Lethal force is a last resort

In the last couple of weeks a few instances of…well, idiocy is the best description I can proffer at the moment…made semi-national news. They are excellent examples of what The Tactical Professor would call “Negative Outcomes” that result from people who made the decision to keep a firearm handy but apparently did not bother to make the same effort to educate themselves about the law. Or, one could argue, apply any common sense.

Firearms are lethal force. The law in every state and territory in our Union regards the firearm as a deadly instrument. Because when used properly or improperly, it can kill people.

As a society we generally regard the act of justifiably killing another human being to be a last resort. An extreme action warrantable in answer to only the most serious of criminal threats.

Multiple armed men forcibly entering your home is one of those serious criminal threats. Had the residents of that house opened fire on the armed men busting through the front door and killed every one, it would have been a justifiable homicide in every jurisdiction in the United States. The threat to life is clear, as the unfortunate outcome of this criminal assault makes plain.

One cannot say the same for shoplifting. In Michigan a woman in a Home Depot parking lot saw a man running with a cart full of stolen power tools. As he got into a getaway car, she opened fire on the car.

According to officials, Duva-Rodriguez wasn’t trying to hit or kill the shoplifters, but rather to disable their car. But that didn’t stop prosecutors from filing the misdemeanor charge against her. The Auburn Hills Police Department suggested Duva-Rodriguez could face 90 days in jail or a fine.

If you do not intend to kill someone, a firearm is the wrong tool to have in your hand.

Guns are lethal force. Period. Police do sometimes shoot at vehicles but only in the most extreme of circumstances where there is a continuing threat to the community…not when the car has unarmed shoplifters in it. Even when the police shoot to disable the car of a fleeing armed felon it is a use of lethal force.

To justifiably use your firearm you have to be faced with a circumstance where a criminal assault is placing someone (You, for instance) at significant risk of death or grievous injury. (Broken bones, paralysis, maimed for life, etc) Two dudes stealing a grand worth of Home Depot’s power tools does not place anyone in immediate danger of death or grievous injury…therefore your handgun is absolutely the wrong tool for that job. The smart phone in your pocket or purse is a much better tool for that situation.

Then, of course, we have the incident in Waco where a woman fired a shot at a fleeing purse snatcher. Here again we see no immediate danger to life or limb, but she’s got her gun out and when the bad guy takes off running with no evidence of armed aggression toward anyone she pops a shot at the guy.

You need not be a Harvard Law alumni to understand this. Common sense (which may not actually be all that common, when you think about it…) would dictate that since guns kill, it is only justifiable to use them when we are prepared to actually end another human being on the spot.

Guns are not magic. They are a relatively simple machine that launches a projectile. Pulling one out in inappropriate circumstances will not make the situation better for you. Quite the opposite, I’m afraid.

Feeling the sensation of fear is not enough to justify pulling your gun or actually firing it. You cannot be unsure about the threat when you pull the trigger. It cannot be a situation of “I’m afraid of what this guy might do!” The time to pull the trigger is when you know that you or some other innocent person is likely to die or be seriously injured if you don’t. It’s a last resort, when other reasonable options are no longer available to you.


There has been a lot of “discussion” (by which I mean silly people talking complete spinach) about the use of lethal force lately. In these “discussions” people with very high opinions of themselves theorize about how these incidents go down and the motivations, thoughts, and feelings of the people involved in them.

It’s almost always absolute crap.

When police shoot someone who is the wrong color, or who has a potentially sympathetic story (even if the story is a complete fabrication) the “discussion” proceeds along on the assumption that the cop involved is some sort of degenerate who gets his rocks off by killing people. Like police officers here in the States as a matter of policy shoot first and ask questions later and are happy to do it…especially if the person who ends up shot is black. You’ll note that the people offering these opinions have never been even close to a life-or-death situation in their lives, but that doesn’t matter: They went to the right schools, you see, and have all the right opinions…and deciding what is “justice” in these situations is something they can easily accomplish from the comfort of their brunch table.

…but you know me, I like to actually test assumptions to see if they hold up. So how about we actually carefully examine a police shooting to see if we can find evidence of this undercurrent of racism and brutality that the intellectuals in our society are able to so easily discern:


The background on that shooting: The police officer was called to that church by the pastor (as you can hear the pastor himself say in the video) because the deceased young man had threatened to kill a woman at a wedding being held at that church. The officer arrives on scene, finds the guy he’s looking for, and takes steps to try and secure him before anything bad happens…but the deceased young man had other ideas.

