Saturday, April 30, 2016

Why "There's no such thing as normal" is a dangerous lie.

There's a line out of the movie "Bladeunner." Rutger Hauer's character has just saved Harrison Ford's. His monologue starts with "I've seen things, you people wouldn't believe."
Yes. That.
I've both lived 'off the grid' and dealt with some wild and weird shit. Never mind things that cannot be unseen. There are things that change you. Starting with the fact that 'normal' has an edge. Not in the sense of a knife, but as in a cliff. Except it's a chess board floating in the infinity of space. If you go over the edge, it can be damned hard to find your way back. (But you'd damned well better. Either that or learn the words to "Space Oddity" (Ground control to Major Thom)
This puts me at odds with people who like to say "There's no such thing as normal.'
I find this to be a very checkerboard-centric attitude. Sure there are all kinds of different squares on that board. Squares that -- within them -- do things radically different, have different rules, and different attitudes. This is both the basis of the 'no such thing...' claim and what gives it credibility.
Credibility, that from a certain 'on board,' perspective makes all kinds of sense. Gawds know I'm not knocking it. Here's why. If you take a good look at those environments, all of a sudden those 'rules' make sense -- including how they've been fucked up. (Years ago I tried to 'scientifically disprove' religious prohibitions. I. Got. Spanked. Turns out that given the environment and then technology, that stuff made sense. Like you and everyone else in your family, village or tribe not dying 'sense.' Here's the real kick in the nuts. From there, things got REAL complicated but just as important.) While we're here I'll never disagree that these localized systems can be fucked up, twisted and turned toxic; conditions that seem to give additional credence to the 'no such thing as normal' idea.
With this in mind, think of it this way. A lot of what we think is 'wrong' is the view from our checkerboard square looking over at another. We see others doing it differently and condemn it.
Or, and this is a lot more common -- and problematic -- we look at other squares, see they're different, and conclude that all rules are bullshit. This is a very 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' attitude. But it is tempered by people not -- usually -- having enough power AND/OR having the rules embedded enough in their subconscious to keep them from really fucking things up.
What is not understood is this attitude can ONLY exist in the comfort and safety of being deep in the checkerboard. Out towards the edge it can get you killed without ever leaving the checkerboard. (That's how they play out there.) Which as an individual sucks, but in the bigger picture is meaningless.
A more practical approach is answering a question with a question. "What is normal?" "Depends, where are we?" Gimme a GPS reading on where we are on the checkerboard and I'll tell you what's normal for the square we're in. This is radically different than there is no such thing as 'normal' -- and therefore you get a free pass to do whatever you want to do. (Or as another permutation has become popular, you get to pick and choose what rules you break, but other people have to follow those rules and can't stop you.)

I've just laid the framework for all kinds of problems -- including someone with a dysfunctional interpretation of 'how thing are' seriously screwing up your life. But in that last sentence there's a word that is the root for all kinds of problems. It's 'dysfunctional.'
Now when John Bradshaw started applying this term to screwed up family dynamics, it really was a break through. I mean really, seriously. It was needed a tune up to countless peoples' sputtering engines. The problem is 26 years later, people have run with it and twisted it. Basically they use it as an excuse and a basis of their trauma drama narrative.
Here's something to consider. The current definition of dysfunctional is '1) not operating normally or properly. 2) having malfunctioning part or element 3) behaving or operating outside social norms. 4) the condition of having poor and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes within a group of people. (Which given that the prefix dys means 'bad, ill, abnormal' makes lots of sense.
However, dysfunctional is still working.
As screwed up as it is, it's limping along. It's not completely broken down or off the grid. Now a lot of people misidentify other checkerboard squares as dysfunctional. Umm... no. As in just because you don't think that's how things should be doesn't mean holding your breath, kicking your feet is going to make it change. There are a lot of 'unpleasant normals' that actually work. They work because they have components that you aren't looking at, can't, or won't understand. Those components are what allow for it to function -- in that environment.
Is the checkerboard analogy beginning to make sense now? It doesn't really matter where on the board an environment is, what makes it part of the board is: It works. Maybe not well. I've been in places where 'normal' is as fucked up as a soup sandwich. But things STILL limp along. It isn't until you go over the edge (off the grid) that you realize the huge difference between dysfunctional and not working.
Or that things can even get to the point of not working.
If you've ever ended up there or dealt with someone who's stepped off the edge of the board you get one of three common reactions. One is the person is so damaged he or she does a Major Thom and floats away. Two is the person LIKES it. I'm talking getting off on it and goes even faster or harder. (The difference between falling off the edge and doing a double gainer with a half twist off the edge.) Three is you become REALLY fond of being on that board of 'normal,' because both sanity and survival are on it.
So is there 'normal'?
Well technically speaking there are lots of them. They all make up that checker board. Some of them are more stable, others are a lot more shaky and unpleasant than others. But what they all have in common is that they work -- to some degree or the other.
Thing is when people go on about 'no such thing as normal' they're often framing it in term of a 'universal' normal. To which the answer is "no there's not." There is no one square on that board that defines normal. Conversely, just because there are countless, diverse squares doesn't mean it's all bullshit. The rules, attitudes and customs of any square may not benefit an individual, but they serve to get the most number of people through the day.
Which if you look at the death tolls of when it breaks down, yeah, that isn't a bad thing.
Now, on a more personal level, the idea of a checker board actually gives us a lot of freedom -- at least in the West. If you don't like the rules of where you're from (that particular square), you can jump to another square. This however can be unpleasant too. If you don't adapt to or follow the rules of a square you can be pushed out. Although this actually far less common than people think. What is far more common is you are assigned lower status in that square and -- if you don't accept that status -- you can be beaten down into it. This turns the whole checker board idea into a 3-D chess board and beyond the scope of this article. I mention it because a lot of people who are having trouble in a square don't recognize the correlation between their behavior and status -- especially their low status.
Also the consequences of prioritizing other issues is not the same thing as abuse, oppression or injustice. Which is kind of the default targets of blame on all scales (individual 'mommy blamers' to 'society is the root of all this evil that is happening to us.'). What works very well in one square doesn't function so well elsewhere. As friend of min pointed out the traits that allow you to survive and function in poverty, not only don't help you get out of it, but keep you there.
I tell you that because it's the other edge of the sword of 'there's no such thing as normal. How many people are trying to take their normal, their square and trying to make it the whole board? Or insisting that the rest of the board adjust and cater to what they want? This is basically expanding their idea of normal to force everyone else to follow it? You can actually look at the results in history. At the risk of accusations of Godwin's Law, check out how the Nazis, Communists and the French Revolution first secured their power base and then pushed their version of how things should be done. Did those events go over the edge or come close to breaking the board? I'll let you figure that one out.

