25 Dec 2020

Adventures in Pacifism, Louis CK Edition: Semi-finalists

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OK, largely because I can’t think of a simpler way to get my folks in the Bob Murphy Show supporters FB group to vote on this, below I’m listing what I took to be the contenders for the contest I’m sponsoring. First prize gets $100, 2nd gets $50, and 3rd gets $25. (Full details here.)

So for those of you in the Facebook group, you have to vote there, on the poll I set up (which should be the reason you are here at this blog post). DON’T vote in the comments below; that will be treated as a Trump vote in Pennsylvania at 3am, if you get my drift.


A) I think simply saying, “No, I won’t do that” and risking getting beaten up would be the way to go. I have been in a very similar situation, and I did exactly that.

B) Sean: when was the last time you got your ass kicked?
Louis: the last time? About 6 months ago…
Sean: you got your ass…
Louis interrupting Sean and pointing outside say “you see that Range Rover, Sean…number 68…from Dillinger High school? That’s my ass kicking prize”
Sean: you want me to believe you won that Rover in a fight?
Louis: no no no, Sean…number 68…from Dillinger high, I won that in the settlement from the last guy who I let kick my ass”
“It was a pretty bad beating. But totally worth it, Sean…number 68…from Dillinger High. Plenty of witnesses like her, and him (pointing at patron) were there…was a slam dunk case”
Sean looks puzzled
Louis: hey Sean number 68 from Dillinger High, can I ask you two questions before you kick my ass?
Sean: what’s that?
Louis: first, when you lay into me, could you get your buddies to join in….I really want a nicer house…and second, Sean number 68 from Dillinger high, knowing what will likely happen after this ass kicking, and that YOU won’t be the one actually paying for this…when was the last time your dad kicked your ass? I mean really kicked your ass…like costing him hundreds of thousands…ass kicking?
Sean looks at his friends, breaks out into a disingenuous laugh and says “I’m just f-ing with you Louis, don’t get so serious” and walks off a little less loud.

C) Okay, so I asked my 260 lb husband what he would do given the constraints, and here was his answer:

Kid: When’s the last time you had your ass kicked?
My Man: Are you showing off in front of your friends? If you have the courage to fight all the time, do you have the courage to ask a girl out?
Kid: Man I [expletive deleted] all the time.
My Man: Maybe you do this because it’s something that you can do and it makes you feel good and it’s something you can control. Maybe it’s a lack of love in your life.
Kid: You see this fist? Looks like I controlled that s***.
My Man: Do you want a hug? I can give you a hug.
[At this point he stands up and hugs the kid, wrapping his arms, immobilizing him.]
My Man: I love you, man. Hey Honey, record this and upload it to YouTube. This is a beautiful moment between two men. [squeeze] Wanna sit down? You’re too young for a beer but I’ll buy you an ice cream.
Kid: Nah [gasp] I’m good.
My Man: Maybe a soda? I can get some for your buddies too. [squeeze] Unless you just want to go home.
Kid: [gasp] We’ll just go, man.

I can attest from experience that this technique works. Maybe not if you’re a small man, but performed by a large guy, it’s pee-your-pants funny. It’s peaceful and lovely.

D) most certainly I would say to him, but not in condescending nor cowardly way but in a stern and serious tone: “I am NOT apologizing, you and your friends were not behaving appropriately and no amount of violence will make me concede” followed by “if you think you are so great and proud for assaulting innocent people then go on ahead and prove how much of savage you are”. But that is just because I don’t fear physical pain at this point of my life, I don’t fear losing a few teeth nor anything of that kind

E) you could also go for the more Stoic answer and say, “Because I will still be just as good a person after you kick my a** as I am now.” For an extra-strong Stoic response, follow that up with, “And I will still love you as my brother, for all men and women are brothers and sisters.” (But only use that if you really mean it. It has to be authentic to work.) For a more religious variation on this, you could try, “Because God (or Jesus) will love me just as much after you kick my a** as he does now.” The religious answer has the benefit that you can follow it up with, “And God (or Jesus) loves you too, and he’ll be there for you when you’re ready.” 

