I was going to finish up the ongoing discussion of capacity this week, but something else has been rattling around in my brain and it has such a stranglehold on my cerebral cortex that every time I try to write something else it quickly devolves into the rattling preocupation.
I want to talk about violence. Particularly our paradoxical American attitude toward violence. Americans voraciously consume media content that is absolutely loaded with violence, and openly discuss this content in polite society all the time. Not long ago I was involved in a conversation where a few of the people wandered into the topic of a TV show called “Game of Thrones”, a series I’ve never seen, and particularly one episode of the series colloquially referred to as “The Red Wedding”. These people described, in excruciating detail, a scene of blood-soaked murder and mayhem all the way down to the sounds made when one character had her throat cut.
These same people get visibly uncomfortable any time the words “self defense” even come up. When I briefly and very generally described an officer involved shooting that an aquaintence had been involved in some time ago, they spoke as if the acquaintance must be some sort of moral degenerate or psychopath for actually stating that he had no intention of dying alone the day he was assaulted by a man wanted for murder.
I don’t get it. They’ll watch portrayals of violence on screen with relish and glee, never missing an episode of a show that almost fetishizes real acts of violence against largely undeserving people that have made the headlines. Yet if somebody mentions actually putting a bullet in one of the monsters who is causing all sorts of mayhem for real in a legitimate act of self defense, suddenly there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth?
It reminds me of a time when I was at a function with a girlfriend and someone in the group of her friends mentioned that I was an occasional hunter with the same look on their face a baby gets the first time they taste a lemon. One particularly smarmy dude in the group whom I had pretty much despised from the getgo due to personality flaws so big they could probably be seen from space, decided to announce that anyone who took pleasure in the death of an animal was some sort of psychopath. I noticed he was attempting this passive-aggressive callout in between bites of a steak while wearing a leather belt, expensive leather shoes, and carrying an expensive leather man-purse he’d picked up on a European trip. I don’t really do passive aggressive. I’m more aggressive-aggressive, and when presented with this nonsense I decided to (figuratively) choke him on his A1 flavored hypocrisy. I pointed out that someone who was crowing about a mouth full of critter dead at someone else’s hand probably didn’t have any real cause to feel morally superior to the guy who actually kills the critter himself before eating it.
Our culture seems intent on denying some basic realities of the world. People who will watch hours of blood soaked mayhem on TV for entertainment will turn right around and allege that violence never solves anything when the subject of self defense comes up. They’ll follow the exploits of serial killers and madmen with fascination but if a police officer or ordinary citizen fires on such a person and doesn’t seem to be much bothered by having done so, somehow the good guy is the monster? Hundreds or thousands can be killed by lifestyle criminals with long records of unjustified violence and it draws no notice, but if somebody actually shoots one of those perpetrators mid-act a bunch of people want to wring their hands and fret over vigilantism.
Violence is as much a part of the human experience as breathing. We all know this, even if we don’t want to accept it. It isn’t abhorrent to the human psyche…we’re actually entertained by it. We pay people to get into a ring and beat each other up for entertainment. We watch football or racing and replay the big hits and crashes over and over again in highlight shows. We pay good money to go see depictions of apocalyptic violence, sexual assault, and even genocide.
There is no moral or logical reason for we as gun owners and gun toters to tolerate or perpetuate a stigma against justified violence. The simple truth of our world is that there are people who will resort to violence to get their way and sooner or later those people will have to be dealt with by violence from good guys. It’s not a “tragedy” when a multi-time felon gets shot by the cops before he manages to kill any of them. When a couple of dudes try to rob someone at gunpoint and their intended victim shoots and kills both of them during the attempt, it’s not something to lament. In this world there really are good guys and bad guys, and the world isn’t diminished when the bad guys get shot.
Somewhere somebody is outraged when they read those words, but I bet you they were probably rooting for Dexter or Heisenburg.
I’m not saying you should get in somebody’s face and try to shout them into submission, but there’s nothing wrong with challenging empty-headed nonsense about non-violence in a world that has been built and sustained by it. Sometimes violence is the only answer, even for an honest, law-abiding person with excellent morals.
Don’t let people who substitute repitition of empty platitudes for a rational argument back you into a corner on questions of self defense or the just use of violence. Don’t be bullied by our thoroughly confused culture into believing that something must be wrong with you if you’ve considered the possibility of using lethal violence to protect yourself. The world really is loaded with very bad people who do terrible things to the innocent and the helpless. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in deciding you won’t be helpless. Remember that everybody who would call you names for being willing to defend yourself has no problem dialing 911 with the expectation that people with guns will come and handle a problem.
The person who will summon men with guns to protect them has no moral superiority over someone who will use a gun in his own hand to protect himself.