There's a lot of dysfunction out there. But we have to be careful not to buy into the narrative that confuses dysfunction with not liking the rules of a certain area. In the same way we have to be careful not to confuse abuse, oppression and injustice with the self-righteous anger of the rules you do follow not working outside a particular square.
Spend a couple of days thinking about the implications of what I've said here. As humans we have a bad habit of thinking that our particular square is both 'right' and applies everywhere. Thing is as you move through squares, you need to set those aside and look at how things work here and why they are the way they are.
When you do this you'll begin to see the potential dark side of 'there's no such thing as normal" That is how often it's a "Fuck you, I'm not going to change. I'm going to do what I want and you just have to put up with it."
That's an attitude that's heading hard and fast either towards the edge or the bottom.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

False Rape Allegations

I have a longstanding habit. I find professionals in a field, feed them alcohol and then get them talking shop. I figure "En Vino Veritas" about what is going on behind the scenes. I did this with sex crimes investigators and their answers floored me. 
There is a claim by rape industry advocates that only 2% of all rape allegations are false. This low number is why we should always believe the accuser (Does that apply to your husband too Mrs. Clinton? Okay, that was wrong of me, but I'm weak). That 'low number' is also given as why we shouldn't be concerned about false allegations of rape.
Au contraire mon ami.
Anyway, I've tracked the official numbers of rape for decades via the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. As I say about that, “EVERYONE knows the numbers of the UCR are low.” But ‘how low” is the problem -- and believe me, that’s a big problem. See, the UCR is the ONLY available numbers that does not exclusively rely on the word 'estimated.’ (Yes they use it, but more of an ass covering device.) Why’s that important? Because usually when you see the estimated numbers four things happen. 
 1) The word ‘estimated’ appears once and immediately disappears 
 2) The ‘numbers’ go WAAAAAAY up 
3) Post disappearing act, whatever numbers are presented are set forth as unquestionable facts (it’s in that disappearing word) 
4) Nobody wants to show you how these estimated numbers were arrived at. (The files are confidential doncha know?) 
So why do I have such a big problem with such a petty detail? The list is long. Let’s start with I once did the math of 'estimated rapes' by a Denver Rape group and discovered that -- if these numbers were true -- to maintain them every woman in the city of Denver would be have to be raped on a repeating two year cycle. Half this year, half the next. Yes, the 'estimated' numbers amounted to over one quarter of the entire population. Don’t come to Denver, ladies. The Denver rape culture is totally out of control -- at least according to that source. 
Yet the 'official reported' number for Denver that year was around 250. It was those reported numbers sent to the UCR, not the rape crisis center’s. Do I believe that only 250 rapes occurred in Denver that year? No. Do I believe that one quarter of the population was raped that year? No, I don’t buy that either. As with so many things the truth is somewhere between those extremes. The UCR is much more transparent about how they get their findings. But since extreme numbers are good for funding . . .
Moving down the list, in ye olde days the FBI regularly reported that approximately 10% of all reported rapes were found to be 'without merit.' (Remember we’re talking yearly fluctuation). Now days, the standard numbers presented are between 6 and 8% are found to be meritless. Ten percent was before the lowering of proof and expanded definition of rape; but even after that we’re not down to the claim of only 2% of allegations are found to be false. 
Ummm, about the use of the term ‘false.’ Just so you know it’s not the same as meritless. Here is where you have to know what “meritless” (or without merit) means. Because there is one hell of a shell game going on here. But to do that, let’s first look at what says about the word merit: Merit is a term subject to various meanings, but in the legal context, merit refers to a claim which has a valid basis, setting forth sufficient facts from which the court could find a valid claim of deprivation of a legal right.
Got it? Valid basis, sufficient facts, etc.. One of the ways for a layman to look at this is there’s enough evidence that a crime has been committed that arrest, prosecution and conviction can occur.
However, from the same page: If the evidence defeats the claim, the claim is "meritless." 
This is not the same as a ‘not guilty’ verdict. “Not Guilty” is the result of trial. For it to go to trial there has to be a degree of merit. This is something different. Taking the same idea for layman, meritless (or without merit) is there is enough evidence to definitively state, it didn’t happen.
Case closed. Official stamp DONE on the file. The ‘State’ has moved on to something else now. (Like when the North Carolina Attorney General announced at a press conference the Duke Lacrosse Rape case was over and that the accused were innocent -- and then spelled the word to the Press.) In the legal system, it’s dismissed. In police investigation case closed. 
 I tell you this because simply stated, the difference between the evidence to prosecute and what it takes to declare an accusation without merit, is the difference between a hill and a mountain. But an even bigger difference between ‘false’ and the official status of ‘meritless.’
The supposed microscopic numbers of ‘false rape allegations’ are in fact, based on the accusations the police can definitively and officially say, “Didn’t happen.” That takes a LOT of evidence. That is why most cases are not officially closed. It’s a lot easier to clear an accused individual in the process of an investigation than it is to declare the entire case meritless. 
That sounds like legal argle bargle, but think about it this way. We can prove ‘he didn’t do it,’ (security video shows he was elsewhere), but we can’t prove someone else didn’t rape her. As such, many, many cases/accusations are left open -- supposedly still under investigation -- but nothing more is done on them. The investigating officer knows it’s BS, but doesn’t have the evidence to get it officially declared closed. 
Since, unless someone is selling something, there’s no such thing as a simple answer, let’s flip this coin over. Often the investigator can get the evidence to prosecute a rapist. (Yay!) But this same lack of evidence also applies when the cop knows the rat bastard did it -- except there just isn’t enough evidence to arrest and prosecute. So this same process is very much a double edged sword. There are monsters out there who know how to get away with this. As my mentor said “The real monsters slip through the system like smoke through a screen.” In these cases, that lack of evidence gnaws on cops guts -- often until the end of their careers, but damnit, there just isn’t enough evidence. 
