If I had a hammer...
October 19, 2007 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Hammer-wielding granny smashes up Comcast office.

If you hate Comcast, and like hammers, this story is just for you.
posted by contessa (239 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder how that peice would have been written if the "hero" was a man. Or a black man.
posted by rocket88 at 7:38 AM on October 19, 2007 [17 favorites]


So, after stewing over it all weekend, on the following Monday, she went downstairs, got Don's claw hammer and said: "C'mon, honey, we're going to Comcast."
posted by R. Mutt at 7:38 AM on October 19, 2007


I don't understand why WaPo is uplifting this woman as a hero of some sort - she's a criminal. It's just weird and disturbing. It's not even as if she did something nobly criminal - just destruction of property.
posted by TypographicalError at 7:39 AM on October 19, 2007


Have you ever dealt with Comcast, TypographicalError?
posted by R. Mutt at 7:41 AM on October 19, 2007


Man, she really wanted google off her computer.
posted by cortex at 7:44 AM on October 19, 2007 [14 favorites]


TypographicalError, did you read what Comcast did to them? If making an elderly couple sit outside in the August heat for two hours and *then* telling them "sorry, the manager left for the day" isn't criminal, it damn well fucking should be.

After I hit the keyboard, I turned to this blonde who had been there the previous Friday, the one who told me to wait for the manager, and I said, ' Now do I have your attention?' "

Go granny go. The only lame part is that the WaPo reporter didn't have the brains to get a specific response from the Comcast PR flak about the making them wait part.
posted by mediareport at 7:47 AM on October 19, 2007


That'll teach 'em to put Google on her computer. It made her Comcast very slooooooowww.
posted by NoMich at 7:49 AM on October 19, 2007


Goddamit cortex. *You* make my Metafilter slooooooow.
posted by NoMich at 7:50 AM on October 19, 2007


Well, horrible article of course, but who hasn't dealt with Comcast's (lack of) customer service and not wanted to do the same thing?
posted by supercres at 7:52 AM on October 19, 2007


I have Comcast and I've had a few problems with my service. They can't even spell my name correctly after repeated requests. But this woman went off the deep end, and we shouldn't be lauding her for her uncontrollable rage. Nothing justifies acts of violence. Surely the CSR whose desk she smashed had virtually nothing to do with the situation. Even if she's the same one who made them sit for two hours, her manager is ultimately at fault. I've had many managers who kept people waiting while I was forced to entertain them and make excuses.
posted by desjardins at 7:56 AM on October 19, 2007


I'm sure she'll be much happier with Verizon.
posted by box at 7:56 AM on October 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


That made my morning. Possibly my week.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:03 AM on October 19, 2007


I wonder how that peice would have been written if the "hero" was a man. Or a black man.

Man: "Local cops subdue hammer-wielding man."

Black man: "Officers shoot, kill, psychotic gang member. Citizens grateful for saved lives."
posted by Avenger at 8:05 AM on October 19, 2007 [13 favorites]


"I scared the tar out of some people, at least,"
"My blood pressure went up around my ears. I started hyperventilating. They had to call the rescue squad and put me on a litter."


Ok, that's just sad.
posted by prostyle at 8:07 AM on October 19, 2007


Sort of like a latter day Carrie Nation except I kind of agree with her.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:13 AM on October 19, 2007


The beauty of this story is that it has so many great quotes:

Sgt. Tim Neumann says there have been other police calls to that Comcast office, but he doesn't know what prompted them.
posted by eye of newt at 8:20 AM on October 19, 2007


From the article:

Police gave her the hammer back

Lots of comcast customers amongst law enforcement, I guess.
posted by DreamerFi at 8:26 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bacha noted that Comcast has more than 25 million customers, the overwhelming majority of which are very satistified with their service

"Noted" is not the journalistically correct word to use here unless the claims have not only been substantiated but are generally accepted as true. The correct word would be "claimed", "asserted" or at most, "said".
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:29 AM on October 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


I for one welcome our new hammer-weilding granny overlo ...... ah forget it.
posted by jlowen at 8:29 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


(To say nothing of the fact that that "which" should be "whom", but that's more bad grammar than bad journalism.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:31 AM on October 19, 2007


Does this mean it's finally okay for me to use a hammer to scare the hell out of the granny holding up the line to count every little penny out of her change purse?
posted by troybob at 8:32 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


It must be nice to be in your 70s and still have a toddler's approach to problem solving. "Young at heart" and all that.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:34 AM on October 19, 2007


Yea...I hate my phone company, but for me, even old people don't get a free pass for shit like that. Aside from my disapproval of introducing violence, she didn't target anyone who had anything to do with it, like, maybe the manager, not his fucking call-centre employees?
posted by jacalata at 8:34 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now Comcast customers have another reason to take a hammer to their local Comcast office:

"Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally.

The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users."

posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:34 AM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


What bugged me most, George, is the way the reporter passes along the PR flak's claim that the service record differed from what grandma says, but didn't ask which parts grandma was misrepresenting. Did they come on that Monday or not? Did they leave the job half-finished or not? Did they disconnect service or not? What, if anything, did they do right that grandma's not mentioning? The reporter doesn't even bother to clarify, but lets the PR flak's claim say there, unchallenged. That's just crap journalism.
posted by mediareport at 8:36 AM on October 19, 2007


Admins better wear a helmet next time Mefi has some downtime.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:39 AM on October 19, 2007


pissed off granny, now with PowerBoost™
posted by quonsar at 8:44 AM on October 19, 2007


Looks like Colbert just found his Secretary of the Interior.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:44 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Smashin' shit is still smashin' shit, no matter how old you are. But legality aside, it's sad someone was so frustrated that this would seem like a good idea. Everyone knows "broadband" in the US sucks and it doesn't take much to see why. While I'm not advocating this be the start of a trend, it would be interesting to see the "broadband" providers worried that it could become a trend.
posted by tommasz at 8:45 AM on October 19, 2007


Admins better wear a helmet next time Mefi has some downtime.

a regular hammer is no match against a banhammer
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 AM on October 19, 2007


It's a very good thing that Verizon doesn't publish the locations of their callcenters, let's just leave it at that.
posted by Skorgu at 8:46 AM on October 19, 2007


Everyone knows "broadband" in the US sucks and it doesn't take much to see why.

well, not everyone has bad service - mine's charter, and mine's quite good

my best friend in the next town over has comcast - and that sucks
posted by pyramid termite at 8:47 AM on October 19, 2007


Admins better wear a helmet next time Mefi has some downtime.

That is a solved problem, my friend.
posted by cortex at 8:48 AM on October 19, 2007


I wonder how that peice would have been written if the "hero" was a man. Or a black man.

Yeah yeah and if she had been an Arab she'd be in Gitmo. Cultural bias. Whatever. Code Pink needs to learn from this, recruit hundreds of little old ladies with pink hammers and send 'em to Washington.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:54 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Illegal" should always be mitigated, to some extent, by "hilarious."
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:00 AM on October 19, 2007 [10 favorites]


"How do you plead?"
"Oh No She Din't, your honor."
posted by cortex at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Grammy-wielding Hammer smashes up Comcast office.
posted by clarkie666 at 9:19 AM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Airing since 1975, the world's longest running TV commercial is Discount Tire's classic Thank You, with a disgruntled granny tossing her bad tire through the store window. One unhappy customer actually followed through:
The one question frequently asked: Did anyone ever really throw a tire back through a Discount Tire store window?

"Believe it or not, there has only been one instance in the past 29 years," said Sandi Hveem, director of corporate and community development. In 1986, one tire buyer, frustrated after getting two flat tires on his wife's car within a week, heaved the deflated tire through a large glass window of a Discount Tire store in Michigan, causing $500 in damage.
YMMV, but whenever we've bought tires there, the customer service has always been top-notch.
posted by cenoxo at 9:26 AM on October 19, 2007


Cute... I like her.....

I have to admit, I'm tempted to call those of you that think she did something terrible as ball-less sheep... but, I'm not going to do that..

Sometimes enough is enough... and it is just important to communicate it in a meaningful manner...

I just don't think a polite letter to customer service would have the same impact... heh "impact"..heh... I made a joke...
posted by HuronBob at 9:28 AM on October 19, 2007


HuronBob, if I were a lesser man I'd accuse you of despicable acts of paralipsis.
posted by cortex at 9:32 AM on October 19, 2007


No, pt, I have charter too and I beg for comcast. After what I went through with Charter over last summer (they kept cutting my broadband off for no reason, they never realized that I moved, it took 6 weeks and about 1000 phone calls and finally email bombing their corporate headquarters & finding someone who knew someone who was a local Charter exec to make them stop - and the last step had to happen twice) I can totally see taking a hammer to their headquarters, if, that is, I was able to find them. They're smarter than Comcast in that way - they don't even pretend to offer local customer service centers.

Still, what gets me about these stories is how accustomed we have all become to being treated like this. We're just about at a point where the hammer wielding customers will stop being news and the happy customers will be. I can see the headlines now, "Comcast customer reports total satisfaction with company! Mundane task completed without undue insanity! Company delivered product correctly and on time!" Film at 11.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:34 AM on October 19, 2007


Great story, horrible article.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:38 AM on October 19, 2007


"paralipsis"... yeah, I had to look it up! Wanna make something of it??

and....guilty as charged
posted by HuronBob at 9:45 AM on October 19, 2007


"She does, however, finally, have phone service."

And an effective customer relations policy...
posted by speug at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2007


posted by box I'm sure she'll be much happier with Verizon.

"Can you hear me now?" *SMASH* "Can you hear me now?" *SMASH SMASH* "Can you hear me now?" *SMASH*
posted by fandango_matt at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


When you have a hammer, everything looks Comcastic.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:50 AM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Missing the "Comcastrophe" tag.
posted by revgeorge at 9:52 AM on October 19, 2007


If she'd taken the people out first, THEN the equipment, she just might have gotten away with it.
posted by hermitosis at 9:57 AM on October 19, 2007


F Comcast.
That said, they're my only option for "high speed" internet. Any Comcast employees out there want to bump up my speed? I'll start shilling for the company and everything!
posted by inigo2 at 9:58 AM on October 19, 2007


As someone who worked in retail/food service for damn near a decade, I say without any reservation that I hate the elderly. The older people get, the more they act like entitled, self-righteous jackasses who can shit on anyone serving them, because they're the customer and the customer is always right, dammit! Creating a hazardous and intimidating work environment for the people working the front desk doesn't make this woman a hero, and the fact that she's old doesn't excuse her behavior.

No one likes waiting in line. No one likes getting shitty service. Most people, rather than resorting to violence, will take their business elsewhere, and that's the way that it should be. Personally, when I get bad service, I typically write a letter, and if I don't get a response, or get a insufficient result, I take my business to someone who deserves it. 95% of the time, my problem will get an appropriate response, and that response is often accompanied by some form of additional compensation in the form of credits, free product, or gift certificates.

Side Note: Letters expressing satisfaction with superior service or goods can also net you free goodies; in the past year my love of letter writing has netted me somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 worth of loot. I'd write the letters for nothing, but the added treats certainly don't hurt.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:01 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yay!

“Her take on Comcast: ‘What a bunch of sub-moronic imbeciles.’”

Amen.

“Nothing justifies acts of violence”

Are you a pacifist? I do have respect for rigorous pacifism. I don't agree with it, but I respect it. Otherwise, though, I think the idea that “nothing justifies acts of violence” is stupid. I think it's weird how we just put all levels of violence into a class and say it's off-limits.

I'm not going to say that things like this—vandalism, violence against property (and around other people)—isn't violence since another person wasn't targeted. It is violence. But I think it's appropriate violence.

The way certain large organizations dehumanize people and repeatedly treat them incredibly badly is a kind of low level terrorizing. The sequence of events described by this woman is like something devised by an evil genius to torture people and drive them mad. Schedule a visit to your home where you have to be there all day long and then only arrive two days late? Then don't finish the job? (Is this starting to sound like the repairmen in Brazil yet?) Cut off service two days later? When you go to the office to resolve the problem, they keep you waiting for hours and then tell you that the manager has left for the day?

That's a series of indignities, increasing in egregiousness, that cumulatively justifies taking up the hammer.

I'm personally pleased with this because I hate Comcast, too. I had a Digital TV and Internet combo deal since January. The deal was supposed to make the Internet portion be $19.99 for six months, but after three it went up to the regular $39.99 with no explanation given. Then two months later, they raised the fee to $45.00. Meanwhile, my digital cable with HBO also went up. Suddenly my total bill was $155 dollars a month. I canceled and returned the equipment one day after the new billing period started and my auto-payment paid it. They bill forward, so I didn't actually owe that amount. When I finally got my refund check, inexplicably half of the amount was missing.

I never attempted to get customer service, however. My Dad did several times last year, and they were entirely clueless.

The cable companies are local monopolies and because of this they are arrogant, provide poor to non-existent customer service, and they continually raise their fees. They are a blight on America. More people ought to take up the hammer.

Oh, suspiciously, with my 8Mb downstream connection I was never able to watch any kind of streaming video, including YouTube but also notably NewFlix, without continual pauses and rebuffering. Other kinds of high-bandwidth stuff didn't show the same problems. P2P would work fine as long as I regularly changed the ports used.

I have Qwest DSL now, also with 8Mb downstream, and I can watch streaming video with no problems at all.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:01 AM on October 19, 2007 [5 favorites]


I have Comcast, and I have no problem with their service.

Having said that, if you don't like their service, you don't have to be a customer.

Even if it's your only option for TV, Phone, or Internet. You are not REQUIRED to be their customer.

They should have thrown the book at her.
posted by tadellin at 10:03 AM on October 19, 2007


“because they're the customer and the customer is always right, dammit!”

I worked as a waitperson, retail sales, and later computing customer support cumulatively for a couple of decades of experience. And the customer is always right. That may not be actually true, but your job is to act like it is.

The only exception is when the customer is abusive, at which point my response is a polite “It's not my job to take abuse from you, sir.” (Or “It's not my support rep's job to take abuse from you, sir.”)

I agree that the elderly can be a pain. I worked at one nice dinner-only restaurant that had the bright idea to offer a Sunday brunch. Imagine a table of twelve old women, all drinking mimosas and demanding separate checks. I think I had to kill someone to get out of working that shift.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:08 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


She should have used a ball peen hammer.
posted by anthill at 10:13 AM on October 19, 2007


remember the old tv show "the outer limits" and the narrator that would come on before each episode "we will control all that you see and hear..."?

when you have a "triple play" media service, tv, phone and internet all with the same company, how is this different from the outer limits? you are your communications.
posted by bruce at 10:14 AM on October 19, 2007


Even if it's your only option for TV, Phone, or Internet. You are not REQUIRED to be their customer.

It's not quite that simple. When a community grants a franchise which is an effective monopoly, conceding the use of public rights-of-way in a manner that does not admit of (or even specifically excludes) direct competition, that community is in a position to impose contractual obligations on the conduct of their business. Yes, what these old dears was not the appropriate response, but it should be noted that a community as a whole is in a legal position to enforce quality service practices if such are written into the contract. It's not just market forces, which are all but nonexistent in monopoly or near-monopoly situations. Sensible cities and counties have legally binding agreements with franchisees that can include penalties for inadequate levels of service.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:18 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


And the customer is always right. That may not be actually true, but your job is to act like it is.

We always said that the customer is always right, until they're really fucking wrong. In the ten years that I did retail/food service, I had to call the cops twice to handle customers who were out of control. Realistically, I should have called the police closer to ten times. The sheer volume of abuse, usually verbal but too frequently physical, that I witnessed heaped upon my fellow employees was enough to convince me that the culture of "customer service with a smile, no matter fucking what" has created a society where the notion of treating the serving class with any shred of civility is seen as unimportant.

Yes, it is the server's job to act as though the customer is always right, even when the customer is rude and clearly in the wrong, and that's a big part of the reason why the service industry is seen as such a shitty place to work. Regardless, this woman has clearly crossed the line into the "abusive" catagory, and it is not the job of anyone working at Comcast to put up with that sort of abuse. She should be in jail, and when she gets out of jail, she should find that Comcast (and any other company with half an ounce of sense) has discontinued their working relationship with her.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:24 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I say without any reservation that I hate the elderly. The older people get, the more they act like entitled, self-righteous jackasses who can shit on anyone serving them, because they're the customer and the customer is always right, dammit!

The younger people are, the more likely they are to accept shitty service, which encourages even shittier service. (May not actually be true, but how's it feel, Bud?)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:31 AM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kirth: it feels ok to me, given one of the ideals I aim to live by is to 'be conservative in what you do, but liberal in what you accept'.
posted by jacalata at 10:39 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Excellent, outstanding.

It seems older people are the only strata of American culture with any proper sense left of what's decent and human. They're making the rest of us look like good little Germans.

I nominate Mona Shaw for the True Blue American Hall of Fame.

Along with Edith Macefield of Ballard Washington, who told a land developer what he could do with his million dollars

and

The Fort Hunt Quiet Men. 80 and 90 year old WWII vets who never lost sight of their humanity as interrogators.
posted by Skygazer at 10:43 AM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


"I say without any reservation that I hate the elderly. "

That's a pretty healthy approach to life.. do you feel that way about any particular gender, race, sexual orientation as well? Or do you limit your "..ism" to ageism?
posted by HuronBob at 10:43 AM on October 19, 2007


Looks like it's time for everyone to show up at Comcast with a hammer anyway (I've got a couple extra around here if anyone needs one):

Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online...

And I thought no serivice provider could suck balls as badly as the loathsome Verizon...eww I said the name...ptt-tooey
posted by Skygazer at 10:54 AM on October 19, 2007


I wonder how that peice would have been written if the "hero" was a man. Or a black man.

The cable s wasn't on, and the elderly dude wasn't mellow
So the hammer came tumblin' down. . .

Stagger Lee, went down to Comcast
He strolled 'cross the office floor
He said, "I got no broadband, motherfuckers"
And he pulled his big ass dead-blow


I tried.
posted by raysmj at 10:55 AM on October 19, 2007


We have Comcast for our TV, internet, and phone (Madison, CT). We've found their customer service to be fantastic. They answer the phone, they answer your questions, and they fix your problems.

We wouldn't dream of going back to SBC/ATT.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:56 AM on October 19, 2007


I dream of a world where every corporation and government is so afraid of hammerings that they stop fucking people over.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:58 AM on October 19, 2007 [8 favorites]


"...isms" typically require some form of institutionalized power, and in the dynamic between the customer and the guy minimum-wage earning guy behind the counter, the power is definitely not with the server. Gender, race or sexual orientation never played much of a discernable role in the abusive behavior that I witnessed, although I did note that gay couples (even, or especially, the olders ones) tended to tip better than anyone else.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2007


And Comcast is awful. For the record. When they went up $10 or so on Broadband as a means of trying to make you buy their whole package, I hated them. When, after being unable to get satellite TV for a couple of years due to living in an apartment where it wasn't possible, I had a DVR whose remote would only work if you got within a foot of the thing, my despising of them went into "white heat of a thousand suns" territory. I still wouldn't show up with a hammer at their office, but I understand the urge. A certain charge card company (cough, Amex, cough) took forever to fix a $300 overcharge for me, and only did so after I wrote about 10 letters pointing out the mistake in different ways, has it coming as well. Corporate service is dreadful and thoughtless in way too many areas, starting with the ubiquity of the "Press 1 for the Abyss" phone answering things.
posted by raysmj at 11:02 AM on October 19, 2007


Christ. If I got her treatement, I'd lash out, but I wouldn't have waited the weekend, I'd have done it right then after waiting two hours in August in Virginia.

