Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"This is is not assault. These two guys squared up on each other"
November 10, 2012 4:11 AM   Subscribe

On the heels of last year's pepper spray incident, Phoenix Jones has once again been filmed in an altercation on the streets of Seattle. Only this time, it occurred under the auspices of the municipal "mutual combat law," and it got violent.
posted by troll (109 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why weren't the "villians" arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct before the fight occured?
posted by humanfont at 4:28 AM on November 10, 2012


"Why weren't the "villians" arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct before the fight occured?"

Phoenix Jones changed the situation when he brought up the mutual combat laws and challenged the drunk racists to a fight.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:31 AM on November 10, 2012


Actually the other guy threatened to come to his house, which is pretty obviously discussed in the video intro.

Initially, I thought PJ seems like a douche. But a) it also seems like citizens coming to the aid of victims in crime if safety not an issue and good judgement reigns is a great idea in the spirit of helping b) it seems like if you are going to do that then the notion wearing of costumes to differentiate from the criminal and victim while superficially silly, might be a good idea. At the end of the day, I don't know what to think of this...its laughable but I'm not sure I can hammer PJ like I did at first. He handled himself pretty well in the context of the situation as far as I could tell.

Oh, and a 'mutual combat' law? Wow, just wow. I had no idea such a thing existed. What other states have such a law? I bet Florida...
posted by sfts2 at 4:38 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aside for the fact that one dude is wearing a latex costume and the cops were acting as referees due to this bizarre mutual combat law, that was like every drunken fight ever.

Drunk guys shouting in the street, "mutual combat". Washington is the Kingon Empire of America.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:38 AM on November 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


WALK AWAY. What Mr. Jones did was not walking away. It's really easy. WALK AWAY. If you are stopping, or turning around and talking, or walking back towards them, YOU ARE NOT WALKING AWAY.

What do civilians gain from superheroes? Sure, the people dangling from the cable car are safe this one time, but civilians in comic books are mostly terrified or cleaning up after massive ice luges.
posted by oneironaut at 4:40 AM on November 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


That was all pretty sad, wasn't it?
posted by Red Loop at 4:40 AM on November 10, 2012 [23 favorites]


Given the legalization vote this week in Washington and the unknown response of the Feds, I could see a pretty entertaining comic that pares Phoenix Jones style DIY heroes and Smokey and the Bandit "get product X to place Y by time z" action. Dudes dressed up in latex to help defend pot shipments, super villains trying to hijack said deliveries, and the law messed up in between.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:44 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand that Phoenix Jones is a trained MMA fighter, and is probably capable of defeating _most_ people in 'mutual' unarmed combat ... but man, if there's one thing I've learned from all my years of training, it's that you don't know what the guy who can kick your ass looks like. Seriously, I've been beaten up by dumpy middle aged looking guys, gangly PhD students, a chubby Cuban chef ... one of the scariest men in grappling is this cheerful looking fellow.

I just can't help but think that this is going to end badly for Phoenix Jones one day. .
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:47 AM on November 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't think that link leads to the actual mutual combat law.
posted by Area Man at 4:56 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be fair, orange shirt guy was pretty drunk. He almost took himself out taking his shoes off. But yeah, I've seen some people get pretty badly hurt in drunken fights.

I have the incredibly perverse urge to get some sort of villain outfit and go there to commit petty crimes like loitering, posting bills and jaywalking.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:59 AM on November 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't know about you but I'd think twice about picking a fight with a man with huge muscles in a superhero costume.
posted by unSane at 5:04 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Please let's not follow this guy anymore. This whole video was tragic on too many levels to count. Truly awful and stupid.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:13 AM on November 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't know what all is going here, but at first glance at the "at it got violent" link video, the guys in the superhero costumes are simple-minded provocateurs.
posted by rmmcclay at 5:14 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This doesn't seem like something that really helps.
posted by Miko at 5:17 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Based on Google search it seems that Mutual Combat is pretty common as a legal thing. Often it is used as a defense in assault cases. Apparently if someone says want to fight and you say yeah let's go, then it's mutual combat. So one should always answer the challenge with the unambiguous "no." Ideally in the presence of witnesses. Also depressing in google searches is that the mutual combat defense is often used in cases of spousal abuse.
posted by humanfont at 5:30 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So... what was achieved here? A group of men in silly costumes are shocked to find themselves being "taunted", do the "I'm slowly walking away while maintaining my dominance display" act that's normally reserved for drunk 17 year olds and the more stupid primates, and then challenge the biggest loudmouth to a fight. The loudmouth gets knocked over, and the police are left to deal with some guys whose mood has been escalated from drunk and annoying to drunk and violent.

The guy in the orange shirt learned the valuable life lesson that you shouldn't get into drunken fights with sober, muscular, armoured vigilantes who go out of their way looking for people to fight, and PJ get his rocks off knowing that he had an "encounter" with a "suspect", adding to whatever weird narrative he's building in his head.

I mean, seriously, what the fuck. If these were 13 year olds, we'd be telling them to grow the fuck up and that not every situation in life needs to be resolved by proving that you have the biggest dick.

