From "basketbrawls" to buggery:
Beer, breweries, and bloggers are to blame!

Violence at sporting events is much on the mind of the public, and so, it seems, is violence everywhere. I thought it was worth spending a little time "searching for answers" in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, and I discovered that no matter what the nature of the violence or the individuals engaged in it, the answer lies elsewhere.

Here's an excerpt from the Inquirer's analysis of Friday night's "basketbrawl" (they're "grappling" for explanations, of course):

Beer, anger and societal changes may have been behind the Friday night fight.

By Alfred Lubrano and Jeff Gammage

Inquirer Staff Writers

When professional athletes attack spectators at a sporting event, people naturally grapple for explanations.

How could Friday's brawl between enraged Indiana Pacers players and beer-throwing Detroit Pistons fans have occurred? And what did it say about who we are?

The quick answers:

We may have become meaner as a society.

Our athletes are spoiled and overpaid.

Beer makes people a little nutty.

"I think we're seeing a reflection of society," said Mitchell Abrams, a New York sports psychologist and expert on violence.

"We" are meaner. "Our" athletes have been spoiled. "Beer" is also to blame. Why didn't they mention "me" in the "we"? I try to be polite, I don't like sports, and I hardly drink at all. And when I did I was known as a sweet drunk.

What did I do? Was it my blog?

Inquirer Sports columnist Bill Lyon thinks maybe it was:

The debate about exactly what the price of admission entitles a spectator to is ever ongoing. Common sense should be enough to set those boundaries. But lately our society has blurred that as well because we keep ourselves in such an emotional froth with chat rooms and blogs and TV and radio whoever-shouts-loudest-wins crossfires.


Ouch, that really hurt. I had no idea that online writing could cause drunks to throw beer at athletes, or athletes to invade the stands.

Obviously, I need to be more careful in the future, lest I encourage more of this. I don't know which blogs the fans and players read, but if it can be shown that any of them is a daily reader of Classical Values, (hmmmm, isn't that beer-swilling drunk in the white hat a regular commenter here?), well, I promise to refrain from saying anything bad about any basketball player for a full 90 days!

But it wasn't my fault, honest! Other, bigger bloggers have encouraged me by linking. And the readers! They come here. And then I feel blogligated! It's really complicated, and then the next thing that happens, I guess some of the fans of Classical Values must run to the basketball games and imagine they're attending a Roman gladiatorial event, with all too predictable consequences.

It's as if I did it myself.

I did it. I confess. I'm really sorry! Honest!

But once again, it wasn't my fault!

Let's move to this account of what's being billed as a death of a "child":

Police said that shortly after classes ended yesterday, a large crowd formed outside the school at 32d Street and Ridge Avenue. Arguing and fighting erupted.

The crowd then drifted onto the 2200 block of North 31st Street, police said. Somewhere on that block, at least two people opened fire.

Police recovered at least 18 shell casings believed to have been fired from at least two weapons.

Lt. Philip Riehl said last night it appeared that Speaks was the target of the shooting and that the other teenagers were hit by stray bullets.

Investigators believe that at least two shooters "were laying in wait" for Speaks to appear, Riehl said. After releasing the fusillade, the shooters ran to a green Pontiac with tinted windows and sped off. Police were searching for the vehicle last night.

Riehl said investigators did not have a motive or suspects and were not certain whether the after-school rumble was related to the slaying.

A woman who lives around the corner from the school, on Susquehanna Avenue, said the gunfire blast unnerved her.

"It was so loud I thought they were shooting in my living room. I told my grandkids to get on the floor," said the woman, who did not want to give her name for fear of retaliation.

She said she went to the corner and saw the dying teenager.

"He was on the ground with blood coming out of his head," she said. "He looked like he was trying to say something, but I think his body was just going into convulsions."

She was one of several people in the neighborhood who said Strawberry Mansion students frequently fight after school.

Paul Vallas, chief executive of the Philadelphia School District, called the shooting "a real tragedy."

"There didn't appear to be a problem inside the school today," Vallas said. "The problem is we have unsafe neighborhoods. Too many guns and too much crime. I'd like to think our schools are very secure."

Maggie Murray, 15, a 10th grader at Strawberry Mansion, said there had been talk among students: "Somebody said there was going to be some shooting after school."

