Safety Concerns

some people actually worry about their personal safety around here

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ryan Carpentier

My life as an all-around super-tough badass began early. I think the spark that ignited my long-term badassery occurred in the sixth grade – at school and in the lunch line. Naturally.

One day, the school’s resident punk decided that he deserved to stand at the head of the lunch line. As he strolled past (haughtily), I politely informed him that what he was doing was at best rude, at worst insulting to his hungry classmates. He replied with something like, “Whatever, buttface, let’s fight!” And I had no time to explain that I don’t fight over such trivial matters. Before I knew it, the punk and five of his closest punk buddies (who I believe fell from the ceiling like spiders) were upon me – kicking, punching, biting, and screaming inappropriate obscenities. I had no choice but to defend myself and the lunch line. So I kicked their asses. From that point on, I was a tough guy.

Some of my classmates remember the incident a bit differently. In their version, I was actually the one cutting in line, and I got into a girly push-fight with a classmate that ended in a stern talking-to from a lunch lady. They are mistaken.
The point is that I’m an all-around super-tough badass and I fear nothing, not even pissed-off raging polar bears. Sadly, living here in Eau Claire, my badassitude is rarely put to use as we live in an extremely safe valley in Wisconsin. I feel safe and I always have. In fact, I feel stupid for having to point out that I feel safe. Of course I feel safe. Why wouldn’t I?
Because recently, someone got into an argument up on Clairemont Avenue and got stabbed. And that poor guy died.

There are plenty of people out there who see this as a sign of the times, a sign that Eau Claire is not what it used to be. They feel less safe, as if this kind of thing is bound to happen more often. To be sure, these events are a big deal around here.

On the other side of the coin, I’ve heard a number of local people criticize our news media, saying all the Clairemont stabbing coverage was over the top, sensational even. But it wasn’t. It’s gotten tons of coverage because it’s out of the ordinary. I don’t believe it’s something worth obsessing over, but for better or for worse, it seems natural to talk about the incident more than, say, the expected remodeling of Oakwood Mall.

We shouldn’t avoid thinking about this violence. We already live in a bit of a bubble as far as violence is concerned. In the rare instances where awful things happen, it’s a reminder of how good we have it.

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