Bus stop bullies, impressionable kids, and the appropriate use of violence.

We’re back to hypotheticals with longish storytelling OPs. If you don’t like these, why’d you open the thread?

Today’s story is about Edmund, a black man in his mid-30s living in Memphis. There’s four things you need to know about him.

[li]Edmund spent ten years in the Marines, during much of which he was an instructor in hand-to-hand combat; after that he spent a couple of years as a cop; and now he owns his own business teaching self-defense. He’s in extremely good physical shape and sometimes competes in MMA competitions, at which he’s undefeated. He doesn’t talk about his skill, but it is fact, not brag, that he can take the vast, vast majority of adults in a fight.[/li][li]He’s a father raising his 8-year-old son, Paul, all by his lonesome. They are very close, as one might hope given that Edmund has no living parents, siblings cousins, or whatnot. Edmund sometimes worries that Paul has too romantic a view of his skills; he often cautions him that violence is not the solution to every problem, though by the same token he tells him not to let himself be pushed around by bullies, and all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.[/li][li]Edmund just had a birthday, for which Paul gave him a garish-but-warm pair of gloves and matching hat. That morning Paul asked him if he were going to wear his presents; Edmund grinned, said of course, and shoved the more equally-warm but more-restrained gloves & hat he had been to put on into his coat pocket.[/li][li]His car has been in the shop since Wednesday. He got a call at noon saying it was ready to pick up whenever he felt like it; he’s planning to do so the next morning.[/li][/ol]

That last one matters because it’s a very cold Friday in Memphis, and Edmund had to take Paul to school on the bus and pick him up the same way, which has involved two transfers both ways. In the morning, at the first transfer point, they saw a fairly large fellow Edmund quickly sized up as an idiot. It was 35 degrees and not only was the Ninnyhammer without coat, hat, and gloves, he was declaiming that he didn’t need them, as it wasn’t really cold and anyone who said otherwise was an sissy. By that afternoon it was fifteen degrees, and the Ninnyhammer–again at the same transfer point–was still dressed as he was that morning, but no longer blustering about his toughness. Edmund and Paul are sitting several yards away from the Ninnyhammer when he hears the following.

“You there–what’s your name?” the Ninnyhammer says to the appropriately-dressed guy he’s standing next to.

“Um, it’s DeShawn,” the guy says.

“Hey, DeShawn, nice to meet you. I’m Andre. You wanna be friends?”

“Um, I guess.”

“Good,” Andre says. “Gimme your hat.”

“What?” DeShawn says.

Out of nowhere, Andre slaps DeShawn hard enough to send him reeling back, in the process knocking the hat to the ground.

“I said gimme your hat, fool,” Andre says. “Pick it up and give it to me. Your gloves too. And quick, or I’ll kick your ass.”

By this time, without thinking about it, Edmund has stood up. More consciously he tells Paul to stay seated. A few quick steps take to within arm’s reach; the latter, clearly terrified, kneeling and reaching for his hat. There are no police officers in sight. The other people at the bus stop are all standing clear.

“Hey, Andre,” Edmund says.

Andre turns around. “What you want, punk? You want a piece of this?”

Now, as implied above, Ed has a lot of experience dealing with thugs. Everything about Andre–his stance, the beer on his breath, his tight clothes–tells him the other man is neither armed nor a trained fighter; he is, Ed judges, the sort of bully who relies on sheer bulk and bluster to get what he wants. There’s no doubt in his mind that he can take him down in seconds. But he’s also acutely aware that Paul is behind him, watching. The bus isn’t due for at least fifteen minutes.

Now here are some possible courses of action for Edmund to do next:

(a) Say “Never mind,” go back to Paul, and walk to the nearest stop.
(b) Mollify Andre by offering the extra hat and gloves he has in his pocket.
© Let Andre take the hat & gloves DeShawn is about to hand over, then give DeShawn his extra hat & gloves.
(d) Try to use words to defuse the situation without any threat of violence, moving on to (a) or (b) if that doesn’t work.
(e) Try to defuse with the threat of violence, but not actually using it unless Andre turns tries to hit him.
(f) Kick Andre’s ass.
(g) Something else.

Which should Edmund choose?

(d) Try to use words to defuse the situation without any threat of violence, moving on to (a) or (b) if that doesn’t work.

Because Paul is with him


D then moving to (E) if necessary and on to (F) as a last resort.

Paul should be dialing 911 as soon as a fist is flung.

E must let A say the bad stuff & swing first.

? How drunk is A

? Does E have any gift for gab? Has he even tried to do this type of thing before?

Does E touch A while getting his attention?

a) should be removed and replaced with d), and then the rest of the choices followed in order.


Assuming Paul has a cell phone, of course. Kid’s only 8, and clearly Edmund isn’t rolling in dough.

Besides, that doesn’t matter. The question is what Edmund should do, not Paul. Unless you’re saying Edmund should call out instructions, but I doubt he wants to draw Andre’s attention to Paul anyway.

Well, obviously. But I think the fact that Edmund hasn’t already delivered the ass-whupping Andre has ordered implies that he’s planning on letting Andre do any escalation; otherwise he’d have kicked Andrew in the knee without preamble.

Since the OP says he moves within arm’s reach of Andre but doesn’t mention any touching, I’d say not.

Use your words, man! Defend your position! Otherwise I might as well have made this an automated poll, and then I’d have to come up with recipes, per the Rules.

(g): something else

Try to use words to defuse the situation without any threat of violence, moving on to (e) if that doesn’t work, and then (f) if (e) doesn’t work.

He’s entitled to use reasonable force to protect his son, and his son’s property, from robbery.