Now there’s another category, that is something happened, but it’s not clear what. This can be understood as either someone is lying or everyone is. And if so, how much? These cases are a real mess. The evidence isn’t enough to go either way, so the case is left open. The investigator isn’t sure what is going on -- not just what happened but what else is going on -- because parts are missing. Want an example? Try investigating a rape at a drug house. An amoeba would starve on the amount of cooperation you’ll get. 
In case you missed it, I just described to you why so many rape cases aren’t prosecuted, but instead left open. This huge number ( and yes it’s way larger than either arrests/convictions or clearances) is the basis of the advocates claim that rape isn’t prosecuted hard enough and we need to do something about it. Generally the claim is about 85% of all rapists are never arrested or charged, (although I’ve seen it as high as 97%), 15 of 16 of them will never do prison time etc., etc.. These numbers are why ‘things must change’ Protect the victims! This injustice must stop! Rapists must be punished! Lower the standards of proof for more convictions!
There in lies the rub.
Remember the feeding the booze to professional sex crimes investigators? And by the way, I mean trained law enforcement here. Not advocates, not academics, not researchers, but cops with the weight of the legal system behind them and specialized training. I’ve asked six of them, from their personal experience what percentage of the cases they’ve worked on do they think were false -- but they couldn’t prove it to the point of meritless.
The numbers range between 30 and 50%.
Pick me up off the floor and wave smelling salts under my nose, because I just fainted. WHAT? You heard me. The divisions ran, two 30s, two 40s and two 50s. I can’t give you any more because of confidentiality, but I will tell you both of the 50s had special circumstances - one of which was a university in his jurisdiction. (Oh and BTW, I have personal experience with a family member losing a scholarship as the result of a false accusation on campus. SHE wasn’t even one of the ones having sex. That’s what got me thinking outside the box on this issue.)
In the assessment of motives, the investigators gave two primary causes for these accusations: 
1) Hell hath no fury ... 
2) Save your ass, by throwing someone else under the bus. 
A point of interest, the two 50s - being in different circumstances - put suspected motives in different orders. While trouble was the primary motive in both, what varied was if getting someone else into it (revenge) or getting oneself out of it by claiming rape. 
Now there’s something I should point out here. These numbers in no way, shape or form subtract from the legitimate cases of rape and sexual violence that routinely occur. Nor is it in any way meant to try to detract from the trauma and injury caused by rape or the need to sit down and try to figure out what to do about the problem of rape and victimization. Nor is it an attempt to deny that actual rape victims are further traumatized, by the fact that ours is an adversarial court system.
What it especially isn’t is a denial that in times past the courts were seriously stacked against the woman saying she was raped. But you know what? Under Sharia law the woman is automatically guilty in charges of rape. The standards it takes to convict a man of rape are impossibly high. If you believe that sort of system is screwed up, then it is screwed up -- no matter who is the protected class and who is automatically blamed. 
While we have to acknowledge that things used to be stacked against an American woman saying she was raped, we have a different problem. That is we have to be careful about people calling for a return to the bad old days - but with the pendulum swinging as far the other way. “So you men will know what it feels like!” (Yes, that is an actual quote; as well as a sentiment I’ve heard more than once.) Should we turn our legal system into a kangaroo court system where a woman claiming she was raped is enough to imprison someone? Should we just automatically assume the man’s guilt and -- out of fear of retraumatizing her --the only questions we ask the woman are so we can hang him?
The problems with this approach are obvious. What is not so obvious is the understanding that our legal system is a meatgrinder. That equality means you have a 50/50 chance of losing. That no matter who you are, the suck factor, unfairness and expense is high. Add that to the long list of things I don’t know what to do about.
Now I will tell you this New Sharia has gained ground on universities when it comes to Title IX tribunals. (Odd thing is the tribunals had a legitimate basis for violence against women on Indian Reservations, but it unwittingly [?] slopped over to universities. The reason for the [?] is the question, “Or was it unwitting?” But there was/is a big problem with violence on Reservations because of tribal sovereignty. ) I found once source that claimed under the Obama Administration sexual misconduct trials on campus have gone up by 3000% -- especially since the Office of Civil Rights (remember their involvement in the Rolling Stone Rape story?) sent out their “Dear Colleague” letter in 2011 
 Here, this might explain that better and why F.I.R.E. is fixing to sue over that letter
The decisions of these tribunals are more and more being overturned by the courts because they violate due process and the rights of the condemned. And yes, that word choice is intentional. I know of some campuses where rape victim advocacy groups are pushing that one of their members be appointed to all tribunals regarding sexual misconduct. In case you missed it, that’s like insisting a member of the Westboro Baptist Church be on a panel judging homosexuals.
Do I have an answer about how to nail the actual rapists but protect people from false accusations of rape? No I don’t. But I wrote this article, because there are too many people out there calling for changing our system to the point that the accusation of rape should be all that is needed. That the evil that is not punished to their satisfaction warrants the destruction of the lives of innocents. 
The cries of “97% of all rapists get away with it!” and “Only two percent of all rape allegations are found to be false!” make it seem like false allegations are such a small, insignificant number. Give up your right of due process and professional investigation to make it all right. After all the numbers are so small, we can afford to be occasionally wrong in the name of greater justice. 
Except a bunch of sex crime investigators with a drink or two under their belts tell a different story.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Fighting Our Way Back To The Middle

