How many punches, precisely, are they allowed to throw?

Stephanie Zvan has articulated her thoughts on self-defence and the application of violence, and her arguments mirror my own:

[CN: on top of all the Nazi stuff, talk about the threat of sexual assault]

Yesterday I asked whether the people still telling me not to punch Nazis after Charlottesville were telling me to be martyred or to stand aside while someone else is.

Mostly I didn’t get any answers. I expected that. That’s what happens when “Just say ‘no’ to violence!” runs into situations where violence is inherent and inevitable. Ironically, the act of making an option unspeakable makes the pro-rational discussion with Nazis crowd unable to discuss current events rationally. Weird. (Not at all weird.)

I also ran into a couple of people yesterday who would prefer martyrdom to enacting any violence. That’s fine. I can’t relate to it in any way, but I don’t have to. It’s a personal choice. But it being a personal choice means you don’t get to impose it on me or anyone else. You don’t get to choose that someone else dies in the name of nonviolence.

I detest violence. I would much rather use every other tool in my toolbox to resolve conflict. But I will not write violence off as an option, especially when the threat of it is sometimes the only thing preventing injury to begin with. Arguing that I am obligated to take these blows strikes me as insufferably arrogant.

Read more here.



  1. says

    When 1/3 of the population wants to kill 1/3 of the population, the remaining 1/3 of the population has to either stop them or become complicit. What they don’t get to do is stand around saying “dear me, isn’t it awful!?!?”

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I was just arguing about the same thing over on A Trivial Knot. Basically, my point is that Nazis absolutely deserve to be punched, but that being seen as non-violent is better tactically if the goal is to garner sympathy from the general public.

    To use Marcus’ example, even if they commit 90% of the violence and we commit 10%, the greater part of the populace will want to adopt the Cheeto’s “both sides are bad” approach if given half a chance. MLK Jr realized this — his nonviolent campaign worked because the graphics of the steady stream of images of unarmed black people as victims overwhelmed the nation’s inherent racism.

  3. says

    The thing we need to recognize, collectively, is that white supremacists’ goal is not just some nebulous free speech or southern pride; they could have that without all the rigamarole they are going through. Their stated goal is either oppression, slaughter, repression, or deportation of blacks, LGBT, hispanics, jews, and who knows who all else. Their goal-state is not one that is achievable without political violence; therefore their marches and rallies should be correctly interpreted as incitement or preparation to political violence. They’re just complaining that we’re not willing to give them the initiative? Fuck that. Giving them the initiative means standing around while they drive cars into crowds, or attack synagogues with overwhelming numbers? Fuck that. If someone gets in your face and says “I want to kill you” it’s a fool who stands back and ponders whether they are exercising their free speech appropriately. “I want to kill you” implicitly means they want to deny you your free speech and your other rights. They’ve declared war; this is not a free speech issue any more. When some guy shows up to a ‘protest’ with military weaponry, they are making a threat; they are suppressing free speech. They’ve also painted a target on the back of their head.