The Word: Punch

Among the great many flagrant failings of the woke is violence. It was once about punching Nazis, but has metastasized since into justified violence against anyone who doesn’t share their religion. But it’s unfair to chalk up the provocation faced by 27-year-old Corey Pujols, the manager of a Dunkin’ (formerly Donuts) when a 77-year-old angry customer pushed his button. Twice.

A Dunkin’ employee faces a manslaughter charge after punching a customer who then fell, hit his head and later died, police say.

The single punch that led to the arrest of 27-year-old Corey Pujols was thrown May 4 at the Dunkin’ store in the Marathon gas station at 410 S 50th St., just south of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, according to an arrest report. Pujols told police the man called him a racial slur.

The specific slur uttered is left to the imagination, but let’s assume it was the N-word, the worst word, because there’s no reason to assume otherwise.

According to information released Monday in a Tampa police news release, the man first went through the drive-thru window and became upset about the service. Employees asked him to leave. Instead, he parked his car, went inside the building and began arguing with Pujols, according to police.

Pujols told police that the man was a regular customer, was “extremely rude” that day and called Pujols a racial slur, according to the arrest report. Pujols, who is Black, said he asked the man to repeat what he said, and he uttered the same slur. Pujols said he punched the man once in the face, causing him to fall, the report said. The slur is not included in the report.

The old man, who never touched Pujols, went down, and Pujols was arrested for assault. The old man died from the skull fracture suffered when his head hit the ground. Pujols’ charge was raised to aggravated manslaughter of a person over 65. He had been free on $2,000 bail. He was then detained.

Legally, there is little about this that raises much of an issue. Words are not violence, and their utterance cannot be met with violence. No matter how offensive the rude old man was, twice, it does not justify Pujols’ reaction of punching him in the face. This isn’t to say that it’s not an understandable human reaction, but that it’s not a lawful one. Among the many things the law seeks to accomplish is to limit the visceral impulses to violence, not because they’re abnormal or unexpected but because violence is not the way* to address offensive words.

What makes this situation significant isn’t that there was some exceptionally offensive old guy who uttered the slur twice, thus daring the younger man to react. If such a thing as “fighting words” still existed and applied, these might well be those words intended to evoke a violent reaction.

Pujols could have reacted differently. He could have used offensive words in reply. He could have called the police to have the man ejected from Dunkin’s. He could have ushered him to the door with the admonition not to return. Instead, he punched him. To be fair, it was “just” a punch without use of any weapon. Then again, a 27-year-old man punching a 77-year-old man tends to have severe consequences.

But it’s the reaction to the punch, which was the reaction to the word, that raises questions.

Are these the voices of tolerance, comity, civility? Obviously not, given that they clearly justify the use of violence. Is it because of the word? Is it because the old man was so reprehensible as to utter the word? Is it because of Pujols’ race, or that given that Pujols was black, his violent reaction was justified?

Bear in mind that the old man died here. Among the concerns put forth by the woke is that black lives matter, even when that life happens to be about to thrust a knife into another black life, even when they try to flee the police, even when they are carrying a gun as part of their involvement with a gang. And indeed, they do matter, despite all the bad things they may have done before or been doing at the time. Because they are still human beings, and because the lives of human beings matter.

Yet, there is little concern for the life of the old man.

He fucked around and he found out.

If this reminds you of the old Baretta line, “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime,” you’re not alone. It’s not surprising the same base excuses are reimagined when it’s convenient, as it happens constantly. But to the extent anyone pretends that they hold some level of moral superiority, the claim rings hollow. They’re just the other side of vicious, for whom lives matter as long as they’re the lives they favor. As for the old man who said the word, twice, he got what he deserved as far as they’re concerned. So no, not all lives matter.


*As that renowned wag, Andrew Fleischman notes, this is not true in Georgia, which explains a lot about Georgia.

28 thoughts on “The Word: Punch

  1. Fred Grosso

    So this is a criminal defense blog? Was the old man assaulting the young man? Did the young man defend himself? Death evokes sadness. The old man’s death is sad. The old man’s assault on the young man is sad. Is assaulting black people with their blackness criminal? Is it punishment without crime? What is just? So many questions. So many feelings. So sad.

  2. B. McLeod

    It’s not a secret that the ostensible “progressives” are overflowing with violence and hate. Their masks slipped a long time ago. By all rights, this should be charged as a “hate crime.” The defendant’s Pujolistic endeavor was unjustifiable, particularly inasmuch as he asked the elderly customer to repeat the “slur,” then punched him for doing it. Pujols is going to be learning some moderation in prison, I suspect.

  3. Ian Carmichael

    “If such a thing as “fighting words” still existed and applied..”

