Saturday, October 17, 2020

Analyzing Violence: Twelve points to be taken into account.

Get a cup of coffee. Even with my ability to make complex subjects simple, this is going to take a while. 

    Add to that, I'm taking a wide spectrum approach. What I'm talking about has three uses. Which one you choose is up to you.
        1) To give you tools to assess what you're being told about an incident. 
        2)  So you can recognize when someone who is opining about an incident
              a) if they understand what's involved, or 
              b) if they are having a knee jerk reaction.
        3) Show how these same elements will apply if you have to defend yourself.

    With any incident there are are four —arguably five—overlapping considerations. Think of them as different filters to run an incident through to gain understanding. A) how violence/crime works, B) the law, C) how the legal system works, and D) what were the circumstances of the incident? When run through these filters  the outcome is often rather damning. That's why people often try to introduce a fifth consideration —that of ideology and/or social narrative. That distracts people from A-D. 

    How can that become problematic? Let's look back at number two. Every time the news reports someone getting killed legions of instant-experts on law, self-defense and use of force magically appear across social media. These folks know...wait, I'm sorry, let me rephrase that... they KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! And by gawds they're going to tell you what to think about it. 

     The problem is they usually aren't running it through the four filters, but often only through the fifth —and questionable— one. When these people are preaching (because that's usually what they're doing), I'm sitting over here drinking my coffee with the ghost of Wolfgang Pauli. Pauli was a theoretical physicist who upon reading a crackpot paper written by a student, famously exclaimed "That's not only not right, it's not even wrong."

    Nobody likes to be told they're wrong.  While we can all be wrong now and then, this is way beyond that. I mention Pauli because to reach the level he was talking about, you have to compile misunderstanding, misinformation, ignorance, and dismissal of those four filters. I'm talking a layer cake of "that's not how it works," "there's other ways to look at it," misinformation, partial information, and outright lies the person believes. All of which the person  is usually ferocious about defending. Often they are dismissive of other people's knowledge and direct experience with the subject.  I can almost hear them say (because I actually have been challenged this way), "Oh yeah and what makes you an expert?"

     Ummm, how about that I actually am a court recognized expert witness on —among other things—self-defense and violence reconstruction?  In this job there are key elements I assess and analyze. Yes, I've testified and undergone cross-examination to defend my conclusions. On top of that I have nearly thirty books and videos published on the subject of violence and have taught these topics internationally.

     "Yeah okay, sure. Fine. But my opinion is just as valid as yours!"

     Hate to tell you this Sparky, but there's a difference between an opinion and an analysis. Now you might think I should have used the word "conclusion" there— which I could have. I'm about to share twelve key points to be taken into account, the process to come to a conclusion AND an informed opinion. (But even the latter is less useful than a solid conclusion based on evidence and analysis.)

     Let's start with you can instantly form an opinion on one 'fact' and a whole lot of baggage. By baggage I mean what you believe and what-you-think-you-know. Often this baggage has absolutely nothing to do with the incident, how 'things' work (e.g., law and the legal system), or the dynamics of violence (i.e., how violence happens). Instead these are social narratives you have come to believe because you've been told them so often. (e.g., 'police shooting are driven by skin color' or 'I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.)  But because you believe it to be true, it is —to you at least—unquestionably true. In a very real sense, your 'understanding' of an incident is plug-and-play. Because you 'know' all this other stuff, your opinion of a situation is an automatic extension of those beliefs.

     And usually deserve Pauli wagging his ghostly finger at you.

      Conclusions, on the other hand, take time, effort, knowledge and a firm understanding of the process. A big part of that is you don't form a conclusion until you have as much relevant information as possible. In plain English, conclusions are reached a lot of step-by-step, slow work. Work that can be documented, verified, understood, and defended.  Opinions don't meet this standard—no matter how loud someone is about defending theirs.

     Another standard opinions don't reach is: The addition of extra (or clarification of) factors WILL change the conclusion. 

     Let me give you an example. Some years ago the self-defense world was in an uproar about an 'innocent' in England who 'defended' himself against home invaders with a 'samurai sword.' The outrage was over he was charged with murder. Oh the injustice! The undermining of our right to self-defense!  Yeah right sure. While that was  the narrative, there was more to the story. A whole lot more. What those who confuse opinion with conclusion missed was:
A- He was a drug dealer working out of his flat (apartment),
B- It was a home invasion/robbery of drugs and money,
C- After the initial threat of violence, the home invaders had tied him up then ransacked the place,
D- After they left the apartment, he finished freeing himself,
E - He grabbed the sword, ran into the hallway, chased them down the stairs where he sliced one,
F- The rest ran out of the building and down the street,
G- He caught up to one more and killed him.

     Little different than the 'he's in prison for self-defense' narrative, isn't it? Aside from there being enough felonies to go around for everyone, from the moment he laid hand on the sword, he'd left self-defense. But to this day there are still people convinced he went to prison for 'defending himself.'

     Welcome to my world. When it comes to violence, there isn't just a lot of unfamiliarity about what is 'actually' involved (as opposed to baggage), but there's a lot of misinformation. Much of that is intentional.  That has to be considered whenever someone is giving you their opinion about what happened (Because often it's accompanied with why you should believe and respond a certain way to this tragic and wrongful death.)  That's no longer opinion, it's an agenda.

     So, instead of just falling into the opinion trap, what do you look at to do an analysis? Well a short and fast twelve point check list. (There's more, but let's start with these).

  1. Illegal activity
  2. Participation
  3. Location
  4. History
  5. Advance/retreat
  6. Known danger
  7.  Presenting/ Doing (Known Danger)
  8. Level of response
  9. Murder, manslaughter, line of duty, self-defense
  10. Duty to act
  11. Small but important details
  12. What isn't known

    One— Was there illegal activity involved?

    By this  I don't mean petty licensing or nit-picky details, I mean crime and/or major illegal behavior. Newsflash, most homicide 'victims' are involved in criminal/illegal activity. A good measure for this is at the time of death being on parole or probation. Or, as was the case in the UK, being an active drug dealer. 

    From a public standpoint there are many people who are happy to dismiss criminal activity as a small and insignificant detail, but to the legal system and the rest of us, it's kind of a big thing. A thing that is not so easily dismissed.

    This is especially true when it comes to police involved shootings. What was the behavior that got the police involved in the first place? Contrary to the popular narratives about these incidents, people are not shot for petty crimes.  But it is true is illegal behavior is what originally caused police involvement. It's when the situation escalated to violence/resisting arrest that force was used.  

    Two— Participation.

    Getting all legal argle-bargely and specific, was the person actively engaging in the creation, escalation and execution of the violence? In layman's terms, was the person (who used force or it was used on) part of the problem? A problem that resulted in violence.

    When I mention this often people try to find loopholes and excuses. So let me set the foundation for understanding. I'm not talking about you walking to your car, some stranger tries to mug you and you defend yourself. That isn't the type of 'participation' I'm talking about.  I'm talking about you marching over to your neighbor's house to confront him over his dog pooping on your lawn— and things escalating.

    Part of what confuses people is legally it doesn't matter what someone 'meant to do.' What matters is what the person did. Participation is a really tricky subject that lawyers try to push up and down the field like a football. But know, this is where most people blow it. While the whole situation will be gone over with a microscope to find fault with what someone did in the lead up to violence, more times than not it was mutual participation. Participation that's about as easy to spot as a buffalo stampede. (At least to everyone else, the adrenalized and emotional participants usually doesn't see it that way.)

    Three— Location

    Where did it happen?  Simple question right? The answer is a game changer. While many people are convinced that their rights trump all, it really helps to understand that "rights come in bundles." Bundles that often rub up against each other. Your right to do something stops at the point where someone else's rights begin.  One of the bigger examples is property rights. 

