Sunday, June 1, 2008

What would you do?

There's a very disturbing and violent video on YouTube depicting an actual assault in a pizza parlor. Embedding is disabled, so I can't put it up on my blog, but you can view it here.

I'd like to ask readers to view it, then answer this question:

If you were a bystander in that shop, and this went down in front of you, what would you do?

I'll post my own answer later. I'll be interested to see your comments.



Having given everyone a chance to respond, here's my take on the matter. I'll do it in point form.

1. 'Respect'.

There's a culture among the criminal underclass in America (in which category I'd unquestionably place the 'lady' and her 'friend'). They demand to be treated with what they consider as 'respect' - even though they deserve nothing of the kind. The man on the cellphone 'disrespected' the woman by commenting about her, audibly. She reacted to that, and when he disrespected her further by turning his back on her, she called her friend to deal with the situation. The man on the cellphone further 'disrespected' him by ignoring his approach, trying to treat him as if he didn't matter, etc. From that point on, the result was inevitable.

Now, you and I may see clearly the fallacies in this approach: but the gutter trash in our society don't see things from our perspective. They insist on, demand, the 'respect' to which they believe (erroneously) that they're entitled. If they don't get it, things can turn nasty, very quickly. We need to take that into account in our interactions with them.

That doesn't mean we need to be afraid of them. Rather, it means that we should treat them with the same politeness and courtesy that we expect from others. 'Do unto others as we would have them do unto us'. The man on the cellphone didn't speak directly to the woman about her behavior: he commented (audibly) to the person he was talking to, then compounded his error by turning his back on the woman when she approached him. By doing that, he precipitated what would follow.

2. Preparedness.

If you start something, you'd better be ready to take it all the way to its conclusion - and you may not foresee the conclusion! The man on the cellphone could have chosen to either ignore the woman's actions, or complain to the person behind the counter if she cut in front of him. By doing the latter, he would have passed the initiative for action to the 'authority figure' in the store. However, he chose to make a rude remark, then ignore the woman when she tried to approach him. That started the cycle that led to violence.

We need to be aware that there are many in our society whose instinctive response to what they consider 'disrespect', or anything that appears to demean them, is violence. This isn't a new development. Consider the reactions of 'gentlemen' in previous centuries, where a perceived slight might lead to pistols at dawn! This is simply the latest incarnation of 'macho' behavior to afflict our society. We need to remember that our actions and/or words may lead to such violence, whether we intended that response or not.

3. Communal support.

Many respondents commented on the lack of action by the onlookers. Friends, why are you surprised? There are far more sheep out there than shepherds or sheep-dogs. I'm sure that the reaction of the onlookers was a blend of fear of present pain, fear of future consequences (as in, "What will the cops do to me if I get into a fight?" or "What will this guy's gang-banger buddies do to me if I help his victim?"), and the 'herd' reaction of 'it's not my problem'.

We need to take this into account. If we ourselves intervene in such a situation, the odds are very good that we won't receive much (if any) assistance from those around us. They don't have the mentality that is prepared to act in our own defense, or the defense of innocent life.

4. Level of response.

A number of respondents mentioned the use of a firearm to stop the attacker. People, you're treading on very, very thin ice, legally speaking! The use of force in any encounter is usually required to be proportional to the opposing force. If there's disparity of force (e.g. the attacker is much bigger/stronger/faster than you, or you're disabled, or something like that) that's a different story: but in this situation, where no attack has been directed at you, and the victim isn't a member of your immediate family, you stand a good chance of getting into serious legal trouble if you draw a firearm and intervene (even if you don't fire a shot). There are some jurisdictions (such as my own) where your conduct will likely earn you a pat on the back from the police, and you'll have no further trouble. However, do the same thing in Chicago, or New York, or New Orleans, or dozens of other jurisdictions, and you're likely to be facing charges yourself.

This is something we have to take into account. I agree, my instinct would be to intervene: and in my own jurisdiction, I'd do so in a heartbeat, because I know I'd be given judicial support. However, outside my jurisdiction, I might be in a world of hurt if I did so.

5. Use of deadly force.

If you pull a gun and try to stop the attacker, consider this. You've injected a weapon of lethal force into a situation where previously no such weapon existed. (Oh, sure, I understand that a trained fighter can legitimately call his fists 'weapons of lethal force' - but you have no prior knowledge that the attacker is such a person! In law, you don't have a leg to stand on.) If you tell him to stop, and he doesn't, what are you going to do? Shoot an unarmed man? What if he turns on you and moves towards you, and you shoot him? If he survives, he can (and if he doesn't, his girlfriend and/or his family can) claim that he was trying to defend himself against the unwarranted, illegal and unjustifiable threat of lethal force. How will you respond?

To sum up, I'd have to say that in this situation, there are no easy answers and no easy solutions. The lessons to be learned are fairly simple.

