violence

How to virtually end the NFL injury epidemic

Yesterday I sent this tweet: “Look at the NFL injury report and then justify being a fan of the league’s product. That league should end.” Here is a summary of this week’s injuries, if you’re interested (beware the autoplay). I don’t think the NFL will ever go away, but below I offer a solution that will virtually remove all serious injuries from a game I actually like.

My tweet didn’t elicit much response, but not very many (of my) tweets do. However, an old friend of mine (maybe trolling), suggested that my tweet implied that we should also ban cars because more people are hurt in auto accidents than tear their ACLs in football games. This is not a good argument. My problem with the NFL is partly the profit that is generated by selling the athletes’ skills to consumers of the league’s product, and what seems like lip service from the league to the risk the players are taking. Nobody is selling my driving ability. The analogy might work better for auto racing, and it would be interesting to see a comparison of injuries between the NFL and NASCAR, and some analysis of how serious the leagues are in protecting their employees on the field and track. (more…)

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Talking about mass killings, almost every semester

I’ve been teaching at Le Moyne since the fall of 2005. Minus one semester of sabbatical, that’s 15 semesters. If you count the recent Boston Bombings, I have led spontaneous sociological/criminological reflections on mass killings (usually shootings) that occurred during 10 of those 15 semesters. If you count conversation about Jared Loughner’s crime which happened immediately prior to the spring 2011 semester, then it’s 11 of 15 semesters. Most of those conversations were only a few minutes long because the shootings didn’t capture national attention like some others. Some semesters had more than one, or shootings which animated, unplanned conversations taking up an entire class. I recall that our conversations about Nidal Malik Hasan‘s shooting at Fort Hood lent itself to applying ideas we’d been discussing in Sociology of Religion, and that Seung-Hui Cho’s Virginia Tech shooting was particularly frightening for college students. I also note that we barely talked at all about Kurt Myers’ Herkimer shooting that took place just 70 or so miles from here, and that the ambush of firefighters in Webster (just 70 or so miles the other direction) happened in between semesters.

My approach to these discussions is usually to tell the students that they are educated adults and have a responsibility to think carefully about these events. I’ll tell them I don’t have any clear answers, but that together we can think of the right questions to consider if we want to achieve some understanding, and maybe work with others to end these sad events. They sometimes go a little like this post of mine after Newtown, CT. Tomorrow I’ll lead a less spontaneous, but hastily planned discussion about Boston. We’ll start the conversation with this essay comparing the bombings there with other crimes like Columbine. Maybe next time there is a mass shooting to talk about I’ll use this from the The Chronicle. But, I hope not because no matter how powerful these classroom experiences can sometimes be, I don’t want to continue having these spontaneous discussions.

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Edit (4/25/2013): Add this to our discussion of Boston. A danger of the spontaneous conversations is the relatively high likelihood of ignoring the context of the high profile shootings, which includes our violent, racist, xenophobic, American culture.

Student Suggested Readings

On the role of sibling ties in the Boston bombing

Parents Deny Sons’ guilt and accuse U.S. of plot

Borders as violence

Yesterday the New York Times ran a ‘room for debate’ piece about state immigration laws.  Mostly these brief essays focused on the proper role of federal and state governments in establishing and enforcing immigration law.  This is a fairly common point of debate in recent discussions of immigration in the U.S.  I’m not as familiar with immigration law as I should be, but there is a question about the significance and social meaning of borders that always comes to mind when I read about immigration.

I assume that most national borders, and it’s certainly the case with the northern and southern U.S. borders, were  established (and are continually enacted) through violence.  While the violent origin of the U.S. southern border is rather frequently alluded to, it’s rarely considered as a significant consideration in contemporary discussions of border politics.  My question about the significance of borders is this:  If borders were established violently, then are those who work to defend their location and legal authority actively legitimizing and enacting that violence? Further, are those who choose not to consider the relevance of the initial violence passively legitimizing the violent origin of nation-space?