Last week was devoted to sex, the column, that is, and we didn’t get hollered at or anything. This is probably because we didn’t say anything very sensational or stimulating which is actually quite an accomplishment given the subject matter. Probably because our take on it was long on theory and short on, er, field work.
The natural segue to sex is violence, and there’s been no shortage of that lately. We personally are against violence, especially the type which is directed against us. Most people would agree and stress that they too are against it in all its forms. We believe, however, that there are certain classes of violence that are not so bad and that most people, whether they know it or not are in favor of.
A lawyer once told us, before doing violence to our net worth, that the sport of boxing encompasses a series of events which are blatant violations of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code dealing with such offenses as assault and battery, recklessly endangering another person and attempted murder. Even if you and another person you had a beef with formally agreed to square off in the street and pound each other senseless, the police could bring a halt to the whole affair, probably by smacking you both around with their billy clubs. (This is why, in the motion picture, “Fight Club” they always beat each other up in the basement. It’s probably the second rule of Fight Club.) Do the same thing in the ring, with sufficient gusto, everyone applauds.
Same deal with football. If Joe Flacco were your archenemy and you spotted him in line at the Giant Eagle deli and launched yourself at him with a bone-crushing tackle, they’d throw you in the pokey. Suit up on a Sunday afternoon down at Heinz Field and do the same and you’re the toast of the town.
We’re a violent species, and to tell you the truth, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s how we got to the top of the food chain and if you want to apologize for that we won’t be inviting you to our next barbecue. Somewhere in the distant past, a caveman said to his buddies, “You know that saber-tooth tiger that keeps eating the slower members of the clan? Well, instead of running away from him, let’s lure him into that pit and roll a big boulder on top of him!” This man’s descendants went on to invent bullfighting and the trap block. Centuries of education, psychiatry, religious instruction and the like haven’t succeeded in changing us much. We have an innate need to punch, kick, blitz, tackle and run each other off the road.
Because we like the type of violence practiced in boxing, football and the like, we’ve decided to let it go on and not be considered a crime. At the same time, we can’t have it going on all over the place. Nobody gets pinched for “too fast for conditions” at Indy, but off the track, you better obey the speed limit, right?
So where do we draw the line on other types of violence?
You’d start by eliminating violence from politics because otherwise, you end up with rule by crime boss. Some big-city political machines have been described this way. Putin’s Russia is said to be organized crime with a flag on the wall.
We like to think that the time-honored processes of representative democracies make political violence on any serious scale unlikely. But we’re only a little over 50 years beyond the last presidential assassination with attempts on Ford and Reagan in the meantime. A “Bernie Bro” shot and nearly killed Congressman Steve Scalise on a baseball practice field this past June. Another left-wing whack-job recently attacked Kentucky Senator Rand Paul while the latter was mowing his lawn. Shocking, huh? A senator mowing his own lawn. But the uptick in violence against elected officials since the Trump upset is pretty remarkable.
Outside of politics is where you find the really eye-catching ones, though. Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas? Sandy Hook and the Aurora Colorado theatre shootings? These are crazy people. In Texas, the Air Force forgot to tell the state that the guy they discharged less than honorably was a nut. In Sandy Hook, the mother of the loon left guns and ammo around the house. The other ones, who knows. If we could figure out a foolproof way to keep guns away from the whackos, maybe we could reduce the violence to a less shocking level.
Hold on a second, here’s some news from Chicago. The body count just reached 600 for the year.
Never mind. .
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