I have been seeing a lot of posts about a stabbing that happened at Southeast Raleigh High School, when I watched the video what I saw is a stark reminder of the brutal reality of self-defense. Because Gen Z doesn’t miss a chance to be featured on WorldStar the incident was of course caught on camera, here it is.
— The Daily Sneed™ (@Tr00peRR) November 28, 2023
Here is a breakdown of the North Carolina High School Stabbing:
A 14-year-old, amidst a violent confrontation, found himself in a life-threatening situation. Facing a mob of older boys he was first “sucker-punched” before he attempted to flee, he was caught and thrown onto an unforgiving gym floor. Once on the floor, a mob begins raining blows down upon him, each kick and punch from his assailants amplifying the danger. In this desperate moment, where even a single blow to the head could have been lethal, he appears to resort to using a knife – not as an act of aggression in my opinion, but as a last-ditch effort to preserve his own life. Once his attackers retreat from this use of force, the boy stops his counter-attack and immediately removes himself from the situation. Looks like self-defense to me.
The Harsh Reality of Self-Defense
The 14-year-old boy survived this ordeal because he used justifiable force against his attackers, unfortunately, one of those attackers died from his stab wounds. As a result of that the 14-year-old is now being charged with Murder. And I have been seeing many comments on social media that agree with that charge. How do people come to that opinion?
This case strips away any romanticized notions of self-defense, laying bare its true nature. Self-Defense is violence to combat violence, and violence is fast, it’s chaotic, and it’s ugly, although often necessary as a response to imminent danger. So, when faced with reality our emotions will often take over and suggest that something so brutal could not possibly be justified. This reminds me of Varg Freeborn’s story. In 1994, at 19, he was convicted in a self-defense case that went terribly wrong and was sentenced to 5 years in prison for stabbing his attacker dozens of times. Following his release, he continued to fight his case and was eventually granted a full restoration of all civil rights. His book “Violence of Mind” is one of the best books on the reality of violence and self-defense I have ever read.
Violence: Misconceptions vs. Reality
The portrayal of self-defense in media and entertainment often glosses over the chaotic, unpredictable, and terrifying nature of real violent encounters. Self-defense isn’t the clean-cut hero saving lives and quickly dispatching the clearly evil villains of the movies. Violence, even in self-defense, is not a spectacle or a moment of triumph; it is a desperate act in desperate circumstances. It's a far cry from the glorified portrayals ingrained in the minds of most people today. Unlike the controlled environment of a film set, there's no script in a real-life attack, and the outcomes are uncertain and often traumatic.
The implications of a self-defense situation extend far beyond the immediate physical confrontation. Ethically, the use of violence, even in self-defense, can weigh heavily on a person’s conscience. Legally, those who defend themselves often face complex judicial proceedings, navigating a system that may not always align with the nuances of self-defense situations. Psychologically, the aftermath of using violence can lead to lasting effects like PTSD. Dr. Alexis Artwohl, in her work “Deadly Force Encounters,” highlights that “many [people] are unprepared for the moral and emotional aftermath” of using deadly force in self-defense (Artwohl & Christensen, 1997). This underlines the importance of mental and emotional preparation, not just physical training, for anyone serious about self-defense.
Self-Defense is a Last Resort
In the case of the teen at Southeast Raleigh High School, I believe his decision to use violence in self-defense was not one of choice but of sheer necessity. When surrounded by a mob, each decision is a split-second, driven by the primal instinct to survive. This scenario highlights that self-defense is often about choosing the lesser of two evils: the risk of harm to oneself or the use of force against an aggressor. It's crucial to understand that in such high-stress situations, the luxury of deliberation is absent, and actions are reactive, shaped by the immediate need to protect oneself.
Self-defense scenarios like this often present complex moral questions. The ethical dilemma arises from the need to reconcile the instinct for self-preservation with the moral weight of causing harm to another, even if it's in defense. It raises questions about the proportionality of force and the responsibility that comes with the capacity to inflict harm. This dilemma is not just philosophical but has real-world implications, impacting the psychological well-being of the defender long after the incident. It underscores the need for comprehensive self-defense training that addresses not only physical techniques but also ethical decision-making and the mental health aspects of self-defense.
Training and Preparedness
Self-defense training serves as an essential foundation, but it's crucial to recognize its limitations compared to real-world applications. Traditional training environments often lack the unpredictability and intensity of actual violent encounters. This disparity means that while training can prepare individuals physically, it may not fully equip them to handle the shock and rapid decision-making required in a true self-defense situation.
The mental and emotional aspects of self-defense are just as critical as the physical skills. In violent encounters, mental resilience and quick, clear decision-making are vital for survival and effective response. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, in his book “On Combat,” discusses the psychological effects of combat stress and the importance of mental conditioning. He asserts that mental preparedness can significantly impact how one reacts under stress, highlighting the need for training that encompasses stress management and emotional regulation techniques. This holistic approach to preparedness ensures individuals are not just physically ready but also mentally and emotionally equipped to handle the realities of self-defense.
To Wrap Things Up
As we come to the end of my ramblings on the often harsh and misunderstood realm of self-defense, several key points stand out. Firstly, the incident at Southeast Raleigh High School painfully illustrates that self-defense is not a choice made in leisure but a forced decision in the face of imminent danger. This case, like many others, exposes the stark reality of self-defense – it is brutal, rapid, and fraught with moral and legal complexities.
Self-defense is far removed from its cinematic portrayal. It's not about heroics or clear-cut scenarios of good vs. evil. Instead, it's a grim necessity, a response to violence with violence, where the outcomes are unpredictable and often leave lasting psychological scars. The story of the 14-year-old boy and his consequential actions underlines the weight of such decisions and their far-reaching implications.
Self-defense training, while essential, is only a part of the equation. Real-life encounters are unpredictable, requiring not only physical preparedness but also mental resilience and ethical awareness. As Tim Larkin points out in “When Violence Is the Answer,” understanding the true nature of violence and being prepared for its reality is crucial. He says, “Violence is rarely the answer, but when it is… it is the only answer” (Larkin). This sentiment echoes the necessity of acknowledging the gravity of violence and the importance of being prepared for its eventualities.
In advocating for informed training and awareness, it's vital to remember that understanding the true nature of self-defense goes beyond physical techniques. It encompasses a comprehensive approach that includes mental conditioning, ethical decision-making, and an acceptance of the somber realities of violence. It's about being prepared for the worst while hoping for the best, understanding that the path of violence, even in self-defense, is one fraught with moral dilemmas and life-altering consequences. A great place to start being prepared is to take the time to read some of the books I have shared through this post.