Saturday, October 30, 2010

Death to Ninjas

Top row: Nunchaku, brass knuckle knife, push dagger. Middle row: Ninja claw, throwing starsBottom row: Balisong Philippine knife, and my favorite: a razor sharp double-edged dagger made from high impact plastic rather than metal, so you could easily sneak it aboard commercial airplanes.

A martial arts instructor who ineptly led a band of Ninjas into a late night breaking and entering that turned into a sadistic murder was sentenced to death by a Florida jury.

As I mentioned last year with a post concerning Supreme Court Justice Sotomayer during her confirmation hearings, my first extensive brush with The Media as a "source" started around the fall of 1983 when I undertook the Sisyphean task of getting a federal law passed to ban mail order martial arts weapons into states--like Massachusetts-- that had declared them illegal.

My main concern was the safety of children, who were indeed getting their naive little hands on dangerous weapons. I figured if it was happening in the bucolic, venerable Amherst schools what the hell was happening in some of the tougher inner-city urban districts?

The crusade started about this time of year as I remember one of the first follow up press releases I issued after the more urgent SOS about the easy availability of the ninja weapons--a byproduct of the karate media's fascination with the Ninja fad--was just before Halloween, warning parents not to let their children dress up as Ninjas, since the black outfits were designed to merge with the night and the last thing you want is kids going around the neighborhood invisible to traffic.

My secondary concern was the image and reputation of the martial arts industry--specifically the thousands of karate schools nationwide that were teaching the true tenets of the martial arts and exposing hundreds of thousands of children to the proper aspects and benefits the discipline offers.

Nunchakus (two billy clubs connected by a chain) and multi-pointed throwing stars had become a hot item with street gangs, and with industry leader Black Belt Magazine glorifying Ninjas on the cover about to behead an opponent with a sword, I figured it was only a matter of time before some impressionable nitwit did it for real.

Sure enough, along came California mass murdered Charles Ng (1985) a self-described "ninja warrior" who used the weapons in a most sadistic way on terrorised kidnapped victims, all while he videotaped the mayhem. And sure enough, Newsweek Magazine (back when they ruled supreme) put his haunting face on the cover with the banner headline "Karate killer!"

I hate it when history repeats itself.


Down down Amherst! said...

Amherst says prisons = fascism.

Amherst says the murderous Iranian regime whose Basij militia beat, raped and killed the innocent protesters of a sham election, is a victim of America.

We say down down Amherst!

Anonymous said...

What a kind and loving message for a Sunday in October.

God be with you.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I posted that yesterday (a slow news day.)

Anonymous said...

No, Larry, I was feeling the love from "Down down Amherst!", who must be one of the pillars of the community, who posted his beautiful sentiments just this fine Sunday morning.

Larry, as long as they're in front of the computer screen, they're not out hurting people.

Anonymous said...

Too bad there weren't more computer screens when that hero of Amherst, Bill Ayers, bombed the U.S. Capitol building.

Oh wait, that was justified.

Anonymous said...

Ninja stars don't kill people. People kill people. Are you one of those anti- 2nd ammendment fellows? SOON YOU'LL BE COMING FOR MY STEAK KNIFES.

Anonymous said...

Member in the late 90's when Umass Amherst invited a Taliban representative to propagandize students, academics and Amherst residents concerning all the ~healing~ things they were doing inside the borders their innocent little bombed out country?

Well do you?

July-August 1999: Taliban Leaders Visit US
Edit event

About a dozen Afghan leaders visit the US. They are militia commanders, mostly Taliban, and some with ties to al-Qaeda. A few are opponents of the Taliban. Their exact names and titles remain classified. For five weeks, they visit numerous locales in the US, including Mt. Rushmore. All their expenses are paid by the US government and the University of Nebraska. Thomas Gouttierre, an academic heading an Afghanistan program at the University of Nebraska, hosts their visit. Gouttierre is working as a consultant to Unocal at the time, and some Taliban visits to the US are paid for by Unocal, such as a visit two years earlier (see December 4, 1997). However, it is unknown if Unocal plays a role in this particular trip. Gouttierre had previously been paid by the CIA to create Afghan textbooks promoting violence and jihad (see 1984-1994). It is unknown if any of these visitors meet with US officials during their trip. [Chicago Tribune, 10/21/2001]

They knew where to find sympathetic ears...

Jo-mama said...

Charles Ng could have easily used any number of power tools readily available at Sears. As we saw in Iraq where people used the power tools we gave them for "reconstruction" to drill into each others knee caps and heads. Maybe we should ban those? Anything - Luisville slugger, a hack saw, blow torch - can be a terror implement in the hands of deranged A-holes. You can't legislate a utopia.

LarryK4 said...

No, but you can enact common sense measures to keep dangerous weapons (specifically designed as weapons) out of the hands of children.

Up until 1963 it was legal to buy guns via mail-order, until one was used to kill President Kennedy.

Tagore Smith said...

The thing is that very few of the weapons in that picture are all that dangerous. Nunchaku? Really? Knock yourself out, and I mean that literally. Okinawans did at one point use flails as weapons (as did peasants in Europe during some of their interminable factional wars) but they were a lot larger, and were used very differently.

I have a very sharp ten inch chef's knife in my kitchen. I mainly use it to chop and cut vegetables, and I occasionally take a chicken apart with it. In a pinch it would be a formidable weapon. It's more dangerous than anything in that picture.

LarryK said...

I testified as an expert witness in a civil trial in CT brought by a parent against a weapons dealer who sold a throwing star to their eight year old son who lost an eye when it ricocheted off a wall back into his face.

Tagore Smith said...

Well, I'm not saying that I think throwing stars are entirely harmless, but it's not because they are inherently terribly dangerous. It's because they give people stupid ideas. My chef's knife might be dangerous, but I don't go around throwing it at walls, or doing much with it other than making dinner.

I'm just not sure that kids aren't going to wind up doing stupid things with other dangerous items if you legislate away throwing stars. Maybe more dangerous items.

But, to be honest, I don't have much of a dog in this fight, as there is very little in the world I need less than I need a throwing star.