F) WWJD. The model is there. Offer the cheek, and then offer the other cheek. Maybe you get punched once, maybe you don’t, maybe you get punched twice, but in no instance does the bully look good.

Ghandi offers a similar solution. Hit me, I will not fight back. Beat me senseless, I will not fight back. If you do it, you will look a fool to your peers, but that does not matter. You will appear a fool to yourself (unless perhaps you are a psycopath, which is not that unlikely).

G) Offer to take this disagreement outside. Sean will likely say yes as it sounds like you are willing to fight. Once outside and out of sight of your date offer Sean some money to leave you alone. Pay him half on the spot and promise him the other half at the end of the date if he fulfills his promise. Tell Sean that you will leave the other half in the bathroom if by the end of the date he has fulfilled his wishes.

H) I’d take a photo of him and post it to Twitter. Then I’d tell him what I’d done and say he has three options. If he kills me, people will be able to work out who he is from the photo, the tweet and their location data and people will treat him as a murderer. If he beats me up I will tell everyone on Twitter he’s a thug who beat me up and they will act accordingly. Otherwise, he or I can make up something interesting or witty to post about the photo, or say nothing at all about it, depending on what he prefers.

I) When the kid asks when was the last time I got my ass kicked I say “I don’t get my ass kicked when I can dance like this.” and then I start dancing around the restaurant. Like the romantic guy that I am I get the lady in on it and we start dancing together. Nobody is going to beat up a dancing couple. Maybe this fails the “maintain his dignity” stipulation, but if my dude dances well then doesn’t that only enhance his dignity?

J) OK so I don’t think this kid actually wants to fight, especially inside the diner. He just wants to humiliate Louis in front of his date to impress his buddies.

So Louis needs to show the kid that he’s truly not afraid, but also give the kid a way of saving face and leaving the situation without Louis having “won.”

When the kid starts making overt threats, Louis says, “So just to be clear, Sean, you’re going to fight me right here in the diner because you didn’t like me asking you guys to quiet down when you first came in?”

Presumably the kid answers with some version of, “That’s right a-hole.”

Then Louis says, “OK well if you and I are going to fight, let’s at least make it fair. You’ll need a weapon…” Louis looks around and holds up a butter knife. “Eh, this is decent but not really enough…” he says almost absentmindedly.

Then Louis picks up a plate (I can’t see in the video but let’s assume there are plates within reach), holding each side with his left and right hands, and head butts the middle of it to crack it into pieces. Then he takes the most jagged piece and hands it to Sean, rotating it so the smooth outer edge is near Sean’s hand for safe handling.

Up to this point, Louis has obviously called Sean’s bluff. I can’t say what he should do next, because it of course depends on how Sean reacts to this initial play. But from this point forward, Louis has to give Sean an out. E.g. if Sean says, “What the hell you crazy old effer” then Louis can just accept that like, “Yep, mental illness runs in my family” to allow Sean to stride away and say to his buddies, “You see that crazy kook?”

But everybody deep down will know what happened.