I'm sure his heart is in the right place, but from this and from his wiki page, it really sounds like his brain isn't.
posted by metaBugs at 5:38 AM on November 10, 2012 [28 favorites]


Area Man, as with a lot of gun laws that ordinance is more about what's not there than what is. The relevant section:
SMC 12A.06.025

Fighting.

A. It is unlawful for any person to intentionally fight with another person in a public place and thereby create a substantial risk of:

1. Injury to a person who is not actively participating in the fight; or

2. Damage to the property of a person who is not actively participating in the fight.

B. In any prosecution under subsection A of this Section 12A.06.025, it is an affirmative defense that:

1. The fight was duly licensed or authorized by law; or

2. The person was acting in self-defense.

C. As used in this Section 12A.06.025, "public place" means an area open to the general public, and includes streets, sidewalks, bridges, alleys, plazas, parks, driveways, parking lots, automobiles (whether moving or not), and buildings open to the general public including those which serve food and drink or provide entertainment, and the doorways and entrances to buildings or dwellings and the grounds enclosing them.
Emphasis mine. It's not the fighting that is illegal, it's the creation of risk to the bystanders or property, so if you've got that sorted you're free to whale on one another until the paramedics decide you might be edging toward murder.
posted by localroger at 5:39 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


The worst part of mutual combat is forgetting how to do the fatalities.
posted by dr_dank at 5:42 AM on November 10, 2012 [25 favorites]


Oh, and a 'mutual combat' law? Wow, just wow. I had no idea such a thing existed. What other states have such a law?

Most, actually. Here's the thing though: it's not like there's a specific statute which says, in as many words, that "mutual combat" is legal. It's that by a close parsing of the statute prohibiting "fighting," one can see that mutual combat isn't illegal. Not as such anyway. Here's what the ordinance says:
A. It is unlawful for any person to intentionally fight with another person
in a public place and thereby create a substantial risk of:
1. Injury to a person who is not actively participating in the fight; or
2. Damage to the property of a person who is not actively participating in
the fight.
So if two guys decide to get into it, that isn't an assault, because there's consent to the touching. And if they're fighting in such a way that they aren't posing a danger to anyone not immediately involved, that doesn't violate the ordinance. It's fighting in a public place that creates a risk to other persons or their property which is illegal, not fighting as such.

But if you seriously hurt someone, that immediately crosses the line from "mutual misadventure" to assault, since it is impossible to consent to serious bodily injury. Remember, it's consent that changes illegal assault into legal "mutual combat." So if the consent element is removed, there's been an assault. So you can fight, but you can't do any real damage. That's still illegal.

But the cops aren't under any obligation to do anything about it. If two guys decide to get into it and one of them gets his ass kicked--as seems to have happened here--the cops may decide to chalk it up to experience and let people go about their business, especially if no one else was hurt. And the prosecutor is under no obligation to bring assault charges if he doesn't think it's appropriate or simply doesn't want to. Still, it is important to recognize that "mutual combat" doesn't mean it's open season on anyone you can sucker into coming at you.
posted by valkyryn at 5:44 AM on November 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


(Side legal question: it is the exterior of the automobile that is considered a public space when the vehicle is in a public space, right?)
posted by likeso at 5:55 AM on November 10, 2012


I don't think the word "de-escalation" means what they think it means.

Everything about this is fucked up. I don't see anything in that law citation that allows "mutual combat," and in fact, it looks like basically all fighting is illegal, as localroger said, due to possibility of property damage. And the cops were totally wrong to not just toss the drunk assholes in jail for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. If that guy who had gone down with the punch had hit his head on a wall and got a skull fracture, he'd sue the cops so fast. This was a massive failure by the cops, since they basically took on the role of referees instead of police, and incurred liability for the taxpayers. If I lived in Seattle, I wouldn't want local cops risking millions of dollars of my tax money on drunken assholes like that. Throw them all in jail and let the judge sort it out.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:02 AM on November 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


idiots.... all of them.
posted by HuronBob at 6:19 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there no such thing as Breach of the Peace in Seattle? Shouting and threatening violence should get you a sharp "walk away now or spend the night in lockup". Other folk have the use that street too, it's not your macho playground.
posted by Jehan at 6:24 AM on November 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


How long until Dr. Manhattan?
posted by mkb at 6:35 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's all fun and games until someone drops their kebab.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:43 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Would this have gone nearly so far without the little wasp-like dude?
posted by Countess Elena at 6:43 AM on November 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't see anything in that law citation that allows "mutual combat," and in fact, it looks like basically all fighting is illegal, as localroger said, due to possibility of property damage

That's not right, like valkyryn is saying, it's the exception that proves the rule*. By saying "fighting that does x is illegal", the statute implies that fighting that does not do x is legal.

As an alternative example, a sign that says "No hats may be worn on Fridays" implies that hats may be worn at other times.

*And this is where this usually misunderstood phrase actually comes from.
posted by howfar at 6:47 AM on November 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Rex Velvet was right!
posted by HostBryan at 6:50 AM on November 10, 2012


I keep thinking how much the cops must loathe Phoenix Jones, which is the best possible justification for him to keep on rocking in the free world.
posted by winna at 6:53 AM on November 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Jones says the best way to prevent getting mistaken for a criminal by the police is to wear a "supersuit".

