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Army of one

Sometimes I wish I learned karate, or some variation of the martial arts that would allow me to speak out in public without the fear of being made to scream uncle, kiss someone's shoe or whistle while my nurples are being purpled.

Sometimes I wish I learned karate, or some variation of the martial arts that would allow me to speak out in public without the fear of being made to scream uncle, kiss someone's shoe or whistle while my nurples are being purpled.

I'm not an evil person. I have no wish to knock out teeth, crush larynxes or rip someone's still-beating heart out of their chest and show it to them as they fall backwards. Although that would be awesome.

But keeping my mouth shut is getting harder to do these days, in light of the kinds of things I'm seeing. I seek only the power to defend myself.

Exhibit A - I'm sitting at a local park having a picnic, discussing Wittgenstein with a few friends, when this guy shows up with his girlfriend, what appeared to be a seven iron and a bucket full of golf balls. They then take turns whacking the balls into Alpha Lake, presumably yelling "F#$k the world!" instead of "Fore" with every tee shot.

I didn't have a phone to call the police, but if I had the power to break boards with my forehead I probably would have used it that evening and sent that guy home with a seven iron necklace. In my mind's eye, he'd be crying so pathetically by the end of the encounter his girlfriend would immediately dump him and start dating someone a little more ecologically friendly.

Exhibit B - That same evening a couple of 10-year-old boys were throwing sticks and rocks at a pair of geese and their goslings, also on Alpha Lake. This time I did intervene, and loudly, and the boys walked away sheepishly. Now I would never break out my deadly cobra strike or stork technique on mere children (unless I was seriously outnumbered by a well-armed scout troop), but I might have been forced to take out their father or uncle, or whoever was supposed to be watching them instead of drinking beer like an idiot by the volleyball court, with a well-timed foot sweep and an elbow to the solar plexus.

Recently, with the fire hazard through the roof, I've seen a lot of idiots throwing lit cigarettes out the windows of cars or around our bus shelters, potentially starting the Great Whistler Fire of 2009.

I have little patience for smokers that treat the world as their ashtray to begin with and litter our streets, parks and beaches with butts. But to do it during a drought?

Last week in the village I saw a well-dressed woman, likely here for a conference, casually drop her butt down one of those storm drains with the etching of a fish on it. Where exactly did she think her butt would end up?

She was with a couple of large guys so of course I didn't say anything, but I like to think if I had a black belt with a few degrees the next sounds they would have heard would have been "Hiya!" followed by a "Thwack!" followed by a lengthy explanation of what they did wrong, and why you should never throw garbage down a storm drain.

Given that violence is generally frowned upon in our society, even more than littering, I would probably have put on a ninja mask first to hide my identity.

It's really not that hard to do the right thing; society makes very few reasonable demands of us - although it's clearly too much for some people. Unfortunately, the world is increasingly run for the benefit of idiots who think they're exceptional, who rebel against small rules and common sense, who don't care what kind of damage they do or the mess they leave behind. They're the reason we have stop signs and speed bumps at every intersection, why we have to pay people to sweep our streets and sidewalks every morning, why you can't swing a cat without hitting a sign telling you not to.

The point is I shouldn't have to tell adults when they're doing the wrong thing, or fear for my life if I do the right thing and speak out. I might be inclined to do it more if I saw other people speaking out now and then, or if I knew that everyone at the park at least had my back when I directed the Alpha Lake golfers to one of three driving ranges we have in town.

I'm convinced that there are far more people who mean well and act well than jerks in this world, but we never speak out. Why?

Is it because we've been conditioned to keep our eyes and heads down and mind our own business? Or are we just intimidated?

Do jerks do jerky things because they don't know any better, or are they just being jerks because they know most people will never say anything? Or are they that thankfully rare type of jerk that goes around looking for fights because they enjoy a good scrap and know they'll probably win? Do they, for example, know karate?

Challenging someone's behaviour is not the same as challenging someone to fight, but in today's world it sometimes amounts to the same thing. I know I'd feel better if my hands were registered as deadly weapons.