On Pandemic Panics, Basketball Brawls, and That Impeachment Matter

At this point we’re desperate to opine to about anything other than the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, but there’s not much else in the news. A disease spreading in China might yet kill us all, and here in the Sunflower State there’s much talk about the big brawl that broke out between the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the Kansas State University Wildcats in the final seconds of their men’s basketball contest, but that’s about it.
The recent outbreak of the deadly and contagious coronavirus in Wuhan, China, which is China’s sixth most populous city and more populous than any American city, is indeed a tragedy and a matter of concern. The city is a crucial part of China’s very interactive economy, which is a crucial part of a very interactive global economy, and given all the international travel that occurs these days there’s no telling how that might wind up. Even so, we don’t worry it will wind up killing us all.
By now we’ve survived the Swine Flu and the Ebola Virus and AIDS and all sorts of pandemic panics and other apocalyptic scenarios, and we like our chances with this one. The ruthless commies running China are an unsavory lot, but we have to admit they’re ruthlessly efficient at cracking down on this sort of thing. Even during the Trump administration the American government tends to be less ruthless and more lax about these things, but so far they’ve kept us alive, so we expect they’ll do so again. With all due respect and sympathy to the many fine people of Wuhan, for now it’s not a Wichita problem.
That big brawl between the KU and K-State basketball squads was something to see and a much bigger deal around here, and the footage of massive athletes brawling into the handicapped section was endlessly replayed to sports fans around the country, and although it looked awful it’s ultimately much ado about nothing. We dropped out of K-State but retain an affection for its sports program and as lifelong Wichitans are mostly fans of the Wichita State University Wheatshockers and have no affinity for the haughty KU sports programs, so we look at it from the same biased lens as we do the Trump impeachment trial, but so far as we can objectively tell the hated Jayhawks are mostly at fault.
The melee started in the closing seconds of a lopsided KU victory, which was expected because the Jayhawks are their usual championship-contending selves and the Wildcats are lately mediocre at best, and the game was being played on the hallowed hardwood of KU’s Allen Field House, where the Jayhawks rarely lose. According to the voluminous but inconclusive video evidence the K-State benchwarmers who were playing out the waning minutes just wanted the game over with, but there was a taunt or a push by a KU player, and then a taunt and a push back by a K-State player, and then both benches cleared and the brawl wound up spilling over into the laps of the spectators in the handicapped section.
One of the KU players was clearly videotaped lifting a metal folding chair above his head, pro-wrestling style, with a KU assistant coach preventing him at the last moment from bringing it down on someone’s head, and so far the National Collegiate Athletic Association is coming down harder on the Jayhawks. Both teams will suffer suspensions, but the Jayhawks will suffer more, as their suspended players are more valuable, and they’re already underdogs to the Baylor University Bears in the Big XII conference race, while K-State is just fighting for a slot in the consolatory National Invitational Tournament, where they might do well.
It will all work itself out without any real bother to ourselves, we expect, so tomorrow we’ll get back to worrying about that impeachment trial. As we follow it we’ll be well reminded that sometimes ruthlessness works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

–Bud Norman

People who advocate the right to bear arms are often described as “gun nuts,” and in a few cases we know of the description is probably apt, but there’s a far more rampant nuttiness among the anti-gun contingent.
There has been a slew of news stories lately, for instance, about teachers and school administrators punishing students for possessing perfectly harmless items that vaguely resemble guns. In one case a 6-year-old was suspended for extending his index finger and cocking his thumb as if it were a trigger, and in another a student was suspended for eating his toaster pastry into the shape of a gun. Such instances have become common enough that a Maryland legislator felt the need to introduce a bill that would prohibit similar acts of zealousness by anti-gun educators.
Although we have no strong affinity for firearms, neither can we understand anti-gun nuts’ squeamishness about the things. Playing cops-and-robbers with a hand folded in the form of a gun should surely be the constitutional right of every 6-year-old, and we have seen pastries eaten into far more disturbing shapes than that of a mere pistol. There’s a certain nuttiness about attributing an inherent evil to a firearm, which can just as easily be used for harmless recreation or self-protection as for murder or mayhem, but making the same attribution to anything even resembling a gun takes it another step further.
One can readily imagine the high-minded reasons those educators would offer for their heavy-handed methods, and they no doubt envision a better world that is free of guns and violence and even friendly competition. They’re not preparing the children for the world they’ll actually live in, though, as an instinct for self-preservation will almost certainly be required there. The lessons in governmental bullying might come in handy, at least.

— Bud Norman