It’s a tragic story no doubt. 25-year-old Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, shot and killed his girlfriend in a culmination of months of arguing over a variety of fairly normal domestic issues. He then drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility where he met two of his coaches. He thanked them for everything they had done for him, asked that they look after his three-month daughter, already motherless and a few seconds away from being fatherless, and then shot himself in the head even as police closed in on the scene.
Those are the facts. You can get that from any normal media news source, but for those that may not have paid attention, we felt we would at least set the table. Now, we’ll get on with our analysis.
Since the terrible event happened on Saturday, the Belcher murder-suicide has sparked any number of debates. The first one came almost immediately when the National Football League made the extremely controversial decision to carry on with the Chiefs’ game the next day as planned. This meant all the team members had to go about their business in the shadows of losing their teammate and intense media scrutiny. Not to overlook the fact that the two coaches that witnessed their player taking his own life were out on the sidelines carrying on business as usual. The debates raged on the Internet, the usual battle lines in situations like this being drawn quickly. Some took the approach that playing the game was some sort of tribute to Belcher and you heard the cliché lines like “Oh, he would have wanted it that way.” Others took a more practical outlook, saying that certainly there would have been no harm in delaying the game or that perhaps the Chiefs, clearly not in any sort of playoff contention, could simply forfeit the game and forego a painful day without knocking the league’s schedule off-kilter.
When the dust settled, the NFL stuck to its guns and the game went on as planned. There were tons of photographs and videos of players reacting to Belcher’s death. Fans set up makeshift memorials in the parking lots as they went on with their beer-drinking and tailgating activities. And at halftime of the Sunday Night Football game, Bob Costas took the opportunity to express his feelings that gun control could have prevented the whole incident. He caught plenty of flack for that and social media and message boards roared to life again, with the quite common gun control versus gun supporters crowd rehashing the incident again.
At Common Sense Conspiracy, we looked at this incident from a variety of angles. First of all, the gun control issue hits close to home with our frequent meanderings into this debate and the myriad of conspiracy theories abound. Costas may be right. If Belcher hadn’t had a gun quick at reach, he may have not killed his girlfriend and baby’s mother. He may have had time to come to his senses, and the world would never know that he was that close to the brink of doing something so terrible. Of course, then he would have had no reason to kill himself. That’s one theory. Or he might have savagely beaten her, possibly to death. He’s a professional football player, no doubt capable of dominating her if necessary. He might have reached for a knife. He might have picked up any sort of blunt object and killed her that way. Or he might have said something ugly and left. There is no way for anyone to know what would have happened if Belcher did not have a gun handy, but the gun was there, and he made a decision, one that could not be undone.
It’s amazing how the media and society as a whole looks at things. Because Belcher killed himself in the fashion that he did, most people look at it that he snapped, did something terrible, and then killed himself because he couldn’t live with what he had done. To some, it’s almost noble in a contorted kind of way. He was sorry, so sorry that he took his own life to try to escape the personal hell he had created for himself. But there’s another way of looking at that. Was he really remorseful for what he had done? Or was he simply too proud to face it, be locked up possibly for life, and endure the scrutiny of being paraded in the media as a cold-blooded killer? Did Jovan Belcher take the easy way out? Or the only way out, in his point of view?
If Belcher had put the gun down and allowed the police to take him away, the storylines would be completely different. Every news outlet would be showing him in handcuffs and leg irons. They would find the most terrible photographs they could of him and demonize him as far as they could. The fans would have turned on him too, calling him a monster. His coaches would have sighed and said they tried to help him but never knew it would come to this. There would be angry people calling for the death penalty and all of the horrid details would come out publicly in court, unless he copped some sort of insanity plea. We see it all the time…we know how the story goes. But all because he took his own life and showed some glimpse of humanity in his final moments, being grateful to his coaches and showing some concern for the well-being of his daughter, he’s not a monster. It’s a true tragedy. A sad story.
So, when we toss all that around and try to make a salad out of it, our final conclusion is this. We’ll never know exactly what went through Belcher’s mind when he decided that whatever they were arguing about was so bad that it became necessary for him to take the woman who he at least claimed to love’s life. For that, obviously he was wrong. Looking at the story, it seems that he went into a rage and just snapped. We all hope that we are not capable of such a thing, and yet we all have to question ourselves and what we, just simply as human beings, are capable of. Jovan snapped, pulled the trigger, and then knew there was no other option.
In our society, we see these monsters all the time that do terrible things and then set out to get away with it. They may simply pretend that they didn’t do it. They may try to con their way into an insanity situation where there crimes dissolve into complicated psychologists debating mental disorders. Jovan could have done this. He could have stretched this out for years in the courts. The details could have emerged, one day no doubt making their way into his daughter’s hands. She would have gone through life the daughter of a monster that murdered her mother and have to live with that. She still will, but being an infant, she is completely unaware right now and will grow up with this all being a story from the past that won’t fully be understood until she is closer to adulthood. It’s terrible that she lost her mother and father on the same day in the most terrible of circumstances, but at least out of that comes the opportunity to get into a good home. Her father could have lived, but he would have been a convicted murderer. It’s unlikely that he would have played any real positive role in her life from that position.
So what are we saying? Yeah, Belcher did something horrible. But that last bullet, while not even coming close to rectifying anything, was possibly the greatest act of his short life. He spared America a sordid tale, he forewent any attempt to lessen what he had done or escape full punishment, and he probably made it easier for his 3-month-old daughter in the long run. So, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that those were the reasons he took his own life. If we do, then perhaps Jovan deserves some of the memorials and tributes he has received in the days after his death.