It's OK To Be Angry If Someone Mugs You
Published on September 26, 2011 by Sara Foss

Blogger Matthew Yglesias flags some interesting comments made by an assault victim in an article in the Washington Post.

The victim, who was attacked and beaten up by ten teenagers, claimed he wasn't angry at his assailants, and that instead he felt sympathy for them. "I don’t want to be angry with them,” [the victim] said. “It just concerns me that their future is being taken away from them, by them, so early. ... I’ve already got the bruises and stuff. I want to put a message out that we hear you. . . . We don’t want you to be out here robbing people and hurting people to displace your anger, or to feel that this is what you need to do to get food on the table, or to get the help and attention that you deserve, or to have a bond by attacking people together.”

Yglesias, who has been mugged himself, thinks this is a dumb reaction. In a brief post, he writes, "When I read this story, I related to it. I myself suffered a random street assault over the summer, and it’s happened to plenty of other people who I know as well. But the flipside of this is that I’ve lived in DC for eight years and the number of times I’ve walked past poor young black dudes who didn’t punch me in the head for no reason clearly outweighs the one time that did happen. When people sort of vaguely gesture toward social problems as the root cause of sociopathic violence, they’re really erasing that vast majority of people who grow up in sometimes troubled situations and don’t respond by assaulting strangers. Erasing the line between people who are doing bad things and those who aren’t doesn’t really help anyone."

I, too, have been mugged, and I'd like to echo this sentiment. And I'd like to go a step further, and say that it's perfectly all right to be furious with the person who mugged you, and fantasize about punching them in the face and making them experience a small measure of the fear and pain that you did. Now, do I think this would be a better world if all crime victims were given the opportunity to physically harm their perpetrators, and took advantage of it? No, I don't, because I believe in due process and the law. But I think it's very human to feel this way, that there's no reason to make excuses for violent criminals and that if someone attacks you, you're well within your rights to be mad about it and hold a grudge.

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