Fist Fights are Good For Society

Get into a fight because you stepped in to intervene when some asshole is hitting his girlfriend? Yeah I could see that. Fighting back if you’re attacked? Ok. But getting mad at someone and then you start hitting each other? What is that? Third grade? Absurd. I would lose all respect for such a person immediately.

I’ve heard this idea about “the threat of potential violence makes us more civil” before. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now. The constant threat of physical violence due to offending someone is the opposite of civility, by definition. It’s like saying your marriage is better because you threaten to smack your wife around if dinner isn’t on the table promptly - hence, prompt dinners and marital bliss.

I’m 25 and I’ve never been in a fist fight. As far as physical confrontations are concerned my flight or fight relex is heavily skewed toward flight. I’ve never been in a situtation where flight wasn’t an option.

Nope, we fought indoors.

The threat of getting punched in the face isn’t a real deterrent to an asshole, because the asshole isn’t always aware that he is an asshole, or he thinks he’s justified in acting like one. So when he gets clocked, he doesn’t think, “I got punched because I acted like a fool, so I better not act like a fool.” He thinks, “That jerk punched me! I didn’t do anything wrong!” He goes through the same reasoning process that the guy who punched him did; whereas the guy who punched him reasons that punching deters asshole behavior, the asshole reasons that guns deter punching. Thus, the next person to try a bit of physical social correction gets a hole somewhere on his body.

This exactly, except for the third grade part. For boy it goes up to mybe eigth grade.

There have been 4 times as an adult when I have resorted to violence, each of them when I was directly confronted with violence. I have permanent physical scars from two of these times. I find the idea of instigating violence over an insult to be completely ridiculous.

But I will say that I did find some good in being confronted with violence, in the sense of it being a learning experience. The main one was learn something of my own measure – I learned that I didn’t panic, and I kept thinking clearly through these times, and after the fact I found that reassuring. I learned that getting hit by punches and kicks doesn’t actually hurt very much when you’re buzzing on adrenaline, nor does getting slashed by a knife.

FYI, the 4 times were: intervening in a man beating on a woman (my girlfriend at the time and her ex-); being mugged in a park by a youth gang; catching a kid trying to pick my pocket in the street; and another attempted mugging by one guy in a park.

What happens is that the stronger and more popular people form a group, and they administer the smackdown to anyone who is weaker and/or not part of the group. While sometimes the weaker person IS an annoying prat, more often that person is just at the bottom of the pecking order. Sure, sometimes people got into fistfights to settle things, and then shook hands and were able to get along with each other. But more often, the strong went around looking to pick fights, and generally intimidating the hell out of everyone else. This sort of social custom is very conducive to bullying.

Yes, I do wish that I could smack idiots upside the head with impunity when they act improperly. But I don’t want idiots to be able to smack ME upside the head. There’s a lot more idiots out there than there are more reasonable, thoughtful people (and I am obviously the most reasonable and thoughtful person you’re likely to meet :stuck_out_tongue: ), so this system does not favor anyone except those who are impulsive AND physically strong.

The problem is that word “eventually.” Human beings are really bad at recognizing long term consequences. Knowing that you may eventually get kicked out is not enough. We need some short term consequences.

I really, really hate it, but threat of physical violence seems to work, even from a young age. I’m not saying the actual results are better. But I can understand someone wanting to try something.

Merely waiting on everyone to realize that life is easier if you aren’t a childish jerk doesn’t seem to work.

It’s weird. Violence doesn’t work, except when it does.

How come it’s socially acceptable to sanction organised violence on a wide scale, but on the individual level, it’s somehow futile and an indicator of our primitive past?

As much as some people claim “violence doesn’t solve anything”, the simple fact is, some people only understand language punctuated by solid blows to the body.


This is my position as well. As a whole, it’s fairly obvious that we are not far enough along as a culture to completely abandon physical punishment. We still routinely commit violent crimes and wage wars on one another. Until we grow out of this phase, I think that the prospect of a socially acceptable, but rare correction is still a needed tool.

