Angry football fans are often cheering local sportscasters on who cite the need for defenses to get that killer instinct and “destroy” their opponent’s offense to knock out the quarterback. But some apparently don’t want you to talk about real life violence during the half-time ceremonies.
Disappointed as I became watching the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of their Sunday night game with the Philadelphia Eagles this last weekend, I turned it off shortly after Philly scored their second rushing touchdown. Jesus! Where’s the defense I thought and here they go again, displaying another poor performance. As a life-long Cowboy fan I cannot stand to watch such insufferable games.
But it seems I turned the TV set off too soon. No, not because they had a great comeback in the second half and eventually won the game. Even as good as this was, the prospects of the Cowboys making it to the playoffs are about as good as making it passed the first rounds should they succeed in knocking the New York Giants from the division title – little to none. Not this year anyway.
No, what it turns out I missed were some comments by Bob Costas that addressed the issue of gun violence following the suicide-murder of Kansas City Chief’s linebacker Jovan Belcher who blew his brains out in front of his coaches at their locker room shortly after killing his girlfriend at their leased home earlier. Costas’ comments took up about two minutes but apparently for some watching the game here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area you would have thought he deprived all zombies of human blood.
One of the people I follow (make that followed) on Facebook, a former reporter for the Denton Record-Chronicle, was apparently upset that Costas would use this time between halves to raise the issue of gun violence. I have followed Donna Fielder for years in her reporting days on the staff of the Record-Chronicle and have always thought she was one of the few bright stars for this small local paper. She recently retired and with little fan-fare from her former employer too, which many of us who have followed Donna thought was extremely insulting.
But a reporter’s life isn’t all that revealing from the stories they write and I could only glean from Donna’s reports along with a weekly column she wrote which direction her political compass pointed to. Not that it surprises me in red-state Texas but Ms. Fielder appears to be another gun advocate who thinks gun control is some kind of liberal conspiracy. At least that seems to be the likely conclusion based on her recent comments from her FB page regarding Costas’ comments about Jovan Belcher’s death:
NBC I don’t want to hear your simplistic rheteric (sic) liberal pap on gun control in the middle of a football game. Get bent. SOURCE
I didn’t even know what “Get bent” meant until today. Thanks Donna & Urban Dictionary.
But my biggest concern was why this 2-minute spot at intermission was found to be offensive to anyone other than the most extreme 2nd amendment zealot. Did I discover that the woman who I’ve followed for years in the local paper was little more than the Sarah Palin of North Texas? I can only hope I’m over reacting to the whole thing.
Costas was quoting Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock but the conclusion drawn in his remarks that if Jovan Belcher hadn’t had a gun that “he and his girl friend, Kasandra Perkins, would still be alive today” , is a bit of a stretch. Why? Because we have some of the most lax laws in the world for gun ownership. Unless Belcher had some kind of criminal or mental record, there’s no reason to think he shouldn’t have a gun if he chose to purchase one for personal security reasons. Surely Whitlock and Costas weren’t calling for all guns to be removed from American society. I’m a gun-control advocate and even I don’t see this happening in my lifetime or for the next generation or two.
Maybe it was that notion though that brought out the reaction it did from Donna and some of her supporters on Facebook. “Just more ‘liberal pap’ from the commies who want to take away our guns.” Yet to become that irate was still a little unsettling. What harm was really done here by Costas’ comments that disrupted their game day state-of-mind? Were the sportscasters words really viewed as that political. If so, I can’t say I blame them entirely. Lord knows that the last few months prior to the election have been political overkill for all of us.
And though I may even share this feeling at some level, I have to ask, what does this say about us who want to attack the messenger of such unpleasant news? The timing of it put aside, isn’t this a serious enough issue that we can surely spare two minutes of our lives to at least consider it until the second half of the game begins? Have we become that desensitized that such interruptions incur emotional outbursts like this?
Costas’ comments didn’t really center around politics per se. It’s more a mental health issue. Gun violence is about someone’s child or the family down the block. It’s about all the innocent people who die because rage now has a deadly weapon that can do more damage than any other tool of death that a killer can use. “Studies have shown that guns in the home increase chances of homicide two to three times, and gun death rates are seven times higher in states that have high household gun ownership, … according to the Brady Campaign” Numerous studies also show that where there are firearms, suicides are a greater occurrence.
This was about something that hits close to home everyday for people in our community, our state and this country. In just this last year we have seen 11,000 homicides in the U.S. as a result of firearms. 1800 of those were women caught up in domestic disputes with boyfriends or ex-husbands. The United States ranks fourth in the world with murder by firearms. The only reason we’re that low is because the other three – South Africa, Columbia and Thailand – are embroiled in political corruption, drug battles and civil unrest. I know, it seems like we exist under these conditions some of the times too. But the culture of violence in these countries are the results of decades long conflict and where the rule of law is extremely weak.
What seem to come across in Donna’s comments was the type of apathy that seems so common in our culture today when one more violent act at the hands of a gunman occurs, especially if they are black. Not that such violence is associated with being black. But it is associated with poverty and blacks in this country are disproportionately poorer than most other ethnic groups. I’ll save that argument for another day.
Such apathy is more common when senseless killings occur through American militarism, done in the name of National Security. Few people are probably aware that 176 children have been killed in Pakistan from U.S. drone strikes going after suspected terrorists. These kids are part of some 885 innocent civilians killed over the last eight years in our use of drones, with the vast majority of them occurring on Obama’s watch. But when we do become aware, how many of us are actually motivated to protests such actions by our government?
We are less likely to prevent a shooter from taking innocent lives in this country since they are so random in nature. But the use of drones isn’t. It’s a policy established by political leaders that we elected. It’s thought about and strategically planned on who to target and where to use these weapons. The fact that innocents may get caught up in this doesn’t always, if ever, prevent their deployment. The notion that “collateral damage” is a sad but expected consequence of such policies is the reaction of people who are far removed from the death and destruction these decisions result in.
Like the drone attacks and the other horrific acts of war, the daily gun violence we have been enduring for years has made us immune to one more tragedy. So much so it seems that there are people who get easily upset if they are reminded about it during their sporting events or other non-threatening activities. We just don’t want to be reminded that our world is always chaotic and there but for the grace of the gods go each of us.
This appears to be where Ms. Fielder is at and apparently my comments on her FB page responding to her acerbic diatribe has elicited an ultimatum from the former Record-Chronicle reporter:
“Larry. I don’t fear conversation. But I have the right to limit the drek(sic) people post on my space. Get off my page.”