2005-05-16 : Violence

Fractured Family of Men by Real Live Preacher.

Sorcerer Doesn't Scare Me. What's Wrong with Me? by Christopher Kubasik - heavy emphasis on this post of his.

The Vagina Monologues by Matt Wilson - scroll down to May 13, 2005. Read the comments.

I've taken up paintball. It's my very first ever favorite sport. For instance it occured to me this morning that maybe I should exercise sometimes, to improve my game, and that's the first time I've ever had that impulse. I was like, that's weird but good. What with this strong family hx of heart disease, any way I can enjoy physical activity is a good way.

But could I choose a sport with a worse proportion of faux army talk and little boy bullshit to actual play?

1. On 2005-05-16, Chris Goodwin said:

The first time I played paintball (summer of 1989), it was with a small group at a family owned field.  The guy who told me about them was a friend, and it was, let me say, cozy.  As cozy as crawling through the scrub and the chiggers in West Texas can be, anyway.  All of the guns were single shot, all pretty basic (a few people brought their own snazzy specials, but they were all shooting single shots) to make it about skill, and head shots were off limits (because who knows if this is the time your goggles have a weak spot?).  I had a freakin' blast, and I didn't care about (and didn't even notice at the time) the huge welts I had all over my back, legs, and butt.

The second time I played (spring of 1993) it was at a large field with a large group of people who didn't know each other, and for whom more money = more fun.  In one game I got full auto'd in the face after I'd already called myself out.  Fortunately the full face mask and goggles didn't give way.

I haven't played a third time.


2. On 2005-05-16, Vincent said:

The place near here is pretty good for people not being crappy to one another, outside the little boy bullshit. That's what I understand from J, who's played at other worse places.


3. On 2005-05-16, Em said:

Taking martial arts while I did gave me the same kind of insight into the value of aggression that Christopher Kubasick talks about in his Sorcerer thread.  So much so that when I saw Fight Club I totally got it (well, aside from the fashistic setting aside of personal choice wrt property violence, but you know..).

It's liberating to acknowledge our animal self in contact with one another, whether it be in emotional connection, or in physical contact—affectionate or fierce.  It's a royal crime how cut off from their emotions & one another men are, how maligned ferocity is, and how circumscribed women's relationships with physical activity has been—the tremendous amount of younger women in sports that I see makes me feel better for women on that count.

Gordon, Chris, Matt, Vincent. Hear, hear.


4. On 2005-05-16, Keith said:

Man I love paintball.  I got my own gear and try to play many times a year.  It's great fun, except when you go to the places that are like little boys clubs.  The kinda place that is like the paint ball version of a shitty comic book or game store that revolves around the owner and his cronies.  I hate those fuckers.

Oh, and if you get a chance to play in one of the organized scenario games jump at it.  They may seem kinda dumb with their faux army stuff, but they are great fun.  It is way cool to be given assignments, objectives and gear.  It's like playing a video game, only your have to do it, not your fingers...


5. On 2005-05-16, John Harper said:

I play airsoft. More military-speak (the guys I play with are Army rangers, generally), less little boy bullshit. The age requirement and the fact that you have to be honorable and call out your own hits really helps to cull the assholes.

Good goggles are the most important thing in the world. I get shot between the eyes on a regular basis. By invisible shooters 100 yards away. Goddamn rangers, man.

Emily: God bless you.


6. On 2005-05-16, Ed H said:

That was an awesome RLP post.  I'm glad he's writing again.

I'm more interested in nonviolence than violence these days.  But I see where Kubisak is going with his rejection of wimpy, suffering-idolizing pacifism.

I find it odd to see him rejecting the overly nonviolent Christianity because I find Christianity if anything overly *violent*—I would consider its moralizing condemnations of violence and coercive call to suffer *violent* in and of themselves, because they are an imposition from outside on one's will.

So maybe we're talking about very different things there.

I'm not looking to learn the nonviolent way of Mother Teresa, but of MLKJr or Gandhi.  I'm not looking for fear of violence, but for nonviolent *power*.  I don't want something that's not scary and powerful like violence, but something more deeply powerful *than* violence.

Oh, and one of these days I'm gonna go back and learn me some more martial arts.  Karate back in college was hella fun and the best thing that ever happened to my poor pathetic gamer body.


7. On 2005-05-16, C. Edwards said:

Ninja/ Wire/ Movement!

And much love to the Kubasik.


8. On 2005-05-17, Ben Lehman said:

I just can't bring myself to call a Quaker less of a man.



9. On 2005-05-17, Ben Lehman said:

I just said that here 'cause I'm not brave enough to say it on the Forge thread.  Maybe I should post about it in my own space.

It seems to me to be deeply intertwined with problems in RPGs, in all honesty.



10. On 2005-05-17, pete_darby said:

But Ben, we're not talking about Quakers, or Martin Luther King, or Ghandi when we talk about the fetishisation of being a victim, which is where I'd put Mother Theresa* (and for that matter, Princess Di, but hoo, we don't want to go there).

It's not even really a question of pacifism vs violence for me; it's a question of not being a victim.

My friend's Karate teacher would start each new class by asking them "Suppose you're a 5th Dan black belt (or whatever, he says displaying his ignorance), and a guy come up to you with a gun and demands your wallet, what do you do?

"You give him your wallet.

"What if he's got a knife?

"You give him your wallet.

"What if he's not armed?

"YOU GIVE HIM YOUR WALLET! Anything else turns you into a victim of violence. If the guy wants to shoot you, stab you, or hit you, he will try whether you give him the wallet or no. By giving him the wallet, you're giving him a chance not to attack you."

The guys at the top of the post were, I think I'm right in saying, by no means victims. Not using physical violence does not mean not confronting those who would do violence to you.

But the problem I think Chris and Matt are facing is the false identification of non-violence with non-confrontation. And these guys are all about confrontation.

The fetishisation of non-confrontation... that way leads to passive-aggressive bullshit, madness, and in all likelihood, the dark side.

"1. Annikin Skywalker embraces the dark side because the Jedi way tries to divorce him from his feelings. Discuss"

"2. The jedi are full of shit. Discuss."

*Who was complicit with so many foul politicians, it's untrue. Don't get me started on her.


11. On 2005-05-17, Matt Wilson said:

"But the problem I think Chris and Matt are facing is the false identification of non-violence with non-confrontation. And these guys are all about confrontation."

Wha? Are you talking about me? Because if you are, I'm lost.


12. On 2005-05-17, Vincent said:

Ben: say more about this, if you want: "It seems to me to be deeply intertwined with problems in RPGs, in all honesty."

And here's another interesting thing to hook in: Perpetuating Single-Sex Play by Ginger Stampley, at the 20' By 20' Room.


13. On 2005-05-17, Matt Wilson said:

Also, the only thing I didn't like about the RLP essay is his need to give his feminine side a woman's body. It felt more like he was distancing himself from his feminine side than actually accepting it as some part of him as a man.

Feminine =/= woman, and masculine =/= man. Kids oughta be taught that in a real serious way.


14. On 2005-05-17, Vincent said:

A funny thing about paintball. Yes, you shoot each other with guns, but it's no more violent a sport than, say, fencing - far less violent than football, boxing, wrestling. The faux army types and the little boys who play it seem to clothe it in violence as fantasy, like, maybe so that they'll feel as though something serious were at stake.

Does fencing have the same violent language and imagery all around it? It doesn't seem to, from here outside. Did it used to, when it was newly a sport and people still killed one another with swords?


15. On 2005-05-17, Ed H said:

Pete and Ben—Ron said:

"I'm talking about the straightforward and undeniable observation that asserting one's position through violence is absolutely required in real life. No ifs. No arguments. No possible bullshit denials. We all know that "finding one's warrior" is part of living life - the alternative is living in some form of fear.

Yes, pacifists too. That's a matter of finding someone who will be the warrior for you. Without machine guns emplaced somewhere, no Mother Theresa. "

I'm sorry, but that's bullshit. That is just BULLSHIT.  That is a complete misunderstanding of what nonviolence is all about.  The nonviolent people aren't the ones who've found someone else to fight for them, they're the people who walk into places where you'd think you'd only dare to go with a gun, and they carry no gun.  Gandhi calls the police station to tell them where he's going to be protesting so that they can come beat the shit out of him if that is what they choose to do, but he's not going to let that stop him for a second, and because he is not cowed by the violence he cannot be beaten by it.

Nonviolence is about rejecting either *submission* to violence or *participation in* violence.  Nonviolence isn't finding someone else to fight for you.  It is taking the "I will walk straight into danger" part of being a warrior and rejecting the "and I will kill whoever opposes me" part of being a warrior.

And it works.  The press downplays it but it *works*.  The threat of organized nonviolent protests just got the mayor of Mexico City out of prison.  Nonviolent protests freed a group of Jewish men from the Nazis.  Nonviolent protests played a gigantic and widely unappreciated part in the fall of the Eastern Bloc regimes.  Freaking *india*.  Civil rights in America.  It *works*.  It's a powerful force.  More powerful than violence.

And it pisses me the fuck off to see Ron shitting on it like that.

It is the conflation of violence and strength that is the big problem.  And the conflation of nonviolence and weakness.  It weakens people who are wise enough to reject violence, and it corrupts people who are wise enough to seek strength.  It hurts both sides.  Chris Kubisak is describing one side of that hurt.

BTW, there is some big deep understanding here that I do not have yet.  Something about violence, symbolic violence, nonviolence, story and mythic violence, feellings, reality, I feel like I can barely see a big truth in the fog, from my readings on nonviolence and my experience trying to practice nonviolent communication, and thinking about gaming and reading _Killing Monsters_.  There's some way this all works that I just don't get yet.  And I really wish I did.


