Thursday, April 19, 2007

Killing the Bride's Brother

I was 28 and my college roommate and I were both getting married that summer. Her wedding was first. She and her three attendants spent the night before the wedding in a cabin on a lake. We were just about to hit the sack when there was this horrid noise. And again. We turned off the lights so we could see out the windows. I remember the bride's sister jumping up and down screaming, her lit cigarette bobbing, the only light in the room. Noise again. Rocks being rolled off the roof. We looked outside and saw a person amongst the trees, then two people, then someone in a truck. We were scared. Very scared. Whatever these people were doing, whoever they were, whatever they wanted, it couldn't be good.

I went into action. "Shut up!" I screamed at the screaming girl. "Don't panic," I said a bit more evenly. "Don't panic. What do we have? What can we do?" I armed us. I had a frying pan. Someone else had a broom. I don't remember what our other implements of destruction were. We wondered if two of us could get to the car in order to drive to the ranger station to get help.

And then we heard someone on the porch. "This is our chance!" I said. I told them my plan. We were all armed, so to speak. The porch was small and enclosed. The person was trying to unscrew the porch light. I said that we would open the door and then hit the person on the porch hard and over and over again. I emphasized that we had to hit him until he didn't move anymore. Then two of us would run for the car to go get the ranger and the other two would go back inside and lock the door.

It turned out that we weren't fast enough. This no doubt because I was real sure two of these girls were going to be cowards. The person on the porch got the porch light off. But to our surprise, he then left. Shortly after that, two people got in the truck we'd seen waiting and it left. As soon as that happened we went for the car to go get the ranger.

Except before we could get the ranger the truck circled back around. And that's when my former roommate recognized the truck as her uncle's. The person who had been unscrewing our light had been her brother. They thought they were playing a prank. I told them they would really have ruined her wedding if we had killed her brother.

I am so sorry for the recent tragedy just up the road from us at Tech. But I sure would like to take the above lesson in attitude and balls and self-defense and give it to those kids before they died. Pacifism magnifies violence.


Mushy said...

Great story and I totally agree with your final statement.

Madcap said...

The Virginia Tech shooting happened on the Monday (?), and on Tuesday a politician was shot in Japan, where they have stricter gun control than in Canada. Maybe I haven't been reading widely enough, but I haven't seen any links between the two yet. There WAS an article in the Canadian news in the past week highlighting the lack of decline in gun-deaths after gun-control.

Dan Trabue said...

CG, blaming the victims is not becoming of us in this time of tragedy. Please, now is not the time for such political posturing.

Aside from that, with pacifists being a huge minority, one could fairly safely assume that the great majority of these young people were not pacifists.

Madcap said...

I didn't pick up blaming the victim. It seems to me a just criticism of a mindset that waits for a "professional" rescuer. Is calling for more gun-restriction political posturing too? Even moreso, it would seem to me. We saw a lot of that in Canada 10 years ago with the Ecole Polytechnique shootings, and sure enough, we got gun restriction. Which in no way cut down on illegal guns. Odd.

Dan Trabue said...

"But I sure would like to take the above lesson in attitude and balls and self-defense and give it to those kids before they died."

If I were a parent or friend of one of these students, I'd read the above and find that, "IF ONLY my loved one had had more balls and attitude, this violence could have been limited..." and would find it offensive.

I'm quite sure that some acts of heroism and "balls" were displayed, knowing my fellow Americans as I do.

Calling for gun controls? I wouldn't call it political posturing, but a reasonable question to ask. I would disagree with it - as I don't think we have a gun control problem, but a violence and mental illness problem - but I wouldn't think it a necessarily bad question to ask.

Anonymous said...

Dan, the promotion and realization of your pacifist ideas killed the students at VT.

It's that stark and simple. Small wonder the culprit at the heart of it would want to dismiss that observation as 'blaming the victim'.

There is a law school near here in Grundy, Va. A couple of years ago a whacked out student come on campus and killed a couple of people with a hand gun. It being in Appalachia with a number of good old boys in the classes, they threw the culprit to the ground and disarmed him until the authorities took him away. One person, an off duty policeman, died in the effort. But he didn't kill 30 people hiding under their desks.

The promotion of gun panic and pacifism killed the VT students. There's nothing anyone can do about a madman. How we respond to a madman is entirely in our control. Responding in a completely non-aggressive manner got more than 30 people killed.

Anonymous said...

