Posts Tagged ‘Violence’

Thoughts on the Deaths of the Innocents

December 18, 2012 2 comments

I run a newsroom so I couldn’t avoid the sudden immersion into the evil and the insanity. The Newtown shootings story unfolded in seeming slow motion last Friday but, finally, about three hours after the last bullets were fired, the scope and brutality of the event became clearer and clearer until it was finally laid bare for all to see.

The immersion into this gruesome, horrifying nightmare of a story continued all that Friday as journalists walked a minefield of rumor, assumption and misinformation. Into the night and the next day there were conference calls, pleas for extreme caution with the facts and the constant monitoring of the cable networks.

It was after the Sunday news talk shows when I finally threw in the towel. No more of this, please. I need a break. We all need a break from this. A fever and a sore throat that set in on Sunday were welcome because it meant I could stay home and avoid the story some more on Monday.

Unfortunately, for the victims of violence or the desperate parents of mentally ill children who could be the next Adam Lanza, there is nowhere to run and hide like I was able to for a couple of days.

In the course of my self imposed black-out on the Newtown massacre, I missed a few things that I discovered this morning as I returned to work. Turns out even previously 100% pro-NRA voting members of Congress like West Virginia Senator, Joe Manchin, were now saying it was time to consider legislative action of some kind. Dick’s Sporting Goods stores announced a moratorium on the sale of modern sporting rifles.

And brave, courageous and desperate parents like Liza Long were coming out of the woodwork talking about the fear they live with everyday with their mentally ill and psychologically unstable children. Please read this account if you haven’t already, of her life with her son, Michael, a genius who is sweet and kind most of the time- and an absolute life-threatening terror on too many occasions. She says she has been told by mental health professionals that the only thing that will help her son is when he gets in the hands of the criminal justice system.

By then, of course, it’s usually too late.

It is unfortunate it would take the cold-blooded elementary school murders of twenty children and six adults to start the important conversations that seem to be underway in earnest now. After all, these are not the first innocents to die in the line of fire and mental illness. I could list them for you if you’d like- the mass shootings that have taken place in this country in just the last two years. But I won’t.

If you have been unable to detach yourself from this story; if you are unable to avoid it in the course of your mass media consumption- I would highly recommend pulling the plug for a bit. It’s ok to get away from this thing. In the meantime, take heart from the famous quote by Winston Churchill- “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”

The NFL’s Big Hits

October 19, 2010 2 comments

No sooner did I write humorously, I thought, about judging the impact of an NFL defense by the number of stretchers on the field to remove injured offense players, the league had its most violent weekend in history.

There were at least four helmet-on-helmet hits in Sunday’s action that were so fierce and literally concussive, that the NFL was moved to release a statement about it and start threatening players with suspensions and fines.

Besides awesome accidental timing on my part that gives the appearance I am some kind of blood-lusting animal, there are several other observations that come to mind.

First of all, to NFL fans who have suddenly discovered their sensitive side, please spare me. Professional football has always been and always will be- the single most violent of all our sports. Big hits are a part of the game. Illegal hits intended to cripple a player are not part of the game. Big hits on a receiver catching a pass over the middle of the field, however, are as American as apple pie.

It’s as if people suddenly figured out that the NFL plays a rough game. Ok, you want it not rough? Outlaw tackling. Put little flags on the player’s pants and turn it into the National Flag Football League.

There are lots of potentially violent acts in football that are now against the rules; actions that, 20 years ago, were perfectly allowable. These include, spearing (leading with the helmet during a tackle), clotheslining, and general “roughing,” like hitting a Quarterback after he’s thrown the ball.

I have no objections to the proposed suspensions and fines. If it’s against the rules to tackle or hit another player leading with your helmet, then, fine, suspend them. But for fans to suddenly start going “tsk, tsk” and professing to be shocked that the NFL is violent, is just plain silly.

These men choose to play this game and they are fully aware that the end of their careers is just one play away. It’s why they get paid so much and good for them. The average career of an NFL running back is about four years. I say they should be able to make as much they can for as long as they can. They not only risk their careers but they also risk their future health. There are plenty of NFL players who can barely walk at age 60.

I’m not necessarily proud that I am such a fan of this sometimes grisly sport. But speed, power, intricate coordination and regional pride are hard for some of us to resist. I suspect they’re also the reasons why football supplanted baseball as the national pastime.

Let’s just face it- Americans are big fans of this violent sport. Why, I do believe, we invented it.