You know things are seriously screwed up when you find yourself thinking that a Fundamentalist, anti-homosexual streetcorner preacher is the voice of reason. Yet, here it is...

This occurred on Arizona State University property. I don’t know about you, but I kind of hate having to take his side. It is kind of a 'the ACLU defending the KKK's right to hold a rally' situation. ASU /Arizona had a kerfluffle about that dang ol' First Amendment and yes, preaching on campus is protected free speech. So the U -- which takes money from the government -- can’t officially say ‘no.’ However, the hostility of the 'locals' is well known. As this young gentleman so demonstrates with such grace and decorum.

There is something that both interests and concerns me. 
As I've said many times, I'm not a Trump fan (or anybody elses). I do however see his popularity as indicative of a growing resistance -- possible push back, hence the concern -- to the bullying and pushing of the progressive behavior.

I know this is a hot button term, but I ask that you bear with me for a while. The behavior is hurting not just people, but the cause. The behavior isn’t just shutting down communication, but it’s eroding support and credibility. For example, this kid. MSU. Yale. BLM at rallies, Occupy, Deadlocks, etc. The list long and it’s growing longer. It's gotten not just over the top, but they're getting bolder and more aggressive.

Another part of this... well let me explain it this way. Some years ago the PLO/PNA spokeswoman came to speak in Denver and there was a protest. And it was serious. No fancy camera shots to make 20 people look like a mob. There were lots of people. The local News interviewed a cop on the scene and he was... disquieted. His observation was "Usually with protests you see the same faces every time. This protest is different. These are everyday people." When everyday people -- who really don’t have a dog in the fight -- start turning against you, it’s time to reevaluate strategies.

Then comes the next step. There's an old protest quote often attributed to Ghandi "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." ( A sub-variant of this is with 'hate you.') While it's an inspiring quote for those calling for social change, it kind of overlooks the number of times movements have failed miserably. Not just squished, but failed. There are a lot more of those times than ‘wins.’ Often when movements turned toxic and went too far resulting in their allies pulled away. These aren’t everyday people, these are allies, if not your support base.

Something that I'm noticing among all the clamor of all these protests is what voices aren't there. Voices that have traditionally been there for these movements aren't pitching in as much. And that is VERY telling.

I've long made a distinction between Liberals and Progressives (remember, I was raised Liberal). Again, I know this is a kneejerk issue, but please hear me out. I strongly feel there has been a gradual hijacking of the liberal agenda by extremists and special interests. I first noticed this change when I heard the term "Hold my nose Democrat." These were some very smart people saying they hold their nose and vote Democrat -- basically as the lesser of two evils. 

I’m seeing an erosion of liberal support of this behavior; and like erosion it’s not a loud process. It used to be that folks were always there supporting a position out of reflex. Someone says it and you get the 'yeahs' and 'me toos.' But things have progressed to the point where a lot of folks ...well they could be quoting the movie "The Abyss" with "Hippy, quit being on my side." Except they aren't saying that yet. 

What they are doing is not saying anything. 

And that silence is telling. For example, take the Dreadlocks/cultural appropriation confrontation incident that happened at San Francisco State University. The SFGate ran an on-line article about it. Now my feelings about San Francisco is if there was a zombie apocalypse there'd be Zombie Rights activists in SF. (Along with the traditional hip 'yeah' and "me too" support from the coffee shops and microbreweries.) My jaw hit the floor when reading the comment section. At the time, nobody came out in support of her. In fact, the comments were unanimously against the woman’s behavior.

The fact that people from other political positions are beginning to come forth saying ‘enough’ is very telling, but so too is this growing silence. Things might be moving beyond just pretending these problems don’t exist in your own group. Kind of like Christians don’t have a problem admitting that the Westboro Baptist Church isn’t representative of all Christians, people with a more liberal persuasion have an opportunity to actively distance themselves from the more aggressive and hostile elements weaponizing what you sincerely believe in. Do you really want those folks dictating what it means to be ______(fill in the blank)?

