From Heroes to Villains: The Consequences of Demonizing Self-Defense

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Up until this point, the idea that one is justified in using violent force to defend themselves and their loved ones seemed to be a common-sense concept. But over the past few years, it appears that forces in government and society are trying to challenge that notion.

Lately, we have seen members of the chattering class villainize those placed in a position in which they were forced to use deadly force to prevent someone from victimizing them. It raises an important question: What are those demonizing these folks trying to accomplish?

In an interview with The Daily Signal, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) expressed concern over the rush to vilify former Marine Daniel Penny, who has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Jordan Neely in the New York subway. Hawley highlighted the need for all the facts to be known before passing judgment, emphasizing the confusing signals being sent to young men by the media and the left.

He argued that the immediate condemnation of Penny’s actions without a complete understanding of the incident could discourage men from stepping up to be heroes. Hawley raised the question of whether society still values the willingness of men to put themselves on the line for others, referencing the condemnation faced by Penny despite his attempt to protect fellow passengers, noting:

This is a good example of the extremely confusing signals that the culture and the media and the Left send to young men, which is that you don’t hear much outrage on the Left … about the fact that New York subways and streets are extremely unsafe, and that if you are an everyday citizen walking or traveling, you may well be subject to violence. That’s just wiped away. We’re supposed to just live with that.

The lawmaker continued:

But then, you’ve got a guy who actually puts himself in danger to try to help other people. You’ve got a subway passenger now saying, ‘He saved my life. He put himself in danger.’ That is automatically condemned before we even know all the facts. It’s like, ‘Oh, that must be wrong’ or ‘That must be crazy.’

Hawley then pointed out that men placed in a situation where they have to defend others might think:

Well, now, hold on. I thought that a man was supposed to be willing to put himself on the line. Isn’t that what we celebrate in the Greatest Generation, for example, a whole generation of young men who went out there and sacrificed for their country? But you’re telling me now, ‘If I do that, I’m going to be vilified, sued, charged, what have you.’

In another instance, a shootout occurred in southeast Shelby County, Tennessee when a man confronted a group of suspected car thieves outside his home. The incident was captured on surveillance video, which showed the thieves shooting at the man first.

In response, the man returned fire multiple times. However, when law enforcement arrived, the man was arrested for reckless endangerment. The man’s wife criticized the investigators for focusing on charging her husband instead of apprehending the suspects.

The home and a neighboring house were left with bullet holes, and two vehicles were also damaged. The unnamed individual could be facing up to six years in prison if convicted.

There is also the case of Jose Alba, a bodega worker in New York City, who stabbed a man to death when the individual and his girlfriend physically assaulted him. He was subsequently charged with murder by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Alba was given bail of $250,000 and sent to Riker’s Island, although the bail was later reduced due to public outcry. Meanwhile, the girlfriend of the attacker, who had incited the assault and stabbed Alba three times did not face charges as the DA’s office considered her actions “self-defense.” The decision sparked outrage, with critics questioning the double standard and the failure to hold the woman accountable. Bragg’s office later freed Alba due to the backlash.

We also can’t forget the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, who gunned down three men during a violent protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. One of the assailants attacked Rittenhouse and attempted to grab his rifle. The other two assaulted him with a skateboard and one pointed a pistol at him. Still, Democrats and members of the activist media painted him as a racist white supremacist who murdered these fine, upstanding individuals despite it being a clear case of self-defense.

In each of these cases, there was an effort to portray defenders as aggressors and undermine their right to protect themselves and their loved ones. These individuals were punished by the government and the media for trying to protect their lives. Such instances contribute to a culture that questions and devalues the actions of those who defend themselves.

The vilification of people who use force to protect themselves appears to be a sinister effort to undermine the concept of self-defense and serves as a strategic tool to promote increased reliance on the government for protection, rather than on individual capabilities. By painting self-defenders as villains and undermining their rights, a narrative is crafted that instills fear and doubt in people’s ability to protect themselves and their loved ones. Even worse, it seems these agitators are trying to delegitimize the concept of self-defense.

This is why it is so vital to challenge the narrative that labels people who defend themselves as villains. The opinion molders are trying desperately to persuade people to view the government as the only entity that is allowed to use violence for protection. This is a dangerous mode of thinking that would lead to disastrous outcomes if it is not effectively debunked.


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