The old man was already laying in agony on the ground by the time he got to the scene, his eyes swollen from the unexpected stream of chemical spray unleashed onto his face by a rogue protester only moments earlier.
Based Stick Man could only look down at him. What monster could have done this? What beasts of creation had harmed this old man for the crime of declaring love for a leader? He scanned the crowd, looking out from his mask through sweat-drenched eyes.
He soon spotted them in the distance. Of course! It was the Thunder-Thigh Three, the supervillains that had long ago taken the campus with the help of their many henchman. They had already unleashed them onto the unsuspecting innocent civilians. Based Stick Man swore to himself. He could not let this stand. This is what he was there for! This was what he was made for.
And with the rage of an army welling up inside of him, he leapt into action…
With a great show of power he smashed his stick into the damp grass as a bevy of the Thunder-Thigh Three’s henchmen began to surround him. But he was not intimidated. Based Stick Man had no fear. He charged with the frenzy of a thousand demons, and brought forth his fury directly on the head of one of the Thunder-Thigh Three’s thralls. He struck with such force that…
…his stick broke.
Then he realized he was fucked and needed to get out of there before they killed him.
Instead, he got arrested and is rumored to be under a $100,000 bond.
And so ended the short career of Based Stick Man. But his story shall live as a living example of why you shouldn’t let your LARPing character interact with people at a political protest.
I get it, it’s actually kind of funny to observe. But the reality is that meeting political violence with political violence, no matter how ludicrous it is, is setting a very dangerous precedent. I spoke out against it when Black Bloc types started going nuts a few months back. I spoke out when I said that punching Nazis unprovoked maybe is only going to invite people who may-or-may-not be Nazis to fight back. And now we’re seeing the beginning of this very escalation. And trust me, history is very clear on how these things turn out. Bad for everyone.
During the twentieth century there were people who created change non-violently. Rosa Parks set off a national conversation by refusing to move from her seat, starting the road to end segregation. Martin Luther King Junior lost his life pleading for change, using only his words. And perhaps in spite of his death, made great progress in the hearts and minds of the west.
Mahatma Gandhi challenged an Empire by walking to the beach and collecting salt. Civil resistance groups in the Soviet Union began making change in the years just before the Berlin wall fell. In the Philippines, People Power Resistance won the day.
I’m barely scratching the surface, but I think you get the point.
Consider that we, in the west, are among the most privileged people on the planet. Every last one of us, from the richest among us to the lowest common denominator lives in a society where we won’t be killed or imprisoned for our thoughts or political leanings. We are free to choose our religion, or lack thereof. We can choose to use the tongue as a biting weapon over the sting of a bullet, and make headway. We can come home from school or work, sit down and consume millions of dollars of entertainment on a daily basis, all from the privacy of our home. We can reach out over the internet and communicate with our worst enemies. We’ve had a bumpy road getting there, to be sure, and there’s still progress to be made, but we’re doing well.
But today, we stamp our feet on university campuses, which I would argue have a much higher rate of privileged people than not… who are making demands that we must meet based on a convoluted, muddied conversation about equality that lost its way some time ago. In the past, violence has been brought to bear based on these ideas.
And now we’re seeing the first stages of the inevitable escalation with this Based Stick Man character, which both bothers and amuses me. First of all, we’re seeing a real-life “superhero” battle take place before our very eyes. And secondly… I don’t think this will be the last of them. People are going to start bringing bigger weapons, crazier costumes, dirtier tricks and all manner of violence to the table, on both sides unless people start talking again.
I don’t care how prepared you think you are. Someone else is going to be even more prepared. To those who engage in this delusional LARPing nonsense, stop. Leave superheroes where they belong– in myth and legend. Leave dealing with political violence to professionals.
Still, I just can’t shake that part of me that finds it amusing, even if dangerous.