Chapter 1 Post 14

Discipline and the Rules of Engagement:  What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Use of Force

Chapter 1: Values  (micro) versus The Rule of Law (macro)

1. Values

        What do you already know about your own values?  For the first fourteen years of their lives, your children will have no other choice but to adopt your values—or fight them, because the adoption process is never smooth or 100%.

Here’s the catch.  If there are conflicts between what you say you value and how you behave, you are going to be in trouble.  You will believe your own words and thoughts, your children will believe how you act.   Without thinking, you will have set up a four-way values conflict situation.  (1) Your beliefs and your actions are conflicting.  (2) You will fight your children to uphold your beliefs, and your children will fight you as they follow your leads in action.  (3) You will struggle to believe there is no conflict, within you or with your children.  And (4) your children will only experience the whole mess as some sort of battle between you and them that they can never win.

So therefore, they will conclude, you do not love them.

If your children get as far as fourteen believing that you do not love them, any chance you had to influence their thinking and behavior is toast.  The drive for love and acceptance will take your children anywhere they think they need to go, and that will be away from you.

There is no doubt in my mind that love for your children is high up there on that list of the things you value, or you wouldn’t be reading a book for parents.  You may be a teacher or a friend, or you may simply be trying to understand your own experiences.  We may not all have children, but we all have parents and people who have put energy into raising us.  Some of them weren’t very good at it, and we want to grow beyond them.

In making the list of your own values, don’t think about what you would die for.  Even the biggest martyrs for the holiest of causes turn out to be genuinely surprised if they are misused, hurt, or, God forbid, killed.   Don’t think about what you would die for, think about what you would live for.  Think about what you would live for if you did not have your children to live for.  Think about that.

Think about the fact that no one’s life is improved if they are the sole purpose, the sole focus, of another person’s life.  Even a caring mother, even a devoted father.  Parents who love their children, love life.  Thoughtfully—or with no thought at all—parents pull their children with them through life, showing them in words and in action what is important, what needs to be tended to, what has to be done, what is worth doing, and by fourteen, children are pulling along with their parents or are they are wild things, sailing off on their own.  It is your values–mother, father, caregiving brother, sister, uncle, aunt, teacher, friend—and your behavior, that children mirror.

Love, peace, kindness, thoughtfulness, intelligence, curiosity, strength, helpfulness, wit, humor, fun, joy, happiness, beauty, grace, skill….  What do you value?  Character?  What makes for good character?

All I know is that you  already have values that guide your thoughts, conversations and behavior every hour, every day.  Great and wonderful serious books on parenting are already in print.  They are already best sellers.  Right.  Look for more Academic Fixes[1] to introduce the best authors I know.  We’ll examine some of them in more detail later.

But now you’ll just have to take my word for it that the best of the authors have pussy-footed around the one issue I am interested in helping you to understand: The Use of Force.

Discipline.  Deprivation.  Spanking.  Switching.  Beating.  Time out. Isolation.  Confinement.  Restraints.  Pain compliance.  Physical discipline.  Abuse.  Misdemeanor behavior.  Felonious assault or neglect.  The use of force.  The threat of the use of force.  Imprisonment.

The big question: how can a list of values that begins with Love be reconciled to a list of Disciplinary measures that ends in Imprisonment?   At the very least, don’t we practice discipline, for ourselves and for our children, in order to avoid situations that would put us crossways with the law, that would open us up to the use of force against us outside the family?

Is love forever yielding?  Can force be used with love?  These questions cannot be answered with testimonials in affirmation of personal values.  They have to be examined within a framework that takes into account the rules of engagement in the use of force as any interaction expands from the family, to schools, neighborhoods, and churches, to towns, cities, states, and nations.

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[1] “An Academic Fix” is borrowed from the slang developed by drug users.  “A fix” is the ingestion or injection of the drug that immediately reduces the craving for the drug, until later.  The author, Dr. Franny, is a confirmed academic, so her work not only requires footnotes, but the occasional academic diversion she’s calling “a fix” (See Author’s Preface Post 13).