Now for a lesson in the power of video editing…the embedded video above is a chopped version of the full video released by the police department. I want you to follow this link and watch the video there as well:


In the full video you can hear the officer’s heavy breathing…he’s feeling the effects of the adrenaline and a heart rate that’s got to feel like the organ is about to punch through his chest wall at any minute. At about the 6:00 mark you can see the officer’s reaction to the shooting as he comes out of the shock of the event. He slams his fists into a nearby cruiser out of frustration and emotion. A fellow officer collects him and is going to take him to the station…and at the 7:00 mark you hear the police officer say “…Why did he have to do that?

Why did he have to do that? I ask you: Does that sound like the statement of somebody who wanted things to happen that way?

Of course, police officers aren’t the only ones who get this treatment. Anyone who owns a firearm for personal defense is often classified as some sort of degenerate looking for an opportunity to kill someone and get away with it. They often refer to the “sick fantasies” or “violent fantasies” (just ask Mother Jones or the Daily Kos!) of so-called “gun nuts” (yes, I appreciate the irony of complaining about the use of that term while writing for this site) and since those people are WAY smarter than any of us (just ask them!) it must be true, right?


That video is the sort of thing that the enlightened people of our society allege does not occur. The idea that some machete wielding maniac is going to kick in your front door to kill you is supposed to be another one of those “violent fantasies” harbored by “gun nuts” who are just itching to kill somebody…and yet there it is. A machete wielding nutcase really did kick through that door so he could murder the occupants. The “gun nut” in his own house was forced to shoot the nutcase to save his life and the life of his loved ones in the dwelling.

…but does he sound pleased about that? When you listen to the aftermath of that shooting, what do you hear in the home owner’s voice? Listen again from 1:50-1:59. “I DIDN’T WANT TO DO THAT!!”

“I DIDN’T WANT TO DO THAT!!” is the story of lethal force in self defense. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a police officer or an average joe, they don’t want to shoot somebody. They didn’t want to be in a situation where their life was in such peril that they had to kill or grievously injure someone else just to stay alive.

This is the piece that’s missing from the tiny, closed minds of the Mother-Jones-At-Brunch set. They have to make everything into good vs. evil for their silly world view to have any legitimacy…and so the person who arms themselves must be some sort of moral degenerate because their limited understanding of the universe cannot account for a person who acknowledges the reality that they might have to kill someone to stay alive without having any desire to actually use the gun they are carrying. 

The reality, as you can literally see with your own eyes, is very different.






Here’s another police officer who was punched while sitting in his cruiser…

He was murdered. 

You won’t hear about the murder of officer David Smith in all the silly discussion going on about what Officer Wilson should have done when he was being punched in the face by Mike Brown. So maybe inject this little tidbit into the conversation anytime you see some overnight UOF expert pontificating on the danger that Officer Wilson faced from the gentle Mr. Brown.

Again, this isn’t going to make a dent in the sort of doofus who is marching in protests but it will probably do a world of good for the sort of people who retain the mindset of a reasonable human being. Most people don’t know anything about UOF laws, requirements, or realities and all they’re getting is the prevailing media narrative on the issue which is so utterly divorced from any reality as to be sickening.

Pointing out that hey, folks, David Smith found himself being attacked in his cruiser by a much older and much smaller man and he was murdered with his own service weapon…well, it just might wake some folks up.

Reason does not prevail with Hail-Mary plays, folks. It doesn’t sound good shouted through megaphones and it doesn’t usually lend itself to catchy slogans, but it can be effective if pounded relentlessly by those who possess it.

Kudos to Legal Insurrection and View From The Porch for bringing this to my attention.

The law isn’t the problem here

I’m typing this about an hour and a half after the announcement that the grand jury has returned no true bill for police officer Darren Wilson of the Furgeson Police Department. The district attorney for the area did a reasonably good job of laying out the facts of the case as presented to the grand jury and all the evidence shown has been made publicly available. The physical evidence and reliable testimony…testimony given by black folks who didn’t talk to the press…showed that what occurred on that day was a fight and not the random execution a bunch of liars alleged initially.

