Friday, November 01, 2013

Blog #8: A Yellow Card, Then Unfathomable Violence, in Brazil

On a Sunday afternoon, Otávio Jordão da Silva Cantanhede left on his bike to play soccer on a "lumpy soccer field [that] had wooden goal posts with no nets" where informal matches are often played. The game was going find till Cantanhede twisted his angle or hurt his knee while playing defense and had to play the referee. During the second half of the game, things escalated when Cantanhede gave a fellow friend Josemir Santos Abreu, who quickly turned into an enemy, a yellow card warning. When an argument broke out and Cantanhede gave out a red card, which led to a violent fight. Cantanhede stabbed Abreu twice and Abreu was rushed to the hospital, but died before making it there. Cantanhede suffered a much more brutal death. Abreu's four friends smashed his face with a liquor bottle, beat with a wooden stake, ran over by a motorcycle and stabbed him in the throat. Cantanhede’s lower legs were cut off while his right arm and left wrist were barely attached to the rest of his body. He was also decapitated and his head was posted on a wooden fence across the road of the field where he game had taken place.

This horrid event perfect depicts how social influences can have a dramatic impact on human behavior. Society socializes men to be rough, strong and even violent. Whether it is television, books, magazines, movies or video games, men are seen as muscular, violent, and macho. These men are seen shooting runs or getting into fights to prove their manly demeanor. Society basically tells men that they too must be like this in order to be considered manly. Because of this men think that violence is okay and people expect men to be violent and if a group of boys get in a fight they say that "boys will be boys". When on the other hand, if girls get in a fight it breaks a social norm. This socialization of violence has a strong correlation with what happened on that soccer field. One may be able to use this idea of socialization and conclude that Cantanhede may have stabbed Abreu because he wanted to prove that he is manlier than Abreu. The reason that Abreu's friends attacked Cantanhede may be a bit more complex. First, when men are in groups it is more likely for those men to participate in violent acts together and this is a theme that can be found in cases of gang rape. Instead of stopping the violence, these men do not want to seem weak or less macho to their friends and so go along with the violence. They may also get competitive and become even more violent. This theme can be see in this case of Abreu's friends as well. One of the four friends probably started the attack on Cantanhede then the rest of his friends followed along. Also, the article stated that the crowd "stoked the violence the way wind stokes a fire". The fact that the crowd wanted to see the violence most likely made Abreu's friends feel powerful and so an act of violence that may not have gotten so gruesome probably escalated because the crowd fueled the anger these men were feeling and also fueled their self-esteem and made them feel like the strong man that they have been socialized to be.

It is also important to notice that this event happened in a poverty stricken area of Brazil. Poverty leads to inequality and according to this article, this tragic event showcased the "hopelessness and rage born of poverty and inequality, and mistrust that seethed from inadequate policing and uneven access to justice". Because this is a impoverished neighborhood where inequality runs rampant, the police are not very concerned about what goes on and there is no form of strict policing. This leads the people of this area to solve problems in their own way. This violent event is an example of the kind of informal way that these people deal with their problems, "bloodshed trumped by bloodshed". One can conclude from this event that a lack of a formal structure leads people to create their own informal structure of justice which leads to violence.

The death of these two men should be a wake up call to the world of the kind of impact society has on its people. The socialization of men to be violent and the way formal sanctions are not properly placed or unforced in areas that are poverty stricken should be recognized and a solution must be created or else violent acts like this will continue all over the world.

Catherine Choi

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