Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: A Good Plan

 

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George S. Patton

When I was 17, I was in a fight for my life. If I had lost I could well have died.

The fight took place in the spring of my senior year of high school, in 1973. Sometime earlier I wrote about its aftermath here on Ricochet and promised to tell the rest of the story later. Like now.

It took place at lunch hour, in the lunchroom of my school’s cafeteria. It was in my home town of Ann Arbor, MI, an upscale (and even then very liberal) college town.

I was going into the cafeteria line when I jostled another student. Or maybe he jostled me. It does not really matter. What did matter was that he immediately confronted me, demanding I apologize for bumping him.

So I did. I apologized. After all, maybe I did jostle him. “Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to.” Really it was not a big deal. If I had jostled him, I owed him an apology. If I had not? Even back then I figured life’s too short to worry about small stuff.

That should have ended it. Except it didn’t. He grabbed my arm, and said, “I told you to apologize.”

At this point, I am more than a little puzzled. He was half my size and a good five inches shorter than me. (I was always chubby, but I wasn’t soft.) He had a couple of girls with him. Maybe he was trying to impress them. Regardless, I did not want to get in a fight with someone that much smaller than me. And it wasn’t worth fighting over anyway. So, I apologized again, and told him it was inadvertent.

He again insisted I apologize, more vehemently than before. A friend who was with me later said the look I gave the other student reminded him of a Great Dane trying to figure out why a particularly annoying Chihuahua was barking at it.

I looked at the other student and said, slowly and clearly, “I said I was sorry. I have told you that twice. If a man does something wrong, he owns up to it and apologizes. I did not mean to bump you. I said I was sorry. I mean it. And a man recognizes when he has been apologized to, and accept it.”

Then one of the girls with him started laughing. He purpled. And he shoved me. Hard.

I didn’t go anywhere. He kind of recoiled back a bit, looking even more foolish. So he took a swing at me.

I blocked it. I caught his arm with my forearm and knocked it to the side. He took another swing at me with his other arm, and I blocked that, too.

Yes, I was not trying to fight him. I did not need to get into a fistfight in the school cafeteria at lunch hour. This was before the age of zero-tolerance. Defending yourself did not automatically get you kicked out of school, but I did not need the grief getting into a fight entailed. I figured as mad as he was he would keep swinging ineffectually at me until one of the teachers on lunch duty came up and broke it up. And a teacher was bound to come along soon because by then there was a ring of students around us looking for the entertainment provided by a fight. All I had to do was spin it out for 30 seconds until that happened.

Except maybe he realized that too. He wasn’t looking for an apology. He had wanted me to attack him, and I had refused to play that game. He stepped back, held up a fist in front of him with his left arm, and reached to his back pocket with his right hand. “I gonna get you,” he hissed.

In a moment of terrible clarity, I realized he had a knife in his back pocket, that he planned to use it, and he planned to use it on me. I knew I had to stall for time waiting for that teacher to come up and break things up. “Leave that shiv, in your pocket,” told him, and we can have a fair fight.” Anything to make him think, to take up time.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the teachers coming up, a male teacher. I saw him assess the situation, and thought, I’m saved. Then he turned around and went the other direction, leaving the cafeteria. I was on my own.

Then the knife came out and he swung at me, overhand. I blocked the first blow. The second nicked my forearm. A third swing managed to slice my shirtsleeve without cutting me. The next one caught me in the chest, sinking all the way in. Fortunately, It glanced off my ribs and caused no serious damage.

(Pro tip: Never wield a knife overhand. The body is armored against that. I knew that at 17 because I had found my dad’s personal combat manual from his days in ROTC and was up on knife-fighting tactics. Not that I felt like critiquing my opponent’s style – but I thought it even as the fight was going on.)

At that point, I realized if I wanted to walk away from this I had to end it. No one else was going to. I closed and grappled him. It allowed him one more blow. It landed between my collarbone and sunk up to the hilt. Breathing became harder.