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Discipline and The Rules of Engagement: What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Use of Force

21. A Warning

         Be careful. My book itself is a rejection of a fundamental analytical concept in social science. To explain that, we have to look at the analytical division of human activity into the micro and the macro. The Little World and the Big World. This division is fundamental to most studies in sociology, psychology, and economics. However, I submit that in real life this conceptual division is not only misleading, it is destructive.

22. The Micro and the Macro: An Analytical Conceptualization

         People narrowly focused on their own little inter-personal face to face, computer to computer, commentary, interaction, home building, community engaged lives—the micro, may miss the larger forces—the macro—rising unseen, unnoticed in the towns, villages and states all around them.

By the same token, in reverse, individuals with enormous power and authority, operating as heads of states, illuminati in think tanks and universities, directors in powerful bureaucracies, banks, insurance and other financial operations, not to mention various magnates in these organizations, as well as private entrepreneurs—these people literally think of themselves as “big picture” operators. They think in extra zeros. They don’t think in thousands of dollars, they think in millions, or more. If the DOW[1] is a remote measure of the behavior of these individuals, then collectively, these individuals and their behavior, however measured, can be conceptualized to be a reflection of the macro, and their actual impact on the micro may not be what they think it is.

As social scientists, and I am one, we divide our examination of the worlds of human activity into the macro and the micro, and our academic publications, departments and class titles follow suit. Sociologists who practice reductionism literally cannot graduate with advanced degrees in the discipline. It is axiomatic (an iron Rule) in sociology that there are forces at the macro level in societies that cannot be reduced to explanations using the interplay of individuals as primary variables controlling social outcomes.

To avoid being defrocked in my own discipline, I make this defense: conceptually, the micro and the macro are secure in their place as analytical tools. But there are some concepts that transcend the micro-macro conceptual division. Human ideas about the use of force in society, and by extension the social construction of the rules of engagement in the use of force at every level of society, is one of these concepts.

Anyone who adopts the sociological notion in its purest form — that the Rules of the Many will, given time, almost always overpower the Rules of Any One Person—will benefit from an examination of the Rules of Engagement. It will from many a blunder free you.[2]

Any ongoing analysis of the Rules of Engagement will transform your capacity to see the world, not as you want it to be, but as close as you can get to how the world of human interaction really is. This book can do that for you. Or, rather, you can use this book to do that for yourself.

After that, you will be able to help others. Perhaps even your children. The reason this book can give you a new way of looking at your world is because I don’t have to put everything in the book. I can make the do-it-yourself part short and simple.

23. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

         Sharing and building together is the beauty of non-fiction, the beauty of science. In any field, we build knowledge slowly and, literally, on the shoulders of recognized giants whose written work is already accessible. The explosion of information available through the Internet means many published authors’ works are “out there,” and those who are still alive are often blogging their hearts out in contemporary exploration.

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[1] The Dow Jones Average.  Or the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  Or the Stock Market Index.  A key measure of financial activity from 1896 to the present for Wall Street, USA.

[2] Borrowed directly from the poetic observation I was taught in its original Scottish cadence:  “Oh, wad some pow’r the giftie gi’us, to see ourselves as ithers see us, it wad from many a blunder free us, an’ foolish notion” with apologies to Robert Burns, To a Louse, 1786.

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Discipline and The Rules of Engagement: What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Use of Forc

15. Individuals with Authority

         Circle Number 4–where the adults joined the beat-down in front of Gina Herring’s house–morphed into Circle Number 5 when the police arrived.   The entry of police is important to the Rules of Engagement because police have the power, the obligation, in fact, to define the situation—or perhaps to re-define the situation—that requires their presence.

Police bring with them also the potential for the use of lethal force.  Law enforcement rules for the use of force are pretty well covered under the “[General] Rules of Engagement in the Use of Lethal Force” enumerated above.   There is one exception, and the exception is important.

