Sometimes It’s Not About the Archduke Ferdinand

When historians discuss the genesis of World War I, they recount the assasination of the Archduke Ferdinand which precipitated Austria’s declaration of war on Serbia. This set off a domino effect of mutual defense obligations in Europe which of course was the imprimateur of the Great War. It would be a mistake, however, so say that the war was fought over the Archduke Ferdinand.

In Tenessee this week three people are dead from a firefight that erupted after a boys baseball game. The underlying cause of the hostilities was reported to be a child custody dispute over a 10-year old boy. This battle pitted two families against each other and, after various threats, accusations, and counter-accusations, a parking lot gun battle was waged. It would also be a mistake to say this fight was about the boy.

The dynamics of human affairs are such that what begins as an dispute over one issue often devolves into a personal battle which overshadows the original issue. When two guys in a bar exchange words over the who spent whose quarters in the pool rotation it becomes ineffective and besides the point for a third party to offer reimbursement to the aggrieved party. Once the conflict is initiated it’s no longer about the quarters, it’s no longer over who gets to keep the 10 year old kid, and it’s not about the Archduke Ferdinand either (his mack daddy mustache notwithstanding) , violence will escalate over the principle of the thing. That’s the great ennobling thing about human beings, we have principles and we are willing to prove it by going caveman.

The reason I mention this is because that kid who was the center of the custody dispute in the baseball game shooting probably is going to go through some feelings of guilt thinking the shooting was about him. Robin Williams needs to grab that kid by the shoulders and say “It’s not your fault”, the violence was the direct result of the human nature tendency people have of overestimating perceived wrongs against themselves, underestimating the wrongs they commit to others, and giving in to the feeling that the ends justify the means. I will add that the ends DO justify the means. . . in hypothetical ethical scenarios devised by people who imagine intricate emergency scenarios which rarely, if ever, pop up in real life.

No, the culprit in this situation is not the kid, the courts, the law, or the gun itself. the problem is that somebody thought violence was an appropriate way to solve a dispute. And you know what? Sometimes it is. But not over a custody dispute which doesn’t involve immenent harm, and not at a childrens’ baseball game. Don’t kill people unless defense of self or others in involved or at least you have to say something really really really really funny when you do it.  But not just anything, it better be a zinger outta hell.

6 Responses to “Sometimes It’s Not About the Archduke Ferdinand”

  1. R says:

    I would say that violence is NEVER an appropriate way to end a dispute, but sometimes a necessary implement in order to prevent a much worse outcome.

    So speaking of zingers around scenes of death, if any of you guys watch Law and Order, you know that old detective guy who always has some wisecrack to say at the scene of a crime? Wouldn’t it be awesome if the tombstones of each of the victims were engraved with what that one detective said about them?

    I think it’d be funny…

  2. mexi says:

    That’s what I liked about the Batman comics of the 1970s. Every time he clobbered someone he would always say something funny. Like:

    “Goddamned Jew!”* (CLOUT!)

    * never actually happened

  3. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    you lost me about halfway through

  4. Citizen Quasar says:

    Serbia was believed to have weapons of mass destruction. Wasn’t there a mobile mustard gas plant there?

  5. Phelps says:

    That wasn’t Batman, that was Spiderman, and he still talks shit before, during, and after the fight.

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