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QotD: Self Defense

Question: If you believed your life to be in danger, would you act in self defense, even if doing so meant harming the attacker? (For those not living in the US, please note the legal policy on this issue.)

My Answer: You bet your behind I do. Someone threatening my health has lost the right to his own. In that case, I guess I'm betting my own behind. In the US, as you may well know, self defense is an accepted right, and affirmative answers in polls similar to this one (but worded much better, no doubt) run into the high 80s.

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

14 Responses to "QotD: Self Defense"

  1. Well, the way I look at it is, if someone believed their life to be in danger, could they help but act in self defense?

    My understanding of the situation here in Spain, is that one does have the right to self defense -- but proving that your life was in danger can be very tricky. It seems that someone forcibly entering your home is not sufficient to demonstrate that. How one could possibly expect a person awoken at night to, in the dark, assess the true threat of an intruder is beyond me.

    In a previous post, you mentioned Great Britain, but this strangeness seems to apply to many countries in Europe. I had a friend in Germany who, while riding a motorcycle and stopped at a red light, was hit from behind by a car. The judge awarded "10%" of the "guilt" to my friend, simply because "riders of motorcycles assume a greater risk on the road".

  2. I am not sure where the law stands in Korea (where firearms are prohibited, BTW), where I reside, but in such situation I wouldn't care too much about legal consequences. But I wouldn't use a knife as much as I would feel like it, but the sharpener (we have a Zwilling JA Henkels set like this one http://usa.zwilling.com/products/twin/knives/twingourmet/itemsbs.html here; check out the sharpeners too...). But most probably the private security firm we use would send them big fellas before we could get up anyway, as their offices are around the corner...

    What I know is that if I ever maimed and/or killed a Korean, even a burglar/rapist/whatever, I would be in fucking trouble. A white boy spilling sacred Korean blood. Oh oh... No goodsky. Twelve Korean juries against me bro!

  3. Self-defense is a fundamental part of nature. Although humans shun much of nature, there's no denying that survival is a universal instinct, and one of great importance to all animals including humans. I'd prefer to let the criminal justice system properly handle an attacker instead of me killing them on the spot, but when your own life is in immediate danger there's no time to consider ethics or legal nuances. As I said, survival is simply instinct.

  4. Ideally, I'd try and put myself out of danger without inflicting serious injuries, but in case he insisted, like bad guys do in films, or had a weapon, I might have to break a couple of his limbs to secure him (like good guys too rarely do in films), provided I'm capable of it.

    The judge awarded "10%" of the "guilt" to my friend, simply because "riders of motorcycles assume a greater risk on the road".

    Boy, it feels like Switzerland. I heard about a burglar who got attacked by the victims dog. He sued her and won (CHF 1.-) because the lady apparently should have had controll over her dog, even though she was not at home.

    As the rider, had I know I'd get 10% of the guilt, I'd probalby have kicked the driver's ass a bit.

  5. He sued her and won (CHF 1.-) because the lady apparently should have had controll over her dog, even though she was not at home.

    Heh πŸ™‚ Another friend of mine was attacked by a dog while jogging in Germany. The judge only passed a portion of the expenses (and guilt) to the dog's owner, since she did apparently tell the dog not to attack the jogger, and, well, it has to be taken into account that it was the dog's first offense.

  6. I don't know if this story is true, but I heard that a Norwegian exchange student was shot and killed when he entered the garden to a house in the USA -- he wanted to ask for directions, but the house owner found that he was trespassing.

    The reasons why we, in many European countries, do not grant people the right to kill or hurt each other when they feel threatened or their "rights" are otherwise violated (as in trespassing) are multiple. The attacker has rights as well, and the attack can stem from mentally illness or even that the victim did something previously to provoke the attack.

    Breaking the law does not make you lawless, and that is why e.g. in Germany a burglar can sue for being attacked by a dog -- he still gets charged with the burglary though! But having the victim let a dog attack him is taking the law in your own hands, and AFAIK that is something we do not allow in most parts of Europe.

    That said, of course if you end up killing someone, and had you not done so, you yourself would have lost your life, you wouldn't be punished, but there would be a trial to establish that this was really your only option.

  7. Duff, c'mon - don't come at a discussion with "I don't know if this story is true"s.

  8. I say that I do not know, because I heard it like 10 years ago, and I do not remember the source, so I would not rule out that it was just an urban legend (but I've since tried to search for the story, but haven't found any reference to it).

    But could it not happen? Is it not so that you actually are allowed to kill me if I enter your apartment w/o your consent? and is it not so, that many gun killings happen in the private home where the victim is a family member or similar?

    At least these factors are some of those which may me think that granting people right to hurt each other is not a good idea -- the courts should look mildly on people defending themselves, but I wouldn't like it if it were like, getting immunity just because the other person breaks the law.

    As mentioned, there is also the problem with mentally ill people, these may attack random strangers and are more or less harmless, I'd prefer to see these get treatment rather than beaten up.

  9. Is it not so that you actually are allowed to kill me if I enter your apartment w/o your consent?

    I've already answered that question.

    And is it not so, that many gun killings happen in the private home where the victim is a family member or similar?

    No, that is not true, unless you consider "many" to be about four per year nationwide. I'm exaggerating too, yes, but don't make up stuff based on what you guess to be true and try to pass it off here.

  10. Honestly, these were meant as questions (hence the question marks). The answer you refer to says:

    it seems perfectly legal to shoot someone simply for attempting to burglarize my apartment or home

    I realize "entering without consent" is not the same, but that was the definition I had previously heard, sorry! Anyway, if someone enters my home w/o my consent, how am I to know if they are going to burglarize me or not?

    And with regard to "gun killings happen in their private home" and victim being family member, I can't find any statistics on how many that actually is, only that

    In 72% of unintentional deaths and injuries, suicide, and suicide attempts with a firearm of 0-19 year-olds, the firearm was stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend

    But this is of little use, and what I really wanted was hard numbers of people mistaken for burglars, not just accidental killings (which is probably much much higher, and what contribute to the high percentage).

    But apparently this is not the place to ask for such info πŸ˜‰

  11. Any time you throw suicides (and attempts) into the mix, numbers are skewed so much they're not longer even reasonable.

    Please stop responding here - the question could still use answers from others.

  12. Self Defense

    Here's my answer to NSLog();'s Question of the day: " If you believed your life to be in danger, would you act in self defense, even if doing so meant harming the attacker?"

    Self defense is a primal instinct, nothing you can do about it (it is s...

  13. To me, this seems to be a stereotypical American question. The legislation regarding firearms is quite different here in Germany (crime rates are also much lower btw).

    My first thought as a German is: why would a burglar choose my appartment? Why would someone want to attack me? Seriously: many people just do not live in appartments that look so attractive to a burglar. I also have the feeling that pointing a gun at somebody increases the potential level of violence.

    So, really: wouldn't it just be better to try and talk your way out? I mean, the whole question seems to suggest only one possible answer and the situation is rather made up, after all. I know that Erik has stated his political attitude a few times, and IMHO this shows in the way this question is asked.

    To me as a foreigner, this entire self defense stance is quite over the top and reminds me a lot of the entire cowboy activism that seems to govern American policy as a whole nowadays, be it interior or foreign policy... And while I don't care too much about the USA's internal affairs, Dubya's foreign policy _is_ an international problem. But as far as Americans bearing firearms are concerned: kill yourselves if you have to...

    Makes me think of something I read recently:

    "War is God's way of teaching Americans about geography."

    Ambrose Bierce, writer (1842-1914)

  14. Erik: Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

    Natch.


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