It did not matter. I had him. I picked him up, and with berserker strength threw him against the doors to the cafeteria some eight feet away. He was still going up when he hit them. Then I jumped on him as he lay flat and winded on the cafeteria floor.

I knew I was badly injured. I had taken first aid when I was in Civil Air Patrol, and they went through all the gory accidents that happen in an airplane crash. I realized only one lung was working. That final blow must have punctured it, I thought.

I knew something else too. The vein, artery, and nerve that go to the arm run under the collarbone. The knife had to have gone past them to puncture a lung. Since I still had control of my arm, the knife missed the nerve. That meant it must have caught either the vein or the artery, and I would pass out from blood loss within 90 seconds.

The last thing I wanted was him mobile after I passed out. I decided I had to kill him before that happened. I had one knee on his right arm (the knife arm) to immobilize it, the other knee on his chest, and both hands around his neck. I squeezed for all I was worth. For good measure, I repeatedly slammed the back of his head against the cafeteria’s concrete floor.

It seemed I had been doing this for an hour (time does strange things in moments of great stress) when the fight ended. After fifteen seconds or so, four other students pulled me off him. They thought my actions excessive, and wanted to break things up before I killed him.

Their reaction was reasonable. Everyone thought it was just a fistfight. The whole thing took place in a span of 30 seconds, and no one (but me) saw the knife. No one expected one, so no one was looking for one, All my wounds were on might front, so no one realized I had been stabbed until I stood up. The front of my shirt was soaked in blood. There was a shocked silence as the students watching the fight saw me.

Then a male teacher (not the one who rabbited off – a different one) came up behind me, presumably to berate me for fighting. He was saying something like what did I think I was doing beating up another student. I turned around to face him and said, “I didn’t have a choice, He had a knife.”

He was black. I have heard of people going pale before, but he literally turned white when he saw the blood. I’d never seen that before, and found it fascinating. But he stood there gibbering, while I was bleeding. Exasperated, I said, “I need to see the school nurse. I need first aid.”

At which point he started babbling, “The nurse, we need to get you to, the nurse,” grabbed me by the injured shoulder and starts dragging me to the nurse’s office. It is the direction I want to go, so I go with him. They soon have me on a bed, and the nurse (considerably calmer and more competent than the teacher who had got me there) has stopped the bleeding, and is calling for an ambulance.

While this is going on, the school cop, whose office was next to the nurse’s office, hears the commotion, and comes over. “What’s happening,” he asks.

“Student got stabbed,” said the nurse, while continuing to treat me.

“Where’s the perp?” the officer says.

By now there are half a dozen principals, vice-principals, and faculty in the office with the nurse and me.

“The perp,” someone says.

Dead silence.

“[Non-CoC compliant],” says the school cop. “Might as well photograph the scene,” he says as he goes to his office to get a camera.

I am in an ambulance and on my way to the hospital before the rest of the story takes place. The school cop goes to the cafeteria and finds my assailant in a pool of my blood on the cafeteria floor. He is trying to sit up, but goes crashing back down when he gets up. It seems the portion of the brain that runs motor control is located at the back of the skull, roughly where it would make contact if someone is slamming a skull against a concrete floor, I had apparently choked him into unconsciousness, and he was just beginning to come to when the cop arrived. I had immobilized him by scrambling his brain, and he could not leave the scene. The cop got some good pictures of my assailant covered with my blood.

At the hospital, I went through emergency thoracic surgery to patch my punctured lung. It also turned out I had been a lot luckier than I had realized. Somehow the knife blade – which was razor-sharp – missed the nerve, vein, and artery.

I was also extremely lucky in that I was left-handed. I instinctively tried to block the blow that hit my chest with my left arm, which rotated me to the left. If I had blocked it with the right arm I would have rotated right and the knife would have gone into the cartilage around the sternum and opened my heart or aorta. That happened to another student in another high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan a week after my fight. (Yes, I know you are supposed to use your non-preferred hand to block so as to have your preferred – and stronger – arm available for a counterstrike. That might work if you are a trained boxer, but if you are a scared 17-year-old, who is not used to fighting, you block with your preferred hand.)

