The Insanity of the Good Guys

Recently, on my Facebook page, I posted the following link: http://fortressamerica.gawker.com/gun-nuts-simulate-paris-shooting-get-shot-by-simulated-1679735859

My initial consideration was the fact that, even without the element of surprise (since participants knew exactly what was happening in this experiment), the "good guy" could not succeed in totally neutralizing the threat. Twelve out of twelve times, the "bad guys" shot the "good guys" (and the "good guys" only managed to take out one of the two shooters twice). As such, the "bad guys" were still able to employ their nefarious schemes in every attempt.

However, to be fair, each simulated terrorist was also fully aware that someone in the shop was armed. Even if he/she did not know specifically who the "good guy" would be, there would still be a heightened awareness to target whomever stood out as the hero. In order for an experiment such as this to work without the influence of those variables, the shooter would have to go in either assuming no one else was armed or at least uncertain if anyone had a weapon. And, of course, the "good guy" would have to be caught off-guard (I know some people will argue that certain gun-toting citizens would never really be caught off-guard because they would always be in a state of heightened alertness, yada, yada, yada--but let's be realistic: no one can remain vigilant 24/7 and remain sane; for all intents and purposes, even well-armed, well-trained citizens would be too wrapped up in their own lives to be on-the-ready).

But the absent piece in discussions and exercises like this is that--unless we intentionally act otherwise--violence begets more violence. So, if we choose to let some people walk around with guns as a way of deterring terrorists, the terrorists will just mobilize more adroitly or get their hands on bigger guns. . . then if we make sure that every man, woman, and child has a weapon, the terrorists will just resort to suicide bombs. . . and if we set up blockades with soldiers and bomb-sniffing dogs, the terrorists will drive up with bazookas. . . and on, and on, and on it will go, ad infinitum.

In the end, I remain unconvinced that more guns on the streets and in our homes will increase civility. To anyone who espouses the idea that armed citizens will cause those with evil intent to think twice about their malevolent plans, I can only say, "You're right! They will think twice. . . and come up with a way to outmaneuver, outwit, or outgun the 'good guys.'" This is especially true of terrorists who cannot be deterred by escalating violence because they believe that their cause is just, that they have nothing to lose, and that they have everything to gain in either a personal, heavenly reward or--at least--in a perceived advance for their cause.

In a world where everyone tries to overcome the insanely violent tactics of others, we all end up as victims of violent insanity. No one wins and no one is truly safe.

The Truth about Abuse

I don't usually bother commenting on celebrity stories, because I find them boring and insipid. But I've just seen 12--TWELVE!--articles pop up about how Ray and Janay Rice kissed and nuzzled one another shortly after he assaulted her. Along with these articles are numerous posts by people saying that this new video "puts things in perspective" or that they wish it had been publicized along with the previously shared videos so the public would have seen a "more balanced report" of the night in question.

Once more, I am not surprised by the depth and breadth of stupidity within humanity. But it infuriates me to see it so shamelessly displayed.

Folks, the psychological framework of an abusive relationship is complex. It is not unusual to witness victims expressing affection for their abusers. In fact, sometimes the most ardent and committed defense of perpetrators are mounted by the very people they victimize. Such phenomena do not "balance" matters or put things "in perspective." They complicate the situation and make the story of abuse that much more tragic.

So, for everyone out there who isn't clear on these concepts, here are a few points to ponder. Take notes, if necessary.

1. Affection between the offender and sufferer does not mean that the mistreatment and its effects are diminished. Abuse is abuse and absolutely nothing changes that fact.

2. Abuse--no matter what its "context" might be--is always wrong. If you're scratching your head and questioning whether I'm casting too broad a blanket in saying that it's "always" wrong, let me make the point unequivocal: Abuse is never, never acceptable and it is always, always wrong.

3. No matter what sort of excuses a victim makes for the brute (He's just stressed from work. . . She hasn't always been that way. . . You don't know how he really is. . . Things will calm down once [fill in the blank]), the abuse is real and repugnant.

4. Abusers are frequently "sorry" for their behaviour, and sincere in their promises to be better. But many reputable psychological studies have shown that empathy, regret and similar emotions--in and of themselves--do not necessarily bring about meaningful change. Those who assault were typically victimized at an earlier age, and the harm they cause is the perpetuation of a cycle that extends back through the generations. And you can bet your bottom dollar that every one of the ancestral culprits was full of regrets and promises. This is not to say that someone along the line can't turn things around. But it takes more than troubled hearts to do so.

5. Contrary to logic, many victims choose to remain where they are (refer to my comment above about the complexity of such relationships). This doesn't excuse the wrong done to them. It doesn't mean the victims are responsible for what they endure or that they deserve what they get for "putting themselves in harm's way." But it does mean that those who are outside of the relationship should keep trying to help them escape the cycle of violence. . . even if it means trying again, and again, and again. . . even if it means that the victim fights and sabotages the efforts. Breaking through the vines of psychology and emotion is exceptionally difficult, however lives are on the line and that should be the main focus of those who yearn to help.

6. Abusers often blame their victims for the cruelty. "She made me angry" or "He doesn't listen" are just a couple examples of such excuses. But no one can "cause" another person to act with violence. The abuser, and the abuser alone, bears all culpability.

So, with all these things in mind, let's go back to the relationship between Ray and Janay Rice. It is abusive, plain and simple. I don't care how much she defends him. I don't care what sort of affectionate words or actions they display at other times. I don't even care if proof came forward to establish that he never raised a hand to her before that moment. He took his anger out on her physically and that is never, never, never acceptable.

Of course, there are other types of abuse: emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc. Many of these are difficult to detect because they don't necessarily leave physical bruises, though abusive relationships often incorporate more than one "type." Suffice it to say that all forms are equally wrong and have no business in being tolerated or excused.

For more information on abuse issues, try one of these links. I do not specifically endorse any one of them specifically as being better than the others, I offer them simply for people to consult and consider:

www.evefoundation.org

http://www.ncadv.org

http://www.vawnet.org