Different rules apply | MZS | Roger Ebert:
When I finished he said, "Would you like to press charges?"
"What for?" I asked.
"Assault," he said.
"Why would I press assault charges against him?"
"Because he hit you first."
I said, "Oh, no, he didn't hit me first. He poked me in the chest."
"That's assault," my cop said. "He hit you first."
don't think he actually meant to touch me, though," I said, while a
voice deep inside me said, Stupid white boy, he's making it plain and
you're not getting it.
"It doesn't matter if he meant to touch
you, he hit you first," he said. He was talking to me warmly and
patiently, as you might explain things to a child. Wisdom was being
"You were in fear of your life," he added.
now the adrenaline fog seemed to be lifting. I was seeing things in a
more clinical way. The violence I had inflicted on this man was
disproportionate to the "assault," and the tone of this exchange with
the cop felt conspiratorial.
And then it dawned on me, Mr. Slow-on-the-Uptake, what was really happening: this officer was helping me Get My Story Straight.
Understanding, at long last.
also need to mention that while this conversation was taking place, not
ten feet away the other guy was face down on the pavement,
handcuffed—even though when the squad car arrived, anybody who'd looked
at our situation purely in terms of physical action, without the
explanations I proffered afterward, would have concluded that I was the
"Do you live around here?" he said.
"Yeah—a couple blocks that way."
He gave me back my driver's license. "Go ahead," he said, gesturing across the street.
"Go ahead what?"