K) If I’m Louie, (I assume I can’t use my 6’8″ frame to intimidate, like I’m actually Louie) it’s really simple. I pull out my cell phone and take a picture and send it to my brother. I explain that I’ve taken a picture of him and sent it to my brother. Then I remark that he’s got a letterman jacket so I know he’s probably a pretty popular dude that is well known, and based on how big of a bully he seems to be, he probably has a sizeable amount of enemies, happy to point the finger at him. I’ll explain that I’m a grown man, and though I’m not afraid, I’m not going to fight him. I’m a pacifist. I won’t punch back. [yelling to friends, repeating] “I won’t punch back. So Shawn would just just be beating up a man who refuses to fight.” And then I’d turn to him, look him in the eye, and say “Shawn, I know you have a college fund. If you beat me up it’s mine. Shawn, if you don’t have one, I’ll get your parents’ money. Your dad’s 401k will be mine. I’ll have your car. Your clothes. Your parents will be renting me their room rent-free for the next decade. All I have to do is take a few punches and kicks from 16-year old. That’s it. I can do that. I’ll be playing on your PS5 for the rest of my life and I don’t even like Play Station. You see Shawn, I’m an XBOX man. But I’ll play it because it will be mine. And all I have to do is take a few unwanted punches to the face from you. And make no mistake Shawn, if you lose control you will most assuredly be convicted. And you’ll go to jail. And your life will be ruined all because you wanted to get out your dick ruler in front of your friends. Now Shawn, I’ve already sent your picture to my brother and based on what you’ve already said to me, I can bring charges that you harassed me and my friend and threatened extreme violence against me, and showed scars to prove you meant it. But if you ask nicely, I’ll let you go back to your friends and maybe not call my brother and my lawyer. But even if you do, I still might. I still might make that call, Shawn. I don’t know, it depends on how bad I want to play your Play Station, Shawn. But if you don’t ask nicely, I’ll definitely make that call. I don’t know. It’s up to you. I’m kinda hoping you do something dumb because I want your dad’s 401k and your college fund. I really do. But, hey, I don’t think this nice woman wants to see any violence, and my time is worth a lot. I make a lot of money, Shawn, because, unlike you, I don’t suck at life. So I tell you what, I’ll pay you $10 [pulls out $10], what I make in about 5 minutes and what you make in about 1 hour and I’ll give it to you to take your friends and leave. But Shawn … I still might make that call. Because it’s going to bother me that you have my $5. So what’s it going to be Shawn? Are you gonna ask nicely? Or do I get all your assets?

L) (smile) I must warn you that I fart really badly when I get scared. Can you smell it yet?

23 Responses to “Adventures in Pacifism, Louis CK Edition: Semi-finalists”

  1. Jan Masek says:

    Some of the answers involve threat of litigation, asset forfeiture and/or prison. I don’t quite see how any of that is “without using or even threatening violence”. It’s just outsourcing it to the government.

    • random person says:

      I kinda agree with you, especially considering a lot of people would probably prefer to just get beaten up in an alley than go to prison (or jail, whatever), have to spend heaven knows how many hours in court, or lose expensive belongings. Prison (or jail) in particular is definitely violent, although I guess civil lawsuits are debatable.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Jan, are you saying these semi-finalists were threatening prison time? I thought I weeded those out. The lawsuit stuff I left in because that would still happen even in a pacifist society.

      • Jan Masek says:

        I think so, bullet-point K: “And make no mistake Shawn, if you lose control you will most assuredly be convicted. And you’ll go to jail”
        I agree though that this can just be a throw away line and the whole response does not depend on it, so if prison is the only disqualifier it can be dropped and the rest still stands.

        And I thought the lawsuit stuff is still “give me your money or else” with “else” being again prison. And as such I thought that was incompatible with pacifist society the way I understand it. But I think it’s clear from my other posts I do NOT understand it so I’ll let this experiment be a lesson to me (no sarcasm).

        • random person says:

          Apparently, the jail threat won third place.

      • random person says:

        Answer K contained a jail threat.

        I agree lawsuits – or at least stuff vaguely resembling lawsuits (e.g. going to your local Amish preacher) – still happen in pacifist cultures, but (depending on how purist the pacifist society was) the forms and procedures of those lawsuits might vary considerably. (E.g. going to your local Amish preacher varies in a number of significant ways from filing a lawsuit.)

        And even then… “I really want a nicer house”? (See answer B.) I guess evictions might be possible to do somewhat non-violently (depending on how strict your definition of non-violent is), but it’s at least in a grey, debatable sort of area. In grey, debatable areas, we might consider proportionality. If a person tries to strangle his or her spouse, and beats his or her children, it might be entirely proportionate to lock such a person out of his or her home, for the protection of his or her spouse and children. Especially considering that strangulation is a major red flag for potential homicide, and anyone who beats their own kids is just awful.

