20 years ago I took my impressionable son to a Junior-A hockey game at the newly built Fox Valley Ice Arena. As an associate creative director at a local marketing agency, I’d designed the logo for the team, which was painted 50 feet wide under the ice.
To be sure, I understood little about the actual game of hockey. My experience playing it as a kid was limited to whacking around a farm field ice rink with a bunch of friends. I didn’t really know the rules to the game. Heck, I didn’t even know there were three periods in the contest. After two periods I’d gotten up to leave, figuring the game was over. A friend turned to me and said, “Where you going? There’s a whole ‘nuther period.” So we sat back down in the slightly cold arena and waited for the affair to continue.
There had been scuffles between the players thus far in the match. At one point one of the local team’s players fell over the boards into the box of the opposing team. All the players on that side began jabbing the other player with their sticks. It looked like the attack of a band of crazed goons. And indeed, hockey has long celebrated goonery as a tradition in the sport.
The fight game
Five minutes into the third period, a real fight broke out. Two players squared off just below our seats. Their punches flew and one began to win the tussle. Sweaters were stretched. Fists landed. Then one player began to bleed. Profusely.
A bright red puddle of blood flowed out over the ice. Their skates kicked it up in the air as they continued fighting. Finally the referee entered the fight zone and began to break it up. But the damage was done. My son turned to me and asked, “Dad, do they always have fights in hockey?”
At that period of time, the game of hockey seemed all about fighting. When I mentioned the incident we’d witnessed to so-called “real” hockey fans they all laughed and said. “That’s why we go! Isn’t it awesome?”
Now, it wasn’t awesome. At best it seemed unfortunate. We’d been getting into the game and learned a little about hockey. Perhaps we’d have become fans. But not so.
Change has come
I’m not some naive pacifist. I had my share of fights early in life and had done my share of damage to others on the athletic field by that point. But I still wondered why hockey felt the need to let fighting remain such a large part of the action.
Fast forward 20 years. My daughter’s interest in hockey took off the same year the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Our family enjoyed many games that year, and grew to appreciate the fast, relatively clean brand of hockey played by the Hawks and some other NHL teams. It seemed the game was changing for the better.
Yes, there were still a few fights that broke out. But in the last few years the fighting in NHL hockey has been reduced and nearly eliminated. Hockey has actually become more exciting and watchable as a result. The league even seems to want to protect its players from the effects of concussion. In other words, it is still a sport of strength and speed, but it has eliminated some of the unnecessary brutality.
The paradigm of reduced fighting in hockey may be unpopular with diehard fans longing to see two players beat the hell out of each other. But as in football, the recognized effects of concussions and CTE on pro players is becoming a sensitive issue. Why put athletes of additional risk of life endangerment and brain debilitating if you can prevent it?
Hockey is taking simple measures to make the game safer for all. Either by proxy or intent, the game of hockey as a sport is actually more interesting without the fighting. Throwing down the gloves and tugging on each other’s sweaters always was a childish, immature way to settle actual differences. Playing just as hard and scoring more goals as a result makes the net game more exciting. The game is using its brain to make important changes that protect the players and in some ways, protect the sport as well.
So let’s imagine the same scenario, yet with a different “sport.” That would be guns. Millions of Americans own guns, and most of them never shoot anyone. Yet 30,000 people a year die from gun violence by suicide or murder, and many thousands more are wounded.
Yet many gun owners seem to think they don’t have any responsibility for these statistics. Using their brand of logic, it would mean that all the hockey players who play the game and do not get into fights have no responsibility for the fights that do break out. Yet we also know that the game of hockey, especially at the pro level, condoned the hiring of “goon” players whose main job was to act as an enforcer for the rest of the team. If one of the star players got hit too hard, the goon would head out on the ice to inflict punishment on the opposing team.
The same principle used to hold true in baseball, where pitchers would purposely throw at the head of a batter if it was judged that some transgression had taken place by the opposing pitcher. It was called getting plunked.
So these quid pro quo acts of violence were supposedly part of the gamesmanship of each respective sport. Fans selfishly cheered such violence, just as they cheer hard hits in football. The players enforced these regimens of accepted violence by refusing to protect themselves. Some played through game day concussions or multiple series of concussions. Football is now having to deal with the consequences and public image of these savage habits.
Paying the price
Because society ultimately does pay a price for escalations of violence. The ravaged brains of former football players and the death of children in America have a parallel relationship. Either we take the most steps possible to prevent such damage or we do not.
We’ve seen for years the debate over gun violence take oppositional forms. Gun advocates say it’s not their fault that criminals get guns and use them to murder. Gun control advocates simply want gun laws that do the most possible to keep guns out of the hands of unstable people.
But the “goons” in this case take a heavyhanded approach to gun advocacy. The NRA is the lead goon, hired by millions of gun owners to promote an interpretation of the Second Amendment that condones business as usual. This is the parallel to pro hockey. The goons know that to keep their job, they have to keep fighting. Those who benefit from the protection of the goons care not to question either the methods or the outcomes so long as their personal rights are protected.
The collateral damage to all this goonery is the lives of innocent people. Many have been slaughtered in elementary schools, movie theaters and college campuses. There have even been shootings on military bases. Of course, the irony there is that military personnel are not typically allowed to wander a military base bearing arms.
As reported on The Blaze.com in a 2013 story, “The question of why military members aren’t armed on base garnered attention back in November 2009 when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at Ft. Hood and killed 13 people. He was sentenced to death on August 28. Now, nearly four years later, many are asking the same question.
