Violence, Escalation, and Practice

mcsweeneys_imageIn light of the many recent shootings by law enforcement personnel, I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues addressed in this McSweeney’s column on de-escalation. Having done quite a bit of scenario training, I’m convinced that how, and how much, we practice for crisis situations is a huge factor in the level of force we end up using in those situations:

The key factor is experience. Cops need training and practice with de-escalation skills, or they won’t use them successfully, if at all. That fact that we’re seeing so much escalation in cops’ response to threats indicates they aren’t getting that training. That’s a failure of leadership, and it’s occurring both locally and nationally.

I’m working on a targeted project for local action on this front, and hope to share it shortly. There are ways we can all help to make our communities less violent, and police training is one of them.

Groin Shot Explainer at Jezebel

cqkdhtp7bbi0lj2qv67uI had a piece over at Jezebel recently–something I never really expected to happen given that when my very first McSweeney’s column ran, waaaaaay back in 2009 (!), they didn’t like it much. But Emma Carmichael and Jia Tolentino were a delight to work with, and the finished piece is lushly illustrated with clips from various MMA fights, demonstrating the effects of groin shots on some unlucky fighters.

These days, only Muay Thai fighters strike to the groin—and they only do it in Thailand, where they wear groin protection made from fucking steel. But even armor plating isn’t enough for western sportsmen; in addition to groin protection devices, they shield their balls with every rule, regulation, law, and covenant they can think of. The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, for example, list 31 official fouls, with myriad subtle variations on things like kidney strikes (only a foul if you kick with your heel) and elbows (disallowed if striking downward; OK in other directions). And then there’s Item vii: “Groin attacks of any kind.”