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Brawls, Laughs, and Morals: When a night goes from good, to bad, to hilarious.

A lot happens when you go to college. After the weed is gone, the hangover subsides, and you somehow end up with a degree, college boils down to life experience. All the beliefs we have are actually tested. Our morals are examined and some hypotheticals start to become reality. Our responses to these experiences affect the rest of our lives. But how do you handle that kind of stress? The stress of being ripped out of childhood and forced into adulthood can signify the violent transition we all have to face. Some people conform and become boring. Others become angry and rely on crutches. But I very recently discovered that the best way to handle any kind of stress is comedy.

I was finally back in Eugene. After spending last year at Ducks Village and a summer in Salem, I was enthralled about living closer campus. Getting to walk the streets of Eugene again brought me right back to the dorm life of yester-year. Actually it was probably the large amount of substance abuse that had occurred early that evening, but either way I was feeling nostalgic. I was with lifelong friends, stumbling down Hilyard, and anticipating the sweet satisfaction of a Calzone.

It was at this most surreal moment that I began to see a side of Eugene I have been naive to. Squinting already, I peered across the street to see quite the scuffle unfolding. At first it was the predictable sounds of frat dudes too drunk to remember which girl they’d roofied. But before long, beer bottles were being smashed and shirts were coming off. I could barely wrap my limber mind around these ruthless hooligans hitting each other. Soon, someone in the pile was thrown out into the busy street. Headlights flashed on his kneeling body as cars pumped their brakes to avoid crushing the brawler. At this, the crowd of both fighters and spectators did what any group of intoxicated college kids on the street do. We got out the hell our of there before the cops came.

As we walked down the next block, my friends and I regrouped and tried to put the drunken pieces together. Feeling that the danger was over, we were completely off guard for what happened next. I heard it before I saw it. It was the horrendous sound of someones head slamming into the pavement. From across the street I heard this poor guy get sucker punched, sentencing him to collide with the asphalt of Hilyard street. Seven tough guys stepped out of the crowd. My friends and I watched these attackers ruthlessly assault this guy, as he laid in the fetal position. The group of men punched, kicked, and smashed their victim. The now harmless body of the victim was forced to endure until his attackers deemed the beating over.

I watched helplessly from the sidewalk. I knew that any uncoordinated attempt of heroics would only end in a bloody mess. These ruthless men were making an example of this guy. This was in the middle of one of the most busy streets in Eugene. I completely froze. I have never seen such crime or violence in my life. Granted, I am a tall goofy white kid from Salem. But seeing this happen in my college town of Eugene really disturbed me. One of the assailants picked up what looked like a fence post and delivered the final blow to the victim.

I felt like I was watching the decay of western civilization. Seeing the bigger and stronger people doing what they wanted with a complete disregard for others. I turned around to make sure someone was calling the cops. Everyone was on their phones. It was good enough for me. So I ran. My friends and I just ran away from what we saw. This was a popular choice for everyone on the street. After a few block of running in a mob of people, we ran by a group of girls standing on the corner. They had no idea. They were pleading with the dozens of people running by them. As I ran by, one of them grabbed me by my arm, looked straight into my eyes, and asked,

“Please tell me what happened.”

The journalism student inside me began to reconstruct the event I had just witnessed. My conditioned brain began to recall every horrible detail. I even started brainstorming for an anecdote that I could use to start with. But in that moment, in the midst of all the awful things I had just experienced, in the face of a girl who was genuinely scared of what was happening. I realized something. Something so funny I couldn’t pass up.  Countless people continued to run by us shouting, “I’ve never seen anything like that!” and “that some fucked up shit!” Seizing my moment, I looked at this poor girl’s eyes and yelled,

“Its some kind of monster! They’re coming out of the sewers!”

I joined the crowd of fleeing pedestrians laughing hysterically. Now I will admit, this was not the coolest thing I have ever done. I am not particularly proud with what I said, but as she looked around at the scared faces of the fleeing mob, I like to think she bought it. I find it insightful that I chose humor to vent the crippling stress my mind was under. Again, maybe it was the substance abuse from earlier but the idea is still there.  Yes, what I saw was almost inhuman. It was without a doubt the most disturbing thing I have ever seen. But I dealt with it, with a sense of humor.

It is my hope that this story does a few things. I hope that it creates awareness about how messed up things can get no matter what city you live in. I hope it encourages people to have a better sense of humor about things. But I really hope this story makes people question their moral fortitude. Question what you would do when a human live was in desperate need. Morality is what makes all of this work. But humor can help fix what doesn’t.

  1. AD '07 says:

    Another good example for concealed carry. I don’t what brought the violence to the victim here, but at least there exist the means to stop it. Don’t worry your pretty little college-head; there are real men in the world that put a stop to these savage acts.

    You are a good journalist for the way you accurately described the event. You were shocked and literally frozen with fear just witnessing the violence, you had no idea what to do other than run.

    I wrote over three years ago:
    “If you ever encounter a violent situation, you will realize that it will probably include only two people – you and the attacker. Your family and friends who care most about your safety will not be able to help, and the police will certainly not be there. You will be the only person able to end the situation for the better. You will feel very afraid, and very alone. You will then ask yourself, “How do I get out of here alive?” to which there is only one thing you can do: Use the training and instincts that you have. ”

    In this case this person had no training, and fell to their only instinct: the fetal position.

    Do you want that to be you? How would you react differently?

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