Saturday, January 06, 2007


Fifteen thousand bucks, that's what it will cost you to take the first punch. This is aunt Sara to my son Beau's black eye at dinner tonight. She should know, she's a prosecuting attorney and has a good idea about the cost to defend yourself in court after defending your ego in public. While common street sense mandates that he who gets the in first punch has the advantage, the law lays the blame on the cowboy first on the draw. My sons are in that testosterone-driven period of life where offenses against them are taken as serious breaches of conduct worthy of a fight. Usually they are provoked by the same common elements: drinking, insults, and girls. Somebody says something insulting and the offended one says, "Are you messing with me?" to which the offender remarks, "Yeah, and what are you gonna do about it, (insert expletive here)?" And then someone is supposed to beat someone up. At college, Ryan has been in several fights this year, none of which he started. For him just being muscled, good-looking and garnering the attention of the females in the crowd seems to make him game for attacks. That's not to say he didn't throw the first punch.

Beau never looks for a fight, but on this occasion he was guilty of being in the company of two beautiful young girls that somebody else, somebody drunk and stupid, thought were fair game for harassment. When Beau objected, well, gee, that's the language of threat to idiot drunk boys, so bring-it-on. Coincidentally, at that very moment, Ryan and his 6 ft. 4 friend walked up on the scene. Ryan voiced his objection and probably flexed some muscle. When the offender pressed into him Ryan surprised him with his fist. Then someone punched Beau in the eye. No one is sure exactly what happened next but it amounted to people getting pulled off each other by by-standers.

In the telling it sounded amusing and noble that a brother should stick up for a brother and for the honor of lovely young ladies, and it was especially funny the part when the drunk offender lurched in Ryan's face with his fingers posed in the gang sign language muttering, "Are we cool, dude?" Ryan's answer was the cold-cock which knocked the idiot senseless to the floor. Yeah, we're cool now.

But we must remind ourselves that this is not the wild west and fist fights are labeled physical assaults where participants are named offenders and victims and go to jail and pay fines and acquire criminal status. I find myself feeling ambiguous about this because I want my sons to stand up for themselves even with physical force when necessary, however, I don't want them or any others to suffer any risk that comes from force both of the fist and of the law.

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