Hue and Cry
By Alec Rawls © 1998. (2350words) Prospective Stanford Review article

Stanford women get lots of information and advice about how to avoid rape. Overlooked is the problem of violent criminal assault against men, which is far more common. In particular, there is a species of criminal that every stanford man should be aware of and be advised how to deal with. There are thugs whose specialty is trying to get people into fights, then doing as much damage as possible. I had a meeting with one this January.

Every incident is unique, but my experience confirmed for me the best strategy for dealing with this scum, when it is available. It also solved a question I had posed for myself about how citizen militia can identify themselves as good guys in a way that cannot be co-opted by the criminals. Unfortunately it also revealed that, within the Chinese immigrant community, there is widespread failure to grasp the first obligation of citizenship -- to answer the Hue and Cry, and report crime.


Opposing aggressors with threat of law

The incident occurred at a ballroom dance party hosted by a society of Chinese engineers (the SCEA) at the Premier Ballroom in Fremont, where I planned to meet my friend Susan, who I had met dancing a few weeks before.

After a couple of dances together a muscle-bound thug slapped my hand away from her and startsed accusing me of assaulting her. He was trying to make it appear to others that he was her defender and myself an aggressor as he tried to push me into a fight. I explained to him that he was on a criminal course and that if he followed it he was going to go to jail. The seriousness of my threat to oppose him with the law did not deter him until I start demanding to know his name, at which point he finally backed off.

I can only guess his motivation. Probably he is jealous, though from his subsequent vileness, it seems that racial hatred might also have been in play. I was one of only three Caucasians in the place and Susan is a beautiful Chinese woman. She seemed to know who he was but made it clear to him that he was not welcome.

I danced some more with her, then danced with some other women, then the thug then accosted me with another scheme, pretending to be friendly, expressing misunderstanding: "Why don't we go outside and talk about it?" "Not likely!" Immediately he was snarling and making fists again, promising to "get me." I called louder this time that he was a criminal and was going to go to jail. I loudly demand his name. Promising to oppose him with the law was proving to be a pretty good trump card for curtailing his immediate designs. He wanted none of it, and quickly evaded the attention I was trying to shine on him. But it did nothing to alter his ambitions, which were only escalating in their criminal intent.

The next time I was dancing with Susan her tormentor slapped me away again and started hissing about dirty white men. Calculated technique number three: trying to get me in a spat of racial insults so he can say that I goaded him with "fighting words." I was lucky he was intent on getting away with his crime. It gave me something to work with.

I gave him his racial what for in the form of a very brief lecture in civics: "This is a free country. She decides who she wants to dance with, not you." Then perhaps less advisedly: "This isn't Communist China." The assailant leapt a foot in the air, revealing another very muscular fellow named Wayne who held was holding back. Their similar physicality made me suspect that they are martial arts partners, thankfully of very different moral character. This time I let a dozen people know that this antagonist was a criminal. Wayne told me I needed to be very careful. Susan was really scared but what would we do? The criminal was out in the parking now waiting for us. Best to wait another hour until closing time when everyone would be leaving at once.



If you can help it, don't give a calculating assailant an hour to calculate. As the music ends, he appears again and insists that Susan walk with him. Susan, thinking he is really after me, begs me to stay back. He promises again to "get me." I appeal urgently to the crowd for anyone who knows this criminal's name. Several young men nearby laugh. As soon as the criminal gets beyond anyone who is paying attention he launches a powerful attack on Susan's teeth. It is a very calculated move, either a practiced technique or at least a pre-meditated one, coming from a very unnatural position from which to strik -- walking side by side. With a compact and powerful counter-rotation of the upper body, smashes her in the teeth with his fist.

Her head flies back and he immediately turns as if to be solicitous. The attack is so fast that no one would even see it who was not watching intently. He knows that person is me. He is trying to force me to attack him in order to defend Susan, then he can say it is me who assaulted her. Only he is not ready for my response.

As I rush forward I bellow loud enough to wake the dead: "CALL THE POLICE!" With the music over, every person in the place hears and tries to see. "He just smashed that woman in the mouth!" I bellow again for all to hear. The criminal, facing a hue and cry, turns and bolts to his car. I run out to lead the cry after him but no one follows. Those already outside just stand and watch.

This failure is perhaps understandable. Our rediculous police chiefs and county sheriffs are teaching people not to answer the hue and cry, which used to be every citizen's foremost obligation, enforced under penalty of law. This is a disaster for our society. A citizen's ability to counter agressors by opposing them with the law depends entirely on others heeding his identification of the criminal -- his raising of the hue and cry. By undermining the Hue and Cry, the police are actively undermining the ability of citizens to oppose aggressors by standing with the law.

A bystander goads me: "Go get him! Do not be afraid!" Holy cow, they don't understand at all. If I go after him alone I lose the presumption of self-defense, to say nothing of the other possible consequences. That shows what happens when the police -- prefering a disempowered citizenry -- attack the hue and cry. The very idea of citizens wielding the law is lost.

"I don't want to fight him," I explain to the ignoramus, "I want to send him to jail!" But this group isn't about to grasp the requirements of going after Susan's assailant with the law so I turn to asking who knows the criminal's name. Only then does the savvy thug, knowing he won't get a shot at me, zoom off in his car.

Susan won't let anyone see her mouth. I go back inside to find out what the police were told. No one called! "If he had killed her, then we would call," a young man says. "What?" I pick up the phone and call 911 myself to report the assault. The Chinese manager of The Premier rushes over and hangs up the phone on me. Another crime! I have to go up 880 to the next exit just to file a report with the police.