I also discovered long after the fight, that my assailant would have knifed me regardless. He was, as I realized during the fight, trying to get me to attack him, so he could stab me and claim self-defense. It seems he was doing a buddy a favor.

His friend had attacked my younger brother a month earlier at another Ann Arbor school (again with a knife). While he cut my brother (not seriously) my brother (who was into martial arts) had flattened the kid. So he came back two weeks later with a half-dozen friends and attempted to beat up my brother with a mob. And my brother put paid to all of them, forcing them to flee the scene. So my brother’s attacker decided to get revenge by having a buddy stab my younger brother’s overweight and bookish older brother. That had to be easier.

Of course, I spoiled that game by refusing to fight the battle they chose. As the saying goes, the enemy (in this case me) gets a vote. By refusing to be provoked, I force him to be the aggressor. What I had done was clearly self-defense, with multiple witnesses to testify I had apologized, I was not seeking a fight, and he was picking one.

The cherry on top was that he had survived. If he had died, I would have likely had to defend myself on a manslaughter charge. I might have gotten off on self-defense, but it would have cost a fortune. As it was, he went on trial for assault with a deadly weapon, and ended up sentenced to two-and-a-half to 10 years. (He served three. The cops let me know when he got paroled just in case, but he left me alone.)

As for why he thought he could attack someone at lunch hour in a crowded cafeteria? It was because he thought he could get away with it. He always had before.

He had an identical twin brother. For four years the two of them had been conducting a crime spree in Ann Arbor. One of them would knock over a gas station, convenience store, fast-food place, or liquor store while the other one would be at a party or someplace with a lot of witnesses.

Even if they were identified by one of the victims, there was always reasonable doubt. Each twin would insist the other was the bad twin, who had been conducting the robbery while they were innocent of any crime. No doubt my assailant assumed that would happen this time. He hadn’t expected the violent counterattack I had launched. Or its consequences.

Could I have done a better job? Sure. With a week or two to plan and prepare. But Patton was right. My plan, improvised on the spot was as good as I could come up with, and executed with enough violence to win the fight.

I honestly did not think I would win that fight. At the same time, I realized I was the only one that was going to end the fight. No one was going to intervene to save me. I was not going to go down without a fight. If I was going to die, I decided – even at 17 – to die on my feet, giving it everything I had.

The best fight is the fight you avoid. But once committed, give it everything you have.

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  1. Arahant Member

    One heck of a formative experience.


    This is the Quote of the Day. If you have a quotation to share, our September schedule is filled, but we have plenty of openings in October.

    If quotations aren’t your thing, perhaps you would like to join in on the Group Writing Project for October: It was a dark and stormy night…

    These are easy ways to get involved in writing for Ricochet and practicing on the friendly people here. Come join us.

    • #1
    • September 26, 2020, at 7:02 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    Arahant (View Comment):
    One heck of a formative experience.

    True that. And positive on many levels. I’ll have to write about how this changed perceptions of my at my high school, and why it was a good thing it happened in my senior year, so I did not get too full of myself.

    To this day I still don’t start fights. But, once in one, I finish them.

    • #2
    • September 26, 2020, at 7:06 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. JoelB Member

    Something to think about in these troubled times.

    • #3
    • September 26, 2020, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. GrannyDude Member

    Good Lord! 

    I am willing to bet it has taken me longer to read about this fight than it took for you to have and survive it. 

    When we train Criticial Incident Stress, we talk about how the brain—jacked up on gluco-corticoids and adrenalin—rummages madly through the files, looking for information that might be applicable in this emergency. So of course the files marked “human anatomy” and “Civil Air Patrol training” would get pulled. 

    I’m sorry that happened to you, and so glad you survived! YAY! 

     

    • #4
    • September 26, 2020, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Good Lord!