D, then B and then C I guess. Violence as a last resort only if Andre continues to threaten DeShawn or anyone else, but I don’t think it would help anything if Edmund escalated the situation.

Calling the cops as an auxiliary to the above, and Paul’s presence is irrelevant.

Of course Paul’s presence is relevant. It’s by far the most important factor in Edmund’s decision-making process. At least three things must be on Edmund’s mind:

  1. “If I am scuffling with Andre, might Paul accidentally get hurt in the process?” (I guarantee he cares more about Paul’s safety than anyone else’s, including his own.) Of course, he’s confident enough so that he probably thinks just telling Paul to stay back was sufficient protection.
  2. “What lesson am I teaching Paul if I let this thug rob someone without intervening?”
  3. “What lesson am I teaching Paul if I just walk up and kick this guy’s ass without trying anything else first?”

And I don’t have the confidence some of y’all seem to that the cops will arrrive in time to do anything but take reports.

What’s the point of spending years of training, time, and money in hand to hand combat skills, and all you do when some drunken lout turns up is to stand around like all the other pussies?
(E) then (F)


Try to defuse the situation WITHOUT a threat of violence. If that doesn’t work …
Try to defuse the situation WITH a threat of violence. If that doesn’t work …
Kick his ass.

D. If that doesn’t stop Andre, then just give up, possibly giving the DeShawn the extra hat and gloves. The temporary satisfaction of kicking ass just isn’t worth worsening Paul’s positivity towards violence. No amount of Edmund lecturing his son on why he shouldn’t beat people up will work if he doesn’t follow his own advice. Afterwards, use it as a Life Lesson - “You see, Paul, I could have sent that guy to the ER there, but violence isn’t the answer.”

A clear F swiftly and immediately. It is already an active assault situation and threatened robbery on a loved one. What more justification does anyone need? Ninnyhammer has already shown that he is completely unstable, criminally inclined and may be armed for all we know. That isn’t something that a responsible person waits to let the thug dictate the ending. Take him down hard and decisively. That isn’t an overreaction at all.

An overreaction would be killing or permanently disabling him.

And I say that is a terrible life lesson. Sometimes violence is the answer.

Edmund isn’t protecting his son at this point, other than telling him to stay back. He’s intervening to protect DeShawn, a stranger to him.

I’d try to resolve the situation calmly, with words at first. If I need to, I’d offer Andre the spare hat and gloves I have. If that doesn’t mollify Andre and he tries to get physical, then I’d have justification to get medieval on his ass. Edmund wants to teach his son that violence isn’t the answer, but if you have the means to step in to protect an innocent person, it’s OK to do so as a last resort because the world isn’t always a nice place.

Mmm, I still disagree; it shouldn’t affect his decision at all.

This is a reasonable concern, although in the scenario you’ve laid out, Edmund is such a bad mother fucker that it doesn’t seem like Paul’s in much risk. Especially, as you say, since a simple “Stay back” should suffice. Furthermore, if Paul’s safety is a concern, then keeping the situation non-violent is the best course of action.

But I’m arguing that Edmund should keep the situation non-violent anyway, regardless of whether or not Paul is there. The only reason I think Edmund should resort to fisticuffs is to protect himself or a bystander from serious bodily injury, and if he’s saving someone from being seriously injured, telling his son to stay back is just going to have to suffice. Ergo, Paul’s presence doesn’t change my thinking on the safety front.

Yes, this is the meat of it. It’s a perfect situation for Edmund to show his son what a “real man” would do in a situation like this, and by real man I mean a good human being. Edmund should definitely do the Right Thing so that Paul sees his dad doing the Right Thing. But shouldn’t Edmund do the right thing anyway? Of course, right?! Because Paul might hear about it later, or see it on the news. Or maybe Paul doesn’t exist, but Edmund should still do the right thing, because that’s what people should strive to do. Not the wrong thing, at least. So whatever you think the Right Thing is, Edmund should do it, and Paul’s presence has got nothing to do with it.

I happen to think that the right thing would be to make sure DeShawn is OK, diffuse the situation with words if possible, and if not, offer the spare hat and gloves to the angry, violent, cold bully.

Paul’s presence certainly raises the stakes for Edmund, but it doesn’t change what he should ultimately do.

I don’t know that the cops would even take reports. A bully slapped a guy on the bus and made off with $20 worth of winter apparel? It seems unlikely that Andre will be brought to justice, or that bringing him to justice will accomplish much. Nevertheless, the cops should be called.

Completely agree. In response to A’s question, “you want a piece of this?” E should put A decisively on the ground, preferably with A’s blood flowing and facial bones crunching. I believe E could easily do that in two hits, max, and, since he’s a pro, there’s no real risk of E disabling or killing A (though the Ninnybastard deserves it). Then E can tell A to move his useless carcass off to another bus stop, preferably several blocks away, unless A would like E to “get his attention again.”

And little, impressionable Paul? I think E and P have a good enough relationship that E can explain why violence is necessary is some circumstances and that a real man knows to use it very sparingly. I also think E should enroll P in marital arts lessons so he learns to control his emotions along with his body and learn to defend himself, cuz they live in, or at least travel through, a tough part of town.

As a public service, he should beat Andre till he stops whimpering.

Interesting how many people go straight to fists. I’d like to hope that I would try to defuse the situation first. I’d offer him my own spares - they aren’t worth that much, and certainly worth more than the lesson I’d be teaching my son.

I got extras, the other guy doesn’t, he’s certainly acting up because he’s cold. I can understand that. Maybe nobody ever did anything nice for him, that’s why he “asks” for stuff like that. Maybe I’m wrong, and I’m just out $20 to an ingrate. That’s acceptable.

If he looks like he’s about to hurt anyone, though, he gets taken down.