This weekends brutal murder /suicide by NFL player Jovan Belcher has shocked many people. I’m sure by Sunday there were a number of people talking about some sort of memorial for the young couple taken by this savage act. But let’s not gloss over the fact that this act of savagery was performed by Jovan Belcher, and Jovan Belcher only. He is said to have had an argument with his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. Ms. Perkins was also the mother of Zoey, their three-month-old daughter. The argument became a very heated argument. It ended with the football player shooting Ms. Perkins nine times and then fleeing to the practice field where he later killed himself.
I’ve read a number of articles over the weekend of how this young player was a role model. He played for the University of Maine, was an All-American and 2008 CAA Football Defensive Player of the year. People admired that he went against the popular culture and joined Male Athletes Against Violence while at Maine. He went into the NFL undrafted, and played 10 of the 11 games this season. These are all great accomplishments. However, his one act Saturday night vastly overshadows every single one of his other accomplishments.
Our culture today is to quick to forget accountability. In many cases we don’t want to place blame squarely where it should go. Bob Costas showed how easy it is to get wrapped up in this mentality. He took time during the Sunday night game to blame a handgun for what happened. However, a handgun is no more at fault than pain medicine or the violent sport that is pro-football. One person and one person only pointed the handgun at Kasandra Perkins, pulled the trigger, and shot her nine times. He could have just as easily done this if he had been a basketball pro, venture capitalist, or environmental activist. Bob Costas would argue this only ended in violence because there was a gun present. Are we going to seriously argue that a 6’2”, 228lbs linebacker isn’t capable of killing a man or woman with his bare hands?
Costas argues that this will continue as long as people own handguns. I argue this kind of violence will continue as long as people don’t place blame where it belongs. There is a tendency to celebrate the murderer in our society. Belcher shouldn’t be celebrated. He should be condemned so that we accurately describe his behavior and other young people don’t try to copy it. It’s our cultures responsibility to call this exactly what it is: a violent act committed by a lone person. Belcher wasn’t the victim Sunday night. Ms. Perkins and young Zoey were.