BOSTON - An adjunct professor was fired after leading a classroom discussion about the Virginia Tech shootings in which he pointed a marker at some students and said "pow."

The five-minute demonstration at Emmanuel College on Wednesday, two days after a student killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus, included a discussion of gun control, whether to respond to violence with violence, and the public's "celebration of victimhood," said the professor, Nicholas Winset.

During the demonstration, Winset pretended to shoot some students. Then one student pretended to shoot Winset to illustrate his point that the gunman might have been stopped had another student or faculty member been armed.

"A classroom is supposed to be a place for academic exploration," Winset, who taught financial accounting, told the Boston Herald.

He said administrators had asked the faculty to engage students on the issue. But on Friday, he got a letter saying he was fired and ordering him to stay off campus.

Winset, 37, argued that the Catholic liberal arts school was stifling free discussion by firing him, and he said the move would have a "chilling effect" on open debate. He posted an 18-minute video on the online site YouTube defending his action.

The college issued a statement saying: "Emmanuel College has clear standards of classroom and campus conduct, and does not in any way condone the use of discriminatory or obscene language."

Student Junny Lee, 19, told The Boston Globe that most students didn't appear to find Winset's demonstration offensive.

Anonymous said...

Unless I am missing something (entirely probable), by the pacifist logic, there would be no thieves if locks had never been invented.

This seems bass-ackwards to me.

Thought y'all'd find the above article of interest vis a vis the discussion. Now folks aren't even supposed to be talking about this.

SSSSSHHHHhhhhhhhh.... It'll go away on its own. Right?

Dan Trabue said...

Y'all need dictionaries. Pacifist does not mean the same thing as passivist.

It's easy to knock down a strawman argument if that's what you want to do, but why bother?

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a lot of ambiguity about the term, especially online when searched under "pacifist definition".

Dan, I'm admittedly unschooled in what Eleutheros terms "your pacifist ideas". I have read what Eleutheros' ideas about the word and its practice mean, and I have to admit, they are in accordance with my own.

I think I can gather what CG's ideas are on the matter as well. Again, they're in keeping with my own.

What are yours?

the Contrary Goddess said...

I think my story of what really did happen in my life when faced with what I thought was a real threat speaks for itself.

I do not think pacifism or passivism are moral stances but rather immoral non-responses.

I could tell you another story, one involving domestic violence. Yes, even I, CG, had a couple men in my life stupid enough to attempt to hit me. Once. One guy had his fist drawn back and I said, "You better hit me hard you son of a b*tch because the next place you are going is jail." His fist stopped and he let me go. The second one just looked at me, threw an album (back when there were such things) down the hall, and left himself.

Attitude has everything to do with it. Not infallible, that's not what I'm saying. But I think that article thingfish posted, especially the part about the "celebration of victimhood" is telling.

**My every thought goes to the victims and their families. I am so sorry.**

But if they are so fragile as to be undone by my saying that I think 18 kids could take even a blazing gunman at close range, then, hey, they'll just have to be undone. Worse harm is done by my not saying that.

And I do actively blame the administrators who killed the bill that would have allowed concealed carry on campus.

As far as mental illness, sure, Cho was wacko (a technical term). And everyone knew it. So, why was he allowed to stay in school? Because he was a warm body bringing in money, that's why. There is no academic requirement anymore. Read his stuff and you can see that. And he was not wacko enough to walk into a place he knew was well armed, an NRA gun show for instance, and try the same thing. Funny to me how rational some decisions like that are, even for the supposedly non-rational.

None of this is easy. Losing 33 people is not an easy thing. Learning from losing 33 people is less easy still, but we have to do it.

Anonymous said...

CG:"And he was not wacko enough to walk into a place he knew was well armed, an NRA gun show for instance"

Just this afternoon I was discussing this with someone who phrased it exactly that way. And the point was well taken. All the mass killings we have seen over the past few years ALL happened in places where great pains had been taken to make sure everyone was unarmed. We simply don't have examples of shooters showing up at ROTC rifle practice, NRA meetings, or even in my hollow here, and shooting people. They always plan a place where it is just about guaranteed that everyone is unarmed and indoctrinated to lie on the floor and hope to not be shot.

The difference in this case between a pacifist and a passivist is a distinction without a difference and it shows how utterly bankrupt the former philosophy is. The passivist was the one who hid under the desk and was shot. The pacifist is the one who stood between the gunman and the passivist, was shot just the same, and then the gunman shot the passivist just as he was going to do anyway.

