Friday, March 18, 2011

Fighting vs. Self-Defense: Casey Heynes

By now people have probably seen the video of Casey Heynes being 'bullied' and attacked by a smaller student. If not, here it is:!5781702/the-ultimate-anti+bullying-psa-kid-fights-back-with-devastating-body-slam

After you get done laughing and saying, "Atta boy!" it's time to look at this from a mature and rational standpoint.

As of this writing, the family of the 'smaller' child is -- predictably -- making noise about suing everyone and everything for the excessive use of force Casey used on his attacker (their precious little darling).

Upon hearing this, a great many people in the so-called 'self-defense world' are rallying and ranting about the evil, injustice and how Casey has the 'right to defend himself' yada, yada, yada.

While it's tempting to say that one side is being irrational, the fact is both sides are defending their sacred cows. As is often the case of situations like this, emotions run high, and all kinds of folks want to hijack the issue for their own agenda, profit and to 'prove' they are right. (And prove that the other people are stupid, selfish, petty and incompetent, but that's just an extra bennie.) In short, this issue becomes more grist for the agenda mill.

When asked what I thought of this clip, I queried, "On which level?"


Why can't I join the rest of the mob being outraged at some aspect of this situation?

Because outraged people are stupid people. And mostly what they are doing are reconfirming their emotional monkey brain biases and desires for simplistic, convenient answers. (Who cares if it works or not? It's simple and convenient for us to believe this!)

Bad news, I don't complicate things. They do that by themselves. In fact, they come that way. Deal with it. But know, it's us wanting simplistic and easy answers that make us uncomfortable with complexity. That attitude can and does make it hard for us to deal with complex issues.

Violence to many people is an 'OH MAH GAWD! FREAK! FREAK!' issue. To me violence is like sex, when you're young, inexperienced, emotionally and hormonally driven, it's this huge, overwhelming and driving issue. That's less true the more experienced you are.

I remember the first time. I remember the last time. But all the times in between, I'm a little hazy about. As for all those other times, you only remember if it was really good or really bad. What's more, as you grow and mature, you put it in the bigger context of life.

I'm like that with violence, too. So when I see this video, I can see past my emotions and can discuss the resulting situation in a different light.

Before we discuss this issue, we have to address an elephant in the room. There are people in this world who believe that physical violence is NEVER acceptable. I would like to acknowledge this position, thank them for their opinion, and, now that we all know it, they can have a nice, big cup of STFU.

It's time for other people to express their position on the subject. I have to say this because Winston Churchill once said, "A fanatic is one who won't change his mind or the subject." I would like to add to this, "Or let anyone else present a differing point of view."

This is important because their constant yammering is distracting us from a very important truth. That is: Most people understand that sometimes physical force is necessary.

They may not like it. They may want someone else to do it for them. They think other people resort to it way too quickly, etc., etc. But underlying their preferred strategies is the understanding that sometimes you just have to use force.

The topic of hot debate is when to use it and when not to. As well it should be.

Violence is part of the human condition and is wired into our consciousnesses. It happens, deal with it. We need to hash it out among ourselves when we feel violence is appropriate -- with the firm understanding that most often, it's either inappropriate or there really is a better way to handle it.

It is into the discussion and acceptance of the reality that violence happens that the fanatics come swooping in. They come armed with their Johnny-One-Note war cry of NEVER! Add the wailing and gnashing of teeth about victims, abuse, trauma and horror, and you can't hear yourself think, much less listen to what anyone else has to say.

Try to have a conversation about working out when it is appropriate to use force with these NEVER folks around. You can't. Make a point, offer a compromise, sometimes even open your mouth or -- and God help you if you do -- point out an inconvenient fact, they'll go off on you. They're constantly pressing their extreme point of view trying to drown out everyone else.

The problem is emotions are contagious. When you get some barking moonbats, who's slobbering all over him or herself about how violence is NEVER acceptable, they're going to trigger someone else, who starts bellowing about the "right to defend oneself!" While that might sound more reasonable, the truth is, it's just as extreme as the other.

Namely because -- while there are all kinds of reasons why violence happens and how it happens -- most violence is not, I repeat NOT, self-defense. But if you call everything 'self-defense,' you have something you can use to combat the extremism of the NEVER crowd.

