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comment by OftenBen
OftenBen  ·  97 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Shooting in self-defense

    A momentary lapse in judgement is a death-penalty offense?

    Are we ok with that?

Alternate ending to this story: Your physically inferior friend gets struck once by a larger, angry opponent. Her head hits the ground just wrong and dies because of another person's momentary lapse in judgment. When life is on the line I side with the defender over the aggressor. Those willing to use violence against a person who has not offered them violence first negate the right to have minimal force applied. There are no fair fights. Nature demonstrates this daily.




goobster  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    There are no fair fights. Nature demonstrates this daily.

Wild animals in nature demonstrate this.

We are not wild animals in nature. We are evolved beings with self-awareness, empathy, reason, and a concept of justice, living in a highly constructed environment.

The two situations could not be more different.

The only similarity is that we have historical wiring that remembers a time when we lived like animals, and had to have their reactions.

Trying to validate your basest, most selfish instincts by saying basically, "Well, animals do it!", is childish, wilfully obtuse, and utterly lacking in intellectual rigor.

OftenBen  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The two situations could not be more different

Except in circumstances of life threatening violence.

    basest, most selfish instincts

Self preservation in the face of an overwhelmingly powerful opponent who has demonstrated the intent to end a life is neither base nor selfish. Retreating to animalistic violence when confronted by an unpleasant or upsetting circumstances that do not offer any direct physical threat is base.

FYI I'm not happy with either option. I believe my position is the lesser of two evils because it preserves the life and wellness of the person who did not instigate violence. If you can present the case that the alternative is somehow more palatable, by all means, I am listening.

I wish that we were developed and moral enough at this point in history to make interpersonal violence a non issue. We are not. Maybe we will get there someday.

goobster  ·  95 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I believe my position is the lesser of two evils because it preserves the life and wellness of the person who did not instigate violence.

This is like the mathematician's joke, that begins, "Assuming an infinite plane..."

The man did not just decide to kill a woman motorcyclist for the heck of it, like the guy that killed my friend Yancy. He was triggered by something. Maybe she cut him off. Whatever.

He felt wronged, so he attacked. Was she the "instigator" in his mind? I assume so, because he felt a compelling need to confront her. She headbutted him with her helmet on. Etc...

OftenBen  ·  95 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    He felt wronged, so he attacked.

This is where the line is. Feeling wronged is not sufficient cause for violence of any variety. Do I wish that we had sufficient technology that he would be incapable of harming your friend regardless of his intent and action without any grievous harm coming to him? Of course I do, but that's not the situation we find ourselves in.

I agree with you on what 'should' be. There should be some way for a physically disadvantaged person to defend themselves in a life or death struggle with a physically advantaged opponent without killing them, but gives attacked party sufficient power to end the confrontation. We aren't there yet. We don't have a tool or weapon like that yet, and until we do, I don't see an alternative way to make things at all close to 'fair' in life or death confrontations like this one.

rd95  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Those willing to use violence against a person who has not offered them violence first negate the right to have minimal force applied.

An old woman and a body builder get into an altercation at a bus stop. The woman, out of frustration, strikes the body builder with her purse. If the body builder defends himself with all of his strength, and grievously injured the woman, would you say he reacted reasonably and responsibly?

    There are no fair fights. Nature demonstrates this daily.

Being creatures of insight and reason, should we not hold ourselves to the ideals of those very virtues and benefit from the dignity they give us? Nature demonstrates a lot of things. My dog, left to its own devices, would gladly roll around in rotting garbage. It's absolutely natural for a dog to do that. If you or me decided to roll around in garbage though, can't it be argued that our behavior is unreasonable and does nothing but debase ourselves?

Edit: Hyperbole aside, I think it's important to point out that the issue of force in self defense is an issue that requires sensitivity in thought. Not just because it's a delicate matter where emotions can run high, because it is, but because this is an issue that philosophers, judges, and legislators throughout the world and throughout history have struggled and continue to struggle with. People's lives are affected by this problem day in and day out, sometimes in unimaginable ways, and we need to keep that in mind. That there are no easy answers to the question and that many resolutions and conclusions seem incomplete and unsatisfying only illustrate how complex the problem is. Because of that, taking positions of extreme absolutes and blanket conclusions is not the way to go.

OftenBen  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Self preservation in the face of fatal violence is not base.

rd95  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I never made that claim. I mainly illustrated that use of force in self defense isn't a black and white issue and that appealing to nature as a justification for our behavior is a poor argument to make because as humans we hold ourselves to higher standards.

OftenBen  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    If you or me decided to roll around in garbage though, can't it be argued that our behavior is unreasonable and does nothing but debase ourselves?

This appeared to be equating the two. The consequences are complicated, the choice between the lives of the aggressor and defender is simple. It is not virtuous to allow a wild animal to take your life, which is what the guy in this particular example was trying to do. The opportunity for a civilized resolution went out the door when he attempted murder.

rd95  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ah. Sorry for the miscommunication then. I saw two separate ideas in your initial statement and while they're related, was addressing them separately.

I think one of the important things for us to notice is, whether we like it or not, there's a sliding scale as to what people consider appropriate use of force in self defense and not all situations are black and white. Unfortunately, they can be very grey. Greyer still is how we go about handling the consequences of our actions. They're very difficult concepts to handle.