The spike in pathologies that map directly to the Marvel comics, sci fi pulps, and Z-grade movies I binged on as a kid fills me with amazement and dread.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:03 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


*And this is where this usually misunderstood phrase actually comes from.


Lexical derail: not really. The phrase derives from the old meaning of 'prove' as 'test' or 'prove worthy', as in 'proving ground' or 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating' or 'degrees proof'. So the original meaning was 'it's the exception which tests the rule', which makes a lot more sense.
posted by unSane at 7:06 AM on November 10, 2012


Why does the narrator keep calling the non-costumed guy a "suspect"? what is he suspected of, exactly?

I have a really strong aversion to the idea of people dressing up in masks and dispensing what they think of as justice. Watching the video and seeing that there was a cop there - what's the point of Phoenix Jones knocking down the other guy at that point?

Don't get me wrong, I am all in favor of a non-apathetic citizenry stepping in to stop an actual crime in progress, especially if the police are not around or won't do something about it. Of course we shouldn't just ignore wrongdoing. But this doesn't look like stopping crime, it looks like an ego display to me. Especially if they required a cop there to referee things.
posted by dubold at 7:09 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lexical derail: not really. The phrase derives from the old meaning of 'prove' as 'test' or 'prove worthy', as in 'proving ground' or 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating' or 'degrees proof'. So the original meaning was 'it's the exception which tests the rule', which makes a lot more sense.

No. It derives from the legal maxim "Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis".
posted by howfar at 7:13 AM on November 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Shit, this is five blocks away from my place. I walk by there all the time, except with more people around and less fights.

It is interesting how calm Phoenix's affect remains through the whole thing. But overall, that was a really nice job of escalating a situation from "drunk dudes starting to cool off after being pulled off their original target" to "screaming fight with police involved". I guess the open question is what would these drunk dudes have gone on to do if PJ and his buddies hadn't gotten involved? Beat up on someone who can't defend themselves as well? Some late night date rape? Or just wandered home and slept it off?

I am not sure if punching one dude out and getting the other dudes all riled up in front of the cops, and possibly arrested, was the intended effect here.

I'm really not sure how I feel about living in the first part of "Watchmen".
posted by egypturnash at 7:17 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I couldn't even make it to the fighting part of the video, because it's just too stupid. Walking alway means actually walking away and continuing to walk in the direction of away, not walking away a bit, stopping, and continuing to exchange words with the other people. These superheroes just seem like a different kind of thug out looking for a fight.
posted by Orb at 7:21 AM on November 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I guess the open question is what would these drunk dudes have gone on to do if PJ and his buddies hadn't gotten involved? Beat up on someone who can't defend themselves as well? Some late night date rape? Or just wandered home and slept it off?

You know you could ask that about anyone you see walking down the street? You can't justify escalating an idiotic fight on the basis of what someone might have done had you not been there. What did happen, when and because you were there, is the issue in hand.
posted by howfar at 7:22 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Weird. I've cleaned up and stitched countless numbers of these guys at the county ER in Seattle, after the fact. (I can clearly smell the mixture of stale alcohol breath, puke, and blood as I write this.) I don't think I've ever seen a "before" video. They look just like barking dogs.

I am really looking forward to the effect more pot/less alcohol has on the Saturday night dumb meathead scene in our fair city.

I mean seriously, if everyone was high, and a bunch of superheroes show up?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:29 AM on November 10, 2012 [34 favorites]


> I mean seriously, if everyone was high, and a bunch of superheroes show up?

Some kind of impromptu Avengers interpretative theatre would break out, I would hope.
posted by sudasana at 7:35 AM on November 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is one of those very rare occasions where I feel bad for the police.
posted by orme at 7:50 AM on November 10, 2012


This is one of those very rare occasions where I feel bad for the police.

that's interesting, because this is one of the times I DON'T feel bad for the police. When the car rolled up, realized there were, what, 5-6 people involved in this, some of them drunk, some of them probably a bit crazy. He should have called for backup and kept the groups apart... Poor judgement allowing the street fighting, if a cop in my village did that, I think we would have his termination papers typed before he got back from his patrol.
posted by HuronBob at 8:02 AM on November 10, 2012


Everyone in this video should have been under arrest by about the 1:00 mark. Phoenix Jones is a world-class escalation artist who needs to GO AWAY.
posted by Fnarf at 8:05 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


"that's interesting, because this is one of the times I DON'T feel bad for the police. When the car rolled up, realized there were, what, 5-6 people involved in this, some of them drunk, some of them probably a bit crazy. He should have called for backup and kept the groups apart..."

I looked to me like thats pretty much exactly what the cop did, Captain Wedged Tights just kept escalating faster than the backup could arrive.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:13 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Egyptnash, I think the question is, how much has Phoenix put other innocent weaker people at risk here? I know enough about male dumb ass pride to know that those 'defeated' guys aren't going to go home and wake up in the morning thinking "Oh, that was a fair duel! I'm going to be a better person now" instead they're more the likely going to want to regain their obvious desire for dominance and beat up a weaker person to feel manly again.