  • Don't behave in such a way as to draw retaliation from others, whether justified or not.
  • Don't behave in such a way that the criminal underclass might interpret it as 'disrespect' - because they only know one way to respond.
  • Keep out of places where such incidents are likely to happen. They may occur anyway, but you'll have a lot less of them to deal with if you stay in more salubrious environs.
  • Don't be too willing to intervene unless there's a direct, immediate and otherwise unavoidable threat to your own safety or that of your loved ones. If you try to play the hero, you'll likely end up in a whole lot more trouble than would otherwise be the case.
  • If you decide to play the hero anyway, understand very clearly the implications of your actions, and be prepared to take the consequences. They may not be pretty.
  • Remember that you'll likely be on your own. The odds of others backing you up are relatively small. You'd better be strong enough to cope on your own - or else!

I'll close with something said to a class by Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch, one of the great teachers of armed self-defense. Speaking to us about the reality of using a gun for defensive purposes, he pointed out that even if we fired in full compliance with the law, and our actions were fully justified, and the prosecuting authorities agreed - we'd still spend the price of a new Chevy Surburban that we'd never drive. That's what lawyers, lawsuits from the person we'd shot and/or his/her survivors, and their lawyers' fees, and so on, would cost us.

It might be worth considering that fact before deciding to take action. I'm not saying that I wouldn't act under the circumstances: but it's something I'd better have thought through ahead of time, and counted the cost, and decided that the cost was both worth paying, and within my means. Furthermore, what I could do in my present location is not what I could necessarily do in any other location - so I'd better keep that firmly in mind when I travel!

Food for thought, no?



Anathema said...

He would have been in a choke hold as soon as he swung. (Then again, I'm even bigger than he is.)

Sevesteen said...

Although deadly force here is justified, it would really depend on where I was in relation to others--could I take a shot with minimal risk to bystanders? I don't see any time during this where any one of the patrons had a clean shot. From behind the counter, I think I'd draw, and shout either "Everybody out" or "everybody down" and hope people got out of my way. On the customer side? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Start looking for a blunt weapon as soon as the sow opens her mouth.

Anonymous said...

Call 911 discretely.

I, even though I carry, would NOT draw down. Too many bystanders, too great a chance of missing, and if I, myself were not immediately threatened, do nothing. It would have just made things worse.

I'm also a sexist. Had it been a woman getting beaten up, or a child, that's another matter. But another full grown man? Forget it.

Anonymous said...

So , for the sake of argument, we yell at the assailant to stop, he does not, he ATTACKS us, we shoot him- now Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and every liberal race baiting scumbag lawyer in the country is on our case. We no longer have-a home. We no longer have-a bank account. we no longer have-our freedom. And all on account of saving someone we do not even know.

Anonymous said...

I'd call 9-1-1 and try my best to be a good witness. If he continued to beat the man after he was knocked out, I'd draw my gun and keep him from killing a helpless opponent. BTW, I'm a sexist too, if it was a woman or kid I'd interven immediately.

Simeron Steelhammer said...

Well, I'm 6 foot 2in and 330lbs.

First off, I'd have turned to the woman and told her to leave me alone. When she got her boyfriend, I'd have called 911 and then dealth with him as I had to, up to and including grabbing something and beating him...then, because she hit me, she'd get the same.

The thing that disgusts me is the fact there are 10-12 people that just stood by and let it happen. The manager doesn't even pick up the phone to call the police nor does anyone else.

To me, that is unacceptable.

You don't stand by and watch someone getting beaten. At least I won't.

I might end up getting in trouble for not standing by, but I bet that big ole boy would have one hell of a headache when I took a chair and smashed it over his head and then took the remains and clocked the girlfriend for starting it.

4 years for that? He'll be out in under 2 years. Let me crack open his skull and put him down permenantly instead. Bet he don't get out early from there.

But then again, I'm a Texan and seeing anyone going off like that ticks me off. I can understand being pissed off about the comments but, you don't brutally beat someone for them, you confront them, tell them they need to apologize and embarrass the hell out of them for being rude.

Not put them in the hospital.

But that's me. Again, the thing that bothers me the most here is the fact that all these people stood by and did absolutely nothing. Not even a call for help or to 911.

Simeron Steelhammer said...

And to clarify something...I don't condone hitting a woman. Never have and probably never will. But when a woman decides to try to take on a man in physical combat, she is assuming she's a man too.

I would think that if her "boyfriend" got put on the ground, she's be quickly subdued and wouldn't need the clocking...but if not, you do what you need to do regardless of sex.

That might not be "chivarlic" but, niether is a woman punching or hitting a man.

