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Instapundit: Heroes like Zaevion Dobson are Made, Not Born

A society that valorizes victimization will get more victims. One that champions heroism will get more heroes.

Knoxville School DistrictKnoxville School DistrictIn his USA Today column, Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds writes about Zaevion Dobson, a high school student in Knoxville, Tennessee who died while shielding three girls from gangbangers' bullets.

The shooting — and Dobson’s heroism — got national attention and even garnered a tweet from President Obama. There’s a GoFundMe page to establish a scholarship fund in his name. And Fulton High School principal Rob Speas commented: “You really don't make a decision in those moments. You just react. And the way Zaevion reacted was to take care of other people. A kid made a split-second decision to take care of others."...

We’d like to live in a world where such heroic tendencies are common, but if they were common, then they wouldn’t be heroic, would they? But surely, we’d like to live in a world where selfless heroism is more common.

Reynolds argues that heroes are made, not born. He suggests that heroic actions come from attitudes and institutions that promote a different sort of world than the one in which we live.

Elementary school students are told they can’t play tag because it involves touching. College students cry for safe spaces and demand trigger warnings. At Oberlin, even ethnic cafeteria food is too much to bear. These days, it seems, we are less likely to exalt heroism than victimhood. With that sort of culture, people like Zaevion seem even more miraculous...

Yet the world, as recent events demonstrate, still calls for heroism on a regular basis. And it seems to me a society that exalts heroism, rather than victimhood, is a society that is likely to have a more desirable ratio of heroes to victims than one that works the other way. Perhaps we should consider making some changes.

And to Zaevion Dobson, rest in peace. Your actions represented the best in human action. Whatever the state of the culture in general, you, and your family, and your friends, have every reason to be proud.

Read the full article here.

I agree with Reynolds that culture matters in this sort of discussion. A society that valorizes victimization will yield more victims and one that champions heroic qualities (we can argue about what those are, but surely they include courage, honesty, commitment, and responsibility) will get more heroes.

Yet I think it's a mistake to always conflate heroism with phsyical strength and sacrifice. Reynolds mentions in pasing that "football is falling out of favor" in part because it involves "too much physicality." Yeah, no.

To the extent that football is fading at lower levels of involvement, it's because it involves stupid physicality. It has a high injury rate and evidence is piling up that it causes serious long-term injuries to those who play it for long periods of time. At the same time, all sorts of physical activity is flourishing, often in extreme forms that are less damaging to our bodies and minds. It's just that it takes different shapes than what some of us grew up with. As the picture above makes clear, Dobson was a football player but it's far from clear to me what role that played in his heroic, self-sacrificing action.

And the line defining heroism is not always easily drawn. Two of the country's great Vietnam doves, Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, had seen real action in World War II and fought valiantly. Yet they were dispatched by political rivals as weak girly-men in debates over foreign policy and military intervention, sometimes by politicians who themselves had sat out the war or had been desk jockeys. I think they acted courageously in speaking out against a war that was unjustified. It wasn't easy to do that. 

In his piece, Reynolds has kind words about the Boy Scouts as the sort of institution that helps create the right conditions for heroic thinking. As an Eagle Scout, I'm very familiar with how the group taught its charges 35 years ago. There was a physical dimension to it, for sure, but mostly the training was about values, teamwork, community, and leadership. For all the quasi-military trappings of the Scouts, the organization didn't harp much on conformity and hierarchy that is essentail to actual martial organziations. It really was more about learning new skills and figuring out how to get a long with a bunch of people who might have very little in common. It was a good experience but also one with serious limits that prevented me from letting my own sons join the organization.

Yes, heroes are made, not born. In cases such as Zaevion Dobson's, the heroism of his actions are clear, inspiring, and deeply tragic. But what makes a society heroic in most instances is not always that easy to define and encourage.

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  • Pompey||

    pasing

    passing

  • sarcasmic||

    Too bad. The kid would have made a good cop. Oh, wait a minute. He put his safety in jeopardy to help others. Never mind. He would have been disqualified for failing to put officer safety above all else.

  • Swiss Servator||

    "He should have strongly downtwinkled the shooting!"

    /Occupy Derp

  • d3x / dt3||

    Thank God he didn't have a gun to shoot back!

    /Prog

  • Swiss Servator||

    I have personally known three people I would describe as "heroes" (a Scout leader, a pilot and an Army NCO) and meet two others in a natural disaster (two high school kids who went into an absolutely raging river and pulled an older couple out of their car that was being swept away - the local Fire Department guys were going nuts, lauding them).

    All were small town, Midwestern guys - and damned quiet about what they did (the two kids kind of blushed, murmured and looked down when the FD told us what they did). Kind of hard to find out what they were thinking when they won't say much.

  • Lee G||

    It's the Midwest farmer attitude of "It needed to be done, so I did it."

  • Swiss Servator||

    The Scout leader was a Ranger in 1944-1945 - he told me he was a cook in the Army. I found out a little of the real story while he was still alive, but most after he died. The pilot....I understand why he didn't want to talk about it http://valor.militarytimes.com.....ntid=22879 as he left that morning with 24 other crews....his and one other survived. The Army NCO, I had to get several whiskies into him one night to get his story out.

