Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Take - Part Two

I didn't intend for this to have two parts, but my response to several commenters in the last post started to get too long and morphed into this post.

I have come out in the comments and said that I thought that the kid was a p@ssy, and I stand by that comment. Here is what a few commenters had to say about the situation:

I'm sympathetic, but this would have been a bad idea. Yes, he committed assault. But he's also a member of Congress -- laws don't apply to him.

Had the activist responded with a break or a punch, or in any way physically resisted, he would be in jail right now.

Do you really think escalation is the best choice here? You are putting your fate in the hands of the police, district attorney and possibly a jury.
Many of the other comments were along these lines.

First off, I would like to thank the many commenters who have taken time to voice their thoughts on the subject.

I completely understand the thought pattern. This would have been my reaction maybe even a decade ago. But I have changed.

Maybe it is because I became a father - someone that my kids need to look up to for a good example. Maybe I just got sick of society one day and bullying in general. I don't know. But it all changed about five years or so ago.

I decided one day that if anyone laid hands on me or my family in a threatening way that I would do absolutely everything in my power to disable the thug in a quick fashion. No negotiations, no "please let go of me". They get decked, plain and simple. This is all long before I started Muay Thai, and I will touch on that in a second.

For better or worse, I have chosen to do what I feel is right, and let the chips fall. I am acutely aware that in this situation of the kid vs. the congress critter that things would not be framed in a very good way and that the possibility exists of me ending up with a record of some sort. Oh well. It is a choice that I have made. He started it, I will end it. The Congressman is a human just like me - just a man. He puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like me. If I have penalties to face later on by a jury or judge, so be it. I am prepared to do what is right. At this stage in my life I couldn't sleep at night knowing that I let myself be bullied.

Now that I have three plus years of Muay Thai under my belt, I am not sure that I can do much about it anyway. I have certain reflexes that are now hard wired, or built in. The second that guy grabbed me, it would have been "go" time. In all seriousness, it would have been one shot on that old man and I would have been able to break free and run. That is typically what I see myself doing in a real life fight situation. That one shot might break the assailants nose, or leg, but so it goes. Woe to the person that attacks one of my children or wife, as I may need to leave an extra shot or two in there for good measure. Not sure I could control my rage in a situation like that.

In reality I am an extremely mild mannered guy. I have never been in a real street fight and don't plan on getting into one. I take extreme measures to stay out of bad situations and my friend Carl will vouch for me on that. I am more dangerous than the normal joe walking down the street and am pretty confident in my abilities.

To summarize, I see the point that the commenters in the previous post made, but it just isn't for me. I need to do what I think is right, and deal with the rest later. I still think the kid is a p@ssy.


Gerry from Valpo said...

I agree 110% and would have had your same reaction Dan.

Clearly a case of self defense. A poke, push or a grab from a stranger is all it takes. Then throw the rule book out the window. You have no idea what he will do next so you strike fast and strike hard. Make it count, son.

At least we would have had the satisfaction of seeing some teeth fly out of that congresspuke's big fat mouth again and again on video if the kid wasn't such a pussy.

Who he is or where he's at would have meant absolutely nothing to me.

Blast Hardcheese said...

On the one hand, I can understand the reluctance to lay hands on a member of Congress (and incur the wrath of the 'beautiful' people) even if it is in self-defense.

On the gripping hand, that drunken chump DOES NOT have the right to lay his hands on me, just for asking a simple question. That alone counts as physical assault, and I'd be perfectly in my rights to, ahem, 'make' him let go.

The only concession I'd give to him would be a single "let go of me, please," delivered loud and clear enough to be heard by both him and the camera. If he doesn't let go, then he gets to see what real physical violence is like.

Stuart the Viking said...

I think you are looking at this wrong. The kid was not physically harmed, he was merely restrained. Sure, it was assault (as far as we can see from the video) and the kid would probably have had legal grounds for striking back physically (except the old guy was a politician and, as pointed out by others, normal rules don't always apply). However, a young, athletic kid against an old man? Besides, I think the kid got exactly what he wanted (and probably more than he dreamed) and by hitting the old man he would have lost most of it.