Thank all the powers that be I have Cablevision. When I ordered it for my apartment, the guy called my cellphone to say 'I'm running early, are you available?' He came in, hooked stuff up, troubleshot an issue with the box and told me the box was bad.

He came back during the time of my actual appointment with a new box and it worked right away; the cablemodem linked up like a charm. Sure, they have some issues from time to time, but they at least mention it on their phone when you call ("There is a router outage affecting the following towns: *x, y, z*. We are expecting full service restored in *x* hours.") and the people are decent to talk to. At one point they had a phone-troubleshooting thing on their system for cablemodem issues, and it was insanely irritating. The next time I called in, I got a human, and said, "I was expecting the Choose Your Own Tech Support phone maze."

I was told, "Yeah, it wasn't working and making too many people angry, so we got rid of it. People ended up working out a lot better."
posted by mephron at 11:04 AM on October 19, 2007


no 'hero' tag?
posted by empath at 11:10 AM on October 19, 2007


On preview. Nevermind. Already mentioned...
posted by Skygazer at 11:11 AM on October 19, 2007


I'd really like to hate on Comcast after they insisted on 'installing' my cable modem for me (for $30) and then sent out a subcontracted tech who was stymied by my Mac, causing almost a week delay in my starting service. But when I called to have the $30 installation fee taken off my bill, they gave me no guff whatsoever...so, they get a pass for now.
posted by mullacc at 11:12 AM on October 19, 2007


...so, they get a pass for now.

Wow, I can't believe I just wrote that. I guess that's how low the bar is for cable/telco customer service--I feel compelled to give them a pass just for aggravating me slightly less than possible.
posted by mullacc at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2007


HuronBob writes "I have to admit, I'm tempted to call those of you that think she did something terrible as ball-less sheep... but, I'm not going to do that..

"Sometimes enough is enough... and it is just important to communicate it in a meaningful manner..."


By terrorizing some helpless peon at the front desk? If she was serious about venting her frustrations should would have taken that hammer to the trucks in the company lot. But of course that might not have got her on the news for being a psychopathic bully.
posted by Mitheral at 11:30 AM on October 19, 2007


Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like it when I'm angry, sonny.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:33 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


That stupid-@$$ receptionist who made 'em sit outside for two hours may have been "only following orders," but she ought to be damned grateful she didn't get a dose of that claw hammer upside her head.
posted by pax digita at 11:40 AM on October 19, 2007


Oh that's just wonderful. She gets pissy over shitty cable service, but important stuff like the War, Taxes and vetoing children's healthcare while spending 4 billion a week on war is ok?!

What the fuck is wrong with people?! If you're gonna take a hammer to something, how about the your local congressmen's office?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:00 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's Hammer time... Can't we all just coaxist?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:03 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you're gonna take a hammer to something, how about the your local congressmen's office?

I work down the hall from my congressperson's local office. They do good work, I have no complaints. She even installed my cable modem on time.
posted by drezdn at 12:07 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


"By terrorizing some helpless peon at the front desk?"...

OK..I'm sorry, none of us are responsible for our own behaviors, we just pass that responsibility up the line... I forgot that rule...

remember...it was the people at the front desk that made her wait outside for two hours.... but, that person was just following orders....

If you choose to work for a company that treats customers like that, you're choosing to support and further that way of doing business... sorry, "peon", but you deserve the granny-wrath as well!
posted by HuronBob at 12:10 PM on October 19, 2007


Given the trouble we've had with Comcast (I've been on hold for an accumulated time exceeding 12 hours in the past month), I can really understand this behavior, even though it really is just petty vandalism.

I'm hoping Verizon will give us better service when I switch to FiOS.... It really couldn't be much worse.
posted by JMOZ at 12:12 PM on October 19, 2007


"TOWANDA!!"
Chalk this up as another "Sassy curmudgeon with contrary ideals wins nation's hearts via property destruction." Kinda like this guy?

Christ what an asshole-y way to write an artice, lord....
posted by wowbobwow at 12:12 PM on October 19, 2007


“Even if it's your only option for TV, Phone, or Internet. You are not REQUIRED to be their customer.”

That’s the same reasoning sans nuance that the state uses to build nothing but roads, allows private companies to sabotage public transportation and then calls driving a “privilege.”
Hey, pal, if you have to drive to work, sucks to be you.

You know, most of the comments are directed at comcast (which, I agree, sux balls) - but this isn’t merely a matter of economics or corporatism. This is a matter of civility.
You see, merely because someone is a manager or has a higher position in terms of economic status, does not mean they can be rude to you all they want.
The manager here and or his staff chose to allow an elderly woman to sit outside in the hot August sun without any regard. Doing this to someone like me would be merely rude.
Don’t give me this helpless peon shit, they saw/knew those people were sitting out there for two hours - and they let them.
I watched two young men swiftly pass an old lady with a cane standing at a short flight of stairs coming out of a coffee shop. They could have chose to help her down or not. They didn’t. I did. Why? Because I saw she needed help and I’m capable of helping - it’s that simple. But gee, maybe they were in a hurry - well, is my time somehow less valuable?
Same thing here - why is it the manager’s right - or these office schub’s right to waste someone else’s time? What is it exactly they’re doing? And if they’re too busy, why not let those folks know it?
I’ve worked a number of service jobs and were I sitting behind the desk here I’d’ve come out after a half hour with some water or something, invited them in and apologized for my bosses rudeness after reminding him every 1/2 hour that they were still waiting.
No, they chose to do this to these people. And suddenly we’re all surprised when anger is the response?
She didn’t hurt anyone, she smashed up some stuff. And indeed, I doubt anyone felt truly threatened by an old lady with a hammer. At the very least you can out run her. And that’s exactly why it’s a different story if it was a man or black man. Men have a greater - suspected - capacity for violence.
There’s a difference between violence and force. Violence stems from unreason and is uncontrollable. Force, when necessary, can be a legitimate response, especially where it’s under control. If it were a man, even a black man, perhaps if he exuded control and calmness he’d get away with it. Maybe. Either way she didn’t seem like she lost her head, she knew exactly what she was doing and they’re damn lucky she wasn’t the mother of someone truly violent.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:24 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wonder how that peice would have been written if the "hero" was a man. Or a black man.

Black man: "Officers shoot, kill, psychotic gang member. Citizens grateful for saved lives."


That depends on the black man's name. If he had a "standard" English name, or a phonetic/ebonics kind of name, you'd get that. But if his name had had any kind of Islamic overtone to it, you'd get

"Terrorist attack on telecom infrastructure defeated. 84 dead."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:29 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


No, they chose to do this to these people. And suddenly we’re all surprised when anger is the response?

There's a difference between not being surprised and approving. I can not be surprised that some old biddy finally blew her stack at them, but yet think it's still ridiculous to actually, for real, use violence to remedy a billing problem with your cable company.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:31 PM on October 19, 2007


even better than a granny with a hammer in a call center would be a granny with a chainsaw or a 12-gauge in a server farm.
posted by bruce at 12:33 PM on October 19, 2007


It's all funny ha ha now, but in five years when granny has a viable nuclear weapons program you're all gonna be sorry.
posted by cortex at 12:39 PM on October 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


What software do you use to see if you provider is shaping your traffic? In particular Easy News through a Cox connection.
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:42 PM on October 19, 2007


Comcast Reminds Customers Not To Start A Mass Spontaneous Uprising
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:55 PM on October 19, 2007


Why is it when an older female does something of note, the media finds it necessary to mention her status as a grandparent? When Hemingway collected his Pulizter, did the press announce "Gramps Writes Bestseller"? When Ronadl Reagan was elected president did they say "Grandad Moves to White House"? Are we supposed to conjure up an image of a loveable blue-haired senior setting down her lap afghan and grabbing her handy Craftsman hammer and heading down to Comcast?
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:58 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I did note that gay couples (even, or especially, the olders ones) tended to tip better than anyone else.

A lot of us have been in the service industry at one point or another in our lives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:59 PM on October 19, 2007


[NOT SERVIST]
posted by cortex at 1:00 PM on October 19, 2007


Service me, cortex.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:02 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sorry, bad Buffy joke.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:03 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


You slay me, BP.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:04 PM on October 19, 2007


The older people get, the more they act like entitled, self-righteous jackasses... Amen, honey! You think it's bad now, see what it's like in ten years as baby boomers get up in age...they're already pretty bad. Working in a surgical office, my partner and I see it all the time now. People expect a level of accommodation that is completely unrealistic. AARP has told everyone that they must be the doctor's first surgery of the day or they will die on the table, so that's the first demand. Everyone wants a private room. Everyone wants to be admitted the night before so they don't have to wake up and drive to the hospital early. People want to call the afternoon before surgery and reschedule it for next week, despite having to coordinate it with a bunch of doctors, the hospital, and the insurance overlords. They have no idea how their insurance plans work--they just want assurances that they won't have to pay out of pocket, and they want you to make all calls to verify that. They get upset when a doctor is running 15 minutes late, yet they want to engage the doctor in any number of conversations on a sister-in-law's sciatica, unrelated, or want to ask for a look at the accompanying spouse's bunions. They'll stand there with a Red Bull and bag of doritos complaining that they don't want to take medication, as they don't like to put any chemicals in their bodies. They think the concept 'it takes a village' means that any adult should take responsibility for or put up with their change-of-life babies when they can't. They ask if the doctor does house calls; one was told to come into the emergency room and asked about helicopter transportation since he had a large yard. They want hip replacements so they can go back to skiing. They remove casts themselves because they don't want to wear them to parties, and then yell 'malpractice' when they need surgery to fix the result. They ask the doctor to wait while they just finish up this one phone call...

What drives me crazy in other places, though...and you see this on shows like 'airport' (e.g., the lady who shows up with a dog at the ticket counter, with no prior arrangement, and gets upset that she can't just hold it in her lap on the plane)...is that the many of the most unrealistic people are accommodated by customer service, and you see how customer service suffers as a whole due to time and effort given them...
posted by troybob at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Look, let's face it. What do cable companies do anyway? Nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. They set up a network flip the power, start pluggin people into it and set up a money collection operation to deal with the tidal wave of money that comes in.

They charge $40 a month (When did it become okay to pay for TV that is free?) for just basic service with a couple of extra news channels thrown in for appearances sake so they can justify it. You want the good stuff, HBO, ESPN etc...well that's gonna cost you a bit more. Yessiree the premium channels and they cost more. (The Sopranos etc...)

So when you finally decide to get that cable, broadband or phone they do it at their own convenience:

Cable Rep: Yeah we'll send the guy a week from Wednesday between 10and 3 PM.

Customer: I'm sorry I have to be at work at that time.

Cable Rep: Well, I'm sorry sir, but we'll need someone to be present or we won't be able to install it.

Customer: But I can't lose a whole days work!

Cable Rep: Well nothing I can do. (i.e., Sux to be you jack! You want fuckin' Battle Star Galactica and the Sopranoes…, you best be home because we are the Cable/Phone/internet Co and you're our bitch....)

So why do they get paid so much money for doing jackshit. The almighty and all precious “network” is most likely already paid for and heavily subsidized by tax dollars or tax breaks. It's bullshit. I include Pharma Co's in with this group as well. Let's call them the Sinecure Capitalists. Those companies that pretend to do so much, but do so little….and charge a fortune.

It's funny about the Sinecure capitalists how much they love capitalism and the free market and deregulation. They'll go on and on and on about it and hire billions of dollars of services from lobbyists to make sure that NO ONE and I mean NO ONE, not the public, not their customers, and especially the government won't do anything to infringe on their sweet sweet “Free market”.

And the customer?? That's the biggest joke, the sinecure capitalists have become used to never having any pressure placed on them, especially not from the customer, because even though they love deregulation and give lip service to the beauty of "the free market", they don't like competition and do everything in there power to avoid it. So the customer is stuck with being in the position of being told that if they don't like the service they can switch to another company, but a lot of the time there isn't another company or if there is, there's already a built-in unspoken non-competition clause so that you're not going to find a better deal anyway. Everyone charges more or less the same, and provides the same shitty service. Oil Co's do that as well.

So the customer means nothing to the Sinecure capitalists. Less than nothing, except as another little producer of the tsunami of income. In other words a source of money to be harvested. Like a farm chicken or something.

Now I know, there’s a lot of people that work at these companies and need the work and all that and more power to them, but I say either regulate these industries to have some accountability or deregulate for real and get some real market competion in there, but not this phony deregulated free market shit. Also, if anyone wants to really hurt them with a hammer try to aim for something closer to the head, not the poor schlubs at the front desk who.
posted by Skygazer at 1:35 PM on October 19, 2007


You think it's bad now, see what it's like in ten years as baby boomers get up in age...they're already pretty bad.

The most worthless generation in the history of the world. Except for a coupla musicians and writers and maybe one president (so far). They do such dishoner to their parents who won WW II.
posted by Skygazer at 1:36 PM on October 19, 2007


People expect a level of accommodation that is completely unrealistic.

Maybe because it's a level of service that was completely realistic for many years, so that's what older people are used to? Just because you usually get away with no complaints for overbooking your doctor doesn't make it OK for the patients who come in at the end of the day to have to wait two hours for their 5 minutes of his attention. And if people don't know how their insurance works, it's their fault? Most people I know only have to deal with health insurance companies when they have more immediate things on their minds. As opposed to, say, the people who work in doctors' offices.

I have absolutely no idea where the strawposse that populates your comment was raised, but I think you should look into converting it to biodiesel.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:40 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I have Qwest DSL now..."

I take it you haven't tried dealing with Qwest customer service yet.

This is what I've been getting when I click on the "Live Chat with Customer Service" link on the Qwest DSL site all day today.

I would laugh, but it hurts too much.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:44 PM on October 19, 2007


I dream of a world where every corporation and government is so afraid of hammerings that they stop fucking people over.

So do I, but what we're probably going to get is a world where every corporation and government office has one of these in its reception area, and is permitted to use it on unruly citizens.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2007


And if people don't know how their insurance works, it's their fault?

Yes. It's ridiculous to suggest otherwise. Unrealistic, even.

And I'm not talking about older people. Older people are great; they don't expect that the world revolves around them. There is a connection in their minds between a concept of themselves as individuals and within the context of a larger community. That is why the differences between them and the generation to follow are so marked. It might seem a nagging thing now, but things are going to break under the weight of what is to come.
posted by troybob at 2:49 PM on October 19, 2007


Just because you usually get away with no complaints for overbooking your doctor doesn't make it OK for the patients who come in at the end of the day to have to wait two hours for their 5 minutes of his attention.

I think it's interesting that this illustrates the mindset I brought up. There would be a legitimate complaint if this were the situation. But in most cases it's probably not, yet your mind would jump to the extremes of perceived incompetence because the service didn't match your expectations. Due to the unpredictability of doctors' responsibilities and the variability in how long each person needs for a visit, doctors' offices have always involved waiting; that's why they're called 'waiting rooms.' The problem is that too many people think the doctor's office is a Burger King, and they complain when it isn't.

But this is a much more general thing. The lines at the post office aren't any longer than they ever were; the people just whine more about it.
posted by troybob at 2:59 PM on October 19, 2007


Even if it's your only option for TV, Phone, or Internet. You are not REQUIRED to be their customer.

Ever tried canceling their service?

As someone who worked in retail/food service for damn near a decade, I say without any reservation that I hate the elderly.

Funny, I've worked in retail/food service for quite a while and particularly enjoyed dealing with the elderly. Your attitude towards your customers couldn't possibly have something to do with the treatment you receive, could it? No, not possibly.
posted by frobozz at 3:15 PM on October 19, 2007


The older people get, the more they act like entitled, self-righteous jackasses

Another data point. This is also the explanation I've heard, repeatedly, from store security guards for the high levels of shoplifting by the elderly. They think the rules don't apply.
posted by dreamsign at 3:25 PM on October 19, 2007


"The most worthless generation in the history of the world. Except for a coupla musicians and writers and maybe one president (so far). They do such dishoner to their parents who won WW II."

I have to agree with you...they evidently gave birth to a ungrateful half literate like you...

now, get the fuck off my lawn!
posted by HuronBob at 3:51 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


This totally kicks ass and made my day! I wonder if she's available for hire or if this was just a one shot deal.

Because I know if I'd done it (fairly young white man) I would have probably been tasered and sentenced to a lengthy prison term.
posted by fenriq at 5:20 PM on October 19, 2007


It's funny about the Sinecure capitalists how much they love capitalism and the free market and deregulation. They'll go on and on and on about it and hire billions of dollars of services from lobbyists to make sure that NO ONE and I mean NO ONE, not the public, not their customers, and especially the government won't do anything to infringe on their sweet sweet “Free market”.

Metafilter knee-jerk reponse #523. I'm sure that you refused your last pay raise on principle. (That's OK, boss. I get by just fine!) You did get one thing right: you wrote "free market" in scare quotes.

Sinecure? You've never started your own business, have you? I'd rather listen to the buoyant message of the entrepreneurial capitalists than the somnolent droning of the collectivists any day.
posted by oncogenesis at 5:47 PM on October 19, 2007


now, get the fuck off my lawn!
posted by HuronBob at 6:51 PM on October 19 [+] [!]



LOLZGETOFFMYLAWNZ!!

"Evidently" my ass...
posted by Skygazer at 6:16 PM on October 19, 2007


"Evidently" my ass..." (in tiny, little, wee print)..

Ok, that was just wrong... I should have said definitely.... but, hey, it's just an assumption, if you're older than 40 I'll send an apology...otherwise... you're still on my grass!
posted by HuronBob at 6:21 PM on October 19, 2007


40+1, but don't worry about it grandpa...
posted by Skygazer at 6:40 PM on October 19, 2007


I'd rather listen to the buoyant message marketing bullshit of the entrepreneurial capitalists than the somnolent droning of the collectivists any day.

There. Fixed that for you.
posted by Skygazer at 6:43 PM on October 19, 2007


They do such dishoner to their parents who won WW II.

what the fuck do you know about world war ii??? what the television told you about it, that's what. i got news for ya, dilbert. there has in your time never been such a landslide of propogandistic bullshit like was unleashed about world war ii, and it sounds as if you've swallowed it whole.
posted by quonsar at 6:56 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


oh, and honor your parents: lern to spel 'honer'
posted by quonsar at 6:57 PM on October 19, 2007


I hit google with a hammer to cancel it, but I think I accidentally cancelled the rest of the computer also.
posted by Kwine at 7:01 PM on October 19, 2007


So do I, but what we're probably going to get is a world where every corporation and government office has one of these in its reception area, and is permitted to use it on unruly citizens.