16. On 2005-05-17, pete_darby said:


"These guys" were MLK, Ghandi and Quakers, not Matt and Chris.

'Cos, you know, you're not all about confrontation, you loveable ball of fuzz you.

But... PtA IS all about dealing with issues, which implies conflict, which entails confrontation, so, err, I WIN!

(goes to lie down in a darkened woman... sorry, I meant womb. ROOM! Oh what a give away...)


17. On 2005-05-17, Matt Wilson said:

Hey Ed:

I completely agree. I think there's a big difference between violence and aggression and assertiveness. Or maybe it's what I do and don't consider violence.

Like, rasslin' with my dog obviously relates to some natural animal urges, and I can express dominance and all that biology crap, but I don't consider it violent. I'm not actually hurting him, and he doesn't hurt me.

Playing paintball, when you strip away all the hokey military stuff, is no more violent than playing football, but both those activities express those same animal needs to release aggression.

Nonviolent protest is the same kind of stuff. Anyone who thinks it doesn't take a whole lot of courage and strength, or who doesn't think it's as much an expression of human aggression, obviously hasn't done it.


18. On 2005-05-17, pete_darby said:


You know, if it was pretty much anyone else but Ron, i'd say that he'd confused violence with assertiveness or confrontation.

But Ron's much more careful than that, so unless he's deliberately describing passive resistance and MLK's marches as violent (which I have seen espoused before, by no less a man than, errm, Mick Jagger), I'm with you on calling bullshit.

Though no mother Theresa without machine guns is true. Because she was instrumental in papering over the cracks of calcutta's problems. However the fuck many people she treated, she did not one damn thing to challenge the society that put those people in need of her hospitals.


19. On 2005-05-17, Matt Wilson said:

I'm just wondering where you got the impression that I was confused about nonviolence and nonconfrontation. Was it something in my blog post? I haven't really said anything anywhere else.

And Ben (I'm sort of working my way up, sorry): I agree with you as well.

RPGs typically set up the rules so that violent acts of aggression are a superior means of resolving situations, and that turning away is failure. There's cool exceptions, though, like Dogs and TSOY.

Assuming that's what you meant.


20. On 2005-05-17, xenopulse said:

I'm hesitant to jump in and broaden the issue further, but here goes. Hopefully it might help to clarify things in the end. I used to teach this stuff in Political Science college classes.

What's at the core of the violence debate is power. Power is defined as the ability to realize a goal. It comes in three categories:

1. Force
2. Coercion
3. Influence

Now, when people promote violence, that's category 1. It's strong, but very limited in scope. Force can kill someone, but if they don't care, it can't make them change their mind, work for you, or love you.

Coercion works when you have a handle on something the other person cares about. You threaten them, they do your bidding. Coercion is not as direct, but much more efficient and versatile than Force. Often the two work in tandem, with Force creating believable Coercion (see bullies, dictatorships, etc.).

Influence, finally, is non-violent. It can be positive (inspiration, enlightenment, passive resistance) or negative (lies, deception, manipulation). Influence has the broadest scope and can achieve virtually anything (socially); however, if directly in a struggle with Force, it stands little chance in the short run. Though, as Tool and Rage can tell you, you can kill the revolutionary, but you can't kill the Revolution (opinions might differ on this point :).

Now. Violence is Force. Threat of violence is Coercion. Nonviolence is Influence.

We don't need Force to achieve our goals, most of the time. I would even go so far as saying that Force tends to be dysfunctional power for most goals. Nonviolent protests work because they influence people. When workers strike, they are empowered. It's Influence among them, Coercion against the factory owner. Can the factory owner hire thugs to beat them up? Yes. But if their will is strong enough, that doesn't get his factory running again. It only gets his workers more fired up.

So. We need to be empowered, but we don't need to be violent. If you don't claim any power at all, you're giving it to other people, who might use it against you. But my point is agreeing with those people who promote nonviolent resistance. It can be much more powerful than violence.

This ties into RPGs at some level as well, but this is already way too long.

- Christian


21. On 2005-05-17, Ed H said:


I'm not sure that covers it, for me.

I'm interested in a communicative practice called "nonviolent communication," that seeks to find ways to *communicate* nonviolently, where communicative "violence" includes things like labeling people, making moralizing judgements, manipulating with guilt or fear, the whole shebang.  Gandhi for example considered "violence" to be something which originated in the mind, in ways of treating people and thinking about people.  Fist impact to nose was only the logical conclusion of "violent" thought and social structures.

Nonviolence = noncoercion = nonmanipulation.

Even "influence" is potentially violent when it seeks to manipulate, rather than appeal.

"Holy crap, man, so EVERYTHING is violent!  If you want to be nonviolent you have to roll over and play dead!"

Not really.  Because part of nonviolence is not *accepting* violence.  And if violence includes manipulation, that includes not *letting* yourself be manipulated.  What's good for them is good for you: you don't hit them, and you don't let them hit you.  (Or if you can't stop them from hitting you, you don't let the fact that they are willing to hit you make you compromise your integrity.)

That's where the empowerment comes in—empowering nonviolence has to go both ways.  It may incidentally "manipulate" and "influence" people if you act with integrity, but manipulation is not the purpose.  It will be a side effect of the fact that people have basic decency and integrity and when presented with decency and integrity they tend to respond to it and return it.

All "IMHO" and "as I understand it at this point" of course.


I despair of understanding what Ron is talking about much of the time.  Wouldn't be suprised in the least if it turned out that he doesn't mean at all what his words seem clearly and unambiguously to mean to me on first reading.  It's my own fault for not cross-referencing discussions in about a hundred and forty different forge threads and performing an exegesis of the GNS essays, I guess.  Whoops, did I say that out loud?  :)


22. On 2005-05-17, jrs said:

There are such big issues here.  I don't really know how my contribution will fit in.  It primarily addresses Matt's blog entry.  An aside to Matt—I have seen the Vagina Monologues; it is funny and sometimes too cute and occasionally almost too painful to bear.

Here's my story.  (Feel safe; it's nothing like the Vagina Monologues.)  For a few years I trained in aikido.  One winter, a group of us decided to go to a local celebration of the Japanese New Year that among other things featured the making of mochi.  Mochi are the rice paste balls that are a traditional part of the New Year's festivities.  This process consists of two main activities—pounding the cooked rice into a paste, and forming the paste into balls.  These activities are gender specific with the men performing the labor associated with the first, and the women performing the finesse of the later.

Now, there were about five of us and I was the only woman.  Our group, being primarily male, gravitated to the rice pounding activity.  As far as I was concerned this included me, on a number of levels, partly social and partly due to our bond over aikido training.  Basically, I considered myself one of the guys and as eager to test myself in the physicality of mochi pounding.  I was startled to discover that I was not allowed to participate.  One by one, my friends and fellow training partners were called up by the man in charge of the mochi pounding.  I was not.  In my head I understood that this is a culturally defined activity that excludes me and we were merely guests at this festival and I should just accept it.  In my heart, I felt betrayed.  I was angry and upset with my friends for so readily falling into this defined role and making no attempt to include me.  It was hard for me to accept that I could be an equal on the mat, but not here.  And, more importantly, I felt helpless to confront the issue.

So why am I posting this?  I'm not sure I really know.  To me it represents a small piece of the puzzle for why we as men and women behave the way we do, and how easy it is to fall into established gender roles, particularly in groups, particularly when confronted with an activity that is new and foreign.  I'm not talking about violence and assertiveness.  I'm trying to express how men can treat women badly (even in small ways) and how women accept it.


23. On 2005-05-17, Meguey said:

I have a wicked head-cold, but wow, I'm enjoying the level discourse in this thread!


24. On 2005-05-17, Ninja Hunter J said:

(In the interest of disclosure, I am Vincent's covering fire and coveree, and occasionally accidental targeter and targetee.)

The following is not a unique observation: those who do best on the paintball field don't bother bragging. They help other people out, maybe give some advice on stuff they've figured out if it comes up in conversation. Those who brag the most haven't proven themselves, and thereby brag to make up the difference. There was a kid - probably 14 years old - out playing with us last week who was calm, congratulatory, lent paint, and was instrumental in his team, whether winning or losing. He didn't brag, he just played as well as he could, had fun, and shot straight. Being a little guy really helps in paintball, but not to the degree that he was good. There were a bunch of other people like him, mostly in their late teens up through, oh, late 30s: they played hard and fair.

The remainder of the stuff that went on was bullshit. The guys in the army stuff tended to get tagged out early (sometimes before me!), and 90% of the talk off the field was about how much the markers would win the game. When teams were divided up, the younger kids would count what and what kind of marker was on each team, mostly claiming that the more of their own brand was on their team, the better the team would fare: identity politics among kids is pretty plain to see.

Most symbolically relevant were the long barrels. Anyone who's played a lot of paintball, and anyone who's an engineer of paintball stuff, will tell you that a barrel longer than 8" isn't more accurate. But the boys liked their loooong barrels, and that comes down to the power thing, mentioned above. It's like ornate plumage: it shows how badass you would be if anyone would dare challenge you. Incidentally, the kid I mentioned in the first paragraph thought Vincent's 4" barrel was awesome.

There were a lot of girls out that day, for a paintball field. Vincent and I were totally pwn3d by two of them (not by any dumb luck, neither), and they were proud of themselves, but not bragging. Others were most concerned with getting out and playing, or getting their markers working right, or what-have-you. No bragging. There was a father berating his son for bad tactics, and V and I backed out of that conversation as quickly as possible.

We've talked a fair bit about when V's kids could play, and I think we both agree that it would have to be when they're able to confront things that they're afraid of, and to distinguish violence from competition. Whether or not that's right, it's the concern and dynamic dealing with the challenge that makes it good parenting, and thereby makes good boys.