We’ve mentioned before that unarmed is not the same thing as harmless here on Gun Nuts, and so I won’t rehash ground that has already been covered in The Danger of Fists.

As stores are being looted and set on fire (with employees still in them…I fail to see how endangering the lives of somebody working a minimum wage job brings about “justice” for anybody) the various and sundry talking heads are beginning their foul work. Now that all the facts are on the table and it’s pretty clear by any reasonable standard that Mr. Brown is dead because he picked a lethal fight with a police officer over a minor instance of shoplifting (hardly the first time that has happened) the conversation is being conveniently moved away from the specifics of what transpired between Officer Wilson and Mike Brown and it’s being morphed into a conversation about some cockamamie “epidemic” of police brutality.

Specifically the complaints I’ve heard from at least one congressman and an official in the Missouri Bar Association have been that the law is the problem here. They hold that if the law can find that it’s legal for a police officer to shoot an “unarmed” black man and not be imprisoned for it, that the law is the problem and must be changed. Nevermind that the very same laws that delivered a no bill for Officer Wilson when he shot an unarmed thief with a different skin color delivered the exact same result when police officer Don Hubbard shot white firefighter Anthony Bruno in Kansas City almost a year ago under very similar circumstances. You won’t hear that discussion happen because it doesn’t fit the narrative they are trying to put forward.

This should worry you as a gun owner because police use of lethal force is governed by the exact same laws and principles that non-sworn citizens have to comply with. Outside of a few very specific and pretty rare circumstances, a cop on the street has no more right or ability to pull a trigger on another human being than you do. Someone attempting to change the laws so that Officer Wilson goes to jail for the rest of his life for shooting Mike Brown is trying to attack the very basic concept of self defense and would put you in the cell next to him for defending yourself or your family. 

In the aftermath of this when thugs and criminals are looting and setting things on fire, these talking heads and their willing minions in social media land are going to try and use guilt to try and convince the public of a need to fundamentally alter one of the basic tenets of western civilization because they’re unhappy that the police officer didn’t lose the fight. The man’s career in law enforcement is over, he and his family are in hiding, and the families of all the police in Ferguson have had to be evacuated or put under guard because of worries that an angry mob will do them harm, and all because Mike Brown picked a fight with the police…but that’s not enough. It’s not “justice” unless they get their pound of flesh.

As the Zimmerman incident shows, it’s not going to stop with the police. If you hold the radical idea that you have the right to use force to defend yourself from criminal attack, you’re right up there in the line of fire with Officer Wilson.

There’s certainly a lot to dislike about the state of modern policing in America. I’ve ranted a bit about the deficiencies found in the justice system myself in this very space. What happened here, though, isn’t an example of a problem in American policing. It’s an example of what’s fundamentally wrong in American society.

The people on the airwaves in the next few days running their fetid suck about “justice” are, in reality, rooting for the bad guy. They’re going to cover it with flowery language about “justice” and appeals to a civil rights movement from the 60’s that has nothing to do with looting stores and burning buildings, but the basic underlying truth doesn’t change: They want the bad guys to win. When they spew this garbage in your direction don’t buy a word of it. See it for what it really is and push back.

The law wasn’t the problem in Ferguson that day. One can argue and debate about what factors in society led to producing a Mike Brown who thinks it’s acceptable to fight a uniformed police officer for his gun, but once he made that fateful decision what happened from that point on was reasonable and morally sound. He held all the cards that day. Every day police officers around the country interact with all kinds of people from all possible creeds without killing them or doing them serious harm.

Every now and then a police officer or an ordinary citizen is going to cross paths with a violent criminal who isn’t going to play by any reasonable rules. Violence is the only answer for those individuals. Not because we want it that way, but because they will have it no other way. I guarantee you that Officer Wilson didn’t want to be involved in that fight any more than Detective Reston wanted to end up being shot several times (including being shot in the face) by a shoplifter…but people like Jared or Officer Wilson or YOU don’t get to make those decisions. The violent criminals in this world make that decision for everyone else, and those of us who aren’t rabid sociopaths are left with the choice of fighting or dying at their hands. To paraphrase the DA at the press conference, no one should put a police officer…or anyone else for that matter…in the position to need to use lethal force to survive. Yet they have, they do, and they will. 

