Open Thread: When Is Deadly Force Justified?

At what point does it become appropriate to take a hatchet to someone?

Everyone’s talking about the case of Kai, the hippie drifter who went Patrick Bateman on a dangerously disturbed and racist man claiming to be Jesus. It appears that Kai was carrying his trusty hatchet with him at the time of the incident, a perhaps prudent precaution for someone living on the road. His hatchet attack on the larger man was, fortunately, non-fatal, and the man ended up safely behind bars.

Most people would be reluctant to trust a foulmouthed drifter with a hatchet, but Kai’s actions are being credited with saving at least one life. Absent this particular series of events, though, would you have said “certainly, that homeless hippie should definitely be carrying around an axe”? Do you yourself take similar precautions? When Kai says he wishes he could go back in time and axe the guy before he assaulted anyone, do you feel that is justified? Where do you, personally, draw the line in terms of when deadly force is permissible?


Photo—Randy Son Of Robert/Flickr

About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is a writer and editor, and quite possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.


  1. If I was a homeless drifter, a hatchet along with a knife and dry matches would be my most prized possessions. The use of it as a weapon would be extremely low on the scale of why I’d carry it.

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