This is all just a pissing match for masculinity.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:17 AM on November 10, 2012


Serious question from a person who has never been to that area: Is crime really so bad in Seattle that this whole superhero vigilante protection squad thing is necessary? Seems like, while the other dudes were certainly idiots, this whole scene may have been avoided had there not been people running around in Marvel style costumes. And if it is necessary, what advantage the superhero outfit give that a bit of common sense would not do better?

I looked at this map at seattle.gov but not sure if it really tells the story.

(and yes, I know that various police departments are often quite deficient, but I am not looking to stoke that conversation.
posted by lampshade at 8:24 AM on November 10, 2012


I sort of thing these two groups deserved each other and if they want to pummel each other and not cause any damage to anyone or anything else, voila, let them pummel each other. They both deserve it. Violence against any unwilling participant is unacceptable, but two folks who just want to hit each other, fuck em, let them have at it. I guess that is what the law says too.
posted by AugustWest at 8:26 AM on November 10, 2012


i think this is awesome. here's the first paragraph from you youtube link:

Phoenix Jones, Midnight Jack, Red Falcon, Bishop and Westlake Drake are on a routine patrol of the University District when they come across a man yelling at a car. The suspect, out side of the car in the orange shirt, starts punching the window of the car scaring the passengers of the vehicle. Phoenix steps in, stops the assault while Red calls 911. (emphasis mine)

isn't this the kind of solution people keep talking about in feminism threads about harassment? i.e. men calling other men out on their shit.

the fighting thing: i could see why people could have an issue with that, but i see it has Phoenix Jones' personal decision about how to handle it.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:32 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


To add to this - I have met folk in the RLSH/X-ALT community (Real Life SuperHeroes / eXtreme Altruist), and even they all pretty much universally agree that Phoenix Jones is a grandstanding asshat. There is a strong sense that he makes them look bad.

I do think that there can be times when that community is valuable though. Often they go into areas where the police won't and try to stop crimes that the police have not taken seriously. (Though you don't see a large concentration of them in Detroit or Brownsville, for some reason. Funny, that.)

The mask is, as said above, often worn simply because otherwise they run a risk of the police shooting them by mistake. It's more of a nod to the superhero thing than anything else. For Phoenix Jones, it's a lifestyle.
posted by corb at 8:32 AM on November 10, 2012


I have met folk in the RLSH/X-ALT community (Real Life SuperHeroes / eXtreme Altruist)

Holy crap, this is a thing? I mean, not a psychiatric diagnosis thing?
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:47 AM on November 10, 2012 [23 favorites]


Serious question from a person who has never been to that area: Is crime really so bad in Seattle that this whole superhero vigilante protection squad thing is necessary?

The issue may be that crime is low-key enough to allow 'superheroes' to go around 'fighting crime' without being 'immediately murdered with guns'.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:51 AM on November 10, 2012 [20 favorites]


I was just going to say the same thing.

Serious question from a person who has never been to that area: Is crime really so bad in Seattle that this whole superhero vigilante protection squad thing is necessary?

No, precisely the opposite. Granted, PJ has advertised that he lives in the Central District, Seattle's ghetto, but that's far safer than the Georgetown neighborhood I lived in in DC. Seattle is just safe enough to get away with playing superhero.

I don't necessarily condemn Phoenix Jones, the world needs more righteousness and theatrics, and certainly the world needs more drunken frat boys punched in the nose. But yeah, vigilantism and violence BAD
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:01 AM on November 10, 2012


Serious question: how is real-life superheroing any different than the vampire the masquerade players who would involve non-larpers in their hijinks? There's not a difference, really?
posted by winna at 9:05 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, this is a thing? I mean, not a psychiatric diagnosis thing?

Well, there may be a few psychiatric diagnoses concealed in there too, but yeah. From what I've seen, the sensible ones are mostly people who believe in community policing, but know that when needed, the costumes can be a gimmick. Some also disagree strongly with the idea of the costumes.
“You see these guys who wear spandex, and they say they go out to beat people up,” Zero said. “That’s insane. It is going to get you killed. What we do is more effective. Let me tell you something: If you’re getting in fights all the time, you’re doing it wrong.
posted by corb at 9:11 AM on November 10, 2012


From what I've seen, the sensible ones are mostly people who believe in community policing

I believe in community policing. It seems to me that vigilantism is evidence that community policing has failed. I understand that you are a libertarian corb, but surely policing is an area where the mechanism of government is the most safe and effective means of protecting society? If there are citizens who wish to get involved in policing, great, but wouldn't it be best if they were able to volunteer as a special constable or find a civilian job as something equivalent to a police community support officer?

Policing by consent is genuinely possible. From what I've seen, both personally and through the media, of US law enforcement, this has typically failed in the US. Even this thread, where reasonable and gentle people express pleasure at something like this serving as an irritant to the police, seems evidence of something seriously wrong.