        Strack said choking is the most lethal form of domestic violence and has been long overlooked in domestic or sexual violence cases. She said victims who have been choked once are 750 percent more likely to be killed by their abusers, and that choking is considered a strong predictor of homicide.


        If some kid I met at a restaurant gave me a bruise, I wouldn’t consider taking the kid’s family home to be proportionate. For one, because it’s an isolated incident, not living in terror day after day. For another, because I will probably recover from the bruise with far less time and effort than it takes to purchase a nice family home. And then there’s part about them being a kid whose brain hasn’t fully developed yet.

        Being able to win an unjust settlement (or threatening to be able to) just by being able to afford to better lawyer doesn’t really strike me as compatible with the spirit pacifism, even if we assumed for the sake of argument that the decision would not be enforced by means of prison or other extreme violence.

  2. Jan Masek says:

    And I am really curious about the winning answer, especially if it happens to be from Ross Burphy. See this happened to me, more than once. And every time I ended up jumping on the guy. I am not a big guy so sometimes I “lost”, though not always. But I could never think of an alternative that would work (ie get him out of my hair) and not be total humiliation (eg the one in the clip). Also, I don’t think the kid would walk away in most cases in real life, bullies want you to accept their rules and then they kick your butt anyway. But even if they don’t, it’s the accepting their rules that I can’t stomach. He believes in aggresion and I’ll be happy to oblige. I never regretted it in real life so really curious if Dr. Murphy changes my mind (which is open to it)

  3. Jan Masek says:

    Heck, I wouldn’t even let him finish his smug fake-polite introducing himself. I’d tell him he has three seconds to leave and then I’d punch him at two. My rules, not his 🙂 Oh, how I hate bullies. Does that make me one?

    • Harold says:

      There is often no good simple solution available to a victim of bullying. TV shows and movies often offer a simplistic solution that the victim cannot do without becoming someone else. It is a long haul. Isolation is probably one of the greatest causes and effects of bullying. Having strong allies helps to both prevent and deal with it.

      Those who can “naturally” deal effectively with bullies tend not to be the victims, although not in all cases. Almost anyone can probably be bullied in the right circumstances.

      So to me your response does not make you a bully. Just that you have developed a way to deal with them that hopefully works for you. The problem with it is that the bully comes away as the victim, and you would be the one to be punished. That could be a victory for the bully. In a “one off” situation like the one here it might be fine, but in an ongoing situation like work or school it could make your position worse.

  4. Transformer says:

    Who was the winner ?

  5. JSL says:

    Why didn’t my answer about CNV reach the semi final ? 🙁
    Wasn’t it pacifist ?

    • random person says:

      I liked your answer.

    • Bitter Clinger says:

      Dear JSL, I thought you were not mentioned in the Semi-finalists because you were Dr. Murphy. Dr. Murphy said that he would have a submission and I thought for sure it was yours. That being said, Dr. Murphy is obviously not looking for a more philosophical analysis of the situation but just the playing of the “Dozen’s”. (Back in my day we called it “Back on the Block Talk” but I googled for it and that must be a false memory.)

      Random Person, My bringing up Colin Wilson was because in the Libertarian movement the underlying principle is the “Non Aggression Principle”. Ayn Rand proposed it in the early 60’s and to join the Libertarian Party you must sign the pledge each year, or at least when I was a dues paying, card carrying member from 1978 till 2001. The point is who was the aggressor and who is the victim. Wilson took 600+ pages to try to determine who is who. From Cain killing Able to modern times (OK 1984 now ancient history). I mean how do you determine the Good Guys from the Bad Guys? I would be interested in knowing.

      • random person says:

        I am not libertarian, I am mostly here because I don’t like lockdowns. Also because Harold is interesting to talk to. I have heard of Ayn Rand, and I really don’t like her, for the reasons described in this Salon article.


