What is the Difference Between “Assertive” and “Aggressive”?

The Guardian featured a story on a rock-throwing chimpanzee named Santino.

What makes Santino’s tale different is not that he heaves projectiles at the human beings gathered around his caged area (though unrelenting scrutiny could make a body somewhat testy and inclined to throw things).

No, what makes this fellow a cut above the norm is that he plans his attacks. Malice aforethought:

Santino would get agitated when the first groups of visitors arrived at his enclosure in the morning, and would start hurling stones at the spectators. When the zookeepers investigated, they found that, while the zoo was closed, Santino had been busy making piles of ammunition, and returned to them to resupply.

To catch the chimp in action, one zookeeper hid in a room overlooking the enclosure and observed the ape’s behaviour before the zoo gates opened each morning. She saw Santino dragging stones from a protective moat that surrounded his island home, before placing them in piles…

So he didn’t just pick up any rock lying around, he stockpiled missiles with the intention of ending his daily humiliations.

And he was even smarter than that. He actually manufactured some of his ammunition:
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Further covert surveillance of the ape revealed he spent some time tapping areas of concrete floor with his fist. Occasionally, the animal would thump harder, releasing chunks of concrete that he broke into rough discs.

Going even further, he obviously was capable of strategic defense:

A survey of the enclosure showed that Santino made piles of ammunition only on the quarter of the island’s shore that faced the visiting crowds.

He only indulged in his missile defense acquisition when the zoo was closed at night. In the winter, when the zoo was closed, he quit stockpiling weapons entirely.

Pretty smart, dude, huh?

  • he considered his state of humiliation and decided to take action
  • he figured out throwing rocks might hurt his enemies or discourage their behavior
  • he stockpiled ammunition in strategic places (and only in strategic places)
  • he did it on the sly, when the keepers weren’t around
  • he manufactured additional ammunition from the materials available
  • when defensive behavior wasn’t necessary he ceased acquiring weapons or using them

This was intelligent, assertive behavior aimed at lessening his humiliation. However, his keepers can’t distinguish between assertiveness and aggression, so all he got for his forethought and clever defense was castration.

“They hope that his hormone levels will decrease and that will make him less prone to throw stones. He’s already getting fatter and he likes to play much more now than before. Being agitated isn’t good for him…”

Quelle surprise! Being agitated by gawkers isn’t good for anyone. Why didn’t they just lobotomize him while they were at it?

Oh…I just noticed this happened at the Furuvik zoo in Sweden.

You Swedish men had better watch it. Defensive assertiveness is obviously a cultural deviation. You may be next on the list.

Or maybe you already are…

11 thoughts on “What is the Difference Between “Assertive” and “Aggressive”?

  1. … all he got for his forethought and clever defense was castration.

    Maybe Israel needs to take a page from these Swedish zookeepers and give their rock throwing Palestinians the same treatment.

  2. If Humans don’t watch out, one day the apes will rule the world.
    I’ve been saying it.


    P.S. – I was almost beaten by a monkey who robbed my aunt’s hat in Gibraltar. And that monkey wasn’t even half a meter tall…

  3. Muslim anti-war protesters abuse British soldiers as ‘baby killers’ during homecoming parade

    I’m glad that Muslims mounted this brazenly disloyal and treasonous protest. Above all, I’m happy that the police gave them plenty of leeway to make their views clear to one and all.

    It is important that Muslims are shown to be the fifth column in the country that they are. There is no way, no way at all, that we will have peace in the UK/West, until this treason is removed. For this to happen, it is important that Muslims are given plenty of freedom, for if they are suppressed, they will simply bend with the wind, but the demographic Jihad will continue. Therefore plenty of rope has to be given, lots and lots of it.

    PS: Roger Scruton’s article is a must read.

  4. DP111
    Yeah, there were a bunch of scummy protestors when the soldiers came marching home, but there were also lots of plain old Brits, cheering on their “boys.”

    It is they who deserve the attention, but it is the muslim idjits which get the attention. What if they showed up and no photographers took their pictures? What if the papers, in the name of world peace or whatever, refused to print the pictures?

    SInce it hasn’t been tried, we don’t know if it would work…

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