The real question, to me, is not 'why do these people feel the need to do this?', it is 'why does society broadly tolerate this?'. The answers are of course complex and culturally specific, but the failure of trust in the police to do their primary job of protecting people and keeping the peace seems likely to be a big piece of the puzzle.
posted by howfar at 9:38 AM on November 10, 2012


I want to say his heart is in the right place, but
1. All the superheroes in comic books would usually leave criminals gift wrapped for the police to deal with (back when superheroes still fought criminals instead of each other, anyway)
2. A group of people in costumes patrolling their neighborhood enforcing their own rule of law against citizens is pretty much the definition of a gang.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:40 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aren't libertarianism and Xtreme-altruism incompatible? Didn't Rand say self-sacrifice is for suckers?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:42 AM on November 10, 2012


Not all libertarians are Randians. There are a few sane ones too. They're still completely wrong, as far as I can work out, but they're not mental.
posted by howfar at 9:46 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aren't libertarianism and Xtreme-altruism incompatible? Didn't Rand say self-sacrifice is for suckers?

Actually, not really. This is something that is often kind of misquoted - the longer version (which I'm going to paraphrase) goes a little more like:

Self-sacrifice because you think you have a duty to do so is morally wrong, and is a kind of suicide. However, in many traditional cases often thought of as self-sacrifice, when it is examined closely, it's not really self-sacrifice. The example used is the mother who gives up something she wants in order to give something nice to her child. If she does so because she genuinely wants the best for her child, even above her own temporary sacrifice, it's not actually self-sacrifice, because her lasting and larger happiness is made by the happiness of the child. If she does so only because society tells her she has to, though, then that is bad.

So the concept of putting yourself in danger to save others is not actually un-Randian, as long as you are made more happy in some way by doing so - if you are doing so to create a better world that you think is worth it, that is not un-Randian. It is only un-Randian if you don't actually want to do it at all, and are doing it because someone else has told you or made you feel like you should.
posted by corb at 9:52 AM on November 10, 2012


Ever get the feeling Seattle is slowly morphing into Bartertown?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:05 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is only un-Randian if you don't actually want to do it at all, and are doing it because someone else has told you or made you feel like you should.

But that's unworkable. It has exactly the same problem as radical freedom and bad faith in Sartre. You are are compelled ultimately to fall back on a notion of unsupported will or essence, acting on the world without being acted upon. Apart from the fact that this concept is essentially empty, even if it existed, there would be no means by which you could identify whether any desire was, in fact, an authentic product of the self.
posted by howfar at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know about now, but fifteen years ago I felt radically unsafe on the street at that very spot after dark. The "drunken idiots" had a way more impressive handle on the space than the cops, and as a woman in her early twenties, I just didn't go out at night. I have friends who moved out of their perfect, gorgeous house in that area because they were too sick of the property damage caused by drunken idiots and the complete lack of response by the police.

Not to say that PJ and his crew aren't, as stated upthread, "grandstanding asshats." Not even to say that they aren't making the problem worse. But I gotta tell you, watching that video gave me a great feeling of righteous vindication.
posted by KathrynT at 10:22 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


So according to Rand this would be ok as long as it fulfills a deep psychological need but wrong if I was compelled to do it for a paycheck. So in this case vigilantes good, cops possibly bad.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:27 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


But that's unworkable. It has exactly the same problem as radical freedom and bad faith in Sartre. You are are compelled ultimately to fall back on a notion of unsupported will or essence, acting on the world without being acted upon.

Start pulling on that thread and the whole free will sweater will unravel, and you'll be (metaphorically) cold.
posted by Pyry at 10:42 AM on November 10, 2012


I know Pyry, but the emperor's new clothes never really kept anyone warm in the first place. Better to talk of the limited freedom of wills to express themselves and the real interactions between real purposes and desires than to pursue the illusion of free will.
posted by howfar at 10:49 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have the incredibly perverse urge to get some sort of villain outfit and go there to commit petty crimes like loitering, posting bills and jaywalking.

Also, dude, Seattle cops will GET your ass for jaywalking. It's vicious.
posted by KathrynT at 10:50 AM on November 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


being white is now the same thing as being racist?

Is nobody questioning the "Racist" label here? Where did that come from? I watched the whole thing and im not seeing how the fool in the orange shirt did anything "racist".

Thats the problem with this whole entree.

The rest of it is just an after school special.
posted by Colonel Panic at 10:51 AM on November 10, 2012


I'm guessing, Colonel Panic, that the "racist" label is linked to the man in orange calling the black fellow a "nigger".

That's just a hunch, though.
posted by truex at 11:24 AM on November 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, if you keep watching there is a very loud prolonged speil of racial epithets
posted by Blasdelb at 11:27 AM on November 10, 2012


lampshade > Is crime really so bad in Seattle that this whole superhero vigilante protection squad thing is necessary? […] I looked at this map at seattle.gov but not sure if it really tells the story.

This is going down in the University District. In fact if you plug "4529 University Way NE" into the search on that page (upper left) you'll land right at the site of the altercation I'm pretty sure most of the action happens in front of the Urban Outfitters; I live in the area and walk up and down the Ave like every other day).