    I am willing to bet it has taken me longer to read about this fight than it took for you to have and survive it.

    That’s because I am so wordy. 

    When we train Criticial Incident Stress, we talk about how the brain—jacked up on gluco-corticoids and adrenalin—rummages madly through the files, looking for information that might be applicable in this emergency. So of course the files marked “human anatomy” and “Civil Air Patrol training” would get pulled.

    In retrospect, so did the knife fighting files. I had read my dad’s Korean War-era unarmed combat manual looking for stuff I could use in Dungeons & Dragons or maybe to develop a wargame on hand-to-hand combat. (I was big into gaming back then.) But all the pertinent parts of that book popped into my head as soon as I realized he had a knife.

    I’m sorry that happened to you, and so glad you survived! YAY!

    Actually, having survived it, I am not sorry it happened. A lot of good things came out of it. For one thing, I lost all fear of public speaking. I’d go in front of an audience, and think, “well, it is not like any of them is going to come at me with a knife, so what’s the worst they can do?” And I do quite a bit of that (or did before Covid).

    • #5
    • September 26, 2020, at 7:22 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  6. MeandurΦ Member
    MeandurΦJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Actually, having survived it, I am not sorry it happened. A lot of good things came out of it. For one thing, I lost all fear of public speaking.

    Wow, and all I did was sign up for Toastmasters…

    Great story.

    • #6
    • September 26, 2020, at 8:27 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    MeandurΦ (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Actually, having survived it, I am not sorry it happened. A lot of good things came out of it. For one thing, I lost all fear of public speaking.

    Wow, and all I did was sign up for Toastmasters…

    I’ve been to Toastmasters. My brother-in-law and middle son are big Toastmasters fans. Me? I’d rather go through another knife fight.

    • #7
    • September 26, 2020, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  8. Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng…Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Not justice. He should have been locked up for life or executed.

    Glad you lived. I’d have died. 

    And the teacher who rabbited should have been fired and his name plastered in the newspaper as a coward. 

    We are weak with criminals. We should be far, far far more harsh. One stike and you are out forever. 

    • #8
    • September 26, 2020, at 9:12 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I never had to deal with a knife fight, thankfully, but I was singled out a few times myself. Like you, I never started a fight but dammit I’d finish them.

    • #9
    • September 26, 2020, at 9:37 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  10. BastiatJunior Member

    That seems a light sentence for attempted murder. Was the perp under 18?

    • #10
    • September 26, 2020, at 4:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    That seems a light sentence for attempted murder. Was the perp under 18?

    Perp was 19. They charged him with assault with intent to commit grave bodily harm short of murder. It was a good call. They could clearly prove that. With a murder change they had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he intended to murder me to get a conviction. They went for the sure thing. I agreed with the decision. 

     

     

    • #11
    • September 26, 2020, at 4:57 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Zach H. Coolidge

    Harrowing story and well-told. It seems to me you handled that as well as anyone short of Bruce Lee might have.

    Incidentally, I’m listening to an Audible recording of John Meacham’s biography of Andrew Jackson. There was a time where American boyhood was, not infrequently, a brutish and violent affair. I’m no doubt lucky to have been born into a softer time and place because, in a similar circumstance, I would have come out in worse shape than you, not to mention Old Hickory.

    • #12
    • September 26, 2020, at 7:06 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  13. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    I should also point out the cops wanted one of the two in prison to break up their little crime racket. Going after the brother who attacked me with a charge that about guaranteed a conviction was more important than possibly putting one of them away for a long ride. The DA was right to go after the dead cert charge. Simply getting one of them off the street meant crime in Ann Arbor would drop, especially since they were getting bolder after each successive escape from the law. I do know that for the remainder of the time I was in Ann Arbor at least one of them was behind bars – which prevented them from pulling their good twin/bad twin act from 1973 through 1980. 

    • #13
    • September 26, 2020, at 7:11 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng…Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    That seems a light sentence for attempted murder. Was the perp under 18?

