County Watch — a somber 10th; Eva; gladiators;
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 March 2012 17:27
Written by Jim Nowlan
“Something real bad is going down in Toulon,” the caller said, ominously. I was at home south of Toulon at the time, 10 years ago this week. I grabbed my camera and rushed into town. The flashing of multiple squad car lights north of Casey’s made it clear this wasn’t a typical crime.
Curt Thompson hadn’t been corralled yet, but soon he was shot, pulled from his car and pinned to the ground. I got a good photo, after which deputy sheriff Jimmie Dison, startled by the flash, motioned me away in no uncertain terms.
It was over, yet it haunts us to this day.
Curt had been “the bully of Toulon,” as he came to be called by the outside media in what became a crime of national interest.
Curt had shot and killed a promising young police officer, Adam Streicher, who was serving a warrant, and a fine young couple, neighbors Jim and Janet Giesenhagen. Why?
Clearly, Curt had needed help for some time, but he would never have accepted mental health counseling, and it is hard to force it upon someone, other than by court direction or a declaration of incompetence.
Instead, we all cut a wide swath around the unpredictable Curt Thompson. What more should we have done?
Many thought Curt was a powder keg, ready to explode at any moment. But until he did, what do you do?
Second guessing and finger pointing are of little value now, if one knew where to point the finger.
The best we can do is resolve as a community that if a similar situation arises in the future we report any unstable behavior to the authorities early and demand that whatever action possible be taken.
Our thoughts are with the Streicher and Giesenhagen families.
Don’t miss the exciting recital this Sunday by captivating violinist Eva Leon and pianist Bruce Polay, at 3 o’clock at the News Room Bistro in Toulon.
The National Football League and the frenzied aura that surrounds the games have often been compared to the gladiatorial spectacles of ancient Rome—without the harm and even death. Now we have stories of calculated harm to NFL players as a result of bounties that team players put on the heads of opposing players—which makes our current spectacle even closer to that of Rome.
Toulon native Eldon Ham, whose writing sometimes appears in The News, is a sports lawyer in Chicago who represents professional players such as former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and many others.
Eldon wrote about bounties in an opinion piece that appeared last week in the New York Times (most of us scribblers would give our right arm to be published in The Times).
Eldon wrote that bounties on players are nothing new, and that such calculated, premeditated harm to players is rarely addressed because courts have largely adopted a hands-off approach to on-field injuries. Another obstacle, Eldon writes, “is our culture’s macho conception of sports, where players on the field are expected to ‘man up’ in the face of threats to their safety, however extreme.”
Eldon feels strongly that something should be done: “Those who participated in the Saints’ bounty pool should be prosecuted as well as fined or suspended. Had such behavior occurred in a school cafeteria or on the subway or in a dark alley, this is exactly what would happen. But because it was on television as part of a Sunday entertainment ritual, it may get a pass.”
Eldon exhorts state legislatures to define and criminalize something we can call “flagrant sports battery,” which could protect not just NFL players but also athletes in college and high school.