    The absolute simplest example is he on your property or are you on his? The rights and privileges of the property owner is a strong influence on how things will be looked at. Sounds easy right? Yeah about that. Are we talking private property without public access? (For example, your home.) Private property that allows limited access? (For example a business that allows paying customers.) Private property with a much wider public access? (For example a mall.) A public thoroughfare (sidewalk), park or public parking structure? Or are we talking government property/building (For example City Hall vs. a military base.)

    It's sad that so many people don't understand how such a 'small detail' should matter. Let me put it to you this way, it can be the difference between you shooting someone who broke into your house and threatened you in you bedroom, and you shooting someone whose house you were in. 

    While ownership/legal control of a property carries great weight,what doesn't —and in fact can weigh against someone—is when two parties/side decide to clash on the 'property' of someone else. This includes public property.  This gets complicated, but often problems arise because people don't understand, "Nobody has more rights on the sidewalk than someone else."

    This brings up the idea of 'turf.'  Yes, I'm talking about  gang warfare kind of turf. Certain ideologies and ethnic groups have decided that sections, if not whole cities, 'belong' to them. A lot of ideological and political violence arises from one group daring to enter what another considers their turf. Stop and take a moment to consider the implications of one group of citizens trying to run another group 'out of their town.' Aside from the sheer arrogance of that assumption, it often leads to physical violence.

    Four— History/ Build up/ Affiliation/ Pursuit of a quarrel.

    This is a bit of a catch-all consideration that goes beyond just the creation and escalation that immediately proceeds an incident. If you know what a 'time horizon' (in investment and planning) is reverse it.  This not only is what happened before the two sides came into proximity of each other during the incident, it can be preexisting situations, sometimes dating back years. Number four can come in many forms and flavors

    For example, the Mongols and the Hells Angels have long standing enmity that periodically flares up and bodies hit the floor. Then peace is negotiated again and the cycle starts over again.  This makes any incident less about the specific, but part of an ongoing pattern. Other groups like Antifa and Proud Boys go out of their way to run into each other. To the point of planning, announcing, gearing up, and traveling to where they're going to 'run into each other.' Many a person sitting in prison today, made the decision to put a weapon in their pocket 'just in case' before they left their homes to go 'straighten things out' with someone.

    The example I like to use is Raul Rodriguez in Texas. There was a noisy party down the street that he'd called the county police (who had responded and the volume was turned down), but things weren't enough for Rodriguez. Early in the morning Rodriguez strapped on his gun and filmed himself leaving his property and then stood across the street, shining a flashlight, and recorded the party. (This would later be adjudged that he left his property in pursuit of a quarrel.) When a confrontation resulted he called 911 again reported he was in fear for his life and then shot three people, killing one.  His original conviction of 40 years, turned into a life sentence after his appeal failed.  In both his trial and the appeal his history of conflict with his neighbors was introduced as proof that the shooting was part of ongoing troubles and bad choices.

    Raw truth most homicides occur between people who know each other. While certain crimes, police shootings and political/identity violence can occur between strangers, know this relationship issue will be —and deserves to be—looked at very closely. If there is a history of conflict, that's a game changer.

    Five—Advance or Retreat.

    Which way are participants moving at the time of the violence? Are both of them moving aggressively towards each other?  One advancing, one standing?  One advancing, one retreating? One standing, one retreating. Both backing away (this occasionally happens with shootings). While not an absolute, the direction someone is moving is usually indicative of aggression.

    There are three complications in this. Orientation, Predatory Pause, and After Attack Withdraw. 

    Orientation just means which direction is the person facing? If someone is shot in the front that means they were oriented on the shooter. That's an important factor in considering if that person was offering the shooter a threat.  Was he oriented on and closing distance with the shooter? But what about if the back is turned? Without the presence of a gun, if someone has turned his back and is running, odds are he's trying to escape. So unless you have a duty to act or there are extremely specialized circumstance, chasing him is crossing the line. Got that? Chasing someone puts you in the wrong. So too does shooting him the back as he's running away. On the other hand, if a gun is present it's real easy to be running in one direction and shooting back the way you came. (Like I said, it's not cast in iron.)

    Predatory pause doesn't mean the danger is over, it's simply paused while the predator decides what to do in the face of unexpected resistance. This is something difficult for people —inexperienced dealing with predators and the lifestyle violent—to understand. Yet, it's a well known, but often poorly articulated reality for those who are experienced with predators. Many people in the self-defense world think if they pull a weapon, the 'bad guy' will  turn and run. Why shouldn't he? That's what they would do. They're shocked when that doesn't happen. Odds are good predators and violent people have looked down the barrel of a gun before. They might have even have been shot before and survived. As such, this pause is neither a cessation of aggression or him changing his mind. It's him deciding what he's going to do next. Yes he could decide to back off or, he's just as likely to decide to continue to attack. So just because someone momentarily stops advancing (or even takes a step back) that doesn't mean the danger has passed.  It's not over until he's out of attack range. 

    After-Attack-Withdraw this is where things get complex, real complex. I'm going to take a hugely complicated subject and try to reduce for fast and easy communication. Start with the English language falls down on a distinction. Is an "attack" a single action (e.g., a punch) or collective actions (e.g., a beating)? We use attack interchangeably —and that causes all kinds of confusion.  A very common occurrence during a loud argument is one person steps forward, strikes, steps back, and continues to yell and threaten.  Make no mistake, a physical attack (first definition) has happened. But, it was more of a bluff than a committed attack (second definition). This behavior part of a threat display/display aggression pattern, and —this might confuse people— that attack (singular) is an attempt to intimidate, not injure. Will it work? Well that depends on many things. What happens next will determine if further physical violence will occur. However—and this is why a single step back is not necessarily a retreat or the end of violence—the hostile person who just struck is still in attack range and 'posing' an immediate threat. And there's another English stumble. By posing' do we mean legally (presenting an immediate danger)? Or common usage (pretending and/or displaying a false image)?  The answer is "It depends." But a good rule of thumb is 'still hostile while in attack range means the danger isn't gone.' It could go either way.

    This advancing, retreating issue is a critical component of "immediate threat." Another factor is how fast the closing of distance happens. Again, a complicated subject worth looking into, this is just an introduction.

    Six —Known Danger

   Known danger is pre-existing knowledge that a behavior is (or circumstances are) dangerous. It's basically 'how you knew' something was dangerous. Let me put that in plain English, it's not what you knew, but how you knew it. This can come from training or experience. Having said that, six and seven are two sides of the same coin. 

    But six is the more academic or experienced-based knowledge. It's the understanding and knowledge you have before the incident. Once again going into legal argle bargle it's known dangerous behavior likely to result in injury or death. In layman's terms it's how you knew the screaming, naked, crazy charging you waving a knife was dangerous.

    That may sound absurd (i.e., who doesn't know a crazed attacker with a knife isn't dangerous?). But it is an important element in both a legal context and in analysis. This is where you get into more than just 'would a reasonable person understand the danger of what was happening?' You also have  did the person who acted have extra training on—or experience with — how danger works?

    Often people without experience refuse to listen to experienced people telling them how dangerous a set of behaviors behavior is.  What they also don't understand is how fast things can happen or how easily it is to be rendered helpless if you wait to long.  Understand it's always a balance between acting too early and acting too late. Lacking the context of known danger, it's difficult to make an accurate assessment of what to do and to understand what happened.

    Seven — Presenting/ Doing (Known Danger)

    This is the non-academic side of six. This isn't knowledge, it's action. What was the person doing  at the moment someone else acted?  That is a simple question with profound implications.  Again, this is an incredibly complex subject with many factors. 

    An example of which, is how long will it take for countermeasures to take effect? If an individual is engaging in dangerous behavior, how long will it be before that attack 'lands?' Will your countermeasures stop him before then or are you going to be trading damage if you wait too long?  Or —and this is an important consideration—given the circumstances will a lesser level of force 'solution' work in the available time you have. If not, then it's off the table as a viable option. 

