Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I don't know what people are thinking any more...

Every time I think the world can't get any stupider, stories like this come across the wires.

No, really. In what universe is it sane to take sports so seriously that one person would shoot and kill another because she thought the other woman wasn't sufficiently upset that their team - in this case, the Alabama Crimson Tide - had lost a big football game?

I thought it was bad when I was in the grocery store one day and, apropos to the conversation I was having with the cashier, I expressed the opinion that I am not a fan of either football in general or the local state college's football team. Before I knew what was happening, there were four or five store employees grouped around me, trying to convince me of the error of my ways. You would have thought that I had declared myself an atheist in the middle of St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, the reaction was so extreme. But, you know, none of them threatened bodily harm over it or anything.

Now, to be fair, police investigating the killing have been quoted as saying that it is "unclear" whether the shooting was really motivated by the game. On the other hand, witnesses to the event have been explicit in their contention that the shooter was upset by other fans at a party who she felt "weren't real Alabama fans."

This just points out what I see as one of the big flaws of American culture in the 21st century. More and more, it seems, too many people are adopting - re-adopting, really - the position that anyone who doesn't agree with them deserves to die. I was under the impression that as civilization has advanced, we had abandoned that very old notion and were learning to live with at least some of our more minor disagreements. You know, like disagreements over games.

Yes, I said that. Football, baseball, basketball...they're all just games, you know, no matter how much money and how many egos have gotten tied up in sports, especially at the professional level. They are not life. Ultimately, they are entertainment rather than something that is actually important. And, yes, I love baseball, and I have "my team", but as vocal as I might get when watching games, I know that it is just a game, and not important at all in the grand scheme of things.

It alarms me enough when people take important things like politics with that deadly seriousness. It shocks me when I see people threatening the life of a politician (and I have seen that on social media as recently as in the past couple of months) just because they don't happen to agree with the politicians policy positions. It likewise shocks me when I hear people express their belief that others who don't agree with their religious beliefs deserve to die. Even that sort of thing, a few years ago, was considered to be so much on the fringe that almost everyone was shocked when such threats were made. In the past few years, though, that sort of threat has become almost normal, and people are not even subtle about making them sometimes.

It is even more alarming, though, when people prove willing to kill over a reaction to a game, or over wearing the wrong color or the wrong sports jersey. Have we so devalued human life that violence over personal opinion is coming to be accepted?

It hurts me to write this, but when I see stories like the one linked at the beginning of my post, I start to suspect that we might not really have the right to call ourselves civilized in the sense that most people take that concept.

I don't know. Maybe I'm blowing this up all out of proportion, and this is just a case of someone drinking too much for their own good and having access to a firearm. But I don't think so. This sort of thing, someone injuring, maiming, or killing of what is really something minor, happens much too often for all of those incidents to be outliers that don't reflect the culture at large.

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