    Perp was 19. They charged him with assault with intent to commit grave bodily harm short of murder. It was a good call. They could clearly prove that. With a murder change they had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he intended to murder me to get a conviction. They went for the sure thing. I agreed with the decision.

     

     

    He should have been sent away for life and or executed.

    • #14
    • September 26, 2020, at 7:39 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. kedavis Member

    P.S. This should be “pinned” to a “Best Of Ricochet” or something, so that people don’t have to dig through pages and pages to find it.

    • #15
    • September 26, 2020, at 11:12 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Cow Girl Thatcher

    WOW! That is absolutely incredible! What kind of parents did these two have anyway? That was a very harrowing story and I’m glad you were so prepared to deal with such a dreadful person as that punk. Sounds like the police had his number, at least.

    I was a junior in high school in 1969/70 and I always carried a pocketknife in my purse…just because. Once, I even had a teacher ask me if he could borrow it to fix/cut something. Many people carried pocketknives. Lots of people had gunracks in their trucks, and during hunting season, some of the gunracks held a gun.

    BUT–NO ONE would have used it on a PERSON! The knife or the gun. But, maybe that was just the way it was in small town Wyoming.

    Your story is astonishing. Seriously.

    • #16
    • September 26, 2020, at 11:37 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  17. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    He should have been sent away for life and or executed.

    Umm . . . no.

    We have laws and court procedures in this country for a reason. They date to the Magna Carta that at one point states no man shall be held or bound or dispossessed of freehold ground except in lawful judgment found and passed upon him by his peers. The Magna Carta has been guiding English and later US law for over 900 years. Why? Because it works.

    You cannot imprison or execute a man in this country without proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the man committed the crime of which he was accused. It is a high bar and the bar is set high for a reason. If it is any lower, unscrupulous government officials can turn the law into a tool of oppression. If the standard for conviction were a preponderance of the evidence, for example, it would be easy to overwhelm a defense by dumping in a lot of extraneous evidence to tip the scales in favor of the prosecution, And the state has limitless resources to bring to bear, certainly more than any individual.

    Even in Texas you cannot execute a man except for the worst types of crime, killing someone with premeditation or for financial gain. And you have to prove those items beyond a reasonable doubt. Even then, in Texas, the sentence is life without parole unless in the sentencing phase the state can prove the individual poses a continuing threat to society. (In Michigan there is no death penalty and never has been.) Again, I consider that prudent. Otherwise you give the state too much power, and permit it to become a tool of oppression.

    Also, in this country you can only be tried for an offense once. The state is not allowed do-overs. Nor should it be. If it were, again the resources available to the state would allow it to return to a defendant over and over until they finally obtained a conviction on some charge. Again, that is a formula for oppression and tyranny. 

    What could the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt in the case of the assault on me? They definitely had him on a charge of assault to create grave bodily harm. Objective evidence showed he had attack me with a deadly weapon and inflicted serious injury on my person. Nothing more was needed to obtain a conviction. Nothing.

    How about assault with intent to commit murder? Now you have to prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – he intended to kill me. The presence of a weapon is not enough to prove intent. As Cow Girl pointed out in her comment, people routinely carried knives back then. Maybe if it had been a switchblade or a fighting knife it could have indicated intent, but the knife disappeared after the fight was over. (I am pretty sure it was a fighting knife because it opened automatically when he pulled it out of his pocket, but pretty sure isn’t beyond a reasonable doubt.) Even if the knife was available and proved to be a fighting weapon instead of a pocketknife, it had to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill me when he started the fight.

    This was a criminal who due to special circumstances (his identical twin brother) could normally commit crimes with impunity. Taking him out of circulation also ensured a second violent criminal became vulnerable to arrest and conviction. They had him almost dead cert on the assault charge. He would go down for a serious felony. Or they could push for an attempted murder charge.

    If they failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he intended to kill me then he would walk, And continue his criminal career even more emboldened. He would have successfully attacked someone in a crowded lunchroom in front of dozens of witnesses = and gotten away with it.

