There is a rapidly growing sport called “Ultimate Fighting” (Rage in a Cage); it is like human cockfighting. Muscular men beat each other bloody with bare fists, feet, elbows and knees. This gladiatorial combat used to be available on pay-per-view only, until Spike TV presented the Ultimate Fighting Championships to a national audience. Now, CBS has just closed a deal to broadcast these fights on prime-time TV.

In an attempt to make this gore more palatable to the public, some states have passed legislation governing these contests. In Arizona, House Bill 2834 is getting final approval, and you can be sure soon Phoenix will become a regular stop for televised events. The Bill requires the State’s Boxing Commission to adopt mixed martial art rules. For example, you can no longer knee or elbow your opponent in the face, strike a grounded opponent with your closed fist, make throat strikes or groin attacks. Since there is still plenty of bloodletting, the State will require onsite ambulances, physicians and emergency medical personnel.

I learned there is even one state that allows kids as young as six to participate in these events. In Missouri, elementary school boys and girls can join fight teams like the “Garage Boys Fight Crew.” These teams are organized by parents who are hoping it expands into some bare-knuckled Little League. It’s generated some controversy, which these parents say they don’t quite understand. They’re not training their children for dog fighting; they are just teaching them discipline and self-defense.

What are these kids defending themselves against? We have become a culture that accepts the contemporary myth that we are under threat of perpetual attack. We allow ourselves to be virtually undressed every time we go to an airport, as a patriotic duty in defense our nation. This preoccupation with security and defense has created an atmosphere that stimulates paranoia, intensifies our fears, and perpetuates the idea that the only way we will survive into the future, is if we get them before they get us.

Wake up America! In the name of defense we are now training our children to become ultimate fighters. And what we are seeing in our culture is a tolerance of escalating violence in the young. Even if your kids aren’t joining an ultimate fighting crew, they are probably playing relentlessly violent video games. From “Grand Theft Auto” to a new one called “Bully.” It is set at Bullworth Academy, a fictional boarding school that accepts a new 15-year- old student who is the ultimate fighting machine. The players decide how this new student deals with teachers, administrators, and cliques at the school. It is a program of such unrelenting violence that it has been banned in Brazil.

Teaching hand-to-hand combat, to become ultimate fighters is not how we will survive in today’s world — it will destroy us. Rather, we need to be teaching our kids how to read and think critically about what they read and hear. A secure future rests on training kids to become ultimate learners, not fighters.

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