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Soccer Game Ends with Beheading

Try to wrap your head around this story. Gruesome and terrible for everyone involved.


Last Sunday, an amateur soccer match in Brazil came to an unbelievably gruesome end when a referee was murdered by outraged fans. His head was then cut off and placed on a spike. The beheading was retaliation; the ref initially stabbed a player to death.

It happened in the Maranhão region of northeastern Brazil. Thirty-year-old Josenir dos Santos Abreu approached the referee, 20-year-old Otávio Jordão da Silva (pictured above) during a match to argue a call. Abreu reportedly threw a punch at da Silva, who then took out a knife he was carrying with him during the match, and stabbed the player. Abreu died of his wounds en route to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the player's friends and family invaded the pitch and attacked da Silva. They reportedly tied up the referee, beat him, stoned him, lynched him, and then quartered him. When they finished, they cut off his head and placed it on a stake in the center of the field.

AJesus Christ. What an awful story. No one should be killed in this way.

Not that I've ever been part of an angry mob, let alone one seeking vengeance for the murder of a family member, but how does that happen?  As horrible as it sounds, it's one thing to be so angry you punch and kick the guy to death... but to carry out those gruesome, fucking medieval methods?  How do you even know how to do that?  I mean, Christ... is anybody capable of reverting to such bloody barbarism?  It's a freaky thought.



Contrary to popular belief, civilization hasn't really affected us in the manner most people think it has affected us. We've never really selected for genes that promote peace and brotherhood - human evolution today, by way of natural selection, is at a standstill. As such, the genes that were favored in a more primitive environment are still favored.

A tribe that took revenge in an ancient environment proliferated better than a tribe that did not seek retribution (of course, I'm simplifying - I'm obviously not accounting for differential power balances between tribes etc.). Naturalists believe that this is an instinctual behavior - the moment there's an attack that is perceived as unfair or cowardly or treacherous, certain circuits in the brain are triggered and we feel an instinctual need to seek brutal revenge. It feels right. It feels fair per se.

And when that happens, if we don't stop to think, the person(s) that perpetrated the attack feels inhuman - like the "other." Thus, violent revenge.

Without environmental pressures to select in reverse, I'm pretty sure such genes that celebrate revenge and satisfy the reward centers of the brain when revenge feels complete is still pretty strong. And when you're in a mob, it's even worse - everyone around you feeds you the feeling that you're allowed to take revenge.


I guess it's all about stopping to think. If the mob had stopped to think, they would've realized the futility of it all. But they didn't. They behaved instinctively in a manner that hearkens back to our ancestors. It takes a lot of conditioning - through education, art, training, even fear of punishment - to actually suppress such deeply ingrained circuity.

AOh man, that is a true fan with sharp blades...

...oh I'm still in the Home Depot.

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