    You should know that six and seven are where people looking for an excuse to condemn (especially when they're operating from a 'baggage' perspective) don't just 'not understand,' but often do so intentionally. This can range from, 'they don't know and they don't want to know,' to —the far worse —know, but pretend not to know (e.g., a prosecutor intent on prosecuting no matter what). 

    Eight — Appropriate Level of Response

    What is the least amount of force it would take to end the danger? Sounds like an easy question, right?  It's not. Let's add some conditions. What is the minimum amount of force necessary to effectively end the danger — in the available time? Putting that concept of available time in personal terms, how much time do you have before the attacker puts you into the hospital?

Let's start by saying there are people who believe no use of force is ever appropriate. We'll just set them aside for the moment so we can look at reality. On one hand, we have failure from using insufficient force. The most recognizable version is trying to defend yourself and getting rolled over by an attacker who is using more force. 

    On the other hand, there's excessive force. Excessive force comes in two main flavors, too much and too long. Conceptually 'too much' could be understood as shooting someone because they shoved you. That is considered disproportionate to the danger that persons action poised. 'Too long' is you keep attacking after the threat from the other person has ended. Basically you're beating him after he's down or is now trying to escape. It really doesn't matter the reason for these continuing attacks, it's that you keep on going on.

    In these last sections I've given you four aspects to consider when it comes to levels of force. This whether it is you deciding what level you need or looking at how much was used in an incident.  Here they are summarized.

  1. Will it work?
  2. Will it work in time?
  3. Is it disproportional to the danger?
  4. Did it stop when the threat stopped?

     When police have to use force, you will encounter no end of instant-experts who will condemn them. Those four points I just gave you allow for a much more reliable criteria to assess appropriate use of the officer's force. Do police occasionally go overboard with force? Yes, they do. However, those four points are overwhelmingly the case with police use of force. There is another issue that I'll mention in passing, that's the difference between stopping a threat and putting someone into a position to be cuffed. Officers often have to use force until someone is safely cuffed. Even then, some people continue to attack and resist while cuffed. So look for that as well.

    Let's talk about those people we set aside earlier. There are many people who are operating from a baggage-is-my-guide perspective who might consider one or two of those. The key word in that last sentence is 'might.' I've not only run across people who believe any force is excessive, regardless of the situation, but that anyone who does is evil and wrong. Many  also believe owning a gun should be illegal. They also tend to believe that any death is automatically murder. These are the assumptions (often unstated) they are arguing from. Which brings us to the next point. 

    Nine—Murder, Manslaughter, Line of Duty, and Self-Defense

     While those are all homicides (death caused by another human), legally speaking, they are not the same thing. Each mean something very specific and are varying degrees of 'bad.' Some are punishable, some can be legally justified. While it may be a reach to say they are clearly defined, they are understood as different. In court, the challenge is to prove that an incident met with a particular criteria. 

    Even in common parlance (where people don't know the exact details) it's understood there are differences in these terms. That's why you should be careful of someone who tries to frame any homicide as murder. Often this goes past simple sloppy thinking and moves into agenda. They're using the word 'murder' because of the horrible connotations it has. 

    This includes when it's the District Attorney's office.  First, in these days of plea bargaining, it is not uncommon to hang a higher charge on someone with intent to let it be plead down. (Another common strategy is to pile on so many charges there is no chance of being acquitted on all of them.) Second, anytime something is caught up in the news cycle odds are it is going to go political. When it goes political —I need to put a caveat here—while not automatic, in a vast majority of the case, the prosecutor will find the highest crime possible to prosecute. This includes if you have to squat down, turn your head and squint to see how the prosecutor can try to prosecute that particular crime given the circumstances. But once again, it's political —especially if there's a special prosecutor assigned to the case from outside the district.

    I'd also like to point out people who want to paint a situation in the worst way possible will often grab onto these politically motivated charges and use that as their justification for claiming it was 'murder.' After all, that's what the prosecutor said it was. So it must be true. A
 small—but rather important detail— is you can be charged with something, but that's not the same thing as a conviction. To get a murder conviction the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the higher crime. Often they fail to do so. (If you remember George Zimmerman, was convicted neither on the charge of murder or manslaughter —despite the special prosecutor's best efforts.)

Ten- Duty to Act

    Many self-defense laws start out with a qualifier like "may use," "can use" or "is justified.'  That basically means —as a citizen—you don't have to act. In fact, it's encouraged that you don't. 

    Police and military don't have that luxury. They have what's called  "a duty to act." They are legally obligated to step up to situations that most people run from.  If they don't they can be sued, fired, and the department sued.  Now there are all kinds of complications, safety issues, and bigger picture considerations of that statement. But before you get lost in the weeds, know that those are exceptions. The majority of their time the police have to go into dangerous situations and engage with dangerous people, crazy people, angry people, and just plain stupid people. They won't know what the situation is until they get there. Worse, in the middle of it all, the situation can take a bad turn.

    What the police cannot do is let a violent or mentally unstable person in crisis 'just be.' Also once they become aware of a driver's intoxication police can't let that person drive away (or leave them in a position to do so.) Once the police are involved in those sort of situations there is no backing down. The further a situation goes the more force they are going to use. As they are legally required to do to keep the public—not the individual—safe, it's usually not going to work out well for the individual.

    There's something I mentioned in passing earlier. Despite how often it is interpreted as such by people intent on condemning the police, nobody is killed by the police for a petty crime. The initial contact may have been over a minor issue, but what lead to use of force was escalating actions after contact was  made. While police occasionally are responsible for unnecessary escalation and excessive force, in a vast majority of cases it's the person the police are dealing with who dictates the level of force that will be used against him.

    Medical students are often told "When you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras." In other words, when making a diagnosis look first to the likeliest causes rather than rare diseases. In the same manner, when it comes to the question of 'why did police use of force?' look first to the suspect's behavior. If the answer isn't there, then consider the possibility zebras.

    Eleven— Details (often small but important)

    I want to start with the bigger idea first. Certain details are small, but they have a far greater gravitational weight than laypeople imagine. A few years ago a bouncer was shot by police while —according to his family's lawyer—"he was just doing his job." Unfortunately, while there had been a shooting in the bar where he worked, the suspects fled. The bouncer had left the property of the bar, chased one of the shooters down and knocked him to the ground. He was kneeling on the back of the shooter with a gun to his head when police arrived. (Basically the bouncer looked like he was going to execute the actual shooter.)  The police were responding to a call about a shooting, but with precious little other information. It was night and the bouncer did not have a uniform on. The only item identifying him was a baseball hat with 'security' on it, yet he was off the property —past where his authorization from the owner ended. The officers claimed the bouncer didn't respond to order to put the gun down so he fired.  The bouncer didn't have a concealed carry permit for the gun and in Illinois it is illegal to carry a gun in a bar anyway. In addition, the bar itself was operating on an expired license and was functioning in an illegal after hours capacity (the shootings happened at 4 am, 'last call' in Illinois is 2 am). Each of the small details I listed make for a maze of complexities about that shooting. (BTW, did you notice how because of this 12 point list you now recognized why they were important?)

    The second part of this idea —and this tracks back to the difference between a conclusion and opinion—is you are NEVER going to get the full set of details 

  • From a single media source
  • Immediately after an incident

    As such do not form an opinion—disguised as a conclusion—on first reports. Those are inevitably wrong. Wait and gather more details.

    Equally important is often the details you get from particular media sources are going to be either factually wrong or agenda spun. The last especially applies to head lines. It takes time and effort to find as many relevant details as possible. So don't be a buyer of the first reports you hear about an incident.

    Twelve—What isn't known

    I'll conclude this list of twelve, with another list. 