Law enforcement officers are required to assume  Rule 1 applies to them.  The officer’s badge – some version of protect and serve—make them The Defender.  Law enforcement skips straight through to [General] Rule 2, where the defense of others begins.


[Unwritten] Rules for Police Assessment of “Disturbances”

1—Look unperturbed, but always assume the worst.

2—In cases of affray, listen to what participants tell you, but let them know that you must assume they are all equally guilty.

3—With no other guide to decision making, use the blood rule for determining immediate guilt and responsibility: A serious injury will generally bleed, wounds do not heal before photos can be made, photos will indicate the incident was serious and the investigation can begin with the individual who inflicted the wound(s).

4—If there are women involved, go slowly, everyone will appear to be hysterical.  Everyone will also be hysterical if someone is deceased.  In that case, secure the scene and wait for reinforcements.

5—Send as many people to the hospital as possible.  Medical reports always help.

6—Be polite and immediately physically secure anyone who cannot be polite or fails to follow your directions.

7—Remember that the phrase “you are under arrest” is better used in movies than useful on the street.  No one will believe they are under arrest unless they hear you read them their Miranda rights.  Arrests can come later.  Stick to Rule 3 in Police Assessment, above. Blood always makes a safe probable cause.

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16. “…and the Investigation is on-going…”

         In the case of the scene the Concord police mopped up in front of Gina Herring’s home in March, 2015, there is a gap in the initial news reports.  It is not clear how many onlookers the disturbance had gathered.  It is not clear when or if Zay’s mother Monica Bailey arrived before the police departed.  It is not even clear who was arrested where and for what.

The arresting process for juveniles in North Carolina differs from the process for adults, with a further complicating factor that juveniles over the age of 16 can be bound over from juvenile court to adult court at the recommendation of juvenile authorities.  While police officers can, and do make arrests on the spot, responding officers still may collect information, file reports, and leave the decision about arrest warrants to the discretion of higher ups.

Therefore, as we examine the interaction of participants in Gina Herring’s front yard riot as the action and actors move from Circle Number 4 to Circle Number 5, it is important to note that the widening circles have now moved us from the decisions of the fighters–attackers and defenders—to include the responses and actions of onlookers and responders.


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Discipline and The Rules of Engagement: What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Use of Force

(14) Defensive Force May Follow Threats to Use Force

When Eddie Motley waded in, he shifted the neighborhood brawl into Circle Number 4, where the Rules of Engagement are most definitely codified.  Eddie had witnessed an unlawful attack.  Three people on the ground being kicked and stomped is criminal assault.  Whether or not he heard the young attacker’s threat to blow Gina’s brains out is not pertinent. The situation for the mother and her sons was already potentially lethal.  The attack was on-going, and there was no time to call the police.

There is an expression for this moment in your life.  It roughly translates as “aw, shucks!”  It comes when you yourself and all by yourself have to take on a deadly threat.  Motley played by all the new Rules that entered the fight with him.  The rules governing a lethal fight have been song, legend, and legal code for so long Eddie Motley himself would just have to say he did what he did and he would do it again.[1]


[General] Rules of Engagement in the Use of Lethal Force

1—Be sure you are the defender.  Be sure you have really been threatened.  Know your alternatives. Nobody can make you run, but do you have a way out?  You own the ground or the floor under you, wherever you are, but can you get out of this by getting to someplace else that is safer?  You have to know this for yourself because you are getting ready to trade your life for somebody else’s.  You are the one who has to know that your attacker left you with no other way out.

2—If you are defending someone else, all of the above Rule 1 applies.  Defending someone else will not make you feel any better about yourself if you violate Rule 1.  The only difference defending someone else makes is that you have no option to leave if you cannot take them with you.  And Rule 3 keeps you from leaving them.

3 – Human beings will defend each other as if the other person’s life was their own.

