When I hear or read the word, “gentleman,” what I immediately think of is some Englishmen, with a handlebar mustache, a suit made from fine cloth, with a bowler hat, and perhaps a pipe. Kind of a cross between Bat Masterson and the fictional detective’s sidekick, Dr. John Watson. What I do not think of are the various rapists, robbers, home invaders, serial killers, active killers, jihadists, gang members, car jackers or other miscreants. However, various news sources ROUTINELY refer to the aforementioned turds as such. This politically correct and possibly, hyperbolic, “sarcasm-speak,” has trickled down into the self-defense industry, and I’m really tired of it! If you possess the capability for sentient thought, you should be tired of it too.
The late Colonel Jeff Cooper referred to collective pack of miscreants as, “goblins,” (for all of you Lord of the Rings fans) which I like. Also, the late Louis Awerbuck (of which I was, and am still a big fan, see HERE) called these wrongdoers, “cookie monster,” as in (insert South African accent), “There you are minding your own business walking to your car when the Cookie Monster pops up from behind a parked station wagon, gun in hand.” I think that BOTH of these word choices are far superior to saying something that is quite antithetical to what we are trying to describe. “Gentlemen,” surely these hoodlums are not.
When I treat my patients, I routinely tell them what I want them to do. It is a physiological/psychological shortcut that actually works for me pretty well (I jokingly call it the, “Jedi Mind Trick”). For example, I tell them, “You will feel me push on your cheek and then you’ll feel pressure in your jaw.” What I don’t tell them is, “You will feel a puncture as I plunge this 27 gauge needle into your jaw, pass it through several sheets of muscle, knock it into the bone and then deliver 1.7 milliliters of anesthetic liquid into your tissues. That anesthetic is not isotonic to those local tissues, and it will burn tremendously, but gut through it, as it will only last thirty seconds or so!” By simply giving a relaxed person a simple verbal suggestion, I can shape what they experience.
In firearms training, as instructors we must also be cautious about what we say when we coach our students. If I tell a student to, “Press the trigger, just like you’re pressing a button,” they will. In their mind, they can visualize using their index finger to simply press a button. It is an operation that each of us thoughtlessly execute hundreds, if not thousands of times a day. So instructing a student to, PRESS the trigger delivers the desired result; a straight, continuous press to the limit of travel. But if we tell the same student, “SQUEEZE that trigger,” the first thing that they see in their mind’s eye is SQUEEZING a lemon, or SQUEEZING a hand in a firm handshake. They compress their entire hand, not just their index finger, and the shot they fire ends up going critically low, sometimes not even striking the target, even at close range. That’s bad instruction, and bad advice. Thus, SAYING the correct word with appropriate phrasing, is vital to communicate what we are trying to convey.
When you, or I, or the trainer you follow, or the news reporter you watch calls some law-breaking creep a, “gentleman,” they are accidentally and perhaps even involuntarily referring to the worst kind of person there is, in, “human,” terms. Perhaps it is a psychological coping mechanism to deal with the totality of their actions, I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist. I call these packs of losers, “Bad Guys.” I don’t have any issue with doing that. Someone is molesting a child? They ARE a bad guy. Someone is robbing a bank? They ARE a bad guy. Someone is randomly shooting innocent people in a mall? They ARE a bad guy. I would have no qualms about appearing in front of a judge and telling them that I was attacked by a bad guy…I was NOT attacked by a gentleman. And neither were you, and neither were they. So call them what they are. BAD GUY is objective; it tells you exactly and in plain terms what you NEED to know about that person in question. There are no active killers that AREN’T BAD GUYS. And there aren’t any active killers that ARE gentlemen.
Go back through this essay. I used every synonym for, “hoodlum,” I could think of. I’m sure you can think of a few more. Then, next time you hear the local news, a police officer, district attorney or whoever refer to human excrement as a, “gentleman,” correct them and remind them that the person to whom they are referring is MOST CERTAINLY NOT a gentleman. WORDS MEAN SOMETHING, they aren’t there just a temporal space filler or to generate online, “content.” So say what you mean, and mean what you say.
DEEDS NOT WORDS