The area is mostly full of, as the name would suggests, students attending the University of Washington. It's not a high crime area by any urbanite's standards.

I dunno how regularly Phoenix and his friends patrol the area; I've certainly never seen them. Then again I'm also usually not out at 2AM so who knows.

howfar > You can't justify escalating an idiotic fight on the basis of what someone might have done had you not been there. What did happen, when and because you were there, is the issue in hand.

Oh, yes, to be sure. I'm not defending Jones' choice to go HEY YOU WANNA FIGHT ME? MUTUAL COMBAT! on this guy. (And I'm certainly not defending the other guy for the flurry of racist language, either.) I'm just wondering if by getting one or more of these guys possibly locked up for the night (probably not - the icon on the police map at the site of the altercation is from a few days ago, not last night) stopped them from doing anything later. Or taught them anything.

memo to self: if I choose to become a supervillain while still in Seattle, get a gun and learn how to use it, because Phoenix Jones could totally whup my ass in seconds. Secondary memo to self: Escalating things to assault with a deadly weapon is probably not a good life plan. Stick with drawing comics, not living them.
posted by egypturnash at 12:29 PM on November 10, 2012


So if two guys decide to get into it, that isn't an assault, because there's consent to the touching. And if they're fighting in such a way that they aren't posing a danger to anyone not immediately involved, that doesn't violate the ordinance

Well, yeah, that makes sense. Otherwise boxing, football, BDSM play, martial arts training, etc., would all be illegal, wouldn't they? I'm enough of a liberal to think that if two mutually consenting adults want to beat on each other for a while, that's basically okay. Maybe not a good lifestyle choice, but not something that should be illegal, as long as they don't cross some sort of permanent-harm threshold.


If I were to become a supervillain I would totally be one of the gadgety/schemey kinds of supervillains, so I wouldn't have to worry about PJ's fighting ability because he'd be dangling from a net or something.
posted by hattifattener at 12:47 PM on November 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


hattifattener: "If I were to become a supervillain I would totally be one of the gadgety/schemey kinds of supervillains, so I wouldn't have to worry about PJ's fighting ability because he'd be dangling from a net or something."

but, as a mefite, you may just have the supervillian tendency to let opportunity slip away as you pause to compose a soliloquy on the moral lessons we can all learn from the impending defeat of your foe
posted by idiopath at 12:53 PM on November 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sad sacks, each and every one.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:00 PM on November 10, 2012


This is one of those very rare occasions where I feel bad for the police.

You know I actually agree with this sentiment, except that I often pity the police. In this case, I look at the first officer to show up, and I can just hear him thinking "Man I could be at home playing Assassin's Creed" the entire time.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:06 PM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jon Ronson discusses his adventures with Phoenix Jones
posted by D_I at 2:25 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's an article Ronson wrote about Jones last year: It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's...Some Dude?!
posted by homunculus at 2:43 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


If dressing like a total hardon and picking fights with drunk dipshits is wrong, well godammit, I don't wanna be right. Now pass me the bag balm, this unitard is riding up somethin' fierce.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:17 PM on November 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Unless you have superpowers, you are not a superhero. Go get bitten by a radioactive walrus or fall into a vat of mitochondria or something.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:13 PM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, that was ugly and embarrassing on all sides. The drunks, the cops and the prick in the silly costume. Him especially. Idiot needs to take some lessons in how not to escalate a conflict. You start by not going around in a stupid costume working out your childhood superhero vigilante fantasies in real life.
posted by Decani at 5:47 PM on November 10, 2012


I think the whole thing was a setup. The drunk guy wasn't drunk. He was hired by this Phoenix dude to get into a fight and get his ass kicked, thus enhancing Jones's reputation. The most telling detail is that when the take-down occurs, it's pretty much off-camera.

I bet the whole thing is viral marketing for a new movie.
posted by Doohickie at 6:00 PM on November 10, 2012


Oh, and a 'mutual combat' law? Wow, just wow. I had no idea such a thing existed. What other states have such a law?


I know in MA, "stepping outside", or even proposing to do so, is called "prize fighting" and is a crime. (Prize optional).
posted by ocschwar at 6:20 PM on November 10, 2012


Drunk guy was an ass, PJ wanted a fight and so did the drunk guy. PJ stopped as soon as he decisively won. I see no problem here.
posted by fnerg at 6:39 PM on November 10, 2012


Why didn't the cop ask for proof of health insurance? I'm not morally opposed to two bros beating the shit out of each other, but if one of them breaks an arm and goes to the ER without insurance you and me basically are paying for it.

What a stupid law. WA is usually pretty good on legal stuff but this is moronic.
posted by bardic at 8:36 PM on November 10, 2012


Because its not illegal to not have health insurance? At least for now.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:04 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right, a law that encourages people to engage in behavior that will cost the rest of us more is stupid.
posted by bardic at 10:38 PM on November 10, 2012


if two mutually consenting adults want to beat on each other for a while

Not on a public street. There are people living there; there are people trying to sleep within a few feet of this. There are people wanting to walk down that block at that very moment. The streets belong to everybody, not just the victims of testosterone poisoning.
posted by Fnarf at 10:56 PM on November 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


If a weirdo in a costume and a drunk racist want to fight, by all means let them fight.
posted by clarknova at 10:56 PM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unless you have superpowers, you are not a superhero.