That's actually a standard standard install with Comcast's 2.0 rollout of Triple Play.
posted by ryoshu at 8:58 PM on October 19, 2007


"but yet think it's still ridiculous to actually, for real, use violence to remedy a billing problem with your cable company."

The rich have lawyers. The rest of us have hammers or a rough equivalent...or we don't.

How gauche of these people be so poor as to not afford a phalanx of lawyers to redress their grievances.
*quaffs a dry one on the veranda, scoffs*

She doesn't seem to have actually, for real, harmed anyone. Just some equipment.

It's unfortunate that someone so powerless had to resort to such methods. My mere presence exudes the threat of violence and my form and features (and knuckles) affirm it's past usage therefore my words often carry a power beyond the mere rhetoric even when I have naught but reason and common civility on my side.
I suspect these comcast folks would not have mistreated someone more assertive or at least with the appearance of being fully able to be more than assertive like myself.
Which infuriates me further. Why should I get special treatment merely because I appear more able to defend myself?
It's a cowardly, base act to lord it over those who have no recourse.
It implies that were I not so puissant, my concerns could be disregarded as easily.
And perhaps someday I won't be. Which is why it gratifies me so to see this kind of behavior addressed so dramatically.

But indeed - take "violence" off the table. Let's say I'm an FBI agent and I use my connections to get this manager fired. I further have a great deal of money and influence which I use to pauperize him and he and his family is reduced to eating garbage and living in a cardboard box.

This form of the exertion of force is preferable to perhaps busting him one in the chops?
Acts of violence are not always manifest in the naked physical form such as a hammer.

And indeed, I'd say those comcast folks initiated it.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:00 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Quonsar: what the fuck do you know about world war ii???

My parents lived through it.

Nazi's occupied their village in Sicily, where I was born. They were shot at, had German and American bombs rain down around them, saw friends and family get raped and killed. My mom got strafed by an American plane. Saw the ground “boil like water” mere footsteps away from her as she ran. Watched helplessly, with her family as a man they knew got eaten by rabid dogs after an American bomb killed him in the woods.

My father can’t even talk about what it was like most of the time. The freezing (winters are cold in Sicily) and starving in barns trying to keep from getting chewed up by the German occupation and the subsequent slaughter between them and the invading Americans. Food was hard to find and the possibility of starving was very real. They were lucky if they could find some wheat (i.e.: It didn’t get stolen or destroyed by the bombs) or even chestnuts.

My maternal grandfather was gassed and then wounded by an Austrian machine gun fighting for Italy in WW I. He came back to Sicily severely wounded to poverty, more suffering, Mussolini’s fascism and a second World War.

In spite of all the hell he went through, he never lost his kindness, generosity (my mother still speaks of how many times he gave people food even if he barely had enough for his own family) and his sense of humor. He lived to 92, drinking his wine, playing cards with his buddies and smoking cigars. He passed away in 1986. He knew how to live and he knew how to die. His name was Angelo LaMantia.

My father lives with the war still very real in his head. It’s caused big problems. He tells of having to go to school wearing a black shirt in honor of Il Duce or be expelled and have his family blacklisted as “unpatriotic and anti-fascisti”. Not that it mattered so much in the end and it was the least of it. He had to leave school at 10 yrs old (1938) to become a laborer. 12 hour days farming and digging ditches for a piece of bread. His only luck came in being a couple of years too young to be forced to fight for Mussolini (although he did mandatory military service for a couple of years after Italy got it together again under the American occupation in the early 50s).

Because of the hard labor as a child and the hunger and cold of WW II, he's hobbled around with severe chronic pain in his knees (and hands) since he was in his mid 30s.

We moved here in 1972. I'll never be able to completely understand the horror and hardship of what they went through or be able to make my parents understand the world I live in. I was six when I came here. And grew up here mostly as an American for better or worse. Went to a good college on a scholarship and somehow through a lot of trial and error and fucking up have wound up with a pretty good life and incredibly learned and privileged people around me. Sometimes it makes my head spin. I feel like I've come not through cultural years but centuries. So I'll be kind Quonsar and think that somehow I was able to so completely assimilate that you thought I was some entitled Joe blow sitting at his computer between rounds of Halo 3, who has no idea what real war and suffering is. I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression, but anyhow you....

you should stick to jokes or teh funny I think the kids are calling it..
posted by Skygazer at 10:52 PM on October 19, 2007


well, touche.
posted by quonsar at 5:29 AM on October 20, 2007


Well, Comcast gassed my grandfather. You won't hear about that on the History Channel.
posted by raysmj at 8:12 AM on October 20, 2007


yeah, comcast killed my dog - you won't hear about that on animal planet
posted by pyramid termite at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2007


Anytime you're ready to make that apology for being a presumptious prick you go on right ahead Quonsar...
posted by Skygazer at 8:54 AM on October 20, 2007


... yet your mind would jump to the extremes of perceived incompetence because the service didn't match your expectations.

Probably similar to how your mind jumps to the extremes of perceived expectations of "levels of accommodation that is completely unrealistic." At least my alleged strawman has a lot of personal experience to fill it out - like my wife's experiencing exactly the scenario I described just last week. You grew up with shit service, so you think it's inevitable and normal. It isn't; it's a very recent phenomenon.

I think the attitude that customers, especially old people, are a pain is one of the prices we're paying for our conversion to a service economy. Before, people who had no particular skills at working with the public would wind up in a factory assembling hardware, which didn't care that they were misanthropes. Now, lots of those people are working in jobs where they get to demonstrate their belief that they are doing their customers a big favor by even speaking to them. That's exacerbated by the disappearance of locally-owned businesses and the intrusion of giant corporations into even the most personal business interactions, like that between a patient and doctor.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:57 AM on October 20, 2007


The rich have lawyers. The rest of us have hammers or a rough equivalent...or we don't.

The rest of us have the ability to not use comcast.

It's unfortunate that someone so powerless had to resort to such methods.

She was unhappy with their service. All she had to resort to was canceling comcast's service and starting service with DirectTV or Dish and any of several cell phone companies.

But she was annoyed, so she destroyed someone's property. Property that's human effort, human lifespan, crystallized into a physical good.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:04 AM on October 20, 2007


Anytime you're ready to make that apology for being a presumptious prick you go on right ahead Quonsar...

that won't happen. so, your family experienced nasty shit in italy during world war two. that has really nothing to do with what i said, or your initial crap about a generation dishonoring its parents. you have a different cultural perspective, true. when you made your statement i assumed you were a typical "son of a baby boomer" american, having consumed endless hours of silly black and white wartime movies where every GI was John Fucking Wayne grimly but nobly marching off to save the world from fascism for mom, country and apple pie. it wasn't like that here. in fact, it was pretty much just as it is now - those rich enough dodged military service and thier corporate daddies enriched themselves on the war and searched for ways to ingratiate themselves to whomever appeared to be winning at the moment. those not rich enough pretty much did what circumstances demanded. the idea that those people were somehow heros and thier children a disgrace is the result of gobbling the penis of hollywood post-war propoganda whole, and swallowing to boot. perhaps, not arriving until 1972, you were clueless about this, and thus can be excused for making such a ridiculous generalization.
posted by quonsar at 9:10 AM on October 20, 2007


But she was annoyed, so she destroyed someone's property.

Comcast isn't someone.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:36 AM on October 20, 2007


it wasn't like that here.

you weren't around in ww2, so you wouldn't know any better than anyone else

the idea that those people were somehow heros and thier children a disgrace is the result of gobbling the penis of hollywood post-war propoganda whole

no - it's the result that for all the faults one can look at, the ww2 generation actually accomplished something - they defeated an awful and ruthless enemy and outlasted another through attrition while a good part of the world enjoyed relative peace and prosperity

our generation, on the other hand, has just indulged itself mindlessly and can't seem to agree with anyone or anything long enough to accomplish something - it remains to be seen whether we will eventually find a way to do something useful or leave a mess for others to clean up

dishonored their parents? a lot of them, like the idiot in the white house have dishonored themselves

you're just jealous of a generation that didn't totally suck - and i remind you i say that as a baby boomer - we suck compared to them
posted by pyramid termite at 9:49 AM on October 20, 2007


I'm fine with my parents' generation, but when Tom Brokaw dubbed them The Greatest Generation (TM), that just spoiled it for me.
posted by lukemeister at 10:01 AM on October 20, 2007


your initial crap about a generation dishonoring its parents.

Which you assumed to have some supreme knowledge of where I was coming from and promptly stuck your foot in your mouth.

My "crap" about a generation dishonoring its parents has to do with what a piss poor showing the boomer generation has contributed to the human endeavor, in spite of the fact that it was the most affluent, healthiest, best educated in the history of the planet. And the logical and sickening suspicion that maybe humans aren't meant to be happy and comfortable. It seems to do nothing to improve their souls. They just expect they're entitled to more of it, for no reason whatsoever. And that the people who do know what kindness, generosity, compassion and real decency is, have suffered a great already. This woman here, Mona Shaw, lived through WW II as a child, and went on to become a Nurse. Talk to any nurse for a while nexttime you meet one. They will floor you with what they've seen the human body do and secrete in moments of sickness, (ask them what foul stuff issues out of sick smokers lungs. It helped me to try and quit.) and the good ones won't blink an eye because they're committed to lessening human suffering. This planet would a hell of a lot better if nurses ran it. They know what pain is and what foolishness looks like, which is why this woman had every right to take a hammer to a bunch of spoiled aloof bastards too busy IM-ing or checking MySpace to have the most basic basic decency.

Take the Fort Hunt Vets. Those bastards told the white house to go fuck themselves, they weren't going to be party to a passive approval of torture. So on and so forth. It seems to be the case over and over and over again. People who have any real courage, compassion or understanding of brutality are the ones who've already undergone some life changing exposure to it. (And I don't really count myself in that group.)

Sadly, all I see from the Boomers (and all the Gens after) are consumers. Really first class too.

those rich enough dodged military service and thier corporate daddies enriched themselves on the war and searched for ways to ingratiate themselves to whomever appeared to be winning at the moment. those not rich enough pretty much did what circumstances demanded. the idea that those people were somehow heros and thier children a disgrace is the result of gobbling the penis of hollywood post-war propoganda whole, and swallowing to boot.

Hey, I know it. But one thing that can't be denied is that a.) the country was more unified and b.) the millions of guys who went over there came back having beaten what turned out to be, once the camps were found an even worse evil than anyone imagined, and with a better set of priorities and more sound principles regarding what it means to be a decent human. Plus they all knew how to use a gun. (And that means, knowing when to not use one more than anything).

The thing that's great about hearing about that time is that things were so tough and crazy, that I think people just didn't have time to be petty assholes for the most part. Puritans and morality parasites were pretty much ignored. People had to live and love as much as possible. Those were the priorities. Period.

that won't happen.

Yes, I had a feeling about that. And I'll refrain from assuming too much, but I take it you've had a pretty comfortable life?
posted by Skygazer at 10:11 AM on October 20, 2007


“Before, people who had no particular skills at working with the public would wind up in a factory assembling hardware, which didn't care that they were misanthropes. Now, lots of those people are working in jobs where they get to demonstrate their belief that they are doing their customers a big favor by even speaking to them.”

I think there's truth to that. We should distinguish, though, between aptitude and skills. Lots of people have always worked in jobs for which they don't particularly have an aptitude. But, usually, the skillset required for competency is recognized and understood and they are required to have those skills or they won't keep the job. The problem with customer service is that customer contact skills are rarely explicitly identified or evaluated and, instead, what's monitored for competency are the various other skills and knowledge involved. So this is as much the fault of employers as the employees.

Those of us who are very good at dealing with customers know very well that there's an actual set of skills and techniques associated with this competency. And yet, these are rarely part of any training and are rarely accumulated and passed-on as company lore. Why not? I don't really know. Mostly employers just rely upon the idea that some people are naturally good at it.

This is really quite a bit like labor management. It, too, is a field where incompetency is the norm, not the exception, and this is because the skills aren't identified, measured, or taught and employers just rely upon the fact that some people are intuitively good at this. But there are far more management positions than there are people who are born managers. The rest have to learn how to be decent managers.

Both sets of skills are vastly undervalued. Given that companies aren't training people in these skills and are relying upon the naturally gifted, and that there are far more positions than there are the naturally gifted, you'd expect these to be high-paying jobs as employers compete for the small pool of the gifted. But this is far from the truth. If employers demanded high competency and paid better, then employees would have an incentive to acquire these skills.

I'm an introvert and usually a bit maladroit. I certainly wasn't born with customer contact skills. No one would say that I'm a “people person”. But I do have one innate advantage: I really like people both in general and in particular. Interacting with people in defined and relatively controlled circumstances is pleasurable for me. And I got pleasure from it as I got better at it, so I had considerable incentive to get better.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2007


but I take it you've had a pretty comfortable life?

bowl of cherries, dude. just like i deserved.
posted by quonsar at 11:31 AM on October 20, 2007


customer contact skills are rarely explicitly identified or evaluated and, instead, what's monitored for competency are the various other skills and knowledge involved.

Yes, that seems to be true, and it is a management problem. When people without those skills had more job choices, the ones who wound up in service positions usually wound up being moved out of them. Now, being able to use whatever systems make the place run is seen as enough, barring truly outrageous excess. Unfortunately, stuff like what set MS Hammer off is not seen as outrageous excess by management.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2007


The Comcast installer came to my last apartment with filthy, dirty black hands. It looked like he'd been cleaning out a fireplace.

I insisted that he wash his hands before he start working. He went into my bathroom, ran his hands under the faucet for less than a second using no soap, then (as I discovered later) rubbed his still-filthy-dirty hands all over one of my bath towels. The towel was ruined and after washing it three times I threw it out.

The guy then came back and started to touch the walls, leaving wet black handprints everywhere. I asked him to leave and he shouted at me that he would not leave until he did the "goddamn" installation. He started to advance on me in what looked like a physically threatening way. I'm not a little guy; I have no idea what this moron was intoxicated with to think that this was a good idea.

I had to point a loaded .357 Magnum at his head to get him out of my apartment - there were a tense couple of seconds in which I started to worry I was going to have to shoot him. I finished the installation myself.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:11 PM on October 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


“I had to point a loaded .357 Magnum at his head to get him out of my apartment - there were a tense couple of seconds in which I started to worry I was going to have to shoot him. I finished the installation myself.”

This seems like an unwitting argument for gun control to me. No way did this incident ever have to involve firearms and had you shot him (in the head??), depending upon your jurisdiction you likely would have been prosecuted for it. The handgun turned a bad situation into the worst possible situation.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:23 PM on October 20, 2007


It's a very good thing that Verizon doesn't publish the locations of their callcenters, let's just leave it at that.

You honestly think anyone you know is pissed-off enough to take a $???? plane-ride, $?? train-ride, and $?? taxi-ride to some back-alley on the outskirts of Bangalore just to go postal on some $0.05 / hr. wage-slave with a fucking hammer? No way. They won't even let you on the plane with a hammer, anyway.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:33 PM on October 20, 2007


He started to advance on me in what looked like a physically threatening way.
Last I checked, protecting yourself from physical harm is pretty much a textbook case of when to pull a gun.

And Civil_Disobedient, not only would I happily fly to wherever this individual worked and wail quite mercilessly on the flaccid remains of his/her corpse, I'd gleefully work my way up the chain of command that allowed such an absurd waste of oxygen to pick up a phone and speak on behalf of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler much less an international telecommunications company.

And I'd not only get reimbursed for travel costs, I'd get a fucking bonus.
posted by Skorgu at 6:47 PM on October 20, 2007


The handgun turned a bad situation into the worst possible situation.

Are you kidding? A guy shouting profanity at me and threatening me physically in my own home after I'd told him clearly to leave? He left and I never saw him again and the walls of my apartment didn't get any dirtier. I need you to explain exactly how this is the worst possible outcome. The only bad thing I see is that this guy is still alive and probably still entering peoples' homes and abusing them under pretext of offering a professional service.

Anyway, a year later I ran across mention of this neat magic eraser sponge on AskMe and I used it to clean my walls of the crap he'd smeared on them. Nothing else got it off.

I don't get what Comcast is trying to do with its customer "service;" my point in telling the story is that maybe this granny wasn't a complete nut. I've had hundreds of other workers in my home and never had any problems. Needless to say, I don't let a Comcast person on premises any more.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:45 PM on October 20, 2007


“I need you to explain exactly how this is the worst possible outcome.”

I misspoke in two different ways. I'll be more exact: it almost became one of the worst possible outcomes. If you had shot him, especially if you were near him and were aiming at his head, you very likely would have killed him. That's one dead person. Then you would have been arrested. You probably would have been prosecuted and you probably would have been convicted of a serious felony. Only if he had had a weapon in his hand would this not be the case. Well, this all depends upon jurisdiction, of course. But most US jurisdictions do not allow people to use deadly force with a weapon on an unarmed assailant, even in self-defense in your own home. You can claim self-defense, but if you kill someone the onus is (rightly) always on you to prove that it was self-defense and justified.

At any rate, even if you would have faced no legal consequences, there would still be a dead person and your own conscience to live with.

In contrast, you could have left the room or even stepped outside the house and tolerated some dirtied walls. You didn't have to have a violent confrontation with this man and you especially didn't have to have a violent confrontation with this man using a deadly weapon.

You can jokingly talk about how it's a bad thing that this guy is still alive and probably still yelling at people, but killing someone is no joke and wouldn't be a joke to you if you actually had to deal with the consequences. It's interesting to hear a physician be so cavalier about a human life.

Even if you truly didn't and don't care about how greatly you risked this man's life—and possibly your own if you only wounded him and he was angry enough to wrestle you for the gun and gain it—there still remain all the various serious consequences and complications that would have followed from killing an unarmed man in your home. There is no way that a few smudged walls and your pride were worth risking those consequences.

It was very bad judgment on your part. I'm not sure I wouldn't do the same thing—but I'd know it was a very bad decision when I thought about it later.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:30 PM on October 20, 2007


I had to point a loaded .357 Magnum at his head to get him out of my apartment - there were a tense couple of seconds in which I started to worry I was going to have to shoot him.

do you mean that you pulled a gun on him without being sure that you wanted to shoot him?

if you'd been right to do that, you wouldn't have been worried

don't point it at someone unless you're willing to shoot

don't shoot unless you mean to kill

and torso shots, not head shots

i don't even have a gun and i have a better notion of how and why to handle one than you do

do the world a favor and sell yours
posted by pyramid termite at 9:20 PM on October 20, 2007


For some reason, this quotation keeps jumping into my head, though I wish it were "storyteller" rather than "liar":

The liar at any rate recognizes that recreation, not instruction, is the aim of conversation, and is a far more civilised being than the blockhead who loudly expresses his disbelief in a story which is told simply for the amusement of the company. --Oscar Wilde
posted by occhiblu at 10:20 PM on October 20, 2007


If you have to alter a Wilde quote to get the effect you want, you're in a bad way. You seem to have forgotten that Wilde was an satirist and ironist. He wrote liar for good reason, though that subtlety may be lost on those who spend too much time in the company of gun-waving lunatics.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:50 PM on October 20, 2007


You're quick to pass judgment, man. I hope the Comcast guy comes to your house soon. I certainly hope nothing like that ever happens to me again, it was one of the worst days of my life.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:55 PM on October 20, 2007


You're quick to pass judgment, man.

at least when i pass judgment, the likelihood of dead bodies on the floor is miniscule

it was one of the worst days of my life.

gee, what kind of a day do you think he had?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:10 AM on October 21, 2007


Are you both missing the "He started to advance on me in what looked like a physically threatening way. " portion of the story? It started out as a funny story but once threat of physical harm comes into the picture it stops being entertaining.

