80,000. That is what the reporter said on the CBS Early Show. I had to check it out myself. She was wrong. The number is closer to 110,000. That is the number of videos found on YouTube.com when searching “Girl Fights” and “Boy Fights.” 110,000 too many. Limit the search to just “fights,” and YouTube comes back with “millions.” That is the definition of insanity.
Just as disturbing are the comments, the “leads” for each: “theses girls dont know how to fight that well cuz there in the 8th grade but a fights a fights” (sic). YouTube is promoting these videos by prompting the viewer to “Also try: street fights, girl fight, white girls fight, black girl fights, ghetto girls fight, fat girls fight, school fights, slaps.” It is racism and brutality at its worst. The eight teenagers in Florida, who viciously assaulted and hospitalized a 16-year-old girl on March 30 and then posted a video of the attack on the Internet, are just the tip of the iceberg.
I enjoy the sport of boxing. Frazier, Ali and Robertson are among the great men representing true sportsmanship. My background includes Judo and Aikido as both martial arts and forms of meditation. There is a high level of morality and respect in the practice of tae kwon do, karate and other true practices of the martial arts. I have never sought confrontation for the sake of the fight but will stand, without hesitation, to right an injustice. I am, above all else, a humanist.
It is extremely apparent that our society is thriving on more than just simple and fair competition; it now sees brutality as a form of entertainment. I wonder, as patrons make their purchases of boxing and mixed martial arts equipment at our local sporting goods store, if any of these men or women, boys or girls, have taken boxing or martial arts courses. A few have. Most just want to brawl.
I worry about our society. Are we becoming more tolerant of violence and destructive behaviors and intolerant of respect and honor? We are repeating our past and glorifying violence through story and legend. Gangsters become heroes. Violence is honored.
The occurrence in Florida is not an isolated incident. On the contrary, I see parents espousing the ability of their child to be stronger and “badder.” Bumper stickers stressing that “My kid can beat up your honor student” are not uncommon. Religions that claim compassion advocate violence against “non-believers.” The role of the schools to teach diversity and tolerance is severely limited by those who fear “them” — those who have a different faith, different skin color, different sexual orientation, different native language or simply different dress and jewelry.
A decade ago, I had the honor to sit with 5,000 others to listen to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in Denver. He impressed on the audience the need for understanding and tolerance, the need to act as only one race, the human race, as opposed to practicing ethnocentrism. I did ask His Holiness if he knew the answer to the meaning of life. His answer was simple: No, but the answer is all around us.
We are surrounded by and embrace violence. We watch shows like Jerry Springer and COPS with fanatic loyalty. “If it bleeds, it leads” is the ongoing mentality of mainstream media and of the anarchy of the conspiracy Internet sites. What is wrong with this picture?
The kids are tackling the issue of peer violence head-on. Seeing their peers seeking 15 minutes of fame by committing unlawful violent acts on YouTube, they are calling for an end to the brutality. The law will deal with the Florida eight and others. Peer pressure to stop the beatings and bullying is far more effective than legal actions and will deal with YouTube. Video and social sites must be more vigilant, taking on self-editing and, dare I say, censoring the material found under their banners. We, as intelligent and caring citizens of this planet, must stand up for sanity.
David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.