It would be pointless for us to fight new restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms if we’ll sit back and allow the malevolent and the hopelessly misguided twist the laws so horribly that our firearms are rendered essentially useless as implements of self defense against violent criminals.

Don’t believe the hype. Challenge it. Fight it with fact. You won’t win over everyone, but it will help bolster those who feel enormous pressure to give in with the “justice” crowd but find that the small voice of common sense makes them uncomfortable going along with these people. The right input from you can give that small voice a megaphone.


Lethal response to an “unarmed” attack

Some time ago I wrote a bit about The Danger of Fists in response to some of the nonsense that I saw in media coverage of the Zimmerman incident. In that article I claimed that law enforcement training treats an officer being “mounted” as a lethal force event. Here’s an example of just such an event:

The man in the tie was an off-duty Kansas City firefighter who apparently got a bit drunk at a wedding and ended up assaulting a cabbie. The officer in the video was working security for the hotel while in uniform, not an uncommon practice in jurisdictions where sworn officers have police authority 24/7. When you see police officers at a university football game, they’re working in exactly the same capacity. The officer attempts to make an arrest, and ends up in a fight with the firefighter.

Note how quickly the situation goes from the officer appearing to have the upper hand to the officer having his head forced against the pavement and taking blows. The officer sustained multiple serious injuries, including a broken eye socket, a fractured cheekbone, a cut above his left eye that required two stitches and loss of feeling in the left side of his face. All sustained from just a few blows from an untrained attacker in a couple of short seconds.

Had the assault gone on any longer the officer could have been killed or suffered permanently debilitating injuries just from the punches. The officer fired in self defense, killing his attacker. The shooting was “no-billed” by a grand jury, meaning it was presented for review by a grand jury and they found no cause for criminal charges. That’s the equivalent of ruling this to be a “good shoot”, meaning a justified use of lethal force.

The officer has been off the job since the incident and according to one news report I saw quoted online has required multiple facial reconstruction surgeries. From a few punches delivered in a couple of seconds. Of course, it doesn’t even need to be a couple of punches delivered from a side-mount position:

One sucker punch was enough to cause the victim fatal brain damage. To repeat what I said in the original Fists writeup, fists and feet have been responsible for more killings than rifles and shotguns combined according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.

Do not underestimate the danger of fists.



The danger of fists

The endless blathering out there about George Zimmerman’s verdict is really beginning to annoy me. I’ve grown up admiring those who make the effort to educate themselves and strive to say things they can back up with objective fact or considerable experience. I take umbrage to those who drone on endlessly when it’s abundantly clear that they haven’t the slightest damn clue what in blue hell they are talking about. Yet that seems to be the exact sort of person eager to show up on camera and run their fetid gums about the dynamics of the Zimmerman verdict. Their talking points spread like bad VD during spring break, showing up on forums and on facebook as people who don’t even understand the bare facts of the case parrot talking points they don’t even begin to comprehend.

While there are many annoying displays of ignorance, the most frustrating is this notion that Mr. Zimmerman’s use of a firearm to stop a “fistfight” was unjust. Firstly because that’s an inadequate description of what eye witnesses said about Mr. Zimmerman’s position in the fight, and secondly because it shows a second grader’s understanding of what it means to actually be in a fight on the street.

Most people out there have never been in a fight. I’m not talking about schoolyard stuff, because that doesn’t count. I get the impression that a lot of people offering their opinion on this have some Leave It to Beaver style schoolyard dustup in mind when they think about what a punch does, and they are relating that inadequate experience to what Mr. Zimmerman was facing that night. When I was in fifth or sixth grade I got into a schoolyard dustup with Dustin Carnay, a kid about half my size. He hit me two times in the face, and the blows were so weak it didn’t even register anything more than mild discomfort. After experiencing what passed for his fury, I didn’t even swing at the kid because it was pointless. I just shoved him down and walked away. Lots of people have similar experiences and I get the distinct impression they’re viewing the fight between Zimmerman and Martin in those terms.

That’s not how real fights work. Real punches don’t cause mild discomfort. They cause serious damage. Don’t believe me?


