Friday, November 20, 2009

To stop a fight or not to stop a fight?

After attending the Ad:Tech Internet & Social Media conference in Beijing the attendees ended up at the Park Hyatt's Xiu Bar. With four tables smashed to the ground and the commotion ploughing into me, I decided to stop the larger guy who was repeatedly punching the smaller guy about the head.

But bouncers are as blind as Justice--all 10 of them--I ended up being headlocked and forcibly removed. Pleading my case, I quickly became a witness, not a suspect. Minutes later I was washing someone else's blood off my face in the police station's sink next to a sleepy cop who was simultaneously brushing his teeth and horking, his bedtime dormitory routine.

Ironically, the bouncer who translated for me at the police station had spent 6 years in Cyprus--notable because a Canadian founded UN Peacekeeping, yet even after 45 years, the Cyprus UN Peacekeeping mission, among others, is still on-going.

In the cab home, my driver shook his head saying I shouldn't have been involved. But then he thought to himself and asked "Zhong bu zhong?". "Serious," I replied, as the smaller guy has been hospitalized. He nodded and said I had done well.

I went back to the Xiu bar last night, now front-of-the-line access as all the bouncers know me. I retold the story to an American running the one of BJ's oldest and best known watering holes (names withheld), and he strongly urged me never to get involved in any fights in China.

He should know: a few years back he punched a guy who stole his cab and quickly earned the nickname "laoshi" (teacher) from spending five days in jail teaching English to his cellmates.

3 comments:

veira said...

Mark ,你做的对, Well done

China Law said...

1. Welcome back. Where were you?

2. North Americans, more than anyone, seem to believe it is their duty to stop a fight. In most countries, including China, the view is that the duty to stop a fight rests either with the owner of the establishment or with the police. I've had some fascinating discussions as to why this is the case and I would love to hear whether you agree and, if so, why you think this is the case.

Mark Downing said...

Wow, the famous China Law Blog comments!

1. Welcome back? In reference to being in Canada for 3 months or which bar was I at? (Park Hyatt Xiu bar).

2. I got involved for three of reasons: (a) I don't like to see violence and am not willing to stand by watching -- no bouncers were in this room and the beating was relentless. (b) I was confident in my ability to stop the fight (c) alcohol clouded my judgment -- which likely led to my belief in (b).

I do agree that ultimately owners and the police are responsible for maintaining the peace. But all I did was put myself between the two guys and immediately the punching stopped.

I wish more people would get involved in stopping fights generally speaking -- having no tolerance for violence or intimation. The mood in the U.S. seems to have shifted in this direction after 9/11 where previously airline passengers were told to comply with hijackers and now non-compliance is encouraged. Unfortunately the Russians seem to be pretty good at blundering in to end kidnappings with grave consequence.

Unfortunately, in China, spontaneous mob beatings seems to be the norm against those who have allegedly injured others -- I gather there isn't much faith in the system to deliver justice. I likely wouldn't intervene in this type of situation... and the police here tend to agree.