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Bars host a considerable share of St. Louis’ dangerous reputation

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If you like being in a good mood, I would not recommend watching the news.

Finishing a day of class and work last week, I turned on the television. The evening news was on a network station, and I found myself immediately depressed.

All the stories seemed to be about violence — a man shot his wife, a 6-year-old was shot in a drive by in north St. Louis, a multi-casualty school shooting occurred in Oakland, Ca. It was just an average Thursday and so many terrible things were happening.

There have been several years in the recent past in which St. Louis has been labeled the most dangerous city in the world. Statistically, this is not far from the truth. There are a lot of murders in our city every year. Who really knows the root causes of these atrocities? I won’t attempt to comment on crime prevention or gun control. Most of the violence I’ve witnessed involves dumb drunk guys at bars. So, let’s talk about that.

With all the war and violence already soiling our city, country and planet, it’s ridiculous that we would contribute to it. Ever seen a bar fight? Generally it has something to do with injured pride and copious amounts of alcohol. One guy hits on another’s girlfriend. A drink is inadvertently spilled. Someone’s white shoe gets scuffed (I actually saw this happen).

They always progress the same way. First insults are exchanged — name-calling and hypotheses about the inferior masculinity of the rival. In the absence of a sensible friend or bouncer, sometimes physical violence will occur right there in the bar. Otherwise, things are usually taken outside. There, a few drunken punches are thrown, someone gets a black eye, occasionally an arrest is made, and no one has any fun.

Watch a National Geographic special about gorillas. You’ll see approximately the same behavior. Intoxicated meatheads bear a striking resemblance to silverbacks beating their chests.

Alcohol tends to revert otherwise civilized men back to their baser, primal instincts. They become territorial, unreasonable animals bent on asserting their own male dominance. Isn’t it reason and compromise that make us the most intelligent animals on the planet? Without a doubt, alcohol neutralizes the part of the brain that regulates our inhibitions. With those inhibitions gone, wouldn’t it be better to sing a song, dance like a fool or spend entirely too much money on shots for everyone?

I’m not saying there are not things worth fighting for. Certainly there are. However, it’s rarely a reason of any significance that causes late night altercations between college students.

My main worry is that the same buffoons who are shoving each other over a spilled drink are going to be the future leaders of world. These are not the people we want heading a corporation, teaching our children or leading our armed forces. With today’s technology, the decisions of a handful of powerful men could literally lead to the apocalypse. I don’t want the guy at the bar who is fighting over injured pride to ever be the one capable of ordering a missile launch.

SLU is a Catholic, Jesuit University. Don’t you ever think Christ might have been serious about that whole love your enemy/turn the other cheek thing? Now of course the entire student body is not Christian. That being said, pretty much every major religion and every code of ethics has some kind of guiding principle similar to the golden rule. The standard “treat others as you wish to be treated” is usually engrained early on in our lives. It’s disgraceful, therefore, that SLU students should ever be the cause of violence in any capacity.

When you’re out at the bars or at a party and the booze is flowing, remember to have a thick skin. Some things just need to be let go. I understand hurt pride. I understand the desire to intimidate and impress, but it does not need to be done with a show of force. If guys especially would take themselves a little less seriously, I think we could avoid a lot of the meaningless violence that goes on around our school and even our city. We’re humans. We’re very smart.

Even if you’re drinking, remember there are lots of nonviolent ways to solve problems. Author Isaac Asimov wrote in one of his novels, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” When I see two bleary-eyed muscle men bearing their teeth outside of Humps on a Friday night, I cannot help but agree.

 

Doug Anstoetter is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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