The 16-year old "child" was recalled by his brother:
One of his brothers, John, was at the memorial briefly last night. He remembered his brother as an aspiring rapper who hoped to make it big, and the father of a 3-month-old daughter.
A father and a rapper? My, such precocious children! Growing up fast, aren't we? I'm 50, and I still don't have a child. No rap career, either. Guess I've still got a lot of growing up to do.

But I'm realizing that my blog could be held responsible for this incident too, because I'm a Second Amendment gun nut, with lots of gun-related links.

And guns were responsible for the death of this child:

State Rep. Jewell Williams, who was at the scene yesterday, said youth violence was "beyond an epidemic" in Philadelphia, and he placed part of the blame on loose gun laws.

"There are too many guns. Anybody can get access to guns," Williams said. "We have got to change the gun laws."

While I think it could be argued that anyone who's an aspiring rap star and has managed to father a child might be able to get access to guns anyway, the fact is, my blog created a climate allowing this to happen.

So I'm guilty again. Gee, the day has barely started, and I've ruined the game of basketball, ended a young man's life, and fractured God-knows how many families.

Let's see what else I've done.

Well, there's this bizarre story of elementary school students raping each other. What happened, believe it or not, was that an 11-year old boy raped another 11-year old boy, and at a rally to protest the rape, the parents of the victim and the rapist embraced, blaming the school and, well, television!

As parents protested the rape of a male student at John B. Stetson Middle School in Kensington, the mothers of the victim and the alleged assailant shared an emotional embrace yesterday morning.

"It's not the kid's fault," said a tearful Carmen Cuevas, the mother of an 11-year-old boy accused of raping a sixth grader, as she hugged a weeping Damaris Rivera, whose son was the victim of the rape inside the school last Tuesday. "It's the school's fault."

Those sentiments were echoed by about 35 parents who gathered outside the middle school about 9 a.m. yesterday to protest safety problems.

Eva Caraballo, the parent of two children at Stetson and an organizer of the protest, said: "We can no longer sit at home watching TV while our children get raped."

I hardly watch any television. But if the school was at fault, well, the tax dollars go to fund the school. And I also defend the First Amendment rights of all sort of foul programming. Someone might, I suppose, by misreading my blog get the idea that I advocate 11-year-olds raping each other. I don't advocate such things, but I guess there are people who'd say I'm responsible for that too. A "climate" of some sort which I helped "create." Maybe because I mentioned behavior by ancient Greeks at one time or another?

Blaming everyone except the individual wrongdoers reminds me of the emotionally charged fallout after Columbine shooting, in which everyone from Marilyn Manson to Charlton Heston to Lockheed Aircraft was said to be responsible. The problem, of course, is that if everyone is responsible, then no one is responsible.

I don't advocate even rudeness by fans or players, much less physical violence by either. But why are people so quick to jump on others who had nothing to do with it, who weren't there, or who don't even watch basketball on the television? This minimizes actual responsibility. By blaming things like the beer a particular oafish drunk consumed, they minimize what he did and let him off the hook, which then tends to move the blame up the ladder: the beer sellers must be blamed, then the brewery, and finally, the bloggers!

Ultimately, shared blame and collective guilt do not work, and my ready "confessions" above illustrate why. If people who really aren't responsible are held responsible for the conduct of other individuals, the concept of individual responsibility is destroyed.

Once that happens then I am responsible!

And so are YOU!

Nice to share, isn't it?

posted by Eric on 11.23.04 at 10:04 AM


We were wrong to hold Timothy McVeigh responsible for the deaths of all those people in the Oklahoma City Federal Building. It was gun owners, and Right-Wing anti-government talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and George Gordon Battle Liddy and Leonard Peikoff, and anti-government Usenet newsgroup commenters, and all those who opposed banning sexy pictures on the Internet -- they were to blame.

We were wrong to hold Lee Harvey Oswald, a Communist, responsible for the death of President Kennedy. It was the John Birchers and all the other Right-Wingers who created a climate of hate in Dallas -- they were to blame.

We were wrong to hold Dan White responsible for murdering Harvey Milk. It was the Hostess company that must be blamed, for making too many Twinkies.

We were wrong to hold those 19 Muslim terrorists responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center and the deaths of 3,000 people. It is America and the West that must be blamed because of our oppressive imperialism, our insensitive isolationism, and our selfish refusal to convert to the Religion of Peace.

Steven Malcolm Anderson the Lesbian-worshipping man's-man-admiring myth-based egoist must be blamed for all of these problems of violence because he writes these inflammatory comments here in Classical Values. He is a MasturHater.

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