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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, September 11, 2004

"War is an Ugly Thing..."

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

John Stuart Mill

Friday, September 10, 2004

On Writers

Most wretched men
Are cradled into poetry by wrong;
They learn in suffering what they teach in song.

Julian and Maddalo

[Could Shelley have foreseen blues music?]

Some write, confin'd by physic; some, by debt;
Some, for 'tis Sunday; some because 'tis wet;
Another writes because his father writ,
And proves himself a bastard by his wit.

EDWARD YOUNG, Epistle to Mr. Pope

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Prince Harvey and the Garbage-Pail Theory of Politics

[Following are two of Orley Hood's columns from The Clarion-Ledger; note the sheer brilliance in paragraph five of the second article!]

The real terrorists are killing Jackson (August 22, 2004). It happened again the other night. It's late. A guy's in a parking lot in a rough part of town, shooting the breeze with pals.

The jackers roll up. The guy makes a desperate run toward his car, hoping to keep the scum-buckets from stealing it. A guy with a gun-- hell, everybody's got a gun, right?-- blows off the back of his head.

For those of you keeping score in Jackson this season, that's 32 dead.

It's war, sports fans, as sure as it's war in Baghdad, and the good guys are losing. Just read the paper. Watch the news.

Flip it on early. Flip it on late. It's all the same. Day after day, a horror story, victims' families sobbing on the air, mothers screaming for justice, psycho drugged-up lunatics running loose, guns drawn, triggers cocked.

The chief can talk all he wants about how crime's down.

The mayor can run on and on about how proud he is that Jackson won some kind of award.

It's bull. It's a ruse. It's hot air.

They're failing. The city's turning into a hellhole. The good people are under siege. City fathers can run out all the numbers they want. But it's garbage. All you have to do is switch on the 6 o'clock news for five minutes.

OVER THE BORDER. A week ago a pickup gets stolen from a parking lot during church in Flora. The next day, the police chief in Flora spouts all sorts of numbers about stolen cars in his jurisdiction. Every one of them, he says, was stolen by some scuzzbag from Jackson. Not only is Jackson struggling to weather a tornado of crime, the evil's getting exported.

Years ago I wrote a piece about the guys on Death Row at Parchman, Unit 32, the Maximum Security Unit. I called up Ron Welch, the prisoners' attorney, and he says most every one of those guys was abused as a kid, beaten or sexually molested. Most of them were dropouts, unschooled, virtually illiterate. Most of them, he says, come from broken homes.

No daddy, no values, no chance.

Sound familiar? That's the story on our city streets. Here we sit today, our shining capital city under the gun from some of the sorriest excuses for human beings who have ever lived. These dirtbags who are killing this wonderful city one heinous act after another are terrorists by any definition.

The reality is that they're a much greater threat to our American way of life than any foreign terrorists could ever be.

WHAT IT TAKES. It's just not that hard to be a decent human being, regardless of your background. You want to be respected, you want to be somebody? Stay in school. Marry the mother of your children. Follow the Ten Commandments. Get some backbone. Be a man.

Don't rape, rob, loot. Don't hurt, injure or kill.

If you're not in school, if you don't have a job, if you're not handicapped, then you're not a man at all; you're a bum.

I'm telling you right now, the revolution's coming. Decent people aren't going to take it any longer. And if they have to get a new mayor and police chief to make it happen, they will.

Crime in Jackson: Readers write in ... (September 1, 2004). E-mail, snail mail and astonishing outrage followed in the wake of my Aug. 22 diatribe on crime in Jackson.

In all these years I've not had such a response, not even when I was sports editor and wrote nasty things about lousy college football teams.

Hundreds of you, from Jackson, from the suburbs, from across the country and across the ocean wrote and called with great passion. Here's a sampling of your anger and sadness about what's happened in our capital city:

"Thank you for saying in a clear and concise manner what a lot of the residents of Jackson (and the surrounding communities) feel. I have two sons who don't live in Jackson because of their feelings that Jackson's neither a safe nor a progressive city. I realize that change takes time, but we haven't even reached the turn-around yet." --- Bob Fulcher

"Meanwhile, as the pistols pop, Harvey, prince of the photo op, pompously pounds the pavement in his pothole-pocked principality on the Pearl, proving once again the validity of the Garbage-Pail Theory of Politics-- which holds that the longer they stay in, the more they stink! As the pistols pop..." --- Steve Rankin (italics added)

DANGEROUS STREETS. "I was born and raised in Jackson and spent 28 years as a police officer there. I retired two years ago, mostly out of disgust in the way things were headed. ...After my second burglary in one year and the fact that my wife and kids could not walk down our street safely, I made the decision to move out. I did what a lot of folks have done in south Jackson: I was forced to sell my home of 23 years for half of what it was worth and get the hell out! I left the city that I had called home for over 48 years." --- Charles Smith

"It continues to amaze me that some people in the city, in and out of leadership positions, who could do something to deal with the crime problem, choose not to." --- Rick Whitlow

"I hope we don't get used to crime and just say, well, that's the way it is in Jackson, because, like you, I don't believe it has to be that way." --- Karen Tullos

CLEANING UP AT HOME. "Let's take the billions that we are spending to 'clean up' world terrorism and use it to clean our own house. ...Most people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the mess that our nation is in." --- Phil Cook

"I reside in Jackson and was born and raised here, and it breaks my heart to see what has happened to this once wonderful city." --- Meg Outlaw

"Like in that old movie, I envisioned people all over Jackson screaming out of their windows that they were mad as hell and not going to take it any more." --- John Ross

"We're still holding out and living in the city of Jackson, but it's getting more and more challenging. I haven't figured out yet how I am benefiting from this privilege."--Myra Atkinson

"After years of marshmallow columns dotted with sports metaphors, you've finally served up a bold filet of cogent and concise opinion-journalism. Gruffy gumption becomes you." --- Patrick K. Darnell

There's another stack of mail over an inch thick on my desk. Most of it echoes what you've read this morning. If you're mad as hell, if you think the city has been ill-served and ill-led, you're not alone.

I know... it's small comfort in these tragic times.

E-mail: ohood@jackson.gannett.com