Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some things should not be for sale (update of "Violence Has Replaced the Ideal of Peace")

On Saturday, August 28, Ultimate Fighting Championship 118 (UFC), a mixed martial arts (MMA) contest, came to Boston’s TD Garden.

In December 2009, Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation that promulgated strict rules governing MMA contests, which heretofore were banned. The new law created a five-member State Athletic Commission charged with the regulation of all professional and amateur boxing, mixed martial arts, and unarmed combat events, which paved the way for UFC 118 to be held in Boston this year. It also eliminated Boston Mayor Menino’s concerns of insufficient regulation.

MMA’s ultimate fighting contests involve two fighters enclosed in a cage who engage in full contact combat. MMA encompasses a wide variety of fighting from a mixture of martial arts: combinations of boxing, kickboxing, judo, wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Cage Combat, and Toughman. MMA competitions are repugnant, grotesque, and an obscene orgy of violence. A sport described by Arizona Senator John McCain as "human cockfighting."

America’s obsession with violence has sanctioned ultimate fighting. Although stricter regulations are an improvement, nevertheless, for entertainment Massachusetts has reverted to the Roman gladiatorial combat era of the second century BC. America has regressed rather than progressed. Instead of moving forward to restrain and marginalize violence, Massachusetts and America has taken a step backward by legalizing it. Boxing should be illegal, and instead we have upgraded the violence of boxing by legalizing ultimate fighting contests.

UFC’s are profit makers for its organizers, area businesses, and tax revenue for the city and state. Beginning with pay-per-view broadcasts, it is now prevalent in sports venues and in some sport bars across forty-two states. As Mayor Menino representative Dot Joyce said, “The mayor is cautiously optimistic the UFC’s money-making juggernaut will be a boon to the local economy.”

This sport encourages and validates violent behavior. It sets up a path for sociopathic behavior, for actions not bound by guilt, regret, compassion, love, or even fear. Combat fighter competitors resort to violence to injure, weaken, and intimidate opponents. Other professional and amateur athletes similarly use the same method of intimidation: Basketball, Football, Ice Hockey, Rugby, Soccer, Boxing, and Wrestling.

Behavior exchange principles, factors contributing to the presence of violence in sports, inform us that these violent behaviors are learned and imbued, inculcated via fan, media, and cultural attitudes. And by modeling, wherein it can be expected that if your role model practices violence you will likely emulate violence.

But, more importantly, how can we ever expect to achieve world peace if we continue to embrace violence? For all forms of sport and entertainment are, in part, a reflection of culture and its institutions. The Dalai Lama proclaims compassion as the “pillar of world peace.” His Holiness says, “Each individual has a universal responsibility to shape institutions to serve human needs.” That “The pursuit of the objects of our desire and attachment involves the use of aggression and competitiveness as supposedly efficacious instruments.” Moreover, that “these mental processes easily translate into actions, breeding belligerence …. He calls for the need to eliminate “these 'poisons' - delusion, greed, and aggression.” Further proclaiming, “For it is these poisons that are behind almost every trouble in the world.”

In America, it seems more and more that selling the poison of aggression for the sake of monetary gain has replaced the ideal of peace as an enduring entity.

Sport and entertainment markets need to establish moral limits. Some things plainly should not be for sale.