At the same time I’m going to suggest that this is a chance -- and please God, don’t let it be the last chance before the SHTF -- for people to start coming back to the middle. 

That means people from different positions talking to each other instead of letting the extremists of their own side tell them what those ‘other people think.’ In case you missed it, that is a shout out to everyone to stop being bullied by the extremists, liars and hate mongers of your side and go out and talk to people who think differently than you. Most importantly, stop listening to the screamers on your side about what the ‘other side thinks’ and actually sit down with the moderates from that side. Yeah, there’s going to be some concern and confusion, but stop and compare notes. Starting with “When you use this term, what exactly do you mean? Because when I use it I mean ______”

I think you will find that you have more in common than you imagined. Including the fact that much of the bullying, abuse and silencing you’ve been subjected to is coming from the more vocal fringes -- who have also been controlling what you can say -- rather than the far more numerous folks who believe a certain way. We’ve been conditioned to be afraid of each other. That’s not a good thing, because after fear comes anger. And a bunches of pissed off, self-righteous people who aren’t actually talking but throwing verbal abuse at each other is just a short step from things getting bloody.

And that’s something that most people don’t want, but the extremists are pushing us towards -- usually by screaming hatred in our ears about what haters those other people are.

If you really want peace, be brave enough to walk over -- with an open heart -- to the other side to find out who they really are. And do it before the extremists on all sides -- including yours -- push us into being cannon fodder for their hatred.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Stop Kicking That Dog. It's About to Bite (An open letter to liberals about their hatred.)

I'm writing this during the 2016 election campaign. However, it’s a concept that has been a long time coming and -- quite frankly -- the potential for violence scares the hell out of me. Stop and let that sink in for a moment ... violence professional ... expert on the subject of violence... scared of the degree and intensity of violence we’re potentially heading for. 
That’s qualifier #1, qualifier #2. I need to say this so you can really stop and consider the point I am about to make: I am not a Trump supporter (nor, in fact am I fond of any of the leading three candidates.) So there is no political agenda underlying this post. (I’m registered ‘independent’ and identify myself politically as a ‘pragmatist.’) Having said these two things: 
What seriously concerns me are the conditions that have given rise to Trump's popularity. 
And part of that popularity can be laid at the doorstep of self-described liberals and their aggressive behavior. Now before you get defensive, I fully acknowledge that conservatives do this behavior too. But 
 A ) If a behavior is wrong, then it is wrong no matter who is doing it. 
B ) Screaming they do it too doesn't help fix the problem (a.k.a. help everyone stop doing it). 
The point here the rise of the popularity of Trump -- and it has a lot to do with anger of his supporters. Why are they angry? Well start with the liberal position has kicked that dog one time too many. People who -- often in the names of their feelings, compassion and superior beliefs -- insist on insulting, condemning and giving themselves permission to spew hate speech about those who dare think differently than they do. The scary thing is how often 'anger' is used as justification for kicking that dog that is now growling and baring it's teeth at the kickers. They don't realize that dog (Trump supporters) are about to bite. 
Here's part of the problem, the kickers are lying to themselves about it. See one of the more interesting aspect of tribal behavior, is you need an 'enemy' to help identify who you are (and why your tribe is superior.) Your group is 'right' and those evil rotten horrible bastards deserve anything you do to them. What's more is your status in the tribe is not just confirmed but increased for kicking that dog. In other words you get Brownie Points -- inside your tribe-- by shouting out what stupid, ignorant hateful, greedy and evil bastards those other are. 
Which hey, if you were truly isolated in an echo chamber wouldn’t matter. But you aren’t. That signal is getting broadcast and others are receiving it -- including those you are spitting on. Yet at the same time, we've been conditioned to believe bald faced hatred isn't a good thing -- especially in this giant (supposedly non-tribal) egalitarian, super-tribe called the United States. Great idea, except that is not how the primitive, tribal part of our bigger brain works. This leaves us in a bit of pickle. On one hand huge amounts of our self-identity is based on embracing open minded egalitarianism at the same time, we're wired to be tribal and bigoted against 'outsiders.' And that is what political polarization is, tribalism 101.
The challenge is to work -- hard -- at overcoming the hateful, bigoted part. And it's a hard challenge because it's so easy to slip into that simplistic primitive part and use rationalization and self-justification to deny we’re there. How do you feed that part (spit hate and venom) and still self-define yourself as 'not a hater? Why you rationalize your behavior and justify it using rhetoric, cherry picked facts to support your beliefs, you use (and pass on) limited and selective sources of information that pander to your primitive, tribal hater. And you do this pretending that you're being intelligent and informed in your contempt for those who think differently than you do. It’s not hatred, it’s a legitimate and rational response to what those rat bastards have done...
But let’s look at the associated behavior. Not the reasons why you think it’s justified, but the behavior itself. First you convince yourself that dog deserves to be kicked. Then you give yourself permission to let fly. You ignore the pain you’re inflicting. But, more than that, you’re not ‘abusing that animal,’ you’re showing others what’s wrong with how it thinks and behaves. You’re going to beat that animal until it learns the error of its ways. And you’re surrounded by people who are cheering you on.
Well, to quote Rooster Cogburn “Drop that switch, LaBoeuf. Put it down, I said. You're enjoying it too much.”
Now in case you missed the True Grit (1969) reference, those lines were spoken with a cocked pistol aimed at the fella with the stick. Now being as the story of True Grit takes place in late 1800’s, no matter how angry and self-righteous as LeBoeuf was in his attack, he realized he would indeed be shot if he continued his behavior. That’s an idea many people who give themselves permission to attack and spew hatred about those disgusting others, have lost sight of. 
Indeed their anger is far, far more important than the anger that their actions are creating. Or, to go back to the original analogy, it doesn’t matter that the dog has turned around and is baring its teeth at you. As such you might not want to keep on kicking it. If you do, what’s going to happen is not just pretty predictable, but obvious to everyone else except you.
I am truly and deeply concerned by the growing potential of a backlash. I see Trump’s popularity -- including it growing every time the media plays favorites, protesters shut down a Trump rally and hateful articles are posted on social media -- as a serious growl. A growl that people -- who have long used their anger as justification their kicking that dog -- are ignoring. Speaking as a violence profession, a person who has spent over five decades studying and trying to understand violence, I ask you. Hell, I implore you... 
PLEASE don’t. 
Now I’ve long made a distinction between liberals and progressives (I liken the difference to the same between Catholics and Inquisitors.) I have many self-identified liberal friends -- who themselves are often victimized by progressive zealots. The problem is that growling dog doesn’t. The often passive support of zealots by more moderate liberals (and this includes not standing up to them from fear of being targeted by them) makes you smell the same as the abusers; at least to that dog that is about to start biting. 
Please, stop throwing kicks. Stop encouraging those who are throwing kicks. And most of all, don’t be silent when someone is abusing that dog. Don’t let these folks keep on kicking the dog because -- even if you claim you aren’t doing it (or you only do it a little bit) -- if that dog starts biting you’re going to end up in its jaws.
And yes, I also encourage people of a more conservative bent to go out and do the same about the barking moonbats of their ‘tribe.’ Acknowledge they’ve been kicked 27 times too often, but the consequences of giving in to that anger are too dire. 
Am I singing kumbaya? No. Not really. We as a nation have forgotten that you have to fight to stay in the middle otherwise the extremists of your side will take over and get you into fights with other groups. 
At the very least, quit posting hater stuff on your social media wall. If you feel real strongly about it -- knowing that you have to fight to stay in the middle - try standing up now and then to the extremists in you own ‘tribe.’ You’ll discover first hand why those other dogs are ready to bite.
I don’t know what the backlash will be, nor can I predict how far it will go or what measures will be put into place to quell these issues. But I assure you, none of them will be good. I’ve lived through riots of self-righteous angry people and they are not fun. But long before things get to that point, there has been stewing and carefully nursed anger building. You may think that anger makes you powerful, but when that smoke in the air is your city burning it’s not a good thing. In fact, it’s kinda too late.
(And yes, I speak from experience about coughing from that kind of smoke.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Circle Straddling (Dealing with subtle unacceptable behavior)