  1. What you know
  2. What you know you don't know
  3. What you don't know you don't know.

    A shorter version Known, Known-Unknowns, and Unknown-Unknowns (unk-unks).  Once you get the hang of using this list, you can run through it pretty fast.  That's a really useful habit to have.

    Earlier I mentioned one of the considerations/filters is knowing how violence/crime works. Let's hypothetically say there are five elements common to a kind of violence.  There will be varying details of those five, so that's no real thing. However, when a news source only tells you two, you know the other three that are missing from what you're being told. That is a known -unknown. Keep looking until you find them. In addition to you knowing what information is missing from what you're being told, you will also be able to spot when someone has formed an opinion based on insufficient knowledge. 

    The first two are pretty solid and easy to figure out. Unk-unks tend to be more shadow forces. You can't necessarily see them, but once you understand they exist, you can take things to the next level. In other words, on occasion you won't be able to figure out what is going with what is known and known-unknowns.  Getting allegorical if what is known and known unknown don't make sense, that's the footprint of an unk-unk. Something else is going on with the situation.  Something that is influencing the situation, but isn't clear and more importantly, isn't being talked about. To the average person, unk-unks are invisible. With a little experience though you start to recognize the foot print that an unk-unk is in play, even if you don't know what it is. 

    Let me give you an example of not only an unk-unk, but a cluster of them. With all the rioting going on in 2020, why weren't the rioters stopped? You may have all kinds of suspicions and opinions about why, but the real answer is a huge collection of unknown-unknowns. They will remain that way, because you weren't in the room when they were decided.

    When it comes to you having to defend yourself  the relevance of this idea is two fold. One is what you knew and didn't know at the time you acted. Two is you are going to be convicted or acquitted by what the jury is allowed to know or doesn't know about what happened.


    So there it is. twelve things that must be taken into account with any violent incident. The question is will they be?

    Now much of what I have said here is to help you to analyze a situation that happens to someone else and you hear about it on the news or social media. In these days of narratives and media spin this  will be a handy set of tools to filter the misinformation and opinion driven perspectives you'll run across. (Or be attacked for not buying into the narrative.) Having these twelve points will help you recognize when the person who is opinioning about the incident hasn't actually analyzed it.  Often once an opinion is formed, Pauli's 'not even wrong' comes into play.

    But it goes beyond just that. If you are  involved in a self-defense situation, you will be facing these issues. These are things you need to bring to the attention of your attorney. Having said that, knowing these factors, you can do more research into them to help you with your use of force decisions. My final warning is be aware that some of these issues will come into play in whether or not you are charged or if you should even claim self-defense. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Violence By Women

There has been a shift in 'elements' regarding female physical violence. These new circumstances are clashing with both our cultural assumptions/stereotypes and promoted narratives about women, ergo there's all kinds of confusion and denial about what is happening.
Author’s note: Violence comes in many different forms, levels and intentions. That is why I use a ‘road of violence’ analogy. If, instead of an act (e.g., a punch) we look at violence as a process, we can see ‘how far down the road’ a situation is. That’s to say, verbal and emotional violence are lower mile markers while physical violence is varying higher mile signs (the difference between a slap and homicide). While many women prefer to operate at the lower mile markers (non-physical) this does not mean they aren’t being violent. However, in this article we are talking about physical violence. Rather than having to identify it every time, from here on I’m just going to use the word violence.
About the violence itself. Yes there's more of it, but we are also seeing it more. The two aren't necessarily the same. (That's what's causing our cognitive dissonance and refusal to accept how often women are physically violent. )
First, women have always been violent. It was, however, hard to see because of how it was committed. What has changed on that front is
a- their targets,
b- privacy,
c - the level of violence,
d- lack of reporting
e- the willingness/perceived need to engage.
Second there's video proof now.
Let’s take a look at both our cultural assumptions and why there is such shock and discomfort about female violence. (As well as denial.) 
It used to be that violent women were very selective on who they unleashed on and where. By that I mean, their target selection tended to run –in order –their children, intimate partners and other women. This violence often occurred at home or behind closed doors (think fur flying in the women's bathroom). While there’s the old cliche about a pissed off woman giving her man the silent treatment on the car drive home (and then unloading) many times the argument starts in the car and continues through the front door. Back in these ‘mastodon days,’ something women very seldom did was physically assault strange men in crowded environments (that kind of stupidity was ‘a guy thing’). Because of these conditions, it was easy to believe that women weren’t violent. That’s because you simply didn’t see it. Worse, anything you’d personally experienced was easily written off as an anomaly. 
Another complicating factor is the domestic violence and rape agendas. According to these narratives women are always the victims –never the victimizers or aggressors. We have –literally– been conditioned into this belief and now accept it as unquestionable truth. This has a lot to do with the discomfort we have when we see women fighting (especially with strange men) and/or beating the hell out of other people. That doesn’t qualify as ‘victim’ behavior. Worse, we are often told to disbelieve our own eyes, ignore the obvious contradictions and return to believing the victim narrative. Failing that, we are given excuses and justifications for this ‘behavior by women.’ Excuses we wouldn’t accept for a man doing the same thing. 
This is just one of the many double standards about female violence. Another double standard is ‘that didn’t hurt.’ Apparently there’s some mystical standard out there that unless it causes injury or really, really hurts, it’s not violence. That idea is a whole lot deeper than you might imagine.
Some years ago I heard a female psychologist with a specialization in domestic violence acknowledge: Women hit more. Men cause more damage. For a professional to say this is startling, except anyone who’s ever lived in a trailer park knows this is like saying the sun will come up tomorrow. I make the trailer park crack because you will not find this out by doing interviews of victims hours, days, months or even years after an incident. In fact, even if you’re involved in the incident, you may not notice it due to adrenal stress. But if you’re witnessing it or watching videos of arguments and physical fights, you’ll immediately see it. Not only do women strike more, but they usually hit first. Against other women, it’s clearly a fight. Against men, there is still a hesitation to hit back by the male. But when he does, he often ends it with one blow. Although in growing numbers, the woman gets back up and attacks again. That is –typically –where men start with the multiple strike responses (a beating). If you know about this pattern, it is easily seen in many videos of violent incidents. 
There are many disturbing elements in these behaviors. One of which is this pattern of violence used to be reserved to how men fight each other. But even then there’s some differences. For example the male who ‘ends it’ wouldn’t have taken so many hits before decking another guy. In the past there were clear rules about use of force on women and on your fellow men. Built into these rules were behavioral requirements -- often on both sides. But let’s look at the using force on women. The differences between “you never hit a lady” (and a lady would never give you just cause to hit her) vs. “you never hit a woman (but if necessary you could tackle and control her) vs. “you’re not allowed to use force on a woman regardless of what she’s doing.” Two of those standards are functional. The third, although based in the most noble of sentiments, is often abused and used as a free-pass for female violence. 
There are two important considerations here. One is we must ask ourselves how many women are using this ‘you can’t hit me back’ idea as a free pass to physically attack and verbally/ emotionally abuse men? In fact, we can ask if they are aggressing while relying on men not hitting. This especially in light of, if the woman loses at the physical, how often will she run to the authorities to get the man punished for hitting back? 
Two is we must ask if this inherently unjust double standard is prompting men –especially young men– to just say, “Fuggit” and treat women just like they would another man? If you hit him, he’ll hit you right back, just as hard as he would another man. If that last is the case, it becomes a matter of ‘when?’ Will he hit you that hard after the first strike? Or will take multiple hits –and the pain they cause– before he either loses patience or realizes you’re trying to throw him a beating and defends himself? 
Or are men ‘supposed to’ submit and just take the beating? This is where the rise in the numbers of women attacking strangers becomes an issue. In a domestic relationship, men typically put up with such violence. Often because it’s limited to one or two strikes (incidentally this includes when he thought he was ‘being funny’). It’s when unchecked anger goes into beating mode that men will typically hit back. Having said that, this forbearance does not mean women’s attacks are not legally prosecutable ‘assaults’ or that they do not cause pain to the man. (Incidentally I’m not talking about male abusers. They only make up a small percentage of ‘domestic violence’ as do female abusers. Mostly I’m talking about couples fighting. Which, contrary to the narrative makes up the supermajority of ‘domestic violence.’ But you don’t run national campaigns or get funding on the low numbers of actual abusers. 
Oh and while we’re at it, do you know the raw numbers of child abuse lean way more towards women than men? This especially when it comes to other forms of abuse than just physical.) 
Something I included in the initial list, but haven’t discussed yet is the ‘lack of reporting.’ It’s a huge can of worms that impacts a multitude of issues about this subject. Starting with the other side of that same coin is when numbers aren’t tracked – arguably intentionally. Remember, we’re not just talking about individuals here, but we’re also talking politics, funding, social movements and agendas. 
Everything I have said here can – and will be– dismissed because there are no numbers or academic studies ‘proving’ these points. Or it will be dismissed as anecdotal My question is –when you have countless video evidence and mountains of anecdotal stories – “Why aren’t there studies and numbers tracked?” This especially in light of how well men’s numbers are tracked – and loudly promoted– by these same organizations.
Another issue is how many men are willing to come forth and admit they were thumped by a woman? Once again, especially young men. There is a good chance of ridicule and shame being heaped upon such an individual by his peers and ‘orchestrated disbelief’ not from first responders (who know it happens) but their departments (who often have unofficial policies that no matter what, the man goes to jail). Given the current domestic violence enforcement strategies, a man who defends himself and calls the cops is often getting himself arrested. In some cases, even if he didn’t hit back. Thus far we’ve only talked about women physically assaulting men, but women are just as, if more likely, to assault other women. These ‘cat fights’ are no longer being limited to inside the women’s bathroom. These days it’s happening right out in the open, just like two guys fighting. Once again, we have a difference between now and then, now these fights– and that’s exactly what they are– are being videoed. 
Something in the list we’ve edged around, but not specifically talked about is the level of violence. This takes us back to the mile markers on the road of violence. Do women kill more than men? No. Do women attack with deadly force weapons more than men? No. Those are all high mile marker types of violence. (Although there’s good evidence that women use proxies for their high level violence far more than men. Unfortunately those proxies are also men.) The question is how much unreported ‘lower mileage’ physical violence are women engaging in these days? These lower levels include both numbers of strikes and how effectively they can hit (i.e., cause pain but not injury). Sure men kill more than women. But do women hit more than men? That’s a question nobody in the hallowed halls is asking. 
Another question we need to be asking of law enforcement statistics, because of the ‘cause more damage’ issue are women being arrested for assaults and battery less than men? If so, then arrest records do not indicate all the assaults, but only the top levels of force. The top of the pyramid, if you will. 
Finally comes the big not-so-rhetorical question of what has changed in society that makes so many women feel safer about committing violence? That’s not a facetious question. But it certainly is an awkward one. It’s not just why do large numbers of women not just feel the need, but give themselves permission to engage in violent conflict? And don’t tell me ‘self-defense’ because when you watch video of these incidents, quite often they are tantrums that escalate to physical violence, if not outright fights. That’s a hell of a big topic; one way beyond the scope of this piece. 
So there you have it. Now I’d like to point out that I’ve seen three very strong ... what correlation? causation? contributing? ...factors to this kind of violence. They are age, socio-economic levels and sub-culture. 
You’re not going to see a couple of Boston Brahman matrons crashing into the buffet table at a Mayflower Society trying to claw each other’s eyes out. But trailer parks, barrios, hoods and backwoods? Hell yeah. You’ll also see a lot of it on the weekends in college towns and the local ‘bar row’ where the young gather. So this behavior isn’t exclusive to just one socio-economic level, race or age.

