03 January, 2013

I Root For Brown (And Not Brown) Fighters

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Mystic Metals Body Jewelry

I Root For Brown (And Not Brown) Fighters

Hey, kids. Yeah. I know I took some time off of writing the blog. I wanted to spend some of the Christmas time with my family, my grandmother specifically who is courageously battling cancer, and my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend's family who come into town from far away. Well, not super really far, but far enough to want to maximize the time spent with them. Also I needed some time for me. I think at the end of the year, since we people like to divide successes and failures in the annual increment, it's easy to get wrapped up in what happened and what will happen. But we'll talk about that that in my shitty end of the year blog. For now, thank you for indulging my little break. I take donations too, since I blog for free. In the form of kittens, cigarettes, and video games, please.

I love watching people fight. Professionally, I mean. I'm a big boxing fan, and thanks to Steve K. I am on the Money Team now, and I very much enjoy mixed martial arts; particularly UFC and the old Strikeforce and WEC promotions. Women's MMA is awesome too. I'm a big Sarah Kaufman fan. (Call me, Sarah!) I'm very much into the art of fighting, combat, the attitudes of the combatants and their beliefs. It's fascinating stuff, and it is a hugely worldly diverse sport. And yes, it is a sport for all you naysayers. One thing that is particularly clear to anyone who watches the events, fanatically or passively, are the tattoos. Quite a few fighters are modified with tattoos, and yes; a lot of them are shitty. But that isn't the topic here. Even though some of them are really super shitty. Like, really, really. I mean bad. But then again, I wouldn't say that to any of them because I don't want to get rear naked choked to death.

Awful tattoos aside, most of the fighters have modifications that exemplify their nationalities and beliefs. Crosses are popular, Asian drawings and characters, military emblems, the ever popular area code of the town the fighter came from, or the So Cal tattoo. Maybe I should get So Jerz across my Sasquatch hairy belly around my navel ring. Yes, I have my navel pierced. Once in a while, you'll get a fighter with a mod that draws some attention. Most often, these mods are on good fighters because really; who gives a poop about the cats who are 3 and 15 with a Picasso nose and a concussion problem. Cain Velasquez is one such fighter. I mean a good fighter with a notable mod, not a shitty fighter. I'll fix that in draft two so it flows better. Draft two... That's funny.

Cain Velasquez is a Mexican American fighter. He's a heavyweight. He's a beast. He's a former UFC heavyweight champion who is 10-1 with nine knockouts, and his only loss came when losing the belt to Junior dos Santos. The rematch is this week, and my money (money... that's funny too) is on Cain. He's a nice guy in interviews, and a monster in the ring. This is the guy who whooped the freak of nature Brock Lesner to win the belt in a fight that ended in a TKO due to strikes. That means, for those who don't follow MMA, he beat Lesner until the referee said, 'Please stop beating this man.' Cain Velasquez has had a wonderful career (losing the belt aside), and it will continue for a while since he is only thirty years old. Thing is, when you try to read about him on the never ever biased internet, what you'll most likely see is his chest tattoo and the fallout about it.

On Cain Velasquez's chest is a tattoo that reads "Brown Pride." In a traditional kind of olde English font, the words stretch across his clavicle from one massive shoulder to the next. Every interview Cain Velasquez enters into inevitably arrives at a question about the mod's insensitivity toward... not brown people, I guess; and over and over, Cain Velasquez responds affably and politely about the meaning of the modification and its intent, which does not include offense towards those who don't identify as brown. He talks rather about his Mexican pride, his attention to their hardworking nature, his affinity toward his parents' difficulty, and how saying brown pride was a positive refrain for his people to remember their origins and their pride therein. Personally, I am wildly conflicted about Cain Velasquez's modification.

