Why I Started Punching Jerks Again


Men, please take this as the verbalization of fantasies I know everyone of you has had. Ladies, take this as an inside look at the hardwiring of the male mind…

Perhaps it’s too much flying monkey or watching mating battles on Planet Earth, but I’m beginning to think (once again) punching jerks might not be such a bad idea.

The current issue of Esquire brought out my inner Tyler Durden with a hysterical article called — I believe — “Why I Started Punching Jerks Again.” I believe? I believe so because the online editors changed the title to “In Defense of the Fistfight.” Shame on them. The original makes more sense, as it’s first-person…

If you dislike some artful use of profanity, please close your eyes now. Here’s the lead from Esquire:

This whole thing started — or maybe it ended — with these guys engaging in some ritualistic, Hare Krishna clapping shit. They were sitting at a table across the bar from my buddy Phil and me. We were trying to enjoy a quiet pint in our quiet local on a quiet evening, but these hippies wouldn’t quit with their clapping. Swear to God, they might as well have been crashing cymbals in my ears.

I asked them politely to stop. “Make us,” they said, and then they clapped louder, smiling their dirty-toothed smiles at us, twisting our nipples. One of them was named Jericho, I picked up. He was a skinny bearded guy who looked as though he’d wear Guatemalan mittens in winter. “Jerry,” I said when they finally took a break, “come on over here, have a chat.” He did, and shortly thereafter, he loosed a throat pony into my face. It was Jerry’s bad luck that I had resolved to start punching people again.

It wasn’t a snap decision. I’d reached the end of the road after what seemed like a perpetual assault from life’s Jerichos — the sorts of assholes who not only act like assholes but celebrate their assholedom: the grease spot who gave me the forearm shiver in our recreational soccer league and said, “It’s a man’s game, bitch”; the walnut-headed midlife crisis in his convertible who cut me off and then gave me the finger. It felt like they had me surrounded, clapping in concentric circles. I mean, Jesus, a skinny bearded hippie named after a biblical city had just spit in my face.

How’d we get here? Blogs are part of it, along with the incessant frothing of TV pundits and reality-show contestants, especially that lippy midget from The Amazing Race: Everybody thinks they’re above being edited. And the saddest part is, the Jerichos are right to feel bulletproof. Somewhere along the way, we’ve evolved into a culture without consequence…

What?! Punch people in the face?! Read the whole article — it’s worth it.

I’m not suggesting that we just run around whacking each other in place of words. However, it seems to me that in this land of no physical consequence, where flaming is spreading offline, and where freedom of speech makes it alright to spit in someone’s face but not OK to give them a judo chop in return… could something be wrong?

Born premature and small throughout school, I was on the receiving end of hazing for more than a decade, but I put up a good fight. Being small didn’t mean I couldn’t operate in a world with a line that, once crossed, meant you had to put up or shut up.

Now, I don’t get in street fights and I don’t recommend looking for them. But how do you uphold a certain basic standard of respect and gentlemanly conduct when the Jericho-like instigators seem to be multiplying faster than “u r a douche” comments on Digg?

Is there a chance that we would have fewer AK-47-toting high schoolers if it were socially acceptable to take of a glove, slap it across an offender’s face, and issue the good ‘ol “Sir, you have insulted my honor” challenge? I think a little fisticuffs would do most men a world of good, giving options to the masses who put up with too much, consequences to loudmouthed idiots who would then think twice, and a release valve to a gender that otherwise comes up with far worse things to do to men, women, wives, and children.

The real question is: how do you create a common social contract that allows for this type of correction without bullets or lawsuits flying? Is it possible, or do we have to continue to walk through a world that seems to consist of either Mohatma Gandhis or Joey Buttafuocos?


Perhaps I’m just spending too much time in NYC and need to get away from all the I-bankers and crazies. I’m going to the gym.

[Thanks for letting me vent a little! The next post will be a how-to guide to collaborative filtering, which can feel like a punch in the face but tastes better.]

Posted on: December 18, 2007.

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123 comments on “Why I Started Punching Jerks Again

  1. Tim – Love the post, very entertaining. And while I agree with the general sentiment, I want to propose a slightly different approach (one that should result in less injuries – excluding the jerks.)

    Stand up for other people.

    So, take it back to the beginning of the story, where the hippie is acting like a three-year-old. Now, imagine that everyone else in the bar stands up, turns to the hippie with intent and angry eyes, and a few people say something along the lines of, “Want a chance to take that back?”

    Hippie option a: “Yes please, I’m sorry.” (Sits back down, crowd waits a moment, then goes back to what they’re doing.

    Hippie option b: “[insert vulgarity/inanity here].” (Crowd grabs the guy and/or his friends if they involve themselves, pin his arms painfully behind his back, frogwalk him to the door, and plant a 50-lb boot on his posterior to chuck him through the door.

    I understand that there will be those cases where someone with their mind unhinged comes back with an automatic and mows down the crowd – but let’s face it, if they were that screwed up to begin with, putting up with them isn’t going to change that. I really feel that if there were a sense of citizenship, a feeling that we’re all stuck on the same boat and should take care of each other, not only do the jerks become the minority (as they should), but we’re not forced to choose between ignoring blatant disrespect and fighting in our own defense. We should all take an interest in seeing that other people are treated with respect and consideration.

    And who knows, maybe the hairy hippies will jump ship when they’re ganged up on everywhere they go.


  2. Reg,
    I do believe esteem building is the core of intellectual and personal growth. Most of my students are well behaved having learned their manners in the home from parents that have provided a nurturing environment. Unfortunately the class bully never had that and acts out. Its called “negative attention getting” and needs to be dealt with effectively within legal limits to protect our children.