In the meantime, any rational discourse goes out the window. This results in most people just shaking their heads and moving away without ever addressing the issue. So maybe both camps need to have a cup of STFU because the adults are talking here.

We need to shake our heads clear of any extremist point of view and try to assess this situation from informed, mature and rational positions. A position that acknowledges the wisdom of Tom Robbins: Violence stinks no matter which side of it you're on. But now and then, there's nothing left to do but hit the other person over the head with a frying pan.

The question about this situation is: "Was it frying pan time?"

So here we are with two kids in a situation. Obviously, the small kid is the aggressor. Except, what I want you to pay close attention to are the two girls in the background. Cherche la femme. Casey is talking to the girls when the little banty rooster comes up and gets in his face.

Now it doesn't take too much imagination to suppose that Lil' Rooster is strutting his stuff to impress the chicks. (If you find that statement sexist and offensive, I'll just point to millions of years of carbonated hormones and human sexual behavior -- when you're young that's where it's at.)

What's also important, however, is, while Lil' Rooster is so busy acting out, what really happens with the young ladies. They leave. Strike three for impressing the girls by being a hyper aggressive jerk.

But you know what's most interesting? Watch 'when' they leave. Lil Rooster as he's hopping around, having punched Casey, does a quick over the shoulder check to see 'how he's doing' with the girls. That's when they walk away from the 'show.' It has become obvious that it is a show and display by Lil Rooster.

What else is obvious about Lil Rooster is, while he's willing to assault Casey, he isn't there to hurt him. I tell you this because if you really mean to injure or kill someone one, you have to close in hard and fast with knives or empty hand and set up conditions to inflict grave bodily harm. (This whether it is social or asocial violence: )

Lil' Rooster's dancing around strongly puts this issue into the social violence category.

My comment about 'closing' should not be construed to mean that Casey was closing to injure Lil Rooster. Social violence (especially 'fights') often result in two people charging at each other like trains on the same tracks. When that happens, fighters collide. If you still want to ascribe that motive to Casey, then we also ascribe the same motive to Lil' Rooster when he charged up and slugged Casey earlier in the video. Hmmm, that's a can of worms we don't want to open.

But that brings up something that has been lost. First, there is a difference between pain and injury. Most people don't consciously know this. More than that, they mistake pain for injury. By it's nature, social violence is not designed to injure the other person. Oh sure, bumps, bruises and bloody noses, but those are not life threatening.

As a side point, the patterns of social violence are amazingly consistent with our design and reactions. In short, the human body is designed to take impact from the front, and that is coincidentally how we attack in most social violence.

There's also another important thing. The guy who's screaming in pain? Odds are he's not severely injured. You don't scream much when you've got a bullet in your brain or had a knife stuck in your diaphragm.

Humans, when seriously injured, tend to quietly curl up around the injury. It's arguable that this is to protect the injured part and not attract predators who would finish the job.

Keep this in mind next time you hear someone screaming bloody murder about the pain they are in when they are tazered or being held down by the police. People, not knowing pain vs. injury, often judge use of force by how much noise the person is making, instead of the results.

With that in mind, also look at what Lil Rooster does after he's slammed -- including trying to make a move to chase Casey and continue the altercation. That means he's still on the fight. Is there a chance that things are fractured? Yes. But if things were shattered, Lil Rooster wouldn't have been able to get up.

If you watch the video, after Lil' Rooster's first punch, it appears Casey is trying to talk to him. His body language does not indicate aggressive or insulting words. This is important because the wrong word choice and behaviors can escalate a situation that could have been talked down.

Lil' Rooster is on one already, and it probably wouldn't have mattered what Casey said. Lil' Rooster was there to make a show of it and hand out a beating. Yep, that's how it was going to work in his little, adrenaline-pumped, monkey-brained mind.

I counted five punches that Lil Rooster threw. Add that there were three 'grabs' to hold Casey. (The last one was aimed at Casey's head to create a head lock, and it failed.) Grabs are common when you want to hold someone in position while you hit him. There were two fakes (aborted attacks). Casey blocked one attack successfully, and some others looked like they ran into his counters.

Here's the issue on that, however. It looked like both kids had some kind of training. Lil' Rooster was doing the boxer's bounce, and Casey's left hand seemed pretty comfortable in the position for a slap block. You don't usually find that position so quickly and easily without someone showing you something.

