March 25, 2011

"Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life"

As a follow-up to two posts about today's young males' inexperience in dominance and how that will eventually get them crippled, last night at '80s night yet another college-aged dork tried to start something but couldn't follow through.

I had been dancing in one of the cages there, nubile babes piling in, when some guy burst in front of me, held on to the cage bars, and used them to back his ass up into my crotch, trying to push me back. As with the other incidents, he was about 20 years old, about my height or a little taller, a gym rat but not athletic, and crucially not having the balls to face me. Guys get a visceral thumping when they're standing face-to-face with another guy that close, so the fact that every one of these chuckleheads hasn't faced me shows how unfamiliar and uncomfortable they are with just standing up to someone, let alone actually escalating it into a fight.

Maybe it was the cramped space or the higher testosterone levels that begin during springtime, but I couldn't let this guy get away with just the usual pecking-order pat-down. He was too over-the-top and reckless, and needed more of a rude awakening. After a courtesy pat on the shoulder that went nowhere, I wrapped my left arm around his neck area, although I didn't apply pressure to choke him -- just close enough so he couldn't move around, and gripping his right shoulder / collarbone area, while leaning over a bit to tell him, "Watch where you're moving, bro." (I think that word sounds gay too, but sometimes you have to speak their language to get through.)

He lightened up a little, but still kept at it, so I resulted to giving him a couple hard knees to the butt so that he wouldn't be able to move his legs so frenetically. At that point I was expecting him to turn around and hit back instead of letting me beat up on him like that, but nope. Shortly after, a security guard was right next to us and took him aside, basically telling him to stop acting retarded and to go away. Then he called me over and told me that I shouldn't act like a dick just because they're acting like dicks. If it were something small, I'd agree, but this guy was too cluelessly extreme and needed a stronger correction.

Unlike the other times, I couldn't see what other people's reactions were, since they were either just out of my peripheral vision or behind me, although I did see a couple girls looking on in amused shock that he didn't even turn around to face me, let alone return what I'd done. I didn't hang around that area after being called over by the security guard, and instead went to take a piss and cool off. On the way back to the dance floor, two other guys gave me high fives, so they may have seen it and approved, given that I normally only get high fives when I'm in the middle of dancing and they're trying to keep me pumped up.

This series of encounters goes to show just how foolish people act when the violence level starts to plummet, as it has for nearly 20 years. When the rest of the society is becoming more violent, you figure that it won't take much to set someone off -- merely walking over someone's shoe by accident could wind up getting one or both bar-room brawlers killed -- so you watch your step. In contrast, when you see the rest of society getting less and less violent, you figure there won't be very heavy consequences for your anti-social actions, so the handful of guys who do start shit will go way farther right up front than they would have during the '60s, '70s, or '80s.

As with other "Black Swans," these wannabe bullies' lack of punishment lasts longer but is illusory -- eventually they'll run into a big problem, and unlike those who have gone through a tougher and more volatile upbringing, they will be utterly unprepared for the impact. (Like not learning rule #1 -- don't give your back to someone.) Thus, instead of a downturn in the housing market giving businesses a bad quarter or so, they get wiped out entirely, unless they get bailed out of course. Similarly, someone who's faced so little consequences for being physically confrontational will not just wind up with a bloody nose when they inevitably get into a real fight. If they're lucky, someone will be there to bail them out, like a security guard, but they could just as well wind up crippled like that shrimp in the second link at the start of this post.

That's one reason why violence levels cycle: when violence levels crash, then a handful of people who did grow up in more brutal conditions, and who therefore are better experienced at defending and aggressing, will easily mow down even the self-styled tough guys, who have never had any real experience. This causes the violence level to rise. Once it swings too high, though, people will find it more advantageous to just stay out of the arena altogether and shut themselves off from the outside world, as we've seen during the past two decades. As more people adopt that strategy, the violence level falls, but that makes the average person sheltered and weaker, setting up the invasion by hawks once again, completing the cycle.


  1. I think that you're too fixated on violence as a cause of the zeitgeist. How much is the average white/asian person affected by levels of violence in the inner city? Not much. Look at it this way. I go to JHU which is in north baltimore. There could be a huge crime epidemic, but it wouldn't affect me because the epicenter of the crime would be west baltimore where I would never go in the first place.

    This is even more true for people who live in small towns or suburbia.

    I would see violence as just one part of broader societal changes.

  2. Crime waves affect all classes, races, and geographical areas. Look it up in the BJS data, which lets you search by state. You didn't have to go to a Baltimore ghetto -- people in Utah, Idaho, Vermont, and West Virginia saw the exact same timing of the rise and fall in violence.

