(Brock Lesnar might be worth killing, but Kongo? He’s barely worth an assault charge. Photo courtesy of Fight Magazine.)
In the wake of Frank Mir’s apology for saying that he’d like to kill Brock Lesnar in the Octagon, many people have paused to take a step back and recall that Mir isn’t the first person to invoke death when speaking about a former opponent. For instance, there’s B.J. Penn, who told Sean Sherk he was dead and later assured Georges St. Pierre that they’d be fighting to the death. There’s also Lesnar himself who, as Zak Woods points out, actually said he wanted to “murder” Mir at UFC 100. And yet no apology followed. No public outcry. So what’s the difference?
Some would say it’s the specificity of Mir’s remark. Not only did he detail exactly how he wanted Lesnar to die (something about a broken neck), he also said he wanted Lesnar to be the first person to die from “Octagon-related injuries.” You could argue that it was Mir’s attention to detail that got him in trouble, but then again, Lesnar said murder. As in, the type of killing that is always a crime. That’s why there’s a word to differentiate it from kiliing in self-defense, or an accident, or war, or an execution. Everyone from the Romans to the Victorians to the dudes poking one another’s eyes out in the Code of Hammurabi generally agreed that murder is bad and should be avoided.
So why no outrage or forced apology?
The answer is that we don’t believe Lesnar meant it literally, whereas Mir went just a little too far in explaining himself. I sympathize, because it’s a fuzzy line. We’ve all, at some point in our lives, perhaps a point earlier this morning, told someone that we would kill them. Most of us didn’t mean that we would actually take the person’s life, and we assumed that they knew this without us needing to clarify it.
But here’s the thing: the more specific your death threat becomes, the more likely you are to get in trouble over it (unless it involves the President, in which case you will always get in trouble).
For instance, if you beat me at Trivial Pursuit thanks to a ridiculously easy last question after I had to try and answer some crap about who won Best Actress in 1938, and I respond by saying, ‘I’m going to freaking kill you,’ chances are you won’t pick up the phone and call the cops. If, on the other hand, I say, ‘I’m going to kill you tonight, while you’re sleeping, by bashing your head in with a hammer, and then I’m going to staple that Trivial Pursuit card to the soup that used to be your face,’ at the very least I will have ruined what was a pleasant evening among friends, and I may be looking at a restraining order.
Understand the difference now? Mir isn’t a bad person for saying he wants to kill Lesnar, but he did go just a tad too far with the specifics. He probably did it to make a point, and in a way he made that point, but that doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Fortunately, Lesnar doesn’t have the internet so may know nothing about this. If he finds out though, man, he’s going to freaking kill this guy.