As fair play evolved and even warfare rules changed from barbaric methods to slightly more civilized ways, certain unsporting practices were frowned on, and finally declared as foul. In sports, one of them, was hitting below the waist, or in boxing lingo, ‘below the belt!’
The term, moved from just boxing, to describing any form of behavior that was unfair.
Not only were rules framed but defensive gear introduced: In cricket the batsmen wears appropriate shields, called abdomen guards, so a fast, stray ball is stopped from causing injury to a vulnerable area of the batsman’s body.
But what does the poor journalist, activist, or anybody who speaks out against the powerful wear for protection against unfair body blows rained on them?
There’s no umpire or referee blowing a whistle, holding up a yellow card or shouting foul!
An actress is accused of abetting the suicide of an actor, and instead of moving head-on to prove her role in the hanging, today she is in jail for taking drugs.
Another actress talks boldly against a state government, flies to the city to find her office demolished!
TV anchors and TV channels find Income raids coming their way for asking questions!
No Democracy should allow this.
Democracy is the only form of governance that calls for a fair fight. Debates or arguments are allowed, and like boxers in a boxing ring, blow traded for blow, with no participant playing foul.
What happens when a boxer hits below the belt? Apart from the referee decrying it foul, the public howl, and bay for the blood of the spoilsport.
But wait, let’s have an imaginary scene where the public react otherwise: When Mike Tyson bites off Evander Holyfield's ear! Imaginary, okay!
“Ladies and gentleman!” shouts the boxing referee, “Tyson has bitten off Evander’s ear! Look at that! What a great bite! Look at earless Holyfield, bloodied and defeated! He deserves it! Great job Tyson! Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the next World Heavyweight champion!”
And the public, yell and shout and clap their hands with glee, reveling in the absolute unfairness of one boxer engaging and even winning in a ‘hitting below the belt’ act!
What happens after that?
He bites the ear of every opponent, and soon it becomes a recognized boxing technique, not just in the World Heavyweight championships but in every boxing match and street fight, till everybody goes around with a part of their ear chewed off.
Are you waiting for that?
If a violent sport like boxing could condemn an act like that, then a beautiful system like democracy, a gentle country like ours, should also do the same.
Fight fair: Punch for punch; responsible government reply to a fearless citizen’s question and criminal investigation only for accused crime.
It all depends on you spectators, if you want no more ‘hitting below the belt’ scenes..!
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org