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My David Hogg Moment

 

It is said when you are young and foolish, you are young and foolish. While a tautology, it is also true.

This is demonstrated by David Hogg, school shooting “survivor” sucking up media time lecturing everyone on violence, while at the same time displaying ignorance of facts, statute law, and Constitutional Law. (I put survivor in quotes because he was in a different building on campus. He had as much chance of actually getting shot as the Broward County sheriff’s deputies cowering outside the building containing the active shooter. Less, actually. There was a diminishingly small possibility the sheriffs might have shot Cruz leaving the building if only out of self-preservation.)

Should I have more sympathy for the kid? Do I know what he went through and how I would react in a similar situation? Well, yes, I have, at about the same age (and level of maturity). That was sure not how I handled it. That gives me the same “moral authority” he has. (Again in quotes. “Moral authority” is a term used to shut down debate when the facts are against you.)

In 1973 I was a senior at Pioneer High School, in Ann Arbor, MI. One day, during lunch period in the cafeteria, I found myself in a knife fight. Or rather, half a knife fight – he had a knife; I did not.

I do not want to talk about the fight. That is worth another post. There were two relevant facts: (1) He started it. (2) It had a happy ending – I won the fight and was 30 seconds from killing him when the fight ended.

This was an unusual occurrence in an upper-middle-class Ann Arbor or Pioneer High School in the 1970s. I think it was the first year in which a student was injured with a knife since the 1950s. Knives were then common in school. Many students carried them. Hunters (some as young as 16) locked long rifles in their cars in the school parking lot. (The knife used against me was not a scout knife or a Swiss Army Knife. It was either a switchblade or gravity knife used to attack people. That was unusual.) The shock waves running through my town were similar to those seen in Parkland.

There were other similarities between the incident that happened to me and the Parkland shooting. The first was the public school system had been letting discipline slide based on an offender’s class and ethnicity. Sons of middle-class whites (and blacks, to be fair) or working class or poor whites who broke the rules experienced strict enforcement. If not . . . they tried to be understanding of your social disadvantages. This was a signal to this privileged class to run wild. They did.

The perpetrator, a 19-year-old special education student had a long history of violence. He was in special education because he was repeating his final year due to missing days because of encounters with the law. He and an identical twin brother had rap sheets filling several sheets of paper – legal-sized paper.

For several years they robbed convenience stores, gas stations, and liquor stores around Ann Arbor. Or rather one would while the other was at a party or some innocent event where they could be seen by unimpeachable witnesses. Since the robber always got away clean, even when the victims pressed charges reasonable doubt existed. Each twin swore they had done nothing. The other twin was the bad twin. Proving they were conspiring was difficult, especially when the defense offered the jury explanations of how the cops were going to extra efforts to jail these two.

My refusal to lie down and play dead (or die) ended that game. It is hard to argue your brother did it when you get arrested at the spot of the attack covered with a pool of your victim’s blood.

Remember how I said the fight ending 30 seconds before he died was a happy ending? It was. Had I killed him, even in obvious self-defense, I would have been charged. The cost of defense would have been on my family even after I was acquitted. Since he was the assailant, he was charged with aggravated assault. I had been stabbed and cut multiple times, including one blow to my chest just to the left of my heart and a second that punctured a lung.

Here is where Hogg’s story and mine diverge: the cops and prosecutor wanted to nail my attacker, badly. They had literally caught him red-handed. Resisting community pressure (and my desires) they had not charged him with attempted murder or attempted manslaughter. Instead, they had charged him with “assault to do grave bodily harm less than murder.”

Why? Intent. For an attempted murder or manslaughter to stick they had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of 12 people he intended to kill me. They had him cold on an assault doing grave bodily harm less than murder. I was in the hospital getting a lung re-inflated because he stabbed me. Grave bodily harm had been done and they did not need to prove he intended to do it.

All that stood between him and conviction was one dumb 17-year-old: me.

While I was in the hospital the school cop dropped by to see how I was doing. I believe he really was doing that, but he was also checking out what type of witness I would make. Did I have any objection to charging my attacker? He wanted to know if I was in a forgiving mood. No fears, there. If I had my way, the only question would have been whether or not to dip him in batter before deep frying him. (Yes, I was a vindictive child.)

