I managed to make it to most every event on my list this week, from protests and press conferences to the two biggest events in Chicago this week, the Blackhawks rally and the Gay Pride parade. It was those last two events that got me to thinking. Something about each of them highlighted something stark and interesting about us as people. Let me explain.
The events could hardly have been more different. On Thursday, following the Blackhawks Stanley Cup win, the city held a parade. Mind you, this was on the heels of a Monday riot across the city as celebrations spilled into the streets, resulting in dozens of arrests, and millions of dollars in damage to property and clean up. As a comparison, in 10 months of nearly daily sustained protests by the Occupy movement, not a single window was broken. The Thursday event drew several hundred thousand to downtown and Grant Park, and again saw numerous arrests and was marred when police stopped a man carrying two handguns concealed in a pack.
There was a notable sense of aggression at the rally, reflective of a sport that condones violence as part of the game. The fist fights on the ice among players are wildly cheered, adding to the allure and draw of the game and which is too often repeated among fans in the audience. There are dozens of sites on the internet celebrating fan and player violence. It is a part of the game. it is, for fans of the sport, part of the game’s appeal.
This isn’t anti sports and pro-gay. This is a perspective, one that might not be immediately considered. I played sports and enjoy sports. I can do without the gratuitous violence, and I can do without the tribal or ape-like and gleefully erotic rage-driven destruction after a team loses or a team wins. Curious that the police always stand aside and allow the rampage when it comes to team sports, but are arrayed in ranks of riot-geared pseudo-military clad police for peaceful civil demonstrations over constitutionally protected rights. Here’s why.
There is a function that this sort of mass public masturbation serves. It affirms group think, which builds a foundation for nationalism. By the minimal response by authorities and almost anecdotal coverage by the media of what is largely committed by young white people there becomes a tacit approval for such behavior. It is the untempered fury that the state or church can temper to war. For those who believe in freedom, this is the antithesis of freedom.
By contrast the Gay Pride parades and activities around the nation, lofted upon the historic reversal of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, was not anchored in rage or driven by violence. In Chicago, according to authorities, one million turned out for Pride events, rivaling the throngs that gathered for the Blackhawks rally. The Pride event was based entirely on community and love and relationships. No cars were overturned, no windows smashed. There were no fights and no arrests. Blackhawks fans rudely booed Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Quinn, who has hardly furthered the cause of allowing gays to marry might have been jeered at those lining the parade route at the Pride event, but was politely applauded.
The spirit and energy at both events truly was a study in contrasts. At one people, complete strangers embraced at random in a spirit of joy and peace. At another, by 2pm there were ample numbers of drunken young men, many looking for a fight. One was about violent entertainment that distracts from a great game, the other was about freedom, and what is more fundamental to freedom than the choice to whom you can love and marry.
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