Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Malls and Ninjas, Stanfords and Milgrams

The Shrine of the Mall Ninja website preserves the online posts of a person claiming to be an armed guard in a mall. He* didn't start out with that bald statement. He began on a board called GlockTalk asking for help on designing body armor. And then asking for help on armament. And then making strange, long, detailed comments about how much lethal force he was expected to expend in his job - which was guard in a mall.

A small sample, from the Shrine:
Gecko45 writes:
Thanks to everybody for the help. I am now thinking that the best thing to do is to have my wife make an “undervest” with pouches front and rear for the additional plates. This would let me have three plates in front (probably too hot and two in back. What I’m also asking her to do is to sew in a sleeve for an ASP collapsible baton. Right now I’m taping the ASP to my right calf (the left calf is where I have my G27). It’s okay for me to talk about my job, as long as I’m not specific. I am the Sergeant of a three-man Rapid Tactical Force at one of America’s largest indoor retail shopping areas. Although there are typically between fifteen and twenty normal security officers working the beat there, we decided a while ago that it would be best to have a specilized force for violent individuals. We use modified electric vehicles and can be anywhere on a given floor within eight and a half minutes.Naturally, the regular security people are unarmed. We “RTFers”, by arrangement with the local police, carry high-strength OC spray and batons. If we have a full tactical alert and permission from the local LEOs we also have a Mossberg 500 with less-lethal rounds and two K-frame Smith .38s loaded with 158gr. LRN.Basically, the situation is that we get the call, we lock up the situation, put everything five by five, and cordon the area until the local authorities arrive. We’re cops, we just don’t get the glory. I am not permitted to carry Glocks on duty; however, when my wife picks me up from work I strap on the “Deadly Duo” of a 27 and 23, each with Bar-Sto .357 bbl.

There are many more of his posts preserved at Shrine of the Mall Ninja, documenting what appears to the be the psychological peculiarities of a man maddened by his helplessness as a lowly functionary in what he would prefer to see as a position of heavily-armed unquestionable authority. It's kind of a fun read, in a scary and modern way. It beats reading supposedly true books about people who claim to be Jewish refugees from the Nazis who were adopted by wolves, anyway.

The website's archive reminds me very strongly of some of the psychological experiments from last century. The famous Milgram Experiment showed that people will apply deadly force if 'authorized' to do so, with really no training or indoctrination required. The equally famous Stanford Prison Experiment showed that if you divide a homogeneous group of people into two opposing groups, call one group "guards" and give them priviliges and call the other group "prisoners" and take away their privileges, then they will, in short order, begin behaving completely in character. To an outsider, these experiments are scary and weird; surely we ourselves would never lose our natural humanity if put in those positions? The Mall Ninja, a man with a uniform and a mission, seems to point in the same direction as the formal experiments.

Except with more gun porn than you can shake a Heckler & Koch at.

*Ok, "he" is an assumption. And he or she is probably a troll. But still.

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