25. On 2005-05-17, Ben Lehman said:

I've done a bit of a follow up post at my livejournal.

Yeah, I totally want to talk about how this ties into RPGs, but I haven't yet.  Briefly, I think it has to do with the fact that we confused the violent for the manly (courage is manly, violence is boyish) and the messages that modern society, especially white liberal society, gives to men and boys about manliness.

We think we need violence, we can't get it, we make it up, it becomes disease because it was never what we needed in the first place.



26. On 2005-05-17, Ed H said:

Ben— " it was never what we needed in the first place"—but it may be a symbol or archetype of something that we needed that we *were* denied—or maybe it *can be* a way of getting what we need, but it's one with tragic consequences and a too-great cost?


27. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Hi all, sorry I'm late.

The topics and points of views here are huge and slippery.

To that end, I will side step them.

Instead I will talk about the "Fractured Family of Men" piece.

Didn't like it at all. The whole "feminine side" thing.... We have to be gay to cry together as men. What a sad, sad point of view.

I will explain...

Right now, I'm studying Bukido. Bukido is a martial art developed by Richard Machowicz, an ex-Navy SEAL. The discipline itself is a mix of boxing, street fighting, a bunch of stuff that Machowicz has mixed together from other marital arts.

It differs from a lot of martial arts training in that we don't spend a lot of time perfecting technique. Bukido is neither dance like, nor is a "sport"—where the idea is to use this stuff in controlled circumstances with everyone playing pretty much by the same rules. We practice in shoes and street clothes.

As I mentioned, the focus is not on the moves (though that is covered). We are trained to look for the first and easiest target on the opponents (eyes, throat, groin, whatever); then use whatever weapon can most easily hit that target (palm, knee, forearm, whatever), then move to bring our body with full force behind the weapon to the target.

So, manuever is not what we practice. The TARGET is really what we're practicing. It makes all the difference in the world in terms of making this a very practical martial art.

More important than the technique (which is emphasized, but not as much as in other disciplines), is the attitude you bring to bear in any situation.

We are trained to: be aggressive; to dominate and control the opponent; to own the situation. If someone attacks us, we move *closer* to them, attacking and taking control of the situation to end the conflict as quickly as possible.

The discipline of Bukido is a metaphor that can carry into all areas of one's life. My mother commented to me in three seperate conversations that she loved how "aggressive" I'd become in marketing my writing lately. Thanks ma!

It also translates into how I carry myself and how I see conflict. A couple of weeks ago one of the instructers asked, "What is your first weapon?" The answer is, our voice. If we use our voice with the same committment that were training our bodies with when someone approaches us, then there well may never be a blow thrown. But, let's be clear, using your voice that way is an aggressive act. Some people here are splitting hairs on taking a march to the streets and throwing a punch. I do not. (That may change. Who knows? I've changed on these matters several times already.)

For me, aggression is aggression—and it gets squeezed out as needed—and often defined by the circumstances. If someone is beating the crap out of my mother, I'm not going to try to "Influence" them or whatnot. The guy's going down. That's it. We can talk about the misdirection of his life force later.

If you want a better break down of this material, check out Machowicz's book, "Unleash the Warrior Within."

The books was recomended to me. I read it. Did the exercises it contains (about attitude adjustment and other matters), thought, this is genius, signed up for his three day training intensive this past February. I've been attending classes since.

At the Intensive, we get training in Bukido. But a lot more. When you're doing three 12 hour days of training, starting at six in the morning—with material you don't know, with people you don't know, a lot of "stuff" can come up: anger, frustration, wondering why the hell that woman is getting so much more attention, beating up yourself for getting the "moves" wrong and so on. (By the way, the way, the reason the women get more attention to the women is because the Bukido school gives more attention to women—they usually have further to go to stop being polite and being aggressive.)

The amazing thing about Machowicz is how he's one of the most thoughtful, perceptive guys I know. And when he saw you going off on your own shit and not paying attention—not staying on Target—he'd call you on it. I likened it to having him opening up the hood of my skull and tinkering.

And here's the point: there were tears. All these people spending three days shouting and practicing martial arts. And a lot of crying as things that'd we'd been trying to hide from ourselves in order to be "good" people, or blaming other people to avoid facing our own shit... or whatnot... all got stirred up. There were quiet intimate moments, and big emotional moments. And yes, Machowicz cried a couple of times as well.

And now that I've been going to classes regularly, I'm becoming closer to the men and women at the school. And let me tell you, there's lots of hugging between the guys. More than I've ever experienced between men in any other situation. And crying. I just did support on a three day training event—four guys doing hikes up the Malibu mountains through the middle of the night, surf drills in the pacific ocean, martial arts training in burned out houses, and more, almost no sleep for most of the trainers and the volunteers—and pizza and champaign at the end of it on a mountain top. With lots of hugs, lots of crying. Lots of personal details coming out. I was talking to my two trainers about most of the stuff I posted over at the Forge during those days and nights when they were taking breaks, which is why it was so clear in my head.

My point: What the Preacher longs for between men I'm finding now—but it's not because I'm tapping into my feminine side. It's because I'm hanging out with men who are comfortable with their masculinity—their strength, their aggressive engergy. They know it, know how to use it well. It isn't something they are AFRAID will get away from them once they open that door. And in this they know how to be open, vulnerable, emotional.



28. On 2005-05-17, Vincent said:

Would someone who's informed say something about nonviolence and rape? What changes when you aren't putting your integrity up against being hit or beaten or killed, but being raped? Is nonviolence, as it seems to me to be, simply a different proposition if you're a man than if you're a woman?


29. On 2005-05-17, Ben Lehman said:

What the Preacher longs for between men I'm finding now—but it's not because I'm tapping into my feminine side. It's because I'm hanging out with men who are comfortable with their masculinity—their strength, their aggressive engergy.

Chris—I agree, except I think that you are mistaking aggression for courage.



30. On 2005-05-17, Ed H said:

"Would someone who's informed say something about nonviolence and rape? What changes when you aren't putting your integrity up against being hit or beaten or killed, but being raped? Is nonviolence, as it seems to me to be, simply a different proposition if you're a man than if you're a woman?"

The people whose work on nonviolence I am interested in allow for protective use of force when other options are not open.  Protective use of force has to be minimal and a last resort, but it's quite conceivable that the process of concluding that it *is* one's only resort could take only a fraction of a second.

It is also a fact that nonviolent communication can sometimes prevent assaults, attacks, and rapes from happening in the first place.  It has happened.  Reacting neither with fear, submission, and compliance, nor with retaliative violence, can change the dynamic of a violent situation, because it is unexpected.  A rapist or an assailant expects you to retaliate or to submit and comply.  A choice which is neither can change the interaction completely.

But yes, protective (minimal needed to protect oneself or another, non-retaliative) use of force, in e.g. a rape situation, would be totally legit by the "nonviolent" standards I'm interested in at the moment.

Others might differ on that.


31. On 2005-05-17, jrs said:

Vincent, I do not know.  I'm not especially informed, I've not been raped; maybe I shouldn't be posting a response.  I do know that women are instructed to survive rape.  Is the "accept it until it's over" that I know can happen during rape considered to be the nonviolent response to rape?  How might it be different than the nonviolent response to a weapon attack?  (What is the nonviolent response to actual bodily harm?)  Could I easily distinguish between the penetration of a rapist and that of a weapon?  If a rapist thinks so little of me that he could overpower me that way, what stops him from killing me?  At what point does it change from surviving rape to merely surviving?  What is the difference between surviving in body and surviving in spirit?

I can only respond in questions which is more the indicator that I do not know.


32. On 2005-05-17, anon. said:

Hi Ben,

Respectfully, I am not.

Courage is what we call an action within the context of the circumstances around the action.

The action itself is—aggressive.

When I am training in class, we practice moves designed to bring aggressive energy to the nose, eyes, whatever of our practice attacker.

The latin root of "aggressive" is "to move toward."

We practice "move toward" energy.

It's aggressive.

The fact that the word makes many people uncomfortable doesn't change the fact that I find it perfectly accurate.

There are many people who don't mind being aggressive—in business, on the street, in sports, in a meeting between a producer and a screenwriter. Fists may not be thrown, but the aggressive energy is there.

What's most interesting about this is, since allowing myself to feel more comfortable with aggressive energy ("move toward energy") things just go smoother. People don't feel the need to test me with their aggressive energy to see if I'll collapse when things get tough. They just assume I can handle myself (I can), and we get down to business.

The practice of aggressive energy can allow for couragous acts—and brutally useless acts.

To develop my aggressive energy (ie, the times I've followed screams into alleys or courtyards of apartment buildings to drive muggers away) is to be able to use that energy fully for whatever purpose I wish. But that's seperate than issues of courage or uselss brutality.



33. On 2005-05-17, Valamir said:

"Chris—I agree, except I think that you are mistaking aggression for courage."


I don't think he is.  For courage to be meaningful it has to be active.  Passive Courage is IMO an oxymoron and a myth.  It is itself a cop out, a form of fear justified under a veneer of passive resistance.

True courage requires action.  Courage without action is empty and pointless.  Aggression is not a four letter word that we should be afraid of.  Aggression is just effective action.  Action without aggression is limp and pointless.  It is also a cop out, a form of pretending to do something to make oneself feel better without actually having to commit.  I can't think of any effective peaceful protestor who was not aggressive.  Certainly Ghandi and MLKjr were both very aggressive in pursuit of their goals.


34. On 2005-05-17, xenopulse said:

Yeah wow, lots of points here.

Ed, I don't think we disagree. I'm simply providing some basic vocabulary. Sure there's a difference between manipulation with evil intent, and positive inspiration, but that's a different axis than the force-coercion-influence categorization, which I think is important to keep in mind.