It's not incompatible, to my reading anyway, to be prepared to shoot someone, yet worried that you'll have to simultaneously. Hopefully every time you pull a gun you're sincerely hoping that you won't have to use it and worrying that you might.
posted by Skorgu at 8:01 AM on October 21, 2007


though that subtlety may be lost on those who spend too much time in the company of gun-waving lunatics.

Or, you know, blockheads.
posted by occhiblu at 8:02 AM on October 21, 2007


Are you both missing the "He started to advance on me in what looked like a physically threatening way. " portion of the story?

i'm missing the part where his state legislature approved the death penalty for having dirty hands
posted by pyramid termite at 8:57 AM on October 21, 2007


It had occurred to me that ikkyu2 meant the story as a parable intending to illustrate how irrational and horrible it was to answer inconvenient and insult with violence. If so, I apologize for the misreading.

But if the story is true, then it's a serious error of judgment from a person who has a responsibility for other people's health and lives. You don't answer someone starting to advance in what looked to be a physically threatening way with a bullet to the head, or threat thereof. If ikkyu2 had been even more panicky, he might have pulled the trigger anyway. Or the installed might have continued to advance on him. Either way, one unarmed dead body and a respectable physician arrested for manslaughter.

It was an idiotic decision at the time, but in the heat of the moment, it's at least understandable. Justifying it after the fact, however, is insane.

If intended as a parable and an analogy to the Comcast lady's experience, then it's a bad analogy in many ways.

“Or, you know, blockheads.”

As I was the one who mentioned that subtlety, it's clearly not lost on me. Perhaps you meant to say that one could be a person who spends much time in the company of gun-waving maniacs and be a blockhead? If so, I heartily agree. Or perhaps you not only misunderstand Wilde, there's good reason why you would use him as your stand-in for cutting repartee.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:27 PM on October 21, 2007


Just for the record, I know now privately know that ikkyu2 was not telling a parable in his comment and it is, in fact, true. Interestingly, I had convinced myself this morning that it was intended as a parable because, really, this kind of recklessness just seems very out-of-character for the ikkyu2 that I've come to know on MeFi.

On the other hand, it does seem to be in character for a doctor, though I'd expect many other physicians to react differently with an equally cold and self-confident logic. Doctors are trained to make life and death decisions with complete confidence (so they don't dither) and with no regrets (so they're not paralyzed into non-action in the future) and so I can see how a doctor might see this as a quick and definite solution to the problem and not feel particularly uncomfortable with its deadly implications, nor be willing to reconsider the wisdom of the decision in retrospect.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:47 PM on October 21, 2007


Just for the record, I know now privately know that ikkyu2 was not telling a parable in his comment and it is, in fact, true.

Not that I have a dog in this race one way or the other, but "I know now privately" is a phrase rife with implication, not the least of which being that 'privately' can be an awfully dynamic categorization depending on who says what to whom and where. That may be an over-reaching reaction to you statement, EB, but, well, what the hell?
posted by cortex at 7:38 PM on October 21, 2007


He argued about it in email with me. I don't like bringing in email to threads, so I was discrete about it. But it's relevant because other people besides me may have had strong suspicions that his story wasn't true and meant to be a fable.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:46 PM on October 21, 2007


I understand the motivation, but I think it's kind of questionable to say that you were discrete about it if, in fact, you turned around and told folks about it. Just a weird choice of words, under the circumstances.
posted by cortex at 10:11 PM on October 21, 2007


Hmm. Well, I didn't think about it that much. My instinct is not to mention the contents of private email—I don't like even referring to them. But it's also quite relevant to the discussion that he's telling the truth. I wanted to establish that without discussing his email to me, without even mentioning its existence. But I can't just assert that I know something like this—how would I know it?

I'm not sure what implications you think that “I know now privately” is rife with—if I'd anticipated those I would have chosen a different phrasing. All I was concerned with was establishing for other people that my hypothesis that his story was a fable was false and that his story is, in fact, true. I meant in no way to imply anything at all about how I know this. In other words, if you think I meant to talk about the email without talking about the email, that's not true. In fact, now I'm questioning my judgment in answering your comment by telling you that I learned it in an email. At the time, I was thinking that perhaps you thought I learned about it in some nefarious fashion.

I should have simply said that I thought it was important to establish that his story is true and that I happen to know it's true and simply not worried about your concerns that my statement was rife with implications. The inferences people draw are not really my problem.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:25 PM on October 21, 2007


I'm late to this thread but... sweet mother of God, a cable guy dirties your towels and then looks like he might possibly be confrontational about it — and your response is to point a gun at him?! Faced with even the tiniest possibility of violence, you jumped straight to the nuclear option of threatening to taking his life away.

How do you think the rest of the civilised world manages to cope with cable guys, without having guns to point at their heads?

It was an idiotic decision at the time, but in the heat of the moment, it's at least understandable.

Which is a pretty good argument for not letting people have guns, if even rational educated professionals are this stupid around them.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:30 AM on October 22, 2007


Which is a pretty good argument for not letting people have guns, if even rational educated professionals are this stupid around them.

Or maybe a rational, educated professional responded calmly if not perfectly to a stressful, violent situation and nobody got hurt?

Sure, he could have shot the cable guy, he could have locked himself in the bathroom and called the cops, he could have screamed snickety-snick and went wolverene claws vs. dirty hands. The only evidence we have is that he felt threatened, threatened escalation himself and nobody (except a towel) got hurt.

Maybe the civilized world doesn't hire incompetent and violent people to do home installs?
posted by Skorgu at 5:41 AM on October 22, 2007


threatened escalation

'Escalation' is my new favourite euphemism. When I next feel like killing a man in an argument over towels, I'll keep in mind that all I'm doing is 'threatening escalation'.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 5:47 AM on October 22, 2007


But it's also quite relevant to the discussion that he's telling the truth.

so he says it here and you have a hard time believing him, but when he emails you about it, then you do believe him

not sure i follow that logic
posted by pyramid termite at 6:10 AM on October 22, 2007


Aloysius Bear: How much does the NRA pay you to look like an ass? You're doing a great job giving gun control a black name. There was no argument over towels. There was an argument over leaving ikkyu2's home, and a perceived threat. The towel wasn't discovered until the crisis had ended.

Perhaps you don't think it's fair to trump an opponent's ace. Oh well. The purpose of the gun was legitimate. It was to rule out any notion the thug cable guy may have had that he could get away with acting the bully.

As for the lady with hammer: Why would she wait outside in the sun so long, without a word? I might have waited out there briefly, but then I'd have been back inside, taking names and making it clear I was adding the manager's inability to deal with me in timely fashion to my list of complaints.

People in business to give service giving bullying instead has become a common place event. Accepting this state of affairs is nearly as bad as the bullying.
posted by Goofyy at 6:31 AM on October 22, 2007


Just read plain weird to me, EB. I hear you—like I said, I understand the motivation, because the parable-vs-anecdote question sprang to mind for me as soon as I read his comment too (though I was siding on anecdote, because in the details it was just a little too bizarre to work as a parable).

I think it is exactly the phrasing you chose that caught me up short; that "I know now privately" is almost a perfectly self-destructing statement. Not a great big deal, ultimately—I see the distinction between mentioning it for reference and posting a copy of the email—but it seemed kind of jarring, as if you were claiming one thing while doing another.

Lesson learned: the phrase "rife with implication" is itself rife with implication, and I should have been more plainspoken so as not to have made my own feelings seem darker and more suspicious. So: I think it's a bit weird to refer to knowledge as private in the act of publishing it; a bit of have-your-cake as far as the advantages of private correspondence vs. public disclosure goes, though ultimately a really minor event here and probably more about a blinkworthy choice of words than anything else and probably pretty subjective regardless.
posted by cortex at 6:46 AM on October 22, 2007


My bad, Goofyy. Corrected version:
When I next feel like potentially killing a man in an argument over towels dirty handprints, I'll keep in mind that all I'm doing is 'threatening escalation'.
Your world, where pointing a gun at someone's head in response to the tiniest threat of violence is deemed "legitimate", is not a world I want to live in.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 6:46 AM on October 22, 2007


Here, let me fix that typo for you:

When I next feel like potentially killing a man in an argument over towels dirty handprints refusing to leave my house and acting in a threatening manner, I'll keep in mind that all I'm doing is 'threatening escalation'.
posted by Skorgu at 8:10 AM on October 22, 2007


ikkyu2 said: I asked him to leave and he shouted at me that he would not leave until he did the "goddamn" installation. He started to advance on me in what looked like a physically threatening way.

Aloysius Bear translated this as: "an argument over dirty handprints" and the "tiniest threat of violence"

Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of brandishing a gun in ikkyu2's situation, but this is an absurd revision of his story.
posted by mullacc at 8:10 AM on October 22, 2007


Um, I've been thinking about this woman with her hammer. Anyone around her to ring her up and suggest she ought to be running for Congress or something? Maybe she could take Nancy Pelosi's hammer away from her and demonstrate its proper handling.
posted by Goofyy at 9:45 AM on October 22, 2007


“The rest of us have the ability to not use comcast.”

Indeed. We also have the ability to not drive if we don’t like how the DMV is treating us. Or we can not vote if the government violates our rights.
We really should lay off this whole concept of ‘oversight’ and reciprocity, it’s really getting in the way of those poor corporations’ doing business. These crazed old women with their hammers are a blight. Comcast must have lost millions on her. Just as, I’m sure, they would have had she not taken their service. That’d be such a glaring omission in their bottom line, this woman’s monthly fee, that surely they would have learned their lesson and would treat people with respect from then on.

That aside - we also have the ability to not be rude to people. Personally. I could give a shit whether they worked for comcast or not - the point is those people initiated the conflict by being rude to her and relied on being protected by their company. That failed. Oh, the fuck, well. Some old lady smashed their keyboard. I’m sure they’ll be traumatized for life. All they wanted to do was create property through human effort into a physical good... well, that and give elderly folks heatstroke.


“Property that's human effort, human lifespan, crystallized into a physical good.”

Yes. Property is so much more important that treating human beings with proper respect. Especially the elderly. I mean, if you can get away with pissing on the head of someone weaker than you - why not do it? Especially if you’re protected by the amount of property you own by proxy through a corporation.


And, what are you supposed to do if someone threateningly advances on you in your home after you’ve asked them to leave?
Certainly you call the police - if he allows you to get to the phone.
But this “I would have” stuff is tripe.
Personally I might have broke his collarbone, his kneecap, a wrists, shattered a cheekbone and taken out one of his eyes.
But I’d rather whip out a gun so I don’t have to physically prove I’m capable of defending myself.
And fortunately I’m confident with a weapon and my own judgement so I would not be likely to shoot him without serious provocation. But I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.
You don’t have to have a gun if you don’t trust yourself with it, but why armchair quarterback someone with all the details in their particular story?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:16 AM on October 22, 2007


You don’t have to have a gun if you don’t trust yourself with it, but why armchair quarterback someone with all the details in their particular story?

because that's precisely what a jury would do if he'd shot and killed the man
posted by pyramid termite at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2007


because that's precisely what a jury would do if he'd shot and killed the man

...or run the man down with his John Deere, or suffocated him with a doily, or fed him fried chicken until the cholesterol caused a massive coronary, or... or any other hypothetical event that never actually happened.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:30 AM on October 22, 2007


“You don’t have to have a gun if you don’t trust yourself with it, but why armchair quarterback someone with all the details in their particular story?”

Because it was a stupid decision and it can't be justified. I have no problem with violence and I don't particularly have a problem with guns, either. But, as pyramid termite mentions, one of the first rules of gun ownership is that you never, ever threaten to shoot someone without actually being willing to shoot them. That doesn't mean “willing to shoot them if they later do something more serious”. Pulling out the gun now means that it's a response to the other person's behavior now.

It is a huge escalation of violence. Speaking for myself, if I wasn't murderously enraged at someone before they pulled a gun on me, I'd be murderously enraged after they did. What I would do if I were the cable guy in that situation? Pretend to calm down until you put the gun down and then I'd beat the holy shit out of you. Other people might use the gun on you themselves. Or come back later and shoot you.

And, again, even if you really don't care much about the moral seriousness of killing someone, just the pragmatic reality that the police are not going to take your word that the unarmed dead person on your floor was acting threatening. Even if they did, acting threatening simply isn't legal justification for the use of deadly force. You're going to jail. You're going to jail even if you just wound the guy. You're going to be sued because you're a physician with money. I don't know exactly what the licensing board would think, but I don't think it's a stretch to consider that you'd lose your medical license even if you were not prosecuted for shooting and killing someone. Worst case is that you're convicted of manslaughter or 2nd degree murder and spend the next 20 years in prison.

When, instead, you could have tried calling the police, leaving the room and calling the police, or just ignoring it and leaving the house. Or had the balls to defend yourself against an unarmed person without resorting to a gun.

The reasons that ikkyu2 didn't choose any of these things was that he didn't have the balls to fight this person unarmed, he was enamored of the idea of a quick and “painless” solution to the problem by pulling out a gun, and pride.

Note, also, that he said he pointed the gun at the guy's head. That's a stupid place to aim because a) it's easy to miss when the torso is not, and b) if you do hit the person, you're very likely to kill him—an outcome that is much less desirable than a painful wound. This doesn't show good judgment. It shows the impulsive judgment of someone who's seen too many movies with casual use of handguns and where the good guy never misses and the bad guys fall immediately to the floor.

Unfortunately, ikkyu2 hides his real-life identity behind a pseudonym. If it were otherwise, his comment would be a public service in acting as a warning to people thinking of seeking medical care from him. The comment shows a cavalier attitude toward his responsibility for another human's life, insecurity mixed with pride, and a tendency to favor the quick and easiest solution without regard to risk.

It's absurd if he or his girlfriend feels particularly aggrieved by this criticism. If you are willing to share such stories—stories where you decide to escalate violence with another person to a life-and-death level—you ought to be prepared to accept some serious and intense criticism.

“or any other hypothetical event that never actually happened.”

That's bullshit and you know it is. Unless you are prepared from this moment forward never to propose counterfactuals of any kind on the basis that they are equally absurd?

While there is philosophical debate on this subject, most people accept counterfactuals as having meaning and comprehensible relative likelihoods. If I can say that “shooting and killing an unarmed, invited guest in one's home will almost certainly result in an arrest and a trial”, then I can say the same thing but as “if one had shot and killed...”.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:38 AM on October 22, 2007


The reasons that ikkyu2 didn't choose any of these things was that he didn't have the balls to fight this person unarmed, he was enamored of the idea of a quick and “painless” solution to the problem by pulling out a gun, and pride.

So your argument is that allowing someone to assault you in your own home demonstrates "balls?" By your own insistence on hypotheticals, this demonstration of balls in action would also involve personal injury and presumably a lawsuit - except now it would be ikkyu2 who would be at least equally at risk for the price of being unwilling to defend his home with appropriate measures.

So one more time: your hypothetical - a fight - equals guaranteed violence. ikkyu2's real actions - a display of force - resulted in no one being injured, locked up, or sued.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:48 AM on October 22, 2007


“except now it would be ikkyu2 who would be at least equally at risk for the price of being unwilling to defend his home with appropriate measures.”

No, it's inappropriate measures.

“So your argument is that allowing someone to assault you in your own home demonstrates ‘balls’?”

If the alternative is a high risk of killing someone and being convicted of a felony, then, yes, of course getting in a little fistfight instead means having a minimum of courage. If you don't have that, then walk out of the damn house.

Your argument depends upon the absurd reasoning that avoiding a small amount of violence is worth the risk of killing someone and going to prison. But if you're a coward who is so fearful of even a small amount of violence, then you shouldn't have a fucking gun and you should learn to just walk away.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:12 PM on October 22, 2007


Notice that the only person in this thread to use the words "I wasn't there" is one who is not jumping all over Ikkyu for using a gun to defend himself. It's a phrase that's been going through my head every time I come back to this thread.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:22 PM on October 22, 2007


Your argument assumes too much. You assume an assault by someone crazy enough to attack you in your own home would end in "a little fistfight." You assume, apparantly, that this would be a gentleman's rules round of fisticuffs, that no pemanent injury or further escalation would result from it. You assume that my choice to escalate to deadly force is based on fear rather than pragmatism, but you're wrong. I'm far more likely to damage someone in hand-to-hand combat than standing them off with a firearm. You assume that I would be charged or convicted of a crime for shooting someone who threatened me in my own home after receiving a warning (definitely not a given in my state).

I acknowledge that bringing a firearm into the situation escalates the risk of deadly violence. However, it can also end the threat of violence. Which is what actually happened.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:34 PM on October 22, 2007


“It's a phrase that's been going through my head every time I come back to this thread.”

Well, I said that I might have done the same thing in that situation. I don't know that I wouldn't. The problem here isn't just that he did it, it's that he and other people are justifying after the fact as the right decision. We're all on an equal footing for post hoc analysis.

At any rate, the “you weren't there” defense is one I've heard happens to not be very effective with juries.

“He acted threateningly! So I shot him!”

“And he was unarmed?”

“Yes, but he was acting in a threatening manner!”

“I see”

“No, you don't! You can't judge me, you weren't there!”

“Your Honor, Prosecution rests.”
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:36 PM on October 22, 2007


“You assume an assault by someone crazy enough to attack you in your own home would end in ‘a little fistfight.’ You assume, apparently, that this would be a gentleman's rules round of fisticuffs, that no permanent injury or further escalation would result from it.”

I assume no such thing. Don't put words in my mouth. But you can't compare the level of damage likely done between two unarmed men to the damage done by a .357 Magnum headshot. I wrote “a little fistfight” because while there's a possibility that it would be more than that, that possibility is quite low and your rationale was that avoiding any violence justified using a gun.

“You assume that my choice to escalate to deadly force is based on fear rather than pragmatism, but you're wrong.”

I also said it was based upon pride and convenience. But if the primary motivation is to avoid being in a fistfight, then it's fear. Sorry.

“I'm far more likely to damage someone in hand-to-hand combat than standing them off with a firearm.”

I see what you did there. You're comparing a certainty of getting into a fight (which, contrary to your comments, is not a certainty—I've had numerous people back-down from fights with me simply because I showed that I was willing to fight them) to a certainty of someone backing down when faced with a gun. Talk about stacking the deck! Playing your game, I could say that “I'm far more likely to damage someone by shooting them than I am when they back down because I stand up to them unarmed”.

Or how about walking out the door? What's the risk of injury then?

“You assume that I would be charged or convicted of a crime for shooting someone who threatened me in my own home after receiving a warning (definitely not a given in my state).”

