It was a quiet spring evening in my small northern city and a middle-aged man, not a pillar of society, but a man who, at the moment, was minding his own business, was standing in front of a convenient store in a neighborhood that is dealing with gang activity, violence and drugs. It was his neighborhood; he had lived there for many years. Suddenly a ten-year-old walked up to this man and punched him as hard as he was able in the gut. When that did not do the man in, other young people joined the fray and beat this man until he was dead. We were all mystified, trying to imagine if this was a random act of violence or if these teens had a beef with this man.
What we have been told subsequent to these events is beyond our comprehension. It takes the behaviors that are dehumanizing our culture to an even deeper level of savagery. These “children” were playing a new national game, a game that has been around for about a decade and which has roots in larger urban areas than ours. This game is called Knock-Out and to win the game a young man must knock out his chosen opponent (usually someone older and weaker who has no idea he is about to be attacked) with one well-delivered punch. When this game says knock-out, it means kill. If the original puncher doesn’t achieve his goal, his honchos jump in and help finish the job for him. Then they just walk away and go back to whatever little wretched lives they plan to live out on this earth.
The coldness of this, the unfeeling inhumanity of this is stunning. How can those of us who believe in things like grace and compassion, those of us who believe that every human life has value and that every human should have an opportunity to build a happy life, understand such behavior? How will we deal with such random behavior which is no more traceable than the activities of mass murderers, or terrorists, homegrown or otherwise? Will a population explosion, such as we have now, make such behaviors more common and less governable? Returning societies to the casual practice of violent elimination of its members could be one way to control over-population, although so ineffective in terms of numbers of humans eliminated it will eventually have to escalate, a lot. Something to look forward to, if we can’t get a grip on this now. Are we ready to watch Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” play out in our everyday lives?
[A recent news story aired stating that it is not the goal of the knockout game to kill the target, only to knock them out with one punch. I want to add this to my story as a correction. But I also want to say that in the stories I read about the knockout game, the victim was finished off by the cohorts of the person who delivered the initial punch. Perhaps an excess of leftover adrenalin is to blame, I don’t know. Perhaps non-lethal episodes of the knockout game simply are not usually covered in the press.]