Here we see a suspect throwing a single punch by surprise (which is how most real fights start) that catches the officer square in the jaw. That punch was nothing like the punches Dustin landed on me. A solid punch landed to the jaw can drive the jawbone into the vagus nerve, shutting the lights out. Or it can simply cause the brain to smash violently against the skull, which can be sufficient to knock you unconscious or severely impair your ability to function for a brief time. When this happens the very next thing that occurs is, typically falling down…which in and of itself can cause problems:

In the incident in the video a drunk SWAT cop punched the victim one time. The punch seems to have knocked the victim unconscious, as he fell and his head bounced off of the concrete. When we fall and we’re able to process what’s happening, by reflex we try to protect our head. When we are knocked unconscious, it’s like a marionette puppet with the strings being cut, and the 20 pound weight at the top of our shoulders (namely our head) ends up impacting the ground with considerable force. The brain was already having a bad day from just the punch, and now being smashed against the cranium with even more velocity isn’t going to help matters. The victim in this video had a brain bleed and that put him into a coma for weeks…and he still isn’t recovered. From one punch.

Of course, in Zimmerman’s case it wasn’t one punch. It was several. Eye witness testimony said that Trayvon Martin had Zimmerman in a “mount”. This essentially means that he was on his knees, straddling Zimmerman’s torso. This has the effect of pinning Zimmerman to the ground. If you watch the first video you’ll note that after the police officer is knocked to the ground, her attacker immediately “mounts” her and begins raining blows down on her head. This is the most disadvantaged position you can be in. It is possible to get out of a mount if you have some skill…but even a skilled fighter can’t always escape a mount as any time spent watching MMA fights will tell you.

Note what happens when you watch an MMA fight where one fighter gets in a mount position and rains blows on his opponent:the referee steps in to stop the fight. Why? Because someone who is mounted and is unable to improve his position can end up with irreparable damage if it is not stopped. This is a standard safety practice in MMA competitions. If you watch enough MMA fight footage you will even see instances where fighters who have someone in a mount will stop on their own, knowing that the other fighter is done and not wishing to cause him any more injury than they already have. This doesn’t happen on the street. There’s no referee to stop the fight. It’s over only when the person who is throwing blows gives up or decides to move on to other methods of inflicting damage. In the first video of the police officer, her assailant stopped after he had caused her permanent injury…and then he tried to get her gun. Having already caused her brain trauma, he was going to try and finish the job by blowing her brains out with her own weapon. Right in front of his daughter, no less.

Police use of force policies treat an officer being knocked unconscious or mounted as lethal force events. Firstly because as we’ve shown it’s extremely easy for the officer to be gravely injured just by the ongoing assault of fists, but also because when the officer is seeing stars or unconscious the perp will often go for the officer’s weapon and use it to kill them. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, in 2011 three officers were killed with their own weapons and five of them had their weapons stolen from them. (Not even counting how many were injured in the same fashion but survived) Better holster design and better defensive tactics have helped reduce the number of officers who die every year after losing a physical confrontation and having their weapon stolen, but every year we still lose police officers because they end up on the losing end of a “fistfight” and then their gun gets taken from them.

Of course, suspects don’t need to use the officer’s weapon to kill. Take this 17 year old who murdered an El Paso police officer using his bare hands. The Cliff’s notes version is that the teenager threw a punch that caught the officer good, then tackled the officer driving him to the ground. Then the teenager mounted the police officer (just like you saw in the MMA video above) and rained down blows on the officer until he succeeded in dealing lethal damage to the officer’s brain. In the MMA ring, the mat isn’t exactly soft, but it has some give to it in order to prevent injury. On the street, it’s asphalt or concrete. There’s no give in concrete. Doubtlessly a contributing factor in the officer’s death was that the blows delivered by the criminal assailant were either bouncing his head off of the unyielding pavement or, even worse, delivered while his head was laying against the pavement, magnifying the force of the blows.  On a different section of the Uniform Crime Report we see that bare hands and feet have been responsible for the death of 4,028 people since 2007. To give you some idea of scale, that makes fists and feet a more popular instrument of lethal criminal violence than rifles and shotguns combined over the same period of time.

Now, perhaps, you have some understanding of why I want to pull my hair out every time I see some dunderhead on TV commenting on the use of a firearm in a “fistfight”. Even a little bit of effort can yield all sorts of information about how fights on the street work, why being mounted is so dangerous, how difficult it is to actually defend a weapon in that kind of situation, and just how much damage punches can actually do. This information is out there. I didn’t tap into any top secret sources, here…I used Google and Youtube. Minimal effort is required, and yet people aren’t even attempting it before blathering on about the topic.

