Enjoying a Fight
Back in 2005 I wrote Fear: The Philosophy and Politics Thereof. The general topic was the fact that the gun-control philosophy is based on just that – fear. As I said then:
It’s important to understand this: We call ourselves “gun nuts” – embracing the label thrust upon us by the ignorant, anti-gun bigots – but many of them really believe it. We’re “potentially dangerous” because we like guns.
I think that’s something most gun owners don’t really grasp. I know it initially took me a while to get my mind around the idea.
The Brady Campaign linked to several gunbloggers yesterday. (No link, on purpose. You can find it below if you want.) The author was horrified at that famous letter to the editor, but even more horrified that we gunbloggers didn’t “denounce it as morally degenerate and unrepresentative of gun owners at-large”.
And we didn’t.
Our dedicated opposition is made up of people who actually believe there is (or ought to be) a Right to Feel Safe. The fact that there are people around them, armed and willing to use violence scares the crap out of them. As I’ve noted before, they either refuse or are unable to distinguish between “violent and predatory” and “violent but protective”. They see only violence, and violence is bad, mmmmkay?
But what really gives them PSH are people who aren’t afraid of fighting. It’s taken me a while, but I swear that half the antipathy the Left has for the modern military must come from the fact that soldiers are trained to fight, and volunteer for the training. When I wrote Fear there had been a Great Outrage at the pronouncement of Marine Lt. Gen. James Mattis that:
You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.
One typical response was from Juan Cole:
Just as few priests are pedophiles, few soldiers are sadists. Mattis has brought dishonor on the US Marine Corps with his words. Killing is never appropriately called “fun.” I think he should resign.
As I said then, according to the Left, enjoying the practice of violence is the definition of insane.
Eric S. Raymond posted today on this topic. He’s got some interesting insights. Here’s a taste:
It used to bother me that I like fighting. I had internalized the idea that while combat may sometimes be an ethical necessity, enjoying it is wrong — or at least dubious.
So I half-hid my delight from myself behind a screen of words about seeking self-perfection and focus and meditation in motion. Those words were all true; I do value the quasi-mystical aspects of the fighting arts very much. But the visceral reality underneath them, for me, was the joy of battle.
In 2005 I finally came to understand why I enjoy fighting. And — I know this will sound corny — I’m much more at peace with myself now. I’m writing this explanation because I think I am not alone — I don’t think my confusion and struggle was unique. There may be lessons here for others as well as myself, and even an insight into evolutionary biology.
If that’s not enough of a teaser, you’re not interested in the topic.
Eric is not alone, but I don’t count myself among that group. I don’t like fighting. I haven’t been in a physical altercation since I was probably 12. I have no idea how I would perform in an actual combat situation. I’d like to think I’d be adequate, but I don’t expect more from myself than that. I remember reading W.E.B. Griffin’s series Brotherhood of War. In the first book, The Lieutenants, a soldier is sent to Greece in the immediate post WWII period during America’s initial, stumbling efforts to check the spread of Communism. He is sent as a liaison to the Greek army during their civil war. He was not supposed to be a combatant, but his position comes under major attack, and there are numerous casualties. During WWII he had not been exposed to battle, but in the hills of Greece, he comes under mortar and small-arms fire.
And he shits himself.
Then he picks up his Garand, and goes to war anyway.
That was not the behavior I was expecting from a major character in a war novel, but it rang true.
If the S does HTF, all I can hope for myself is that I do what is right, but I’ll remember what I learned from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society – about 2% of the population is able to kill without hesitation and without remorse. Half of those are clinically insane. But the other half are perfectly sane, and they’re the ones who lead in battle. I suspect Eric is one of that 1%. But the rest of us can do violence, if it’s necessary.
What decides that is the philosophy (or lack thereof) you live by.