OftenBen  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

One punch is capable of ending a life. AND

A mature adult can typically discern between a genuine life or death threat or a lower grade threat requiring a lower grade response, such as the bodybuilder and the geriatric. AND

Technology is how we create 'equality' with regards to interpersonal violence. Technology is not yet advanced enough to create a phaser set to stun. Less lethal alternatives to firearms do not give the same kind of power to a small bodied or disabled individual that a real gun in the appropriate caliber does.

Until a device is invented and popularized that accomplishes the same thing as a pistol in the right caliber without killing the attacker, this is the reality we face. No gun, this woman is dead on the pavement and this guys life such as it was is over. This is the worse of the two options because an innocent, non-aggressive person is dead.

If you see some third outcome when a large person with more muscle attacks a smaller person with less muscle who has not offered them violence, please, share it.

rd95  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    One punch is capable of ending a life. AND

It is not known whether or not this will happen in any situation until it happens. Because of that, it's just another variable in complicated situations full of countless variables.

    A mature adult can typically discern between a genuine life or death threat or a lower grade threat requiring a lower grade response, such as the bodybuilder and the geriatric. AND

The fact that people in the military and law enforcement who are trained and drilled on concepts such as situational awareness and deescalation and they still make mistakes shows that are judgment as human beings is not infallible and that everyday people are more than capable of misreading situations and making mistakes.

    echnology is how we create 'equality' with regards to interpersonal violence. Technology is not yet advanced enough to create a phaser set to stun. Less lethal alternatives to firearms do not give the same kind of power to a small bodied or disabled individual that a real gun in the appropriate caliber does.

This goes back to the whole sliding scale argument. We're back where we started.

    If you see some third outcome when a large person with more muscle attacks a smaller person with less muscle who has not offered them violence, please, share it.

I will not, because you're not having this conversation in good faith. Until you are willing to have conversations without resorting to rhetoric and hyperbole, the two of us cannot converse and maintain civility. I'm not blocking you, but for right now, we're not continuing this conversation because neither of us is getting through to the other and all we're doing is making each other angry and there's no value in that.

OftenBen  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not angry at all. Just confused why the life of someone who starts a fight is equal to the life of their intended victim.

rd95  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

In my opinion, that's not a question we can ask and find an answer that would satisfy us. Life is immeasurably beyond value. Any loss of life, either by random happenstance or by deliberation, is a tragedy.

OftenBen  ·  95 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Right. But it is a greater tragedy when a person innocent of violence dies of deliberate violence than when an aggressor is killed for misjudging the weakness of their target.

I'm going to say it again because it is the crux of this discussion, not firearms. Self defense is not base or selfish.

rd95  ·  95 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The original argument I was making, in response to your initial comment, is that hyperbole and rhetoric is not appropriate when it comes to conversations of self defense. Our conversation, like many conversations, has naturally drifted from that point and now we're in a new area. Because we're looking at this statement.

    Self defense is not base or selfish.

For the record, I never took that position or at least I never intended to take that position. I even pointed that out up thread. That said though. Self defense is literally base because it involves our instinctual will to live and avoid harm. Self defense is literally selfish because when we defend ourselves physically, we're valuing our life and safety over the life and safety of our attackers.

The morality behind those concepts can be discussed to the point where we'd fill a book, and I can pretty much guarantee that you and I will have conversations down the road that touch these themes, but for now, let's take a break. My week isn't going my way right now and I genuinely like talking to you and I don't want my sour mood to sour our interactions. I hope you understand and aren't frustrated with me.

OftenBen  ·  92 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Self defense is literally base because it involves our instinctual will to live and avoid harm.

This got my dander up. I don't have children. Many people do. Self defense in the case of someone with dependents is more than just self defense, it is the defense of one's ability to provide and care for one's children. It is the defense of that person's relationship to their loved ones. I spit on the specious notion that it is somehow morally virtuous to allow oneself to be murdered in a hot rage by a lunatic who attempted murder because of road rage.

The attacker proved that he didn't value his own life and safety when he decided to engage in violence. This woman did the right thing. I mourn the damage done to her psyche and all the potential good that the attacker might have gone on to do if he had just decided to let it go.

Edit*

You're a person of faith. Whatever God exists put this whole situation together and left this woman alone to make her decision. Meditate on that.

rd95  ·  92 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Literally nowhere have I made the statement that self defense is wrong. In fact, in many instances, it's the right thing to do. This statement . . .

    The morality behind those concepts can be discussed to the point where we'd fill a book.

Is me admitting to the point that there are moral rights and wrongs to self defense and that they are numerous and worth discussing. However, you have readily illustrated, through this conversation and conversations in the past that you want to assume my arguments, make me defend positions I have not taken, and talk in circles without ever desiring to make any progress. Which means you want to argue instead of converse and not approach any dialog with a sense of good will. So we will not be having that conversation or any other.

goobster  ·  96 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    That there are no easy answers to the question and that many resolutions and conclusions seem incomplete and unsatisfying only illustrate how complex the problem is. Because of that, taking positions of extreme absolutes and blanket conclusions is not the way to go.

Yep.

And I have been doing a social experiment by having this exact same conversation in three different sites I frequent. It has been interesting to see who easily slips on the mantle of the "Righteous Keyboard Jockey" and goes for the easy answers, and who actually thinks about the issue and expresses some insight and provides thoughtful input.

Thanks for being the latter.