Oh, sure, it's not definite if you could prove that you were threatened. How would you do that if there were no witnesses? With no proof that you were threatened, no signs of a fight, and a dead and unarmed man on the floor, you're going to jail and prosecuted, no matter what state you live in. If you believe otherwise, you're in fantasyland.

Anyway, I'm done here. You, ikkyu2, and others can try to rationalize a really stupid decision all you want. Most observers can recognize dangerous recklessness with a gun when they see it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:50 PM on October 22, 2007


Or how about walking out the door? What's the risk of injury then?

If you think abandoning your own home to avoid a confrontation with a threatening stranger is preferable to standing your ground when you have the option, I don't know that you're in a strong position to be accusing others of cowardice.

Oh, sure, it's not definite if you could prove that you were threatened. How would you do that if there were no witnesses? With no proof that you were threatened, no signs of a fight, and a dead and unarmed man on the floor, you're going to jail and prosecuted, no matter what state you live in. If you believe otherwise, you're in fantasyland.

No, I'm in Washington. And I do not have the burden of proof. This kind of thing actually happens from time-to-time here, and usually they don't even bother trying to prosecute. Ironically, if there had been a fight which then somehow escalated to deadly force, it would have been much harder to claim self-defense.

You, ikkyu2, and others can try to rationalize a really stupid decision all you want. Most observers can recognize dangerous recklessness with a gun when they see it.

I don't need to rationalize anything, because none of the things you're arguing about actually happened. No one was injured, sued, or jailed, and the only person at any risk was the person who initiated the threat of violence in the first place. You can argue "recklessness" all you want, but most people can recognize that what actually happened was just about the best possible outcome for Cable Guy. He left uninjured and was not jailed. He probably didn't even lose his job.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:24 PM on October 22, 2007


Every Comcast installer I've had in my home had a bunch of tools with him. Some of them were sharp. Please stop saying "unarmed." You don't know that, because you weren't there. You're postulating conditions that you have no evidence for. It makes your arguments weak.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:50 PM on October 22, 2007


How does the rest of the world cope with the gangs of psychopathic sharp-tool-armed cable guys who roam our streets and terrorise our families?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 1:53 PM on October 22, 2007


I'm wondering what the reaction would be if little old me (5'0", 95 lbs dripping wet) had been in ikkyu2's situation. No offense to ikkyu2, but it seems that most of the naysayers assume that he can defend himself physically against the cable guy without a gun.

I know I couldn't.
posted by desjardins at 2:21 PM on October 22, 2007


“If you think abandoning your own home to avoid a confrontation with a threatening stranger is preferable to standing your ground when you have the option, I don't know that you're in a strong position to be accusing others of cowardice.”

Sure I am. It's not cowardly to walk away when that is the most rational solution. And I've not walked away and have physically defended myself in that past, including recently.

Again, walking away isn't cowardly unless there's something at risk. Was the cable guy threatening to burn the house down?

And, again, I didn't say that walking away was the first choice. Standing your ground without the dubious crutch of a gun is the first, non-cowardly choice.

“This kind of thing actually happens from time-to-time here, and usually they don't even bother trying to prosecute. Ironically, if there had been a fight which then somehow escalated to deadly force, it would have been much harder to claim self-defense.”

This absolutely unsubstantiated bullshit. Find me a single case where someone shoots and kills an unarmed guest in their own home, with no witnesses, who claims they were threatened but not actually attacked, and who is not prosecuted. Just one.

If you can manage to find such a case, then I guess that if I have the urge to kill someone, I can expect to get away with it if I just decide to kill a guest in my home and then later claim I was threatened (but not actually attacked). Good to know if I ever decide to see what it's like to kill someone.

What we are seeing in this thread is pseudo-macho bullshit. People who are afraid of being hurt consider resorting to the nuclear option of pulling out a gun to be “brave”.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:23 PM on October 22, 2007


Speaking of pseudo-macho bullshit, I see you still haven't told desjardins that she should grow some balls if she's attacked in her home. In fact, I'd guess that if a woman had posted this story and not bothered to identify her unwanted guest as a Cable Man, the only conversation we'd be having here is whether or not she should have pulled the trigger. We get it. You don't need no stinking guns. Hoo-ah! I'm sure we're all suitably impressed.

Find me a single case where someone shoots and kills an unarmed guest in their own home, with no witnesses, who claims they were threatened but not actually attacked, and who is not prosecuted. Just one.

You seem to get your ideas about masculinity and self-protection from the same places you apparently get your ideas about the law. From TV and the movies. Yes, shooting someone in any circumstances will result in some serious investigation, but states with castle doctrine and stand your ground laws generally have the discretion on whether to charge a shooter in such cases, and although you'd certainly be more likely to get a free pass if you were physically weak and the person in question was a complete stranger, the law says that you can protect yourself in your own home if you have reason to believe you are in imminent danger, and the burden of proof is always on the state to prove that this was not the case.

Specific cases/examples will naturally take a while to find, as I was no more sitting here with a file of examples than you were sitting there with a file of evidence that shooting this guy would have meant an automatic jail sentence. But just for you, I'll give it a whirl.

I will say, though, that I'm actually glad you're on the side of the argument that you're on. As aggressive and excitable as you are here, I can see why you'd just assume that defensive escalations would automatically lead to actual use of force, rather than deter it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:19 PM on October 22, 2007


“because that's precisely what a jury would do if he'd shot and killed the man”

IF.

“one of the first rules of gun ownership is that you never, ever threaten to shoot someone without actually being willing to shoot them.”

Was ikkyu2 unwilling to shoot someone threatening him in his home? I didn’t see where he said: “I pulled the gun, but there was no way in hell I’d ever shoot anyone ever”

“What I would do if I were the cable guy in that situation? Pretend to calm down until you put the gun down and then I'd beat the holy shit out of you.”

Would that be before or after being held at gunpoint for the police?

“the pragmatic reality that the police are not going to take your word”

Totally. Large, perhaps intoxicated, filthy guy in someone’s home? Yeah, no way they’d buy that. ikkyu2 probably pointed the gun at him, dragged him into the house....

“Even if they did, acting threatening simply isn't legal justification for the use of deadly force.”

Again, I missed where ikkyu2 shot the guy.

“Or had the balls to defend yourself against an unarmed person without resorting to a gun.”

Been there. Done that. Lots of people - drunk or sober - take it as a point of pride not to go down. I’ve hospitalized people needlessly (IMHO - oddly, by your logic, it’s out of fear that I don’t wish to severely injure people) because I did not have a firearm and they refused to quit and were good enough that I had to do damage before subduing them.
People simply don’t think to themselves “gee, I bet he’s a close quarter combat instructor, I better not mess with him.” Balls or not a firearm can actually de-escalate a situation. Gives someone an “out.”
But let’s say I do fight him, what’s the objective here? Knock him out? Get him out of the house? Detain him? Same logical problem as shooting him (albeit, lesser scale).
I knock him out - it’s still his word against mine when he comes to - with the added snag that he can testify. Granted it’s not as serious as a dead body, but then what if I fight and I lose. Now I’m out cold, prone, and he’s there in my house.
Now me, I could probably snap an average joe’s neck like a breadstick. And if I do - what then? He’s still dead.
Ok, reverse that, I’m in ikkyu2’s house - how exactly is he going to stop me without a gun?
No, too many intangibles there for me to make any reasonable assessment on beyond ikkys2’s picture.

“The comment shows a cavalier attitude toward his responsibility for another human's life, insecurity mixed with pride, and a tendency to favor the quick and easiest solution without regard to risk.”

Your much smarter than me. I can’t evaluate someone’s entire life and ethos from one short detail dry story posted on a web blog. I’m just addressing what ikkyu2 said on his terms - 1. Guy in his home wouldn’t leave 2. had to pull a gun because he felt threatened.
Beyond that I got nothing.


“If I can say that “shooting and killing an unarmed, invited guest in one's home will almost certainly result in an arrest and a trial”,”

Odd how it’s rape if a woman revokes her consent, but once a guy is in your home, all bets are off.

“If the alternative is a high risk of killing someone and being convicted of a felony, then, yes, of course getting in a little fistfight instead means having a minimum of courage.”

IF.

Of course, y’know, he didn’t have to shoot. A .357 makes a handy club. He could have pistol whipped the shit out of the guy if he tried to assault him. Or a thousand other things might have happened. But y’know...I wasn’t there.

“Oh, sure, it's not definite if you could prove that you were threatened. How would you do that if there were no witnesses? With no proof that you were threatened, no signs of a fight, and a dead and unarmed man on the floor...”

Because of course, we all know all those details from ikkyu2’s deep, in depth report of the entire situation, we know who knew he was there, if anyone else was home, if there were kids in the house, if the neighbors could see in, if the guy had a criminal record, etc. etc. etc.
Why didn’t he walk out the door? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Could be any number of reasons that haven’t been mentioned.
Someone says “I felt threatened” in a story, I’ll take their word for it that they felt threatened as a given barring any other reasonable data. As nothing happened, no need for a jury.
If we’re speculating - I don’t know that the guy did press charges against ikkyu2 - which would have been more of a possibility if he were a law abiding individual. But I don’t know that he did or didn’t.
Because again - the “I wasn’t there” isn’t a defense - it’s a statement of fact on the derth of facts. We have only one witness and, most importantly, no dead body or any injuries.
Looks like a success to me.

Given some of the assumptions made, I could accept the argument that it was a bad decision. But I suspect ikkyu2 would have changed his evaluation in response and circumvented shooting someone. Perhaps not. Perhaps he’s not a rational actor. But again, that’s an assumption.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:19 PM on October 22, 2007


“I will say, though, that I'm actually glad you're on the side of the argument that you're on. As aggressive and excitable as you are here, I can see why you'd just assume that defensive escalations would automatically lead to actual use of force, rather than deter it.”

Don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say that this “defensive escalation would automatically lead to actual use of force”. On the other hand, you've said that a non-gun defensive escalation would automatically lead to actual use of force.

I've been in a number of fistfight situations, not theoretical ones, and even in the last year. Usually, you can either calm the situation down or make it clear that you're perfectly willing to answer someone else's violence with equal or greater violence, both of which usually result in no fight occurring at all. All without the risk of deadly force.

“I see you still haven't told desjardins that she should grow some balls if she's attacked in her home.”

Ikkyu2 wasn't attacked. The installer merely “began to act threateningly”. That is not the same things as being attacked. Be honest and stop pretending that it is. And, yes, if desjardins pulled a gun on an unarmed person who was merely acting threatening, I'd say that it was a very bad decision. Would I say she was cowardly? No, because most women have no history of personal combat and no sense that they are capable of it. Furthermore, a woman arguing that position probably wouldn't claim that not using the gun and defusing the situation or walking away was cowardly.

A gun is for killing people, or defending yourself when someone is trying to kill you. It's not a tool for “solving” common disputes where an unarmed person merely starts to act aggressively. As Aloysius Bear says, most of the rest of world manages to deal with these situations without having a handgun to wave around. Arguing that because this situation turned out okay it was a good decision to make is just stupid. “Well, I drove home so drunk that I couldn't stand up and I didn't get into an accident so that proves that it was a good decision”. This is the reasoning of crazy people.

I'm sure that the majority of similar situations like this one where the result was a dead body on the floor the shooter thought this would end the situation quickly with no fuss and no muss. After all, nobody's going to rush you when you have a gun pointed at them, right?

Again, find me a single example that proves that you can shoot an unarmed, invited guest in your house, kill them, and merely tell the police that you were threatened—and on that basis, with no evidence of the supposed threat, the police won't arrest you and the DA won't prosecute. Just one example.

Until then, I truly am finished with this crazy conversation.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:04 PM on October 22, 2007


Haven't found any Cable Guy shootings yet, but here are a few related cases where the prosecuters say pretty much exactly what I've been saying: If they can't disprove self-defense or defense of property, they won't even bring charges. Also one where they did try, and the jury found him justified.

Okay, let's see - Here's one in my state. Now there was some evidence that the dead guy might have been armed and planning to attempt robbery; on the other hand, the shooter was a convicted fellon and unlawfully unregistered sex offender, so it kind of evens out. Point is, he wasn't charged because "We cannot disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted justifiably," Costello said Monday. "We cannot with the available evidence."

Here's one from Illinois. A drunken intruder is shot, and the shooter didn't even own the gun. Doesn't mention that the intruder was armed, although I suppose they could have left that detail out. But since this one went to jury, I'm guessing not:

Peoria Journal-Star
Man who fatally shot intruder used borrowed gun

Illinois
"The Toluca homeowner who shot and killed a drunken intruder in late October had just borrowed the gun from a friend and practiced using it the day before the shooting, a Marshall County coroner's jury was told Friday. Homeowner Bradley Burns had been threatened recently during an unrelated fight at a bar where he worked part time as a bouncer, and a friend loaned him the 9-millimeter pistol with which he fatally shot Douglas A. Sullivan on Oct. 26. ... The jury ruled the death 'homicide, which was justifiable under the circumstances.'" (01/15/05)

Here's one in Dallas. Intruder killed for being in a guy's detached garage. No threat to life, just to property. No charges. Relevant quote: "Dallas police said Baker will not face charges because he was defending his property... A bill passed earlier this year by legislators gives Texans a stronger legal right to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, vehicles and workplaces."

I'll keep looking for an unarmed Cable Guy menace shooting, but really, it isn't proving that hard to find examples of the authorities saying the same thing I am: You have a legal right to protect yourself and your property with lethal force, and if you use lethal force, it is up to the state to prove that you weren't justified, if they decide to pursue it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:44 PM on October 22, 2007


All else aside, I'm really hating this thread for reminding me of the fucking Broderick/Carrey vehicle.
posted by cortex at 5:51 PM on October 22, 2007


Very relevant example in Tacoma, Washington, where an unarmed kid was shot and killed fleeing an attempted home burglary. Why relevant? Because of these statements from the prosecutor's office:
Typically, though, when an intruder is shot inside someone's home, "it would be a rare situation where we would charge it," said Jerry Costello, administrative deputy to Pierce County Prosecutor John Ladenburg....

Costello said the law gives people protecting themselves a presumption that an act of self-defense was necessary.

In order for homicide to be charged, prosecutors would have the burden of proving the person did not act in self-defense....


In King County, Dan Donohoe, spokesman for Prosecutor Norm Maleng, said there have been periodic cases in which homeowners killed intruders, but he could not think of any that resulted in criminal charges against the resident.
[emphasis mine, as these statements directly contradict yours, and are almost exactly the statements I made above that you insisted were "bullshit" - This kind of thing actually happens from time-to-time here, and usually they don't even bother trying to prosecute.]

Now I assume you would argue that Cable Guy wasn't an intruder in the same sense as someone who broke and entered, even though he was a stranger acting aggressively who had been told in no uncertain terms to leave and refused, and you might have a point ethically, but legally the main point still stands: At least in my state, by law, the prosecutor would have to be able to prove that you weren't acting in self-defense for shooting Cable Guy. Even unarmed. Even with no witnesses. Even if you initially let the person in. And they won't even try if there's not some other obvious explanation. And really - what's the other obvious motive the prosecutor is going to accuse you of - and prove - for shooting Cable Guy? Shitty service?

the police are not going to take your word that the unarmed dead person on your floor was acting threatening

The law says they have to, unless they can prove otherwise.

Even if they did, acting threatening simply isn't legal justification for the use of deadly force.

If you say you believed you were in imminent danger, the law says you were in imminent danger unless they can prove otherwise.

You're going to jail.

The prosecutors say otherwise.

You're going to jail even if you just wound the guy.

The prosecutors say otherwise.

I think I've provided plenty of supporting statements from the actual prosecutors who would be investigating the case (at least in my state) to refute your statements and point the "absolutely unsubstantiated bullshit" mirror right back at you. And now it's my turn to walk away.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:55 PM on October 22, 2007


“because that's precisely what a jury would do if he'd shot and killed the man”

IF.

why is it that people are disregarding this as "a hypothetical", but not disregarding "i felt threatened" as also hypothetical?

consistency - if my hypothetical isn't valid, his can't be either

Now I assume you would argue that Cable Guy wasn't an intruder in the same sense as someone who broke and entered, even though he was a stranger acting aggressively who had been told in no uncertain terms to leave and refused, and you might have a point ethically, but legally the main point still stands: At least in my state, by law, the prosecutor would have to be able to prove that you weren't acting in self-defense for shooting Cable Guy.

no, it really doesn't - he invited the man into his home, made an appointment, in fact - he can claim he told the man to leave, but that's just his story, isn't it?

in the meantime you've got a dead cable guy with no weapon and a cable truck outside in the driveway

and a prosecutor who's going to do his damnedest to argue to a jury that no weapon means that self-defense wasn't involved and that the person was in no real imminent danger

remember that if he wants to claim that he told the man to leave first that he's going to be relying on the police to relay that statement in their testimony, unless he takes the stand himself - that may or may not be a good thing

remember that detectives are going to be going over his past life with a fine toothed comb to find anyone who can testify that he's been known to lose his temper or handle his gun carelessly

and most important in a case like this, remember that the jury will be given all sorts of options down to involuntary manslaughter

would he be convicted? - i honestly don't know and neither do you - i do know that there's a good chance it would end up in court - and that itself is a bad outcome, even if he's found innocent

you can make all the claims you want, but the police and the prosecutor aren't going to be interested in what YOU think they have to prove or can prove - that is why we have a legal system and that is why there's a good chance they would send this case through it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:23 PM on October 22, 2007


I mean, it was like, is this a comedy? A psychodrama? Is Broderick supposed to be sympathetic, or a caricature of the implosion of social graces in post-modern society? Or what?
posted by cortex at 10:33 PM on October 22, 2007


the police and the prosecutor aren't going to be interested in what YOU think they have to prove or can prove

That's why I included the statements of what THEY say they have to prove. What evidence is YOUR claim that there's a "good chance it would end up in court" based on? THEY say they rarely prosecute home defense shootings.

why is it that people are disregarding this as "a hypothetical", but not disregarding "i felt threatened" as also hypothetical?

Umm... maybe because the first bit "if he'd shot and killed the man" didn't actually happen - making it, by definition, hypothetical, while the second bit, "i felt threatened," is from the only witness's statement of what did actually happen, making it at worst a questionable account, but in no way "hypothetical."

he invited the man into his home

Not sure why folks keep thinking inviting someone into your house or the fact that he was a cable guy has anything to do with anything. There is nothing in the law in question that gives a pass to people just because you invited them in. Cable guys aren't vampires. They don't have special flip-out protections just because you invite them in. If you happen to get Crazy-Ass Cable Guy, you are still allowed to protect yourself from him even if you let him in in the first place.

he can claim he told the man to leave, but that's just his story, isn't it?

Yes, it is "just" his story. And so far as we know, it's the only story of record, actually. Please read the prosecutors' statements again:
Costello said the law gives people protecting themselves a presumption that an act of self-defense was necessary.