I was unhappy about his not being charged with attempted murder. After the cop asked me if I’d rather risk his getting off than going to jail, I conceded I would rather go for the sure thing. The minimums on both were close and he was not getting the maximum. This would be his first felony conviction as an adult.

After ascertaining the fact that we were on the same team, he got to the visit’s major reason: Coaching me on dealing with the press. The only way this guy was getting off was through me. If I made inflammatory statements in the press it could cause a mistrial or an appeal because I had “poisoned the jury pool.” If I came across as a racist yahoo, it could convince the jury I had it coming and they would acquit. He told me I could say anything I wanted to say – it was a free country – but anything I said would have consequences. All in an unwitnessed conversation, during a casual visit to see how I was doing.

After I left the hospital, the press came calling. The real reason they are called the press is not printing methods. Boy did they press. Each time they called my answer was identical: “He was being charged with a serious crime, I was sure justice would be done, and I had no further comment until the trial was over.” They printed every word. (No they didn’t. They ignored me completely.)

The only public statement I made was in response to a letter to the editor sent to my hometown newspaper, The Ann Arbor News. The letter stated my parents should be ashamed if they sent me back to such a dangerous place. (A second stabbing had taken place in a different high school or junior high in my hometown a week after mine, and people were on heightened alert.)

I wrote a response. In two or three paragraphs I stated that the last thing I would permit was to be bullied out of my education by thugs. The proper response was not for the students to flee, but for the administration to step up to their responsibilities to protect the students. (I had more faith in school administrations then than I did now, but I was young and foolish.) I then resumed radio silence.

In truth, there was little danger – of that sort of physical attack. Initially after returning to school, I carried an 18-inch-long adjustable crescent wrench. (Because I was having problems with the bicycle I rode to school and might need to work on it. The lanyard on the handle was so I wouldn’t drop it into some inconvenient spot while I used it. Really.) The school cop knew about it and agreed it could be a useful tool if I needed it, but leave it out of sight when I did not and only use it when I really needed to.

I stopped carrying it after two days. I discovered I was the school’s alpha male. Bare-handed I had almost killed someone who attacked me with a knife. (A Bowie knife. Maybe a machete. Apparently, the knife got longer with every telling – by others. I was not discussing it.) None of the males wanted to mess with me. I was even accorded respect by the jocks. This was a different experience for someone firmly categorized among the Grinds (studies all the time) and Geeks (me: D&D early adapter).

The only potential peril came from the females. They locked on to me with the tenacity of heat-seeking missiles. Apparently, I was the hottest target around (also different). It offered a different physical peril, one appreciated by a 17-year old male. (I was young and foolish enough to enjoy the potential pleasures. I was not so young and foolish as to get ensnared by disease or an unwanted pregnancy.)

The matter went to trial that summer after my delightfully exhausting senior year ended. He was convicted, sent away for 2-1/2 to 10. (The trial, too, probably is worth a separate post.) I afforded no ammunition with which to free him through the press. The defense attorney did not enter my letter to the editor. As intended when writing it – in its full context, it would make things worse for his client. What was unreasonable about not allowing myself to be bullied out of an education – except to bullies?

After the trial, the press came calling. I was free to say whatever I wanted to say, but what was there to say? I stated I thought the verdict was a triumph of justice (the sleazy git was seeing hard time, after all) and I was satisfied with the outcome of everything (I had won the fight, had a truly memorable last half of a senior year, and the sleazy git was going to prison). Not that I stated the parenthetic material aloud. Despite my passion in stating this, the bare words were sufficiently dull that the press ignored them.

Which was fine by me.

Published in Law
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There are 38 comments.

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  1. Member

    What ever happened to the sleazy git after he got out?

    • #1
    • March 2, 2018 at 5:57 am
    • 4 likes
  2. Thatcher

    An older world, man, where more of the adults acted like adults.

    • #2
    • March 2, 2018 at 5:59 am
    • 6 likes
  3. Contributor

    Wow, you’re lucky to be alive, @seawriter! What a mature 17-year old you were, too! And what a story! Thanks for sharing it, and I’m glad you’re alive to tell the tale!

    • #3
    • March 2, 2018 at 6:09 am
    • 8 likes
  4. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    What ever happened to the sleazy git after he got out?

    Not really sure. He was released while I was still in Ann Arbor. (The police unofficially notified me.) He never bothered me again, so I don’t care.

