How Bob Costas Got It Wrong

A sword never kills anybody; it’s a tool in the killer’s hand.

~Seneca the Younger

Those of you who regularly follow P&Q know I tend to stay away from controversial topics. This is a fun blog about geeky stuff and pop culture. Just for today, however, I must derivate. I hope you’ll understand. I’ll state in advance that, if you don’t agree with me on this topic, I get it. I also respect your ideas and opinions and your right to them. These, however, are my opinions and I stand by them. Okay? Good. Let me begin.

As millions of Americans did, I tuned in for my weekly showing of NBC’s Sunday Night Football last evening. Many viewers, especially those in Kansas City, were watching with a heavy heart following the suicide of troubled Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who had also senselessly slain his girlfriend and orphaned his infant daughter before taking his own life. The NFL did the right thing in not glorifying a man who would do such a thing, but rather holding a moment of silence Sunday for all victims of domestic violence. What I didn’t expect, though the commentators were clearly tiptoeing through a very sensitive issue, was a 90-second PSA for gun control from Bob Costas, whom I generally respect.

This was the wrong time and the wrong place, Bob. If I wanted this kind of thing I’d head over to HuffPo or MSNBC. This is a football game and, while the game has been marred by tragedy this year (my favorite player as a child, Junior Seau, committed suicide in May), pontificating about these issues on national television is not a good idea. At least not during a football game. This is escapism.

That is not to say, however, that America does not have a serious cultural problem with violence. Movies and TV shows are undeniably more violent. We tell our kids guns are somehow inherently bad, and then let them go play Call of Duty and Halo. In a culture like this which has gone so wrong, some kids, especially the ones who don’t receive the right kind of mature adult guidance, are bound to go bad. Some also blame the game of football itself, which is inherently violent. We reward such violence with multi-million dollar contracts and cereal endorsements. How many kids are begging to get college scholarships for non-violent sports like badminton, golf or figure skating? Not many.

However, I contend that some individuals, like Belcher and James Holmes, are simply disturbed. It’s sad that they either didn’t get or didn’t seek the help they so clearly needed. People, especially disturbed people, who are bound and determined to kill will find a way to do so. As the recent murder-suicide in Wyoming shows us, havoc can also be wreaked with bows and arrows. Or canisters of mustard gas, homemade pipe bombs, machetes, rocks, pencils, or even innocuous envelopes. (Remember the Unabomber?) Murderous urges can’t be controlled simply by taking guns away. Costas’ claim was that had there not been a gun involved, Belcher and his girlfriend might still be alive. I disagree: he was a 200-plus pound professional athlete who probably dwarfed the young lady. He could have found any number of ways to take her life.

What really worries me is the hypocrisy of people like Costas, who undoubtedly has an armed bodyguard and lives in a gated community. He’s not the one who has to live as a single female in a neighborhood which isn’t always friendly, and walk to his car in the inner city at night. If he did, maybe he’d better consider the value of a sane, well-trained, experienced individual who does own a firearm.

Banning all guns is not the answer. If we learned nothing from the Prohibition years, it’s that a complete ban on a product only ensures a thriving black market and criminal underworld. Ban guns and you create a police state where citizens (or rather, subjects) live in fear of both the police and the violent criminals. The saying goes that with great power, comes great responsibility. We have been given a great power by the founders of our nation: the Second Amendment. It is up to us to stop living in an adolescent fantasy world and start accepting our great responsibility.

What are your feelings on the Belcher murder/suicide? On the Costas commentary? Please be respectful and courteous, as not everyone may agree.

~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on December 3, 2012.

11 Responses to “How Bob Costas Got It Wrong”

  1. Beautifully said, Heather. Murder and domestic violence were around long before gunpowder was ever invented. Further, that was not the time or place. And you bring up an excellent point that so many gun control advocates ignore. The people who are most celebrated for their gun control advocacy have bodyguards. (Prime example – Rosie O’Donnell.) Those bodyguards have guns. Pretty easy to advocate gun control when the two big guys next to you have your back. And guns. Thank you for this blog.

  2. I’ll leave my opinion of guns out of this.

    Gun control is a sticky issue and one which would be hard to enforce, as you noted. How about we start with “Preachy Sports Commentator Control” and if that works, maybe we can look at controlling guns.

    Ever since Wide World of Sports started their “Up close and personal” pieces back in the late 60’s, sports commentators have felt the need to lecture us. Hey Costas, you’re a sports ccommentator, not a paragon of morality. Get over yourself.

  3. Heather, this is truly gorgeous work. Well thought out and balanced in a world sorely lacking both. You’re exactly right that Belcher could have killed her with or without a gun and that, in the end, he was ultimately responsible. Firearms are a great privilege and a sobering responsibility, and it is up to us to defend it from those to seek to abolish it as well as those who seek to approve it.

  4. […] to be shocked awake, otherwise we fall into a stupor. Another blogger, one I usually agree with, is angry at him because football is supposed to be escapism. Well all of us, and I can be guilty of this too, […]

  5. […] Heather Konik over at Prawn and Quartered is one of the most astute people I know. How Bob Costas Got it Wrong […]

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