March Madness Kicks Off With Ear-Biting Incident

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I'm sure this is only the first of many such incidents now that the tournament is underway. In fact, this happened last week after a game involving sixth-graders, so the really high-stakes stuff hadn't even started yet.

If Missouri and Kansas were to actually meet in the NCAA championship game, God forbid, I'm sure the court would be littered with ear parts.

According to several sources (via FindLaw), the assistant coach of the team that lost in the finals of the Western Massachusetts Catholic Youth Organization league on Friday night responded by picking a fight with the winning coach, and, in the course of the fight, biting off part of his opponent's ear. (One report identifies "the biter," as police referred to him, as the father of one of the losers. Both could be true, of course.) Spectators broke up the fight, which left children (and probably also the ear owner) in tears. The biter then fled, but turned himself in on Monday. He has been charged with (among other things) assault, battery, and mayhem.

Parents expressed dismay. "It's a shame that this has to happen," said one, "because it's a terrible thing to teach children." True, although it also seems like a shame that somebody had a body part bitten off. Plus, the kids are gonna have to learn to protect their ears sooner or later.

Especially in Massachusetts, possibly, which as FindLaw points out specifically lists ears among the parts that, if maliciously removed, could result in a charge of "mayhem." Mayhem is a term frequently used for a battery in which the assailant intended to maim the victim in some way. Most state statutes appear to define it a little more generally, something like "maliciously depriving a human being of a member of his or her body," or disfiguring it, but some go the extra mile and specifically list things not to bite off. It does make sense that ears, being relatively biteable, would be on the list if you're going to have one, but why not just be a little more general?

By the way, please be aware that when I used the term "Amish-related mayhem" the other day, I meant it in the lay sense of the term, not the technical legal meaning. Granted, beard-cutting was involved, but I don't think a beard could qualify as a "member." To me, those are things that don't grow back.