Coarseness, as American as Apple Pie and Boxing


Coarseness can be defined in as many ways as there are people. One man’s idea of coarseness may be another man’s of progressiveness or sophistication. The M-W Collegiate, 11th Edition defines coarseness as crude or unrefined in taste, manners, or language. Perhaps spokespersons (usually accused of being sticks-in-the-mud) of every generation have described their own era as being coarse, but there seems to be an exponentially intensifying of coarseness occurring currently in this country. Hollywood has always been a convenient whipping-boy (or should that be whipping-person, in the interest of political correctness?) for dragging down the nation’s morals, but the Michael Moore crowd is no guiltier than any other crowd, especially the parent-crowd, a huge part of which seems to have taken a powder with respect to instilling in their offspring some notion of decency. This may be due to the inability to perceive such notion on their part.

The usual elements can be cited as contributing to the lowering of traditional standards, a term that is anathema to the hip crowd of today. How people dress (or don’t bother to) is always a culprit. The going thing for girls today seems to be the lowering of the waist on their jeans so that both front and back mid-body fixtures (once taboo as ogling items) may be seen in the right poses. This sort of replaces the mini-mini-skirt that was just too one-dimensional. The boys don’t suffer from ultra-exposure…they just look sappy in their baggy, many-pocketed pants featuring a crotch at the knee level and pant legs long enough for allowing the ends to drag through the restroom urine and other elements such as dog feces on the sidewalk or in the backyard. One remembers dress codes of yesteryear (okay…many years ago), either spoken or more often just understood, and wonders how modesty got to be so thoroughly discounted as a social virtue.

Television has done its part to lower the standards, in both language and programmatic content. The viewing of the reality shows forms the perfect example of a large part of the population caught in an adolescent time-warp. Content includes the glorification of homosexuality and its perverted behavior, adultery, fornication, cheating, gambling, and various meat-markets, such as those provided by the NFL cheerleaders and halftime orgies. In all sports, players sporting long dirty-looking hair, earrings, multiple tattoos, and bodies bulked up on steroids preen themselves like bantam-roosters, frolicking and taunting opponents while waving their arms for the loyal fans to shout to them about their greatness.

The subject of sports (if that’s what they can honestly be called anymore) brings to mind the perfect example of coarseness, to wit, the demise of Becky Zerlentes, who was beaten to death in a “prizefight” earlier this month in Denver by a lady named Heather Schmitz. Okay…there’s a definite element of chauvinism here – so what! – and nothing should ever be said that might sound discriminatory, but the idea of two women beating the stuffing out of each other is a bit too much…at least for an old guy. This old guy sees the sport of boxing engaged in by anyone – including men, women and roosters – as animalistic to the nth degree…so, there actually isn’t any discrimination on his part. Cock-fight participants at least operate on instinct alone, whereas human beings set out to maim or kill as the result of “reasoned” thought. The old saw that the other guy is in it for the same reason and therefore gives the “sport” respectability doesn’t wash. Setting out to separate another person from reality, inflict permanent injury, and maybe even take life, as was the case mentioned here, is to be condemned, no matter how respectable the bloody effort is made to seem. In May 2000, Juan Silva III was killed in the ring, and his death did nothing either to immortalize his life or the sport…it stood for nothing. The list goes on and on.

An admission: There was a time back in the 50s – 60s when I was mesmerized by the TV-aired bouts in the days of Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore and Carmen Basilio and Rocky Marciano, probably the greatest heavyweight ever. I remember being caught up in the radio announcer’s blow-by-blow description in the very early 40s of the epic battle between renowned heavyweights Joe Louis and Billy Conn. Then, one day it dawned on me that I was being entertained by two men out to knock each other senseless, death always being a possibility. I understood how coarse I was, and I vowed to watch no more. I was in the same class as the Romans who gleefully watched the gladiators fight each other or the animals. Disgusting!

In November 1982 in Las Vegas, lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini knocked out South Korean Duk Koo Kim, who died five days later from the terrible blood clot on his brain resulting from the beating he took. He was terribly overmatched, at least for a 15-rounder, having fought outside of South Korea only once, in the Philippines. The tragedy didn’t end there. Within months, both Kim’s mother and the fight referee, Richard Greene, committed suicide. How much coarser could it get than for screaming men and women, either at a fight or watching on TV, to be willing to watch such mayhem and human torture, as I once was? After this fight, I wrote a short, short story, which anyone is invited to read, in pdf form: Good Luck, Joey>.