It struck me very much as a reaction not to violence- there was nothing in the essay to indicate that the author had ever had any direct contact with what I would consider violence or evil- but as a reaction to the concept of violence. A reaction to thoughts about violence. A logical response to quiet the fears through insight. Another reaction to fear as opposed to danger.
The other side of the argument- the violence groupies and virtual tough guys and 'ultimate deadly street fighting systems'- are just as toxic, just as based on imagination.
For both sides it is about fear and control- if you fear violence, you can try to convince everyone it is a Bad Idea(tm) and they will all move to the light and you will be safe... or you can decide to become, or imagine yourself to be, a master of violence yourself. Then you control the thing you are afraid of.
It doesn't work like that. Violence between humans exists because it works. It has been reliably used to get money for drugs for generations. Ending slavery (relatively, the institution still exists) was a bloody business. When someone is breaking into your house with intent to rape and kill and you have retreated to the last room in the basement, violence (countervailing force, to be PC) is the only thing that will solve that problem.
Violence works. The rarer it is in a society, the more powerful it becomes because fewer people are prepared to do what it takes to prevent it. Bullies get the reward of control. Protests, even when called 'peace protests' are intimidation, and look at that one carefully. Little weasels wrecking a downtown area have not swayed a single person to their point of view so the reward comes from elsewhere and that reward is likely the satisfaction of scaring other people, feeling powerful.
Once a human gets used to using violence as a tool, once they learn how easy and safe it can be* the only thing that will stop them are fear or force. Physically stopping them (force) or the clear ability to stop them (fear).
Back to these two points of view- the violence groupies and the dark-side pacifists. You don't see a lot of either of these points of view in professionals.** They rarely say "Violence never solved anything" because most have clearly, personally, solved stuff with violence. Sometimes the problem solved was their own survival, which is kind of hard to devalue. They do (often) wonder if the problems they are solving will stay solved; if the plans were really thought out; or if the perceived problem was worth the real cost.
The trope that 'you will turn evil if you are exposed to enough violence' doesn't play very well. I have heard it from a few professionals- mostly from people who felt themselves drifting that way and recovered- but I don't actually see a lot of it. Most of the people who got in trouble over their uses of force were asses long before they ever put on a badge. There's also a common comparator here that doesn't work very well. You can't use cops and soldiers interchangeably on this one. Soldiers use force on other soldiers- possibly an eighteen-year-old kid who doesn't want to be there and doesn't even understand the issues that led to war. Soldiers wind up killing people very much like themselves and most recognize that. That's hard, and I suspect far more likely to damage the psyche than an officer using force on someone who has already done an act that clearly separates the threat from the rest of society.
There is a cost to using force and professionals realize that- you can't do it much without facing your own mortality (do you drink that hard truth away?) You learn that luck can screw up your best tactics (do you go the lop route and just always try to be a little slow to respond?) You will almost certainly find that the more comfortable you are with violence the less other people treat you like a person (do you go hermit, or just hang with others who 'get it?')
Those three things are powerful in another way, too. Understanding mortality is enlightenment, if you can handle it. The ability to risk your life in full awareness of the power of luck is a greater faith than any religion can simulate. And feeling isolated is exactly the same thing as feeling special...and any of these can be deep and liberating or just egotism.
Same from the other side, the violence groupies, what Jim Raistrick calls the 'warries'. They want control and domination and freedom from fear. Artificial or vicarious, it doesn't matter. They love the feeling of victory, the accolades, the glory and dream of saving the willing maiden.
Just like the other side, there are similar things with pros, but not these things and not to this extent. Victory is cool primarily because losing sucks, even if you live. Winning and losing both hurt. Accolades? You might get some from your coworkers. Your supervisors will just want reports and might even give dire warnings. Medals go to the people who get stuff written about them. And willing maiden? More likely a toothless, smelly, meth addict.
But there is stuff here that the pros get. Not dying is a big payoff. The respect of your peers is harder to earn and worth more than a medal from a bureaucrat. And the glory. It's not glorious. But sometimes on that very edge for a few seconds everything is real and you are exactly what you are and everything, mind, body and spirit come together in a perfect thinking animal. There is no feeling like it.
It can be addicting. It can put your trained values ("Violence is the last result of the ignorant.") in conflict with what you experience (Shooting at a distance is the only way to stop a vest bomber). It can purify your values, and that can enrich your life while simultaneously severing your connections with others. And you might or might not care.
Both of the points of view, the toxic pacifist and the warries, are slightly twisted, but they've touched on some old truths. Just misunderstood them. In the end, the extremes come together in a sort of shared fantasy, a skewed view of the issue that they fear, like the things a child imagines in the dark.
*A former bad guy who read an early version of "Meditations on Violence" said that I gave too much hope- he boasted that no one had ever gotten out of one of his predatory assaults.
** Maybe we should talk about professionals some day, because there are many different kinds and levels. A Vietnam draftee with intense experience is clearly a professional, but is very different than a voluntary enlistee who re-ups through multiple combat tours. Cops are different than soldiers, COs different than road officers, lops and posers very different from meat-eaters. They all process similar experience differently.