Utterly useless.

The entire affair clearly illustrates that radical pacifism is misdirected and ill thought out at best and utterly immoral at worst. I am inclined to think the latter myself.

Or to put it in more concrete terms, Dan, let's suppose in a few years this whole thing plays out just as it did this time and your daughter is one of the students in the classroom. They are hiding (as happened this time) behind their desks and the gunman methodically goes up the aisle and shoots each student killing most of them. He is three students away from shooting your daughter. Now, freeze this picture. The student two from your daughter, the next victim in line, knows how to use a handgun. Somehow, the details are not important, the police cannot get into the room but have figured out a way to instantly get a handgun to this student. Being familiar with guns and having a will to use it, almost certainly he will shoot the gunman, kill him violently, and your daughter will escape unharmed.

Do you give your leave to get the gun to that student, or do you hold that violence is never a solution. Do you believe that so strongly you are willing to see your daughter killed?

Dan Trabue said...

I think I can gather what CG's ideas are on the matter as well. Again, they're in keeping with my own.

What are yours?

Not to take up too much space off topic, but since I was asked...

I believe non-violent direct action has a solid history of resolving problems as well or better than violence - the solutions of which I question.

An example, I saw a young man with his buddies around him and he was hitting what I presumed to be his girlfriend.

I walked up, informed him quietly but firmly that he needed to end this behavior. He told me to mind my own business. I told him this was my business (all the while, the girlfriend was on her way out of there).

The young stud says "you gonna do something about it?" I reply that I am doing something about it, letting him know that such behavior is not acceptable. He punches me. Once.

I turn to his friends and tell them that their friend is in the wrong and that they need to take him home. They do.

NVDA has worked on many scales in many places. Not perfectly, but then, violence-as-solution doesn't work perfectly either.

NVDA says that we must stand up to and stop oppression and that we can do so by being creative, responsible and wise in our approach.

Even those who wish to hold on to the possibility of violence-as-solution in worst case scenarios would be wise to be familiar with NVDA. We can't shoot, bomb and kill our way out of every situation. Having many tools in our toolkit of dealing with aggression is only prudent.

the Contrary Goddess said...

non-violence as a solution IS the first action of every sane person. As every self-defense course starts with, the first solution is to get out of there. No one should sit around and allow someone else to be beat up -- just as no one should allow themselves to be beat up. How you separate the two is beyond me as it is obvious to me they are equally evil.

Anonymous said...

CG, my wife had a similar situation with her ex-husband. Being Latina, and given to hyperbole, her words were something like (paraphrased) "You'd better kill me, because you'll be a sorry SOB if you lay a hand on me..." He backed down.

I'm a little too smart and self-controlled to test her thus.

Dan, thank you for further elucidating your ideas, and I commend you for your actions in intervening on another's behalf - taking a punch for them, no less.

BUT it seems that we are discussing a matter of degrees here. Yes, the outside chance existed that the "man" you confronted might just up the ante on you and pull a weapon. That is different (as I see it) from a gun-wielding maniac who has already notched his belt many many times in mere minutes and isn't going to stop until he's out of bullets. And we all are too familiar, unfortunately, with his M.O. We all know he's gonna save that last bullet for himself, or have the cops do it. Either way, he's a rabid animal with a death wish.

Would you have given Cho the same speech that you gave the "man" in your example? I doubt it. Would you have acted? Only you know that. From your telling of that other story, I'd like to think you would have. No one is calling you out for a coward.

I'm no hyper-patriot, but let me use another (admittedly cliche') example. The hijackers on Flight 93 would not have responded to any sort of reasoning or discourse, any more than Cho would have.

Twas ever thus that sometimes you have to deal with a threat on its own terms.

Thanks, CG, for providing a forum for this interesting exchange.

Dan Trabue said...

The point is that pacifists (or the pacifists that I associate with) would be just as likely if not more likely to rush the man to subdue him as anyone else around.

In a former career in mental health, we learned what was called Safe Physical Management, which taught how to de-escalate matters as the primary approach to dealing with violent situations, but failing that, how to subdue a person in a manner least likely to cause harm to others (first) and the violent party (secondarily).

We have no problem with force, for the most part. Just deadly violence as a valid solution.

And even then, most pacifists I know will allow that there may be that rare exception (maybe Cho) where even deadly violence towards the violent offender might be considered as an option - but that is so rare (1 million-to-one) as to be negligibly likely to ever occur in one's life.