Julie, I know what you're talking about. Lisa and I were watching Bill Maher on HBO a while ago. He had a woman there, a politician, who said she was ok with the Arabs not shaking her hand. That's just their culture, and I accept that they don't shake women's hands, she said. Well, if that's their culture, then their culture is WRONG. Fuck that. As Bill Maher then said, tolerance is wrong when it tolerates intolerance.

Ben, yes. Absolutely. Aggression without purpose, or with the wrong purpose, is, well, still wrong. Using your courage, standing up for what's right, that's what it's all about. I think your LJ post is right on.

And Chris, sure. If someone attacks/tries to rape my wife, I kill the motherfucker. Break his skull and make sure he never gets a second chance. However, we're both aggressors in that scenario. What separates me from him is the purpose for which I use my aggression.

I don't think we need to fall into the hole of gender-defined roles here, i.e., aggression being masculine.

Vincent, I'm not informed enough, but men can be raped as well. Actually, I always thought that the equivalent for a man of being raped is more like getting his balls torn off. Imagine how that'd feel. How horrible and lasting the effect is, even if you manage to get surgery and get the physical wounds healed at a later time. How it takes something away from you and hurts you in the most brutal way. That's as close as I can ever come to even remotely think about how it must feel for a woman to be raped. And that's why I always feel that burst of rage when someone makes one of those "she asked for it" comments—if a guy flirts and doesn't put out, and the woman tears off his balls, well then, I guess he was asking for it.

So overall, people can do horrible things to men and women alike who do not fight back, and in fact they do in parts of the world on a daily basis. Is rape separable from all other tortures and violations? I can't really say.

- Christian


35. On 2005-05-17, xenopulse said:

If we all agree that what Ghandi and MLK did was right, but we disagree on whether that was aggressive, maybe the main difficulty here is the definition of "aggression"?

Nonviolent is not the same as passive.

- Christian


36. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Hi Christian,

Just to be clear...

You wrote: "And Chris, sure. If someone attacks/tries to rape my wife, I kill the motherfucker. Break his skull and make sure he never gets a second chance. However, we're both aggressors in that scenario. What separates me from him is the purpose for which I use my aggression."

Which is exactly what I said, so we agree.

And then you wrote...

"I don't think we need to fall into the hole of gender-defined roles here, i.e., aggression being masculin"

... which I didn't do. I was addressing one of the essays linked at the top of the page "Fractured Family of Men", pointing out that men accepting their aggressive energy was what allowed them to bond in my Bukido group, an idea running contra to the essayists view that we need to tap our "feminine" side. I never said women were not, or could not, be aggressive. (Frankly, the most aggressive person in my Bukido school is a woman. Her challenge is to channel it with more focus.)



37. On 2005-05-17, John Harper said:

Chris: How long have you been training? I ask because your post reads an awful lot like the "Sensei worship" that most new students get during the first 6-12 months of training. There's a honeymoon period where it seems like everything Sensei says is solid gold and she's the coolest person in the world.

The Bukido philosophy sounds like a very practical one (especially for teaching some kind of street-smart "self defense"). But it's important to remember that Bukido has not cornered the market on sensible philosophies regarding agression and violence.

Be sure to keep you head up and make up your own mind about this stuff away from the Sensei effect.

Jeez. I hope that doesn's sound like an insult. I certainly don't mean it that way. It's hard to make a comment like that in this format. I hope you can take it in the spirit of discussion.


38. On 2005-05-17, Mark said:

Aggressive is a lousy buzzword for something I always heard called assertive. One can be assertive without violence. Aggression implies violence, or at a minimum the willingness to escalate to violence. Remind you of anything?

BTW, I'm Mark. This is a really important conversation.


39. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Hi John,

Thanks for the tip. I'll watch out for it.

If I hadn't noticed the fact that my life and ability to get things done has markely improved since I started class, I'd be even more concerned. But truth is, actual objective results have been produced. (Without any bloodshed!)

If I went on too long in that first post, it was because I didn't want anyone to have to make assumptions about what I was doing. Given the tone of some of the people who are against violence (except when it's needed—or something), I felt it vital to make what the training was explicit.


Yes. Aggression implies violence, or at a minimum the willing to escalate to violence. What does that remind me of? That reminds me of the times Juan was beating me up in middle school and I beat him down. And the muggers I've driven away who were attacking women.

To be assertive, without the willingness to escalate to violence, means that everyone will agree with your position on how things will be, or you'll hammer out a comprise, or you'll discuss things and see their point of view...

Except those people who will not give an inch until you drive them down with violence.




40. On 2005-05-17, jrs said:

Up above, Christian (Xenopulse) said:
"Julie, I know what you're talking about. Lisa and I were watching Bill Maher on HBO a while ago. He had a woman there, a politician, who said she was ok with the Arabs not shaking her hand. That's just their culture, and I accept that they don't shake women's hands, she said. Well, if that's their culture, then their culture is WRONG. Fuck that. As Bill Maher then said, tolerance is wrong when it tolerates intolerance."

I would like to clarify this point—the practices of a foreign culture did not betray me; my friends betrayed me by their accomodation to the constraints of a different culture which excluded me.  That is what hurt.


41. On 2005-05-17, Mark said:


"To be assertive, without the willingness to escalate to violence, means that everyone will agree with your position on how things will be, or you'll hammer out a comprise, or you'll discuss things and see their point of view...

Except those people who will not give an inch until you drive them down with violence."

I am one of 'those people' - or I hope to be. The ones who will not give (on a matter of importance) unless you drive them down with violence. But I will not meet violence with violence. Refusing to use force is a choice. The person who wants to force you to their will can only do so if you submit. You always have the choice to refuse.

That's a personal commitment for me - I wouldn't recommend it as a standard for the world at large, because it's hard.

Confrontational? Yes.
Violent? No.



42. On 2005-05-17, xenopulse said:


That sentence was mostly in response to this one:

It's because I'm hanging out with men who are comfortable with their masculinity—their strength, their aggressive engergy.

I.e., equating strength and aggressive energy with being masculine. It's good to see that you didn't mean it exclusively that way, and I did notice that you mentioned women in that training as well.

I myself have been learning mixed martial arts for the past 6 or 7 years, starting with Wun Hop Kuen Do (for 2 years under its founder Al Dacascos (actor Mark Dacascos' father)), and now mostly Kajukenbo. So I am very familiar with practical approaches to martial arts and self-defense. It's empowered me as well. I've become more assertive.

However, more importantly than that, it's been my wife Lisa who has helped me become a stronger person. Not by teaching me how to fight, nor by being aggressive, but by giving me confidence and being an outstanding example of a strong person.

And hi Mark. You're right, it is :) Important enough that we're all getting fired up about it...

- Christian


43. On 2005-05-17, pete_darby said:


You know, I'm completely confusing you with other people. strike out all references to yourself in my previous post.


44. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Aw, dammit, Mark...

Now your forcing me into freshman year hypotheticals....

You're walking down the street. A woman is screaming from an alley. You see her being raped.

Assume for the moment he is one of "those..." shouting at him, threats of calling the cops don't drive him off.

Do you not help the woman, and instead stand on your principles?



45. On 2005-05-17, xenopulse said:


I understand. That's why I wrote the part about tolerance of intolerance. They think they are being tolerant to be respectful, but really, they are being disrespectful to you in the process.

The culture that denied you participation, however, was still wrong. It might not have bothered you, but it would bother me. :)

- Christian


46. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Another way of looking at this sentence...

"It's because I'm hanging out with men who are comfortable with their masculinity—their strength, their aggressive engergy."

Is like this...

In the world I've lived in (white, well educated, liberal), many men are uncomfortable with *their* aggressvie energy. in fact, they encourage the aggressive energy of women. But feel some color of "bad," "horrible," "guilty," "uncertain," if not amoral when coming to terms with "their" aggressive energy.

I would say that both the masculine and the feminine (and I'm not talking about men and women here, but the masculine and the feminine), have their aggressive energy. I'm talking about men allowing themselves that strong aggressive energy and no longer demeaning it.

And, again, I point you to the essay I was addressing (which I'm sure you've already read). I apparently fumbled the point, but to me the Preacher was saying only by touching our feminine can men not be a fracture family, hold each other, cry, and speak our true feelings.

I'm not saying men aren't fractured. I'm saying that by doing the knee-jerked white liberal educated masculinity is bad thing, we're only making it "worse."

To allow men their masculine aggressive energy, to honor it and call it good (instead of banishing it and calling it bad, where it gathers outside of good society in urban gangs and lone rapists) isn't helping at all.



47. On 2005-05-17, Christoher Kubasik said:


I'm with Christian on this one...

The guys had to make a stand on what they valued... their freindship with you or the values of their hosts. (Very HeroQuest!)

They had to make a choice. Either one would (or might) lead to dissappointment. As far as I can tell you did want them to choose you over their hosts—which is kind of saying, by the way, you had trouble with their cultural rules.



48. On 2005-05-17, Ed H said:


I think maybe the "knee jerk educated white liberal masculinity" thing may be less common in American society than you'd think. :)

But I'm all about people getting in touch with the power of their real passions and feelings (including "aggressive" ones) and not lying or denying them or being afraid of them or ashamed of them.  Is that a big part of what you're talking about?  And has the "nonviolent" culture you've been exposed to been about denying, fearing, and shaming people for those feelings?


49. On 2005-05-17, Vincent said:

I question the value of the metaphor - "masculine side, feminine side" - entirely. Whenever we talk about assertion, aggression, empathy, touch, courage, humility, submission in those terms, we bring gender in where it can only confuse us.

We conflate the acts and feelings themselves with the social rules that constrain them.

So instead let's say, like, "he has a very masculine approach to empathy," meaning that he expresses empathy in a way consistent with our society's view of men.


50. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Hi Ed,

I don't know how "common" it is. I don't think it's very common. I only know it as the world I know... I've seen it from one end of this country to the next—all in the "world" I travel in.

Earlier Vincent actually had to ask if it was all right for a woman to protect herself from a rape using violent means, since men of integritty (according to some views) would never use violence if they were being beaten or killed.

See.... the fact that this is even on the table is for me insane. How have is it even come to this?

How it came about ... throguh denying, fearing, shaming—yes, and other more well meaning propositions as well, I'm sure....

What matters is, I'm looking ath Vincent's question (I have no idea if its his personal point of view—I just know question) and thinking, this is crazy. The man of integrity never lifts a finger to save himself even though he's got a wife and kid expecting him to come home? We've got to puzzel through whether a woman is morally justifed in scratching out the eyes of her rapist?

So, yeah. I'm responding to issues in the air. But I'm also just trying to get my ass in gear these days—and having a sense that I'm allowed to go get what I want, even if I never *have* to make an actual attack in my life (and probably won't), seems fine. And it also makes me appreciate the social structure that allows me to live my life in one of the safest places on the planet—which depends on someone to take care of violent business in such a way that I usually don't have to know what's happening.



51. On 2005-05-17, pete_darby said:

You know, odd as it may sound to folks, I'm pretty much with Chris on this one (and partly through wilderness survival courses, rather than self defence).

Like John Lydon said, "Anger is an energy" (in a song I love more as I get older). And harnessing that energy, pushing it where it can help, rather than where it can fester and destroy you, is one of the most valuable skills anyone can develop. Pretty much anything I've produced worth a damn has been done through a passionate, aggressive energy, and yes, that includes my kids.

Because if you can't get angry about something going wrong, then, I guess, you don't care about it, really.

And we can split hairs about being in the situation where you've used all the non-violent aggression you can, and still what you care about is threatened; you know what, I don't know what I would do then. I may Take the Blow, I may Raise. Until I'm there, I honestly don't know. But I sure as shit ain't gonna Fold, but time there was when I would have said that was the good thing to do.

Oh, and Ghandi and MLK: they saw what they felt was wrong, and raised a movement to challenge vast governments, whole societies. Don't tell me that ain't aggressive. They took control of the situations, just like Chris' trainer is talking about. In terms of movements, societies, you can make the decision not to move to institutionalised violence, but you often don't get that luxury in the personal sphere. But you gotta have aggression.

And the Jedi still suck donkey dick.

IN other news, anybody see that Doctor Who DVD has got a 12 rating from the censors, because "the abuse of the Doctor's metal nemesis demonstrated "violence and cruelty as a way of dealing with problems"."

I could rant away now about how completely out of context that's taken, but apparently Spider-Man 2 got a 12 for "resorting to violence" as well. Apparently, they don't want children in playgrounds to see violence against an aggressor as acceptable behaviour.

Sooooo... on finding the last member of the race that wiped out countless species, including your own, you should, what, go and tell teacher?

The problems of Britains playgrounds aren't going to be solved by stopping children seeing the Doctor losing his rag.

Argh, ranting again now. BED!


52. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Hi Vincent,

You're not alone in questioning it. And I take a lot of flack for it these days. I'm still not sure about using those metaphors, honestly.

The problem is, in my own personal experience, when I was a good over-educated would-be androgony, helping to make the world better by assuming there was no such thing as masculine and feminine, I was miserable.

Now I'm having fun thinking "masculine" all the time! And it doesn't feel like a "constraint" at all. Absolutely freeing.

I'm sure it's a mental placebo of sorts... But at what point does something that affects our *thinking* that produces positive results ever get past the point of being a mental placebo? I mean, its a metaphor, in my head, that colors my actions and produces good results. But clearly its not real.

I don't think any less of men or women for it. I just like saying, "I'm a man, with a man's body. What's that all about?"

It's fun.

Many people don't see it as such. In general, the response seems to be I want to put half starved women in cages and take away any rights for them that have been won for them over the last 100 years.

Not true at all. And as dull as assuming that when I talk about masculinity I'm talking about a dullard football jock.

But... It seems best as my personal game. I'm speaking of it less and less these days. And all I know is, outside of telling people, people watcing the change in my *behavior* because of the change in how I'm thinking, are happy for me, excited at my ability to get things done, move toward my goals. And women are dealing with me in a completely new way.

So. In the end... I have no idea...

But I gotta get back to work. It's been a nice half day off after a 14 hour day of writing yesterday... But this is getting crazy!

See y'all.


53. On 2005-05-17, Ben Lehman said:

Chris: Here is our disconnect.

There is a situation in which the right thing to do is to not fight, to not hit, to submit or to walk away.

When that situation comes, and someone responds aggressively, I'm not going to call him manly.  I'm going to call him a coward.  Because he is.

Mastering your violence is a method to be able to walk away when you need to.  I am not opposed to training in violent methods, if it is towards this mastery.  I've done a lot of that myself But I am opposed to calling those methods the keystone of society.



54. On 2005-05-17, Meredith (Matt's wife) said:

Hey guys,
Been having a little trouble with this thread - feels all focused on principles when for me aggression is a messy internal felt experience.  So it's not, "what would you do if? " but, "what does it feel like when?"

I struggle with aggression.  I'm an ultimate frisbee player, and I get *really* aggressive on the field and sidelines.  I yell and grab and sprint - so much so that I freaked the hell out of Matt when he came to watch.  It sat with me a bit after he told me, like was that too Manly or Ugly or Hurtful what I did back there?  But it felt good!

I can only imagine that for men, this struggle must be even more difficult in the face of the damage that men can (and do) do, not only to women's bodies but... well... lots of things.  Early on in our relationship, Matt played Toad the Wet Sprocket's Hold Her Down for me and so was obviously affected by the line, "the shame of what a man can do" that I didn't know how to console him.

So, I feel for you guys, trying to figure out principles and right ways and wrong ways.  I think, just as I do in my antiracist work, that the path is just one of searching on the inside and being good enough on the outside.  Shame isn't necessary here, only hope and action.


55. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Ben's post came in as I was wrapping up...


Ben, why the disconnect?

What is it about Ron's comments, or mine, that make you think that if there "is a situation in which the right thing to do is to not fight, to not hit, to submit or to walk away," Ron and I would both attack?

Ron said explicitely that to assert one's position one must use violence. Already in your hypothetical, it's clear that "one's position" is not on the line—because violence is not a required option.

Moveover, in my long post about my Bukido, I made it clear that simply by how one speaks, how one carries one's body, you can often avoid violence. No one in my class is looking for violence. Most of us will never throw an actual live attack for the rest of our lives.

Why you're assuming I WANT to fight is beyond me. I've said nothing of the sort.

I said I'm ready to. I've said I'm willing to back what I want out of this life with physical violence if need be. I've also expanded the defintion of violence from just fleshy contact to how I carry myself, the use of my voice and so on... (How you guys don't see thousands of "non-violent" protesters gathering as a potential threat of violence in the eyes of their oppressors is beyond me...!)

I think most peoople read Ron's post and only saw a fist hitting someone in the face. (Over on Ben's live journal, someone has already defined it as opening fire with a gun on anyone who disagrees with you!)

You guys are using a very narrow, specific image of violence.

Ron, I suspect, and I, I am certain, are using a much broader definition of "violence." As in "The Warrior Spirit"—which Ron refenced. Which is how one carries oneself and conducts oneself in the ways of the world to assert one's postion.

Notice, for example, Lance Armstrong. A man who asserted his position in the world. A very violent man—to his body—if you take the time to read his autobiography.

Or MLK—his affairs, his sexual energy—we don't want to talk about those things, because we think we can dodge that stuff in light of all the "good" stuff he did. No. We can't. It's ALL connected. And anyone who can't see that is living in the denail Ron refenced. He was an Aggressive man, with the warrior's spirit, who asserted himself so strongly into the world he took actions—in many ways, that would make us uncomfortable to do oursleves.

Which is really what this all boils down to:

How much are you asserting yourself in the world?

Before you judge Ron's comments insane (and even cowardly), because you know YOU would never do the "wrong" thing—please look at the full context of his comment. It all rests on asserting one's postion in the world.

Okay, you're all good people, who would never do anything to harm someone.

And you're asserting yourself into the world, how, exactly?

I have no idea if you are or you're not. But are you? And if so, how? And if not, why not?



56. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:


Thanks so much for that wonderful, insightful, and empathetic post.

You've touched on so many of the issues I'm both celebrating and struggling with these days.

Aggrssion does feel good!

And what do to with it? Wow!

And what do do with it with our strong male bodie? Double wow!

Stop feeling good for fear of what we'll do...

Or push aggression harder so we know exactly how to use it well...

These days, for me, it's all about the latter.

Thank you so much!



57. On 2005-05-17, John Harper said:

Christopher, that definition of "violence" is so broad, the original statement becomes meaningless. "You can't assert yourself in the world without asserting yourself." Uh huh. I think we can all safely agree with *that*.

I'm pretty sure Ron knows what is generally meant by the word "violence." "Assertive" or "aggressive"? Something else.


58. On 2005-05-17, Christopher Kubasik said:

Hi John,

Not to my eyes.

Now I haven't talked about this stuff with Ron. But I do know that he's not very fond of using the "generally meant" definitionf of words.

The word has many colors.

And anyway, fuck Ron.

What I wrote makes perfect sense to me. And these days, honestly and thankfully, those are the only eyes I care about.

And my questions still stand:

To all those who know you'd never do the wrong thing by taking the wrong, violent action, are you asserting yourselves in the world? If so, how? If now, why not?



59. On 2005-05-17, Matt Wilson said:

And what do do with it with our strong male bodie? Double wow!

Just for clarification, Meredith doesn't have a strong male body. I've seen it up close.