4 – If you are sure death or serious injury is at stake and you have to fight and you cannot wait for reinforcements and you have both the means and the skill to try less than lethal force to stop your attackers, try it.

5—If you are sure death or serious injury is at stake and you do not have the time, the means, or the skill to use less than lethal force, use lethal force to stop the attack.


         In song, story and legend, the four Circles would be enough.  But, oh, no.  The Rules in Concord changed again and again as Individuals with Authority entered the picture.


[1] Neima Abdulahi. March 23, 2015. Concord man strikes teen with metal bat, speaks out.  Accessed Mar 26, 2015 at by FF .

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 Discipline and the Rules of Engagement:  What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Use of Force

11. Boys Will Be Boys, But Adults Cannot

         In the fight on the street in front of the home of the unfortunate Gina Herring and her sons, the unwritten Team Fighting Rules were in play from the instant the two middle school students took off after her son. Whether he knew it or not, those were the Rules when he took off on the run home for the protection of his older brother. Those were the Rules that gathered the rest of the Team that was after him, so that there were enough of them there, with enough belligerence, that when Gina got off her front porch she was too late to yell authoritatively at anyone. Both her boys were on the ground. There were enough attacking Team members present to put her on the ground immediately.

This is where the rules of engagement changed. Boys will be boys, but adults cannot. That’s the new Rule for Circle Number 2. Gina’s entrance, and presumably Zay Faggert’s entrance into the fray changed the rules. By the Team Fighting rules, Zay could play. He brought size and belligerence. But he was also 18 years old, which made him an adult.

  1. In Case You’re Wondering, We’re Offering Social Advice Here, For Legal Advice, Please Consult Your Own Legal Counsel

We’re not going to write North Carolina law into this book, but trust me, every aspect of Team Fighting on the street is covered in North Carolina case law as well as black letter law. They just don’t call it Team Fighting. They call it affray. Words count in North Carolina law. As soon as one of Zay’s little team mates called out that he had a gun and he was going to blow Gina Herring’s head off,”[1] all the Rules changed immediately, again.

  1. A Lethal Threat is Pretty Much the Same as the Use of Lethal Force

Now we are into Circle Number 3. The boundary between Circle Number 1 and Circle Number 2 is marked by the entry of Gina Herring coming in for the defenders and Ray Faggert coming in for the attackers, no matter which entered first. Both of them were adults and both of them came in under adult rules whether or not that was on their minds at the time.

The young man who yelled that he had a gun and was preparing to use it brought the whole affray into Circle Number 3. This is what is known as communicating a threat. No adult in North Carolina should ever communicate a lethal threat without being in the most serenely righteous position ever adopted. Preferably you should only communicate a lethal threat when you are on a deserted island off the coast of North Carolina, tied hand and foot, naked, in a pot of boiling water about to become dinner for seventeen cannibals.

And then your threat must be believable, effective, and upheld after your trial in a court of law. Something like, “Really, gentlemen, you are right now being targeted by my angry wife behind the controls of our private drone, operating in accordance with law below 500 feet. Due to the constraints of North Carolina law we are forbidden from firing a warning shot, so you will just have to believe me.   So please let me go, otherwise at least one of you will die.”

That would probably do it for a righteous threat to be upheld in a court of law. In the situation in Concord, Gina was already down and being kept down with repeated kicks. The threat to escalate the physical attack to a lethal attack was criminal and changed the whole fight into a situation where defensive lethal force was allowed, not only allowed, it was called for. It is lawful for a North Carolinian to use lethal force in face of death or serious bodily injury, his own, or someone he (or she) is defending. The whole group had just slide into Circle Number 3.

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[1]Colin Flagerty.  March 26, 1015. The Old Man and the Sea of Black Mob Violence.  Accessed by FF March 26, 2015 at…#ixzz3VUuKq1MJ.