So let's get onto the crash and smash. It is here that those who are wailing and gnashing their teeth are going to claim Casey used too much force.

Reality break #1: Fighting is dangerous. Even though social violence is the best way to limit injury, it still happens.

Subclause: The person getting injured could be you. If you can't accept that, don't step up.

Reality break #2: If you start a fight and you lose, you are NOT the victim. You are the loser of a fight.

With those two points in mind, let's look at what happened when Casey decided enough is enough. And, yes, children, that is a better descriptor than 'defending himself.' Sorry, self-defense 'advocates.' He'd taken enough punches and that was that. What we have here is technically known as a 'fight.'

Understanding this is important because Lil' Rooster isn't trying to escape. First, he tries to throw his arm around Casey's head for the headlock. Then he gets pushed and knocked off balance.

That's what happens when a larger person slams into you, and you don't have proper structure and balance to resist. It's part of that whole social violence safety check thing. The impact turns into a push. And when we try to resist, we're plowed along.

That's important because there's a big difference between being knocked over when we're not resisting and being 'wallered' around when we're trying to resist a force.

If Lil' Rooster had been knocked over or trying to flee, he would have immediately gotten distance. I'm talking his feet running to keep up with the rest of his body way over yonder. The fact that he was trying to push back (even as he was spun) is what resulted in that funky monkey dance.

Casey lands a headlock on Lil Rooster, and it looks like Lil Rooster 'falls' into Casey. Now you can argue that it's Casey pulling Lil' Rooster off balance. But it also can be a result of Lil' Rooster trying to push back into Casey and just not having the footing. (This is why it is so important to drop the whole victim/abuser paradigm and look at this as a fight.) It's not a matter of either being entirely the case, but rather a combination of both.

Then comes the pick up and slam. Remember I mentioned earlier the issue of closing to injure? Here is one of the ways it manifests. The best way to have killed or injured the kid would have not been to throw him away, but to hang on and do a straight down pile drive.

With Lil' Rooster's legs up in the air, keep him in that position, drop straight down, crush Lil' Rooster's skull and snap his neck on the concrete. That body slam was far more WWE than it was a killing move.

And it's something that, in anger and outrage, a big guy can do to a little guy. That's why it's not smart to dance around, punching big guys. (Take note, Lil' Rooster)

Here is where Casey really shows his self-control (aside from trying to talk to Li'l Rooster after he'd punched him). AFTER the slam, the first thing that Casey did was step away. This is Social Violence 101: Knowing when to stop.

Casey is spitting nails, but he WALKS away. He buys good distance before he stops and delivers his message. Had he lacked the same self-control as Lil' Rooster, he would have proceeded to stomp and kick Lil' Rooster.

This brings us back to the subject of social violence -- which this whole thing is.

Start with the hecklers egging Lil' Rooster on. This is a huge element of the status-seeking show (and outright assault on Casey). The audience is goading Lil' Rooster.

The call "he's laughin' atcha" is especially provoking for Lil' Rooster. It's also important because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Lil' Rooster showed up with his audience, intent on impressing everyone with what he was going to do to Casey

Also pay close attention to the fact that someone knew to have a cell phone out and filming Casey BEFORE Lil' Rooster stepped into frame.

Still another point, how fast it went violent. Very few people are capable of just exploding into physical violence. Even with sufficient provocation (which there wasn't here), Lil' Rooster had to woof before he swung.

Remember cherche le femme? If this had been over Casey talking to the one of the girls who Lil' Rooster thought of as 'his,' the girls wouldn't have kept their distance. Also one of the girls would have intervened with "Stop this Lil' Rooster!" (Free hint, younglings, women don't like being fought over like property).

These issues, plus the hecklers (and also the warning of 'who's that in the background?) are serious indicators that Lil' Rooster and his friends had not only whipped themselves up into a frenzy, but came to the situation with premeditation. Sure Lil' Rooster was the puncher, but he was acting with the support of the pack.

What's interesting is, after Lil Rooster started doing the 'owie dance,' the tall kid with the backpack calmly stepped up and positioned himself between Casey and Lil' Rooster. What I'm not sure of is if the tall kid is part of Lil' Rooster Fan Club or just a passer by.

When it comes to social violence, strangers can -- and often do -- intervene (like the girl coming through the breezeway did, as well).

