Pride, self-defense and self-control – Marc MacYoung



Okay, I really try not to blog about my profession, but sometimes — after you’ve heard the same screwed up idea for the 999,999th time, someone just is one more than you can stomach. There is a lot of bad information being passed off as ‘self-defense’ because it panders to the fears, insecurities and dysfunction of people. People willing to pay to have their misconceptions and fantasies confirmed.

If you want to stay out of jail, hospital or the morgue, you might want to consider the following…


You can’t go to a SD forum without hearing wailing and gnashing of teeth. There’s always a story about someone the writer knows who was unjustly arrested for ‘defending’ himself. Occasionally, it’s the writer himself. Within about 10 seconds of hearing such tales of woe, I know why the person was arrested and convicted. That’s because it wasn’t self-defense (legal), it was fighting (illegal).

Here’s a real basic summation: Self-defense is something that you are an UNwilling participant in. Fighting is YOU are part of the problem.

You can try to justify, rationalize, excuse or twist it any way you want, but that’s what it boils down to — and what standards you will be held accountable to.

There are many issues about what legally constitutes ‘self-defense.’ One of the biggest is there’s lots of ways to cross over the line from self-defense into assault. (

). There are also lots of things you need to know about how prosecutors, lawyers and even police view violence. Basically —  having seen so much illegal violence — they tend to assume that it ALL is illegal. (If you are in it, they pretty much automatically assume you were part of the problem). When 99 times out of a 100 it is, this is an understandable bias. Also since a good majority of people who engaged in illegal violence will claim it was ‘self-defense,’ you need to know there are questioning methods designed to reveal this lie. As such, you are only one wrong answer away from being arrested and convicted. And then there’s the boatload of stuff  you need to know about how the legal game is played; like if it was self-defense you need to get a lawyer who knows how to defend an innocent person. An attorney doesn’t defend an innocent person the same way he does a guilty one (doing so increases your chances of conviction). All of these are ‘realities’ about self-defense. They are also too big of topics to discuss right now.

But what’s NOT too big of a topic is the danger of pride. Like how your pride can not only get you into a violent situation, but how that can make what you did both illegal andparticipatory (as in, where you need the lawyer who knows how to get you off when you are guilty).

Two points are important.

First, just because you claim it was self-defense (or believe it was) doesn’t make it so.

Second, your pride, fear of humiliation, fear of loss of social status, insecurities and countless other ‘monkey brain’* issues will turn you into part of the problem.

Those two points are the foundation of why most fights happen. They are also the root of why people are arrested for fighting — while they adamantly believe they were defending themselves. Your pride and fear of all kinds of imaginary social dangers can — and will — make you do stuff that seems perfectly reasonable at the time. In fact, your monkey brain will tell you it is the right thing to do in order to defend yourself from this other aggressive monkey.

It’s even better at telling you what actions to take to ‘prevent’ violence …

Except calling his mother that … insisting on your ‘right’ not to be told what to do … refusing to withdraw from a situation … wanting to show this other monkey you’re not afraid of him …displaying how big and bad you are so he’ll back off … yelling parting shots over your shoulder … ALL of these constitute you being a willing participant in the creation, escalation and commission of illegal violence.

You may have thought you were trying to prevent violence when you did those things, but outside your own head, these behaviors look a lot different, especially to witnesses, cops and district attorneys.

But, fear-fueled pride will be telling you “YOU aren’t the problem! It’s the other guy who’s being the aggressor!” And you’ll believe this down to your emotional bones. Later, it’ll also tell you that you were ‘defending yourself’ when you called him that  — or got there a little too soon on your self-defense move. (That last is particularly ironic when the security video shows you closing the distance to attack first — and then claiming you were ‘defending yourself’).

Here’s an important safety tip, MOST violence comes with instructions how to avoid it.

The problem is pride and fear will usually make you do the direct opposite. Seriously, when someone tells you to ‘shut up or he’ll throw you a beating’ he is NOT — I repeat NOT — asking for your opinion about his sexual practices with his mother. But your pride (or your fear) is going to tell you now’s the time to mention his testicles on his mother’s chin. Usually these are said and done JUST to show him what you think of him and his instructions.

To quote the comedian Ron White “I had the right to remain silent, what I lacked was the ability.”

The problem is your monkey brain and pride will often take away your ability to remain silent better and faster than booze. More than that, it’ll make you  selectively deaf. All you’ll hear is the threat of violence and NOT the way to avoid it. That doesn’t mean other people didn’t hear you get the chance to avoid it or see you piss it away.

If your monkey brain, fear and pride weren’t making so much noise, you might have noticed that there was a way to prevent violence from happening. Following that option is not only a pretty reliable way to prevent violence, but it does a whole lot to strengthening your position that it WAS self-defense. But I can guarantee you it will resolve most issues without violence.