The obligation to report crime

Lesson number one: the Chinese community apparently has the same culture of refusing to working with law enforcement that has allowed the lid to blow off of crime in black and Hispanic neighborhoods. There is absolutely no excuse for this. Reporting crime is the FIRST duty of citizenship. In March the San Jose Mercury News ran the results of a poll asking people what they thought were the foremost obligations of immigrants. Number one was reporting crime, with learning English a distant second.

Maybe Chinese immigrants fear deportation. Maybe they think of authorities as being like the communist authorities in China. It does not matter. When Chinese come to this country they must take on the obligations of citizenship. To the extent that they do not, they are being bad citizens. It is that simple, and while most Chinese immigrants are clearly good citizens in most respects, they seem as a group to be being bad citizens in this one respect, which is a very serious and intolerable situation.

I am very grateful to everyone who did help. There was Wayne, who had been ready at a crucial moment, and several others who paid attention and were concerned, and most of all Susan, who foolishly insisted on accompanying her tormentor in an attempt to protect me. I also want ot reiterate that the problem is not just with the Chinese. Failures to report crime and answer the Hue and Cry are a problem everywhere. I attibute these failures not so much to indifference as to ambivalent feelings about the police in a society where the laws do not protect the full ideal of liberty. If we would only protect liberty directly (by articulating the full ideal of jprotected liberty) rather than indirectly (by placing restrictions on law enforcement) there would be nothing to fear in calling the police and ambivalence towards the police could be eliminated. (See my article Junk the Fourth Amendment.) For now, people have to see past their ambivalence and do their part to make the law work, or else we are just handing society over to the criminals.

I regret to report that even my friend Susan has refused to come forward with her information about her attacker. (She knows who he is.) This thug shows every indication of being an extremely serious criminal. Anyone whose first words to another person are a scheme to get away with a criminal assault, then calculatedly tries to knock a woman's teeth out, is most likely a practiced criminal with a deep seated lust for doing permanent injury. I don't know how much of this criminal's career has been in China and how much of it here. What I do know is that he is very likely a serial criminal of the first magnitude whose specialty is getting away with vicious assault.

Would we allow a serial rapist to go un-pursued like this? Susan has a right in this country not to incriminate herself in crime. She has no right not to incriminate someone else. The police won't pursue cases like this because the damned district attorneys won't prosecute them. If the D.A. s were doing their jobs they would haul Susan before a grand jury and make her testify, or go to jail for contempt. I like the girl very much but that doesn't give her the right to shield Son of Sam. (If District Attorney Kennedy wants to pursue this case he can get "Susan's" full name from Stanford Sheriff Marv Herrington. A much better bet would be to vote for Mel Anderson this June second.)


Wield the threat of law

Lesson two: if you encounter a would be criminal assailant, express your determination to respond with the law and see him go to jail for any crime he commits. Draw the attention of others to the situation and to your position and try to get the criminal's name and make sure other's have it too. Thugs like this thrive in cultures that don't believe in going to the police. Don't let a person who threatens violence get to square one in an antagonism between him and you. It is between him and society and you are going to raise the hue and cry.


Hue and Cry

Lesson three: I am running for Sheriff of Santa Clara County on the platform (in part) of giving The People a chance to vote for their gun rights. See Rawls for Sheriff. The power to achieve the constitutionally stated desideratum of "a well regulated militia" falls on police chiefs and county sheriffs, who have the statutory power to control who can carry guns and on what terms. In planning to fulfill the role of de facto militia chief (which other Bay Area sheriffs have abnegated) I have had to consider the question of how, in life threatening situations, the legally armed upstanding citizenry can readily identify themselves to each other and the police in a way that the criminals cannot co-opt.

It is rather like the puzzle about a traveller who comes upon two people at a fork in the road. He knows one always tells the truth and one always lies, but he does not know which is which, and can only ask one question to identify the fork he wants.

Click here for answer

The incident at the premier reveals the answer to what militia members should yell: "CALL THE POLICE," as loud as they can. If a situation is serious enough to pull out a gun (which legally requires that there be imminent threat of great bodily injury, or else it is illegal brandishing) it is serious enough to raise the hue and cry. If a criminal tries to pretend he is militia by raising the hue and cry himself, he accomplishes exactly what the good guys want to have accomplished. The hue and cry is a call to bear witness, and assist in bringing all suspects into custody. Perfect.


Civilian viewpoint most relevant for law enforcement policy

Lastly, this case illustrates how bogus the rationale is for requiring sheriff's to have law enforcement background. (Its constitutionality is a whole other question. See Rawls v Jones and Beattie. Law enforcement has the opposite relation to criminals that civilians do. Criminals avoid police and hunt citizens. Thus police are hunters, while citizens are hunted. These truely are opposite roles. In particular, the job of the police is to come by after the fact, gather evidence and try to track down the perpetrator. The only ones who will ever be in a position to stop crime before it happens are those who are being attacked, or are near enough to help. The effectiveness of these efforts depend on their ability to defend themselves, and their ability to have people respond to the hue and cry. The current law enforcement establishment is attacking both of these.

They are so insulated, and have such an opposite relation to crime than crime victims, that they completely fail to grasp the real requirements of crime control and instead fixate on securing their own monopoly of power, which means disempowering the law abiding citizens. If there is going to be any law at all, it should be that sheriffs must come from the ranks of civilians, and not from within the establishment. I am not for such a restriction, but it would make more sense than the current one.


Next article in the "Stories that Need to be Told" series: Witch-doctors

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Date Last Modified: 8/27/99
Copyright Alec Rawls © 1998