I don't really have one either. It's kind of flabby and poorly maintained.

Seriously, though, I think there's a big difference between aggression and violence, and I agree with John that you're getting a little loose with the definition. Violence implies an abusive or damaging use of force, and describing Lance Armstrong that way is pushing it, I think. If MLK forced those women to have affairs with him, then maybe. Otherwise that's still outside the box for me.

Meredith playing frisbee: pretty damn (shockingly, as she has said) aggressive, but sure as hell not violent.


60. On 2005-05-17, Mark said:

Boy, this is moving faster than I can stay with it.

Christopher, your recent definitional post tears it. You're conflating a whole bunch of stuff under one umbrella. Your "freshman hypothetical" to me above is just one example. There is a non-violent answer to that situation: You restrain the aggressor to the best of your ability. What you do not do is escalate. If he lets you pull him off without harm, you don't beat him down. If you do, you use the least amount of force necessary to _prevent_ his violence. I'd like to think - in your example - that I would place myself between the agressor and his prey. Forcibly, if need be.

And because we live in an imperfect world, we sometimes do resort to force when we don't genuinely have to. That doesn't make it right, and it certainly doesn't make it (or our capacity for it) something to celebrate.

Gotta run and do some gaming.



61. On 2005-05-17, John Harper said:

I'm not going to play semantic games. Especially any that revolve around "I don't use the generally accepted meaning of a word." You want to use it your way, fine. But don't expect everyone else to swallow it.

And to answer your question: When I show compassion and empathy for my fellow person and come to an understanding with them, I can most certainly be asserting myself. No violence required. This isn't rocket science. We do it every day.

And, on a good day, I can even defend myself against physical violence without doing any harm to myself or the person who attacked me. I can think of one time when I even becamse better friends with the person after the fact. No violence there either.

I honestly don't know what Ron could have meant in his original message. His statement has no bearing on my life as I experience it.


62. On 2005-05-17, John Harper said:

Well said, Mark. I agree 100%.


63. On 2005-05-17, Christopher K said:

Christopher, you replied to me—

"Earlier Vincent actually had to ask if it was all right for a woman to protect herself from a rape using violent means, since men of integritty (according to some views) would never use violence if they were being beaten or killed.

See.... the fact that this is even on the table is for me insane. How have is it even come to this?"

Vincent was saying something like, "hey, you people with your nonviolence thing are sounding pretty crazy to me.  Are you THIS crazy?  Huh?"  And the answer was pretty much "no."  That's all.

"How it came about ... throguh denying, fearing, shaming—yes, and other more well meaning propositions as well, I'm sure...."

Eh, I don't know about that.  I think it came about through nonviolence as a discipline and a practice being relatively unknown and easily conflated with some things that it is not, such as a policy of complete submission to force.

"What matters is, I'm looking ath Vincent's question (I have no idea if its his personal point of view—I just know question) and thinking, this is crazy. The man of integrity never lifts a finger to save himself even though he's got a wife and kid expecting him to come home? We've got to puzzel through whether a woman is morally justifed in scratching out the eyes of her rapist?"

No, not at all.  Vincent (if I understand the context) was trying to suss out what people were trying to tell him they believed, and presented the most extreme example he could come up with, as it would quickly allow him to understand what people's beliefs entailed under extreme circumstances.

So I think you're right that people would have to be crazy to be seriously debating points like that, but that you may be factually mistaken about why that was brought up in this discussion.

BTW, I'm not interested in "moral justification."  There may be some people who are, but not me, not at the moment.  I've heard terms like "moral high ground" bandied around a lot and for the record, I at least have had no interest inf labeling anybody, violent or nonviolent, "morally right" or "morally wrong."


64. On 2005-05-17, John Harper said:

Meredith, I totally get what you're saying.

I think everyone struggles with aggresion to some degree. Humans are an aggressive bunch. Aggression alone isn't a good or bad thing, I don't think. It can *lead* to one or the other, though, which is why we have to stay mindful of our aggression when it comes out.

You say you get aggressive on the frisbee field (me too!), and this probably motivates you and your teammates and makes you better players, on the good side. This same aggression can of course spill into intimidation tactics, psychological warfare, and even outright violence if unchecked. (Not that you're doing those things, Meredith... just as an example).

This is why I can't agree that "violence" is just "force" or "aggression" or "asertion" or anything else. Violence is the harmful outburst that *comes from* the dark side of aggression and force.

And speaking of "how it feels"—boy does it ever feel good to become violent with the full weight of righteousness on your side. I can honestly say that one of the best feelings I ever had was delivering a beating to someone that richly deserved it.

Which is sick and wrong. This is the worst side of human nature. There's no such thing as "justified violence." Violence is wrong. Sometimes it is very difficult to avoid, I admit that. But no amount of so-called necessity ever makes it *right* or *good*.

Okay, I'm wandering. Back to Meredith's post:

Aggression? Yes! Let's not stifle it. Searching on the inside? Yes! Let's always be aware of our aggression and how it affects those around us. A thousand times yes.


65. On 2005-05-17, Meguey said:

(still sick, so there you go)
(Not gonna touch the rape Q unless Vincent specifically taps me with my sex ed teacher's hat. Except to say that the anaolgy of a man having his balls riped off only points immeadiatly at physical damage, not emotional/psychological/spiritual. There are a huge number of male rape survivors, probably including men you know. Nonetheless, point made. Also, everyone has weighed in on that already.)

Violence, aggression, assertivness, courage. Whew. Ok, here's my context: I have two sons, ages 8 and 5. They like to wrestle and rough-house and basically pound on each other. Most of the time, I have no problem with it, because they are also very loyal to each other, courteous, thoughtful, helpful and kind to each other. When I intervien, it's because one of them has acted out of meaness (which I understand as violence) rather than the exhuberant puppy-like tumbling agaisnt each other (which I understand as aggression) that is exciting for their bodies, minds, and spirits. Yes, we are teaching them that it's not ok to hit, and to use words, and to solve problems in creative and non-damaging ways.


When Joshua was over last weekend, I watched him giving the 8 y.o. sword-play pointers, and encouraging my boy to aim for the target/body, not the sword, and it was great. I've watched my fierce, fearless little 5 y.o. encourage his older, more reserved brother to try charging ahead instead of running away, and I'm glad in my heart. I want my kids to know how to defend themselves, how to do all the positive things mentioned about martial arts, and most of all to know how to have safe outlets for their frusteration and anger, and how to channel their outrage and determination and will into healthy change.

I *love* that my 8 y.o. is fully willing to assert his knowledge, and to call people, peers and adults, on their mistreatment of others. He will not stand for it. The one time he remotely got in 'trouble' at school this year was for strongly correcting a teacher on behalf of a fellow student with Down's Syndrome. Even then, it was his tone rather than his message that caused concern, because it was so clear that he was right. Speaking truth to power is surely courageous.

I can be an aggressive person. I can roll over people and they don't even know it because I'm also a diplomat. Does that make me very violent (since I'm asserting my will), or very non-violent (since I'm finding ways to make all parties feel satisfied)?


66. On 2005-05-17, xenopulse said:


I do think that a forcefully castrated man will have emotional and psychological damage. But there's really no straight comparison. That's just the best I can think of. I'm not sure men getting raped is quite the same... it's just hard to say, and, not being a victim myself, I don't even dare to think I can imagine what it's like.

- Christian


67. On 2005-05-17, Weeks said:

So, um, what's violence?

The dictionary definitions all seem to be about abuse, which suggests to me that causing gross physical trauma to another person as a means of self-defense wouldn't be called violence by our society—except that that's obviously not what we generally think violence means.  I think.

Are you violent toward creatures (directly, or by proxy) that you eat?  Can plants be the victim of violence?  And our very existence requires resources.  Resources that another organism can't have right now.  Another organism that might die because of it.  Is that form of "asserting one's position" by necessity violent?

And I have this question about rape that I have no one to ask, so I'm just firing it out here.  I know men and women who were raped (to various degrees) at some point in their lives.  The men seem to be OK and the women (with one exception) are all fucked up about it.  Why?  Is that representative of a norm?


68. On 2005-05-18, pete_darby said:

Chris, we've still got a disconnect, as far as I can see. You're defining violence as some kind of "warrior spirit", aggressive assertiveness, and saying that anyone who is saying they're against violence is not affecting the world or asserting themselves in it.

I, for example, am saying that violence, as in hurting people, is usually a crappy option, but sometimes the only acceptable one.

I've been caught between two sorts of bullshit all my life: I've got one set that hijacks the "warrior spirit", and turns it into bullying, loutish behaviour that treats any sort of sensitivity or compassion as weakness. On the other side, I've got the victim worshipping culture that teaches that any sort of strength must be repressed for fear of becoming like the first.

And both of these options are essentially about repression, of either compassion or strength. Rather than talk about a warrior spirit, I'd talk about a whole man, a whole woman, who is not afraid of their feelings or potential.


69. On 2005-05-18, Ben Lehman said:

Chris:  Get a god-damn dictionary.  Look up the definitions of those words you are so casually flinging around.  Violence, as a word, is tied to violation, abuse, and misconduct.  Aggression is necessarily the action of iniating violence, or is at least highly hostile.

"Violence" and "aggression" and "force" and "assertiveness" are not synonyms.  Please stop trying to pretend that they are.




70. On 2005-05-18, KingstonC said:

Ben: With all due respect, you are focusing on the words Chris said and not with the content of Chris's ideas. In school, imagining that Chris is a reasonable person and reading what he wrote in that light was called "giving a charitable reading". If you give Chris a charatable reading and have problem with his content, say so. If you have problems with the words he has chosen, it's duly noted, and you should move on.If the words he has chosen has made him imposible to understand, say so. Please.