  3. Okay, but will crime really be a defining feature of my worldview if I live in suburbia or a small town? In my own life I've been the victim of perhaps three minor acts of theft. I doubt that any of those events changed my outlook on life or preferences for culture in a non-trivial way. Do you think that a person in suburbia is going to be affected by a crime wave, even if it increases the crimes in their area by a large percentage?

    Unless your argument is that crime affects our worldview because we read and hear about it and not because it directly affects us. In that case I buy that crime rates would affect people's outlook but I doubt that the impact would be all that large.

    It seems more likely that crime rates are the effect rather than the cause of broad societal changes.

  4. As a rule, the guys who know how to fight don't antagonize other guys in an attempt to start fights. Every martial arts style I'm familiar with emphatically censures that kind of behavior. You're pretty much free to toy around with these windbags.

  5. As I've said before, I am old enough to have adult memories of living through the high-crime 1980's and early 1990's. I spent those years not in some bucolic sanctuary but in a Connecticut city of 100K that has its share of urban problems.

    People did not live in constant fear of violent crime. It wasn't really an issue unless you lived in a bad area, were involved in questionable activity such as drug dealing, or deliberately associated with the wrong sort of crowd. About the only real difference is that some neighborhoods that are edgy but acceptable today were off-limits then.


  6. "Unless your argument is that crime affects our worldview because we read and hear about it and not because it directly affects us."

    Yes, it's more about your perception of how dangerous the outside world is, whether you get that from personal experience (rare) or witnessing it happening to someone else (not too rare when violence is soaring) or hearing about it from another person or now getting it from the media.

    "People did not live in constant fear of violent crime."

    Since I never claimed they did, this doesn't matter.

  7. When the rest of the society is becoming more violent, you figure that it won't take much to set someone off -- merely walking over someone's shoe by accident could wind up getting one or both bar-room brawlers killed -- so you watch your step.

    Violence of that sort was not any higher in the 1980's than it is today. Or, at least, people didn't perceive it as any higher. The fact that there was a lot more crack-related violence in the ghetto had no relevance to most forms of public behavior.


  8. No there was lots more of that in the '80s, even among whites, even in suburbia, etc etc. Just look it up. Or else, present data to back your claim up.

  9. I've got a field report on spring break season in Mexico:

    Right now I'm vacationing in a town near Cancun, and last week was the height of spring break season; the clubs were crawling with American college students.

    Now everyone thinks of Spring Break is a Girls Gone Wild bacchanal. Maybe it used to be that way, but today that sort of wild abandon seems only to be a memory.

    The strip of bars and clubs in this town are of course uniformly awful. Megabars where the music is too loud to talk but with no dancefloor. And clubs playing nothing but shitty top 40 remixes.

    The two friends I was with last Friday, who were not Americans but Portuguese, thought their chances of getting laid were pretty good. But even as we approached the strip I could tell something was wrong. The groups of spring breakers we saw were moving in tight, defensive looking packs. Mostly guys and girls, but even the all-girl groups looked on guard.

    And as I feared, the dancefloor at the first club we went to was just awful. All of the spring breakers had circled the wagons on the floor. And they never seemed to break off into pairs, except for the ones who were obviously boyfriend-girlfriend to begin with. Even the few all-girl groups were not having it. It might as well have been a church social, except for the Mexicans who were there.

    So I got the idea that we should leave and go out in the crowded street to just start opening girls walking past. My foreign friends were doubtful about this plan. So they were surprised when it actually started to work...sort of.

    We managed to hook 3 groups in about 45 minutes with an opinion opener using my friends foreignness as a prop. But with the first two the mother hen cockblocker appeared within about 10 minutes. The third was going really well, but this time the cockblock was a dude. And how he went about it reminded me of your earlier post on this subject.

    He was dressed up as a tough guy: shaved head, gold chains, tight wife beater. But instead of inserting himself directly between the girls and us he sidled up behind them not facing towards me or looking me in the eye. Just muttered in their ears and started to pull them away.

    This struck me as incredibly pathetic, so I decided to call him out to see what would happen, saying "Excuse me. We're having a conversation here. You can join us if you want." And he just pretended not to hear me, never faced me, and never made eye contact. Just slinked away with the girls back to the safety of the pack.

    On to the next club then, and the conditions were exactly the same. The group with the guy and two girls was there dancing with the wagons circled. And Mr. Cockblock was there dancing next to one of the girls in the circle. Clearly he was in to her, but not once that I saw did he manage to separate her from the group. Lame as hell. I know that if some strange guys started talking up a girl I was into I'd make sure to insert myself directly to send the message that they're the ones who should leave.

    Thank god for the girls from Mexico City we found. Because it seems the average American college student has become so timid that they can't even loosen up in the supposed land of reckless abandon.


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