I’m certainly not an expert on MMA or on the use of lethal force, but one need not be an expert to see how daft the commentary on this is. The bare facts are that eye witnesses said that Trayvon Martin was on top of Zimmerman in what they described as an “MMA style” mount, raining blows. The same eye witnesses said that Zimmerman was in this position for an extended period of time, almost a minute. As you can see from the video of the assault against the police officer and the MMA video, a lot of damage can be dealt in what sounds like a relatively short period of time.

I assure you that it doesn’t feel like a short period of time when you’re on the bottom of a mount losing a fight. In my first evolution in the ECQC course, I attended last year, I was mounted by my opponent who managed to pass my pathetic attempt at a “guard” (something I had only been exposed to about ten minutes before the evo) and had me laid out flat. Then he took my gun. I tried to defend it with the only arm I had free, but it was a fruitless endeavor. When I felt the muzzle of the pistol clear my waistband, even though I knew it wasn’t a real gun the amygdala response in my brain was plenty real. Unable to do anything useful to protect myself, unable to defend my gun from a snatch because of my inferior position, I was pretty much helpless…and the end result of that was taking a mag’s worth of sim rounds in my groin from point blank.

Having been on both the bottom and the top of a mounted situation, I’ve experienced both sides of it. Not enough to be an expert, mind you, but enough to have experienced the panic that sets in when you realize the other guy is able to do pretty much whatever he wants with you when you’re on the bottom. The sense of power that comes with realizing you’re completely dominating the guy you’ve got pinned to the ground when you’re on top. What seems like a bloody eternity on the bottom feels like you’ve only thrown one punch while you’re on top. In the last evo I participated in during ECQC I had my opponent flattened out with my left forearm across his throat, about to use his head (covered in a FIST helmet) to clear a malfunction so I could shoot him some more with his own gun when Craig called a stop. My opponent and I had probably been at it for a little more than a minute, but from my perspective it felt like I’d just started. It would have continued, too, had the instructor not called an end. Mr. Zimmerman didn’t have the benefit of a referee or instructor to call and end to the fight, or the comfort of knowing that the gun involved was fake. From his perspective, he was getting his head smashed against the concrete in a seemingly endless barrage, and there was a real gun involved. Witnesses said they heard Zimmerman calling out for help, and I can understand why. The panic and fear of being in that position is bad enough when it’s in a training environment, but it has to be bone-chilling when it’s all real.

Even under tightly controlled circumstances where I knew nobody was going to get killed, I experienced a bit of the panic and fear that comes along with being on the bottom of a mount. On the street, mounted by a stranger with my nose busted open and the back of my head bleeding from being bounced off the concrete and with no ability to stop it using empty hands, I’d resort to a weapon, too. So would police officers. So would anyone who was interested in not suffering debilitating brain damage. This might just be a clue as to why the police who initially did the investigation and the prosecutors who first looked at the case didn’t pursue charges. Police training deals with a police officer being mounted and beaten as a lethal force event, partially because of the damage that can be inflicted in that situation, and partly because of the danger of the officer’s weapon being stolen. When the police found eye witnesses that said Trayvon Martin had Zimmerman mounted and was raining blows, the use of the firearm was instantly understood.

Bare fists pose a far greater threat than the chattering classes seem to want to admit. The examples I’ve cited here are not unique, folks. There is plenty of dashcam video or surveillance video showing police officers and prison guards being knocked down, mounted, and beaten to the point of irreparable damage. Those talking about the phenomenon like it’s no big deal are ignorant, often willfully so.

Those who want to offer commentary about what level of force Mr. Zimmerman should or shouldn’t have used when he was on the bottom of a mount should, at a bare minimum, have had to actually been in that position in some fashion facing opposing will before they speak about it. If they haven’t then perhaps kindly suggest that they reconsider spewing uninformed nonsense on the topic. Maybe suggest that they go down to the local MMA gym and test their theories about what’s possible to do from the bottom of a mount. Then perhaps go find a neurologist and chat with them about brain injuries and the effects of having one’s head bounced off of the pavement.

You know…make the effort to test their assumptions. Someone who is unwilling to test their assumptions isn’t really worth listening to.