        So, yeah, I wouldn’t consider Ayn Rand to be “non-aggressive” any more than I’d consider the people cheering for these murderous lockdown policies to be “non-aggressive”. I mean, yes, the deathcount from the lockdowns is probably still lower than the deathcount of genocide, but a crime against humanity is still a crime against humanity.

        The point is who was the aggressor and who is the victim. Wilson took 600+ pages to try to determine who is who. From Cain killing Able to modern times (OK 1984 now ancient history). I mean how do you determine the Good Guys from the Bad Guys? I would be interested in knowing.

        A simple way would be to point out that everyone old enough to have moral responsibility for their actions is the Bad Guys, so the only Good Guys must be children still too young to be blamed for anything. Like, there are numerous opportunities in life to accidentally do something evil, and it’s impossible to live and avoid doing things evil things, so the only innocents are the ones still too young to understand the implications of their actions.

        But that’s still not a satisfactory answer, because even among those of us who are old enough that we ought to understand that sometimes we do evil things, there’s a broad range. Some people revel in evil and enjoy being evil. Some people try to be as good as they know how to be and still fall short. Some people are in between.

        Like, clearly, there’s a huge difference between someone like King Leopold II, a king who got immensely rich off of forced labor of genocidal proportions, and someone like Edmund Dene Morel, a journalist who spent a significant portion of his life campaigning against King Leopold II, but still participated in a corrupt capitalist economy in which rubber, harvested by the millions of people enslaved by King Leopold II and his accomplices, was used to make bicycle and car tires, coat electric wires, etc. Like, unfortunately, unless you are a member of a so-called “uncontacted” tribe in the Brazillian rainforest or something like that, or else you have really super hermit skills, participating the corrupt global economy, where enslavers like King Leopold II sell their ill-gotten gains, is basically unavoidable if you want to like, eat and stuff.

        Under King Leopold II’s forced labor regime of terror, approximately half of the Congo’s population died. So, since the Congo started out with an estimated 20 million people pre-Leopold, this means King Leopold II killed approximately 10 million Congolese by means of brutal forced labor. And that’s not including all the people he’s killed by means of HIV/AIDS, which probably never would have become a global problem if it hadn’t been for his forced labor regime in the Congo. Once we include the HIV/AIDS victims, it’s quite possible that King Leopold II has killed more human beings than any other murderer who as ever lived. He’s such a successful murderer that he just keeps killing people with HIV/AIDS even though he’s dead.

        For perpetrating this regime of mass murder and torture, King Leopold managed to extract, according to a conservative estimate, 220 million francs of his time from the Congo, or $1.1 billion in modern dollars.

        Edmund Dene Morel, on the other hand, might have been unable to avoid comparatively small evils. Perhaps he bought a car with tires made with King Leopold’s ill-gotten rubber. If he didn’t, he probably bought goods that were transported by cars with tires made with King Leopold’s ill-gotten rubber. But he actively campaigned against King Leopold II. He did his best. He was, if not a perfectly good person, at least as good a person as he knew how to be. And according to Socrates, this is the most we can expect from human beings. So we can accord Edmund Dene Morel label of “relatively good”. You know, by human standards. Which clearly fall far short of perfect goodness, given the high prevalence of human-caused genocide, other forms of mass murder, forced labor and other forms of unfree labor, torture, and other types of crimes against humanity that we see on planet Earth.

    • Harold says:

      I also liked your answer. maybe Bob will have another look. Maybe he thought your apologies were a bit too much, but that could be nuanced without affecting the main point. We seem to be having problems with our initials. I put NVQ and you just put CNV instead of NVC. Unless your are French?

    • JSL says:

      Thank you very much for your answers guys !

      Indeed, I’m French and that’s exactly why I wrote CNV xD

      • Harold says:

        Bonjour, JSL!

        • guest says:

          Why do you think I have this outrrrrrrrrrageous accent’ah?

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