Martin Luther King said violence doesn’t solve anything. That is because Martin Luther King never went to the movies with my cousin Alan.

Like most of us, Alan hated jerks who talked out loud in movies. Unlike most of us, Alan did something about it. While the nonviolent majority whispered complaints under our breath, Alan got out of his seat, tracked the offender down and, without so much as a howdy do, thumped him a good one.

You never heard so much as a whisper from the guy again. Usually, he left the theater.

Problem solved.

It’s not that Martin Luther King doesn’t have a point. Basically, what he means is you don’t end lying by beating up a liar. Lying still exists even though the liar might be lying through a few less teeth. I can’t argue with that, but Alan wasn’t trying to rid the world of talking in theaters. He just made sure he didn’t pay money to listen to that jerk do it.

Violence solved a lot of things in my life.

When I was nine and my sister, Leigh, was eleven, she single-handedly solved a problem for my friends and me all through the use of pure, unadulterated violence. Her weapon of choice was an old pocket book my mother gave her. I don’t know what she kept in that thing, but, judging by its weight, I would guess chewing gum, lip stick and possibly a bowling ball.

A twelve-year-old named Bobby was making all the younger guys in the neighborhood miserable. You always had to be on the lookout for him. When he showed up, you knew at least one of you was going to get a thumping. If you were lucky, you’d wind up only getting shoved to the ground or shoulder punched. If not, you caught a punch to the gut.

Me and the guys were playing kickball in the park, when Bobby showed up. This time it was my turn. My sister was yakking with a bunch of girls seemingly oblivious to what was happening. Long story short, Bobby popped me a good one in the stomach.

I doubled over, tears in my eyes. I couldn’t half breathe, and I was desperately trying not to cry. Bobby was gearing up to hit me again.

Like an avenging angel, Leigh bounded into the picture and descended on an unsuspecting Bobby. Never a Viking lived that wielded a battle axe like Leigh wielded that pocketbook. Thwok! She caught Bobby a good one across the jaw. It literally buckled his knees.

Thwok! He threw up his arms to fend her off, but it did no good.

There’s an old saying to the effect of never kick a man when he’s down. It didn’t say anything about whacking him with a pocketbook. Whack! Whack! Whack! Leigh landed a series of body shots.

Bobby cringed and cried out; begged for mercy. Whack! Whack! Whack! Hammer-like, that purse kept scoring head and body shots. Bobby finally managed to stagger to his feet and ran home crying for his momma. Word was his daddy spanked him for getting beat up by a girl.

He never messed with us again.

Problem solved. Score another victory for violence.

Back in the day when my cousin’s and I used to sneak onto and fish ponds around the neighborhood, there was only one pond we avoided. It was owned by an elderly, grandmother who couldn’t have bench pressed a loaf of bread if you spotted her. The other pond owners just yelled at you and shook their fist as you dashed off. This old girl shot at you with a shotgun loaded with rock salt.

To this day, one of my cousins has a big, round scar on his leg where that grandmother drove home the point that she really preferred we find somewhere else to fish.

Way to go violence.

I could list a million more examples of instances where violence resolved issues. One I particularly like is how an American kid living in Singapore was beaten with a cane as punishment for acts of vandalism. President Clinton decried the caning as a barbaric act of violence, to which the president of Singapore basically said, “Oh yeah? Let’s compare my country’s crime rate to yours.”

As someone who once had to work closely with juvenile offenders, I can tell you right off that, if the intervention programs intended to deter them from a life a crime included caning, it would work on the majority of them. Sad to say but being sent to prison was a badge of honor to many of them. A caning and the threat of future canings would have been a major deterrent.

I remember pretty hippie girls protesting violence by stuffing flowers down the rifle barrels of National Guard soldiers. “Make love, not war” they said. “Flowers over bullets” they said. It was a beautiful sentiment and something well worth living by, but I can’t help but wonder what they would have done had a gang of homicidal maniacs comes charging down the road at them. My guess is they would have jettisoned their begonias along with all that kumbaya horse manure and vaulted behind the guys with the guns.

And, as for the homicidal maniacs, I can’t imagine them stopping their assault when one of them yells “Watch out! She’s waving begonias!”

I am by no means advocating violence, but, if you can’t at least admit is solves a whole passel of problems, then you don’t live in the same reality I do.

In summation, I turn to the dulcet words of Al Capone who said, and I quote: “You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun.”

Amen Al.