Charlottesville and what comes next

I didn’t watch the news yesterday evening so I only found out about what happened in Charlottesville this morning. I did some checking, saw what some of my friends were saying and decided to post this article. It’s from the Patreon Newsletter I wrote in March. I edited it slightly for clarity and added a few things.

Here goes:

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Violence in Modern Society

For the last few years I’ve posted videos and articles, mostly on my blog and Facebook page, that weren’t about self-defense per se but more about trends in our modern, Western societies. Some of the feedback I got was along the lines of “What the hell are you talking about?” so I thought it might not be a bad idea for me to explain myself a bit. Here goes.

The last twenty years have seen many changes in not only the entire world, but in particular in Western societies and most notably in the US. I will focus on the latter, but have seen similar things happen in the EU where I live. I think it’s a universal trend as opposed to an isolated one. The picture is complex and I need to put several pieces of the puzzle on the table before it makes sense.

One piece of that puzzle is terrorism:

  • First and foremost, 9/11 happened some fifteen years ago and it changed the world as well as the American government, its policies and its society.
  • France and Belgium had their own 9/11 these last few years with the Paris and Brussels attacks.
  • Germany had numerous attacks in the Summer of 2016. Though there were less casualties in total, the frequency was higher and the attacks perhaps more brutal (though we can argue about that.)
  • The UK also had its share of terrorist attacks, with again, relatively speaking less victims but in a more personal (and therefor more frighting) manner.
  • Since then, numerous terrorist attacks have been thwarted in several EU countries. This information rarely makes the news and when it does, it is routinely ignored by the media because it scares the readers and viewers.

A second piece is the rise of social media and alternative media channels:

  • Facebook and Twitter became dominant platforms. They offer instant, worldwide communication via text, audio and video. This has positive and negative consequences, which I won’t go into here. The point is that news, fake or otherwise, goes global in an instant and can be seen by anybody with an internet connection, be they rich or poor, smart or stupid, etc. This is unprecedented in human history.
  • Any message can go viral, regardless of significance or time frame. For instance, one man live-Tweeted the raid on Osama Bin Laden. Only afterwards did he realize the significance of what he tweeted. Another example is the live video broadcast on Facebook of the torture of a young man. This led to arrests and a debate on racism, violence and society in general.
  • An argument can be made that humans have not yet figured out how to handle this flood of information and disinformation. We also don’t know how things will evolve in the future, but these issues are unlikely to go away.

The third piece is the advent of extreme positions in academia and lobby groups, in particular since the latest US elections: [Read more…]

Everything you know about violence is wrong

“Why couldn’t the police shoot the knife out of that guys hand? Why did they have to kill him?”

“Why did they pile on top of him with five cops? Poor guy got crushed! Police brutality!”

“Why did you hit him first? He was only yelling,he didn’t even touch you!”

“Why did he hit me? All I did was say that he’s an idiot!”

These are just a few examples of the kind of questions I have been asked about self-defense and violence over the years. As a rule, the people asking them either have very limited (often none at all) first-hand experience with violence or only encountered it as a bystander. The mere act of asking the question betrays their fundamental lack of information and experience on the subject. Usually, it means they really don’t know what they are talking about.

If you read this last sentence, get offended and start howling at the screen, ready to drink my blood, then let me answer those questions for you first:

Everything-you know about violence is wrong

What real violence looks like…

#1: Shooting a knife out of somebody’s hand only works in the movies. It is next to impossible for the average police officer to pull this off , it’s just too difficult. If you don’t believe me, go to the range and try it. Then, factor in adrenal stress, fear, having to make a the split-second decision to take that shot, the bad guy not standing still like a paper target, etc. See what I mean?

Also, the officer is responsible for that bullet. If he misses (as he likely will with such an impossible shot) and hits an innocent bystander, he’s liable. So by default, he has a vested interest to make sure every shot hits the bad guy. Aiming for the larger target that is center mass (the torso) makes a whole lot more sense and is actually possible, given enough training.

If your response is that officers need more training, then I agree. Not because it will teach them to shoot the knife out of an attacker’s hands, but because they are typically under-trained as is. Go ask a LEO how much firearms training he gets from the PD every year (get ready to weep…). Not what he does on his own time and dime, but as a part of his ongoing training. Then, go find out how much that costs. Then, figure out how much extra training the officers would ideally receive to conform to whatever standard you feel is needed. Tally up that sum times the number of officers. It’ll be a pretty penny, even in small departments.

Final questions: are you prepared to pay extra taxes to fund this? If yes, awesome; you are putting your money where your mouth is and I applaud you. If not, fine, but which departments should get their budgets cut to free up those needed funds?

In other words, it’s easy to say the police need more training. It’s another matter making it happen. [Read more…]

The death of common sense regarding violence

Earlier today, I had a first interview with a new client who wants to learn self-defense. I explained how I view things and one of the points I made was this:

We live in an age where having knowledge about how violence actually works is frowned upon. Having experience with it is viewed even worse.

When you look around you, you can find many examples of this. Just to help you out, try this one, where you’ll see stupid behavior towards an armed professional. Or this one, where instead of letting it go, somebody chooses to escalate the conflict but gets way more than he bargained for.

One of the key issues I see is that in modern societies, a large number of people no longer have to face violence on a regular basis and haven’t had to for several generations. As a result, the knowledge and skills needed to handle it are deemed obsolete and no longer passed on.

It wasn’t always so. A bit over a century ago, to be considered a (gentle)man, you were required to learn to protect yourself as violence was seen as an inherent part of life (two interesting books about this here and, in a different vein, here.) You were supposed to know boxing, fencing and other skills that helped you face violence.

Let that sink in.

About 100 years ago, this was considered normal.

Today, it is seen as “wrong” by many Western societies.

What happened?

Many things, but mainly our societies changed and became more peaceful. The need for understanding and knowing how to handle violence diminished. Some people feel that it is gone entirely. These are the folks who say things like “Violence never solved anything” and mean it, notwithstanding millennia of human behavior proving them wrong. The end result: what used to be common sense regarding violence is now no more.

Case in point:

A cellphone case in the shape of a firearm. Take a look at these pictures: [Read more…]