There is a behavior I call "circle straddling' (although as you'll see, "line waddling" works too.) Think of a circle of socially acceptable behaviors. Inside that circle social convention keeps you safe. For example, if you don't say certain things (follow social 'rules'), you won't get hit, stabbed or shot (more social rules). Here's a key point of this, the circle is a two way street. The circle limits behaviors of everyone INSIDE.

Outside the circle, those rules don't apply. Here is another key component to understanding this behavior. If YOU are the only person outside the circle, you have the power. For example, you can say nasty things to those inside the circle with impunity. They have rules and you don't. 

Wheeeeee! You're free, powerful and safe to do whatever you want. That is until someone else steps outside the circle. All of a sudden those 'no rules apply' is another two way street. Now, you not only risk the person responding to your behavior with like kind, but they may increase it to hitting, stabbing or shooting you for your bad behavior. If you want to continue your bad behavior you're going to have to crank it up -- and take the inherent risks of the other person cranking it too. 

This is not so fun. 

Often, as a result of someone also stepping out, the person who was originally aggressing (outside the circle) will jump back inside. You may get a Little Bo Peep act. Or you may get an overt "you can't touch me because of rules" routine.Or you may get some weird combo. The point is ALL of them are relying on the rules to stop you from taking action -- especially punitive. 

This behavior, once you know about it, is easily recognizable. It's also pretty ham handed. What's not as obvious -- as well as far more common -- is circle straddling. That's where someone has one foot inside the circle and one foot outside. They're misbehaving, but juuuuuust not enough to warrant punching them in the face ... excuse me, step outside the circle yourself. 

But recognize, this is usually a deliberate strategy where the individual is attempting to get the benefits of both inside and outside the circle. That is to say the safety of insider (limitations on the behaviors of others) and the freedom/power/benefits of outside. Basically they're trying to creates a one way street. Because they tend to behaviorally 'dance' on which side they're on (shifting weight to each foot) you can see why 'line waddling' is also an apt term. 

Once you know about this straddle, the behavior becomes obvious. As does possible responses. As the more subtle ones are relying on social convention you can simply choose to ignore it as if it didn't happen. Know that they'll usually try to do it again -- which reveals to everyone else that they are being the ass. They have to blatantly step outside the circle. This destroys any sympathy for them and the protection of being inside the circle. 

