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Old 09-28-2009, 05:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Newspaper article I wrote in '97.

In 1997 someone wanted to open up a local paintball field and they ran into opposition with the group of anti's that every little town seems to have. This was my response to the accusation that paintballers are terrorists. I just ran across it and I wanted to post it here for posterity, warts and all...


There is a longstanding difference of opinion about the effects of violence on youngsters. Some say that violence is harmful; others say that insulating youth from violence is harmful. The essence of civilization is taming of violent animal tendencies in human beings so that they can co-exist. The highest expression of this is the reliance with which citizens can interact with one another in complete confidence that violence will not erupt. Fatal violence is very rare in contrast to the billions of successful non-violent interactions everyday on this planet. We take civilization for granted as a natural expression of our humanity, but it is not natural at all. Respect for others rights to exist must be learned.

For thousands of years men have pondered how this tempering of violent natural instincts comes about. A constant thread throughout the evolution of civilization have been sport and contest amongst friendly individuals. The thrill of victory without the disrespect of death to your enemy. We call these activities "sports." From chess to football, from tennis to rugby to boxing and fencing the dark relish for corporal victory is processed into a non-lethal game with varying degrees of cerebral participation, physical contact and even combat.

Most sports, especially baseball, football, etc. commonly played by youngsters and sponsored in the schools to engender the values of fair play, sportsmanship, ability to handle victory and defeat are clearly in the mainstream of tempered combat activity.

And these all have value proven over hundreds of years of building the character of future citizens. There is a case to be made that children deprived of these forms of mock combat grow up to be poorly civilized, misanthropic incompetents at human interactions. They can't distinguish between a real physical life threat and a simple loss of being cheated in a business deal. The wind up in towers shooting everyone in sight, or beating up their wives or dogs or just being miserable and mystified. They never got to learn civilization.

The negative reaction to paintball as a sport shows the lack of understanding of the nature of civilization. Paintball is merely a sophisticated mock combat sport, and I have no problem playing such a game. When I play paintball I can indulge in the fantasy of stalking and hunting an enemy, while he hunts and stalks me (a sub-civilized interaction) and know full well it is not real. This activity is not misanthropic or psychotic ... it is in fact highly civilized, since no lethality or injury is intended or consummated. Safety is paramount and injuries are rare (certainly rarer than in football). Participants in paintball battles get together after a game in enthusiastic spirit of camaraderie and good will. comparing tactics, victories, defeats, preparations and violations. It's sport, it's fun. The lesson to teach youth is that among other things civilization involves a distinction between fantasy and reality. That there are complexities to winning and loosing ... that you (and your fellow citizens) are normal when you're not nice to each other all the time ... in short, that the wonderful phenomenon of civilization is the most important thing to understand.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Good read. Was it a 'letter to the editor' type of paper, or did you submit it as part of a pro/con session?
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What were their reasons for not wanting a paintball field in the town? Did your letter work and is there still a field going strong there?
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Good read. Was it a 'letter to the editor' type of paper, or did you submit it as part of a pro/con session?
Originally it was supposed to be a letter to the editor, but it was too long and the editor liked it enough to simply print it as an article.

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What were their reasons for not wanting a paintball field in the town? Did your letter work and is there still a field going strong there?
This was in the town of Wrentham MA. The reasons for not wanting development in the town? The small but vocal townies who don't want development at ALL in the town. Irrational, emotional people.

Unfortunately, the development didn't end up going ahead. It was to be a large domed sports complex with indoor winter baseball and a few other recreational activities, including paintball. The anti's were going after everything and decided to pick the "terrorist" angle against the paintball part.
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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this is somehting that has to be in the papers of today
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Very well written Jaan. Something that could be re-published today and I believe would still carry the same weight.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Paintball should remain an outlaw activity. Anything else, is just too civilized... JK of course, and I'm personally in favor of well structured and organized activities. Especially if minors are to participate in them.
Calrlos, you may want to consider resubmitting the article at a more less than regional tabloid?
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Old 10-03-2009, 07:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Calrlos, you may want to consider resubmitting the article at a more less than regional tabloid?
Didn't I just do that? lol
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Old 10-03-2009, 08:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Nicely written. Far too intelligent of an article to ever make it into the lousy boston rags ....
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Old 10-03-2009, 08:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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