Ever find a person on campus or in I.V. who deserved a good, old punch to the face? I know I’ve met my fair share. They could be friends or co-workers, but most likely they’re strangers that you’ll never see again. Not knowing a person is what makes starting a fight so easy and, at the same time, so dangerous.

Not too long ago, I found a dog running around the lagoon without its owner in sight. After I caught the pooch, I called the number on his collar. While waiting for the owner to call back, I fed him, walked him and pretty much treated him like my own pet. When I finally got a call from the owner, I returned the dog.

As I was about to leave, one of the owner’s friends called me an asshole for keeping the dog on a leash. Was he joking around? Was he just drunk off his ass? How the hell was I supposed to tell if I don’t know the guy? Whatever the case, I haven’t felt like punching somebody in the face that strongly in a very long time. He was even leaning back on his chair. All I had to do was poke his sloped forehead and he’d fall over backwards. It felt like a “Keeping it Real” sketch on the “Chappelle’s Show.” I chose to ignore my sadistic tendencies and walked away. I didn’t know the guy and I wasn’t going to end one of my few altruistic streaks by starting a fight on somebody else’s property. I also considered the fact that I was outnumbered.

How about earlier this week with outspoken evangelist and human target, John Franklin? It wasn’t the first time he had come to campus with his ridiculous banner and it probably won’t be the last. This year some wise guy threw a smoothie at him. It might’ve seemed harmless at the time[[,]] but how much longer before someone gets really angry and actually punches Franklin in the face?

To some people, fights in Santa Barbara seem as random and explosive as a landmine. Yet, the actual violence isn’t what makes a fight so distressing. Sure, a person can potentially be injured to the point of brain damage or worse, but what’s truly sad about much of the violence is that it could’ve been prevented. Fights don’t just detonate out of nowhere. They result from ever-escalating tension between individuals. Everyone has a choice before a fight breaks out.

However, when strangers get into a conflict, it becomes increasingly harder to back down. If you’re personally involved, don’t wait for the other person. Simply walk away. If you see your friend in a similar situation, get them out of there. Since you don’t know the other person, you can’t tell how confrontational they’re willing to get. Some people like to get their buddies involved while others go straight for a weapon. Winning the fight isn’t any better either. You just might find yourself at the mercy of the law. Better to contemplate what could’ve been, rather than the consequences of your actions in a jail cell.

This isn’t some sappy pacifist message I’m dealing out. I could care less about being a bigger man or choosing the righteous path away from the dark side. I come from the San Fernando Valley. While I wouldn’t consider it the most ghetto of places to live, people nonetheless get shot or stabbed simply for looking at someone the wrong way or for hanging out at the wrong place. Fighting someone because they spilled beer on you, hit on your date or made fun of your clothes isn’t any better.

It doesn’t matter how hard the I.V. Foot Patrol cracks down on offenders with their “Fall Orientation” or how many more websites pop up discrediting the Isla Vista lifestyle. None of them provide any lasting solutions. The only way to deal with the violence is to take responsibility for it.

Daily Nexus Art Director Mark Batalla will leave your dog out to die in the wilderness the next time you lose your pooch, you ungrateful ass.