Another way, is to noticeably ignore it. They make a snarky comment, you listen, deliberately pause, then calmly continue with a "As I was saying..." Recognize that the power of subtle digs is that they provoke an obvious response. Their power is in shifting the blame/who's the bad guy/ who is breaking the rules/ over reacted. Someone who reacts to them is the 'bad guy.' (Steps outside the circle.) This response lets everyone in the room know that you heard the dig, but intentionally chose to ignore it because there is something more important to be addressed. This behavior also shows you are the bigger 'dog.' That while you heard it, you chose to ignore it because that person isn't worth your time or attention. This also sends a message to the circle straddler, that it's in his or her best interest not to mess with you because... ya know people they can safely get away with pulling this behavior with don't react that way.

Stepping it up you can "call the ball" on the behavior. This especially if the person is stupid enough to continue waddling the line with little zingers. After their 'last one' you stop, look at them and say "You know, I've been trying to focus on resolving this, but you've been throwing little digs in trying to piss me off. Now if you want, we can escalate this. And I'm fine with that. I don't mind rockin' and rollin'* Or we can set that aside and turn our attention to resolving this situation."

* Alternative (depending on the situation) sentence: If you want to be unreasonable, I'm way better at it than you. 

This announces to everyone in the room that you know the individual is straddling the circle. It in essence, kicks the circle out from underneath where he's standing. The leaves him in a quandary ,either move back entirely inside the circle or knowingly step outside the circle with you and take his chances. 

Those are subtler ways to handle circle straddlers. The more obvious way ... well, let's just say that it has some problems that come with it. That is basically to kick the circle way back over there and inform the individual that his or her safety is reliant on him/her scurrying back over there. And that continued ____ (name the bad behavior) will result in .... well tell you what. It would be a lot better if they got back inside that circle.

Once you know about the circle, inside and outside and the waddle, it becomes way less annoying when someone is straddling it. In fact, it becomes kind of a smile with a "I see what you did there."


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A State Monopoly on Violence? (and how that influences self-defense)

Do you believe the government (the State) should have a monopoly on use of force?
Not just 'violence,' but ALL uses of force. I ask this because if you are of the opinion that violence is always bad (there's never an acceptable reason for it) then your position will more likely lean towards the monopoly ideal. My summation of this position is "Only trained professionals -- that we are in control of -- should be allowed to use force. Individuals should be punished for using it" (That's a State monopoly)
On the surface, this may not seem like a bad idea. I mean hey, violence is bad so higher standards of training, it cuts back on abuse, violence and makes prosecution easier, etc. But when you begin to take it a little deeper, you run into some problems. The most obvious is "If all violence is wrong and the State has a monopoly on it, what does that make the State?"
Personally, I have a bigger problem than an existential crisis of faith in one's politics. What makes me say "Hold the phone" is under a State monopoly --
Self-defense becomes illegal.
Stop and think about that. If the state has a monopoly on violence and all violence is wrong, then there is no difference between a murder and self defense. You are required, you have to allow yourself to become a victim. You NOT allowed to defend yourself. In fact, if you do, you will be punished -- by the State.
But wait, the laws in all 50 states clearly say we are allowed to defend ourselves! I can show you the statute from my state!

Okay, join me in a little reality break here Starting with there’s a difference between the ‘Law’ and our legal system. Followed by the fact that humans are involved in the legal system. And we are clever little monkeys when it comes to finding a way around rules and using systems to our advantage. In case you missed it, what the law says and how those in the legal system interpret it might not be the same thing. And while this may be a new topic for you, they have years of experience playing in the State’s legal system.

One of the ways thing are played with can be found in Sun Tzu “Art of War” in the Military Maneuvering chapter: When you surround an army, leave a means to escape. This doesn’t mean what you think it does. In fact, it’s a trap. Being as it’s a Chinese manuscript, there’s always commentary. As Tu Mu puts it, "Make him believe that there is a road to safety, and thus prevent his fighting with the courage of despair. After that, you may crush him."

To bring things a little more up to date than a 2,500 year old manuscript there is the Carousel scene from “Logan’s Run.” In a futuristic, controlled and contained society nobody lives past 30 years old. But you can ‘take your chances’ for renewal (rebirth) by getting on the Carousel. If you can touch the light then you are reborn. If not, crispy critters. It’s a very Coliseum event with the cheering crowds and hope for rebirth.
Except later on the main character Logan, discovers it’s a lie. Nobody has ever survived the Carousel. For generations, the population has been slaughtered on their 30th birthday. But it is the hope for regeneration that keeps the population in line.
I tell you this because while it hasn’t gotten to the point where it’s as bad as the Carousel -- you CAN be cleared for self-defense -- the game is seriously stacked for the House/State. See, the game can be rigged by saying that self-defense is allowed, but then try to set the standards so impossibly high that -- in effect-- everything is prosecuted.
Now knowing that an attorney is going to read this and try to twist it and use it against me. Am I saying that we’ve reached the point in our legal system were there is no such thing as self-defense? Why no. What I am saying that in a metric driven system where careers are dependent on convictions (numbers) we’d be naive to believe that doesn’t influence the arrest and prosecution process. Oh and while we’re at it, wouldn’t it behoove an individual whose career is dependent on number of convictions to lean towards the idea of a State monopoly?

Here’s a cup of coffee. Take a sniff.

You -- as an individual -- have to recognize that just acting in self-defense alone isn’t enough. I could get my geek on and say, “Koybayashi Maru, Baby!” But it is far more complicated than that. Starting with that your training CAN’T just be on the physical elements. Before you ever find yourself in a situation where you might have to use your training, it behooves you to adopt the attitude that you’re facing a system that believes it has a monopoly on violence -- and how dare you try to trust bust! 

