Ordinarily, I have little to no desire to pick apart another person’s blog post. I know how it goes; sometimes a post goes up in a hurry and the analysis it contains is a little less than complete — to be fleshed out further in follow-up post after follow-up post.
But I’m not sure John Amato of CrooksandLiars.com could come back with a follow-up piece that would convince me of the rightness of his reasoning in this little bit of commentary, provocatively headlined “#OWS Are Just Sleeping in Tents; College Football Fans Are Rioting.”
In it, just as the headline suggests, Amato argues that fans storming the field after a football game constitutes violent rioting.
Had he just stopped there, the piece would have been funny enough — but still somewhat defensible. He at least offers some evidence for his perspective: After the Oklahoma State University Cowboys subjugated the University of Oklahoma Sooners this weekend in the annual Oklahoma rivalry game aptly known as “Bedlam,” OSU fans were in such a hurry to dismantle the goalposts that they inadvertently injured at least 12 fellow fans, including one who had to be airlifted to the hospital.
Now, it just so happens that I was in Stillwater, Okla., for this game — and I’d characterize the atmosphere afterward as anything but violent. Jubilant, ecstatic, buoyant, sure. But violent? Not so much. Nevertheless, it’s incumbent upon me to say — and, honestly, I’m very happy to say it — that injuries caused by excessive celebration after a football game are unnecessary, inexcusable and regrettable. College football fans could stand to gain a little perspective about the relative importance of any given game. Not even a vital victory is an excuse to depart from decent comportment. And, as a collector of etiquette books, I’d have to say the rules of polite behavior do dictate that fans shouldn’t trample other people underfoot nor push them over an 8-foot wall.
But Amato doesn’t stop there. After castigating college football fans, Amato argues that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are their antithesis — that they are, in fact, peaceful protesters. Sheesh. Has Amato never seen the rap sheet? We’re up to nearly 400 incidents of violence, vandalism and outrageous behavior among the Occupiers. What is Amato’s definition of “peaceful”?
Because he believes OWS protesters are peaceful and college football fans violent, he’s properly appalled that police would turn to tasers, pepper spray and other tamers to subdue Occupy crowds, while stadium security officers allow college football fans all-but-free-reign over the field. He can come up with just one explanation: Police mistreat Occupiers because they “just aren’t profitable,” while college football fans supply a lot of cash to the schools they support.
Let’s say for just a moment that that is true. So? It is a strike against Occupiers that their Occupation costs taxpayers money and doesn’t positively contribute to the economy they decry as so unfair. And it is a point in favor of college football fans that their sports enthusiasm helps to create opportunities for student athletes.
(Whether college sports should be so integral to “the college experience” is debatable. I’m one who is inclined to think “college sports” should just be their own industry, while universities should become again what they once were — institutions of higher learning designed not for everyone and his kid brother, but just for the academically-minded. But that’s beyond the scope of this post.)
But the more likely explanation than Amato’s is that the police have turned to questionable tactics to evict OWS protesters because Occupiers have proved themselves to be, time and again, belligerent. Defying lawful orders to pack up and leave isn’t exactly the way to ensure you’re evicted peacefully.