    And the State of Michigan, in its wisdom, sets a penalty of 2-1/2 to 10 years for the crime of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting grave bodily harm. That is pretty serious time. 

    All this stuff is decided in advance, after due deliberation by the legislature to prevent emotional overreaction during an individual case. Acting out of emotion leads to bad law – and ultimately to oppression and tyranny. 

    Would I like to have seen him thrown in jail until he was old enough to collect Social Security? Sure. But the sentence he got was fair, in accordance with Michigan law, and sufficient to satisfy members of my family (including myself and my younger brother) not to seek private vengeance for redress. Ultimately, that is what the law is all about. 

    • #17
    • September 27, 2020, at 6:12 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. Quietpi Member

    Wow. That was close. I’m doubly glad that you’re with us today.

    It’s interesting, too. You, as a professional author, even now show evidence in your writing that you were reliving the event as you told it. In word analysis, we call it “joining the parade.”

    • #18
    • September 27, 2020, at 8:32 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. kedavis Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Also, in this country you can only be tried for an offense once. The state is not allowed do-overs. Nor should it be. If it were, again the resources available to the state would allow it to return to a defendant over and over until they finally obtained a conviction on some charge. Again, that is a formula for oppression and tyranny.

    What could the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt in the case of the assault on me? They definitely had him on a charge of assault to create grave bodily harm. Objective evidence showed he had attack me with a deadly weapon and inflicted serious injury on my person. Nothing more was needed to obtain a conviction. Nothing.

    How about assault with intent to commit murder? Now you have to prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – he intended to kill me. The presence of a weapon is not enough to prove intent. As Cow Girl pointed out in her comment, people routinely carried knives back then. Maybe if it had been a switchblade or a fighting knife it could have indicated intent, but the knife disappeared after the fight was over. (I am pretty sure it was a fighting knife because it opened automatically when he pulled it out of his pocket, but pretty sure isn’t beyond a reasonable doubt.) Even if the knife was available and proved to be a fighting weapon instead of a pocketknife, it had to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill me when he started the fight.

    If they failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he intended to kill me then he would walk, And continue his criminal career even more emboldened. He would have successfully attacked someone in a crowded lunchroom in front of dozens of witnesses = and gotten away with it.

    And the State of Michigan, in its wisdom, sets a penalty of 2-1/2 to 10 years for the crime of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting grave bodily harm. That is pretty serious time.

    All this stuff is decided in advance, after due deliberation by the legislature to prevent emotional overreaction during an individual case. Acting out of emotion leads to bad law – and ultimately to oppression and tyranny.

    Are you, then, opposed to the idea of a jury convicting on a lesser/included charge? So if the jury decides the evidence doesn’t rise to the level of attempted murder, they can still convict on ADW?

    Do you believe the prosecutor can only pick one charge, and that’s it?

    But people are tried on, and convicted of, multiple charges all the time.

    Multiple charges, or different levels of charges, are not the same as “double jeopardy.”

    • #19
    • September 27, 2020, at 10:50 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng…Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    He should have been sent away for life and or executed.

    Umm . . . no.

    We have laws and court procedures in this country for a reason. They date to the Magna Carta that at one point states no man shall be held or bound or dispossessed of freehold ground except in lawful judgment found and passed upon him by his peers. The Magna Carta has been guiding English and later US law for over 900 years. Why? Because it works.

    You cannot imprison or execute a man in this country without proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the man committed the crime of which he was accused. It is a high bar and the bar is set high for a reason. If it is any lower, unscrupulous government officials can turn the law into a tool of oppression. If the standard for conviction were a preponderance of the evidence, for example, it would be easy to overwhelm a defense by dumping in a lot of extraneous evidence to tip the scales in favor of the prosecution, And the state has limitless resources to bring to bear, certainly more than any individual.

    I did not ask for that. Where did I ask for that?