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Discipline and The Rules of Engagement: What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Use of Force

9. The Book is about Taking Control of Our “Natural” Responses to the Use of Force

         This book is about understanding and taking control of our “natural” responses to the use of force. This book is about actually changing the responses we were gifted with by temperament and trained into by our parents and surrogate parents in our childhood and early adolescence.

This book is about taking a rational look at the use of force in our families and in our society.  It is a guide to deciding for ourselves what the Rules ought to be, while at the same time it is a guide to protecting ourselves from irrational Rules. The book is designed to help us teach our children ways they can not only protect themselves, but can adopt responses to the use of force that are flexible enough to continue to protect them in the face of continued social change.  For we are assured that social change is a constant in the 21st century.

From this point of view, what can we now say about Gina Herring, her sons, her neighbors, her community, her town, and the social milieu and legal system of the state of North Carolina?

First of all, think about the opening neighborhood chase where two middle school students chased a third from the bus stop to his house.  That was the precipitating event.  Everything after that can be considered as wider circles, but not like ripples in a pond.

Ripples imply a fluid nature that human interaction simply does not have.  Too many people have too much influence—too much free will and available choice– as they are drawn into the opening fray.  The unfolding story is not inevitable like ripples on a pond.  More static, overlapping concentric circles is a much better analogy.

10. Diagramming Escalation: Studying Rule Changes as Expanding Concentric Circles

For our purposes, every time a new set of people were drawn into the drama, a new set of rules governing the initial use of force among the adolescents came into play.  First there was the small circle, where only the three young people were involved.  Then big brother came out, then mom came out, apparently arriving about the time other adolescents joined contact, with the formal count being ten to three. Circle Number 1 had spilled into Circle Number 2.

Now, stop there and consider how the rules of engagement in the use of force changed as the incident expanded from Circle Number 1 to Circle Number 2.  First off, the attacking young people involved were driven by the rules of engagement that control “team fighting.”  Those rules are pretty simple.


Rules of Engagement for [Street] Team Fighting

1—Don’t start a fight where you are likely to be interrupted immediately by controlling authorities such as parents, teachers, police, firemen, game wardens or construction workers.

2—Do start a fight with someone who looks both “bad” and vulnerable at the same time.  “Bad” means you can explain later how they were just asking for a fight.  Vulnerable means they are either alone or with someone they would feel obligated to fight to protect.  Jumping on two or three people at the same time is good because then they’ll feel obligated to fight to defend each other, but you can always know that in reality it was your team against their team, only enough of them didn’t show up.  It’s even better if a bunch of them ran away when your team started the discussion that started the fight.  You can always blame a single individual for not having their team there to fight for them.

3—Run away any time the fight appears to be going against you.

4—Run away any time higher authority shows up.  But make sure it’s authority – like look for uniforms, badges, police cars, fire engines, sirens, or even teachers shouting—before you run away.  And then don’t run far.  Just far enough so that you can disassociate yourself from the team fighters who aren’t as quick as you.

6—Take on anybody else who joins the fight as if he or she is joining on one team or the other.  Be careful. New players may escalate the level of weapons involved.  Hands and feet can only inflict so much damage. If the other team member actually dies it is because they were weak.  The team willing to suffer the most damage will always lose.  If you are not armed at the level of the new player or players, run away.  Even if you are, running away is better than getting hurt if you cannot inflict damage without getting hurt yourself.

7 – Remember, everyone is equal in a Team Fight.  If a person cannot defend themselves, that’s a lick on them.  If someone joins on the other Team, beat them down as quickly as possible in order to discourage any additional support for the other Team.  Remember you are not trying to hurt anyone, but you are just trying to beat that Team down so they don’t mess with you anymore.

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         The Rules of Engagement for Team Fighting are not encoded anywhere.  You can learn them after careful observation on YouTube.  Age doesn’t seem to matter.  Height, weight, belligerence and numbers are positive factors.  The more, the better. Tattoos and provocative T-shirts are an asset.