Then we get to you. I'm sure you are a nice guy and all, and with all due respect, in this post you are a complete ass-hat. You, as a martial artist (I'll take your word for it) would NOT have been on moral grounds at all if you struck back physically breaking the old guys nose, leg, arm, whichever you chose (as you stated). If you are even a 10th the martial artist that you describe, it would be simple for you to break such a hold without doing excessive harm, and it would be your moral duty to do so. I don't know where you trained, or who trained you, but it seems that they have taught you the act of violence without teaching you the morality of it. No, this does not mean that you have less rights than others, but it does mean that you have more responsibilities. Try to live up to them. If you don't understand what they are, please find a dojo that teaches a more complete view of martial arts and finish the other, non-violent, half of your training because if this post is any inducation, you either missed that class or it (sadly) wasn't offered. I see much to much of that in martial arts training these days.

"Maybe it is because I became a father - someone that my kids need to look up to for a good example."

I understand, we all want to teach our kids to stand up for themselves and never back down from a bully. I teach my own kids the same, and was a proud papa the day my 5 yo girl knocked down a (much bigger) 6 yo boy who was being mean and pushing kids on the play ground. However, Beating up an old man doesn't do that. It teaches them that might makes right, it teaches them that all they need is an excuse to be bullies themselves.

bah... this is probably falling on deaf ears.


knirirr said...

Despite the danger of vindictive abuse of the law by the miscreant, my first response would be to escape from the initial attack and give him a stern warning. If he continued then an appropriate physical response would be in order.

I have once been assaulted in the street by a particularly obnoxious individual and I found that a forceful removal of his hands from my person followed by a warning was sufficient. Had I hit him I am sure the injuries he would have received would have caused legal difficulties for me.

John said...

Thanks for responding, Dan. Actually, I think that we moved in different directions over time for the same reason.

As I grew older, got married, and became a father, I became aware of the fragility of my life. At any moment, a boss at work could fire me or a cop could give me a criminal record just for spite. I realized that rights were illusions; that the powerful would do what they wanted and would not be deterred by my assertion of my rights.

I also accepted that my life was no longer mine to dispose of as I wished, such as for the sake of my honor or pride. My wife depends on me, and even more so, my children do. If I strike back at an oppressor, such as this Congressman, no matter how right I might be, it would have a very negative effect on my life. And consequently, it would have a very negative impact on the people who depend on me.

Those who stand up for their rights usually get squashed. Certainly in an emergency situation, when there is nothing else to lose, fight back. But that is not what was recorded in the video. The young man was in no actual danger. Combat was optional. Such resistance would have saved his pride, but likely landed him with a felony record that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

I will teach my children that they live in a world where sometimes they can stand up to bullies and win. But I will also teach them that there are conflicts that they must avoid because they will lose. Hopefully they will also learn to distinguish between the two.

Dan from Madison said...

Stuart - it isn't like I am some savage walking around looking for fights - that was, I thought, pretty well explained in my post.

If the guy grabs me by the wrist I take that as a threat to my safety and will deal with it appropriately. If he ends up on the wrong end of an elbow and ends up with a broken snout, so be it. Note that I also said that I would RUN once the threat is diminished.

You choose a more docile approach to people invading your personal space. I take it a bit more seriously - okay, much more seriously - just a matter of two differing thought patterns.

As for my gym and the instruction that I receive, you have no clue what you are talking about so I will leave that one alone. Thanks for the comment though, it is an important part of the conversation.

Dan from Madison said...

John - you say that the young man was in no actual danger. You don't know that. That guy looked pretty mean to me and could have cold cocked the kid. The only way you knew that the kid was in no actual danger was because the video had a happy ending. That is why I take my personal space so seriously.

Blast Hardcheese said...

To follow up on Dan's last comment, but from a more philosophical point of view. The contention seems to be that if the kid had stood up physically to the bullying Congressman, that's a 'losing battle'. Regardless of right or wrong, the system would make sure the kid would pay.

But think about it. When was the last time any of you ever thought about responding with violence to a simple question? The kid wasn't using anything like 'fighting words'. What kind of entitlement mentality thinks that grabbing someone's wrist is the proper response to a political question?

Your life is your own. Your body is your own. If you are doing nothing wrong (i.e. not initiating physical force), then NO ONE has the right to lay their hands on you without your consent. That is a line that must be held. Otherwise, you're just a slave. And if anyone, regardless of position, tries to treat you like a slave they need to be reminded that you are a citizen.

Dan from Madison said...

Blast - great comment.

John said...