In order for homicide to be charged, prosecutors would have the burden of proving the person did not act in self-defense....
What part of "presumption that an act of self-defense was necessary" and "prosecutors would have the burden of proving the person did not act in self-defense" are people having a hard time understanding?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:38 PM on October 22, 2007


Very relevant example in Tacoma, Washington, where an unarmed kid was shot and killed fleeing an attempted home burglary.

Incredibly, the killer wasn't even charged.

There was a similar case in Britain recently, where a farmer shot a 16-year old would-be burglar in the back with a shotgun, while he was fleeing the property. The jury found the farmer guilty of murder and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 2:45 AM on October 23, 2007


I'm really trying hard to stay away from this but...IRFH, all but one of your examples involve intruders for Christ's sake. If you can't manage to differentiate between shooting an invited guest in one's home and an intruder in one's home, then how can you expect to be taken seriously in this discussion?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:15 AM on October 23, 2007


“There is nothing in the law in question that gives a pass to people just because you invited them in. Cable guys aren't vampires. They don't have special flip-out protections just because you invite them in. If you happen to get Crazy-Ass Cable Guy, you are still allowed to protect yourself from him even if you let him in in the first place.”

You're insane. The law treats intruders and trespassers much differently than guests. An intruder is presumed to have bad intentions. The plumber? Not so much.

Really, it's hard to believe you could be seriously arguing this. A dead unarmed intruder on your floor that you shot? Sure, the police will arrest you, and you might be prosecuted for it, but probably not. A dead, unarmed cable installer on your floor that you shot? No witnesses corroborating your claim to have been threatened? No sign of a struggle, no injuries on you? You're going to be arrested and prosecuted and the burden is on you to prove that you were acting in self-defense. The two situations are completely different and I invite you to email one of the attorneys on MeFi for an opinion.

I'd really like to know: do you really and truly believe that the law doesn't view shooting an intruder in one's home differently than shooting an invited guest? Or are you just just joking around?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:22 AM on October 23, 2007


“What part of ‘presumption that an act of self-defense was necessary’ and ‘prosecutors would have the burden of proving the person did not act in self-defense’ are people having a hard time understanding?”

The part where you claim that this applies to invited guests (and, presumably, occupants of the house) and not just to INTRUDERS, which is the context from which that quote came.

If you really do think there's no difference, then you have no place to implicitly question other peoples' intelligence. I mean, really, your failure to see this distinction is either laughable or absurd. Or sad. I don't know which. But rest assured: if you shoot and kill your neighbor, and the police have a copy of your note inviting your neighbor over for coffee, there will be no “presumption that an act of self-defense was necessary”, nor will “prosecutors have the burden of proving the person did not act in self-defense”. In that situation, the burden will be on you to prove that you acted in self-defense, not the prosecution.

I could go to the trouble of looking up statutes that treat intruders and invited guests and occupants of homes differently, but that would be like looking up proof that water is wet.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:29 AM on October 23, 2007


"Invited guest" and "Intruder" aren't labels that apply permanently. An invited guest becomes an intruder (and probably a trespasser) when they refuse to leave.
posted by Skorgu at 7:39 AM on October 23, 2007


“‘Invited guest’ and ‘Intruder’ aren't labels that apply permanently. An invited guest becomes an intruder (and probably a trespasser) when they refuse to leave.”

In common English usage, I agree. With regard to the law, I don't really know. But the transition from guest to intruder in such a case is exactly the same as the transition from guest to attacker: without independent proof of this, there's only the shooter's word on it, which is a very unreliable source. Unless someone witnessed the installer's behavior, from the police and prosecutor's point of view, all they have is a dead body of an unarmed guest in the home with the shooter's claim to be defending himself with no other evidence. They are not going to make assumptions favorable to the shooter, as they would with a known intruder and/or a known attacker.

This is why it would be so important to make a 911 call before pulling out the gun, or wait for the attacker to actually do something. In either case, though, you could lie. You could make the 911 call immediately after you shoot and kill the installer, claiming that he's in the other room and acting aggressive and refuses to leave; or fake some injuries resulting from the claimed struggle, something a physician would be uniquely equipped to manage. Yet because both these things are obviously possible, still the police and prosecutor would be suspicious.

The lack of a motive other than self-defense would, in all these cases, strongly favor the shooter. But it's a mistake to believe that you can shoot and kill an unarmed person, even in self-defense, and not face intense scrutiny and possible prosecution in any circumstance. The police will usually arrest a shooter in all such situations, including when the scenario is clearly a burglary or similar, and then see if a determination of self-defense can be made. Anyone with a gun who plans to use it for self-defense should be aware that a deadly shooting will in almost every case result in a number of legal complications. That's a good reason, in general to never take out that gun as a first resort, as ikkyu2 did. But the specific circumstances of his situation make the decision much worse.

Vague things like “defending one's home” and “feeling threatened” simply are not sufficient justification for using, or threatening to use, deadly force. You need to be self-evidently threatened with something equivalently deadly to the deadly threat which is your response. Otherwise, it's a huge overreaction and escalation.

When I was thinking about this yesterday morning, I came up with a casual equation which gets to the essence of the judgment being made. It's:

u = t - dr

Where

u is the utility value of the response (between -1 and 1)
t is the deadly threat probability of the aggression (between 0 and 1),
d is the deterrent effectiveness of the response (between 0 and 1), and
r is the deadly risk of the response (between 0 and 1)

I think that r should include the deadly risk to both the attacker and defender. The risk to the defender should weigh much more heavily than the risk to the attacker, but this is effectively balanced out in just using a single variable by the opposing greater likeliehood of damage to the attacker than the defender.

You can see that when all three input variables are 1 (certainly true) then the resulting utility of the response is 0. That may seem wrong and one might think it should be a positive number, at least, but it really makes sense because the response still results in a life lost. The ideal response, with a utility of 1, would be one that guarantees no lives lost and successful deterrence.

Also, note that doing nothing is always better than doing something when the deadly risk is greater than the deadly threat. This is probably the real heart of our argument. But even if you modify the formula so that it implicitly allows greater risk than threat, you'll still find that in most cases ikkyu2 had numerous better choices than resorting to the gun.

My own estimate of the values for the variables in ikkyu2's situation would be a t of .1, a deterrence of .8, and an r of .3, which results in a utility of -0.14, which is a fairly high negative utility, all things considered.

In contrast, my estimates of calling the police would be variables of .1, .7, and 0, respectively, resulting in a utility of 0.1.

Note that the utility is always less than the threat—you could normalize this if you wanted to, but keeping this shows that the value of defusing a bad situation is never any greater than the situation is bad, which seems necessarily true. But if you start comparing utility values for between different situations, you'll want to normalize them for comparison purposes.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:23 AM on October 23, 2007


EB: Vague things like “defending one's home” and “feeling threatened” simply are not sufficient justification for using, or threatening to use, deadly force.

Morally, I completely agree. Legally, though, this isn't necessarily true. For instance, Florida's hideous "stand-your-ground" law:

Wikipedia: The Florida statute allows the use of deadly force when a person reasonably believes it necessary to prevent the commission of ... treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 9:51 AM on October 23, 2007


With regard to the law, I don't really know.

Agreed.

the burden is on you to prove that you were acting in self-defense.

Sorry - But the burden is never on the defendant to prove innocence in criminal complaints. Regardless of the jurisdiction. Have you ever sat on a jury? The burden of proof is always with the state. Now if the state has a case - if they have some actual evidence against you - you have the right to refute it. And you should, if you can. But you don't have to prove anything - they have to.

So where the law allows lethal force for personal protection, a prosecutor would have to be able to prove that the defendant had either a different motive, or that there was no imminent danger. But here's the kicker - by pulling out the gun in the first place, the imminent danger is not hard to claim. If, after arming yourself, your agitated unwanted "guest" still charges you, you pretty much have to shoot them, assuming they are going for the gun. Not only is this a reasonable claim under the law, it's pretty freaking hard to disprove unless it's a total fabrication and there's eyewitness testimony or physical evidence to refute it.

You keep talking about the lack of witnesses as if that's a strike against the defendant, but the opposite is actually true. With no conflicting account, the only evidence a prosecutor would be able to consider is the shooter's statement and the physical evidence. If the physical evidence doesn't contradict the shooter's statement, and the shooter's statements are clear and consistent, the prosecutor's hands are tied.

This is why I have repeated the prosecutor's statements about what they can and can't prosecute.

And your issues about "intruders" vs. "invited guests" are total red herrings. The laws I'm referring to (Washington State law, specifically, in this case) do not differentiate where or who you can shoot in self-defense. There's nothing magical about a cable guy. Cable Guy is just a service provider - and probably a contractor, at that - a total stranger allowed into the house on faith, not someone with carte blanche. If he turns out to be a wack-job once he gets in there, none of your rights of self-protection have been forfeited by letting him in.

from the police and prosecutor's point of view, all they have is a dead body of an unarmed guest in the home with the shooter's claim to be defending himself with no other evidence. They are not going to make assumptions favorable to the shooter, as they would with a known intruder and/or a known attacker.

From the police and prosecutor's point of view, the law explicitly makes exactly that assumption. If there is, as you say, only the shooter's testimony and "no other evidence," there literally is no case against the shooter.

there's only the shooter's word on it, which is a very unreliable source

Without refuting evidence, it is the only source.

The lack of a motive other than self-defense would, in all these cases, strongly favor the shooter.

Exactly.

But it's a mistake to believe that you can shoot and kill an unarmed person, even in self-defense, and not face intense scrutiny and possible prosecution in any circumstance.

That statement I totally agree with. There would be intense scrutiny. There could be prosecution. But your earlier repeated assertions that "you're going to jail" because you let the guy in, he was a stranger, and there were no witnesses are naive and ignorant in their unfounded certainty. None of those things assure a prosecution, let alone a conviction, and in fact they make a prosecution less likely than if the dead body were someone otherwise known to the shooter.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:12 AM on October 23, 2007


Aloysius Bear: Morally, I completely agree. Legally, though, this isn't necessarily true. For instance, Florida's hideous "stand-your-ground" law

Related: Washington State is considered a "stand your ground" state in case law.

EB: you claim that this applies to invited guests (and, presumably, occupants of the house) and not just to INTRUDERS, which is the context from which that quote came.... If you really do think there's no difference, then you have no place to implicitly question other peoples' intelligence. I mean, really, your failure to see this distinction is either laughable or absurd. Or sad. I don't know which.

Your insistence on making this distinction is not born out by the facts:

Justifiable Homicide, as defined by Washington State, (note the absence of qualifying terms like "guest," "intruder," and "cable installer"):

RCW 9A.16.050
Homicide — By other person — When justifiable.

Homicide is also justifiable when committed either:

(1) In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or

(2) In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode, in which he is.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:33 AM on October 23, 2007


“why is it that people are disregarding this as "a hypothetical", but not disregarding "i felt threatened" as also hypothetical?”

Because it’s his story.

“consistency - if my hypothetical isn't valid, his can't be either”

Your hypotheticals are perfectly valid within your sphere of reasoning. They have no parity with the reality of what happened to ikkyu2 - who is the only one who does know the reality of the situation.
If you say “I have a phobia about clowns” or some such, there’s no way to prove or disprove that, ergo - for all purposes of argument, it’s established fact. Perhaps none of this happened. Perhaps ikkyu2 was the cable installer. Perhaps he actually lures cable installers into his home to kill them. Those hypotheticals are the rough equivalent to minor miracles in whatever reality I wish to create. I could just as easily argue ikkyu2 should have prayed to God who would then smite the cable installer.
We either accept the facts of ikkyu2’s story, or we don’t. If we don’t, there’s no basis for any conflict at all. If we do, we have to argue the facts as we know them.

You want to argue some other guy in some other situation doing something similar to ikkyu2 with your hypotheticals plugged in did the wrong thing, no problem.

Given what you outlined, seems like your bottom line is that someone shouldn’t point a gun at someone else unless they feel their life is threatened. With some concessions, I’d agree. How that applies to ikkyu2’s situation is another matter.
The simple fact no one was injured is just one diversion from your hypotheticals and it changes the entire picture.
The sincerity of your reasoning isn’t in question.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:38 AM on October 23, 2007


how can you expect to be taken seriously in this discussion?

I have that expectation because I'm the one actually backing up my assertions with evidence, such as examples, statements of prosecutors, and the text of the relevant laws, while your contributions consist entirely of hyperbole, braggadocio, personal insults, and argument by incredulity.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:06 PM on October 23, 2007


“But the burden is never on the defendant to prove innocence in criminal complaints. Regardless of the jurisdiction. Have you ever sat on a jury? ”

I'm not even going to bother reading the rest of the comment after reading this part. I think at this point you're being deliberately dishonest or you are very confused. We have been arguing about arrest and prosecution. Not conviction. The burden is always on the suspect to prove innocence to the police and the DA in criminal complaints. (Note that you use the phrase “criminal complaints”, which applies to arrests and prosecutions but in the context of talking about sitting on a jury.)

So now you've confused intruders with guests and enforcement with the judicial process. If you can't keep these things straight, or won't, then how can you expect to be taken seriously?

“I have that expectation because I'm the one actually backing up my assertions with evidence, such as examples, statements of prosecutors, and the text of the relevant laws, while your contributions consist entirely of hyperbole, braggadocio, personal insults, and argument by incredulity.”

All of your examples don't apply, which is what I was asking about when I asked the first time how you expect to be taken seriously. And this is your answer?

These mistakes on your part are not little things about which only petty people will quibble. They are big, huge, errors in your argument that are not matters of opinion, but simple and widely-known fact. When I say that I have great difficulty in believing that you are legitimately confused about these things, that's not a rhetorical tactic, that's an earnest and honest statement. One alternative is that you are truly confused about these two things. Yet you are clearly not illiterate or utterly uninformed about widely-known matters of daily life. The other alternative is that you're intentionally confusing matters, changing what you're arguing about willy-nilly so as to appear (to onlookers?) that your responses are relevant and thus your points persuasive. The choices are idiocy or gross dishonesty. I'll suspect either at small levels in mefites, but not at this level.

To be clear, because perhaps this is necessary, I agree that there's a presumption of self-defense by the police and the DA when one shoots/harms an intruder into one's home. I also agree that in a trial, there's a presumption of innocence. However, I do not agree that there's a presumption of self-defense by the police or DA when one shoots/attacks a known invited guest or other occupant of your home, nor is there a presumption of innocence by the police or DA when they investigate/arrest/prosecute a suspect.

If you shoot someone known to be a guest (or an occupant, temporary or permanent) in your home, the shooting is like a shooting that happens anywhere. It is not a special circumstance. The only thing that makes shooting an intruder a special circumstance is that simply by virtue of being known as an intruder, there is the presumption that the intruder may, will, or has committed an attack to which a response of self-defense is justifiable. There are few other situations where the person shot is prima facie assumed to have acted aggressively enough to warrant self-defense. All such situations I can think of are ones where the person who has been shot is known to have concomitantly been committing a crime. (Which the Comcast installer is not known to the police or the DA to have done without evidence beyond the shooter's claim.)

When the person shot is not prima facie assumed to be a legal transgressor, then the shooter is. If the shooter claims self-defense, then the shooter must prove to the police and/or the DA that he shot in self-defense. Otherwise, he will be arrested and prosecuted. When it goes to trial, there will be an official presumption of innocence and the prosecution will need to prove to the judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in self-defense as he claims. In ikkyu2's story, they would probably fail to do so unless they were to come up with a motive for the shooting that wasn't self-defense. However, the test here for the jury wouldn't be whether or not ikkyu2 thought he was shooting in self-defense, but whether he actually did need to use deadly force in self-defense according to whatever the statutes/jury instructions require.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:42 PM on October 23, 2007


“Morally, I completely agree. Legally, though, this isn't necessarily true. For instance, Florida's hideous ‘stand-your-ground’ law...”

You're making the same mistake as IRFH, though in this case it's probably my fault for badly wording the sentence to which you are responding. In the absence of evidence that someone is an actual intruder, or that they have attacked you, you cannot claim self-defense is justified merely because you felt threatened or were defending your home. There needs to be independent evidence that you were attacked or your home was threatened. Obviously, an intruder is self-evidently threatening one's home. But the argument here has been that somehow the Comcast installer was de facto an intruder.

That's a red herring, actually. When you have a stranger in someone's home that no one invited in, especially if it's 1AM and there's broken glass where he entered the living room, then the person's status is self-evident. If none of these things are the case, if it's a person who was known to have been invited into the home, just like your Aunt Gladys or your Neighbor Bill or Plumber Joe...or Cable Guy Bob, then the matter of proving they became de facto intruders is pretty much the same matter as proving that you were shooting in self-defense. Assuming they are intruders from anyone's perspective but the shooter's is just like assuming the shooter was acting in self-defense.

It's almost as if this argument comes down to the fact that some people don't seem to understand the difference between what they would know in this situation with what the police and DA would know in this situation. Sure, they know the Comcast installer was acting aggressively (we'll put aside the question of whether that alone allows deadly self-defense). But the police and DA don't know this. All the P/DA see is a person with a legitimate reason to be in your home, unarmed, dead on the floor with you, unharmed, holding a gun in your hand and no other sign of struggle or violence. For all the P/DA know, you walked into the room and shot the guy for no reason while he was doing his work because you're a psychopath.

The shooter will tell a story about the conflict and the need for self-defense. But in the absence of proof, the police will rightly be suspicious because of course practically all shooters they catch red-handed claim self-defense. And, anyway, their job is to be suspicious and err on the side of arresting people. It's really the DA they have to satisfy if they don't make an arrest and it's really the DA who the shooter will need to strongly persuade of a self-defense claim. And even then, like the police, the DA's job is to prosecute crimes. He has a dead body of an unarmed man, a red-handed shooter, not a burglary or other intrusion in the home, and only the shooter's story and the lack of a motive. What it will come down to, in practice, is a character evaluation of the two people involved. And the politics of the situation, as well. He may feel that the shooter's story is obviously true but choose to prosecute anyway and let the jury decide. That way he can't be accused of, say, preferentially treating wealthy, white people. On the other hand, he may fear being accused of wasting taxpayer dollars, so he doesn't prosecute.

But in all possibilities in this situation, the police are almost certain to arrest, there will be a period of investigation, you'll have to bond out, get a defense attorney, probably meet with someone from the DA's office several times. Then charges may be filed, or not. If charges are filed, they may be dropped. It's no cakewalk. A lot of this will happen even in an intruder situation, depending upon the jurisdiction. In some, the presumption of self-defense looms so large that the police will just take the statement and then leave. In others, you'll be arrested and prosecuted and, if certain standards aren't met for the use of deadly force in self-defense, convicted. This is all when it's prima facie an intruder situation.

I'm willing to shoot someone in self-defense. I'm not willing to go to prison over it. That would factor heavily in my decision in such a situation, and it should factor heavily in anyone's. And for good reason: shooting someone often kills people. That's not something people should do when they have other alternatives.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:07 PM on October 23, 2007


“Homicide is also justifiable when committed either...”

...for which there needs to be evidence that one of those listed things is the case. The shooter's statement is not sufficient evidence that one of those things are the case, no matter how much you continue to claim that it is. Whether or not it's self-defense, we're talking about killing someone, and when you kill someone, you're a killer. So your claim is that a killer's statement that he was acting in self-defense is sufficient proof that he was acting in self-defense, providing he and the deceased are in his home.

I guess that means, if true, that we all have one arrest- and prosecution-free murder we can commit in our lives. Just shoot the cable guy, or plumber, or anyone else that you don't know that happens to be in your house (legitimately, so it's not hard to lure them there) and you'll not only get away with it, you'll not even be arrested! So says IRFH.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:30 PM on October 23, 2007


I don't intend to spend much of my time delving into the murky depths of Florida state law, but this quote seems relevant:

A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

In this case, there would be absolutely no evidence (so certainly no 'probable cause') that ikkyu2 had shot the cable guy on a whim, so he could not be arrested.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 1:58 PM on October 23, 2007


I think at this point you're being deliberately dishonest or you are very confused. We have been arguing about arrest and prosecution. Not conviction.

Your original assertion was "You're going to jail. You're going to jail even if you just wound the guy." Now you've backpedaled to "In ikkyu2's story, they would probably fail to do so [convict] unless they were to come up with a motive for the shooting that wasn't self-defense." I guess if you keep redefining the argument away from the points you've lost you might eventually find one you can actually support.

The burden is always on the suspect to prove innocence to the police and the DA in criminal complaints.

There is no such burden. A suspect does not even have to talk to the police or DA. Please cite this law where a suspect in the US has to prove his innocence to the police or DA. But perhaps you're just using a legal term to describe what you see as a practical reality: that it might be in the shooter's best interest to make a statement, especially if he intends to claim self-defense. I agree, but there is no legal burden to do so, and certainly no burden to actually prove the particulars of that claim.

So now you've confused intruders with guests

The confusion is on your part, because (as you admitted above) you're ignorant of the details of law surrounding who is/is not legally considered an intruder. Allow me to cite the relevant points of law:
RCW 9A.52.010
Definitions.

The following definitions apply in this chapter:

(1) "Premises" includes any building, dwelling, structure used for commercial aquaculture, or any real property;

(2) "Enter". The word "enter" when constituting an element or part of a crime, shall include the entrance of the person, or the insertion of any part of his body, or any instrument or weapon held in his hand and used or intended to be used to threaten or intimidate a person or to detach or remove property;

(3) "Enters or remains unlawfully". A person "enters or remains unlawfully" in or upon premises when he is not then licensed, invited, or otherwise privileged to so enter or remain.


RCW 9A.52.070
Criminal trespass in the first degree.

(1) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree if he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building.

(2) Criminal trespass in the first degree is a gross misdemeanor.


RCW 9A.52.080
Criminal trespass in the second degree.

(1) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree if he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the first degree.

(2) Criminal trespass in the second degree is a misdemeanor.
To parse this for you, when Cable Guy was told to leave, his invitation and privilege to remain was revoked, and his refusal to leave constituted criminal trespass. He was, in fact not a "guest," he was an "intruder." And before you complain - yes, it's just ikkyu2's word on that, but as before, in the absence of refuting testimony, that's the only evidence of record.

If the shooter claims self-defense, then the shooter must prove to the police and/or the DA that he shot in self-defense. Otherwise, he will be arrested and prosecuted.

The shooter does not need to prove to the police and/or the DA that he shot in self-defense. While it is certainly likely that he might be detained if the police don't buy his story, an actual arrest warrant for homicide is unlikely unless an officer of the court believes there is sufficient evidence to prove the shooter is lying. Even you seem to finally acknowledge that no such proof is evident in the proposed hypothetical. That being the case, homicide charges, if they were ever filed, would be dropped by the prosecutor long before a trial commenced.

When it goes to trial, there will be an official presumption of innocence and the prosecution will need to prove to the judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in self-defense as he claims. In ikkyu2's story, they would probably fail to do so unless they were to come up with a motive for the shooting that wasn't self-defense.

Exactly. And since it's ikkyu2's story that we're talking about, and since the prosecutor isn't going to prosecute a case he has no reason to think he can win, it is unlikely to go to trial.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:09 PM on October 23, 2007


“In this case, there would be absolutely no evidence (so certainly no 'probable cause') that ikkyu2 had shot the cable guy on a whim, so he could not be arrested.”

That doesn't matter because the code only applies to people who are known to be either intruders or about to commit an act of violence.

“I guess if you keep redefining the argument away from the points you've lost you might eventually find one you can actually support.”

No, I was talking about two different things. “Jail” is where you go when you are arrested. “Prison” is where you go when you are convicted. Good try on confusing the matter again, though.

“And before you complain - yes, it's just ikkyu2's word on that, but as before, in the absence of refuting testimony, that's the only evidence of record.”

You keep saying that. It's not true that this would be determinative. You have never cited anything showing that this is so. The portion of the law Aloysius Bear quotes has this crucial phrase in it, use of force as described in subsection (1), which assumes that a defensive situation has already been established. In the absence of any evidence other than the shooters statement that a defensive situation was the case, the shooters statement is not sufficient to trigger a presumption of self-defense. Nothing you've quoted shows this, not even the Florida law, which is among the most tilted in the direction of self-defense. By the way, I think you'll find that ikkyu2's jurisdiction, California, is not tilted in that direction.

There is no presumption of self-defense only upon one's word in one's own home except against an intruder. Someone whom you have authorized (and where there's a written record of the authorization, no less) to be in your home is not presumed to be an intruder. A known guest in your home is not presumed to have become an intruder in a self-defense situation only on the basis of your statement that he was asked to leave.

Indeed, you have tripped yourself up in your arguing. Earlier you pointed out, correctly, that a stranger (though an invited guest) is more likely to be seen as someone you'd acted on in self-defense than would, say, a relative or other person well known to you. But the Florida law, insofar as it discusses who is categorically exempted from intruder status, only mentions owners of the proper, written lessees, and occupants. The laws which have been quoted don't make a distinction between your brother-in-law whom you've invited over and the plumber. But if you can shoot the plumber and not be arrested by merely claiming it was self-defense, with no other burden placed upon you to prove that—and that the burden of proof lies with the authorties to disprove self-defense, as you claim—then a person can have their brother-in-law (whom they hate) over for a football game, pull out a gun and shoot them, and just tell the police that it was “self-defense” and they not only won't be prosecuted, but according to you, they can't be prosecuted because their word is the only evidence there is, and that word says “self-defense”.

And you know this isn't true. You know it.

I don't know how you got yourself into this corner. If I had to guess, I think you've just assumed self-defense was self-evident and argued from that position.

Now I really am done here. However, if you can quote a law that says that in such a situation the person's (that is, the person who claims self-defense) statement alone is determinative of it being a) self-defense and b) that the person had become an “intruder” on the basis of being previously an invited guest who was asked to leave, then I'll both admit I was wrong and apologize. Otherwise, good luck.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:41 PM on October 23, 2007


*bursts into thread, begins smashing everything with a hammer*

I TOLD YOU TO GET OUT OF MY RECENT ACTIVITY!! I HAVEN'T COMMENTED IN OVER FOUR DAYS!!!!

*will not be ignored*
posted by hermitosis at 3:10 PM on October 23, 2007


The portion of the law Aloysius Bear quotes has this crucial phrase in it, use of force as described in subsection (1), which assumes that a defensive situation has already been established.

Nonsense!

Subsection (2) says the agency "may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1)". The agency obviously doesn't know the nature of the situation prior to investigating it.

The clear meaning of subsection (2) is that the agency may investigate the crime using standard procedures, and following the investigation may not charge the person unless the investigation produced "probable cause"-standard evidence that the killing was unlawful (i.e. was not permitted under s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s.
776.031).

The police have no evidence prior to an investigation (the investigation is the thing which produces evidence, so this is not hard to understand). They investigate the scene of the incident, as they are permitted under subsection (2). In this case, they find no "probable cause"-standard evidence, indeed no evidence at all, that contradicts ikkyu2's story that the killing was permitted under s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031.

You suggest that subsection (2) assumes that a defensive situation has already been established. This cannot possibly be true. If your interpretation was actually the case, subsection (2) would make no sense. Imagine a defensive situation had already been established. Why would it now be necessary to allow the police to investigate using standard procedures? Surely in establishing a defensive situation, they had already investigated. In a defensive situation, killing is lawful under subsection (1). Why would it be necessary to specify the circumstances in which an arrest may be made if (by your assumption) we had already established that no crime had been committed?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 3:13 PM on October 23, 2007


Dammit, hermitosis, when all you've got is a hammer then everything looks like a stunningly verbose line of argumentation.
posted by cortex at 3:14 PM on October 23, 2007


My bad, hermitosis...
posted by Aloysius Bear at 3:14 PM on October 23, 2007


It's almost as if this argument comes down to the fact that some people don't seem to understand the difference between what they would know in this situation with what the police and DA would know in this situation.

This argument boils down to your misunderstanding of law, evidence, and burden of proof:

So your claim is that a killer's statement that he was acting in self-defense is sufficient proof that he was acting in self-defense, providing he and the deceased are in his home.

A killer's statement that he was acting in self-defense is sufficient under the law lacking proof that he was not. Anywhere in this country (by law, if not by practice).

You think that a positive has to be proved: It happened the way I say it did. By law, however, it is always the negative that has to be proved: No it didn't. That is burden of proof. A suspicious cop could very well make your life a living Hell for a while, but without that evidence, a prosecutor is unlikely to go to trial. Even if they believe in their heart of hearts that you're guilty. Evidence. It's all about the evidence. Not evidence that it was a justifiable shooting - that evidence does not need to exist. Evidence that it was not a justifiable shooting. Lacking that evidence, this is unlikely to go to trial no matter how loudly you insist that it will. That is not something I just made up - that is one of the founding principles of how the law in this country works.

And given the hypothetical under discussion, that negative evidence simply doesn't exist. If ikkyu2 tells Cable Guy to leave and draws on Cable Guy when he becomes belligerent and refuses, and Cable Guy continues to advance on ikkyu2 such that ikkyu2 has reason to believe an assault is about to take place, ikkyu2 has a legal right to shoot (in my state). (This is not just my opinion - I've cited the applicable laws.) Given that this is the scenario we've been arguing, there's no reason to conjecture at this point that contrary evidence exists. Without contrary evidence, a DA would have no case, because the shooter's statement is the only eyewitness account in evidence. Lacking evidence, the prosecutor would likely drop the homicide charges, if any were ever filed.

And while I've provided the text of the relevant laws to support my case, you still haven't offered anything to back yourself up beyond a stubborn insistence that you must. be. right. Well, no - you aren't right. Not about the legal stuff, anyway. (The moral position is an argument for another day - or not.) You took an extreme position, made wild statements, accused my positions of being "insane" - but the text of the applicable laws and the statements of those who prosecute those laws support my statements, not yours.

Just shoot the cable guy, or plumber, or anyone else that you don't know that happens to be in your house (legitimately, so it's not hard to lure them there) and you'll not only get away with it, you'll not even be arrested! So says IRFH.

Don't put words in my mouth. I haven't been arguing absolutes like you. You claimed the shooter "would" go to jail. Then that they "would" go to trial. I've just been arguing that your assumptions are wrong and the outcome of our hypothetical is more likely to not result in a trial at all.

The laws which have been quoted don't make a distinction between your brother-in-law whom you've invited over and the plumber. But if you can shoot the plumber and not be arrested by merely claiming it was self-defense, with no other burden placed upon you to prove that—and that the burden of proof lies with the authorties to disprove self-defense, as you claim—then a person can have their brother-in-law (whom they hate) over for a football game, pull out a gun and shoot them, and just tell the police that it was “self-defense” and they not only won't be prosecuted, but according to you, they can't be prosecuted because their word is the only evidence there is, and that word says “self-defense”.

And you know this isn't true. You know it.

I don't know how you got yourself into this corner.


Of course that's not true. But that's not a corner, I'm not in it, and you were the one who just painted it. Poorly. As I've said repeatedly, the reason the shooter in the ikkyu2 hypothetical is unlikely to be prosecuted is that he is a stranger so there is no other obvious motive, and the shooter provided a legal defense that is uncontested by any other evidence. This is in no way equivalent to your brother-in-law scenario where the participants had a history which would supply both a motive and presumably, through family interviews, actual evidence to support that motive. In that competely different scenario, charges are likely, a trial is likely, a conviction is likely.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:38 PM on October 23, 2007


Subsection (1) defines the circumstances under which subsection (2) applies. They don't—by themselves—determine that no crime has been committed, they just determine that it's probably a self-defense situation. When it is prima facie obvious via subsection (1) that a situation is probably a self-defense situation, then the burden of proof shifts to the police—via the other subsection you quoted earlier—to prove that, contrary to the indication, a crime has, in fact, been committed.

Now, I think that IRFH is arguing that this section, which appears alongside the one discussing intruders, applies:

“(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.”

...which would seem to apply if the installer acted aggressively.

However, the subtly that he seems to be missing here is that “the person who uses defensive force knew” must mean that it is established or corroborated by something other than merely his testimony as to his own “knowledge”.

Something has to indicate that the person's testimony is plausible. In most of these cases, it's self-evident because the dead person is not known to have any reason to be present on the premises. Or, there's some evidence that the defender was attacked.

In the cable installer example, there is no indication whatsoever, other than the defender's word, that he was attacked or otherwise allowed self-defense. That cannot be sufficient to trigger the self-defense clause.

Ask yourself: how do the police even get to the point at which they are considering that an act of violence is self-defense and thus that the law you quote applies, as opposed to investigating it like any other crime? Either the circumstances described in subsection (1) self-evidently apply (as they do with an intruder) or they have the supposed self-defender's claim to be acting in self-defense.

If that claim by itself were determinative, then every person who commits a violent act to which there are no witnesses could claim self-defense and thus shift the burden of proof onto the police before they can even investigate further. This is obviously not the case generally, so it can't be true.

Alternatively, IRFH will probably say that it's someone's presence in your home that makes the difference. But, here again, that means that in the case of any act of violence that is committed unwitnessed, except those committed against lawful residents of the house or the owner, the person who committed the violence can claim self-defense and thus instantly shift the burden of proof onto the police before they can even investigate the crime. This is actually more problematic than the previous case because most acts of violence occur between family and people known to each other and (probably, but I'm not sure of this) in someone's home. That means that, for example, a man can murder his girlfriend (who doesn't live with him) and as long as there are no witnesses, merely claim “self-defense” and instantly shift the burden of proof onto the police before they can even investigate. This is obviously not the case, and it would be a very bad thing if it were.

So, to sum up, the law you quote doesn't assume that self-defense has occurred in subsection (1), rather, it assumed that a self-defense type of situation has been established. Once that is established, the one you quote follows. And it simply can't be the case that the person who claims he has acted in self-defense by itself establishes that this is a self-defense type of situation because that would mean that a murderer in an unwitnessed murder could force the legal self-defense context only on his own claim in a vast number of murders where he manifestly cannot in what we know of the real world.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:51 PM on October 23, 2007


*tosses hermitosis a bigger hammer*
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:08 PM on October 23, 2007


Ugh!

“This is in no way equivalent to your brother-in-law scenario where the participants had a history which would supply both a motive and presumably, through family interviews, actual evidence to support that motive.”

In your world, they'd never get to suspecting motives or interviewing family because they would be required to take the guy's word that he was acting in self-defense because his statement is the only relevant evidence they have. That's what you said. They don't have magical leeway in the brother-in-law case to arrest and investigate and not in the installer case, unless there's a law which specifically says so, and you've not demonstrated that. You've not just been arguing that they can use their judgment, you've argued that they are legally restrained in what they can and cannot do when the shooter claims self-defense. Therefore, it's your responsibility to demonstrate that they are specifically allowed, contrary to your claims that they are generally restricted, to investigate when the dead person is the shooter's brother-in-law.

Alternatively, if they can use their judgment, then we're back on my territory.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:14 PM on October 23, 2007


“A killer's statement that he was acting in self-defense is sufficient under the law lacking proof that he was not. Anywhere in this country (by law, if not by practice).”

Really, let it be boiled down to that. Prove that that statement is true, and I'll concede.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:16 PM on October 23, 2007


if you can quote a law that says that in such a situation the person's (that is, the person who claims self-defense) statement alone is determinative of it being a) self-defense and b) that the person had become an “intruder” on the basis of being previously an invited guest who was asked to leave, then I'll both admit I was wrong and apologize. Otherwise, good luck.

Good luck getting you to understand or acknowledge it, at any rate. Since I've already provided one of those two requests, and the other is one of the founding principles of our system of justice.

But I'll try again. Point B first ("Intruder" is not a legal term, so hopefully you'll accept "Criminal trespasser" as an equivalent term):

RCW 9A.52.010
Definitions.

The following definitions apply in this chapter:

(3) "Enters or remains unlawfully". A person "enters or remains unlawfully" in or upon premises when he is not then licensed, invited, or otherwise privileged to so enter or remain.
This is unambiguous. If a person is not "invited to remain" (told to leave by the property owner) and has no other privilege to remain (has no other legal right to refuse), they are remaining unlawfully. Cable Guy was told to leave. Cable Guy refused. Cable Guy is now legally defined as remaining unlawfully.
RCW 9A.52.070
Criminal trespass in the first degree.

(1) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree if he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building.
Also unambiguous. Cable Guy was clearly remaining unlawfully, as defined above. Cable Guy was therefore guilty of criminal trespass. An intruder, according to the law.

Point A: the person's (that is, the person who claims self-defense) statement alone is determinative of it being a) self-defense
RCW 10.58.020
Presumption of innocence — Conviction of lowest degree, when.

Every person charged with the commission of a crime shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by competent evidence beyond a reasonable doubt...
Not sure how many more ways I have to say this. It is not "the person's (that is, the person who claims self-defense) statement alone" that is "determinative of it being... self-defense." It is the absence of refuting evidence. If there's no refuting evidence, then THERE'S NO COMPETENT EVIDENCE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

(See also Burden of Proof.)

So... as simply as I can put it:

1) State has the burden of proof
2) The only evidence is the shooter's statement and physical evidence that does not contradict that statement
3) The State has no evidence to refute the shooter's statement
4) The State literally has no case against the shooter

Gotta go.

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:06 PM on October 23, 2007


“A killer's statement that he was acting in self-defense is sufficient under the law lacking proof that he was not. Anywhere in this country (by law, if not by practice).”

Really, let it be boiled down to that. Prove that that statement is true, and I'll concede.
RCW 10.58.020
Presumption of innocence — Conviction of lowest degree, when.

Every person charged with the commission of a crime shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by competent evidence beyond a reasonable doubt...
"lacking proof that he was not" = "presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by competent evidence beyond a reasonable doubt"

If the killer's statement is even marginally believable and there is no proof to refute it, on what basis are you suggesting he would be charged?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:17 PM on October 23, 2007


Just want to settle the reality of the picture, see if we’re looking at the same thing:

“The Comcast installer came to my last apartment with filthy, dirty black hands. It looked like he'd been cleaning out a fireplace.”

Suspicious thing there. But ok, he’s just dirty.

“I insisted that he wash his hands before he start working. He went into my bathroom, ran his hands under the faucet for less than a second using no soap, then (as I discovered later) rubbed his still-filthy-dirty hands all over one of my bath towels. The towel was ruined and after washing it three times I threw it out.”

That’s an act of agression on the part of the cable installer right there. He ruined ikkyu2’s property. He didn’t know that at the time, so it can’t be applied to ikkyu2 , but it does frame the cable guy’s mental state.

“The guy then came back and started to touch the walls, leaving wet black handprints everywhere.”

That’d be a pretty big act of aggression right there. Given he’s asked him to wash his hands this is blatently confrontational.

“I asked him to leave and he shouted at me that he would not leave until he did the "goddamn" installation.”

So ikkyu2 asks him to leave after the man defaces his property. The man not only refuses but shouts and swears. More aggressive behavior.

“He started to advance on me in what looked like a physically threatening way.”

Core sentence here. Either the cable guy was or was not threatening. Taken in isolation, it might be a matter of dispute especially given the softer language ikkyu2 uses. Coupled with the blatent defiance and aggression from before, the intent is obvious.

“I'm not a little guy; I have no idea what this moron was intoxicated with to think that this was a good idea.”

Given ikkyu2 is, I believe I’ve seen, a medical doctor, I’ll take his word for it that the cable guy was acting irrationally such that he seemed high on something.

“I had to point a loaded .357 Magnum at his head to get him out of my apartment”

Key phrase here: “had to.” emphasis on “point...his head”
We’ve obviously missed some of the action between the man advancing on him and ikkyu2 pointing his pistol at the man. At what point did ikkyu2 get the gun? Was he carrying it around like Wyatt Earp? If so, that’d make the cable installers actions even more insane. But that’s unlikely. Did he have it concealed? Again, with a .357 Magnum, unlikely.
Did ikkyu2 then retreat to get the gun? Likely.
The question then is - was the cable guy hard on his heels or did he merely bluster around the house. Could be either.
If ikkyu2 had the guy at his back, he probably went for the gun first rather than risk picking up the phone. If the guy didn’t follow him all that quickly he could have picked up the phone to call the cops. Doesn’t sound like there was time. Maybe I’m wrong.
Either way - given the emphasis of “point at his head” and “had to” it seems like the inference is the cable guy didn’t leave when the gun was displayed nor when it was pointed at him.
No, ikkyu2 appears to be saying he had to emphasize that he had a gun and he was willing to kill the man if he didn’t back off.
A point supported by the next sentence:
“- there were a tense couple of seconds in which I started to worry I was going to have to shoot him.”

Someone points a pistol at me, I’ll do pretty much what they say. If it’s way out of line, I’d get out of the line of fire before I start a ruckus. I’d most likely call the cops and say some crazy nut pointed a gun at me when I tried to install his cable.
Apparently however, the mutual understanding was that the cable guy knew he was way out of line and ikkyu2 felt he was justified. So justified and certain of his position was he that:

“I finished the installation myself.”

Now I’m not sure why or if he didn’t or did call the police later to report the man. There’s just this bit of a story here. Either way, we know ikkyu2 is most likely not in prison (or at least a nicer prison that allows ‘net access). Therefore it’s fairly obvious the cable guy didn’t press any charges.

He later says the man threatened him physically and “He left and I never saw him again”

Granted he gets a little aggressive and says “The only bad thing I see is that this guy is still alive and probably still entering peoples' homes and abusing them under pretext of offering a professional service.”

However ikkyu2 says he’s had “hundreds of other workers in my home and never had any problems” and that “I certainly hope nothing like that ever happens to me again, it was one of the worst days of my life” so it seems unlikely he was the aggressor in this scenario.

If he had to shoot or something is a whole other thing, this is the reality of the situation as far as we know it.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:57 PM on October 23, 2007


What happened was this: after the guy started shouting and swearing at me and told me he wasn't going to leave, I went into the bedroom to call Comcast to get the guy to leave. There was no bed there, just a bunch of stacked up boxes, because I'd literally just moved into this apartment.

As I'm fooling with my cellphone the guy comes into my bedroom, banging the door open; he's waving around a power drill in one hand. It had been in his hand the whole time because he'd been using it to drill a hole in the wall to get the cable through. I realize that a power drill is not a threat of deadly force but the effect of him shouting and waving it around was very threatening.

He started to shout at me again and he was definitely blocking my way out of the bedroom. I would have had to physically move him out of the doorway to get by. I briefly considered trying to get out the bedroom window but I didn't want to get stuck or hurt trying that. There was absolutely no reason for him to have followed me into this room, he wasn't supposed to install anything in there, he was present after I'd asked him to leave, and his behavior was way over the line. So I picked up the gun and pointed it at him. As I said, for a second I thought he was going to rush me. If he had, I'd have shot him. After the way he'd been behaving I really had no idea what he was intending to do and I didn't care to find out. Instead he quieted down and I told him to leave. This time he left.

I didn't call the police or Comcast after he left, because after he left there was no longer a problem and I didn't want him to lose his job, blame me for it, and come after me at my home. God only knows why he behaved the way he did or whether he is still behaving this way in other peoples' homes. I hope not.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:33 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


In your world, they'd never get to suspecting motives or interviewing family because they would be required to take the guy's word that he was acting in self-defense because his statement is the only relevant evidence they have. That's what you said. They don't have magical leeway in the brother-in-law case to arrest and investigate and not in the installer case, unless there's a law which specifically says so, and you've not demonstrated that. You've not just been arguing that they can use their judgment, you've argued that they are legally restrained in what they can and cannot do when the shooter claims self-defense. Therefore, it's your responsibility to demonstrate that they are specifically allowed, contrary to your claims that they are generally restricted, to investigate when the dead person is the shooter's brother-in-law.

Wow. If this is what you somehow got out of what I've been saying, I can understand why you disagree (although I honestly can't understand why you think any of those statements represent anything I've claimed). So to clarify:

In your world, they'd never get to suspecting motives or interviewing family because they would be required to take the guy's word that he was acting in self-defense because his statement is the only relevant evidence they have. That's what you said.

No. That’s not what I said. That’s not even close to anything that I’ve said. Please quote and link to any statements I made where I said there wouldn’t even be an investigation. Of course there would be an investigation. A very thorough investigation. But in the hypothetical we’ve been arguing – it happened the way ikkyu2 said, but he actually shot and killed the guy – we have been arguing under the assumption that the investigation turned up no contrary motive or evidence to refute his claim because to argue the legal merits of the claim itself we need to limit the discussion to the facts as proposed, none of which included alleged ulterior motives or conflicting evidence. The hypothetical assumes no conflicting evidence exists to be found, not that they never looked for any. I never said or insinuated that there would be no investigation at all simply because he claimed self defense. That would be a stupid thing to claim. What I have said - clearly and repeatedly - is that assuming no evidence exists to contradict him, there are real legal limitations to how a prosecutor is going to respond, and if they can't prove he's lying, a trial is unlikely.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:18 PM on October 23, 2007


"although I honestly can't understand why you think any of those statements represent anything I've claimed"

Well, for instance:

"and the other is one of the founding principles of our system of justice."

Innocent until proven guilty applies to trials, not arrests or prosecution.

Why do I think you've been talking about arrests and prosecution and not trials? Because you've argued with me when I've said that the police will arrest someone in this circumstance. You've argued with me when I've said a prosecutor could prosecute someone in this circumstance.

I never said that a conviction was certain. I've said, in fact, that in this exact case, it would be unlikely. But that doesn't prevent a DA from prosecuting.

Perhaps you really do believe that "beyond a reasonable doubt" applies to the police and prosecutors. It doesn't, and your wikipedia link is an example of a citation that specifically says that it applies in the context of trial. It applies after a person has been charged with a crime. The police don't need to meet such a standard to arrest, they need to meet a much lower standard, basically reasonable suspicion. The DA doesn't need to meet such a strict standard, either.

"we need to limit the discussion to the facts as proposed, none of which included alleged ulterior motives"

This is where you're making an error. In ikkyu2's scenario, excepting that it ended with the installer dead, the only facts would be that the guy was invited, that he smeared the walls, that he was shot in the head, that he was unarmed, and that the other person shot him. The shooter's statement as to the events does not reveal facts, they are claims. The police, DA, and jury can't rule out alleged ulterior motives because their only source for the shooter's state of mind is the shooter himself.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:19 AM on October 24, 2007


You're both absolutely right.



Can we let this go now? Nothing is being accomplished here.


posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:08 AM on October 24, 2007


I'm the prettiest. I am. Look at my pouty lips and firm breasts. Me so pretty.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:08 AM on October 24, 2007


Now I'm just commenting to make that one, specific comment not show up in My Comments ever again.

*shudder*
posted by cortex at 8:08 AM on October 24, 2007


Me too.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 8:24 AM on October 24, 2007


I'm the prettiest. I am. Look at my pouty lips and firm breasts. Me so pretty.

Now I'm just commenting to return this comment to your My Comments.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:28 AM on October 24, 2007


*pouts*
posted by cortex at 8:31 AM on October 24, 2007


I think we're getting closer, so I'm going to go ahead and reply to clarify a few last (hopefully) points.

The shooter's statement as to the events does not reveal facts, they are claims.

True.

The police, DA, and jury can't rule out alleged ulterior motives because their only source for the shooter's state of mind is the shooter himself.

What "alleged ulterior motives?" Who alleged them? Perhaps you mean simply that the police and DA would look for ulterior motives. Of course they would. Obviously. That's pretty much the entire point of bothering to stipulate - as we both have, repeatedly - that no ulterior motive was found. Because we assume one was looked for. But since none was found, there is no "alleged ulterior motive" for a jury to rule out. A fact the DA would be keenly aware of in deciding whether or not to proceed to trial.

Innocent until proven guilty applies to trials, not arrests or prosecution.

True.

Because you've argued with me when I've said that the police will arrest someone in this circumstance. You've argued with me when I've said a prosecutor could prosecute someone in this circumstance.

I've argued with you when you've said an arrest will definitely happen and a prosecution will probably happen. An arrest is more likely than a prosecution, since the police have the option of making an arrest at the scene, at which point the investigation will still be in the earliest stages, and they may question the shooter's story. But those charges would likely be dropped as the investigation failed to turn up sufficient evidence to prove a case. An arrest warrant initiated by the prosecutor will only be issued if at some point in the investigation the prosecutor believes there is enough evidence to take to trial, or that such evidence is more likely than not to be forthcoming. Even then, they will not likely proceed to trial unless they have sufficient evidence to believe they can show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

I never said that a conviction was certain. Sure you did. That was absolutely your initial claim. You said, "You're going to jail. You're going to jail even if you just wound the guy." You've backed off all the way by now to "it [a conviction] would be unlikely," which is a much more reasonable stance.

Perhaps you really do believe that "beyond a reasonable doubt" applies to the police and prosecutors.

No, I don't.

The police don't need to meet such a standard to arrest, they need to meet a much lower standard, basically reasonable suspicion.

I've never claimed the shooter would definitely or even probably not be arrested, just like I never claimed there would be no investigation, which you misrepresented earlier. Here are a few of my earlier comments you seem to have missed:

Yes, shooting someone in any circumstances will result in some serious investigation

That one was from one of the first comments in this argument.

While it is certainly likely that he might be detained if the police don't buy his story

A suspicious cop could very well make your life a living Hell for a while, but without that evidence, a prosecutor is unlikely to go to trial.

So, yeah - I've always assumed an investigation will take place, and an arrest was a real possibility. Moving on.

The DA doesn't need to meet such a strict standard, either.

Here, I think, may be the crux of our remaining misunderstanding/disagreement. You are absolutely correct that a prosecutor can try to take a case to trial even if they know they don't have "competent evidence beyond a reasonable doubt." But why would they? I refer you again to the statement from the prosecutor's office:

In order for homicide to be charged, prosecutors would have the burden of proving the person did not act in self-defense....

So. If after a loooong, thorough, exhaustive investigation, an arrest, whatever... if after all that, the DA's office could not turn up any witness testimony or physical evidence providing an ulterior motive or refuting the shooter's claim of self defense - if they knew they had no evidence to support a charge - why would they go to trial?

And why would you assert that this scenario is the most likely outcome? Is it your position that most prosecutors are stupid? Most prosecutors are malicious and capricious? Most prosecutors want to get fired for incompetence? In Washington, the state is liable for all of the suspect's expenses incurred defending themselves if they are found innocent by reason of self defense, including lost wages. Added to the state's expense, this is not an outcome most prosecutors are going to risk on a whim.

To summarize:

1) Given ikkyu2's scenario
2) Given a long, arduous investigation that may include an initial arrest
3) Given that the long, arduous investigation turns up no evidence to refute ikkyu2's claim of self defense
3) Given the law - "In order for homicide to be charged, prosecutors would have the burden of proving the person did not act in self-defense"
4) Given that most prosecutors are likely to understand that having zero evidence to refute a claim of self defense means they cannot meet their legal burden of proof in court
5) Therefore, most prosecutors are unlikely to proceed to trial in this case
6) You so pretty.

I rest my case.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:04 AM on October 24, 2007


Point of vocabulary, because I love you both and hate to see you fight:

EB: I never said that a conviction was certain.

Flo: Sure you did. That was absolutely your initial claim. You said, "You're going to jail. You're going to jail even if you just wound the guy." You've backed off all the way by now to "it [a conviction] would be unlikely," which is a much more reasonable stance.

I think part of what EB is getting at, on this point, is that "jail" is somewhere you can go without there being a conviction or even a trial; jail != prison, and you end up in jail if the cops decide to jail you.

It may be a differing vocab issue, is what I'm saying, and so when Flo says "jail" he means "behind bars" in the more euphemistic sense that includes prison, whereas EB takes "jail" to mean "temporary confinement as a result of arrest".

Now, whether even that would happen is a worthy question of its own, but I am staying the fuck out of it and mostly just praying for death at this point.
posted by cortex at 11:11 AM on October 24, 2007


I love you both and hate to see you fight

Are we fighting? I thought we were arguing. Maybe EB feels differently, but I certainly hold no ill will in verbal sparring.

Good point, though, actually, cortex. If EB specifically meant "jail" as opposed to "prison," then my statement "Sure you did. That was absolutely your initial claim" is erroneous. Sincere apologies, if this was the case.

The rest of my argument is unaffected by this point, though, and I stand by it until such point as someone proves that I'm full of shit. Proves, damn you, not claims.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:31 AM on October 24, 2007


Would you accept stuffs? :)
posted by cortex at 11:37 AM on October 24, 2007


Dude. I'm not even entirely sure what that means. But I don't like it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:46 AM on October 24, 2007


Yes, I definitely meant “jail” as county lockup or similar, not prison. They really do mean different things and I'm aware of the distinction.

When I wrote that I was thinking that the police will usually initially arrest in self-defense and then drop charges if they feel that it was self-defense. Now that I think about it, I'm not so sure that's true. What I do know, however—from sources I can't recall, but I'm not asserting this based upon a guess—is that, when the police come to investigate, rarely do you get to just say “it was self-defense” and they'll walk away. They need to be satisfied that it was a case of self-defense before they're going to let you out of their site (or at least they don't have cause to hold you any longer without arresting you).

Aloysius Bear's link, which we haven't discussed today, does seem to indicate that in Florida something like what I've thought you were claiming is the case—though, as I've argued with Aloysius Bear, I'm pretty sure that the conditions of probably self-defense have to be established independently of the shooter's statements. But if they are, for example the obvious case of an intruder, the law AB quotes seems to indicate that there are strict limits on how much the police can even treat the shooter like a suspect. Well, it says that they can't name him a suspect or investigate.

So that would definitely be an exception to what I just said about the police being very suspicious even when it's an obvious intruder. I think in states without laws like Forida's, the police are going to treat all shooters, even when it's an “obvious” intruder situation, as suspects in a killing until they feel comfortable accepting that it was self-defense.

The relevance of this to the larger argument is that there is substantial hassle and risk associated with even the most clear-cut case of shooting someone in self-defense.

One thing we've not discussed and which no one has made any citations about, is when deadly self-defensive force is acceptable and when it isn't. You and others seem to think that basically there's no restrictions on the use of deadly force in self-defense cases because even an unarmed man can kill someone. I don't believe that this is true (that there's no restrictions; I certainly believe that an unarmed man can kill someone).

It's unfortunate that we each thought the other was taking an extreme position that neither of us actually were. This was possible because we still differ, probably quite a bit, on the how likely or unlikely are both prosecutions and convictions in such situations. I think both are probably unlikely, but prosecution is only slightly less likely than not because there's all sorts of reasons a prosecutor might decide to try such a case—because, bottom line is that you have an unarmed dead person and an armed person who killed him.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:47 AM on October 24, 2007


“before they're going to let you out of their site”

If it's the web police.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:49 AM on October 24, 2007


It's unfortunate that we each thought the other was taking an extreme position that neither of us actually were.

Well said, EB. Thanks for sticking it out and hashing through this until we could both clarify and understand each other's positions. In my mind, it was worth the effort, if only to prove to each other that neither of us is (probably) insane.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:57 AM on October 24, 2007


Make-up sex! Make-up sex!
posted by Kwine at 12:01 PM on October 24, 2007


Make-up sex! Make-up sex!

This is the Internet. That's pretty much all people do here.
posted by cortex at 12:08 PM on October 24, 2007


“In my mind, it was worth the effort, if only to prove to each other that neither of us is (probably) insane.”

Thanks to you, too. I really thought you were insane. I just couldn't figure out how you could believe what I thought you were saying. And I couldn't figure out why you kept harping on how the laws you cited proved your point even thought they talked about intruders. Well, the cops and the DA aren't going to just assume that what the shooter says is true, so how could that be relevant?, I wondered. But if you were thinking about a trial, and where the judge and jury couldn't find anything plausible to replace the claims of self-defense, then, well. And I couldn't understand why you kept bringing up “innocence until proven guilty”. So, for the record, when wrote that I couldn't understand how you could be making the argument you were making and and asked you how you could be making it, I really wasn't being snide and scoring rhetorical points. I was actually terribly confused and frustrated.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:11 PM on October 24, 2007


I got that. I wasn't offended. And for what it's worth, I never would have bothered to continue arguing this long with someone I didn't already hold in high regard.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:24 PM on October 24, 2007


Yeah, I think well of you, too. I don't enjoy having an upsetting argument, but especially with someone I generally like and respect.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:29 PM on October 24, 2007


Metafilter: I was actually terribly confused and frustrated.
posted by cortex at 12:32 PM on October 24, 2007


“I didn't call the police or Comcast after he left, because after he left there was no longer a problem and I didn't want him to lose his job, blame me for it, and come after me at my home.” - ikkyu2

Which, to my mind is a less violent (loosely) response. I’ve always thought to myself that a physical assault - one you can heal up from and still work the next day, is less damaging, less violent (to again use the term loosely) than depriving someone of their livelyhood.
Still, sounds like the world would be a better place with this guy in prison, but again, I wasn’t there and I’m not living your life.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:18 PM on October 24, 2007


(Nice to see it all hashed out btw)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2007


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