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Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Culture of Violence?

After several well publicized incidents of gun-violence here in the Tyler area, a friend of mine made the suggestion to me that the blame for such violence - and I quote - “should be placed squarely on stupid american's (Tom, read redneck) who promote a "cowboy" mythology that approves of taking the law into your own hands and condones acts of violence.”

The perception that conservative communities condone a cowboy mythology that condones acts of violence and taking the law into your own hands is seriously flawed. Commit a serious enough crime to get prosecuted in this neighborhood and just see what an East Texas jury does to you. See if you believe then that we don't subscribe to the rule of law. We find acts of violence every bit as abhorrent as Yankee liberals do. The gentleman with the AK-47 who shot up the Smith County courthouse stimulated a lot of finger pointed in the press. Most of the conservative community here blames a liberal court system left over from our 'Yellow Dog" Democrat days that should have put this turkey away a long time ago, but kept being "understanding" and letting a seriously dangerous man go with a little pat on the wrist. When you leave a violent person to run around the community unsupervised, you better expect trouble.

Acts of violence are NOT condoned by us cowboys (read conservatives). And by the way - conservatives aren't by definition either cowboys or rednecks. Some of the redneckiest people I know vote straight ticket Democrat out of fear that Republicans will take away their farm subsidies. Rednecks are a culture and just as divided politically as any other cultural group (whether that culture is Cajuns, yuppies, hippies, Yankees, Amish, college professors or liberals). Rednecks don't necessarily beat up gay people, have sex with animals, attend church regularly or pack a gun or any of the stereotypical stuff that Eastern liberal news pundits associate with a "violent" culture.

This was a tragedy, not a result of a violent culture. The guys behind the two recent shootings both had hideous tempers and a history of violence and we're so politically divided on what to do with people like them that all we really do is nothing. So they remain on our streets and fester and fester till they finally explode!

You want to assign blame, blame a system that doesn't take violent people off the streets. I was talking to a Tyler cop today. He was one of the ones that brought down the courthouse shooter. He said, "It's not the guns, Tom. It's the guy behind the gun. And we can't keep them off the streets, even when we know who they are. They just keep letting them go again."

And I really take exception to the idea that Americans are stupid and violent and that every other culture in the world (except for a few aberrations caused by American greed) is basically nonviolent so we should be ashamed of ourselves. Lets look at our peaceful planet!

Guerillas in the jungles of The Phillipines aren't a native part of the wildlife.

Several African nations are catching up with Adolph, Joe and Saddam in the genocide business.

Lebanon has been a war zone for like forever. Palestine, Israel, Iran?

India and Pakistan have been setting off practice nukes and taking pot shots at each other for the past couple of decades.

Russia is torn apart with sectarian violence and internal revolutions.

Cambodia - Pol Pot raised murder to an art form.

Follow the news accounts in France and Germany and see if there's not violence. It just doesn't get reported over here.

The British invented the murder mystery - and according to Dame Agatha happily go about killing each other with a bit of bug spray and teaspoon of ginger tea. Is that fascination with personal death dealing not contributing to a culture of violence - even if the cops don't carry guns.

Sri Lanka is mostly Buddhist (the inventors of meditation) and the country is racked with violence. And hey, you could stick Sri Lanka inside East Texas and have enough surrounding ocean left to hide the U.S. 7th Fleet.

Texas by itself is bigger than like 50% of the world's countries. America is like 50 countries all banded together. Your gonna have a lot more aberrant people because you've got more people here.

Canada doesn't count because it's too cold up there to get into any trouble much.

I've been to Mexico - it was the only place in my life where someone came up to me in a nice restaurant and offered to sell me a young girl. The tour guide warned us not to leave the lighted areas of the town and to travel in large groups.

Columbia - now there's a peaceful tropical paradise for you. Kidnapping is like a national sport. Citizen to citizen violence is an art form.

Haiti - "Necklacing" Nuff said?

I'm sorry. I can travel in America over all 50 states and nobody asks for my "papers". I have never been attacked by bands of rebels. In East Texas a "technical" is a penalty you get for sassing the referee in a high school football game, not an SUV mounted with 50 caliber machine guns that shoots at U.N. relief workers. No warlord has cut off my food recently because I wouldn't pay tribute. No member of my family has ever been kidnapped by drug runners to finance their new cocaine production plant.

Heck, I've never even been in a fist fight one single time since I've been an adult.

We see a lot of violence on TV, but how much actual violence have most of us ever witnessed in person - except for if you visit or live in New York City where someone mugged a four month old baby yesterday (and last I checked there weren't a lot of cowboys living up there). The kid's mom just shrugged and said, "Oh, well, he's finally been mugged - I guess that makes him a true New Yorker!"

East Texas gets a lot of nut cases because when people get too crazy for even New York to tolerate, they inevitable go somewhere where there's lots of woods and few neighbors. Hey, an escaped felon held a woman captive for 10 years out here and nobody noticed - it's that isolated. The woods around here are full of serious nuts. It's a trade-off for having beautiful scenery. I figure with our per capita nut ratio, it's a wonder we don't have more incidents than we do. Part of what slows them down is the fact that they know we'll shoot back and a lot of us are packin' heat!

It's easy to blame violence on a culture that supports going to war sometimes and supports the death penalty and tougher sentencing for criminals and to try to make a connection between that and personal violence. But it just doesn't hold water. Texans have to go to New York to be mugged (although since the Republican administration instructed the police chief to crack down on New Yorker crooks, even their crime rate has started going down - and it was jail and heavy handed enforcement that was responsible, not "education" programs and midnight basketball).

So I don't want to hear nobody picking on East Texas "culture". I like it over here. Nicest place I ever lived and lots of nice neighbors. The nuts? We'll eventually get most of 'em salted and canned!

(c) 2005

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