Blast Hardcheese wrote:

Your life is your own. Your body is your own. If you are doing nothing wrong (i.e. not initiating physical force), then NO ONE has the right to lay their hands on you without your consent. That is a line that must be held. Otherwise, you're just a slave. And if anyone, regardless of position, tries to treat you like a slave they need to be reminded that you are a citizen.

Sometimes this approach will work well. At other times, and I suspect that this recorded encounter is one of them, it will not. The more likely outcome is that you will end up in jail. Then you will not only remain in slavery, but sent to a deeper level of slavery.

My point is this: when making decisions about what we do, we should take into account core moral principles. But we should also take into account the likelihood of success and our willingness to accept the negative outcome if the venture ends in failure.

The person in such an encounter should ask himself "Is my pride and self-respect worth the cost of the punch that I am about to throw?" If the answer is yes, then swing away. If not, then don't.

Knowing myself, I think that if I was suddenly in this encounter, I would not have fought back -- at least not anymore than trying to get away. I would have been ashamed and I would sleep fitfully that night, feeling as though I was a p@ssy. But I would do so next to my wife in the same bed and in the room adjacent to my daughters, instead of in a jail cell. I would continue to be able to provide for them, instead of being absent from their lives and financially hamstrung by a felony conviction. And sacrificing my pride to ensure that ability continues wouldn't make me a p@ssy, but a man.

Now that's just me. I don't know what was going through the young man's head at the time of the encounter. But I don't think that declining to fight an extremely powerful person automatically makes one a p@ssy.

Blast Hardcheese said...


Note that I didn't recommend any particular course of action, let alone throwing punches. There are levels of response to consider.

As Knirr mentioned earlier, if someone grabs your wrist as Etheridge did, you can push their hand off (not that hard) and tell them to Back The F**k Off. No punches thrown, and everybody gets to go home instead of to jail. I'm 99% sure that if the kid had done that to Etheridge, the man wouldn't have followed up with the neck grab (which is starting to shade into serious assault; the neck is a sensitive area and it's surprising how little force it takes to hurt someone permanently).

We can start spinning this into other scenarios (What if he pulls a gun? etc.) But that basic right is still there, and the line needs to be made clear. Those who wield the power of the state should respect it, and be politely (but forcibly) reminded when they do not.

Stuart the Viking said...


I am sure my reaction has a lot to do with you calling the kid a pussy and bragging that you would have kicked the old guy's ass. That says something (to me) about how you conduct yourself, and as a martial artist, reflects on how you were trained (or at least what you took home with you from that training). However, I could be wrong, not the first and I'm sure it won't be the last time.

It appeared to me that the kid got exactly what he wanted... which was a reaction from the old guy that he could use to further his political ends. Kicking the old guy's ass would have just painted him as a thug and taken away most of the advantage that he gained from this incident.


Dan from Madison said...

I wasn't bragging about anything, merely stating a fact. If someone grabs me or my family, it is too bad for them until they let go and I can get away.

As I said before you have no clue what you are talking about as regards my martial art training and my gym. I won't go there with you.

Me calling the kid a pussy is just my opinion, and you know what they say about those...

Gerry from Valpo said...

Out of curiosity I clicked on the name (Stuart the Viking) above, in this comments section to check out his blog. To save readers from the task of drilling down you can just go here:


It is not my place to judge the man. But feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Dan from Madison said...

PLEASE pass the mind bleach!

Stuart the Viking said...

HAHA!! Sorry, I forgot that was there! The web site isn't my personal blog, it's the web site for an internet radio show that I do with my two closest friends. I am not the one who does the web site (I would not have posted those particular pictures) the producer of the show does that. Oddly enough, the show that those pictures came from was one of our better shows. We had a couple that participates in the S&M lifestyle come in and talk frankly about what it is and what it isn't and answer any questions we had. Then they did a demo on one of the show members (the one you see in the pictures with the clothes pins). Yes, I know, we aren't the most attractive people in the world, but at least we are real. I was curious as to what it felt like, so the Dominatrix lady even flogged me with a flogger on the arm. Ya know, it didn't really hurt. It was interesting to say the least. The show itself isn't for everyone, but we take the "if you don't like it, don't listen" angle on that.

That said. Dan, I went back and re-read my comments from yesterday... geesh, was I in a mood. I'm sorry if I came across like an ass. I do that sometimes.