How often have we heard friends, colleagues or family members say, “if someone is about to do this or that then I’m going to punch them where it hurts”. The question is, where does the idea of the potential dangers you might face come from?
“If you have an honestly held belief, that you or another are in imminent danger you may use such force as is reasonable to avert that danger”. You may recognise the last sentence as that of ‘common law – self-defence’.
But, how do you determine whether reasonable force is subjective or objective? How do you determine whether the proposed danger is real or imagined?
This will be through evidence (ie; facts), I hear you thinking ‘but where do those facts come from’? Factors will include, but will not be restricted to, the other person’s behaviours, the locality, environmental factors and possible escape routes! Therefore, the question is, are a person’s views about what they believe they would do based on personal experiences and situations they have previously faced? or are they based on someone else’s experiences or what they have read, heard or seen?
When considering whether a person’s decision to use force was necessary in the first instance, you have to try and put yourself in their position. Often without that known experience it becomes difficult to come to terms with the actions taken by another person under the heading of ‘self-defence’.
Take a moment to remember those occasions when you have heard, read or seen footage of road rage, burglary or mugging when one person has used force upon another to defend themselves. Irrespective of how the information is presented in the media, our worldview determines whether we think the person was right or wrong in what they did, based on how the story was presented to us.
Whether during a discussion with friends or colleagues at a workplace hearing or court process, will your honestly held belief of the threat the person faced (your subjective views), and the actions they subsequently took, be believed to be actions of self-defence by others (objective opinion)?.
It could therefore be argued that whilst one person’s perception may equal reality, does that necessarily make it the truth?