These guys would like to talk with you.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:01 PM on November 10, 2012


I see no problem here.

Yeah, it's all good fun until someone gets their eye put out, right?

Aren't there some laws that people having martial arts training can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon? Here's some WWF muscleneck with body armor using kick boxing techniques to beat the crap out of some drunken guy who is basically defenseless. It looks like the guy was trying to break his knees, and partially succeeded. There is a difference between fighting and maiming.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:03 PM on November 10, 2012


Ad hominem: "Aren't libertarianism and Xtreme-altruism incompatible? Didn't Rand say self-sacrifice is for suckers?"

Browsing from Bunny's linked list, I ran across The Question:
As conceived by Ditko, the Question was an adherent of Objectivism during his career as a minor Charlton hero.
And apparently more than one of Ditko's creations features Objectivism. No clue whether they're compatible or not, but apparently at least one significant figure thinks the circle can be squared.
posted by pwnguin at 11:45 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Question was an inspiration for Rorschach in Watchmen. Leading to this:

The Question, on whom Rorschach was partly based, actually read a copy of the Watchmen trade paperback in Question #17 (1988). Question is briefly inspired by the comic and the character of Rorschach, leading him to take a more physically aggressive style of crime fighting. At the end of the issue, having been overpowered in hand-to-hand combat by a pair of villains, he is asked if he has any final words, and Question remarks, "Rorschach sucks."

Perhaps somebody might send Phoenix Jones that issue.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:53 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


it reveals something very not right with me that I found this video extremely hilarious.

I am REALLY sorry, fellow Mefites. I beg for your acceptance and please, do not shame me for finding this video funny and intriguing.
posted by roboton666 at 12:10 AM on November 11, 2012


No it is pretty funny. I just wish the shirtless guy and Phoenix could have had a go as well.

I don't care what you guys imagine it costs us as a society. I don't care if we had socialized medicine and every time two lunatics had at each other we were directly paying the tab for their broken bones and missing teeth. I'm firmly convinced honest outlets for physical aggression are worth every penny.
posted by clarknova at 12:32 AM on November 11, 2012


Yes clarknova. It's just a shame the US is a nation that cares little for aggressive sports and only offers its young men the opportunity to involve themselves in crochet and D&D if they want to earn the respect of their peers.

This is not 'Nam.
posted by howfar at 4:00 AM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also depressing in google searches is that the mutual combat defense is often used in cases of spousal abuse.

I happened to see a panel attended by Phoenix Jones at Geek Girl Con this year. He was there in support of his wife, Purple Reign.

Purple Reign is a domestic violence activist and aims to bring awareness about the issue to the public. She wants to give strength to those being abused or bullied and uses her superhero persona to help her achieve that.

It was an interesting panel. She talked about her own experiences being a victim of abuse, and how she transformed that, taking back control of her life. They also related the story of how they met. Phoenix was show-boating at the end, but overall he left a good impression. And Purple Reign's work is amazing and inspiring.

One note of interest was they had their lawyer there, and were much more careful about what they said then Phoenix has been at earlier events. That, along with a few other comments, made it kind of obvious she's been a huge mediating force in his life. Probably keeping him from going over the edge to be honest.

Personally, I don't mind he's out there doing what he does. Especially given the issues with the Seattle Police Department. Also, Phoenix was fired from his job working with autistic children. He may be an asshat, but I think his intentions are good.
posted by formless at 4:38 AM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


howfar: "This is not 'Nam."

No. 'Nam was 'Nam. And Iraq is Iraq. And Afghanistan is Afghanistan. I don't see any mortars or m16s here do you?

Which is better? We forge all the unaddressed tensions in our own society into a finely honed, industrially-amplified war machine to be unleashed on much weaker, smaller populations; all at the the pleasure of chickenhawk profiteers? Or we put our military industrial economy into social programs and infrastructure, and let natural born hooligans punch each other stupid?
posted by clarknova at 4:55 AM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


folk in the RLSH/X-ALT community (Real Life SuperHeroes / eXtreme Altruist),

I have to join the WHATTHEFUCK chorus on this. The word "community" has its limits. I prefer "Delusional Americans."
posted by spitbull at 5:15 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


fired from his job working with autistic children

Also, good. Who would want this nutbag near their child?
posted by spitbull at 5:16 AM on November 11, 2012


Or we put our military industrial economy into social programs and infrastructure, and let natural born hooligans punch each other stupid?

I'm fine with idiots punching themselves or others stupid. But I worked in bars for a long time, and I've spent lots of time walking streets where idiots are fighting, and I've got caught up in fights that weren't anything to do with me. And y'know what, there is a reason for the charge of affray in English law. Have a fight by all means, but do it the fuck out of my way, you selfish cockwitted fucks.