But, it has to pretend that’s not it’s position. (Gee, where have I sen this before? )

That is where you really do have a chance. And it’s not a false hope either.
In my book “In The Name of Self-Defense” I talk about it not really mattering what threat assessment system you use (AOJ/AOI/JAM/Five Stages). The important part is that you have a systematic and explainable process for what you did. You must be able to articulate what was going on that lead you to reasonably believe the level of force you used was necessary for your safety.
Otherwise our legal system is going to eat you alive for defending yourself. That’s just one of the many things you have consider including in your self-defense training.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Lies, Spindoctoring and Statistics

In a Heinlein book I ran across the 'art of the lie.' One of which is to to tell the truth in such a way that nobody believes you. (Tricky, but can be done -- I've seen sociopaths do it.) The other is to tell only part of the truth.

The last is really slick because it goes past just lying by omission.

First everything you say is verifiable. For example, black children do indeed constitute a high number of firearm homicides.

Second, the lying by omission part is the extra data you don't supply (e.g., that older gangmembers manipulate and use young kids because of lighter sentences, that the standards of 'children' can go up to 23, most of these homicides are directly involved in criminal activity). But as you will see, calling it a lie is ...well, not exactly right. 

Third, the supplied, but edited, information usually leads to an emotional and not rational specific conclusion. "POOR CHILDREN ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED!" If you have that other information that isn't the same conclusion you'll jump to -- that's why the data you're supplied is carefully edited.He’s not lying per se, but he is manipulating you to a desired conclusion. A conclusion that you ‘make.’

Fourth it creates a 'yes set.'

Super short version, after three yeses, it's harder to say no on the fourth point. Add to that, after three yeses we start to trust the person and stop checking/verifying the accuracy of what they are saying. So the small lies start at four, and the whoppers start coming in at eight.
Fifth, is confidence.

How's that for a left turn?

Realize that people WAY over estimate their ability to detect falsehood. A big part of this is they are looking for non-verbal cues that indicate unease, uncertainty (can I get away with this) and inner conflict. All of which are real common with young children lying to their parents. 

Yet when someone presents something that is true there's a certain body language that accompanies it. It's a form of confidence in the information and self. Try it yourself. Look in the mirror and say "The sun comes up in the East." Then say "The sun comes up in the south." You're conflicted by saying something you know isn't true. You can fake the confidence the second time, but the first time don't.

Here's the rub with lying by providing only half of the needed information. You don't have to fake it. You can say what you're saying with absolute conviction because it is -- partially at least -- true. If you can keep from thinking about those partials, you can be very, very convincing. Mostly because you've convinced yourself.

Sixth is it doesn't create cognitive dissonance.
The first four minutes of this clip convey some important concepts -- especially 'that satisfies' and 'allow something to be true.'

We have a lot of biases and heuristics that we use to make everyday decisions. And believe me, they are incredibly important for functioning (look at the persuasion clip again in this light). No BS, if we didn't you couldn't get through the day, starting with putting your shoes on. This ties back to the difference between knowledge and belief, which is too big to into right now, but is well worth looking into.

When we are supplied information we run it through these filters. Not just looking for BS, but also what we're going to do about it. If something doesn't gel with our beliefs it's going to be like large particulate matter in a screen. It gets hung up. But things we do agree with pass through like smoke -- unfiltered and with ease.

Now that's all a fancy way of saying if you believe something already, you're not going to spot either edited information or an outright lie about the subject. You're certainly not going to spot the Holland Tunnel sized holes in the logic. For example:
"Guns kill people! So they should be illegal!"
"Ummmm...the number of legally owned firearms used in homicides is statistically meaningless. The killers are already breaking the existing gun laws."
"That means we need stricter gun laws!"

Now if you've bought into the rhetoric of 'guns are evil' this makes perfect sense. If you haven't, "Wait...what?"

So another way of saying 'doesn't create cognitive dissonance' is it "It aligns with your pre-existing biases."

Seventh is operative conditioning.

Many people have heard the Hitler/Goebbels quote about 'tell a lie big enough' but have you heard the rest of the quote? Here it is:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. 

The thing about this is, if you get beaten over the head enough times with an idea, you begin to give it credibility -- even if you don't buy it. Let me give you a few examples of completely made up concepts that we now take their validity for granted. Assault rifles, muscle memory, rape culture, instinctive flinch response, racism, religion and rights.

Do we actually know what those are? Seriously can ANYONE give a solid definition that is verifiable? Or is it a 'everyone knows what you're talking about?' Yet I can guarantee you we can argue over them. Man, all I have to say is any of those words and there's a fight. That we’re fighting over it, unconsciously acknowledges that we’ve accepted the validity of the concept -- even if we rabidly disagree with it.

We've been conditioned not to question the validity of the ideas -- but instead to fight over which one is right. If I can get you to stop questioning, and instead to buy into the a belief (pro or con) I've just secured my power base. That being done, you're way more susceptible to buying into the tailored information I'm feeding you after you've bought into 'the big lie.'

Eighth -- and finally -- get into the habit of asking "What aren't you telling me?"

I gotta tell you this is a barrel of laughs, especially the deer in the headlights look. In truth, though it's more for you to develop the habit of looking beyond the narrative. To look at the 'yes set' and ask, 'where's the spin?' To look at people who are feeding you carefully prepared information and ask 'what are you getting out of telling me this?

Basically asking "so what do you want me to do about this?" Including me doing nothing about what you're doing. (And believe me, THAT is a biggie.)

So right there is a list of things you can do to help you spot spindoctoring lies and statistics.