Say you see someone accosting another person; a man is verbally abusing a woman in a public park. She is obviously upset and trying to move off but he keeps following her. As of yet, he hasn’t broken any real laws, but she obviously is looking around for help. what are your options today?

  1. Do nothing- most people choose this.
  2. Call police/ complain to someone in authority- usually doesn’t work unless they are caught in the act, or have committed something worth the police’s time tracking down.

Intervening is a chancy thing. Beyond taking yourself into physical risk, you are placing yourself in a lot of hot water legally. Sure “good Samaritan” laws are supposed to cover this, but they only work if others stick around to confirm the situation to the police. Which they don’t, because of the threat of legal stuff messing their day up.

Now say I choose to intervene, and the jerk escalates it. My choices are limited to walking away and attempting to help the woman while distracted by the abusive man, which is very dangerous for both her and myself; or taking a stand and risking significant legal repercussions when the cops eventually show up. Under current laws, we both go to jail, and though I’ll probably be released quickly, I did nothing but try to help out a person in need.

Freudian Slit, I’m not advocating a return to the bad old days of spousal or domestic abuse. I don’t think that roving gangs would fall under this type of exemption either. As for the strong dominating the weak, we still do that anyway, I’m just in favor of giving the weak a chance to fight back without making criminals of themselves. I think you severely overestimate the number of people who are willing to physically tussle with anyone, much less a stranger.

The idea that bigger, more powerful people can use violent behaviour to intimidate smaller, weaker individuals, falls apart in the public context if people unite with purpose to take back our streets. If someone is bullying someone in public, and several passers-by join together to overcome such threatening behaviour, what rational, intelligent jury or judge is going to convict them, should it come to a court case? If 5 complete strangers have joined up to kick the shit out of someone, they’ve gotta have had a good excuse, surely? (This is in the absence of corroborative cctv footage.)

Would anyone on here who knows they can handle themselves in a physical altercation, walk past an incident where one person was kicking another, who was downed and unable to fight back?

Having nearly been in that situation, and only being saved from serious injury by an ex-girlfriend who pulled the guy’s hair from behind just long enough for me to get to my feet and out of his reach - before letting go and running; very wise move! - I would have to do something, even if it was only to distract the attacker.

The questions isn’t whether circumstances might arise where any of us would feel, and be, justified to resort to violence. That can certainly happen, and in fact has happened to me more than once.

The question is what is sufficient provocation to resort to violence? And ‘rudeness’ ain’t it. ‘Assholishness’ isn’t either, IMO?

The same basic idea applies to nation states and populations, which is why we have armies and police.

Hell, I worked as an Armed Guard for two years. I never fired my weapon, I never pointed it at anyone, I never threatened anyone. But the presence of someone with a gun was the trick that made people better behaved than they would be without it.

Even in parenting, although many to most Western parents have moved beyond the use of direct violence, the bottom line is “If you will not behave, we will take steps to make you behave”. Meaning that it IS about power, if not violence.

But how do you control for this? If it’s basically socially acceptable to use violence, you know violent people aren’t going to adhere to some weird “code.” They’re just going to be…well, violent.

Do we even know that people were more willing to use violence in the old days? And were things even more polite? People are always saying they are but is there any concrete evidence of any of this other than sepia toned nostalgic feelings?

I think it’s a bit odd that so many people are saying that physical violence is completely abhorrent and childish, but from what I’ve seen on these boards, US Americans are all about their guns. So, up close and personal violence is bad, but shooting someone from further away is okay?

I’m very much against guns, too.

Silly foreigner! Shooting people isn’t violence. You shoot them to avoid violence.

I don’t like guns either. I’m not sure if it was here or somewhere else where I read something about people being more polite in the time of duels because if you got out of line and someone demanded satisfaction, you could very well end up shot. I think any society where you’re only “in line” out of fear is a horrifying one.

Some Americans perhaps. I would be perfectly happy if guns were completely banned. I would also have someone arrested for assault if they laid a hand on me.

To a certain extent, this describes every Human society that has ever existed.