  • Lee G||

    I knew a WW2 B17 bombardier. He got shot down and lived as a POW in a Nazi camp for over a year. Not nearly as rough as the Japanese camps, but harsh nonetheless. He never spoke about it much other than to say that without buddying up, you were as good as dead.

  • Copernicus would chip||

    Can you elaborate on the need for "buddying up" at a POW camp? I can imagine it being important while in prison as defense against the other inmates but a POW camp strikes me as quite a bit different.

  • Lee G||

    In his case, it was towards the end of the war and the Nazis were short on supplies, including food. Buddying up allowed some division of labor and someone to watch your back (and food when you were sleeping).

  • Number.6||

    Pooling resources is important. And when you manage to acquire resources, hanging onto them needs teamwork - you have to sleep sometime.

    In James Clavell's "King Rat" (OK, Pacific Theater, but relevant) the importance of buddying up is demonstrated time and time again.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    My grandpa was in prison camp for 18 months after the Battle of the Bulge.

    He says that the Nazis were really nice towards the end, when they realized they were going to lose.

  • JW||

    "You vould like the schnitzel, ya?"

  • creech||

    "18 months after the Battle of the Bulge"

    The war in Europe ended six months after Battle of Bulge started. In any case, being a POW was no piece of cake. Plenty of Americans taken prisoner in 1944 were put in camps that were in the sector later being attacked by the Russians and the Nazis marched them West in snow and cold weather, with little food. Many died, paying the price for the Nazi guards wanting to save themselves from the vengeful Russkies.

  • Copernicus would chip||

    That brings to mind the story I read here a year or two ago about some guys wanting to do a similar rescue and were prevented from doing so by a bunch of police who preferred the tactic of standing around.

    From first hand experience I can tell you there is a massive chasm between the mentality of your average cop vs. fireman.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Yet I think it's a mistake to always conflate heroism with phsyical strength and sacrifice."

    Self-sacrifice has been an essential element of heroism since the introduction of Christianity. The difference between heroes before the introduction of Christianity and after is their willingness to sacrifice themselves.

    "Two of the country's great Vietnam doves, Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, had seen real action in World War II and fought valiantly. Yet they were dispatched by political rivals as weak girly-men in debates"

    The attitude is that the real heroes are dead--they sacrificed themselves for us. You know who else sacrificed himself for us?

  • sarcasmic||

    Hitler?

  • ||

    So...even with the direct quote in front of you, you equate all self-sacrifice with physical sacrifice.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I didn't say that's the way I saw it. I said that's the general attitude in the public, and its been that way for a thousand years--going back through the history of the heroic epic. Our culture was profoundly affected by Christianity and most profoundly influenced by that greatest of heroic epics. We idealize heroes (consciously or otherwise) to the extent that they conform to the Christian ideal of total sacrifice for others.

    It is true that sacrifices of other kinds are also well regarded, but the more they conform to the Christian ideal of total sacrifice for others, the more well regarded those sacrifices tend to be.

    Pat Tillman is considered a hero--especially because he made the ultimate sacrifice.

    Personally, I think of Desmond Doss as a hero, too--because of the willing sacrifices he made--even though he lived to be an old man.

    Incidentally, Desmond Doss was the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor and is the subject of a forthcoming Mel Gibson biopic. You should read his medal citation. It's all about willing self-sacrifice for others.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Doss

  • IceTrey||

    I wouldn't stain his achievement with the label of self sacrifice. He was a medic. He was just doing his job.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Are you reading the same Medal of Honor citation I am?

    If you are, and you don't think that's legitimate self-sacrifice, then I think you're out of your mind.

    I suppose it does speak to my larger point, though. Would you consider him a greater hero if he'd made the ultimate sacrifice and died?

  • IceTrey||

    No I think he was doing his duty.

    "an action or task required by a person's position or occupation"

  • IceTrey||

    My father was a Marine company commander in Vietnam during the Tet offensive and the Battle of Khe Sahn. I grew up in the military surrounded by Vietnam vets. Knowing their stories I'm less impressed with awards than the average civilian.

  • Seamus||

    You don't get a Medal of Honor if you just do your job. That's what "above and beyond the call of duty" means--doing valiant deeds that no one would blame you for not doing.

  • IceTrey||

    You get an MoH if the right person sees you doing what you're doing.

  • Swiss Servator||

    I beg pardon?

  • IceTrey||

    Lots of soldiers commit acts worthy of an MoH but because they weren't witnessed by the right person they are unrewarded.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Just because no one saw it doesn't mean it wasn't heroic, and what Desmond Doss did wasn't unheroic just because someone saw it.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Right - but saying someone got one "only because someone saw them" doesn't mean what they did wasn't crazy brave, etc.

  • Ken Shultz||

    +1

  • creech||

    Like MacArthur being given the MOH for "his" stand in the Phillipines? His subordinate (the guy who deserved it - all the soldiers taken prisoner actually deserved it,) finally was awarded it after the war and MacArthur actually opposed the award.

  • CZmacure||

    "Pat Tillman is considered a hero"

    Why? Is everyone who volunteered for military service, ever, a hero?

    The fact that he gave up a high paying job for a lower paying job working for the government does not make him a hero. The fact that he then died as a result also does not make him a hero.

    If they did, every person in the above cohort ("gave up opportunities in order to serve and then died") would be a hero, and that would seem to dramatically devalue actual, you know, heroic acts. Would we call Joe Random promising kid who joined the service and then died in a training accident a "hero?"

    tl;dr - Being famous before you work for the government doesn't make you a hero. Acting heroically makes you a hero.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Why? Is everyone who volunteered for military service, ever, a hero?

    You get some respect from an awful lot of Americans and a "thank you for your service", yeah.

    I especially appreciate it now that we've, for the most part, gotten rid of conscription, and, I'd argue, so should you.

    "The fact that he gave up a high paying job for a lower paying job working for the government does not make him a hero. The fact that he then died as a result also does not make him a hero."

    Yeah, he made sacrifices to volunteer for service and ended up losing his life for it, and that's exactly what makes him a hero to so many people.

    Whether you consider him a hero and whether much of America does are two separate questions.

  • CZmacure||

    " You get some respect from an awful lot of Americans and a "thank you for your service", yeah. "

    If that's what makes one a "hero," then ok.

    I appreciate people being willing to take a job in the military, but I don't really translate it into them serving on behalf of me, personally. At best, they seem to serve the state, like.. police or school teachers or bureaucrats? The overwhelming majority of servicepeople, even in wartime, never face any mortal danger... where does the heroism come in? If every person who loses their life in "service" is a hero, then we seem to be dramatically lowering the bar for "hero" status.

    " Yeah, he made sacrifices to volunteer for service and ended up losing his life for it, and that's exactly what makes him a hero to so many people. "

    The fetishization of "for service" here is what concerns me. Is my friend the Airforce plumber engaged in heroic "service" while my other friend the private sector plumber is just a plumber?

    I'm pretty sure they're both just plumbers.

    Whether you consider him a hero and whether much of America does are two separate questions.


    Certainly true. "Much of America" seems to believe a whole lot of not very logically coherent things.

    tl;dr - I am skeptical of glorification of armed agents of the state as "our heroic defenders, serving us, the people."

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    What the fuck does Christianity have to do with heroism? Are you seriously saying that there were no heroes before Christianity?

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    And if you are trying to say the heroism got redefined by Christianity to include self-sacrifice, how about all the Medal of Honor winners who did not die, such as Audi Murphy?

    Seriously, again, what the fuck does Christianity have to do with the definition of heroism?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I just answered that question above.

    We still think of such people as heroic, to various extents, when their story includes the essential element of self-sacrifice.

  • Swiss Servator||

    *elegantly narrows gaze*

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I won't try to answer for Mr. Shultz, but I think you're evading the point that he raised by citing Audie Murphy or living Medal of Honor winners. It's not their death that is seen as making them heroic. It's their willingness to risk the likelihood of death that is seen as heroic.

  • Ken Shultz||

    No, I said that they way people think of heroes changed after the introduction of Christianity.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    [citation needed]

    I specifically asked what Christianity has to do with heroism. You repeat it has changed the definition. I think you're loony and made that up out of thin air. If you have some real source other than your imagination, please tell us.

  • Ken Shultz||

    This is pretty standard freshman Survey of Western Lit stuff.

    Heroic epics are perhaps the oldest literary form. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, there isn't anything about the hero that has anything to do with self-sacrifice. When you look at other pre-Christian heroes, say Ulysses, the last thing you think about him is that he's into self-sacrifice for others. It's the same with the other ancient heroes. Achilles is doing it for revenge or his own glory. Neither him nor Aeneas are about to sacrifice themselves for others.

    In the stories we have during the Christian transitions? Look at Beowulf. We can see the paganism all throughout and yet transferred down to us through the editing of Christians, it starts to intertwine with Christian ideals of self-sacrifice. Afterwards, the heroes sometimes just become martyrs. Such and such a saint was martyred by pagans like Jesus was--call him a saint if you want. That's the new hero.

    Try to think of it this way. Would you really want to argue that Christianity had no influence at all on the ideals of Western culture--including what we think of as heroism? Surely you think that's going too far, don't you? If the New Testament is by far the most influential heroic epic in Western culture, and it is, then why wouldn't we expect to see it have an impact on how we think of heroes?

  • Jerryskids||

    I don't want to be putting words in your mouth, Ken, but I think you might be suggesting the whole school of thought that derides Judeo-Christianity as a religion of the weak, the whole "blessed are the meek" thing. Judaism is a chronicle of suffering, Christianity makes a virtue of humility and turning the other cheek. The Jews pray for deliverance from their enemies rather than taking up the sword and delivering themselves, Jesus was willing to die for his beliefs but was not willing to kill to defend them. Yes, it takes a certain kind of strength to endure suffering but the old heroes of myth and legend were generally the ones dishing out the pain.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Christianity makes a virtue of humility and turning the other cheek."

    It's important to understand that there is a real difference between what people aspire to and what they really are.

    Slave owners can write amazing tracts stating that all men are created equal in that they are endowed with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    I suppose it's much easier for a religion like Christianity to have a bigger impact on what we idealize more so than what we actually do.

    Yeah, we could idealize warriors for sacrificing themselves for others--even as the warriors themselves are actually doing the opposite of turning the other cheek.

    That being said, I'd trace the beginnings of civil disobedience as we know it to Christian martyrs under the Romans. Seeing naive but adamant Christian girls thrown to the lions made a lot of Romans resent the emperor for his injustices. There's a reason Christian tactics worked to make the Roman Empire a Christian empire.

    And even later in Western culture, our Christian ideals did make us especially susceptible to the tactics of MLK and Gandhi in the real world. We don't always live up to our ideals, but they can still have an impact in the real world.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Jews pray for deliverance from their enemies rather than taking up the sword and delivering themselves

    - 1 shitload of Maccabees, of course

  • Swiss Servator||

    16 And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.

    17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.

    18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.

    19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.

    20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.

    21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.

    22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.

  • Copernicus would chip||

    Oh and Jenkins? Apparently your mother died this morning.

  • Jerryskids||

    King Leonidas?

  • Ken Shultz||

    You mean in the movie 300?

    He wanted to be remembered, so, even then they tried to show he was doing it for the glory, but . . . c'mon. They also tried to make it look like he was sacrificing himself to save democracy--Spartans sacrificing themselves for democracy is ridiculous.

    If they had to pitch it as self-sacrifice for others to make it connect with modern audiences, then that movie is more of a testament to how we've been impacted by Christianity.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    "They also tried to make it look like he was sacrificing himself to save democracy--Spartans sacrificing themselves for democracy is ridiculous."

    300 is a hilarious movie if you know the history behind the events. The Spartans were FAR from sacrificing themselves for freedom or democracy or the like. If anything, with the Spartan economy (dependent on slave labor for every free man was a part of the military), part of their motivation against the Persians (who at the time had no slaves outside of POWs and who had a habit of freeing the slaves of their defeated enemies) was to protect and preserve the institution of slavery. The line "You threaten my people with slavery and death" is deliciously ironic coming from the mouth of a Spartan spoken to a Persian.

    I do think, though I don't care for Leonidas, he was a self-sacrificial person. He stayed behind to allow the majority of his men to retreat from Thermopylae, after the Persians routed his shield-wall. The Thespians, however, could be seen as MORE self-sacrificial. Since, unlike the Spartans who seem to receive all the credit for covering the retreat at Thermopylae, ALL the Thespian soldiers remained to fight, whereas only a handful of Spartans covered the retreat, while the majority retreated.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "300 is a hilarious movie if you know the history behind the events."

    Well there are lots of historical inaccuracies in depicting war in lots of movies.

    In Braveheart for example, the English were defeated at the battle of Stirling.

    The real battle was known as the Battle of Stirling Bridge - a narrow bridge over the river Forth.

    In the movie there was no bridge and no river.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    Keeping the Greek theme, there's also the original Marathon runner, who gave his life to deliver a warning. In stories of Chinese heroes, there is Mulan, who sacrificed her own safety to save her father (though this is more about filial duty than self-sacrifice). There are the Norse Gods, who are mostly selfish, but are still committed to fighting in the Battle of Ragnorok, in which most of the Gods are FULLY aware that that battle will be their end, yet still commit themselves to the battle because it means saving others. Then there is the ENTIRE thesis of Aztec theology, where the Aztecs believed they needed to sacrifice themselves to keep the Gods alive, and also believed that the Gods routinely sacrificed themselves to keep Humanity alive. That could be argued as "self-interested self-sacrifice", but it is self-sacrifice none-the-less.

    So I think you're kinda wrong in saying that self-sacrifice wasn't an exulted thing before Christianity. Though the spirit of what you are saying is true. Christianity made it BIGGER than before. The fact that Christians believed their God committed self-sacrifice made them idolize and emulate the act of self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice was exulted before Christianity, but it became even MORE of a big deal when Christianity came along. The fact that Catholics are more lenient on martyrs with Sainthood requirements are a testament to that fact.

  • Swiss Servator||

    the Aztecs believed they needed to sacrifice themselves

    "Themselves"...or "someone"?

  • Ken Shultz||

    What I was saying was that self-sacrifice for the benefit of others wasn't considered especially heroic before the introduction of Christianity, and it became a defining characteristic afterwards.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yet they were dispatched by political rivals as weak girly-men in debates over foreign policy and military intervention, sometimes by politicians who themselves had sat out the war or had been desk jockeys.

    I don't think that was the consensus view. Heroics are in the eye of the beholder, and the status can be revoked at any time. Unfortunately, young Mr. Dobson won't get the chance through further actions to fall from grace.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    As a real hero I greeted others by saying "Merry Christmas," not "Happy Holidays."

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    I have been saying "Happy Christmas" and "Merry New Year"since I was a kid. Pfffft!

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I single-handedly fought the War on Christmas, which is about heroic as it gets.

  • The Hyperbole||

    Sure but I spent the extra cabbage and made sure to buy my coffee from Starbucks, and I told them that my name was Bah Humbug, I guess this year we'll just have to call it a draw.

  • lap83||

    Nice. I told them my name was Better Red than Dead

  • Citizen X||

    I fought in the War on Calling Every Damn Thing a War. I lost.

    Winning the War on Obesity, though.

  • SusanM||

    I say "Happy Hanukkah" just to see how the people who get their nuts in a twist over "Happy Holidays" react.

  • R C Dean||

    A society that valorizes victimization will yield more victims and one that champions heroic qualities (we can argue about what those are, but surely they include courage, honesty, commitment, and responsibility) will get more heroes.

    You get more of what you reward something something.

  • R C Dean||

    To the extent that football is fading at lower levels of involvement, it's because it involves stupid physicality. It has a high injury rate and evidence is piling up that it causes serious long-term injuries to those who play it for long periods of time.

    Heroism involves risk. From this, it would seem that sports that don't impose a risk of harm on participants are unlikely to be training grounds for heroes. In many ways, the path to heroism starts by taking "stupid" risks, does it not?

    Two of the country's great Vietnam doves, Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, had seen real action in World War II and fought valiantly.

    It would be better, would it not, if we did not regard heroism as a lifetime appointment? Exhibit A: John McCain. As a POW, he was undoubtedly a hero, and he has cashed in on that long past the point where it should have expired due to his subsequent actions, starting with being one the cronies being paid off by the S & L industry.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Heroism involves risk. From this, it would seem that sports that don't impose a risk of harm on participants are unlikely to be training grounds for heroes. In many ways, the path to heroism starts by taking "stupid" risks, does it not?"

    I've always suspected that back in the '70s and '80s, people still expected kids to grow up and go to war. The relative nonchalance about violence in football, the toleration for fist fights (back in the day, the vice-principle might take is behind the bleachers to let us finish the fight), and even the tolerance for corporal punishment in school--I think some of that may have been tied to the expectation that we would someday be drafted to fight the communists.

    Our grandparents had fought in World War II, our uncles and cousins had fought in Vietnam, and it was reasonable to assume that a lot of us would end up on the battlefield. Being a responsible parent meant having to take that into consideration. Nowadays, your kid ending up on the battlefield is probably the furthest thing from the average parent's mind.

  • John||

    Even if are not interested in war, it is often interested in you.

  • John||

    Beyond war, the ability to physically defend yourself is a valuable asset. And it is difficult to imagine someone who has never been in any kind of physical danger having the courage to stand up physically to someone much less do what this kid did. They could but it will be harder.

  • Robert||

    I think the popularity of leather jackets was also based on a similar premise. Who around here is known for a leather jacket, I wonder?

  • John||

    Nick can't help but be a poser idiot even when he is right. What exactly is stupid risk other than risk taken doing something Nick doesn't like? Either the other activities are as risky as football or they are not. If they are, they are just as unsafe. If they are not, the people doing them are not as brave.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Yeah I can think of a lot of risky sports and recreational activities - such as motocross motorcyle racing, powerboat racing, rock climbing, skydiving, extreme downhill skiing, etc.

    Just because football is a bigger spectator sport than other activities doesn't mean it's particularly any stupider than lots of other risky things that people do.

  • John||

    I played football for 8 years as a youth and am no worse for wear. I have several friends who are due for knee replacement thanks to skiing. People often die skiing. Does Nick think skiing is a stupid risk? I bet he doesn't. Nick doesn't like football because he is a noxious snob who thinks the wrong sort of people play football.

  • ||

    More people are injured - or die - riding their bicycles. I'm surprised he would take this track - what with Reason always making sure people understand statistical context.

  • John||

    If riding a bike is city traffic is not a stupid risk, nothing is. Aince people Nick likes do that, it of course is not a stupid risk and football is.

  • Jerryskids||

    John, do you have a doctor's note to certify you took no injury from football? You know, traumatic brain injury is a funny thing. If you break your leg it's pretty easy to see your leg is broken but when you break the brain the brain itself is unable to tell that it's broken. It's why as long as you can question your sanity you probably aren't insane - truly crazy people don't know they're insane. Are you really sure repeated blows to the head haven't left you unable to recognize the damage done by repeated blows to the head, John? And how would you know for sure?

  • John||

    Actually I do. I took a huge array of concussion protocols upon returning and before departing for my last deployment. And I was no worse for wear.

  • ||

    Actually I do. I took a huge array of concussion protocols upon returning and before departing for my last deployment. And I was no worse for wear.

    Huh.

  • John||

    If only you had football as an excuse old man. Maybe you do but more likely you choose to be stupid.

  • ||

    Yes, of course, John. No signs of concussion damage discernable from anything you ever write.

    /snickers

  • Swiss Servator||

    "Clinical symptoms of CTE are only beginning to be understood. They are thought to include changes in mood (i.e. depression, suicidality, apathy, anxiety), cognition (i.e. memory loss, executive dysfunction), behavior (short fuse, aggression), and in some cases motor disturbance (i.e. difficulty with balance and gait). While the pathology of CTE has been broken up into stages,[8] the clinical symptoms and clinical progression of CTE are not yet fully understood."

    Throw in something in the cognition part about "letter recognition" or "spelling"... heh.

  • ||

    The sticking point I have with Nick's argument is that there aren't studies run that cost millions (or billions in aggregate) studying the effects of injuries received while doing myriad other activities that look to be as dangerous as football on the surface. Too many of them are newer activities or have a much lower participation rate that the studies aren't really feasible.

    Nick also glosses over the advances in technology and medical protocols that have dramatically reduced the incidence of injury as well as the severity of injuries/recovery time.

  • John||

    The most dangerous youth sport is gymnastics. Since cute rich girls mostly do that, there never seems to be any complaints.

  • R C Dean||

    And I remember seeing evidence, not widely publicized, that soccer is more of a concussion risk than football for the yoots.

  • Florida Man||

    I've heard that headers can cause low level TBI.

  • John||

    Only concussion I have ever had was from heading a soccer ball in an intermural game in college. It was brutal.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Where have you been, jerk? People have been asking about you.

  • Florida Man||

    I needed a break. The politics were bringing me down.

  • B.P.||

    I have a cousin who was a four-year starter in college basketball. She totaled five or six concussions by her junior year, and it wasn't some freak thing for her teammates to get concussions. Any time you have athletes running full speed in opposing directions toward some objective, there's a chance of heads colliding.

  • ||

    Nick can't help but be a poser idiot even when he is right. What exactly is stupid risk other than risk taken doing something Nick doesn't like?

    I realize you just want to mindlessly get your hate on, but Nick's point is that football's physical risks don't result in saving anyone's life or otherwise helping people beyond providing them with a few hours' entertainment. Which, no, doesn't seem very heroic, whether he likes it or not.

  • John||

    Except that Nick goes on to say kids are taking risks playing other sports. Those risks are somehow not stupid risks, whatever those are.

    Nick is a poser idiot Nikki. Why defend him?

  • ||

    Work on your reading comprehension.

    At the same time, all sorts of physical activity is flourishing, often in extreme forms that are less damaging to our bodies and minds. It's just that it takes different shapes than what some of us grew up with.

    Is this about kids? Is it about sports? IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY SAY EITHER, let alone mention specific things for you to bitch about like gymnastics or soccer (neither of which are exactly new).

  • John||

    How are those other sports valuable in this context if they do not involve some physical risk?

    Go back a read my initial post again. Either those sports are less risky and thus the people doing them are not as brave and they don't refute Reynolds' point or they are as risky and no better than football.

    Put down your crush on Nick and think for a moment b

  • ||

    He never claims they are heroic. The claim he is refuting is that "'football is falling out of favor' in part because it involves 'too much physicality.'" He refutes that claim by noting that people are choosing other activities which are also physical.

  • John||

    Yes and physicality means violence and risk of injury. That is Reynolds point. People are afraid of injury and violence thus are less heroic. Saying "but people still exercise" doesn't refute the point.

    At best you are saying Nick either didn't understand Reynolds' point or mid characterized it.

  • ||

    No, I'm still saying you don't know how to read. "People still exercise" does refute the point. What part of "physical activity is flourishing" fails to refute the point that people have given up football because it is physical?

  • Pat (PM)||

    There are degrees of "physical". Stationary bicycling and football are technically both "physical". Substituting one for the other in just about any context would be utterly retarded. Reynolds is basically saying that people are turning into wussies to the extent that they're increasingly choosing physical activities with less risk of traumatic injury (and therefore, presumably, less prospect of "heroism"). I think Nick misunderstood his point. Getting fresh air and a good cardiovascular workout isn't the part of football that Reynolds was idealizing.

  • B.P.||

    Organized sports, including football, help participants in myriad ways beyond providing a few hours of entertainment.

  • Pat (PM)||

    starting with being one the cronies being paid off by the S & L industry.

    Berating the sister of a POW until she cried should have sealed the deal.

  • Jerryskids||

    Dobson died creating a safe space for school children. And yet there are some who would mock the creation of safe spaces for school children.

  • John||

    It is good he saved them but it would have been better if he could have defended them. Fuck dying to be a hero. How about killing to be one?

  • straffinrun||

    Making the other bastard die for his country.

  • Florida Man||

    I don't want to hear you're holding anything but the enemy's nose and kicking him in the ass!

    My grand father fought under that SOB.

  • MSimon||

    Well yeah. The Vietnam War was unjustified. Except for those killed by the communists.

  • John||

    Nothing says courage like abandoning two million Cambodians to die in the killing fields.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I think the Simpsons did a show about victim heros ie falling down a well. I never got that myself.

  • R C Dean||

    One other data point to chew on:

    We used to give the MoH for aggression in combat: wiping out enemy formations, etc.

    Now, most of them are given posthumously to people who died trying to save wounded comrades, etc.

    Both are plenty heroic, IMO, but the change it what is regarded as most heroic from offense to (defensive) sacrifice is worth a ponder, I think.

  • John||

    That is a disturbing trend. So is the larger veteran as victim only those unlucky enough to get blown up are heroes bullshit. Like I say above; fuck dying to be a hero, I would rather kill to be one.

  • Robert||

    Like the worker on the runaway train in New Brunswick who wound up getting blamed for staying aboard & blowing the whistle. He was eventually vindicated, but not w/o a fight, & it's said that had he died he'd've been instantly hailed a hero, but because he acted smart he survived w hardly a scratch.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Glenn Reynolds can be a hero and clean up some of the right-wing douchebaggery that he allows to post at his website.

  • John||

    Or he could just tell people like you to fuck off and read another website if you don't like it. That sounds pretty heroic.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I had no idea you were such a big Ed Driscoll fan. But, its nice to know that you think that a person complaining about what they read on a website should just fuck off.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Point...Crusty.

  • ||

    HHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh god John, tell me another one.

  • Swiss Servator||

    I find myself agreeing with the Worst!

    That was an epic own-goal.

  • JW||

    John's not the hero we want. He's the hero we need.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm kinda with Crusty on this.

    I have no idea why he opened his platinum-plated web property to mediocre partisan bloggers. It didn't improve the quality of his blog, at all.

  • Number.6||

    One of the least appealing qualities of the blog is his affiliation with all the other stuff spouted at PJ Media. I could ignore that, but for the truly nauseating advertizing that comes along with the PJ stuff.

  • R C Dean||

    PJ Media is a mixed bag.

    Belmont Club/Richard Fernandez is essential reading, and would be on my shortest of short lists.

    Vodkapundit/Steve Green is amusing and usually has something new to me.

    Much of the rest is tedious shouty partisan blather.

  • JW||

    Bill Whittle can be amusing, if he's still there.

  • Number.6||

    One of the disappointments of PJ Media was what appeared to be some early nastiness that kept Protein Wisdom out of the consortium. On one hand, they're often ridiculously "Praise the lord and pass the ammo", but on the other, they have some ridiculously funny regulars.

    I have Wretchard's shortcut on my desktop.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Strongly seconded on Protein Wisdom!

  • R C Dean||

    PW fell off my list when I set up a new device. Will have to add back.

  • CZmacure||

    Richard Ferndandez is dramatic and apocalyptic, but simultaneously very cogent. I appreciate his perspective.

  • ||

    Before I began visiting H&R, I was a big Instapundit reader. It was an interesting, though selective, introduction to libertarian ideas. These days I rarely visit his site.

  • The Hyperbole||

    How do you know what the deals of the day are at Amazon?

  • Swiss Servator||

    Zing!

    He did have some original reporting from Afghanistan and a bit from Iraq....back in the day.

  • SIV||

    "Heh"

  • John||

    Because he got tired of doing it and likes getting paid. And if you don't like the other posts just read his

  • R C Dean||

    I don't mind so much that he added co-bloggers.

    Its just that the ones he added are AAA players at best, not major league. And he's gone a major league property there. Sad.

  • ||

    A truly just society, one of morals as opposed to one of laws, would have in-place a mechanism for on-the-spot harvesting of the genetic material of men like Zaevion Dobson. In such a society there would be no shortage of women willing to bear the children of those heros.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    I'd love to hear how this plan has anything to do with morals or justice. I am, in fact, agog.

  • Florida Man||

    Thanks for the "agog". I learned a new word.

  • Rich||

    Here's another: "callipygian".

  • Florida Man||

    Being a butt man, this will come in handy.

  • Swiss Servator||

    I am agog,
    I am aghast...
    Is Marius in love at last?!

  • ||

    This is the other side of the concept of weregild, where if you killed someone you owed his family a price based on his social standing (proxy for earning potential). I believe that in ancient Anglo-Saxon (etc) societies that if you saved someone's life the person you saved owed you his life. This is basically society acknowledging that meritorious people who die before they have a chance to reproduce by natural means have something worth passing on. Please note that there is nothing involuntary about this.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    In such a society there would be no shortage of women willing to bear the children of those heros.

    I have been storing my essence in empty, R.C. cola two-liter bottles just in case we transform into a truly just society.

  • R C Dean||

    Disclaimer: R.C. Cola is not affiliated with R.C. Dean in any way. Especially now.

  • Florida Man||

    You didn't drink the RC cola did you? Because if you did you are not fit to reproduce.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Wait....you say this from a place near the Moon Pie/RC Axis?!

  • Florida Man||

    That was my fathers favorite snack as a kid. I am exhibit A of why it is not okay for CJ to reproduce.

  • Number.6||

    You claim CJ as your father?

    Star Wars comes to Reason.

  • Florida Man||

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    /throws number 6 down shaft

  • Swiss Servator||

    That was fantastic, #6!

  • Crusty Juggler||

    You didn't drink the RC cola did you?

    I am too glamorous for RC Cola, my friend.

  • JW||

    It really was more about learning new skills and figuring out how to get a long with a bunch of people who might have very little in common. It was a good experience but also one with serious limits that prevented me from letting my own sons join the organization

    I had a similar experience in the Scouts, though I was a lazy shit. Never made it beyond 2nd Class.

    My experiences in the scouts weren't as diverse or demanding as yours , but I definitely picked up life skills from it. (Tho' I forgot all of my knots.) Such as, don't be a slobbering fuckwit and carry the pan full of boiling bacon grease from the fire to the food and then dump it on another kid's bare legs like the moron you are.

    Even worse was that a kid I hated got his first aid merit badge, from being the only kid not frozen in dumbfoundedness and tended to my burns as I screamed instructions to them, in searing pain.

    I was sorry that my son couldn't join a troop, solely because DC rush hour traffic made it impossible for 2 working parents to get him to the meetings even close to on time.

  • R C Dean||

    No idea what Scouting is like now. When I was a Scout, though, it was good fun with the kinds of life lessons you get when people aren't trying to Teach You Important Things.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Our idea of what makes a hero is based on our concepts of morality and ethics which as implied in several comments above is deeply rooted in Judea-Christian values. We all agree that this young man is a hero. A number of Muslim Jihadist consider a man who murdered thousands of innocent Americans and who hid beyond women when faced with danger a hero. There are clear and distinct differences culturally on what makes a hero. Hopefully we don't abandon our criteria.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    The deeds and characteristics that we consider heroic tell much about our society. What can we say about a society that considers the killing of innocent, defenseless civilians to be heroic?

  • Rich||

    It's not a bunch of feckless wussies?

    /sarc

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    I'll attempt an answer to my own question.

    Such a society values hate and hating one's enemies. Therefore, enemies are never innocent and their defenselessness is just their weakness. Such a society should have lots of enemies-- both imagined and created.

    In contrast, western, judeo- Christian societies value love-- even loving one's enemies. They have fewer enemies and seek peace rather than war.

    The two societies are as incompatible as oil and water.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I should add what I consider an obvious point that while I reference Judea-Christian values above as it relates to the majority of Americans, I am not implying a Judea-Christian monopoly on those specific values. Just wanted to make that clear.

  • mtrueman||

    "a society that exalts heroism, rather than victimhood"

    The two are inseparable. It seems the author is not thinking clearly:

    "heroic qualities (we can argue about what those are, but surely they include courage, honesty, commitment, and responsibility)"

    What the author is missing is the quality of self-sacrifice. Zaevion Dobson had it, even though the author doesn't recognize it. Without this quality of self-sacrifice, Zaevion Dobson wouldn't have been a hero, or a victim.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    "a society that exalts heroism, rather than victimhood"

    The two are inseparable. It seems the author is not thinking clearly:

    You're going to have to explain this inseperability, cause I don't get it.

  • R C Dean||

    Heroes refuse to acquiesce in their own victimization. As always, the proggy has it ass-backwards.

  • mtrueman||

    "Heroes refuse to acquiesce in their own victimization."

    The hero in question is dead. He's not in a position to refuse anything.

  • R C Dean||

    I didn't say heroes were never also victims (in some sense of the word). I said they didn't acquiesce in it.

  • mtrueman||

    "I said they didn't acquiesce in it."

    Being dead will do that for you. No walking, no talking, no acquiescing. Major bummer.

  • mtrueman||

    "cause I don't get it"

    Was he a hero? Was he a victim? I say he was both. Heroism requires self sacrifice. Courage, honesty, commitment, responsibility alone won't do the trick. The author has misunderstood what it means to be a hero.

  • R C Dean||

    Heroism requires self sacrifice.

    No it doesn't. Some heroes sacrifice themselves. Others do not.

    Others just take "stupid" risks and succeed nonetheless. Ex. A: Audie Murphy. Took a lot of crazy risks, but was not killed (although he was injured, the injury was incidental and no why he got the MoH). Instead, he was an incredibly effective soldier in part because of the risks he took.

    Or, try Chesley Bonestell. Landed that plane on a river, saved a bunch of lives, is a hero even though he didn't get a scratch.

  • mtrueman||

    "because of the risks he took."

    If he took risks, he sacrificed his safety and security. Just like Zaevion Dobson when he sacrificed his safety to shield his companions.

    "Landed that plane on a river"

    I disagree that landing a plane on a river is a heroic act. It's an act of desperation.

  • mtrueman||

    "Chesley Bonestell"

    For Chesley to have been a hero, he would have done what any honourable Captain would have done in his position, and gone down with his ship. He's no Lord Jim (novel by Conrad) but he's no hero either.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Heroism requires self sacrifice.

    No...it doesn't. It can involve self sacrifice, but it doesn't require it.

    For instance, one's motivation could be completing your end of a contract for no reason other than money, and in the process of doing so, you save a bunch of people. You're a hero, but self sacrifice had nothing to do with it.

    Eg "Sully" Sullenberger

  • R C Dean||

    Sullenberger, not Bonestell, is who I meant. Got sidetracked by the Chesley.

  • SIV||

    Bonestell landed on the other 8 planets

  • mtrueman||

    "could be completing your end of a contract"

    You've never come across the phrase "above and beyond the call of duty?" Actions that fit that description are rightly characterized as heroic. Simply fulfilling a contract, even if someone is helped in the process, is not the same thing.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    At freefall speed?

  • mtrueman||

    "a society that exalts heroism, rather than victimhood"

    The two are inseparable. It seems the author is not thinking clearly:

    "heroic qualities (we can argue about what those are, but surely they include courage, honesty, commitment, and responsibility)"

    What the author is missing is the quality of self-sacrifice. Zaevion Dobson had it, even though the author doesn't recognize it. Without this quality of self-sacrifice, Zaevion Dobson wouldn't have been a hero, or a victim.

  • Rich||

    Baby Jesus Statues Reported Missing From 5 NJ Churches

    HATE CRIME!

    Whoever solves it will be a HERO!

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I love baby Cheez-its.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Are you insinuating that Chris Christie ATE the Baby Jesuseses?!1!!1!eleventy

  • Robert||

    To the extent that football is fading at lower levels of involvement, it's because it involves stupid physicality. It has a high injury rate and evidencerumor is piling up that it causes serious long-term injuries to those who play it for long periods of time.


    OK, maybe there's some evidence among those who play it the very longest (the pros). Even there, though, I'd like to see some good case-controlled studies.

  • Robert||

    Of course that means the lower levels of involvement are safe, so it'd be stupid for them to lose participants.

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