    I have heard several versions – from he cleaned up his act to he died in prison. The most credible is that after a few rounds of “I fought the law and the law won,” he decided there were easier ways to live, got a job and eventually raised a family. That is the one I would like to believe anyway. After a while you are no longer young, and maybe not as stupid.

    His brother went down while my attacker was in prison. The story I heard was he was initially charged with assaulting a police officer, but that was reduced to a theft charge.

    Apparently the brother was shoplifting clothes from a men’s store on Main Street. He was caught by a couple of the clerks. At the time the school hired University of Michigan varsity athletes as clerks. The pair who caught him were on the basketball team and track team respectively. Thief went out the back door with an armful of clothes, clerks in pursuit. He ducked down an alley that led to Liberty. To maintain the speed he needed to escape he wasn’t watching where he was going.

    As he exited the alley at Liberty he ran smack into the law. In the form of a middle-aged cop just leaving a donut shop at the alley and Liberty with a bag full of jelly donuts. There was a meeting of the minds and cop and thief both went down – out cold. One of the clerks picked up the cop’s radio and broadcast “Officer down at Liberty and the Main Street alley.”

    Boy was there a fast response.

    Brother went to jail and the two were never out again at the same time.

    • #4
    • March 2, 2018 at 6:18 am
    • 21 likes
  5. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I’m glad you’re alive to tell the tale!

    Me too. I’ll write about the fight some day.

    • #5
    • March 2, 2018 at 6:19 am
    • 10 likes
  6. Contributor

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    As he exited the alley at Liberty he ran smack into the law. In the form of a middle-aged cop just leaving a donut shop at the alley and Liberty with a bag full of jelly donuts. There was a meeting of the minds and cop and thief both went down – out cold.

    This sounds like something out of Keystone Kops!

    • #6
    • March 2, 2018 at 6:29 am
    • 5 likes
  7. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    As he exited the alley at Liberty he ran smack into the law. In the form of a middle-aged cop just leaving a donut shop at the alley and Liberty with a bag full of jelly donuts. There was a meeting of the minds and cop and thief both went down – out cold.

    This sounds like something out of Keystone Kops!

    It does have a theatre of the absurd quality – but that was Ann Arbor in the mid 1970s.

    • #7
    • March 2, 2018 at 6:35 am
    • 8 likes
  8. Coolidge

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    An older world, man, where more of the adults acted like adults.

    And most kids wanted to be adults. It was a time when “self-esteem” had to be earned; it was understood to be the result of success, not the cause of it. David Hogg has probably spent his whole life being reminded of how smart he is, and to be fair, he may very well be, as they say, “Gifted and Talented,” but to anyone not an ideologue, he is embarrassing himself with his ignorance, and he doesn’t even know it. Our culture, by fostering unearned self-esteem, has taken that protection away from the youth. The simple, undeniable fact that David Hogg has neither the factual knowledge nor the wisdom to speak authoritatively on these issues is treated as a personal attack not just by Hogg himself (which is understandable given his maturity level) but by the adults around him.

    Even I, who am much younger than Seawriter, grew up in an environment where anyone suggesting that adults could, “learn a lot,” from a 17 year old would have been laughed out of the room. The ones promoting David Hogg are committing child abuse.

    • #8
    • March 2, 2018 at 6:38 am
    • 14 likes
  9. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):
    And most kids wanted to be adults.

    I sure did back then. There is nothing worse than being old enough to look out for yourself, but too young to be allowed to do so.

    As soon as I graduated I got a job that paid my living expenses and moved out of the parents’ house while I went to college. (They paid tuition and books – that was the deal they made, and it was pretty low back then.) Not because we did not get along – we did, very well. It was because at 18 I was ready to assume as much of a load of a man’s responsibilities as I could. Nowaadays? Fuggetaboutit. Health insurance alone would swamp you.

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):
    David Hogg has probably spent his whole life being reminded of how smart he is, and to be fair, he may very well be, as they say, “Gifted and Talented,”

    Meh. I went through my life being reminded how smart I was, usually followed up with the reminder that smart and 10 cents will get you a cup of coffee. I was never allowed to forget that smart wouldn’t get you past the starting gate unless you used it, and used it wisely. Being the smartest person in the room is like being the strongest person in the room or the best looking person in the room – you have an attribute at which you outdo others, but unless you apply it, it is worthless.

