30 I CHRONICLESnhim up and rob him — is likely to havenbeen accurate. And we do know whonthese people were. Given the factsnabove, it seems to me that the burdennof proof must rest heavily on thosenwho would deny that Goetz got thingsnperfectly right.nAnd there’s even more evidencenhere. Darrell Cabey told columnistnJimmy Breslin that the youths hadnindeed intended to rob Goetz: “Theynwere going to rob him. He looked likeneasy bait.” A cop who arrived on thenscene said that Troy Canty told himnthe same thing: “We were going to robnhim, but he shot us first.” A secondncop said that Canty, the next day,ndescribed to him a scene where thenfour youths intentionally surroundednGoetz and threatened him becausen”he looked soft.” All these seem explicitnadmissions, from the youthsnthemselves, that Goetz was in a veryndangerous situation in that subway car.nEach of these pieces of evidence hasnbeen doubted. It’s been suggested thatnCabey is now too brain-damaged tonknow what he’s saying, that the firstncop is simply lying (to help Goetz),nand that the second cop’s testimonyndoesn’t indicate exactly that Goetz wasngoing to be robbed. I would reply:nThree sources are all telling approximatelynthe same story; is it likely thatnthey are all wrong?nTherefore, this “second myth”nabout the Goetz case — that BernhardnGoetz was a paranoid psychotic whonresponded to “imaginary threats” ornthat, conversely, he was representativenof white middle-class oppression ofnblacks and hostility towards them —nthis “second myth” ought to be abandoned.nIt has appealed all along only tonthose of a certain ideological bent,nanyway. Goetz was a frightened man,nresponding to dangerous thugs. Hencenthe scenes we saw before the courthousenin New York: marching whitenMarxists screaming that Goetznequaled the Ku Klux Klan, whilenspokesmen for ordinary citizens, bothnminority and white, were supportingnGoetz totally. Some examples of thenlatter are worth quoting: (1) CurtisnSliwa, the leader of the Guardian Angels,nbacked Goetz from the beginningnbecause “we knew who those guysnwere; they were notorious”; (2) RoynInnis, the head of the Congress ofnRacial Equality: Goetz was “thenavenger of all of us; some black mannought to have done it long before; Inwish it had been me.” The retirednschoolteacher quoted in the secondnparagraph of this article is also black.nAnd it’s worth noting that support fornGoetz was very strong in all-blackn”Claremont Village” — the crimeriddennneighborhood from which thenmen he shot came (ABC News, Junen20, 1987). The defense of civilizednsociety against the likes of JamesnRamseur is not a racial issue.nOn June 16, 1987, a New York juryn(which included blacks and Hispanics)nfound Bernhard Goetz not guilty ofncharges of attempted murder, assault,nand reckless endangerment. The onlyncharge that stuck against Goetz wasnillegal possession of a handgun. Thenjury didn’t accept any version of “thensecond myth” either — perhaps becausenthree of the jurors had themselvesnbeen victims of subway crime.nBut just because the “second myth”nabout the Goetz case is false does notnmean that the “first myth” — thatnGoetz was a simple and authenticnhero — is true. On the contrary: Whilenthe “first myth” is more related tonreality than the “second,” it, too, isnbasically false.nThe fact is that Goetz was carryingna gun illegally and that when he pullednit out he did exactly what law enforcementnofficers fear happens when ordinaryncitizens begin to brandish firearms:nHe lost control of himself. Thatnhappens often enough to cops — whongo through rigorous training. Goetz, asnfar as we know, trained himselfnIt’s possible that, on a cool andnrational assessment of the situation,nGoetz could have scared off those fournthugs simply by pulling out the pistol.nInstead, he immediately begannshooting — and kept on shooting, untilnthe gun was empty. On his own admission,nthe reason for this is clearnenough: “I was acting out of goddamnednfear. They were about to wipenthe floor with me. If you corner a ratnand you are about to butcher it, OK?nThe way I responded was viciously andnsavagely, just like a rat.” Afterwards,nGoetz himself was unsure whether, innthe heat of the moment, he hadn’tnused excessive force. His own doubtnabout this was the single most damagingnpiece of evidence against him at hisntrial: “I know in my heart I was annnmurderer. … I just snapped.” Onenwonders especially whether the famousn”fifth shot,” the one that evidentlyncrippled Darrell Cabey for life, wasnreally necessary. (This is true whethernor not you accept that Goetz said tonCabey, “You seem to be doing allnright; here’s another” — words denied,nby the way, by at least one prominentneyewitness, Victor Flores.)nIt was in remorse over what he’dndone — and remorse over what, in thatnminute in the subway, he’d become —nthat Goetz later said he felt like anmurderer. His actions, and his subsequentnfeelings of horror at them, arenthe best answer to those on the rightnwho responded to the incident bynsuggesting that every citizen shouldntake a gun down into the New Yorknsubway. Even so mild-mannered andncivilized a person as Bernhard Goetznwas unable to control himself once henhad that pistol in his hand. (Neithernthe left nor the right, it seems, is muchninterested in understanding the disorderly,nspecific facts of the story.)nSo Goetz is right when he says he’snno hero. Part of the defense at his trialnwas that in the stress of the moment,nand once the gun was in his hand, hisnnervous system went “on automaticnpilot” until he had more or less destroyednall four of his tormentors. Thisnscenario makes some sense. But thenlast thing American cities need rightnnow is people walking around withnhandguns, blasting away “on automaticnpilot.”nStill, one must confront honestlynthe basic dilemma the Goetz casenraises. New York gun laws make itnextremely difficult for ordinary citizensnto procure legal handguns with whichnto defend themselves personally, in ancity with a very large and notoriouslynviolent criminal population. At thensame time, there are too few police tonprovide the ordinary citizen with communitynprotection (the protection tonwhich that citizen is theoretically entitled,nthat forms the theoretical basis ofnthe harsh gun-control laws). So, as onenU.S. senator said, “I’m afraid to get innthat subway system even when I’mnwith my bodyguard.” Well, not manynordinary people can afford bodyguards,ni.e., private police (the rich and thenpowerful, of course, always manage tonget by). What are the rest of us whonlive in big cities supposed to do aboutn