On Sept. 20, a football game was played at Williams Bay High.
My old alma mater. It was reported in the Regional News that a roar went up from the crowd when a disputed call was made by one of the referees. In the emotionally-charged atmosphere, the people in the stands quickly took on the characteristics of a mob as the level of anger rose to a fever pitch. According to the report, outraged spectators went so far as to scream ”death threats” at the officials. How can this happen, at a high school football game?
Where does this kind of hate come from?
What is it that provokes such a vicious outcry? And the promise of potential violence?
Who are these people, that they would display such crude behavior?
I don’t have the answer to any of these questions. But I do have some observations about the nature of the social landscape we inhabit these days. In the middle of the last century, when I competed as an athlete for the Bulldogs, there could not have been any such outbursts as those reported. That sort of thing simply was not acceptable. It was forestalled by what we used to call sportsmanship. And it applied to player and spectator alike. It was what we though proper conduct ought to be. Apparently this is no longer the case. Why?
I wish I could say for certain, but all I have to offer are a few examples of life as we currently live it in these United States, for whatever insight it may provide. The way people act can often be an indication of how they think, what they believe.
The following are breaking news stories, taken from today’s headlines. They compel us to ask who we are as people and just what it is that we value. To examine what we claim is right or wrong. To take a long, hard look at how we behave and what kind of behavior we tolerate. In the end, readers will have to judge the veracity of these things for themselves.
Miley Cyrus, a.k.a. Hannah Montana, and her “twerking” performance on the MTV Music Video Awards was watched with utter fascination, by millions upon millions. Videos of her appearance were replayed the following day, over and over and over. And over again.
Here is some descriptive language of that event from an article that appeared in the Oct. 4 issued of USA Today. “Crass,” “frenzy,” “sexually charged performance,” “fondling,” “grinding” and “riding a demolition tool naked ...” Her single, “Wrecking Ball,” recorded 1.4 million downloads within just days of its release. Sheri Merman, age 20, described as Miley’s “longtime” fan, announced proudly that her idol ... proves that “it’s OK to act the way you want.”
“Grand Theft Auto V” just hit the retail shelves. Some of the descriptors on the cartridge jacket of precious versions of this game include “corruption,” “ violence,” “ sociopaths,” “the lost and the damned,” “guns-glitz-grime” and “living nightmare,” among others. Keith Stuart, of “The Guardian,” called this game “A monstrous parody of modern life — our bubbling cesspit of celebrity fixation, political apathy and morose self-obsession ...” And Darren Franich, at “Entertainment Weekly,” said ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ is a video game that tries to capture everything about contemporary America.”
Does he mean, then, that America is “monstrous,” a “cesspit,” “apathetic” and “morose?” Nevermind, in their rush to own a copy, Americans purchased more than $1 billion worth of this so-called game during the first three days of its release.
At Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, 20 children, ages 5 to 6, were slaughtered by a deranged gunman. Our response as a society was to increase demand for ammunition and firearms by 70 percent, creating a nationwide shortage of both. Wayne La Pierre, of the NRA, made his position clear, saying that the only thing wrong with what happened to those children was that our schools and classroom teachers did not have enough guns. When Americans had the opportunity to pass legislation to restrict and regulate the ownership of firearms, they turned their backs. Consequently, the question we have to grapple with is whether the Second Amendment is more important than the life of a child.
Christmas has promises of its own to keep. It’s been reported that there is a new trend this year: “disgusting toys that burp, fart and poo.” From now on, apparently, there will be a new “spirit” around the hearth: “gross is good.”
Here are some of the playthings you’ll see little Johnny and Susie ripping the wrapping off of during the upcoming holiday: “Ugglys,” which make about 30 repulsive noises; “Yucky Balls,” that emit shrieking scream sounds; “The Despicable Me 2 Fart Blaster,” “The Icky Science Kit,” wherein kids make things like fake snot; “The Farting Piano” and “Poo-Dough.” It is estimated that these hilarious distractions for kids will add more than $100 million in sales to the bottom line of toy manufacturers (USA Today, Oct. 3).
If you look at this profile of modern America and pay close attention to where we put our energy and treasure, the only real surprise about the frightening reaction of those football fans in Williams Bay is that the officials receiving the death threats actually got out of town alive.