    • #9
    • March 2, 2018 at 6:49 am
    • 15 likes
  10. Coolidge

    Had you put a nice gash across his face, the twins would not have been able to play their game any longer.

    • #10
    • March 2, 2018 at 7:24 am
    • 6 likes
  11. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    Had you put a nice gash across his face, the twins would not have been able to play their game any longer.

    1. I did not realize he was part of a matched set.
    2. I had other priorities at the time.
    • #11
    • March 2, 2018 at 7:32 am
    • 5 likes
  12. Member

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):
    Even I, who am much younger than Seawriter, grew up in an environment where anyone suggesting that adults could, “learn a lot,” from a 17 year old would have been laughed out of the room.

    Wisest words my dad said to me back when I was a know-it-all teenager was “you’re talking out your ass.” Ever since then, I do my best not to spout off half-cocked.

    • #12
    • March 2, 2018 at 7:36 am
    • 2 likes
  13. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Michael Brehm (View Comment):
    Wisest words my dad said to me back when I was a know-it-all teenager was “you’re talking out your ass.” Ever since then, I do my best not to spout off half-cocked.

    “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

    ― Mark Twain

    • #13
    • March 2, 2018 at 7:39 am
    • 18 likes
  14. Member

    Thanks for the quotes around “survivor.” I’ve been waiting for that.

    • #14
    • March 2, 2018 at 7:58 am
    • 7 likes
  15. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Thanks for the quotes around “survivor.” I’ve been waiting for that.

    And I have the “moral authority” to do that. Whoot!

    • #15
    • March 2, 2018 at 8:05 am
    • 11 likes
  16. Coolidge

    That’s one heck of a story. No wonder you were the “alpha male” in school after that. Getting stabbed in the chest twice and still winning the fight? Seriously impressive.

    • #16
    • March 2, 2018 at 8:42 am
    • 10 likes
  17. Thatcher

    I hope you are planning to write your life story someday. It will be a best-seller. I’d order an advance copy today.

    • #17
    • March 2, 2018 at 11:27 am
    • 5 likes
  18. Member

    While standing in the lunch line in high school, a friend of mine stabbed himself in the stomach with his pocket knife. He was trying to punch another hole in his belt. All he got was laughed at. By the students, by the faculty, by the principal, by the school nurse, everyone. It was the highlight of 1977.

    • #18
    • March 2, 2018 at 11:30 am
    • 10 likes
  19. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    I hope you are planning to write your life story someday. It will be a best-seller. I’d order an advance copy today.

    In my dreams. I can tell a good story, but incidents like this are few and far between in my life If I Walter Mittyed a book about my life I might pad it out to 80,000 words, but I have led a pretty dull life. A good one, but dull.

    • #19
    • March 2, 2018 at 11:33 am
    • 7 likes
  20. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Dan Campbell (View Comment):
    While standing in the lunch line in high school, a friend of mine stabbed himself in the stomach with his pocket knife. He was trying to punch another hole in his belt. All he got was laughed at. By the students, by the faculty, by the principal, by the school nurse, everyone. It was the highlight of 1977.

    Sounds about right. Notice the school’s attitude? He had punished himself enough. No further action was needed.

    Today? He’d be sent to bad boy school.

    • #20
    • March 2, 2018 at 11:35 am
    • 7 likes
  21. Member

    Geez, what a story. In the ’70s I was about 30 miles east, married, raising a kid, working, going to college and then law school, and not going to Ann Arbor. The work, college, and law school took place in Detroit. From your story it sounds like I was safer there than in Ann Arbor when the Terrible Twins crime organization was running the town. I always thought Ypsilanti was the iffy town. Didn’t get to Ann Arbor until the ’80s when I discovered the joys of shopping at (the original) Borders and Liberty music, and eating at Cottage Inn and Zingerman’s. You’ve lived quite the life, @seawriter!

    • #21
    • March 2, 2018 at 11:39 am
    • 2 likes
  22. Thatcher

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    There is nothing worse than being old enough to look out for yourself, but too young to be allowed to do so.

    I graduated from high school in 1971. I immediately moved to a summer resort town to earn money, as a waitress, for my upcoming college education. It’s what you did in my world: when you left high school–you left home.

    Of course, in my family’s case, if you chose to continue living at home, you would still be responsible for milking the cows morning and evening. So, leaving home was the obvious choice!

