Mike Straight
1127 s. 51st, street West Philadelphia, Pa. 19143

Thoughts & Stories of Mike Straight #83

    When is violence an answer? No really, when is physical force necessary, deserved or needed? When is there no other alternative? Or when is it justified?
    These are all questions that were going through my mind as I was hitting this boy in the face while on my front porch. These questions were in the forefront of my thoughts as I tried to move his arm against the front step in order to break it - so that boy couldn’t use that hand to hit myself, my friends, my family. I thought, “Is this necessary?” and decided it was, and if it weren’t for my pacifist partner grabbing me, I would have easily broken his arm.
    I have found myself becoming more militant in the last years, why I am unsure. Maybe it was my time with the German autonomen, or a growing desire to stand up for what is right - using any means necessary. Maybe it is my growing frustration with life, with the systems we live under...or maybe it is just the fact that idiots keep showing up to my house causing trouble, and I’m just sick of dealing with them. 
    I have witnessed a number of fights in my time. From Spanish punks attacking a Polish kids with Bullet belts in Barcelona, to skinheads having a “bootparty” on an unsuspecting metal head at a show in DC. I have seen blows fly and heard screams, more times then I dare to count. Overall this fighting disgusts me. I walk away from it, search for alternatives, and feel that it is a personal failure if I circum to a physical fight. This is a conscious choice, as I am neither small person, nor am I someone who is immune to aggression. I have “walked away” from confrontation a number of times...not fallen into a mentality to need to prove my physical power over others. I have always hated the whole “who’s the big dog” game that so many men base their lives around. I’ve looked at violence as some sort of copout, an easy solution...where a healthy dialogue or other means would be effective. That American culture is a violent culture and I should do everything in my power to not imitate that. The idea that violence only brings violence has always held strong to me...but now..now I am unsure,  because  there I was, fist flying in the confusion of a fight. It is like all my idealism breaks down under certain circumstances; where I walk into my living room to find a fight had broken out - where in my mind, my perfect world, there would not have been any.
    My house is a very open, communal house. We have a lot of events; from benefit shows and parties, to political speakers, and queer drag shows. We have an all-ages, open door policy - it is how we are and what we want to promote. This last year we have had a number of occurrences that make us question what we are doing and how “open” we want to be. From a thief, to disrespectful attendee, to straight out violence - these are not the kind of things that I want in my home. Maybe that is why I “broke” on this kid. I broke because this kid first strikes his dog, then had struck a female friend of mine, hit another person, and then when I was moving him out of the house he turned to push me...then, out of frustration, out of something, I pushed him back. Ryan had grabbed him and we all went to the ground, but then when I got up, I started punching.
    In retrospect I didn’t need to hit him...I could have just held him down, made sure that he understood what he did wrong through another method. But I didn’t, I went for blood. I wanted him to feel pain. I wanted to make it crystal clear that there were repercussions for his actions...that there was a penalty for starting a fight in my home. I wanted...I wanted to teach him a lesson - that he can’t beat his dog, which was why the fight started in the first place, hit my friends, fuck up my house. I thought that maybe this boy doesn’t understand any other method of behavior, that he forced me to use this last resort with him. I think what bothers me the most is that I shouldn’t have had to do this. I should not have been forced to move this kid out of my house. That I should have not been hitting him on my front porch.
    Yea, last weekend I beat some kid on my porch. I am not proud of it, nor do I feel any guilt or regret over the act. Now I have to wonder if I am truly non-violent, or even want to be when - when I just raised my fist in anger. I think of why, why I did what I did - was it some primordial impulse to protect my home or a quick way to solve an injustice or have I picked up a bloodlust for idiots...You may feel that I am taking this too seriously, but I disagree because violence is a big deal and it’s use should never be taken lightly. As those following a “peace-punk” tradition we need to examine our own actions and those of our comrades as much as the violence perpetrated by nation-states...because we can never forget that we live in a society that perpetrates violence and we are taught to mimic this...but when and what do you do when some idiot is charging you on your front porch...
    Once again this is a column with as many questions as these are answers.
—Mike Straight

Endnotes:
    Well I leave next week for my “annual European trip” with my lovely partner, and hopefully I will come back to Philly more inspired and with a more fucked up accent. I will be back for the Pointless Fest, as I have accepted doing the security role. The worst part about getting into the fight is seeing Greg Daly’s mocking smile and words “So Straight, you think you have the temperament, to deal with all the troublemakers that show up at pointless fest” - so there I am talking to Daly, reminding him that “beating the kids” is not some new aspect of my identity, and that I can, yes, still do the security role during Pointless fest.
    Oh yea, so that is going well, as I have a good group of people (the punx) who will take on the role. Oh, if you planning to come to the Pointless fest shows to just drink, fight, and be a genuine pain-in-the-ass - please don’t, but if you do insist on coming to Philly - there is a nice, abandoned oil refinery for you to do that kind of shit in.
    Oh, it is also never cool, to beat your dog, of this I am sure of.