2005-12-16 / On Second Thought

It’s not a criticism, it’s an observation.

Is spitting a crime?
Mike Cox


Deep down, humans are just mammals, much like the wild ones living around us. Many of our traits are hard–wired into us before we are born, and some of our habits and tendencies are with us from the beginning.

For guys, it’s more complicated. Many male reflexes are considered immoral, illegal, or unfit for polite company. Women don’t have that problem; everything they do by instinct is considered part of being a woman and acceptable in society.

Men, on the other hand, have to repress many of their natural habits because they have been declared unacceptable as we have become civilized. Fighting, scratching, burping, and cussing come to mind. One of the most controversial is spitting.

Baseball players and little boys left alone spit like crazy. It’s their nature. Men spit on their hands for luck and to get a better grip. And every man has at some point, spit off a really high place. Bridges and tall buildings, trees and boulders, even the roof of the garage; most men remember a time when they sent a projectile of saliva hurtling into space and watched in wonder as it rode the wind to the very end of its journey. Even better if the landing was in water. For some of us, it wasn’t that long ago.

For centuries boys and men have been admonished for such behavior. Rude, unhealthy, and unacceptable, spitting has been given a bad name. And the practice may soon become illegal.

In Chicago recently, a 23 year–old man was participating in a spitting contest with some friends when he tried to win the affair by giving 110%. He lost his balance and fell over a balcony two stories to his death. According to officials, alcohol was involved.

The concern I have, other than feeling for the victim’s family during such a tragedy, is the possible overreaction of the do– gooders and safety officials who try to keep all of us completely safe at any cost.

I’m sure legislation will be forthcoming in Chicago, possibly in Illinois, and maybe all across this great country of ours. Spitting contests will be outlawed. Saliva will be declared a banned substance once it leaves the body.

Combining this tragedy with the concern people already have for communicable diseases, especially with Bird Flu on our horizon, it stands to reason steps will be taken to eliminate the possibility of someone else dying tragically because of saliva. I expect movement any day to address this, especially since our governing bodies have already solved all other important issues.

Committees will be formed and statutes will be passed. Maybe the Patriot Act will become involved. Spitting in any form will be against the law and a new group of men will be incarcerated as they fight to overcome their genes while one more seemingly harmless act is considered unacceptable.

Call me an alarmist for raising such questions, but think back a little. Remember men’s clubs, hunting, acting tough, wolf whistles, and making the secretary get coffee. When you consider the things men have given up as society has progressed, nothing is far–fetched any longer.

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