     

    Even in Texas you cannot execute a man except for the worst types of crime, killing someone with premeditation or for financial gain. And you have to prove those items beyond a reasonable doubt. Even then, in Texas, the sentence is life without parole unless in the sentencing phase the state can prove the individual poses a continuing threat to society. (In Michigan there is no death penalty and never has been.) Again, I consider that prudent. Otherwise you give the state too much power, and permit it to become a tool of oppression.

    These laws are too lax for my taste. We can disagree on that. 

    Also, in this country you can only be tried for an offense once. The state is not allowed do-overs. Nor should it be. If it were, again the resources available to the state would allow it to return to a defendant over and over until they finally obtained a conviction on some charge. Again, that is a formula for oppression and tyranny.

    I did not ask for that.

    What could the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt in the case of the assault on me? They definitely had him on a charge of assault to create grave bodily harm. Objective evidence showed he had attack me with a deadly weapon and inflicted serious injury on my person. Nothing more was needed to obtain a conviction. Nothing.

    That much is clear. Attack with a deadly weapon, by definition, is an attempt to kill someone. 

    How about assault with intent to commit murder? Now you have to prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – he intended to kill me. The presence of a weapon is not enough to prove intent. As Cow Girl pointed out in her comment, people routinely carried knives back then. Maybe if it had been a switchblade or a fighting knife it could have indicated intent, but the knife disappeared after the fight was over. (I am pretty sure it was a fighting knife because it opened automatically when he pulled it out of his pocket, but pretty sure isn’t beyond a reasonable doubt.) Even if the knife was available and proved to be a fighting weapon instead of a pocketknife, it had to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill me when he started the fight.

    He pulled the knife and stabbed you with it. Using a deadly weapon means he wanted to kill you. that is what the Law should say. I am aware it does not. 

    This was a criminal who due to special circumstances (his identical twin brother) could normally commit crimes with impunity. Taking him out of circulation also ensured a second violent criminal became vulnerable to arrest and conviction. They had him almost dead cert on the assault charge. He would go down for a serious felony. Or they could push for an attempted murder charge.

    He was a career criminal who had decided to be evil. He demonstrated no ability to walk the Earth with others safely. The best course for society is permanent removal from said society. The only way to be permanent is to kill them, so that some soft hearted idiot does not let them out later. 

    If they failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he intended to kill me then he would walk, And continue his criminal career even more emboldened. He would have successfully attacked someone in a crowded lunchroom in front of dozens of witnesses = and gotten away with it.

    Again, the laws should be clear: Attack someone with a deadly weapon and intent is understood. He started the fight, he used the knife. 

    And the State of Michigan, in its wisdom, sets a penalty of 2-1/2 to 10 years for the crime of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting grave bodily harm. That is pretty serious time.

    Unless you serve 10 years, it ain’t crap. Sure a decade would be a good start, but the sentence for failing to kill you should be no less than if he had killed you. 

    All this stuff is decided in advance, after due deliberation by the legislature to prevent emotional overreaction during an individual case. Acting out of emotion leads to bad law – and ultimately to oppression and tyranny.

    This has nothing to do with your case. Once someone demonstrates they are incapable of living in a lawful society, they should be removed from that society forever. The repeat offenders demonstrate that rehabilitation is a joke. Antisocial people don’t get better. 

    Would I like to have seen him thrown in jail until he was old enough to collect Social Security? Sure. But the sentence he got was fair, in accordance with Michigan law, and sufficient to satisfy members of my family (including myself and my younger brother) not to seek private vengeance for redress. Ultimately, that is what the law is all about.

    Again, I am not calling for private vengeance. I am calling for the laws to be far, far more harsh. I would happily wind the clock back 200 years for punishment of the core crimes of theft, assault, rape, and murder. We used to treat these like the crimes they were. We don’t. So I disagree with Michigan’s laws. 