71. On 2005-05-18, the GreyOrm said:

K, if we're going to talk about violence, let's talk about violence, not aggression or assertiveness. No more handwaving. That's the problem Ben is having with Chris' points (and myself as well).

If, after all, we were talking about assertiveness and the warrior-spirit, I'd agree with Chris' points. But since the topic was violence and the warrior-spirit, and whether the former is required for the latter, talking about assertiveness and calling it violence is just confusing the issue.

You can't constructively discuss two different concepts and use the same word for both of them, for obvious reasons (ie: which definition you are using becomes problematic in understanding the points and formulating replies).

Use the words you mean to use: the correct words, with standard English definitions. Not the words as you'd like them to mean. In this case, violence /= aggression or assertiveness.


72. On 2005-05-18, Valamir said:

I think its a fundamental mistake to try and say "assertive" and "aggression" and "force" are over in one box and "violence" is something else.  This is exactly the kind of thinking that Chris has brought up before.  This unreasonable, obsessive need to consider violence to be some automatically harmful alien thing to be purged out of mankind's behavior responses.

That's the root of the whole disagreement.  Violence is NOT a bad thing.  For the vast majority of human history Violence was an accepted fact of everyday life and a standard tool in interpersonal dealings.  That it has become (in some circles) so horrifically unacceptable is a curious blip of modern culture.  I think it would the height of hubris to equate that blip with any notion of superior civilization.

Violence, assertiveness, and aggression are intimately intertwined.  True they are not precisely synonyms...but they are completely insperable concepts.  One CANNOT talk about assertiveness in any meaningful way without also acknowledging the role of violence.

Violence, or the threat thereof, is a fundamental part of human social interaction.  Many of the standard rules of common courtesy and etiquette exist because of their relationship to violence.

I hear people saying what amounts to: "if only they'd used the word 'assertive' I could agree with them, but since they used the word 'violence' or 'aggression' I must rail against the horror of it"

Frankly that's absurd and nonsensical.  It shows exactly the kind of irrational avoidance of the idea of violence that is at the root of Chris's comments.  They are completely tied together.  You can't accept one and dismiss the other.

Ultimately one doesn't exist without the other.

Throughout most of human history you couldn't BE assertive unless you were also willing to commit violence to back your assertions up.  As civilization progressed that relationship didn't change, it just became more common to inflict violence by proxy.

The only reason any free citizen has the ability to assert their own opinion in a public forum is because ultimately...that ability is backed by the threat of violence.  To turn your back on that fact and pretend that its not true and that you get through life entirely without violence is the height of naivety, and rather insulting to the people whose job it is to use violence to give you that freedom.

Everytime you express an opinion without being stopped, you can do so because of the underlying threat of violence towards whoever would try to stop you.

Violence constructively applied is the foundation of all civilization.  Its what makes civilization possible.

Now I'm getting a little farther afield philosophically here than this topic was originally.  But I do so only because I keep hearing this embedded sentiment that "violence is wrong, violence is bad, violence is horrific"...and that's just...well...wrong.

So talking about assertiveness and calling it violence is NOT confusing the issue.  Trying to pretend that those are two seperate and unrelated concepts is what's confusing the issue.

Every single time you assert yourself there is a corresponding act of violence or threat of violence that goes along with that assertion.  It may not be an act committed by or threatened by you.  It may have been an act committed in the past or threatened to be committed in the future by someone else.  But there is violence underlying every privilege you enjoy.

They are NOT seperate things.


73. On 2005-05-18, JasonL said:

I'll chime in here.  Facinating how this discussion has evolved.

We're human, so we're wired to use language to discuss these things.  Look at the medium we're using, too.  It's words and nothing else.

So, I'd like to pose a series of questions, directed both at Chris and at those who've decried his choice of words:

Kudzu invaded the southern US - driving out native plants and chaning the biological/ecological dynamics across not just plant life but animal life too.  Violent, aggressive or assertive?

Here in Chicago we've got this rapacious species of Japanese Carp that's worked it's way up the Chicago river.  The ecologists are tyring to keep it out of Lake Michigan - because they know this species will dominate the battle for resources and kill off dozens of other fish species in the process.  Is the fish violent, aggressive, or assertive?  What about the scientists and polciy makers and engineers actively trying to stop the carp's spread?  Are they violent, aggressive or assertive?

Now, let's take it back to the human realm, and let's leave the extreme examples out of it.  I'm confronted in my daily life with the myth of the win-win situation.  It's very hard to achieve, and I don't think I've ever actually seen it.  Part of my role in my job is to provide insight about our business - insight that ought to drive strategic direction.  I'm in a meeting with someone who wants my widget company to treat all our customers the same way.  They've got data on their side that talks about the real financial benefits to our bottom line.  I'm like "No, no, no.  If we do that, we'll lose lots of customers who'd like to at least think we're treating them based on their needs, desires, wants relative to our services.  Sure, we'll save some money, but we'll lose more than we save."

I've got just as much data as they do to back up my claim.  I'm better at selling my data than they are at selling theirs.  I walk all over them in the meeting, and things go my way.  Our company's limited resources will be used for my thing.  Was that violent, aggressive or assertive?

Now, in my experience, in those real-world situations, you end up with one party winning and getting their way, or half-vast half-measures (i.e. compromsie) where parts of multiple options are combined together to create some kind of whole.  It's the "let's do both!" option.  I've never seen this be successful in business.  The business plans/strategies/tactics that work are one's based on a clear vision that's pursued with relentless focus, and a willingness to say "thanks for the input, but we're still gonna go this way, because we know it will work..."  Is that violent, aggressive or assertive?

Here's the definition of violent, from

adj 1: acting with or marked by or resulting from great force or energy or emotional intensity; "a violent attack"; "a violent person"; "violent feelings"; "a violent rage"; "felt a violent dislike" [ant: nonviolent] 2: effected by force or injury rather than natural causes; "a violent death" 3: (of colors or sounds) intensely vivid or loud; "a violent clash of colors"; "her dress was a violent red"; "a violent noise"; "wild colors"; "wild shouts" [syn: wild] 4: marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions; inclined to react violently; fervid; "fierce loyalty"; "in a tearing rage"; "vehement dislike"; "violent passions" [syn: fierce, tearing, vehement, trigger-happy] 5: characterized by violence or bloodshed; "writes of crimson deeds and barbaric days"- Andrea Parke; "fann'd by Conquest's crimson wing"- Thomas Gray; "convulsed with red rage"- Hudson Strode [syn: crimson, red]

A lot of you that talk about violence being necessarily abusive are reading with a connotative eye, it seems to me.


"Oh, it's you...


74. On 2005-05-18, KingstonC said:

GreyOrm said:
If, after all, we were talking about assertiveness and the warrior-spirit, I'd agree with Chris' points. But since the topic was violence and the warrior-spirit, and whether the former is required for the latter, talking about assertiveness and calling it violence is just confusing the issue.

But before that, Chris said:

"Which is really what this all boils down to:

How much are you asserting yourself in the world"

I take Chris's statement below to clearly show that he is talking about assertivness, not agressivness. It's clear that Chris has also be using the word "agressive" to mean assertive.
My point is that although Chris is guilty of misusing words, it's a side show to the main attraction, which is Chris's assertive epiphany. If Ben really has a problem with assertivness, well, then, that would be interesting and worth futhther discussion. But the whole high dugeon flame war about the definition of "assertive" and "agressive" is not only not interesting, it drowns out actually interesting stuff in this thread.


75. On 2005-05-18, Ben Lehman said:

Jason— While you were looking things up in the dictionary, did you look up "violence" or just "violent."  If you did look up both, why did you choose to use the one you did?

I could respond further to Ralph, Chris, etc, but it is very clear that we simply are talking about different things, and I have no idea what they are talking about at all.  Replace "violent" and "violence" with "spoo" and "sproo" and you'll get a sense of my confusion.

I am pretty much wholly opposed to the redefinition of "violence" as "anything that might possibly upset anyone or make them feel the tiniest bit bad" but, hey, language changes, even the words which we think of as horrific.  "Rape" used to mean pre-marital sex.



76. On 2005-05-18, Vincent said:

Everyone, thank you for your patience and good-heartedness here. I think we've done pretty well for an internet discussion about some hard topics.

The struggle over the words, the struggle over the ideas, the struggle over the feelings themselves - each of us will identify our own struggle as the "real" one. But they're all real.

We've done pretty well. Let's feel good about it.


77. On 2005-05-18, JasonL said:


Thanks for letting us engage.


Yep, I did, and I'm not sure why I didn't post both, probably because I fogot.  Understood that we're talking past each other here, and acknowledge that we'll just have to agree to disagree on this.

For the record, from the same source, here's violence


n 1: an act of aggression (as one against a person who resists); "he may accomplish by craft in the long run what he cannot do by force and violence in the short one" [syn: force] 2: the property of being wild or turbulent; "the storm's violence" [syn: ferocity, fierceness, furiousness, fury, vehemence, wildness] 3: a turbulent state resulting in injuries and destruction etc.

So, uh, seems to me that connoting that this means abusive, wrong, ect is still going on.


"Oh, it's you...


78. On 2005-05-18, Ninja Hunter J said:

I don't think anyone's even called anyone else a Nazi yet! Sweet!

Meg, I wasn't quite sure what to do with 8 when we were out with the boffers, and I'm glad to hear that you approved (not that I knew you were watching). My thoughts went like this:

Playing hit-the-sword means that you've got this tool for competition, and you're trying to use it to tell a story about competition, but you don't get to resolve any of the story conflicts using it; you're carrying it around like a prop, and if you get really angry, you hit your brother in the face with it (not that "you" have the aim to succeed, fortunately). So what I was doing was giving him a way to have the stakes be there ("if you hit my legs, you killed the ogre!") but not have it be actually dangerous ("if you hit me in the eye, you killed the ogre!"). It also means, and I think this is significant, that there's a level of violence that shows him what his body can do.