This has probably been a very uncomfortable bit of reading for many. But I’d like to leave you to consider three statements.
1 - Men are violent.
2- People are violent.
3- Women are violent. Which of those do you have no problem accepting? Which do you feel uncomfortable with? 
Number two is actually the most accurate statement -- especially if we tone it down to “...can be...”. But ask yourself, why do you feel uncomfortable with the idea that women can be just as stupid, aggressive, hostile and physically violent as men?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

You're Pavlov's dog and you don't even know it.

If you’re a natural born US citizen I’m about to tell you how you’ve been manipulated and conditioned since birth. I’m talking about something that is so endemic to our lives, it lands somewhere along “Does a fish recognize water?” (Another version is “Does a fish know it’s wet?”) In other words, you’re conditioned to react to it, not think about it, not recognize how you’re being manipulated or that you even are being manipulated. 
It’s called Monroe’s Motivational Sequence. Once it’s pointed out to you, it’s really, really obvious. 
 If I was being snarky, I’d say it’s how to get people to shut down their brains. Which while that is the common result, that’s not the intent– well not entirely. The sad thing is the people who are most vulnerable to being manipulated this way are the ones who think they’re too smart and are making informed decisions and hold knowledgeable opinions. Monroe’s sequence is everywhere. It’s foundational to advertising, marketing, politics, social movements, etc., etc. In fact, it’s so interwoven into our lives that many times, to manipulate people with it, folks don’t even have to run through the whole process anymore. All they have to do is ring the bell and folks are drooling and prancing around. Woof woof. 
About the ‘since birth’ comment. Back in the 1930s a guy named Alan Monroe came up with a five stage process that pretty much ALL advertising follows. (Do the math, if you were born after the 1930s...) Even for people born before, that’s not just ‘adult,’ that’s almost all of their lives. Do I have your attention about how endemic this problem is? 
Good because that’s the first two steps.
1 - Get their attention "
2- State the problem
3 - Provide the solution
4- Imagine (with a variation)
5 - Call to action 
I’m going to use advertising because we’re all familiar with it. 
Step one- Attention. Ever notice that commercials are louder than the show you’re watching? That the colors are brighter? Yep. Get the people’s attention. Oh and that black screen pause? “Wait, what happened to the picture?” Yep. When you’re constantly bombarded with images and noise, a second of silence and black is another attention-getter. 
Step two - State the problem. OH MY GAWDS! My children’s clothes are not as bright and shiny as the neighbors! What shall I do? Where shall I go? What ever shall become of me ? < / end Southern Belle panic voice >
Step three - Provide the Solution. TIDE! Flickering montage of the problem being corrected (with significant product placement). 
Step four - Imagine. Your happy, shiny children out-shining the neighbor’s kids.
Step five- Call to action. Overt message: Another picture of the product. Subtle message (or not): GO BUY OUR PRODUCT! Seriously, how many times have you seen commercials ending with ‘act now?’ Depending on who they’re pitching, they’ll be overt or subtle about the call to action. 
Like I said, once this sequence is pointed out to you you know it well. 
That’s why I’m not really going to spend much more time on the details about it (besides you can look into it). What I am going to spend time on is how it affects us and how it’s used. Starting with this sequence taps deeply into how we are wired as humans. (If you know the term, our Monkey Brain.) We as humans are social primates. We are wired to operate in groups AND to be very concerned about our status in a group. Most of human existence was us operating in small groups and limited numbers. THOSE are the people we’re wired to be concerned about our status with. Advertising exploits this wiring and social conditioning makes us think in terms of large ‘imaginary’ groups. 
How large? Much, much larger than our wiring is for. For example your bright, shiny kids and their sparkly clothing isn’t just to display to your neighbors, but to ANYONE who sees your children. Now instead of impressing a small select group, you’re supposed to worry about getting the hairy eyeball from thousands because (gasp!) you don’t use the right detergent. 
Yes, I’m overstating it, but that’s to get the idea across. The general idea is our very wiring makes us susceptible to manipulation via this sequence. The specific example is our concern over maintaining our social status. When that’s the case, we move into heuristics, biases and – well not to put too fine of a point on it, but– shutting our brains off. (Which, if you’re human, that’s what we default to, until we take conscious control of it.)
The next thing I want to point out is how mixed and muddled steps two and three have become -- and how they effect our thinking.
I’ll start this part by pointing out how uncomfortable people become if you only lay out a problem, but don’t propose a solution. It’s almost like when you don’t 
ARRRRRGH! Finish the sentence! What’s wrong with you MacYoung? Finish the sentence! 
 Again it comes down to conditioning, but in this case take the next step. You’ve been conditioned to expect them to come bundled. What good is knowing a problem if you don’t have a solution? Stop and think about that for a second. Specifically ask, what little alarms does it set off? And why? It doesn’t take but a few seconds to find a simple sounding ‘why.’ Yet it really isn’t that simple. In fact, it gets real deep real quick. Part of the complexity is speed, part of what’s setting off alarm bells is tailoring the problem. 
When it comes to someone manipulating you, these two are seriously intertwined. The speed part is how fast we accept –or reject – solutions. (“Yes Tide.” “Screw Tide, I use Oxyclean.”) That’s not a snap decision, that’s a ‘my mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with other information.’ While that’s an important topic, it’s a rabbit hole we won’t go down. But I will re-stress it’s well worth looking into – because of what happens when we don’t take the time to stop and actually think.
Tailoring the problem is the other part. How relevant is which car parts store you shop at to your children’s shiny clothes? Wait. What? What the hell do car parts have to do with my children not being laughed at for dirty clothes? Welcome to tailoring the problem. And yes, once again, I went to overstatement so you see the general idea. But this time so you can see the far more subtle and manipulative part. 
That is the people who want to sell you something will tailor the problem in such a way that the solution they provide is the only right answer. This even if they have to throw out huge amounts of evidence, complicating factors and – oh yeah – reality itself. They’re going to tell you theirs is the answer to a problem– even if they have to make the problem up! (“Ring around the collar.” The heartbreak of psoriasis.” “GMOs”) 
