ponent. Because the episode occurred on federal property, thernhomicide fell into the realm of the federal courts rather thanrnthose of Texas. Found guilty of murder, Brown appealed hisrnconviction all the way up to the Supreme Court where OliverrnWendell Holmes spoke for the strong majority that upheld hisrnappeal.rnUltimately citing with favor the “Texas rule,” Holmes incisivelyrncondemned the duty to retreat, hi America, he observed,rnthe law had—in contrast to England—grown “in the directionrnof rules consistent with human nature.” Many legalrnauthorities agreed, Holmes noted, “that if a man reasonably believesrnthat he is in immediate danger of death or grievousrnbodily harm from his assailant he may stand his ground andrnthat if he kills him he has not exceeded the bounds of lawfulrnself-defense.” With Brown’s life having been endangered by arnknife-fighting rival it was wrong, Holmes wrote, to requirerneven a “reasonable man” to calculate whether it might bern”possible to fly with safety or to disable his assailant rather thanrnto kill him,” because, said Holmes with withering sarcasm, “detachedrnreflection cannot be demanded in the presence of anrnuplifted knife.”rnHolmes’s emotions as well as his intellect were engaged byrnthe case, for Brown’s ordeal seems to have reminded I lolmes ofrnan incident where, as a young army officer during the CivilrnWar, he sought to save his own life by defending himself in arnbout of man-to-man combat, hideed, Holmes’s private view ofrnthe duty-to-retreat doctrine was even more hostile than he re-rnLIBERAL ARTSrnGLUTTONS FOR GUILLOTINESrnTwo hundred yeans after the execution of Marie Antoinette,rnthe French people arc still “unforgiving,” as the Europeanrntermed it. A new play by Robert Hos.sein, entitled ]e m’appelaisrnMarie Antoinette, tests the sense of justice of 20thcentur)’rnFrench citizens by asking audiences to act as jurj’ in thernreenactment of her trial. Spectator-participants render theirrnverdict by placing a plastic token in one of four wicker basketsrnmarked Acquittal, Exile, Prison, and Death. The results arerntallied and the audience’s choice is played out, followed by thernhistorical ending—death.rnWhereas one of the play’s coauthors, Andre Castelot, believesrnthe French have softened since 1793 and says he wouldrnchoose exile for Marie-Antoinette (“not to punish her, but tornliberate her”), many in the audience on opening night last Octoberrnwere not so benevolent. Almost one-sixth of the audiencernvoted to send the queen to the guillotine, while one-halfrncried, “Vive Marie-Antoinette!” Those condemning the queenrnto death cited her treason and extravagance {many werernshocked that she wore 170 dresses in one year) as the rea,sonsrnfor their bloodthirstiness.rnvcaled in his Supreme Court opinion. In a letter about the casernto a friend. Holmes wrote approvingly that in Texas “it is wellrnsettled” that “a man is not born to run away.” More generally,rnI lolmes informed his correspondent that upon the issue ofrnretreat the law must “make some allowances for the fighting instinctrnat critical moments”—critical moments such as those experiencedrnby I lolmes in Civil War battle and by Robert Brownrnin fatally repelling a knife attack. Although Holmes’s maxim,rn”detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence ofrnan uplifted knife,” is sometimes quoted. Holmes scholars havernvirtually ignored the ease of Brown v. United States in favor ofrnHolmes’s more celebrated opinions upholding civil liberties.rnNeglected is the point that to the noted civil libertarianrnHolmes, as to so many other Americans, the right to standrnone’s ground and kill in self-defense was as great a freedom as,rnsay, the liberty of speech.rnOliver Wendell I lolmes’s ardor suggests that the concept ofrnno duty to retreat is not just a legal doctrine but a value deeplyrnrooted in the national character. President Bush’s “line drawnrnin the sand” of Arabia (and the popularity of the Persian CulfrnWar) is only a recent example. On the other hand, the spirit ofrnaggressive, violent self-defense accentuated by no duty to retreatrnis strongly challenged nowadays by those who energeticallyrnpromote the values of peace and civility. Yet many of thosernwho uphold social causes they deem to be benign and progressiverndo so with a militance that has much in commonrnwith the often belligerent spirit of no duty to retreat. Severalrnyears ago Molly Yard, then president of the National Organizationrnfor Women, reacted to a U.S. Supreme Court decisionrnallowing tighter state restrictions on abortion by announcingrnplans for massive protest against the ruling. Said Yard, “We’rernnot about to go home and give up. We are going to stay andrnfight.”rnStraws in the wind indicate that the American legal and judicialrncommunity is edging away, philosophically, from the nodutv-rnto-retreat doctrine Joseph H. Beale, Jr., failed to discreditrnin his time. The Oregon Supreme Court that in the 1880’srnso firmly upheld the right to stand one’s ground in self-defensernreversed itself a century later when it reverted to the old Englishrnduty to retreat in 1982. In her opinion for the Oregon court.rnJudge Betty Roberts made clear her distaste for the no-duty-toretreatrndoctrine that, she held, dcleteriously branded men whornavoided personal combat as “cowards” who “ignominiously”rnran “from a physical encounter.”rnStill, recent violent episodes in Oregon (and elsewhere) suggestrnthat the mood of aggressive, violent self-defense is asrnstrong among the people as it was a hundred years ago. Inrnbroader terms there is even a hardening legal trend in favor ofrnexpanded violent self-defense for chronically abused wives andrnin favor of neighborhood action against drug dealers endangeringrnthe community and its children. One of the most significantrnresults of the massive Los Angeles riots of the spring ofrn1992 is a premium in the public mind on the defense of homernand property. This is a view that focuses on family survival inrnour era of rampant crime, in what might be called “The Age ofrnthe Los Angeles Riots.” From this perspective the defense ofrnhome and property is paramount—an attitude exemplifiedrnby the widespread admiration for the Korean-immigrant shopkeepersrnof downtown Los Angeles who during the peak of thern1992 rioting stood armed and ready to defend themselves,rntheir property, and their livelihood in the spirit of no duty to retreat,rncrn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn