Negotiating in Ones Own Mind

Matthew at has an excellent piece up fisking a recent Herald op-ed over the ongoing argument about the changing English law to give homeowners more latitude to use force in defense of themselves and their property. Please read both, but here’s the money quote from Matthew’s piece as a teaser:

This woman is engaging in one of the psychological compensation mechanisms for being in a helpless in a threatening situation: she is negotiating, in her own mind, with the burglars. If she agrees not to defend herself, so the reasoning goes, the burglars will surely agree not to hurt her. Thus, she fools herself into believing that she is safe without actually taking any precautions to increase her safety; taking precautions would require facing up to her fear, and to the fact that her government has forbidden her to own the only effective means of self-defense available to the average person.

It is exactly the same impulse that leads primitive cultures to make deals with invisible spirits or gods: those deals, however imaginary, offer a way to deal with things that are otherwise impossible to placate. It is better to sacrifice an ox to the sun god than to feel helpless waiting for the spring to come once again. And it is better to agree not to resist the burglars than to accept the fact that her government will not allow her to defend herself.

Read the whole thing.

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