The issue does get muddy.
Kelly, I would disagree that Aikido is the study of violence. I would reframe it thus: Aikido is the study of harmony in the face of violence or violent intent. Yes, Aikido techniques are potentially violent. However, in my mind the violent execution of Aikido technique makes them non Aiki and I question whether as such they should be considered Aikido techniques. I think it gets down to choice and intent. The ability within the context of the art to do the aiki thing and not perpetuate the violent intent but rather to defuse it and render it non-violent. I think this even goes beyond what one of my students called "least harm possible". Can we defuse the violence without harm at all? That, by the way, does not mean pain-to me pain is a signal that harm might follow.
Although an injurious outcome can result from any encounter with violence or violent intent, it would seem we should train ourselves mentally and physically to avoid becoming part of the violent energy and instead blend with it and redirect it to a more positive energy-harmony. As pointed out by Mike-not to get lost in the flames of passion, i.e., stay out of the negative energy.
This issue is one of my struggles with atemi. I believe it is an essential part of the art, but I do not believe the bone breaking, tissue damaging or health affecting aspects fit the Aikido paradigm. Yet, I have never been in a life and death encounter and really don't know how I would react against such devastating violent intent.
My 2 cents.