    I might also point out, that the state takes over the right to enact justice as part of a contract that says we don’t get too. If it keeps failing in the regard, and it is failing big time now, with no bail, and just releasing people, if it keeps failing, people will take the laws into their own hands. If the state does not hold up its side of the bargain, that will happen. I think the beginning of the Godfather addresses this pretty well. 

    So we can disagree on what justice should be. That is fine. But please, don’t say I am saying things I am not. 

    I believe the man who attacked you deserved to be removed, permanently, from being around others as he demonstrated no sense of right and wrong. Evil people should be dealt with. 

    • #20
    • September 27, 2020, at 5:04 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Hang On Member
    Hang OnJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I talked my way out of your predicament in eighth grade when a guy I knew who tried to rob me and pulled a knife when I said no. I told him who he was and who his brother and father were. His father was a nice man. But I told him to think what it was going to mean for his family if he did it appealing to shame and a threat to them. He folded. And never attempted that again with me. 

    • #21
    • September 28, 2020, at 11:44 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. kedavis Member

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I talked my way out of your predicament in eighth grade when a guy I knew who tried to rob me and pulled a knife when I said no. I told him who he was and who his brother and father were. His father was a nice man. But I told him to think what it was going to mean for his family if he did it appealing to shame and a threat to them. He folded. And never attempted that again with me.

    Sounds like the appropriate strategerie for your situation. But I have no doubt it would not have worked for @seawriter.

    • #22
    • September 28, 2020, at 12:45 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I talked my way out of your predicament in eighth grade when a guy I knew who tried to rob me and pulled a knife when I said no. I told him who he was and who his brother and father were. His father was a nice man. But I told him to think what it was going to mean for his family if he did it appealing to shame and a threat to them. He folded. And never attempted that again with me.

    Sounds like the appropriate strategerie for your situation. But I have no doubt it would not have worked for @seawriter.

    Actually, it did work once for me, also when I was in 8th grade. That was one reason I tried to talk the guy out of using his knife in high school. Besides, what did I have to lose at that point? But, you are right – he wanted to fight and there was no way to avoid it. I considered running away, but decided that would not work because I was a slow runner.

    • #23
    • September 28, 2020, at 1:12 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. kedavis Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I talked my way out of your predicament in eighth grade when a guy I knew who tried to rob me and pulled a knife when I said no. I told him who he was and who his brother and father were. His father was a nice man. But I told him to think what it was going to mean for his family if he did it appealing to shame and a threat to them. He folded. And never attempted that again with me.

    Sounds like the appropriate strategerie for your situation. But I have no doubt it would not have worked for @seawriter.

    Actually, it did work once for me, also when I was in 8th grade. That was one reason I tried to talk the guy out of using his knife in high school. Besides, what did I have to lose at that point? But, you are right – he wanted to fight and there was no way to avoid it. I considered running away, but decided that would not work because I was a slow runner.

    And he might have just stabbed you in the back.

    • #24
    • September 28, 2020, at 1:21 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I talked my way out of your predicament in eighth grade when a guy I knew who tried to rob me and pulled a knife when I said no. I told him who he was and who his brother and father were. His father was a nice man. But I told him to think what it was going to mean for his family if he did it appealing to shame and a threat to them. He folded. And never attempted that again with me.

    Sounds like the appropriate strategerie for your situation. But I have no doubt it would not have worked for @seawriter.

    Actually, it did work once for me, also when I was in 8th grade. That was one reason I tried to talk the guy out of using his knife in high school. Besides, what did I have to lose at that point? But, you are right – he wanted to fight and there was no way to avoid it. I considered running away, but decided that would not work because I was a slow runner.

    And he might have just stabbed you in the back.

    That was what I feared.

    • #25
    • September 28, 2020, at 1:27 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter

    kedavis (View Comment):
    And he might have just stabbed you in the back.

    Oh, and I had already read my Kipling.

    If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
    Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
    So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
    And wait for supports like a soldier.

    • #26
    • September 28, 2020, at 3:42 PM PDT
    • 4 likes