I've got a story for you, Ags.. Back in my high school days I played football (American). We had a position called "gator-bait" running back. For those of you not familiar with the term, I'm referring to a person unfortunate enough to be picked by the coach to play running back when the first team defense was practicing. To make matters worse, at my small east Texas school it meant the second team offensive line was blocking for him. I don't know how the term came about, but I always pictured a chicken being thrown in with a bunch of hungry gators - the outcome was certain, and messy. We had a guy who the coach always picked to play "gator-bait". I guess the guy could have refused, but he never did. A particular incident stands out for me. One day, while running a sweep play to the outside, he fumbled the pitch. Normally we were coached to jump on the ball, but rather than go for the ball, our middle linebacker, outside linebacker, and strong safety all took the opportunity to "blow up" the guy. Now before you feel sorry for him let me tell you this guy was a first-class jerk. He always went out of his way to interject a snide remark into any and all conversations. He insulted and alienated at every opportunity. If he'd been the least bit funny or intelligent with his insults, a la a Don Rickles or such, he may have pulled it off. But this guy was just mean and stupid for mean and stupid's sake. I can't recall a single person that liked him. He seemed to enjoy, even feed off of, the attention. I guess that's why he accepted the role of "gator-bait" with a perverse satisfaction. One day he decides he's had enough. He gets a gun and brings it to school. He's caught before he can do anything with it. In fact, looking back now, he made more effort to get caught with the gun then to use it. He's expelled. A couple of years after high school (not sure if he graduated from somewhere) I hear he gets busted robbing a Pizza Hut at gunpoint. He was incarcerated at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas, although he may be out by now. Twenty plus years have passed and I often wonder what would've happened if we had been able to ignore him. I say "able to" because often this fellow would not give you the chance. For me personally, I never recall saying a coarse word to him, although I did get the invitation from time to time. However, I'm not proud of being the strong safety on the above mentioned play. The parallel to more recent and tragic events at Columbine High in Colorado and elsewhere is certainly not foreign to me. My heart goes out to the families affected by those events, because , "but for the grace of God go I". Regardless, looking back and learning from this I've come to recognize the importance of ignoring someone, especially when given the chance. I'm not advocating ignoring people who need your help, who's views you disagree with, or who honestly ask for feedback. I'm referring to those being mean and stupid for mean and stupid's sake - you know the ones, maybe not in the first go-round, but shortly thereafter you'll recognize them. Groups, gatherings, and organizations tend to "dumb-down" to the lowest common denominator. By cutting the denominator in half, the result increases. And as a follow-up to show the poetic justice, irony, or calamity of our actions in this world: Imagine the surprise on the face of the incarcerated fellow to find one of his guards is the former middle linebacker for a small high school in east Texas.