I am sure many of you have heard of the recent media scare called the “knockout game“. In this “game”, an assailant targets a random individual and attempts to knockout that person in a single punch. While the media has been playing this up as a dangerous new trend for youth, reality is far from it. Aside from the media reports of this “trend” there seems to be no verifiable evidence of it being an actual thing.
But don’t let facts get in the way of a law maker who wants to “take a stand” on what he sees as a dangerous threat to the safety of the citizens. This is my State Representative Bobby Cleveland for you. Cleveland is a freshman legislator in the Oklahoma House and he has yet to find that niche that will make him a household name in Oklahoma. Last year, his major contributions were the repeals of some old and outdated criminal laws, such as a law that made it illegal to horse race on main street. While he wants to keep that up, he has now set his sights on other areas he would like to tackle. One specific case is the “knockout game”.
Disappointed to see him waste his time and legislative slot on something like this, I wrote him a letter hoping to convince him that this was a bad idea. I specifically applauded him for his repeal efforts, explained that the “knockout game” is probably not a real threat, and pointed out that his proposal would most likely end up as one such law that someone else would end up having to repeal in the future.
I have greatly admired your efforts this past Legislative Session to repeal old and outdated criminal laws. It has been a breath of fresh air to see someone in the Legislature take that effort which so rarely happens.
However, I am greatly disappointed to see that you are proposing to introduce a bill which, if passed, would simply add to the list of pointless and outdated criminal laws. I am referring to your proposal to add further penalties to those playing the supposed “knockout game”.
What really disappoints me here is that you are giving into the media hype around a game that may not actually exist and one that is not known to exist at all in Oklahoma. There have been exactly ZERO reports of anyone targeted this way in Oklahoma.
We already have adequate laws against assault in this state and making an “example” of a particular kind of assault, which may not actually exist, does not seem to be an effective use of the Legislature.
I highly suggest that you end this idea of a law against the “knockout game” before you add to the pool of laws that someone like yourself will end up trying to repeal 10 years down the road.
Thank you for your time,
I will give Rep Cleveland credit here, he responded the same morning I sent my letter. I love it when I get quick feedback from my legislators. Unfortunately, his response was pretty light on substance. He did not really address my concern but simply restated his position that the law is needed for some as of yet unknown reason.
Good morning Zachary,
Thanks for your concern. First of all we do not have a law for juveniles that participate in the Knockout Game.
I am simply proposing that anyone under the age of 18 if they are convicted of knocking someone out they will be tried as as an adult.
Although, I am continuing to file Bills to repeal outdated laws, I believe my bill is important for Oklahomans.
I plan to repeal 31 laws this next session.
Again thank you for your concern.
As you can see, this response really didn’t address my concerns in any reasonable fashion. So I sent a followup email. I responded to his email asking questions about each statement and then expanded my idea that this proposed legislation is a bad idea and does not address any real problem. Oh. And I threw in a reference to another lawmaker who gave in to some rather absurd media hype.
Thank you for your quick response. I appreciate the effort you put into keeping the channels of communication open between yourself and your constituents.
I do feel the need to respond to your justification for your proposal.
You wrote, “First of all we do not have a law for juveniles that
participate in the Knockout Game.”
Do we not currently have laws for juveniles who participate in assault? Are those laws deficient in some way that they would not cover this perceived threat?
You wrote, “I am simply proposing that anyone under the age of 18 if they are convicted of knocking someone out they will be tried as as an adult.”
Is there really a need to take a youth, who is still growing both mentally and physically, and taking their life and future away for this perceived threat? Is the destruction of the future of a youth really a valid solution to this perceived problem?
Additionally, your bill proposed a solution, but I do not think you have fully identified a problem it is meant to address. I sent two links in my previous email. Both of which called into question the nature of the “knockout game”. Both expressed the idea that this “game” may not actually be a problem or even a “thing”. If this is nothing more than media hype, what puts your proposed legislature on higher ground than Senator Shortey’s proposed ban on using human fetuses in food production?
My main concern is that too many laws are introduced and passed based not on fact or science but on knee-jerk reactions to media hype. I would not want to see another law introduced on such flimsy grounds.
Again, I got a quick response from Rep Cleveland. Unfortunately, he seemed to have quickly grown tired of trying to defend and indefensible position. His letter was short and pointless. He did not address anything that I asked and did not provide any further justification.
BTW, I appreciate the nice things you said about my repealer bills. My knockout bill is more of a statement trying to get the word out that Oklahoma will not tolerate this game in Oklahoma. I understand where u are coming from. Again thanks for contacting me.
In the end, what we have here is another lawmaker giving in to media hype and attacking the new and “scary” thing that your kids must be doing. It is a shame that he would defend this proposal rather than face the facts of the matter. Unfortunately, this behavior is rampant in legislatures across the nation.
All is not lost though. There is still time for Representative Cleveland to drop this idea. Legislators do not yet have to file legislation they wish to address in the 2014 session. So he could wake up to reality and decide that this legislation is a bad idea. Unfortunately, he has already gained press time for his idea and with that, his determination will probably be solidified. Which is sad really.