  3. If more parents laid a STFU on their kids, there would be less of a need to punch grown ups in the face.
    If STFU is too harsh for your kids, why don’t you start small with a hearty “HELL NO” when they ask to do someting ridiculous.


  4. Man I was just telling my girlfriend about this the other day. Would they act like they do these days with the ever-present threat of an imminent beat down from other males in response to their douchebaggery? Probably not. It’s the international language of “hey buddy, you’ve crossed the line “. Great article.


  5. Is this the correct place to send a message to Timothy Ferriss? Please let me know. Thanks.


    Hi Michelle,

    It’s best to see my “contact” page and choose the best person. For miscellaneous, best to email Amy.




  6. Mate…. Your damn right..!!
    Over here in Australia, we dont see a lot of what your talking about because here, men are still men and if you behave like that YOU WILL get a punch in the mouth..!!!!
    Good on ya for telling it like it is. God I hate do-gooders and advocates of political correction. Aaah I feel better now :)


  7. Jo…. pull your head out of the sand.
    In a mind full of malice, there’s no room for reason!
    Asking nicely someone who is robbing you to stop won’t make him stop. An elbow to the temple will however :)
    I am not an advocate for violence, but there is a time and a place where verbal de escalation will not work. If you had spent time in the military you might have known this.


    Like most things, there is a time and a place where violence is not only appropriate, but a positive thing. If someone is beating the crap out of you, violence can be a self-protective virtue.
    There are limits on what is and is not okay, and some assbags only respect that limit when you punch back.


  9. Sometimes, violence is a necessity.

    But sometimes, better just to walk away.

    If it does reach a climatic violent level, better get to bruising and then cruising quick, because the police in America have become mighty fascist lately and quick with the tazer!

    Don’t be like the Bush administration, always plan an escape before you strike.


  10. It’s so funny that I thought of this post as soon as I got home…

    I went out dancing tonight, and just happened to be getting some fresh air outside the club when a bartender dragged another guy out and across the street by his throat.

    I ran after them screaming something to the effect of “Hey, what’s going on?” multiple times. The bartender tossed the guy into a fence, but didn’t throw a single punch. I’m sure if I hadn’t been there, he would have beat the snot out of him.

    Why? The guy tried to steal a bottle of alcohol from the bar. Ridiculously stupid? Yep. Worth offending an innocent bystander and loosing her business along with her friends’? Apparently not.

    Interestingly, there were at least 12 other people witnessing the event — men and women — and not one of them objected to the situation in any way, shape or form. They just stared.

    I interfered with no hesitation, without knowing what the provocation had been. I’m glad I did, even if only for the sake that it proves I’m not living an anaesthetized life. Reactionary in my own way, perhaps, but not anaesthetized.


  11. This reminds me of a time when I was very young when my Father brought the whole familly out to eat at one of the nicest resturants in town. There was this loud mouth on the other side of the room being completely rude and ruining everyone time. My father got up went over to the guy. Im not sure what he said, but the guy shut up fro the rest of the night. My father came back and told us that in the 50’s every man in the place would have gottten up an thrown this jackass out the door on his face.

    I learned an important lesson that day…the 50’s rocked….guys need to start acting like men again.


  12. I have, my whole life, had this policy of punching the Jericho’s of the world. I do not make a habit of hitting other people and sometimes I think I’ve been chosen to send a message by the universe. Universe, I am your humble servant! But only if really necessary.


  13. I would love to punch several people, however, if you punch them on the head they WILL get brain/nerve damage, chance of breaking jaws or eye sockets. In our city, a youth punched a classmate in jest after a practical joke, and he died…. Litigation, criminal records, hospital bills… Not worth the effort. NEVER punch on the head.


  14. In modern America those who break “the rules” rely on the rest of us following “the rules.” And they count on us not quietly following them home and waiting for the right moment. Because revenge is not only best served cold, it is best served anonymously. Not that I would ever do that, because, “That would be wrong.” Just a little something to consider.


  15. @TrannyBuster: is this a joke? I’m always getting my back up about comments like these and then hear “oh I was just joking, lighten up”…is your username and ending comment meant to be a joke? because it’s not funny. I certainly don’t think Tim or any other poster here is advocating random violence against people you don’t like.

    This site is about lifestyle design, not hate or judgement for people’s lifestyle choices. Why so angry? I can only hope that these threads are being monitored and your comment gets deleted asap.


  16. Jason, I want move to Australia right now !

    The only country so far that I knew of where men are still men and you get punched if you insult someone was Russia.

    Glad to see there is still a western country with some male self-respect.


  17. I’ve found Non-Violent Communication to work perfectly. Also called empathetic or compassionate communication, you can find out more about it at cnvc.org. I teach it to bands to help them truly communicate and get along, used to teach it when i was a relationship counselor too. But I understand that it’s been used for everything from stopping rapes to getting blood feuding warring tribes to make peace.


  18. Yeah, we’ll, Here’s one for you.my 47 year old son-in-law decided that he couldn’t wait for his dinner after his wife had been operated on for a torn ligament in her knee and started screaming at her, About. What a bad house manager she is (she works full time) he wanted his dinner at 6:30 . I was making the dinner but turned it off and went to the room I was staying in. He ranted on for 20 minutes or so and then it got quiet. So I came out of the room and went downstairs to finish dinner. Mistake no. 1 . As soon as I reappeared he screamed at me” you fu–ing white trash freeloader , get the fu-k out of my house and then he spit full in my face. I was so shocked I backhanded him lightly and he hit me back. He then started yelling at my daughter …. The one in a cast from her ankle to her hip also at that time encased in an icing machine. I put a fist into his back, and he spit full force again and this time knocked me to the floor. I am 67 years old and have a pretty severe heart condition. I am not going to their home again. Was I right to slap him for the spitting?