That’s a big part of rushing you from the problem to their solution. It’s really not in a salesman’s best interest to have you doing your own research – that’s why they so often provide it for you. I’m dating myself but “4 out of 5 doctors smoke Camels” and “4 out of five dentists prefer Trident.” 
Now, stop and think. How many studies, experts on the subject and statistics have you heard to frame a problem and as the basis of their solution? You can also throw in those ‘unquestionable facts’ being used as proof of why their solution must be implemented now. Scurry, scurry, hurry, hurry... no time to think.
The next stage is imagine. That’s also where I said there’s a variation. The imagine part isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Fuzzies are positive advertising. There’s very much an opposite imagine approach; an approach of “It’s the end of the world as we know it” and other dire consequences (especially if we don’t act now). Still another variations is why any other possible solution– by those other rat bastard over there– is wrong. That’s the sophisticated and intellectual version of ‘you have to think this way to be on the right side of history.’ Way too often – knowing that the sale has been blown– it’s time to attack. In fact, the rejection of your cherished solution and/or your version of the problem is the green light to attack those evil, wrong, hateful and oppressive rat bastards – or those whackjobs perverts who are undermining society, corrupting our youth and threatening America, mom, apple pie and God. (Yeah, newsflash folks, this is very human behavior and the more sanctimonious you feel, the further down this rabbit hole you’ve gone.) 
By now, Call to Action should be pretty obvious. 
 But what about perpetuation? That can replace not only call to action, but also allow us to short cut having to do the whole process over again. Ever looked at a billboard and only seen a smiling face with the product? If you’ve bought into that narrative, that’s all they need to do. With the bare minimum effort they remind you you’ve bought into their... errrr... they remind you of the rational and informed decision you’ve made about the subject. So remember, when the subject comes up again, you’ll know how to behave. (Ring, ring, woof, woof.) 
In closing, two things about this article. One: I’ve put this in terms of advertising with only hints about how far it goes into other fields. That’s to bring to your attention how you’re being manipulated. Manipulated not only by professionals, but also to point out how many amateurs who try to use this for their own agendas. It’s not only out there, it’s everywhere.
Two: In writing this, I deliberately used the first two stages of Monroe’s sequence.
1- By using terms like manipulated, Pavlov, don’t know it -- I got your attention.
2- Houston, we have a problem. 
Then I broke the pattern. First by telling you this isn’t the whole of the problem. And then I’m not giving you a ‘fixed solution’ because simply stated, there isn’t one. It’s more important to know and understand the subject exists (including how it’s being used on you) so you can come up with something that works for you. You working on shaking off it’s control over you isn’t something I can tell you quick and easy steps. I just introduced you to the idea, it’s a whole lot bigger and deeper than you realize. The implications –especially when it comes to people trying to make you emotional – are going to take some looking into.
So don’t get cranky because

Friday, April 6, 2018

Dealing With Different Positions

First, try listening to understand. (Not listen to respond.) 

Second, ask for clarification/expansion of ideas that don't make sense. 

Third, step back and consider
a - conditions that might make what the person is saying true
b - soft factors (where they're coming from).
c - if it is a workable premise within it's own parameters* (This is different than the fifth step)
d - is it consistent with the ideals of a group**

Fourth, the Machiavelli Factor
a - what they aren't telling you
b - possible whys they are telling you (what profit, positioning and motive)
c - the nature of how they are telling (insulting, conversationally, etc)
d - what they want you to do about the information (including nothing, but also deliberately not stopping them for future behaviors).

Fifth, then you start looking at if the idea is plausible given external factors.
a - are there other factors influencing the subject? (For example: Standard business practices are _______. )
b - are these factors a more plausible explanation? How do they influence? (For example how do crime, a higher number of uninsured drivers, more stoned drivers influence insurance rates?)
c - do these different positions have a degree of interconnectiveness (Can it be a combo of A and B?)
e - is the person dismissing other factors? (Basically claiming "NO! It's all about A!")
f - seek to find actual reasons why such an interpretation doesn't stand up, it's a whole lot more than an emotional "You're wrong."*** 

 Sixth, ask if this person is aware of these other factors or bring them up in a non-confrontational manner. ("Are you factoring in _____") 

Seventh, if you must refute the position: Make it about the position, NOT about the person. (Know this courtesy will often not be returned.) 

Eight, know that certain canned doctrines are both very predictable in how they are presented AND the holes are consistent. When you derail those who are parroting, expect hostility. The faster they resort to that, the more you know you've got a Kool-Aid drinker. (No matter how much they pretend to be educated, informed and 'reasonable' about the subject.) 

Nine, if someone comes up with some solid points that refute your position, consider them. It might just change your mind. 

Running the early steps will get you thinking rather than just reacting emotionally and from pre-existing biases. It also helps to keep you from going tribal and protecting the ideology of 'us' against the evils of 'them.' (But at the same time, you'll be able to spot when someone is coming at you from a position of 'you're one of them!') 

*Basically, without including external factors, does it make sense? (As opposed to "_______ exists because it's part of the Gray Lizard Men's conspiracy.") 

** Does the idea stand up to the bigger ideas espoused by an ideology, or is this a perversion of those? (e.g., Christianity vs. the Inquisition) 

*** At best, ‘you're wrong’ turns it into a debate (you're trying to win) vs. a dialectic (discussing different viewpoints to gain understanding). Far more common it just devolves into an argument, attitude and insults.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

You Can't Defend Yourself Any More

So have I become a Right-Wing Gun Nut? Have I become ‘political?’ No. Not really. Kinda and “Houston, we have a problem.”

How’s that for being as clear as mud? Let me put it to you this way. I have some really bad news. I’m not being political because I want to. I’m doing it because politics have come to violence. But far worse, your ‘right’ to defend yourself is damned near gone.

