Right now on Facebook and Youtube there’s a video of a young boy from Australia fighting back against a bully. That video has gone quite viral. Apparently there is even a Facebook page with over 75,000 members supporting the young man names Casey Haynes.
In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a copy of the video…
In full disclosure, I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened before or after the fight. I don’t know the history, only what’s been reported. Here’s what I’ve read:
- Casey Haynes has been bullied for a while and, according to his parents, this is the first time he’s lashed out. His parents also report that they have taught him to walk away from a fight. Haynes father is afraid of reprisals against his son.
- The parents of the bully, named Richard Gale, have demanded an apology from Haynes. Gale’s mother is upset over the video being posted everywhere despite the fact that it is apparently her son’s friend who recorded it.
- Gale was not injured seriously – he received a scrape on his ankle.
- Both boys were suspended from school for 4 days.
- The school system is considering pressing charges against Haynes, that’s right Haynes.
Let’s operate under the assumption that the reporting here is correct.
Haynes has his back to a wall, and is at the mercy of his younger smaller tormentor. This makes no difference as the younger boy lands a blow to Haynes’ face and several to his body. Haynes tries to deflect several of the blows with some success, and even tries to get away. When Gale charges him – Haynes grabs and body slams him like a WWE wrestler. Haynes does not strike the downed Gale, he get’s away. At this point one or more of Gale’s friends tries to pursue but is stopped by a taller girl.
Here’s the problem: Haynes is clearly acting in self defense. I would also argue that he is using reasonable force. I live in the U.S. and don’t know the legal system in Australia, but most jurisdictions allow self defense.
The problem is deeper though. The school is punishing the victim for standing up for himself. Psychology, economics, and history 101 all tell us that punishing victims increases victimization. Taking away the ability for people to defend themselves from violent crime ALWAYS increases violent crime. I can point to the UK, Washington DC, Chicago, and Boston as example where disarming citizens lead to double digit or higher increases in violent crime.
Wim Demeer, a blogger and martial artist I have a lot of respect for posts here about the incident. He includes a quote I like: “It’s no use for the sheep to pass peace resolutions if the wolves don’t adhere to them.”
We have often heard phrases like “violence solves nothing,” or “violence isn’t the answer.” This is a great sentiment, and I am a pacifist at heart. The only issue is that not everyone believes that. There are murderers, and rapists, and violent home invaders, and bullies who are not adverse to use violence. Sometimes, the only thing that will stop them is violence.
I am a big fan of Ghandi who took non-violence to the extreme. However, even Ghandi was upset by the bullying of Hindus by Muslim countrymen and thought that the Hindu’s should stand up to them even to the point of dieing. He said,”Where there are cowards, there will always be bullies.” And, “My non-violence does not admit of running away from danger and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice.” You can read the full account of what he said here.
Further, why has Haynes become a global cult hero even while his school system looks to prosecute him? Because as human beings we generally know right from wrong. No matter the culture or the country, we inherently understand that victimization and harassment are insidious. We can empathize that, as young students, we couldn’t look to adults (particularly who were part of the system) to solve our problems for us.
Even more than that, bullying is an epidemic. Most martial artists I know (including myself) were bullied at some point in their life. I’m guessing that most people were bullied at least once. Schools in the US are just now starting to address this issue (after several high profile bullying driven suicides).
Ultimately I believe that self-defense is a human right. Our founding fathers (notably John Locke) wrote that self-defense was a natural right. Natural rights are considered universal and inalienable – everybody has the right to self defense and nobody can take that away. This is why the right to self-defense is not clearly spelled out in the constitution. The founding fathers of the U.S. could not conceive of a society so stupid that it would attack people’s natural human right to defend themselves and their loved ones from harm.
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