The Intellectual Street Brawler: What if They Held a Street Fight But Nobody Watched?

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Way to come back from T-day festivities and get all depressed over the state of our humanity.
What the hell, misery loves company. Check out Sucker Punch: The art, the poetry, the idiocy of YouTube street fights over at Slate. Yup, knuckle draggers staging, then taping, disgusting street fights all for your viewing pleasure.

The author is an English professor and fight fan who’s using the education his parents denied themselves to give him making street brawls high brow. That’s unfair, I know, but so is glamorizing hooliganism (these folks go around ‘happy slapping’ unsuspecting women) which writing like this certainly does. As does my linking to it.

The more of them you watch, the more familiar you become with certain recurring formulas: mean kid or kids nailing unsuspecting victim, drunk guy flattening drunker guy outside a bar, bully getting or not getting comeuppance, go-ahead-and-hit-me scenarios, girls fighting for keeps while male onlookers anxiously strain to find them hilarious, backyard or basement pugilism, semiformal bare-knuckle bouts, pitched battles between rival mobs of hooligans.

I realize that this probably makes me a bad person, but I find the online archive of street fights to be edifying, even addictive, ripely endowed as it is with both the malign foolishness that tempts you to despise your fellow humans and occasional flashes of potent mystery that remind you not to give in to the temptation. There’s an education in these videos—in how to fight and how not to fight, for starters (executive summary: Skip the preliminaries, strike first, and keep it coming), but also in how the human animal goes about the age-old business of aggression in the 21st century.

Far be it from me to deny another ink-stained wretch his day in print, especially such a thoughtful and talented one, but I find his ‘loophole’ (‘there’s an education in these videos’…) make-weight. Acknowledging the existence of something doesn’t make you either an enabler or responsible for it, but writing about the existence of something pernicious (however “age old”) without dogging it is…problematic.

I watched as much as I could stand of these videos and remembered again my fears over raising a son. Imagine looking on-line for something “edifying, even addictive, ripely endowed” and seeing my child happy slapping a young woman or sucker punching a classmate in the school parking lot after hours. Too bad men don’t have a back 40 to plow anymore. I’ll just go there–unless you’re a cop searching out these kinds of videos to make arrests, you’re glamorizing the kind of random street violence that makes our cities increasingly unliveable.

Maybe I’ll just go back to my T-Day hide out where there was no cell reception and no internet. Ignorance truly is bliss. Or it was.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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