Gone not like a Great White Shark that eats half of you in a single bite, but gone like a piranha feeding frenzy. Death comes from countless little bites from many sources. This time though the bites have been taken out over the years. Some of them are political, some are legal, some are ideological and a thunderin’ herd of them are bureaucratic (ass covering and careerism). Now if that isn’t bad enough, there’s a rise in behaviors that lead to violence. Putting it bluntly you’re losing your right to defend yourself at the same time there’s a growing need for it.

That is going to take some explaining, so I ask that you bear with me. As this is a long post you might want to go get some coffee.

I am now and always have been about helping people be able to defend themselves from violence. Furthermore, I have spent my entire life dealing with and studying violence. Not only the act itself and the circumstances under which violence happens, but what leads up to it and the aftermath. eight points about that.

 # 1 - When you know the processes and behaviors that lead to violence, you can see when trains are heading for a collision.

The same goes for attitudes, beliefs, rhetoric and justifications that typically end up with blood on the floor. What you’ll also recognize is the emotional and self-righteous look in the eyes of most people doing them – just before the floor gets wet.

I’ll give you an analogy, back in the day when someone put “Dirty Water” by the Shandells on the jukebox, you knew the rougher elements were past working their way up to a rumble and things were about to kick off. Well, with certain groups, we’re past the opening riff and someone wants to tell us a story...

Put a push pin in this... we’ll come back to it.

#2 - Over the years, , I’ve looked into the heart of darkness...uh ... I mean our legal system.

Which, in case you don’t know, has a lot to do with what is– and isn’t– allowed as self-defense. With the rise of intolerance towards violence, I’ve seen a correlating free fall of being able to effectively claim self-defense. While still legally allowed, it’s almost impossible to meet the ‘standards’ they’ll demand of you. Basically, if you can’t afford a top of the line defense attorney, then you have to be an expert in violence and explain how you knew you were in danger. If you can’t do either, don’t claim self-defense and accept the plea deal they’ll offer.

#3 - Somebody has to go to jail.

Let me tell you about life back in the pterodactyl days. A great deal of violence was resolved with the cop giving fighters a choice, go home or you’ll both get arrested. Kids ‘fighting’ both got detention, the cops were seldom called. A low level domestic was handled by telling the guy to find another place to spend the night. If he returned and the cops were called again he’d not only be arrested, but get his ass kicked on the way to jail. Now this isn’t pining for the good ol’ days, it’s to point out that cops were allowed a lot more discretion about arresting back in the day. Now, it’s not just ‘mandatory arrest’ laws, but CYA– including the police departments covering theirs. See here’s something you might not know, while the police can’t be successfully sued for not protecting an individual, they can be sued if they had grounds to arrest, let someone go and later that person comes back and does something based on that arrest that didn’t happen. (For example, letting a drunk driver go and he/she later kills someone in an ‘accident.’) Now what do you think that’s going to do to what the Brass tells patrol officers? I’ll give you a hint, there’s a lot less slack being cut out there. In fact, I tell people – and it’s a clumsy sentence so read it slowly – “It’s harder for an officer to not arrest someone and explain that decision to his superiors later, than it is to make a weak arrest.”

You also need to know that once the arrest is made, you’re in the jaws of the system. A system that makes pitbulls look like wimps when it comes to letting go. But, and this is important, you are no longer that cops problem. You’ve been passed along and are now –officially and rubber stamped– someone else’s problem. That same sentiment applies to school districts and zero tolerance. Instead of handling things in house and risking liability, call the cops and get your kid arrested.

Oh and add in the local government using police as a form of unofficial taxation. The raw truth is a big part of the reason Ferguson Missouri went up in flames is that sixty percent of the city’s funding came from the police tickets and fines. Busting you for carrying a weapon ‘illegally’ is a good way to make money and keep you disarmed.

#4 - ‘Violence never solved anything.’

Never mind how stupid this attitude is, have you ever considered that it’s an extremist position? I’m serious, that sweet sounding cliche is absolutist propaganda. The problem is we’ve been beaten over the head with it so much that we don’t realize it anymore. ‘Never’ is an awfully big word. One that not only covers every living person on the planet, but through out all of human history and everyone who has ever lived. Yes. It’s that big. Also given that it is presented as an absolute, using the associated ‘classical logic,’ if there’s one exception, then it’s false. So starting with me, I can say “Yes, yes, violence has solved a number of problems for me,” which makes that absolute statement false.

The problem is people have been indoctrinated into believing it’s true – of even if they don’t, they’re afraid to stand up to it and call ‘bullshit.’ (Yeah, I kind of missed that memo.) It’s a short step from believing that to believing that all violence is wrong. Unfortunately, many people haven’t just taken that step, but did a running leap. Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how our society glorifies violence, most people are really uncomfortable about the subject. To the point, they don’t believe in self-defense, but view all violence as bad and only ‘bad people’ do it. This is especially true, if they’ve drank the Kool-Aid that all violence is abuse (excepting their own, of course.)

Sound hyperbolic? Let me ask you, what do you think your chances are for going to prison for defending yourself are if the jury consists of people who believe “Violence never solved anything?”

#5- And now finally we get to ‘gun control.’ Which is flat out, no holds barred, political.

But more than that, it is very much an attack on your right to defend yourself. Never mind all the bullshit about resisting tyranny or saving the children that the gun control is normally framed in. Gun control disarms the people who needs them the most.

#6 - And if it doesn’t disarm them, it makes them criminals...

You know the kind of people who get arrested for breaking the law. (Brace yourself -- this is a big one.) To truly understand how screwed up this is, we have to go back to the framers of the Constitution. Oddly enough, it does relate to tyranny. See back in Merry Old England you had the nobles and the powerful. Now things had changed a bit and they weren’t in absolute power anymore, but they had this work around. It was called having someone on the police force and in the legal system ‘on their side.’ Basically, if you pissed them off, they’d have the cops and courts screw you. One of their favorite tricks was to throw out a bill of attainder that declared you an outlaw. Not in the romantic sense that evokes in our media baked minds, but outside the protection of the law. Without a trial you were officially labeled a criminal, your lands and properties were seized, your family given the boot, and well not to put too fine of a point on it but, anybody could kill you on sight and not face charges. You were ‘outside the law,’ and straight up, there was nothing you could do about it. All it took was a pissed off noble and you were criminal and, while we’re at it, screw you.

This is why Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 of the Constitution reads: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed." That is an incredibly important protection of citizen’s rights and part of our legal system. (Where you can only be charged, tried and punished [if convicted] for a specific crime.) Citizens cannot be stripped of their rights, thrown into prison, or executed without due process and on specific crimes. There’s just one little problem...

We actually do have a professional criminal class– and they are armed and violent. This is a really mixed bag of good news, bad news and just plain old ugly news. Good news, there’s nobody more likely to get shot and killed by a violent criminal than another violent criminal. Bad news, while a nearly 100% of people who are killed every years have recent criminal records and involvement in criminal lifestyle, there’s enough slop over that innocent people also get killed. Ugly news is even though we know what they are and what they’re doing, we can’t just throw a bill of attainder on them and execute/imprison them ‘just because.’ That means there’s all kinds of ugly out there roaming the streets. It has to be allowed to roam free because of the abuses that happen when the government can just rule someone an outlaw and/or deserves it. More ugly news, you know all those ‘children killed by guns?’ Well, look at gangs. Most of those dead ‘children’ were gang members. Oh and for those who say “What about all the five year olds who die by guns, were THEY in a gang?” Go look into those deaths with an eye towards relationship and/or proximity with a gangmember. I recommend buying a bottle of brown liquor before you do. You’re going to find these evil bastards will open fire on their gangsta target even if he’s holding a baby. (Whether that baby is his own or a sibling.)

