Monday, July 13, 2015

July 4 DC Metro Stabbing: Four Things to Consider

This is an absolutely horrific story from start to finish. The only way it could be worse is if more people had been murdered.

If we're going to be grown-ups, we need to confront stories like this, analyze them, and draw reasonable conclusions. As always, it's horrible when things like this happen, but it's worse if we don't learn anything from it.

There are a number of issues that need to be unpacked before we can slot this into its proper context.  
  • He's Got a Knife: The weapon Spires used was a "small, black folding knife." Knives are very difficult weapons to deal with in a self-defense context. It doesn't take a lot of muscle to power a knife: one touch and you've been cut. Knife wounds are particularly horrific. When I worked in the self-defense industry, just about every person I knew who taught personal defense said that they'd rather go up against a person with a gun than a knife any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Guns miss. They jam. They run out of ammo.  Knives don't have those problems. If you've ever seen surveillance footage of knife attacks, you'll learn how fast a knife can do life-threatening damage to an opponent. Even if you don't bleed to death when cut, the aftermath of a knife attack can be permanent: a colostomy, nerve damage, disfigurement. Across the board, it's all bad.  
  • Batman Fantasies?: Once you've read a story like this there's a temptation to think, "Well, if I was there, I would've done something. I would've tackled the guy." Good. You need to think this way. Visualization is immensely helpful to success. If you take the opposite view, "Oh, if I was there, I would've cowered like the rest," or the ever-popular wishy-washy, "Well, I don't know what I would've done in that situation," then you're setting your default position to coward. You're virtually guaranteeing victimhood. Don't do that. General James Mattis of the USMC famously said, "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet." When you're out in public, that's a far better thing to internalize than, "What I don't wish is that I had somehow tried to attack the assailant. I am a little bit larger than he was, but I would not have won."
  • I've Got a Family: A common explanation used to excuse not getting involved is, "I've got a family." Kevin Joseph Sutherland had family who loved him. I've got a family. So why should I put myself at risk, potentially make my wife a widow and my child fatherless on behalf of someone I've never even met? Because to not do so when circumstances call upon you is far, far worse. One vital part of living in a society worth maintaining is doing the moral thing despite the cost, especially when lives are at stake. Spires has already forfeited his right to be a member of polite society; he's a blight on civilization itself. The price of DC metro trains and internet and Game of Thrones On Demand and the right to free speech and Pizza Hut Limited Edition Hot Dog Bites Pizza is sometimes paid in blood, and if you've decided that your blood is too precious to be spilled above all others, then you're not pulling your weight. Pediatric brain surgeon? Millionaire philanthropist? Schoolteacher? It doesn't matter. Answer the call or get out. How can you look at yourself in the mirror afterward if you don't? Civilization occasionally demands us to act in an uncivilized manner to protect itself. You don't get to opt out of the tough stuff because you've got a family.
  • What Second Amendment?: Part of what contributed to the mass cowardice in this situation was that nobody on that train was armed. When you're unarmed, you're putting yourself at the mercy of vermin like Spires. Places that deliberately disarm their citizens like Washington D.C. have an absolute responsibility to protect their citizens. The DC Metro police utterly failed in this case, and Sutherland's death is as much on their hands as it is the sheep who watched him die.  
It's fascinating to read the comments on the Reddit thread and see just how many people have normalized victimhood. The comments congratulating the eyewitness on his consoling the dying man are disgusting when you consider that Sutherland need not have died at all. Had the other riders on the train accepted their responsibilities as American citizens, the outcome may have been different.

Yes, knives are unbelievably scary. What's scarier is being stabbed to death by a drug-addled monster in full view of able-bodied but passive citizens who will only step forward when the monster has fled. Don't hold my fucking hand. Grow a backbone, carry a weapon, and fight alongside me.

No comments: