APPALL-O-METER

Dave Mulcahey

In a sanguinary reprise of their age-old antagonism, jock and nerd skirmished last month on the parched plains of DeKalb, Illinois. The field of battle, it seems, had been double-booked. Twenty or so members of the Northern Illinois University football team showed up at Huskie Stadium for a practice session, only to discover that the field was occupied by the Capital Regiment, a drum and bugle corps from Ohio that was in town for a national competition. 

According to press reports, NIU strength and conditioning coach John Binkowski parleyed with the leader of the regiment but received no satisfaction. He returned to his men, hustled them into formation, and ordered them to charge. What followed was a confusion of beefcake, busbies and brass. When the dust settled, several corpsmen had fallen, one with a severely sprained ankle and another with a fractured jaw. 

But if the Huskies won the battle, they lost the war. The encounter had been videotaped, and two defensive tackles were hauled in by police. Anthony Falbo was subsequently cleared, but Brian Peterson faces felony battery charges. Coach Binkowski has been fired. Falbo copped the Nuremberg defense. In my years of experience, in that situation, you never second-guess the coach,” he told the Chicago Tribune, especially when you’re running with a group of your teammates.” 

The Violent Majority 8.0

When it comes to kicking countercultural ass, Dirty Harry could learn a few things from the police force in Kazakhstan’s capital. Almaty’s finest have become notoriously zealous in their sweeps of rockers, anarchists, artists, gays and various unkempt types, according to a report by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Those caught in the dragnet can expect extortion, beatings and even more extreme forms of torture. 

A local punk rocker was confined recently to the water tank,” a four-foot-high cell halffilled with cold water. To avoid drowning in the tank, the victim must remain crouching. An Almaty doctor reports having treated numerous young victims of this torture, who generally develop urinary tract disorders as a result. 

Some cops are even beating up on geeks, including enthusiasts of The Lord of the Rings. The Tolkienists protest that they pose no threat to public order, and they vow to stand up for their rights. We are perfectly legal,” protested one. We spend most of our time in the mountains. We only hold conventions in the city twice a year. … 
The police don’t like it, but we aren’t going to stop. It’s our entire life.”

Dave Mulcahey, a former managing editor of The Baffler, wrote In These Times’ monthly Appallo-o-meter” feature for nearly 10 years, until the fall of 2009.
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