I was telling V this story the other day: when I was a teenager, we played with pretty serious boffer weapons - rattan wrapped in pipe insulation. We had to replace the insulation after every few days of fighting. They were about as heavy as steel and balanced pretty well. We played more or less to submission, which was usually one good hit. I got pretty good at it and found myself hurting my friends, which was mostly OK and on one or two occasions, not, when I found myself actually in a fight. I found some people at Hampshire to play with and we played at about the same speed with shinai (busted knuckles abounded!). I decided that I had to stop when a bunch of my fellow geeks invited me to play and I realized that a) they didn't have any attack or defense, never mind strategy or sense of what hurt and what wounded; they just did stuff that looked like swordplay and b) it took me too long to realize that's the game they were playing and I was hitting them too hard (well, hitting them at all, really).

So I stopped because I couldn't figure out how to play the game they were playing. I'd rather see 8 holding back from a fight because someone might get hurt, than getting into a fight and not knowing that he, or someone else, could.


79. On 2005-05-18, Ben Lehman said:

Okay, Jason, color me puzzled, because we don't seem to be looking things up at the same

When I went to the website (and just checked it again, still there, it listed "Physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing" as definition #1.

Here is the URL:

That's just strange.


80. On 2005-05-18, Valamir said:

Ben, scroll down.

The first entry is from American Heritage.

Below that it gives entries from other sources.  In this case Princeton U, which is the same source I quoted in my reply in your blog.


81. On 2005-05-18, Ninja Hunter J said:

I hate to say it, but American Heritage is teh suxx. Nonetheless, Jason, you must admit that the AH definition is easily understandable and maps fairly well to the experience folks have. By ignoring it you're making it jargon, which requires that you define all your terms.


82. On 2005-05-18, Ed H said:

Valamir wrote:

"Throughout most of human history you couldn't BE assertive unless you were also willing to commit violence to back your assertions up. As civilization progressed that relationship didn't change, it just became more common to inflict violence by proxy.

The only reason any free citizen has the ability to assert their own opinion in a public forum is because ultimately...that ability is backed by the threat of violence. To turn your back on that fact and pretend that its not true and that you get through life entirely without violence is the height of naivety, and rather insulting to the people whose job it is to use violence to give you that freedom.

Everytime you express an opinion without being stopped, you can do so because of the underlying threat of violence towards whoever would try to stop you.

Violence constructively applied is the foundation of all civilization. Its what makes civilization possible."

That's a set of beliefs I don't happen to share, an analysis of society and history that I do not find at all convincing.

I'm willing to differ on that issue, but I hope it's not true that I can't disagree with these things without "insulting" soldiers.  If it is true, that's a pity, because I'd rather not insult them.  But if holding the beliefs that I have honestly reached at this point in my life insults them, there is little I can do about that.  I certainly won't deny things I think are true to avoid insulting people.

I'd also prefer to be treated with more respect than to be told that if I disagree it is because I "turn my back on that fact and pretend it is not true" which is "the height of naivety."


83. On 2005-05-18, John Harper said:

Ralph, your long post above flies so much in the face of what I believe in, I hardly know where to start. It's also one of the most rude posts I've read online in a long time. Anyone would be hard pressed to be more insulting to other viewpoints than you are in that post. I mean... holy crap... I can hardly believe what I'm reading.

I'm going to respond to you in email.


84. On 2005-05-18, JasonL said:

Ninja & Ben:

Now that is weird.  From my work furnished wintel plug-n-pray machine, at the site, I DON'T get the AH definition.

When I originally went out to search - it was in response to Ben's post.  I really didn't know what the definition was, so I wanted to see for myself.

Given the AH definition, then we're in agreement that if violence="abusive use of force" rather than the less pejorative meaning from the Princeton definition, I see your confusion.

I wasn't trying to enter the realm of jargon - I was trying to say that we should functionalize our definitions of violence before continuing.

And yeah, it's good that nobody's been called a Nazi yet.


"Oh, it's you...


85. On 2005-05-18, Valamir said:

Hey Ed, sure you're allowed to disagree, that's what discussion is about.

But if you've honestly reached a view at this point in your life that suggests that the freedoms you enjoy were not earned with violence.  And if you honestly think you could continue to enjoy those freedoms in the future if it weren't for people being willing to commit violence on your behalf...please share because that seems rather fantastical to me.

The way I see it, every personal freedom we enjoy...including the freedom to have this discussion...was earned for us at the point of a gun by people willing to pull the trigger.

The only reason we continue to enjoy these freedoms is because there continues to be people out there whose job includes being willing to shoot and kill people who would seek to take those freedoms away.  I really don't see any room to conclude anything different.  I mean, how long do you think you'd hold on to the TV and stereo in your house and the car in your driveway if it wasn't for the threat of violence that the police bring to bear on would be perpetrators?

And it is a threat of violence that the law ultimately represents.  Make no mistake.  Every law in this country, indeed in every country I can think of, is ultimately backed by the threat of violence (some more vigorously than others).  Break a law - get arrested.  Resist arrest - get shot (or clubbed, or maced, or gassed, or tazered, or take your pick).  Its a pretty basic progression.

So my position is quite simply, every benefit you enjoy from laws that protect you from the depredations of others directly represents the threat of violence inherent in law.

Civilization is built on law.  Law functions only to the extent it can be enforced.  The ultimate form of enforcement involves the willingness to use violence.

Therefor:  Civilization exists on a foundation of constructively applied violence.

I can't think of any lasting sizeable civilization in the history of the world (west or east) for which that relationship does not hold.

Now all of that is tangental to Chris's topic (which is much more personal in nature).  I bring it up only to demonstrate that violence is NOT automatically the bad thing some are suggesting it is, simply because it involves intentionally hurting other people.


86. On 2005-05-18, xenopulse said:

Law functions only to the extent it can be enforced.

Well, I had a long refuting answer for this, but maybe we can do it in a different forum, since Vincent politely implied that we've argued quite enough on his blog :)

Anyone can feel free to email me or make an email list or whatever (it's xenopulse at the yahoo and the com). Seeing that I have my MA in poli sci, I'm more than happy to discuss this stuff =)

- Christian


87. On 2005-05-18, the GreyOrm said:

Ralph, you state "That it has become (in some circles) so horrifically unacceptable is a curious blip of modern culture." And yet this fundamental premise of your argument is completely false.

I dare say that every single important spiritual and religious leader in our collective human history has proclaimed the unacceptable nature of violence. From Lao Tzu in the Tao, to Bhudda, to Christ, to Gerald Gardner and modern Wicca, violence has been decried throughout human history. The view of violence as a bad thing is not some "curious blip of modern culture," but a fundamental and historical human viewpoint.

Second, your entire argument rests on one presumption: because it is, it is ok. Let me represent your argument for you: there have always been slaves throughout human history, our greatest civilizations (including America) were built on the back of slave labor, and our greatest cultures saw slavery as good and acceptable. Therefore if you are opposed to slavery you are a fool. Slavery is just a tool, after all, and its how you treat the slaves that really matters. That slavery is automatically seen as a bad thing is just a curious blip of modern culture.

Or, "as long as I get what I want, and what I want is good, it is ok." Sounds to me curiously like an argument that the ends justify the means. That because I get freedom and safety from violence, violence is a good and acceptable way to get it.

Ultimately, since there is a better way, and violence has been decried throughout history by the wisest of us, I can't see anything in your argument that is a basis for violence being a "good" thing.


88. On 2005-05-18, John Harper said:

Amen, brother GreyOrm. Well said.


89. On 2005-05-18, Valamir said:

GreyOrm wrote:  "Let me represent your argument for you:"

No, I don't let you do any such thing.  If you want to know my thoughts on slavery you ask, and if its appropriate...which its most certainly not for this thread...I'll answer.  Don't ever again "represent" my position about anything.  You don't have that right.

John, frankly I'm rather astonished at you.  Not five posts up you chastise me for being rude, and now you "amen" this kind of behavior.  I'll put that down to an excess of enthusiasm on your part because otherwise it would sure look to me like you don't find rudeness to be a problem when you agree with it.

I'm now done with this thread.  Christian, I find your last comments intriguing.  Feel free to email me if you'd like to discuss that notion further.

To the rest of you.  Thanks very much for what had been until now a very intelligent conversation about a difficult subject.  I'm bowing out.


90. On 2005-05-18, John Harper said:

I don't see GreyOrm calling your ideas "naive", "unreasonable", "obsessive", or "fantastical" or that "there's no room to conclude anything different" than his POV. All of which you did, which I consider to be rude in this context. Maybe you don't see rudeness when you're doing it. See? I can play that game too.

GreyOrm was pointing out the fallacy of your post, by using an analogy (slavery). The fallacy is called coincidental correlation, by the way. You can learn more here:

That's a cute dig at the end, too. "... until now a very intelligent conversation." Nice one.


91. On 2005-05-18, Vincent said:

...Yeah, that's probably enough. Nobody's fault, blood is up, time to take it private.


92. On 2005-05-19, Ninja Hunter J said:



93. On 2005-05-23, contracycle said:

This conversation has failed to mention an important fact I believe is relevant to the question - the fact that we are hunting animals.  This means we are equipped for killing as a part of the normal course of evolution - men and women both.

The application of violence to other humans, rather than antelope, is a slightly different issue.  This is IMO why it is meaningless to say "violence is wrong" - in so doing you are denying your own nature.  But one can say, "violence in the human context is a problem to be solved" and that would make sense.


94. On 2006-01-18, anon. said:

This website is F***in' retarded because Lance Armstrong is not at all even the slightest bit violent. So u people are a big bunch of assholes


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