Mulligan said...

mixed thoughts:
im a firm beleiver in freedom of speech, and im not trying to be racist here, but anyone who goes verbal on a black woman is an idiot. there's just no way for a nerdy looking white boy to win that one.

i also think that if a few more people experienced some repercussions when they open their mouth they would think before they do it the next time.

that said, i doubt his comments warranted a trip to the ER. if the beating goes on after one party stops fighting or is out cold, then its time to step in. even at the risk of endangering yourself. im sure the lawyers would find a way to say you were in the wrong for getting involved but at some point you gotta be a man and stand for whats right. its sad that we've allowed our society to degenerate to the point where we have to consider the legal issues separately from the moral issues. even sadder that legal so often trumps moral.

theres no way to know during the event that the aggressor is an ex-con but everyone should be treated as if they are carrying and drawing in a crowded room is seldom the best plan.

if the man behind the counter states he is calling the police after he gets spit on and picks up the phone its possible things would have ended differently.

Mikael said...

Even though I'm only 5'7 and about 160 pounds, I'd have intervened after the first blow. If I'm lucky I could get a control grip, but even if I couldn't, I'd still be able to block those blows(oww my bruised arms) and do the old one-two jaw-jab(distraction) + groin knee, and the big con would have to keep an eye out for the guy he punched too.

Anonymous said...

If I was armed I would have drawn and ordered the attacker to freeze, firing if he made a single further movement. If unarmed I would have taken his near side knee, side kick, then gotten clear to avoid a grapple.

In no case would I have allowed this Cro-magnon retard to batter someone over words.

Psychlone Ranger said...

The thing that strikes me about this incident is the behaviour of the 'victim'. To some extent, he brought this on himself.

In his attempt to ignore the loud woman in order to concentrate on his phone call, he doesn't see the big guy come in, and I don't think he realizes that the big guy is there at the behest of the loud woman. He thinks he's only dealing with her, right up to the point where he gets cold-cocked.

Two words come to mind: Situational Awareness. Phone guy has none.

He keeps his head down, his back to a threat. That's not the way to deal with an aggressive person. It's classic 'victim' posture, and can actually incite more aggression.
Second of all, it doesn't allow him to see a real potential threat come at him.
Had he put the phone away and confronted the woman with a calm but strong demeanor, he might have disarmed the situation early. Failing that, he would have at least seen the big guy coming, and could have adopted a defensive attitude. That might have allowed him to deflect the first blow, and even the fight.

As for the behaviour of the other patrons and shop owner, yes, I too find it deplorable. No-one stands up to the bully, no-one comes to the phone guy's aid until after the big guy and loud woman leave. What a bunch of cowards.
If I had been there, I would have been on the big guy after the first blow. If he had tried to swing on me, well I was taught to "climb the defense tree": ankle, knee, hip, solar plexus, arm pit. The two last strikes, neck and temple, are to be used as a last resort because they are dangerous, possibly deadly.

Anonymous said...

Followup, expanding on my comment earlier in context of expanded comment by our host.

In my state, it is legal to use force, including lethal force, to stop the commission of a forcible felony. The power with which that man was striking, and his sheer size, made his assault on the victim of that order, in other words, the victim was at realistic risk of death.

I concur that if I were to intervene, I would be on my own, facing two opponents, either one of which might question my willingness to deploy lethal force, thus forcing me to kill them. I considered that question before I began carrying concealed, and I am willing to take a life, if that is necessary to protect myself or others.

I disagree, that politeness would have prevented this situation. The female would have construed any comment, even one directed at the manager or herself directly as "disrespect" deserving of punishment.

While I would love to see the return of more formal politeness, and I attempt to use such behavior myself, I do not believe that it would have worked under these circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I agree completely with your reasoned assessment. However, this is also the reason we WILL see gangs and crime expanding- Virtually EVERYONE who saw the attack KNEW IT WAS WRONG.

Would the people in that cafe have reacted the same way 100 years ago?
When the law does not support society, , there is a grave danger that the law will be tossed out, and people will form a new "law".

Simeron Steelhammer said...

I agree with Peter's assessment. The guy on the cell phone more then likely escaleted the situation on several levels.

That wasn't the question however. *grin*

The question was, what would I do in this situation.

You react is what most of us do. Quickly using the internal structure of our minds to decide, in very short moments, how to proceed.

You have to process it quickly also as the situation changes often and fast.

I still stand my what I said. You use the needed force to subdue all attacking parties until the authorities arrive. The biggest question is what are they going to do when they do arrive.

I live in Texas...therefore, like Peter, I know more then likely, I have the backing of the law...give or take a bit.

If I was in California or Mass...that's a whole nother story. Especially if you bring firearms into it.

The best thing to do in a situation like this is to have prepared for it long before you find yourself (God forbid) in it.

One thing I do wonder though...what exactly did the "victim" say that started her (the girlfriend) off?

I mean, we tend to think it wasn't much but, he could have said a racial thing, called her a fat ugly heffer...we simply don't know.

Still, it wouldn't warrant that kind of beating.