Another fun filled dash of bad news is the very people who need guns the most are innocent folks who live in high crime areas. If you understand how crime happens you’ll understand were owning – and even carrying– a gun isn’t just a good idea, it is, literally, a survival strategy. This without being a criminal yourself.

That is until laws are passed saying you can’t or that the government either
a) makes it impossible for you to comply to their standards
b) sets restrictions and then stonewalls anybody who tries to meet them. (This is actually more common than the first – especially in ‘may issue’ states).

Those ideas set the stage for the biggest bad news of all. It has to do with that blind eye America has.

While the government cannot officially declare someone guilty of being a criminal just because who they are, lock them away the key, we –and the government– know these suckers exist. The blind eye comes in to main flavors:

A - We’ve turned it towards all the laws that have been passed to nail them and keep them in line.
The government can’t do a bill of attainder, but it can pass so many laws that you can be arrested for breathing too hard and looking cross-eyed. The idea being that it gives them reason to arrest, harass and keep the ‘criminals’ in check even if they can’t get the criminal on what they’re doing. Think Al Capone getting nailed for income tax evasion instead of murders, bootlegging, and other crimes. The natural problem with that is those same laws are being used on different sections of the population. Sections, who, if you remember point number one, are flat out furious about how they’ve been treated.

 B - Is how we’ve let the legal system ‘take out the trash for us’ – at the expense of your right to defend yourself.

Let me ask you a question. Can a criminal act in self-defense? It turns out no matter how you answer it comes back to the idea of a professional criminal class and no bill of attainders. (It’s why we spent so much time on them). See legally, it’s not that cut and dried as you might think. While you cannot claim self-defense if you are in commission of a felony, at the same time, the law can’t say you’re a 24/7 criminal (hence you have no right to self-defense). To throw another level of complexity on it, this includes the consequences of an alleged, other crime.

The example I use is let’s say you’re a drug dealer. I – and maybe a few friends– decide to rob you. Criminals ripping off other criminals is arguably more common than other kinds of robbery. (Arguably because surprise, surprise, these aren’t reported to police.) Wearing a mask you don’t recognize me, the robbery goes down and I get away. Later, while trying to impress a woman into sleeping with me by bragging, someone else over hears me, comes to you and says I’m the guy who ripped you off. You’re so infuriated, you grab a gun, come looking for me, and when you see me, you try to shoot me. Unfortunately, luck is not with you and I’m quicker on the draw. Was that self-defense? Legally speaking (not the legal system, but how the laws are written) that would be yes. At the time you tried to shoot me, I was not committing a felony. I was trying to get laid. As to the previous robbery, that is an alleged crime that has not been proven. So looking at that incident independent of anything else, you came in and tried to kill me. I shot first and killed you. Viola! Self-defense I’m going to walk out of that court room a free man and go back to me evil and violent ways.

Yeah, except people and the legal system don’t work that way. Evil people must be punished. This isn’t just the Prosecutor, this is the jury too. So if there is any way the Prosecutor can get the evidence introduced that it was two ‘ebbel drug dealers’ guess who isn’t going to walk? Now you got one dead drug dealer and one drug douchebag in prison for murder. Problem solved for society, right? Umm sorta. See after SODDI (Some Other Dude Did It) ‘self-defense’ is the most common claim for illegal violence. Yeah, right sure... you stabbed the dude 27 time, 11 in the back and you’re claiming self-defense?

So between denying that self-defense exists for criminals and actual ‘what you did wasn’t self-defense’ our legal system is a slaughterhouse if you actually did act in self-defense. How bad is this? I actually had a public defender in the second largest city in the state tell me, “There’s no such thing as self-defense in _____.”

That brings us to...

#7 - You can trust us. You, on the other hand, can’t be trusted.

I have personally witnessed a woman state, in the presence of nine officers with holstered pistols openly carried, “I wouldn’t be comfortable around guns.” Wait, what? Nine guns in plain view. (And those were only the ones visible. There were at least ten cops in plain clothes, the Mayor himself* and– since this was about repealing a gun ordinance– maybe 50 permit holder, legally carrying in the room.)

Ummm Sweetheart. I think your less concerned about guns than who has them. Or maybe your statement should be, “I’m only comfortable around people with guns when I think I think they’re my servants.” Because I’m pretty sure all those pistols hanging from the cops’ hips didn’t magically become invisible. Now I’m not going to go into all the problem with farming your self-defense and personal safety out to third parties. But I will point out that if women get pissed off when a guy patronizes them with, “Well now little Missy, don’t you worry your purdy lil’ head about that” then that same attitude is just as infuriating (to both men and women) when you’re told your safety will be taken care of.

Infuriating that is unless you’ve bought into it. Up to and including the point where people get pissed at the idea that they are responsible for their own safety. Which if you think about it, the folks who want to take away your ‘right’ to defend yourself are usually the ones who not only have drank that Kool-Aid, but like the taste.

What can I say, I just have a hard time when someone tells me I don’t have the need to defend myself so I should have the means to do so– because I can’t be trusted with it.

#8 - You aren’t allowed to defend yourself if we have the moral high ground.

 Remember that pushpin? The one about ‘knowing what it looks like when violence is coming down the tracks?’ Also how certain attitudes tell you that violence is nigh? Folks, I gotta tell you, I’m seeing that a lot more than I’ve ever seen before. Not just in the sense of individual cases, but entire groups giving the world the hairy eyeball – but especially members of groups they’ve ‘othered.’ One of the things I’ve learned after a lifetime of dealing with violence is there needs to be five components
1- Othering of another
2- A way of thinking that allows for a violent response
3- Justification/Casus belli
4- Opportunity
5- Belief that it will work to get what you want (not just get away with it)

There’s a certain light in the eyes of folks who are collecting these or have them already. Or as I once heard it put “The enemies of reason have a certain look to them. ____ has that look.” There’s a lot of noise over big political ideas, history and wrongs. Take those five components I just told you about and hold those ‘big political ideas’ up that light. Yes there is cause for concern. Big picture wise you might want to keep an eye on that. Because when it comes to big issues, I’m not talking about someone who is pissed over a specific thing, I’m talking about folks who have stewed in and carefully nursed those five components. Sometimes to the point of building their entire identity around them. This typically results in a kind of moral fervor. Whether you call it a crusade or jihad, you have holy warriors –even if it isn’t a religious cause (as you understand the term). And it’s even worse when it’s a mob of like minded people.

Oh and when you have large groups protesting guns? And violent groups that hate other group (for the other’s hate and violence)? Yeah, think about that for a second. I’m not going to go too much into this except to say there’s a ‘switch’ in people’s heads that once it is flipped people not only participate but approve of mob violence. Mobs are flat out dangerous – especially if they’ve targeted you. While due process tends to keep mobs to a minimum, when you have them coming at you, you need a gun and even then that may not be enough. Oh and for the record, before you tell me I’m wrong about mobs, I’m going to suggest you try going through a riot or two. (You’ll still be behind my number, but just one or two so you can speak from experience instead of another orifice.)

Despite all this talk about group ideology and mob mentality, it’s actually a lot more individual and self-defense related. Despite all the rhetoric and denial, there are a great many violent people who justify their violence through their ideology. Big ideology gives them an excuse to go out and attack individuals. This isn’t big, social change. No, this is the kind of fanaticism that comes at you in the parking lot and away from security cameras. Because to that person, you aren’t human. You’re the label he’s hung on you. Basically it’s a monster who thinks he’s right with God because he’s got the right to lash out.

So knowing all these, does that mean I’ve ‘become political?’ Well it kind of depends. How secure do you think your right to self-defense is?

Where I’m sitting I’ve seen it dwindle from a lake to a pond and onto a puddle. Why do you think I’ve shifted my focus from the physical to helping keep you out of prison for defending yourself?

* The Mayor would later give me one of the biggest insults of my life saying. “You’re good. You should go into politics.”