We would draw the line (and this is our greatest beef with violence-as-solution) at saying that it would be acceptable to kill not only the violent offender, but those in the vicinity of a violent offender and even moreso those in the vicinity of someone who MAY be a violent offender.

Dan Trabue said...

CG said:
"No one should sit around and allow someone else to be beat up -- just as no one should allow themselves to be beat up. How you separate the two is beyond me as it is obvious to me they are equally evil."

I prefer to deal with practical reality in looking to solutions. Had I decided to try to engage this fella in fisticuffs, he had a gang of buds there who may or may not have joined in. Or it may have escalated, had he a weapon.

Taking a punch in my example was by NO MEANS an evil but a well-reasoned approach to solving a problem non-violently. It is difficult to fight someone who won't fight you.

In the real world, most people will not turn violent in a given situation. For the few who might turn violent, a soft but firm response can de-escalate the moment and end non-violently.

For the FEWER yet who refuse to de-escalate, and who proceed to punch, kick or throw something, a calm, serious, non-violent response will likely de-escalate THAT moment.

This leaves us with the 1-in-a-million situations where you're most likely dealing with a mentally ill person, in which some form of restraint or more violent response may be called for.

How can you possibly consider taking a punch as an evil - especially in the example given? In the real world, it was a workable solution to a violent moment.

Anonymous said...

Dan:"How can you possibly consider taking a punch as an evil -"

Yeah, I'd have to go with evil here.

If we dealt with all sorts of aggression in a manner similar to this, bank robbers would be met at the door and told, reasoned with, "Look, you really ought not to take the money. Just put it back and go home and think about the consequences of your actions."

That is, if you can get by with robbing the bank, you have all that money. But if you get caught, well, you just have to put it back.

When the fellow in question was hitting his girlfriend, he was committing a felony. And it damn well ought to be a felony. When he hit you, he committed a second felony. And what happened?

He just went home. His buddies saw him punch up his girlfriend, punch you and the consequences are nada.

Next time he feels like using a woman's face to take out his frustration and aggression, what do you think are reminders his mind is going to tell him about the consequences?

The radical pacifist seems to view those who entertain force as a solution to violence done against them and others as if they were wild eyed madmen with an itchy trigger finger and twitching eye just spoiling for something to shoot at.

The reality is that there are people who are evil, but there are also people who are morally weak and not self disciplined. They look about for opportunities to take out their feelings of frustration and aggression or else they look about to see opportunities to take what others have earned when they are unwilling to earn it themselves (like, for example, ministers). What keeps these people from acting out their frustrations is the fear of retribution.

A woman who is willing to take a tire iron to a man who would hit her is very very unlikely to ever face a raised fist in her life. Around here people do NOT break into each other's houses or attempt to rob a lone pedestrian. 95% of the time it would be suicide and everyone knows it.

An armed culture is always a very polite culture, people let each other know what they are up to and keep at a reasonable distance unless invited otherwise.

The knowledge that even a small percent of the population might react with deadly force to assault and battery keeps such crimes rare.

Taking a punch and then standing while the fellow walks away only encourages him to use the same behavior next time, and demonstrates the consequence of its use to his buddies.

It's evil.

H. Stallard said...

dan trabue said "It is difficult to fight someone who won't fight you."

Maybe not, but it's easy as hell to beat the sh*t out of them.

Actually contrary...the first thing I tried to teach my self-defense students was to recognize and avoid dangerous situations and then if they found themselves tangled up in something to try to get out of it by going the other way. Meeting force with force was the last option but once it was decided that no other option was available then you used whatever amount of force was necessary to STOP the threat.

Fathairybastard said...

Well said, and excellent sentiment.

the Contrary Goddess said...

yeah Harold. I suppose that's A main beef I have with Dan's views, that he lumps "violence as solution" as one way, and NVDA as a different way, when anyone but an idiot avoids dangerous situations when at all possible (and seeing someone else being beat up isn't something that it is moral to avoid intervening in), then tries to defuse it, and *some sarcasm* only then kills the bastards!

Since Dan wants to widen this out to include Iraq, or war in general, I'd say this about that. There are no "innocents". None of us. We all play a part in all of it. War is best avoided . . . .

Joe Tornatore said...

how many stupid relatives did it take to unscrew that lightbulb?

the Contrary Goddess said...

yeah, see, I think even YOU would have known better Joe!