1D10-3443, July 27, 2012. (FindLaw), ALEC Exposed, Jeb Bush photo by Gage Skimore, Oxford English Dictionary and Wikipedia (various references).

~submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

105 thoughts on “Good for Goose and Gander? Or Just Foul Play? – The Bush Doctrine Redux”

  1. Tony C.,
    the idea, to my mind, in the duty to retreat is not to favor the bully, but to save lives and tangentially, it creates a cooling off period. Just because someone is a bully, doesn’t mean that the law should allow anyone to shoot that bully if it can be avoided.

  2. Gene,
    “And making making your statement which is about me and not what I said – which is the definition of ad hominem by the way – is really helpful.”

    You missed the helpful point. Snide, sarcastic remarks and name calling detract from the serious conversation and are turn off. Keeping the conversation civil and respectfully would be more effective.

  3. Gene H. 1, September 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I now return you to the topic proper which is SYG laws, who is behind the push for them and why, and whether or not you can assert the Bush Doctrine as a justification/affirmative defense in an SYG hearing.
    As to the latter, not for about 50 years when the law will catch up with a certain psychology-based doctrine:

    … a common metaphor, shared by conservatives and liberals alike — the Nation-as-Family metaphor, in which the nation is seen as a family, the government as a parent and the citizens as children …

    (Security: Familyland, Fatherland, or Homeland?, quoting Prof. Lakoff). In that sense national dynamics can cause some citizens to behave a certain way.

    However, when we get further into the question: “a justification/affirmative defense in an SYG hearing“, the nation will have to degenerate a bit further before that will obtain as a defense.

  4. As I said in my first comment, Koch, ALEC, and the others that Gene H mentioned, comprise Oil-Qaeda, which is not only a terrorist movement, it is a treasonous movement.

    One of their strategies is to neutralize the demographics that are a threat to one white olde male establishment republican election fantasy (“we can keep our far right wing neoCon ideology and still win national elections”).

    Within that strategy are tactics for voter suppression and violence as a form of intimidation against other races, genders, ethnicities, and ideologies.

    The “wisdom of preemptive violence and the SYG laws that needlessly distort the common law doctrine of self-defense into an excuse for vigilantes” is their world view“, as Gene put it, are implicated.

    Their foreign and domestic policies, which are psychopathic at worst, sociopathic at best, for that reason come out as ignorant even in the public press.

    Hence, Bobby Jindal’s hopeful unction that republicans “should not be The Stupid Party.”

  5. Gene: Did the original common law doctrine of self-defense need to be changed at all?

    As I have said before, I think so. The final restriction 7) also has a duty to retreat or evade if possible favors the threatening over the threatened.

    If I am legally present in a park, in a building, in a bar, or on a sidewalk or anywhere else, I should have no duty whatsoever to retreat from that place because if I don’t I think somebody will probably initiate violence against me. That gives other people the legal license to bully me and deny me access to a public place, it is favoritism to the bully.

    As you have either written or quoted it, I find that requirement an unfair burden on people’s liberty to enjoy or make use of a public place or venue.

  6. I now return you to the topic proper which is SYG laws, who is behind the push for them and why, and whether or not you can assert the Bush Doctrine as a justification/affirmative defense in an SYG hearing.

  7. Besides, how quickly some forget the lessons on propagandist methodology previously presented in this forum. Such as in the column Propaganda 104: Magica Verba Est Scientia Et Ars Es

    Deploying logical fallacies like straw men and then accusing your opponent of your sin are staples in propagandist methodology.

    Too bad for some that kind of thing doesn’t work on me.

  8. Bron,

    It is not name calling to give something a name based upon observation and accurate description.

    Behave like a troll, get treated like a troll.

  9. Awww. Is you gonna try to hurt my feelings now, jhm? Good luck with that. A low tolerance for propagandists bullshit isn’t being a bully.

    If you don’t have anything to add to the subject of this thread which is, again, SYG laws and the assertion of the Bush Doctrine in defense of a shooting? What good are you? Aside from further trying to distract from the culpability of ALEC in fostering an environment friendly to vigilantism?

  10. jhm:

    yes but he does it so well. It is an art form with him, zen actually. He should take the best of and put it into a book, on second thought I will do it. I will call it:

    “Snide, Sarcastic Remarks and Name Calling add nothing to the Conversation” [or “It makes you come across as thin skinned, intolerant, and egocentric” (but isnt it great fun)]

    “Zen and the Art of Snide, Sarcastic Remarks and Name Calling”

    Which one do you like?

  11. jhm,

    And making making your statement which is about me and not what I said – which is the definition of ad hominem by the way – is really helpful. 🙄 Notice that I attack both Sqweakly’s methods and content first and foremost. Just like I did with you. The mockery and sarcasm is free of charge.

    And anyone will tell you, if you don’t like sarcasm, you’re outta luck in dealing with me.

    Thanks for playing.

  12. Squeeky:

    “I need to read some more and see if that is what describes me best, or not.”

    If it does describe you, change your thinking. Neocons are as bad as they come.

    what is wrong with individual liberty?

  13. Gene,
    Snide, sarcastic remarks and name calling add nothing to the conversation.
    It makes you come across as thin skinned, intolerant, and egocentric.

  14. Also, Sqweakly, the ALEC/Bush Doctrine stuff isn’t a straw man. The ALEC stuff is pure background on who is driving SYG legislation and the Bush Doctrine stuff is directly germane to Woodward’s attorneys assertions in their filing, i.e. a direct representation of the doctrine they are asserting as a justification for this shooting.

    Really you should stop using terms you obviously don’t know the meaning of. A straw man argument is materially misrepresenting the argument of another just to attack it. Nothing of the sort is going on above . . . except in your initial posting where you totally reversed my stated position so you could attack it.

    You just aren’t very good at being a propagandist, Sqweak, no matter how obvious it is that you are one. The irony being that it is your ineptness at methodology that highlights the nature of the content of your posts.

  15. Bron,

    Honestly, I debated background last as a format, but I thought the introduction with the goose, gander, sauce analogy ending in “William T. Woodward of Titusville, Florida. Woodward is charged with shooting three of his neighbors, two of them fatally, over the 2012 Labor Day weekend. His defense? The sauce. Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law and . . . the Bush Doctrine” took care of that in a short summary/thesis form. That is why I formatted it the way I did. I may tweak the formatting on that later.

    I’m naturally adverse to writing story/background versus background/story by training and force of habit.



    You’ve tried to run that pitiful neologism up the flag pole once before and no one saluted then either.

    Again, your confusion and the ease thereof is not my concern, but it is obvious.

  16. @bron:

    Thanks! I bookmarked it. It looks like a lot to digest, particularly when epistemology gets invoked!


    What you are trying to do to me is called “kafkatrapping.” (Kafka was this Russian guy who wrote books that were kind of like “Theatre of the Absurd Tragedies and Nightmares” as opposed to people who wrote “Theatre of the Absurd Comedies.and Farces.” That is where you try to wiggle my denial of something into proof that I am guilty of something.

    Plus, your post above is kind of hard to follow. I read it twice before i commented, and then again just now, and even when you delete all the straw men like Bush, ALEC, the Koch Bros. and preemptive strikes, it still looks a little tenuous. Maybe I could buy the NRA pushing SYG laws to sell more guns, but when you consider that more gun sales equates to less crime, then the impact on the prison industry is still kind of weak, if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, this may help:

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  17. Gene H:

    I did miss that, I just skimmed over the background info.

    Not to criticize but that might have been better at the beginning as your lead in to the story.

Comments are closed.