And if you think the military industrial complex exists or functions to allow young men to let off steam, you presumably think that Iceland is a violent hellhole. The point you make is so foolish that I can hardly credit it as being serious.
posted by howfar at 5:25 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have a fight by all means, but do it the fuck out of my way, you selfish cockwitted fucks.

The ordinance parsage that makes this legal does not apply if it puts any bystanders or their property at risk.
posted by localroger at 6:26 AM on November 11, 2012


Yes, I understand that, but I don't believe it is sufficient. Like I said "there is a reason for the charge of affray in English law".

Public Order Act 1986 s3(1): A person is guilty of affray if he uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and his conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety.
posted by howfar at 6:33 AM on November 11, 2012


Holy frack howfar, I am so glad that verbiage isn't present in US law. Maybe Britain does it better than we would, but you do realize how much potential for abuse there is interpreting "threatens" or "reasonable firmness" right?
posted by localroger at 6:46 AM on November 11, 2012


Yes, of course I do, this is my field. While I take your point, you do have to remember that the interpretations of terms like "threatens" and "reasonable firmness" are established by legal precedent, rather than the whims of a judge, bench or jury. If they are misinterpreted, that is a ground for appeal. Law is full of terms that are open to abusive misinterpretation, it's the job of the system to ensure that they aren't so interpreted

But as I say, I think your point is possibly a fair one, particularly in a US context. What always surprises me about US criminal and pubic order law (apart from how complex and arcane it seems to a mere Englishman) is how many limitations appear to be placed on the powers of the police and courts, and yet how terrified everyone is of...the police and courts. One of the odd things, to me, about US law enforcement is the apparent general absence of the consent and community policing models. I understand that this has deep historical roots, but I can't help but feel that it provides a cultural context for some of the madder extremes of the anti-big-government movement, as well as getting a lot of civilians and police officers killed and injured.

The British, by and large, trust their criminal justice system and, by and large, it earns that trust. The exceptions are, of course, widespread, but I don't think that they spring from the sources that a USian like yourself looking at the system might expect.
posted by howfar at 7:03 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I should add that s3(3) POA 1986 adds "For the purposes of this section a threat cannot be made by the use of words alone". The legislators did have at least some aspects of your concern in mind, localroger.
posted by howfar at 7:06 AM on November 11, 2012


The British, by and large, trust their criminal justice system and, by and large, it earns that trust.

Yeah well it is a bit different over here. My own hometown spawned Antoinette Frank, Len Davis, the Danziger Bridge and Henry Glover police murders, and an ongoing consent decree negotiation over general police brutality, so by in large sane people do not trust the criminal justice system because of the number of fingers it has put in citizens' eyes.
posted by localroger at 7:28 AM on November 11, 2012


That was essentially the point I was making, that and observing the strangeness of so much police and judicial abuse in a country founded on the principle of checks to state power, and employing so many legal defences against it.
posted by howfar at 8:42 AM on November 11, 2012


I still wish Trayvon had been armed.
posted by spitbull at 8:59 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure the difference between UK law and US law is so great as is being assumed. Most US states have a crime called "Disorderly Conduct." Here is a wikipedia article on the offense and here is the Minnesota statute (I'm from Minnesota). Note that these statutes are pretty broadly written, and so must be interpreted with the First Amendment kept in mind. However, they would seem to apply to this situation.

I don't know anything about Washington State, maybe they've just decided to take a different approach to these matters.

Also, some googling suggests that Affray is still a crime in some US jurisdictions.
posted by Area Man at 9:42 AM on November 11, 2012


While I understand what people are saying about Phoenix Jones here, this is what started it all:

Jones said that the fight started after he observed a group of people yelling at an occupied car. Jones said he saw one of the men punch the window and stepped in to stop the man. That’s when Jones said the man redirected his aggression towards Jones and his group.

I have to say, as someone who has been harassed in public too many times to count, often by roaming groups of alpha male/douchebag/frat boys like this one, I have no problem with someone stepping in to help out or stop it. Years, decades, of Take Back the Nights, Slut Walks etc, hasn't done much to curb the harassment that women are subjected to on the street; and while I know I may be looking at this situation through a worldview tainted by too many years of putting up with this shit, the idea of men stepping in to help out when they see this happening - superhero costume or not - well, yeah, I would totally welcome that.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:53 AM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, some googling suggests that Affray is still a crime in some US jurisdictions.

It is originally a common law offence, so this seems very likely, although the details may be different.
posted by howfar at 10:18 AM on November 11, 2012


Serious question from a person who has never been to that area: Is crime really so bad in Seattle that this whole superhero vigilante protection squad thing is necessary?

As a Seattle resident and a lifelong comic book fan, I would like to say HELL NO this isn't necessary. Perhaps it's necessary to the minds and egos of PJ and his buddies, but past that? HELL NO.

We need serious culture reform within the Seattle PD, and yes there is crime and such... but holy crap, we do not need guys in costumes trying to be superheroes. Comic book superheroes have writers on their side who control everything. Private citizens in real life don't have that advantage.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:38 PM on November 11, 2012


« Older While developed countries are pondering whether th...   |   Every month, Ian Anderson, edi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments