Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Scenes We'd like to See #5; The Golden Rule, Street Edition

Another famous, beautiful and talented young woman just got beaten to a pulp by her sociopathic boyfriend, and she’s going back to him, and everything will be hearts and flowers until the next time. In the case of O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown, it eventually turned out that the “heart” became just a knife target and the only “flowers” were the tokens left at the graveside by her grieving family.

Now history seems to be repeating itself with Rihanna and Chris Brown, and all the 911 calls and stormy break-ups in the world won’t affect the most likely outcome. It’s tragic and it’s infuriating and it makes me think back to a underheated Katate dojo in Greenwich Village in the early 70s. My friend was studying with the great Tae Kwan Do sensei Duk Song Son and occasionally his beautiful daughter, herself a high ranking black belt, would teach a class. In kumite, or free fighting sessions, she regularly schooled my friend in the fine points of Korean karate technique. Put more crudely, she kicked his ass.

And so, much as die-hard NRA members love to fantasize what might have happened at Columbine if one of those nerdy biology teachers had been packing some heat, I can’t help thinking about Chris Brown trying his psychotic bully-boy routine on someone beside Rihanna -- his shy and self-effacing Korean girlfriend, say. It would be a kind of pure justice that the institutional justice system could nevertprovide.

Because the ideal, Platonic form of justice, is this:

The world you create with your actions, the terms and ground rules of life which your behavior defines -- APPLY TO YOU.

I suppose it’s like a street-fighting Golden Rule: others will do unto you as you do unto them. You punch your girlfriend and instead of the satisfying crack of fist on cheek, the rich spatter of blood, your punch is blocked, your wrist is broken and your jaw is shattered, all in about one tenth of a second. You were looming over your helpless female victim – how delicious! But now you’re on the ground, with your cheek rasping into the asphalt, the girl – I guess this was the wrong girl to beat up, Chris -- has your other wrist in one hand, and she’s straightening your elbow with the other. And perhaps she has the presence of mind to say something g like this:

“I’m going to break your arm in a few seconds. It’s going to hurt. I want you to remember that pain the next time you decide to attack someone weaker than you are. Will you do that for me, Chris?”

A whimpered, groveling “Yes, yes …” and then the satisfying snap of separating cartilage.

That beats anything you’d ever hear in a court-room, where even an eventual guilty verdict gives nothing but empty closure and everyone knows the punishment doesn't matter because it came too late.

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