    Apparently it does, at least in VA (Virginia Code § 18.2-416) as I’ve recently found. See United States v. Bartow. The Appeals Court decision favored the one that used “fighting words” due to the fact that it was a bystander, and not the target of the offensive word(s), that brought the case forward.

  4. Richard Kopf


    With exquisite timing relative to your post and “[c]iting [the] First Amendment,” the “4th Circuit [recently reverse[d] [a] conviction for [a] retired Air Force officer’s use of [the] N-word” while he shopped at the base PX and despite the fact that it was uttered in front of a black saleswoman. Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal (May 12, 2021).

    Sticks and stones . . . .

    Put in lawyer speak, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire is all but dead,. And that’s a good thing (except when somebody calls me an old man in which event I have the Constitutional right to whoop yo’ ass with my cane). By the way, serving maple donuts is a hate crime.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      The 4th Cir has been busy. They deserve some “me” time and a dozen maple bacon donuts.

      He’s gonna be so miffed at me when he realizes I just linked to that opinion and he cited to the ABA Journal. So humiliating.

      1. B. McLeod

        Back when I used to get that, I had the mailroom staff bring it up in a brown wrapper, so my colleagues would not know. They probably thought I was reading porn, and gave me a “pass” on that.

    2. William Henson

      “By the way, serving maple donuts is a hate crime”

      That would make us Canadians the most hate crimey nation there is then – it explains a lot. You would love the Canadian Maple Donut, it’s chock full of hate

    3. Jake

      Serving Dunkin’ is a hate crime. But have you had a Maple Bacon at VooDoo donuts, Judge? It’s mere blocks from the Hatfield Federal Courthouse.

        1. Kurt

          Wait until you taste maple bacon potato chips.

          Unfortunately, they are not available in-store within more than 100 miles from me. So sad I am…


            1. Kurt

              I do not know, but they seem to be in limited supply everywhere I’ve looked.

              Amazon might have some.


  5. John Barleycorn

    How come this is the first time you have ever posted about gas stations that not only have a doughnut shop but a doughnut shop with a drive through window.

    Now that is pretty darn cool, but I just have to wonder if the drive through window doesnt mess up the entire doughnut shopping experience….

    1. SHG Post author

      You raise a good point. How does one select donuts without seeing what’s on the racks? Certainly, no donut aficionado would do such a ridiculous thing.

      1. Jeffrey M Gamso

        He was a “regular customer,” so he knew which ones that Dunkin would have. I know which ones my local carries, so I could do the drive-thru. (Of course, there’s no accompanying gas station, which might change the dynamic.)

  6. Rengit

    Two more things stand out to make the cheering on of this man’s death especially unpleasant and unnverving: first, there’s no telling what the “slur” was, as the news stories and police report that people are reacting to don’t bother mentioning it. He could have called him “boy” for all we know; still insulting, but not quite as bad. Twitter rushes to the conclusion that it was a hard-R n-bomb.

    Second, there’s no proof that the old man did drop a racial slur, aside from the statement to the police by the killer that the man’s utterance of the slur was the reason for the lethal punch. Again, Twitter buys this instantly as justification for the brutal killing of an old man, and some begin to raise money for his criminal defense. Not hard to imagine the principle of “talk s***, get hit” fast becoming easily abused when there are thousands upon thousands, including prominent social media influencers, eager to buy your story that you were provoked by outrageous slurs and had to react with violence to restore your honor.

  7. jay-w

    There is a huge generational factor also. As Shelby Steele points out in the first chapter of his book “White Guilt,” back in the 1950’s (i.e., when this old man was growing up), the use of the infamous “n-word” by whites was considered to be in bad taste or bad manners — but nothing more. On the other hand, the use of sexual vulgarities in polite company was considered unforgivably abhorrent.

    Steele’s comment certainly rings true to me. I am about the same age as this old man, and if I had as nickel for every time I heard the “n-word” used by adults in casual conversation when I was a child, I’d be a millionaire now. On the other hand, if I had ever used the “f-word” within earshot of my parents, I would have literally had my mouth washed out with soap and would probably have had the stuffings beaten out of me besides

    1. SHG Post author

      Some of us don’t need a book reference to remember when the word was not uncommon, but we also remember that it was pretty much only insensitive racist assholes who would use the word, and everyone knew that. He gets no pass for his age on his use of the word. Even at his age, people know better.

      That said, there is the possibility of senile dementia, which remains unexplored.

  8. SamS

    We are not only jumping to conclusions about the word spoken but also the race of the victim. I can’t find anywhere, except in one twit, that the victim was white. He was probably white, but I’ve heard all races use racial epithets.


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