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The Brawl that No One Would Stop


NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics A recent news item out of Lynn, MA, is going viral. Twenty students stood around while two other students had a physically violent encounter.

How’s that for politically correct language?

I’m not surprised by the brawl. There will always be brawls. Sorry. We’re in an era of gladiator sports. I watched the video and was more impressed that they were able to go at it for eight minutes. Either they were in good shape or didn’t know what they were doing. But the violence? Nothing I haven’t seen in mixed-martial arts competitions, movies, video games, news items, life.

People are concerned that no one stopped the fight. People are concerned that there were spectators — genuine spectators — with no interest other than who was going to post the video first.

Well, that is inciting, don’t you think?

I mean, if only we had cellphones with video and internet capabilities back in 1964!

I’m sure Kitty Genovese would understand.

I truly feel there’s no need to explain this post further, even though I know many readers will shrug with confusion and a lack of understanding.

But should you make the connection, another example of Nothing New Under the Sun, please do comment.

I dare you.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/03/01 5:46 am

    I distinctly recall the Kitty Genovese murder heard and ignored by an entire city street of NYC dwellers. It struck me as a viscerally wrong thing that someone should not only die in the street at the hands of a mugger, but die in that ugly way shunned by neighbors. It still feels bad, and although I’d not heard of the recent brawl on YouTube, the notion that two people would be let alone to batter each other continues to feel profoundly unsocial and simply wrong. We’re entering a time when much bigger economic bubbles than the past few years may well start tearing at social fabrics in whole communities across this continent. Without losing stride, not stopping a fight today can become not stopping worse scenes if food, clothing, and shelter continue to be increasingly scarce for ever-growing crowds of people gathering and milling at street corners in more and more towns and cities. It won’t be gladiators lying there. It’ll be your brothers, sisters, children, parents, friends, you. And the crowd won’t stop it, until one person volunteers to be the man on the white horse to restore order, if not peace, for a price. That’s when we’ll see that living outside of social norms and then of political norms results in lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short” in a “war of all against all” [Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651].” So yeah, I get it, Joseph. Our lives really do need to reflect a lived social contract of behavior applicable to people and their public and political norms alike. You’re right to put this out there as a challenge.

  2. 2012/03/01 10:23 pm

    Dave, thanks for your comment. I wonder if what we’re witnessing is a demonstration of increasing frustration with ineffective lives, inability to grow (financially, personally), et cetera. It seems that anarchy — specifically the anarchy of the “15 minute famers” — is becoming the rule of the day.
    And I wonder, could such an anarchy exist without the wired world? Did such battles exist in as great a number before and we were unaware because there was no one to report them? Is part of the new anarchy due to citizen journalism?

    Fascinating conjectures, these.

  3. 2012/03/02 2:26 am

    I suspect frustrations and angers are not new things in response to worlds that seem ajar to what we thought or felt or imagined might be “normal” as to an expectation for how to live together and how to make our way. We see lives, images, and games of both vast and intimate destruction and betrayal of self and others. At some level, it must be numbing, especially if it’s in our minds but not in our physical bodies.

    I’m thinking those who have played hard sports or been in battle or trained for battle have more chance to sense viscerally whether a brawl has a real point, and also to know it has a painful bodily effect, sometimes with lifelong memory echoes. Those people might see it as a spectrum — let it be, or do something to halt it — but as an aware decision, not out of ignorance, indifference, or parasitism to the damage splattering before their eyes.

  4. 2012/03/22 1:15 pm

    Dave, thanks for this beautiful comment.
    I agree, people who’ve trained as warriors seldom think of combat as a first option — it’s usually way down on their list. I’ve known high ranking military who are the greatest proponents against war. I’ve also known professional boxers who were the gentlest people outside of the ring and would do just about anything to avoid physical conflict.
    It is sad, though, that the people least likely to engage in conflict are the ones most highly trained for it. People who have never had to take a real punch (the kind that numbs you and knocks you down or out) seem to think fighting is nothing.


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