Mike Rice, Aryan Brotherhood and Kim Jong-un – all bullies that have to be controlled


Is this the month or maybe the year-of-the-bully?   It feels like it to me.   At first,  when the Mike Rice story broke, I thought we were just witnessing the reality of testosterone and a culture of win at any cost.  Isn’t a coach suppose to be tough, disciplined, pushing his athletes to give more, to win?  If he is successful he makes more money – the ultimate goal in a capitalistic society.  Don’t we tolerated anything as long as a coach wins?   Rice did not win and was fired for throwing balls at his players, pushing them and yelling obscenities.  In retrospect he is sorry, his  apology was emotional, teary and annoying.  Why do they always cry and apologize afterwards?  Why don’t they just say – “I am really, really sad I was caught, because if I had not been caught I would be pushing some basketball player today instead of standing here, humiliated and crying.”  In my mind, it was simply our culture that produced boorish coaches who, when they were not molesting boys, acted badly and bullied anyone they could.   Bobby Knight did much the same as Mike Rice, except his teams won; Knight is a legend while Rice is not likely to coach again.   We make too much of sports, we treat sports as if they were really important, important enough to shape our values rather than the other way around.

Anyway, that is the way I was thinking about bullies until the last in a series murders of law enforcement officials.  Three times this year a law enforcement official – and even one’s spouse – have been killed.  The murders, actually executions, might once have been thought of as acts of revenge.  However, now they appear to be more acts intended to intimidate, rather than gain revenge.  The Aryan somebodies – white somethings – appear to be setting out to prove they are more powerful than the justice system.  They are trying to bully law enforcement.  If they follow the Mexican model we can expect to see dozens of headless bodies in the town square next.

We have had a war on poverty, a war on drugs and even a war on Saddam.  Do we now need a war on gangs?  Wow, that is frightening.  Isn’t the main purpose of government public safety?    I am doubly afraid.  I am afraid of the gangs, their power and their willingness to use violence.  But I am also afraid of a government so bent on getting the bad guys that it takes away my rights in the process.   So, now I am off the culture corrupted by sports and am stuck on gangs of prisoners corrupting all of society.   Now it is not a cultural problem at all, now it an issue of evil.  The gates of hell have opened and evil has been unleashed on the country.

That is where I was when Kim Jong-un, the son Kim Jong-il, the grandson of Kim Il-sung, started to make some serious threats; he comes from a long line of noble saber-rattlers, but he is besting his father and grandfather.  Kim Jong-un is threatening to attack the United States with long range missiles.  Now, we are all reasonably certain that North Korea’s missiles will not reach the United States and we are even more certain that his nuclear weapons are not ready for war.  We are certain, aren’t we?   Even if we are right, we don’t know what he might do that he does have capabilities to accomplish – like attack South Korea.  North Korea has the fourth largest standing army in the world, over a million soldiers.  A million soldiers can create lots of problems; Little Kim, could if he is determined enough, force a war.  What possess the boy, what is he thinking?

And now, I have come a full circle from Rice to Kim, sports to war – bullies don’t think they just act.  Their sole purpose is to intimidate others and get their own way.   Mike Rice, the Aryan Brotherhood and Kim Jong-un all have one thing in common, they are bullies.   We can look below the surface and find some root causes, such as troubled childhood, a culture of win at any cost, the prison culture or the isolation of North Korea – but the reasons are not terribly important – we cannot fix them.   We need only be concerned with finding ways to control bullies and not allow them to control us.   The world feels terribly unstable to me right now.

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