Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lessons in Sociological Psychology

Eight or ten years ago, if some nut leaped up waving a knife during the commercial flight you were on and allowed as how he was hijacking the plane to Cuba, the conventional wisdom was to sit tight and do nothing. Eventually, the plane would land somewhere, the loon would try to negotiate something with somebody on the ground, and if they couldn't come to terms, The Unit would show up, spike his ass, and most, if not all, of the passengers would walk away unharmed. Most of the time.

9/11 changed that. Those terrorists flatly ruined the business of jet hijacking for fun and profit. Haven't seen one in the U.S. since, have we?

The conventional wisdom was found wanting. Men who would sit quietly and wait for the authorities to deal with the situation to avoid maybe being slashed bloody realized that if the choice might be between facing a man with a boxcutter or slamming into a skyscraper at three hundred miles an hour, that was a no-brainer.

What gives a man or three or five men with short knives control over a couple hundred people not armed that way is fear. The best knife-fighter who ever lived can't beat a group of terrified passengers throwing everything at him that isn't nailed down. Imagine twenty briefcases, ten laptops, fifty iPods, shoes, bookbags, carry-0ns, empty booze bottlets, flying at you from all directions at the same time. That boxcutter going to stop them? Or the stampeding herd behind them?

The passengers will roll over him like the tide does a sand castle. A long slash can be stitched up. And even if you get wounded fatally but manage to take the guy down, at least all those men, women, and children who survive to land will remember you forever. Going gently into that good night is not high on my list, nor, I suspect, is it going to be something a hijacker can depend on ever again.

People are going to go down swinging. I think that hearkens back to a less-civilized age, and maybe it's not such a bad thing. I might go to hell, pal, but you are going to be holding the door open for me when I get there ...

The reason the old western sheriff can hold off the lynch mob with his double-barreled coach gun is not that he can take them all, it's that nobody wants to be first to eat the buckshot and somebody will be. But if he is planning on herding every body into a cell and then setting the place on fire? Different game.

That was a lesson learned. Sometimes, you have to take responsibility for yourself -- the authorities aren't going to get there in time.

If you are at home at night and you hear somebody thumping around in the other room who isn't supposed to be there, conventional wisdom says, shut the door, call the police, and keep an eye and your gun trained on the door until help arrives.

But -- if you have a small child in a bedroom down the hall, you aren't going to do that, are you?
No parent I know would. You will be going to collect your kid, and any advice to the contrary simply isn't going to play. And even people who don't have little ones at home might find themselves toodling down the hall, pump shotgun in hand.

Sometimes, a man -- or a woman -- has gotta do what they gotta do ...


Master Plan said...

I was, and continue to be, a bit disappointed that we've not seen more of the, "terror attacks will happen, here's what YOU can do to be safe, productive, helpful, and just generally not a useless boob", type info being propagated.

These seems like interesting and novel scenarios which you could apply your MA system of choice to and...nobody seems to have stepped up very much.

In particular it seemed that GWB and Co. had a particular interest in assuring us it was terrifying and bad and we'd all better just buy duct tape and plastic.

I would hope for a more effective line of response than that.

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

Bush & Co's message was "there's danger and you can't do anything to protect yourself, so sign away all your civil rights and legitimize torture so we can protect you."

If they'd said "you can protect yourself against terrorism with a little common sense and preparedness, but we'd still like to sign away your rights and be OK with torture", maybe it wouldn't have flown.

Dan Gambiera said...

We've seen a few people try to hijack planes in the last eight years. Without exception they've been swarmed by terrified passengers and crew. Most have been restrained with injuries. Some have died.

It's going to be that way for a very long time.

Dave said...

People as a whole wish to be lemmings and be comforted. I would like to think many more have had their eyes opened. After hearing about the various signing away of our rights my father commented that he would loved to see a few of my cohorts on that plane, and what would of happened.
Would of, could of, should of.
Fact is now somebody takes over a plane, their ass is grass.

Some guy said...

To Master Plan:

Maybe I'm too cynical, but it seems to me that our government would not want to empower the citizenry. It's just easier to govern a nation of victims. This impression came from the party line on how to react to various crimes: "Women, don't fight rapists because they might hurt you worse. Stay off the streets at night; be accompanied by males if you're going somewhere. Men, just give up your wallet; never fight if it's just money, it's not worth your life." Etc. That's where I got the idea that the government educates us to be victims. But I think it also applies to teaching citizens to oppose terrorists too. Not just Bush, but American government under any administration has a vested interest in having citizens surrender individual physical power and rely on the government.

(As an aside, is this
passive acceptance a good survival strategy for the individual? In general, yes. But if the reverse were generally true, the appeal of crime would drop a lot. After all, the point of crime is that it's supposed to be an EASY job....)

Some guy

Master Plan said...

Some Guy:

Oh, I totally agree. In fact I think the Bush crew was quite good at this. Fear is an excellent tool of control. Partly because it works so effectively at a distance and partly because it's easy to spread.

Weapons of Mass Destructions? Biologicals? What about Psychic Weaponry?

I consider the 9-11 attacks to have been a very potent work of geomantic magic personally.

It's always going to be the desire of The System to maintain it's power. Raising people to be self-sufficient, rather than dependent, on the The System is therefore never in the interests of The System. Rebels are usually pretty easy. Freethinkers are the real troublesome fucks. Fear is an excellent weapon for countering thought in otherwise intelligent, educated, rational individuals.

Some guy said...

To Master Plan:

"Geomantic magic" :0) Nice...

Some guy

Worg said...

"I consider the 9-11 attacks to have been a very potent work of geomantic magic personally. "

Funny you should mention that. I've been thinking along those lines recently as well. Many people believe that certain monolithic buildings, and monoliths, were raised where they were in order to accumulate some sort of energy: telluric current or otherwise.

This way lies madness...