Has the “knock out game” — a “game” where young males pick someone at random and suddenly knock them out for “fun” — claimed another victim? And is it soon to claim that victim’s life? It certainly sounds that way as “the game” is apparently still being played, something that’ll continue for a while until the courts make examples of “players” but sentencing them to the maximum allow by law.
But “the game” is continuing.
This time the victim is well-known musician Doug Potter who had been performing with the group Steamboat Willie and his New Orleans Jazz Band. And police are using a surveillance video of two suspects to try and get tips from citizens:
The knockout game is seemingly symptomic of the new century. During the 20th century people laughed at slapstick comedies such as The Three Stooges showing people reacting to fake pain, timed to be funny. Now its more the era of Jackass (or the more gentle America’s Funniest Home Videos) where people watch people feeling real pain and its taken as comedy. In the past. young males with lots of aggression could take to boxing or do limited fights among friends or video games. Now it’s seemingly more “fun” for some to risk seriously injuring or killing someone for fun. It’s not quite like a terrorist seeking a body count, but the body laying there on the concrete is like a “win.”
But that’s only from the perspective of the player:
Doug Potter’s family and friends believe he may have been a target of the “knockout” game.
“Always here when we needed him. Really nice man,” said Chef Rick Tyler of Cafe Beignet.
Steamboat Willie and his New Orleans Jazz Band entertained music lovers Tuesday night inside the Bourbon Street courtyard venue. The cafe is also where fellow musician Potter plays three times a week.
On Monday night it was supposed to be business as usual.
“It’s a terrible tragedy. I was the one that let him out the gate last night. I left 10 minutes after he did, so it could have been any of us,” Tyler said.
Instead family members confirm surveillance video in the area caught a disturbing attack. Potter’s family says the musician was walking off to his car off Bourbon Street down Conti when he was physically assaulted.
“According to witnesses as well as video tape, two individuals just took it upon themselves to assault, and badly hurt him. He fell into the street,” said David Potter, the victim’s brother.
And the result of this “little” game to show who’s macho?
Since the brutal attack the 54-year-old bass player has undergone intensive brain surgery at University Hospital, where family and friends continue to pray for his recovery.
Friends confirm he’s now in an induced coma.
“Get these people off the street. I’ve had it. You live here all your life and you have to deal with something like that,” said David Potter.
As Potter remains in intensive care, loved ones are grappling to understand why the musician with such a “big heart” was the target of such a violent and senseless attack.
The answer is fairly evident:
Because he was there.
Because he was a body someone needed to see sprawled on the ground to impress his friends with how “cool” it had been that he was able to physically pound a stranger into unconsciousness and perhaps change — or end — the stranger’s life.
I mean, that’s what shows you’re a man, doesn’t it?
The “game” came to the forefront in November, after a spate of attacks. Look up “copy cat crime” and you should see the words “knockout game” there. CBS News tried to explain it:
The victims of the brutal game are chosen at random. Defenseless and unsuspecting people are attacked by groups of teens who have one goal in mind: to knock the victim out with one punch.
“One-hitter quitter,” “knock em’ and drop em,” “point em’ out and knock ’em out” are all names for a disturbing trend now drawing concern nationwide.
In Pittsburgh, a teacher was punched so hard he collapsed head first into the concrete curb. A man in Brooklyn was also knocked unconscious. And even women are being attacked.
The biggest outbreak has been in NYC:
There have been seven recent cases in New York City alone. And the game has turned fatal in at least four documented attacks — in Syracuse, N.Y.; St. Louis; Chicago; and Hoboken, N.J., site of the latest fatal attack.
Boys — seen in video from a security camera after the incident — have been charged with the murder. They are just 13 and 14 years old.
Jeffrey Butts, who specializes in youth criminal justice at John Jay College, said, “We know from brain studies that the part of your brain that gets fired up through excitement and thrill-seeking actually develops more quickly and fires up more quickly than the other part of your brain, which comes along a few years later and is about judgment and discretion.”
He says there’s no real pattern to the way the attackers choose their victims, but they are always alone, and they stand out.
“The victims are someone who the young people consider to be an ‘other,'” Butts explained. “That could be a racial difference, it could be a religious difference, it could be an age difference, it just could be a class difference.”
Nothing in the so-called “knockout game,” is about a fair fight. So if it’s not about toughness, if it’s not about courage, then what is it about?
Butts said, “Teenagers get involved in this game to prove their manhood and, ironically, what they ultimately end up doing is proving that they’re still children.
The CBS Report also addresses the charge made by conservatives: that the knockout game is really a series of racial attacks. It notes that this game has been below the radar of police until recently:
The game will likely continue until judges get the word out to players that those who play the game are losers — in more way than one.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.