So what’s the answer? It appears this “gun-free zone” type policy can actually be traced back to Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 5210.56, signed into effect in February 1992 by Donald J. Atwood, deputy secretary of defense under President George H.W. Bush.”
So let’s be clear: the policy to allow carriage of concealed weapons in modern society actually runs against the nation’s own Department of Defense dictums issued by a Republican President. And since that time, and to make matters worse, arguments for the proliferation of guns in public places has been expanded by Supreme Court rulings emphasizing the right to bear arms over the supposedly balanced call in the Second Amendment for a well-regulated militia.
The goons are winning
In other words, the goons are winning. The goons rule the game of gun laws and aren’t going to relinquish their roles easily. There is too much money to be made by promoting rampant gun ownership, because that’s how goons keep their jobs.
Do you get what’s going on? Our own military, an institution that nby profession trains and licenses personnel to handle guns, sees the common sense of limiting that right on its own grounds. As also reported in the story about DoD policy on TheBlaze.com: “The controversial directive states that “it is DoD Policy” to “limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel. The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried,” it says.
Ahead of the game
The military is, in other words, “way ahead of the game” when it comes to proper regulation and use of guns. By contrast, civilian America is being forced to live as if there is reasonable expectation of “war on the streets.” This is a self-fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one. We’re left with the sad claim that guns actually make America “safer.”
By that brand of logic we might arrive at the conclusion that the fights in hockey actually make the game safer. But that’s exactly the logic being used by America’s “gun goons” to make the case that guns are necessary for freedom.
Even language of the debate over guns rights is concussively rife with violence. As reported in a story on on CNN.Com, “Wayne LaPierre, the nation’s most visible gun-rights advocate, rallied supporters on Saturday for a renewed fight against gun control, saying membership is up since the Newtown massacre, and calling the effort to stop new limits a “long war” and a “fight for everything we care about.”
In other words, Wayne LaPierre outright confesses that his job is waging a war on everyday Americans. And to that point, more Americans have died on American soil from gun violence than all the soldiers that have ever died in wars on foreign soil.
In other words, the goons aren’t just winning the war. They are committing genocide on the American people by proliferating guns. There are almost as many guns in America, 300,000,000, as there are people. And they’re proud of that fact.
And they won’t give up easily: “The National Rifle Association’s executive vice president vowed in remarks at the group’s national convention that “we will never surrender our guns.” He implored members to step up their outreach to members of Congress as part of a fight against “elites” and others who “use tragedy to try to blame us, to shame us” into compromise and who “want to change America, our culture and our values.”
Yes, it’s the fear of change that drives so much violence in this world. And please don’t stop the genocide, because it’s fear that motivates gun owners to purchase weapons in the first place. It’s a perfect circle of illogical justification and cognitive dissonance.
Statistics lead nowhere
Gun proponents have been pointing to statistics that show gun violence is going down over the last 30 years. That does notchange the fact that there are still 30,000 people dying in the streets every year, and that is far more than any civilized nation on earth.
And, despite the claims of the gun goons, there is absolutely no proof that the presence of more guns has led to less shootings. CNN notes: “Researchers have studied the decline in firearm crime and violent crime for many years, and though there are theories to explain the decline, there is no consensus among those who study the issue as to why it happened,” the researchers say in a summary.
Packs of goons
We do know one thing for sure. America is faced with veritable packs of goons running around claiming the government is out to get them and coming to take away their guns. Every time there is a new mass shooting, gun sales shoot up across the nation over fears that the new rash of violence will lead to more restrictive gun laws. That has never happened, but it doesn’t stop groups like the NRA from leveraging such fears into fundraising campaigns. It also serves the purpose of gun manufacturers, whose profits depend, if you follow the straight line logic of gun sales in response to mass shootings, on loss of American lives.
The most fearful gun goon squads actually call themselves militias. They are not “well-regulated” according to any interpretation of the Second Amenment. A pack of these goons is currently occupying a wildlife refuge in the state of Oregon. If the government intervenes, they will have accomplished their self-fulfilling prophecy. In hockey terms, that’s like a goon punching the referee in the face.
That’s how insane the game of gun control has gotten in this country. We’re being governed and manipulated by collaborative bunches of goons that insist personal gun rights supersede all other efforts to establish law and order in the country. Even when children die, and mass shootings continue, and America continues to lose more lives to gun violence than any other civilized nation on earth, the gun goons keep shouting that their own personal liberty is at risk. It is both a lie, and it is insane.
So the question remains. Do you want to be governed by NRA goons and their political henchmen? Or do you want to take responsibility as hockey has done, and has football is about to do, and begin the process of making “the game” safer for all to play? Should you really have to carry a sidearm everywhere you go in America to “feel safe?” Or is that notion the product of goons who are terminally insane over the notion that guns equal freedom?
Truly, there is no excuse for the blood being spilled on the ice of our everyday existence. Old School thinkers want to codify their vigilate version of reality and let the goons do the work of protecting their Wild West fantasies that more guns will keep the peace. Even the violent games of hockey and football are being forced to change to protect their respective sports and the players who engage in them.
And likewise, the United States Military changed its policies for “gun ownership” on its bases long ago. There is no such thing as “concealed carry” for military personnel.
Yet America with its insane interpretations of the Second Amendment refuses to acknowledge that violence as a way of life is harmful to all.