Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Putting the Safe in Safety Pin

In case you haven't noticed, there's a movement out there to wear safety pins to signal "solidarity" with minorities and other oppressed people. Snopes has a pretty good synopsis of this campaign HERE.

It's become very popular, much like AIDS ribbons were a generation ago.  Heck, even NFL quarterbacks are wearing them at press conferences.

The virtue or wisdom of such campaigns are beyond the scope of what I write about here, so ask me privately if you want my opinion on the matter as a whole.  That's not the point of today's post.

I wanted to address what some people are saying that wearing the safety pin means.

Some folks - both pro-safety pin and against safety pin - are saying that wearing one signals that not only are you empathetic to the situation minorities may be living in or experiencing, but you are willing to do something about it.  It means that when there is a person being harassed in public, you're willing to intervene.

The safety pin, in some quarters, means that you are willing to "stand up" for someone that is vulnerable, so yeah, that definitely does imply that you're willing to do more than wear a symbol.

I do not see everyone pushing for this campaign saying this, but enough so that I feel like I need to put in my two cents here, because this is talking about public safety and self defense.

On principle, I like the idea of more of us committing to making our society one where such behaviors are not tolerated socially, and the consequences are immediate. I also like the idea of each of us taking responsibility for making all of us safer in public, and not waiting for some authority figure to come along and make it happen.

If you wear a safety pin, some people are going to believe that you are ready, willing, and able to help them if bad stuff goes down.  Be prepared for this, and understand that if you do not immediately help - aren't ready and able, even if you're willing - you may undermine the message you are trying to send.

So, if you really are interested in either defending yourself or others... you have to do more than wear a safety pin.  You have to train yourself in:
  • Conflict resolution
  • De-escalation techniques
  • The law of self defense (what you, as a bystander, can and can't do legally)
  • Unarmed self defense techniques
  • Armed self defense (even if you choose not to use a weapon of any kind - you may face them)
Be aware that if you insert yourself into situations like this YOU could become the target of violence, and you have to be prepared for that.

It also means you have to continually practice those techniques I mentioned above. You can't take a single conflict resolution class, or a self defense course, or a concealed carry certification, or read a book on the subject, and call it a day.  These skills must be practiced in order to be effective.

So seek out and read all the books on this topic you can, written by people who are from a variety of backgrounds and points of view.  Regularly attend physical training in the subject.  Learn as much as you can about the consequences of intervening in situations like this, so you are prepared to take action if it happens around you.  Take a concealed carry firearms course if they have such in your area, even if you don't intend to carry or own a firearm at all.

One more thing - be honest about your ability to help vs. your willingness to help.  If you are not able to do more about this than the equivalent using of a hashtag on Twitter, well... I'd rather you not make promises you can't or won't keep.  This is serious business, something that can have far-reaching and permanent consequences.

If you do all these things, you can make this safety pin meme actually mean something.  I think that'd be pretty cool.