Thursday, March 14, 2013

Legal Self Defense

Charles over at Ishindo had some comments about the Monkey Dance, martial arts, and self-defense.
I've read some other criticism, mostly reactions to this post.  I don't worry about the criticism.  Everything seemed to be arguing against what they imagine I teach, not what I actually teach.

But Charles is a good guy, and a smart one.  So this seems to be a good time to talk about what I actually do teach.  Not the SD law stuff.  Most of that is in "Facing Violence".  The philosophy and concepts.

I don't teach Force Law as a decision making skill.  For two reasons.  In most ugly situations things are going to be coming thick and fast and you won't have time to make conscious decisions.  The idea that every force decision is weighed as if a reasonable person had time to think is something of a legal fiction.

The second reason is that in most cases self-defense law is intuitively obvious.  A lot of laws are just codifications of local ideas of common sense.  If you were raised in this culture and you aren't a pathological asshole, you will make good self-defense decisions.

Does anybody here want to use force if they don't absolutely have to?  Anyone want to kill another human being if there is any other option?  Anyone want to hurt someone more than they absolutely have to?  It's really that simple.
There are gray areas.  Not as many as you think.  Most cases of real self-defense are pretty clear cut.  If you, with no criminal record and ties to the community, prevail over an intruder in your home... not hard to argue.  Even outside the home, local cops tend to know the bad guys.

The murky ones tend to fall into a category called AvANHI, or Asshole versus Asshole, No Humans Involved.  It's harsh and politically incorrect, but when you have a drug dealing piece of shit killing a pimping piece of shit over a business deal gone bad, or an alcohol fueled domestic where both parties stabbed each's hard to tell what is self defense and what is simple assholery.

And there are some jurisdictions where I get the sense that anything you do with a gun will be prosecuted.  Politics does come into this.

And there are a few ways that citizens (which is cop slang for normal, good people) can screw up.  One is the monkey dance.  People are very good at self-deception and will often convince themselves that something they participated in fully was self-defense.  Hence, "He started it" is a gradeschool defense, not a legal defense.

The second is when it is over and there is a compulsion to give the bad guy a few more hits to teach a lesson.
So I teach it as an articulation class.  It covers all of the elements of a decision making class (and that's a good way to find if the students glitch).  The focus is different.  A drill for analyzing (and thus articulating) your subconscious decision making processes.  The elements of a self-defense claim.  How not to talk to the arresting officers without pissing them off.  How to find a good attorney quickly. Articulation wars.

It's got to be combined with violence dynamics.  You need to understand the significance of what you are seeing and be able to explain that to a jury who may have never met a bad guy.  And this is one of the secret minor advantages: For some people if they can explain it to a jury, or feel they can, they can explain it to themselves and that might give them permission to act.

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