    Our parents wanted us to go, too–they bought us luggage for Christmas, in the expectation that our destination after high school was college.

    That’s a really terrific story, Seawriter. I’m glad you survived the knife wielder, and became the hero to all the cool girls.

    • #22
    • March 2, 2018 at 12:12 pm
    • 4 likes
  23. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    That’s a really terrific story, Seawriter. I’m glad you survived the knife wielder, and became the hero to all the cool girls.

    In the long run, the cool girls were not all that interesting. The one girl who was interesting was a girl as uncool as I had been before the fight, Janet, aka Quilter. She was a freshman at my high school when I was a senior. I knew her then but we were not dating, just friends. Not that the final semester wasn’t fun, but the experiences made me realize she was the one.

    We started dating when I was in college and she was in her final year of high school. (She graduated a year early – she was smart). We got married in 1977. Didn’t last long though. Not long enough. Only 40 years, eight months, and three days. Not nearly long enough.

    • #23
    • March 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm
    • 21 likes
  24. Member

    When it’s as good as it can possibly be, it’s never long enough.

    • #24
    • March 2, 2018 at 2:05 pm
    • 2 likes
  25. Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    We started dating when I was in college and she was in her final year of high school. (She graduated a year early – she was smart). We got married in 1977.

    I married my college sweetheart. She had better grades than me. I’m forever grateful that her intellectual brilliance did not translate to sensible judgement in men. All the better for me. You and I, @seawriter, we did ok. We outran our coverage.

    • #25
    • March 2, 2018 at 2:52 pm
    • 10 likes
  26. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    I’m forever grateful that her intellectual brilliance did not translate to sensible judgement in men.

    I am so going to steal that line.

    • #26
    • March 2, 2018 at 3:06 pm
    • 7 likes
  27. Member

    Seawriter: Instead, they had charged him with “assault to do grave bodily harm less than murder.”

    Yeah anytime someone stabs you in chest they intend to kill you.

    Speaking as an Emergency Physician.

    • #27
    • March 2, 2018 at 4:08 pm
    • 3 likes
  28. Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Seawriter: Instead, they had charged him with “assault to do grave bodily harm less than murder.”

    Yeah anytime someone stabs you in chest they intend to kill you.

    Speaking as an Emergency Physician.

    You know that. The cops knew that. I knew that (even at 17). The problem was could you find twelve random people who knew that? All it would take for this guy to walk was one holdout.

    This was as airtight as they could get on him, and they did not want to risk letting him get away. The way they ran the numbers since this was a first offence he would get 15 max for attempted 2nd degree murder and 10 for grave bodily harm. Either way they figured he be back on the street within five years. They really wanted him off the street for a couple of years to break up the terror twins.

    • #28
    • March 2, 2018 at 4:31 pm
    • 4 likes
  29. Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Seawriter: Instead, they had charged him with “assault to do grave bodily harm less than murder.”

    Yeah anytime someone stabs you in chest they intend to kill you.

    Speaking as an Emergency Physician.

    Stop being so judgemental.

    • #29
    • March 2, 2018 at 6:59 pm
    • 2 likes
  30. Thatcher

    My own fight with the neighborhood bully ended when he threatened me with a broken bottle at the bus stop. I am sitting there on a tumbled over brick column and the guy comes up to me, breaks the coke bottle and demands money.

    My dog growls and I look at him and say, “Are you really that stupid to threaten me in front of my dog?” The bully grunts and grins and begins to come forward and Sherman, my dog, darts in and takes a grip just above his knee. Sherman weighed in at about 50-60 lbs, but was the alpha dog in the neighborhood. He held on to the thigh and was tearing it up, using his entire bodyweight to shake it back and forth – and as I was moving up on the other side the bully took a swing at him. Sherman let go, darted back about two feet, the bottle went wiff and Sherman jumped right back onto the same spot. I got the bottle wrist with one hand (always control the weapon) and slugged him in the nose (lesson I learned in middle school – like Mike Tyson says, “everyone has a plan, ’till they get punched in the mouth.) and by this time the bully has had enough.

    We let him go. Bus came and I went to school.

    I miss Sherman – he was the best and I could tell stories about him all day. He kept me sane during my bad times.

    • #30
    • March 2, 2018 at 11:51 pm
    • 10 likes
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