Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Bully's Choice Threat

This Easter's rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips by Navy SEALs prompted a response from the pirates -- "Now we are really mad and are going to have to hurt you."

I'm paraphrasing here, but the immediate response was a threat of escalated violence against us for having dared to break up the pirates' commercial venture.

It struck me as the same kind of threat you hear from the bad guy that you just took down -- "you'd better let me up or I'll kick your a**".

Obviously, you don't let him back up. And when you finally hand him off to local law enforcement personnel or put yourself in a position to be able to escape without being harmed, you don't let your guard down.

Yes, there is a good chance that the bad guy will retaliate. That is a very real consequense of defending yourself. There are some gangs that feel they can never endure an insult without retaliation.

But there is also a good chance that you won't face any real retaliation either. In my experience, the retaliation I've endured was never the face-to-face kind. It involved either implied threats from a distance that they would "get" me or it involved minor vandalism to my house.

Discussions with others that have gone through this seems to indicate that the bad guy's interest in retaliating falls off in direct proportion to the certainty that you will defend yourself. In other words, if its clear that you will stand up to them, the situation tends to diminish.

It doesn't mean they won't posture or even throw the odd rock through your window. Stay vigilant and don't let your guard down. Get help from the local authorities. Let your neighbors know what's going on. Find out who the bad guys are.

If it's not easy to intimidate you and their antics can potentially cost them more than the fun they get from hassling you, then they tend to take their aggression somewhere else.

Sounds a bit like what our fathers told us about standing up to the school yard bully.

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