There was an article yesterday in the Post-Dispatch about some piece of shit and his buddies that beat an old man to death in an alley as part of a “game.” The guy was a gang member, and after he got picked up, he went into horrific detail about how the “knockout game” worked. These assholes targeted the weak and elderly, ganging up on them in alleys, jumping them so that they had no chance to fight back.
Obviously, I was really pissed off after reading this article. There’s so much involved in this, it’s tough to get it all down on paper. First of all, how can somebody actually do something like this? No matter how shitty someone’s life is, this shouldn’t be a solution to anything. I’ve played my fair share of Grand Theft Auto, and committed senseless acts of violence in the game. But I realize it’s just a game, an escape from day-to-day life. Are there seriously people out there that think that because it’s “good fun” in a game, it would even be more fun in real life? I guess so.
I’m not going to blame video games for this, though. There are millions of people out there that play GTA without turning to a dickhead game like this. No, rather it’s a problem with the individual. For whatever reason, these pieces of shit don’t value human life. Maybe it’s because their own lives are so shitty. This is no excuse.
There’s a hypothesis out there that as lifespans increase, people are generally more reluctant to fight in wars. The thought is that if you’re going to die at thirty anyway, why not do it fighting for your country? But if you’re going to live to 80, you’re giving up more than half your life. The “preciousness” of life is in some ways correlated to the quality of life that a person experiences. Similarly, if you live in some shithole with no good family base, no cash, and people getting gunned down around you all of the time, life becomes devalued.
This is an important lesson—nobody cares about your life as much as you do. You could be the next victim in the “knockout game.” Instead of locking the door and cowering in fear, though, what can we do as a society to fix some of these problems? Is it a simple matter of raising the standard of living for these people, so that they will have more to lose? I don’t think so. Even the poorest gang member lives better than a 19th century king. They have running water, plumbing, electricity, and access to all of the world’s information on a screen. In some respects, the problem is comparative wealth. There are always people in any society that think they should get theirs. A lot of times, though, these people aren’t willing to put in the work to actually “earn” something. They keep looking for ways to “game” the system, without any worry for the consequences.
Fuck these people. They can be rich or poor, old or young, any race or religion. They still exist. The guy that is happy about a lawsuit so that he can get a fat settlement. The countless people that play the lottery every day. The con artist. The grifter. The gang member that beats up people for fun. Fuck all of them.
If we don’t take steps as a society to cure these problems, they’re going to continue to fester. Many people note that crime is down overall, and that these kind of things happened more frequently in the past. They claim that now, access to media has improved, and thus awareness of the more isolated incidents has increased. So the fuck what? That somehow makes this not a problem? If we set an acceptable level of this kind of shit, we’re imposing artificial barriers on our society. None of this kind of thing should be acceptable.
I don’t think the answer is necessarily equalizing the standard of living, because I still think these shitheads would exist. I think in any population of people, some are just broken. We’re just animals when it comes down to it, and like any group of animals, you’re going to have a wide range of personalities. Can we fix it with meds? I doubt it. Though medication has done wonders for a lot of people, there’s still going to be a guy that is non-responsive.
I think the key is education, both inside and outside of the school. A good education should teach you how to think. When you learn how to think properly, things like “beating the shit out of old people for fun” just don’t register in your mind. Even the best teacher, though, only has kids for an hour a day, tops. Our educational system is outdated and broken. In this TED lecture, Ken Robinson argues that very thing.
I’ll have more in an upcoming post, but right now, I’m still searching for answers. Something has to be done. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m a big proponent of finding solutions to problems, and doing something instead of just bitching about it. But with something like this, a problem that is so large in scope, how do we get there? Like anything else, one step at a time.
If you’re concerned about the educational system, start tutoring kids in your spare time. Become a big brother. Even if you make a difference in the life of one kid, it might be that kid that would otherwise play the knockout game. If you don’t want to volunteer your time, that’s fine. I’m not asking you to volunteer money or skills, either. But on some level, if you don't act, you have to be willing to live with the threat of this kind of shit. And to be honest, I don’t think I'm willing to put up with that any more.
Any other solutions? Leave your thoughts in the comments.