When the news hit last week that a 20-year-old referee in the northeast of Brazil had a) sent off a 30-year-old player in an amateur soccer match on June 30; b) been attacked by said enraged player; c) pulled a concealed knife from his clothing and stabbed the player in the heart, killing him; and then d) been beaten, quartered and decapitated by spectators, his head left on a spike on the field — well, the reaction here was as you might expect.
Oh, those crazy Brazilians.
Lost in the clucking of First World superiority -- and we gave them the right to host the next World Cup! -- is something we ought to acknowledge: We're pretty crazy, too. And when our time comes, what we lack in gothic-style horror, we'll more than make up for with a Schwarzenegger-style body count. Our laws these days virtually guarantee it.
I'm not talking about the now-quaint-seeming laws in 23 states making it illegal to assault a sports official. (Do the folks in Minnesota, the state closest to us with such a law, really believe that the threat of six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 will stop someone dumb/drunk enough to attack an official?) No, I'm talking concealed carry.
Yes, concealed knives were at the center of the Maranhão incident. It only means our mayhem will have an American flair: innocents caught in a crossfire. It may not start with a referee pulling a Kel-Tec semi-automatic from his waistband in self-defense (George Zimmerman?), but likely with a vigilante spectator (George Zimmerman?). We won't see a referee beheaded, on SportsCenter or anyplace else. But combine sports fanaticism, brought to you by Miller High Life, a cultural imperative of abusing sports officials, and one in five spectators packing heat? When events spiral out of control one day, it won't be pretty.