Most Americans only approve of using violence if you're defending yourself against a violent attacker, but younger people - and people in the South - are more likely than others to condone violence
Last week in Tampa a 43 year-old man was shot and killed in a movie theater after texting his daughter, an act which allegedly prompted retired police officer Curtis Reeves to attack him. In the past twenty years violent crime rates have dropped massively, but the debate over when violence is and is not acceptable rages on, with the recent Trayvon Martin incident prompting prolonged and wide ranging discussion about when it's appropriate to confront someone violently.
The latest research from YouGov shows that most Americans think that it's only acceptable to use violence if you're defending yourself from a violent attacker (86%). 38% of Americans say that it's acceptable to use violence if you're confronting someone who stole something from you or cheated you, while 26% say that it is acceptable to be violent if you're protesting a law you find morally objectionable. 10% of Americans say that it's acceptable to be violent if you're confronting someone who was texting during a movie.
Under-30s: Defending their honor?
27% of the public say that it is acceptable to be violent if you're confronting someone who is insulting you or a family member, while another 29% of the public say that it is unacceptable but justified. 38% say that it is 'completely unacceptable' to be violent in these circumstances.
Younger Americans are much more likely than older Americans to say that violence is either acceptable or justified. Only 26% of under-30s say that it is 'completely unacceptable' to use violence when you're confronting someone who insults you or a family member, much lower than 30-44 year olds (36%), 45-64 year olds (43%) and over-65s (44%).
Violence and theft: Don't a rob a southerner
Attitudes towards using violence tend to differ significantly according to region, too. People in the Northeast (39%) are far more likely to say that it is 'completely unacceptable' to use violence when you confront someone who has robbed you or cheated you, than people in the rest of the country. Southerners in particular tend to think that it is accepable to use violence in these situations, with 41% saying that it is 'acceptable' and only 25% saying that it is 'completely unacceptable'.
Full poll results can be found here.