Learn to put your pride, fear and emotions on the back burner and pay attention to what is REALLY happening rather than what you think is happening. Is the guy — for right or wrong — offering you terms to avoid violence? Are they actually reasonable and acceptable? (Like leave the bar or there will be violence). This is important: IF — because of your pride — you choose not to take the offer, then you WILL be viewed as a willing participant in an illegal act. And if you ‘win’ then you’re definitely going to be treated as an aggressor.

Oh BTW, there’s also something else. That same monkey brain that’s telling you can’t leave because everyone will think you’re a wimp? Yeah that one, it has another trick it can pull. That is to tell you you CAN’T leave because he might follow you. These are different paths to the same stupidity. More than that, it’s a real kick in the nuts to your self-defense plea. No matter what your reason for staying there, huffing and puffing and calling him names, the end result was you choosing to stay and participate.

Now many people upon reading this will think that I’m suggesting that you just curl up and let people walk all over you. No I’m not. But what I am saying is that if you choose to stick around and fight, then don’t whine about getting arrested for defending yourself.

You weren’t defending yourself, you were fighting. Man up about it.

And that includes the consequences. If you’re fighting, don’t claim it was self-defense.  Oh yeah, there’s another reason to do that too. Take an important tip from someone who has both fought a lot in his life and is involved in the court system:  


Yes, it’s that important. But, what does that mean in simple English?

It means: By claiming self-defense you are ADMITTING to having committed an illegal act  — except you are saying there are ‘extenuating circumstances.’ Circumstances you had no control over. Circumstances that are so overwhelming to make your use of force legal.

Why is that important? Ordinarily, when it comes to prosecution the state has to prove that you are the one who did it. That’s the hardest part of a DA’s job. By claiming self-defense,you just confessed. You have just done 3/4s of the prosecutor’s job right there.

Now all the cops and DA have to do is undermine your claim about extenuating circumstances. And there’s lots of ways to do that. Like the fact that you refused to leave, that you said that about the guy’s sister, multiple witnesses hearing you threaten him or — my personal favorite — the security camera shows you stepping forward and striking first with that super-cool ‘self-defense’ item someone sold you (“Can you say assault with a deadly weapon, boys and girls? I knew you could”). If your pride, fear and anger were driving your actions, odds are you will have screwed up somewhere along the line to make it participatory.

What I am about to say is not technically true, it is however functionally true. What is technically true is that in ANY criminal case providing the burden of proof  is on the prosecution. HOWEVER, what is ‘functionally’ true when you claim ‘self-defense’ is that the burden of proof shifts to you. You said it was self-defense, now you have to convince the cops and the jury that it was. You need to be able to present those extenuating circumstances that make it NOT a crime. Even if you didn’t step on your dick by participating in the creation, until you can provide a better explanation than ‘he looked at me mean’ the DA is going to have your hide on the wall.

That’s to let you know — even if it was — claiming self-defense is still a lot of work. If you let pride, fear and anger drive your actions and turn you into a willing participant then claiming ‘self-defense’ is a slam dunk for the prosecution. And you just handed them a ladder.

Basically if you choose to fight, don’t just man up, shut up. Calling it self-defense just makes it easy for the DA to put you in jail.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I regularly meet people who are willing to do anything in the name of self-defense — except practice emotional control.

Yet it is the fear-and-anger-based lies of  their monkey brain they listen to AND that gets them into conflict, if not violent encounters. That part of them is screaming there is overwhelming danger, when in truth there is NO immediate physical danger.

And there won’t be until their Monkey brain puts them on a course of action that escalates the situation to physical violence. What’s really sad about it, is that the Monkey sucks at identifying physical danger, but it’s real good at freaking out over imaginary danger.

Here’s a fundamental rule about learning how to keep from participating in a fight vs. self-defense: Can what you think is being threatened be put in a wheelbarrow?

Does your pride, self-esteem, rights, social status or what other people will think of you if you don’t stand up to this dude have a physical existence?  If not, then what you’re fighting over and trying to prove doesn’t legally justify use of force. And yet, those are usually what people get into fights over.

Many people can’t tell the difference between a threat to their emotions, pride or self-esteem and a threat to their physical bodies. As such they react physically to an emotional issue. This is fighting! It is NOT self-defense — even though you think you’re defending yourself. What you are ‘defending’ cannot be put into a wheelbarrow. In fact, most people are so fixated on that, they don’t recognize that they are actively participating in the setting up of the conditions necessary FOR physical violence (e.g. getting up in the guy’s face, verbally and emotionally attacking, threatening him, insulting him, etc., etc.) What they are trying to ‘protect’ has no physical existence. As such the violence they do in that pursuit isn’t legal OR self-defense.

Don’t be that guy.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Reacting physically to an emotion is EXACTLY what the bad guy is doing. How can you claim to be better than him if you’re doing the same behavior?

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