There's one hand. And in that hand is this point. That I'm going to share. Right now. In this hand there is the point that the mod is akin to a white individual proudly displaying 'White Pride' across his chest and the implications it shoulders. What do we think when we see someone proudly displaying the phrase 'white pride' in tattoo or another form? We think of the Klan, don't we. We think of hate and a goal of supremacy through violence and suppression. We don't tend to think of wildly positive things. Nor ought we, really. Most proud white people stay away from the white pride display because they are wise enough to understand that, if the display is indeed not associated with hate, it will inevitably be read that way. Also, whites in the States, in my experience and in the portrayal in media, are often as careful as a modern German around a Jew in terms of how pride of race is displayed due to the history of our nation and the role of brown (and Asian) people in it. Talking about race is often a slippery slope for most whites. However, whites do have as much of a right to be offended as any other knee jerking group in this country, so if there are those who are offended by the 'Brown Pride' modification, they have a right to voice that opinion. The difference, I think, is that the connotation of what brown pride says is vastly different to what white pride says. Double standard? Absolutely, but whose fault is that? Those who hate.

On the other hand, which is the hand I am more likely to associate with (what a dumb thing to say), I love the Constitution of the United States of America. I love every letter of it, every amendment, and every declarative signature on the Declaration of Independence. Especially that wonderfully complicated, yet wildly simplistic First Amendment. For those who may have never read the actual text of the amendment, it is worded exactly thus: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Wonderfully and purposely vague, isn't it? What does it mean? It means we can say what we'd like to say, and the law will protect us. Yes, there are specific limitations to free speech, for those of you who'd like to pick fly shit out of pepper. You can't yell 'Fire!' in a crowded place. You can't threaten the life of the president. And if a private organization is hosting your views, you are bound to compliance to the views of that organization. Obvious concessions. But on the whole, you can do whatever you'd like. It's what allows those God Hates Fags soulless, hellbound morons to display their signs, and it is also what allows you to stand next to one of those idiots with your own sign that says, 'Fuck these guys' with an arrow pointing at them. There are, however, a couple of big assumptions here in the point of Cain Velasquez 'Brown Pride' modification. The first is that we have to assume that tattoos are protected speech. The second is that the intent of the mod is not hate speech, though hate speech is indeed protected. With these two assumptions we can then look onto the mod itself and say, 'Cain is expressing himself,' and, 'Though I may not agree, he has the right to display what he wishes to display.' I am in this camp, I think. I am not offended by his modification, nor am I offended by a white pride, black pride, kitten pride, bioluminescent jellyfish pride tattoo on anyone else. We in this country have slowly and effectively surreptitiously blurred the line of pride and intolerance. They are not one in the same, nor are they mutually exclusive. Because I am proud to be Italian does not make me intolerant to other ethnicities. Because you are proud to be jewish does not make you intolerant to other faiths. It can, but it isn't a guarantee to be assumed. Because Cain Velasquez is proud to be Mexican, or brown, does not mean his also carries with him an intolerance for whites. That is an assumption of the viewer, and any viewer who has not read his statements or interviews regarding the mod must respect that his own assumptions may be incorrect. Would I support a white fighter's white pride tattoo? Constitutionally, absolutely. I love the Constitution. I think Dana White, president of the UFC and an individual whose opinions and views never have to be assumed, summed the Cain Velasquez modification attention up pretty well with this: "I lived in Boston: every Italian was running around with something Italian on their body, every guy who was Irish had some Irish tattoo on him, and the list goes on and on. It’s ridiculous..”

I root for Cain Velasquez. My support of him has nothing to do with his tattoo, his heritage, or his brownness. I root for him because he is a good fighter. A great fighter, even. I root for him because he works hard, fights hard, is entertaining to watch, and is a model of work ethic and the reaping of rewards from that hard work. None of that has anything to do with his brownness or his views toward being brown. I root for white fighters, Brazilian fighters, Japanese fighters, women fighters, Russian fighters, religious fighters, atheist fighters, and I'm sure gay fighters if I knew of any off the top of my bald head. I root for fighters who fight well. I don't give a poop in a mason jar about their political views, their race views, or any pride views they may have. Let's in this country not mistake pride with intolerance. They are very clearly different things which tend to get muddled in a mortar of political correctness in this hypersensitive society in which we live. Because I am proud to by Christian does not make me intolerant of non-Christians. Because I am proud to be modified does not make me intolerant of unmodded people. Because I am proud to be straight does not make me intolerant of gays. These are all completely different discussions. Because Cain Velasquez is proud to be brown does not make him intolerant of not browns. Let's all keep our knee jerking to a minimum before we bump it against the nasty, rotten gum under the table. Stay beautiful, kids.

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