I like Facebook. It’s full of cuddly animals, happy families and squirrelly sociopaths. Amidst this foul repository of inexcusable spelling errors and grammatical atrocities committed by people who received a superior education at the expense of the great unwashed and consequently have no excuse for their reckless abuse of the English language, one occasionally comes across a character interesting enough to warrant further investigation.
Dr Ignatius Piazza is among them. His name popped up on the newsfeed, presumably posted by someone who follows me. Much like Jesus, I am followed by some of the most rabidly disturbed people imaginable.
At first glance, it sounds as if he could be a gynaecologist from Rome. Or perhaps further south. Calabria, maybe. Dr Piazza will see you now, signorina. Grazie.
If not a gynaecologist, then an architect. The last in a long line of Piazzas who designed public squares across Italy. Or perhaps he is a venerable member of Sicilian society. While Dr Piazza is no longer with the Cosa Nostra, his opinion is highly valued by the next generation of mafioso.
In reality, if there is such a thing on Facebook, Dr Piazza is the founder and director of Front Sight Resorts. Excellent. A real estate company dealing in properties with sweeping sea views. I clicked on the link to his website, thinking I might put in a cheeky offer on something nice in the Bahamas. Not too close to where the locals live, obviously, but certainly close enough to score cheap weed.
His page popped up and right away he began talking to me. There was no mention of fabulous homes with ocean frontage. Instead, he said: “Welcome to Front Sight. Your firearms training starts right here.”
What? Wait! Where’s my gun? Brenda, where the hell is my gun? You’re kidding. This is no good at all. Apparently I don’t even own a gun. What the hell kind of South African am I? Being hopelessly unprepared for Dr Piazza’s training session, I did what all unarmed men do in times of crisis. I slipped my hand down my tracksuit pants and gripped my willy. I blame the SA Defence Force for this. Back in the good old days when older men gave teenagers automatic weapons and the freedom to kill strangers, we would be punished if we called our rifle a gun. We would have to stand in front of the rest of the troop, drop our brown trousers and giant Santa Maria undies, and chant: “This is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for fighting (hold up rifle), this is for fun (point at willy).”
This is all I remember from two years in the army. Everything else was in Afrikaans, which was little more than gibberish to an 18-year-old from Durban. To this day I don’t know who the enemy was. He could walk up to me right now and I wouldn’t recognise him. Just a minute. Fill it up, please. Unleaded. Hey, I like your Swapo T-shirt! Were you part of the group? I heard you guys put on a great show at Covent Garden in the ’80s. Do you still dance?
So. Dr Piazza. Not so much property as weapons. He runs a “firearms training institute near Las Vegas”. The only thing near Las Vegas is the Mojave Desert, which contains more dismembered corpses than the Maitland Cemetery.
Still and all. If you are going to carry a piece of metal capable of exploding someone’s head using little more than a squint and a twitch of your index finger, it’s not a bad idea to get some training. Squinting can make your face unsightly if you don’t know how to do it properly. And then nobody will want to have sex with you. On the other hand, you do have a gun …
Dr Piazza, who I imagine has his PhD in humanitarian studies, posts videos lifted from security cameras. The one I saw involved four burly white men standing inside the lobby of a building somewhere in America. They had just returned from a night on the town. If it were four white South African men caught on CCTV in the early hours of the morning, they would be flashing their bottoms at the camera, vomiting down their shirts and playfully punching one another in the face. These guys were standing around chatting – right up until a scraggly black dude knocks on the glass door. One of the whiteys lets him in. The dude pulls a pistol out of his pocket and points it at them. You can’t hear what he is saying, but it’s probably something along the lines of: “Which one of you dumb motherfuckers stole my future? I want it back right now. Y’hear?”
The fratboy on the left suddenly tries to disarm the gunman. The other three pile in but nobody can get the weapon away from him. It’s four against one, but this dude was raised on blows to the head. As a kid, his stepdad would whack him upside the nut before school. He called it his breakfast punch. So he shoots two of the white boys and runs off into the night.
Like any doctor worth his degree, Dr Piazza says there are lessons to be learnt from this. He tells us about the Survival Triad. The Combat Mindset. Skill. Action. Nothing about not opening the door at 3am to an unidentified darkie with luminous red eyes and a Snoop doggish demeanour.
First, he says, you must have “the mental willingness to inflict incapacitating damage to your opponent through overwhelming violence with no regard for your opponent’s well-being”.
Second, you must have the ability to use “tools of defense to inflict immediate damage to your opponent”.
Third, you must move decisively to incapacitate your opponent and not stop “until he is vanquished”.
What worries me here is his use of the word “vanquished”. It’s Middle English with French and Latin roots and was last heard at the Battle of Bannockburn when Robert the Bruce whipped Edward II’s ass and secured Scottish independence. It was heard a few years later at the Battle of Neville’s Cross, when the English whipped King David Bruce’s ass. I don’t know if he was related to Robert. Feel free to look it up.
My point is, vanquished is not a word that should be used in polite company these days. Then I saw a photograph of Dr Piazza. He is Freddie Mercury, had Freddie ever bothered to use a condom. The moustache is pure gay biker bar, which is fine. Some of my best male friends like nothing more than riding powerful motorcycles into the hills and having wild animal sex with one another before pulling out their guns and killing themselves.
Dr Piazza is disappointed. Although the four citizens had the Combat Mindset and demonstrated Action, they lacked Skill.
“As a result … the fourth citizen who is hitting the armed criminal with the effectiveness of a junior high school girl ends up paying for his lack of skill with his life.”
Dr Piazza says this is unfortunate because these citizens “did what was right”. Out here in South Africa, where there is no violent crime at all, the experts advise us not to fight back. This doesn’t seem to be an option at Dr Piazza’s institute.
He says the citizens should rather have “used a thumb to gouge out an eye of the gunman, or smashed the lateral aspect of the gunman’s knee with a forceful kick, or crushed his windpipe with a directed punch”.
Or, I suppose, they could have handed over their wallets and not been shot at all. Or maybe invited him upstairs for a bit of racial bonding and a drink. And then gouged his eyes out.
The good doctor says the situation would have had a dramatically different outcome if even one of the citizens had been trained by Front Sight.
For a start, your “persona” is changed dramatically after spending time in Dr Piazza’s hands. I bet it is. He says your newly acquired “quiet confidence” will be sensed and “criminals will leave you alone and attack someone else”.
This is a far happier scenario. As a loyal Christian, I consider myself to be my brother’s keeper. But when it comes to taking a bullet, rather him than me any day. So I’m signing up.
I’m just a bit worried that our local criminals might lack the ability to pick up on my quiet confidence. Perhaps they could go for sensitivity training. This is something Dr Piazza might want to consider offering. Maybe slot it in between the Uzi submachine gun and the tactical shotgun courses.