The fact that the tall kid didn't spend too much time looking at Lil Rooster to see if he was okay makes me kind of wonder if there was any connection between the two of them or if he was just going that way and decided to intervene. Nor was he overtly aggressive like he was stepping up for his friend. Even though he followed Casey afterward, it's questionable if it was to continue aggression or if he was just going the same way.

So here you have all these social issues going on within what is, in essence, a fight. Sorry, folks, hollerin' about self-defense and bullying. But after the first punch landing, Casey pushing Lil' Rooster and running fiercely conforms more to self-defense.

As for bullying ... well that's another subject. See, here's where the damage has been done by the physical violence is NEVER acceptable crowd. Lil' Rooster discovered an important life lesson about what happens if you push someone too hard. A lesson that might end up with him spending six weeks in a cast (but apparently that didn't bother him as he was throwing all those punches).

The problem with violence is NEVER the answer is it ignores the realities of Sir Basil Liddell Hart's quote: It is folly to imagine that the aggressive types whether individual or nation can be bought off ... since the payment of the danegeld* stimulates demand for more danegeld. But they can be curbed. Their very belief in force makes them more susceptible to the deterrent effect of a formidable opposing force.

But you'll never hear that point of view if you don't tell them, "Yes we know your opinion. Now let someone else speak for a change."(See I can be polite when I tell someone STFU.)

So here we are with a situation. What to do? What to do? Well being as I'm somewhat of a dinosaur in my thinking, I'll tell you how we handled it back in the days of ignorant, knuckle-draggers. Back then, teachers would come up to see two kids fighting. They'd wait until it became obvious that one kid or the other was losing. Then -- and only then when everyone watching knew who was boss hog -- would they step in and break it up.

Amazingly enough, they'd drag us both ... errrr... that is to say they would take the fighting children to the principal's office where BOTH parties got into equal trouble for fighting.

Take a look at this from a social standpoint. There were no victims, there were fighters. And yeah, bad news, if you fight you get winners and losers. But the monkey brain social issue is resolved for everyone to see. As is the fact there are still higher authorities; who frown on the fact you were breaking the rules by fighting. Sure fights happened, and if you were fighting, win, lose or draw, expect to get suspended. Thereby creating social order that allowed everyone to get along with their business.

Sorry to disappoint you guys who are cheering and yammering 'self-defense,' but a fight is a fight. And most fights are about establishing social status and other squishy rules that have to be handled between kids AND adults.

This especially applies to all the experts on bullying who want to jump into this subject and use it for their agendas. I hate to tell you this, folks, but Casey and Lil' Rooster did a fine job of figuring the issue out by themselves.

But me? I'm a hairy-knuckled barbarian, what do I know?


*lit: Danish gold paid to stop Viking raids. Hart mentions it because of the appeasement policies of Chamberlain's government with Hitler and the Nazis had worked out so well at preventing war.


PBR said...

I think it's pretty clear from the video that he's a small kid who was posturing to seem tough.

It's clear from this interview

that he isn't a charismatic ringleader; he's a runt who is likely to be picked on himself.

It's unfortunate that he's the bully who got dropped, because this was hardly Marty McFly knocking out Biff Tannen.

If Casey had snapped on some big athletic bully, he'd have had his clock cleaned. Casey lost it on a bully who he could beat up.

Whoever was tormenting both these kids is safely anonymous for now.

If I remember grade school, it's likely the real bully will now act like Casey's best friend and Casey will likely accept the invitation feeling like he's no longer an outcast.

The real sociopathic bullies are rarely caught because they are so intelligent and skilled at manipulation.

- comment by RogerSmith25 on

Little English said...

"try to walk away as much as you can, but if a fight breaks out, it happens"

The kid (Heynes) couldn't have said it better himself.

Anonymous said...

Organized into a pack, this is no longer fighting a bully, but fighting bullies.

Which means the self defense comes in on a gang level.

Anonymous said...

SD comes in 2 components. Strategic and tactical. There is no escape from a pack of bullies. What are you going to do, drop out of school? Disappear from existence?

They're there, so is Casey.

Thus prevention can only be furthered by deterrence, rather than solely avoidance or escape. It's a school. "Escape" is about as effective as Columbine and V Tech.

Thus setting up a deterrent factor is self defense.