Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

Mind Your Manners
AJ Robinson

When I was a kid, I remember watching an old Western movie on television once. I remember watching many old Westerns. I really enjoyed John Wayne and Randolph Scott!

One stood out in my mind because of a particular scene. It was early in the story, a classic good versus evil sort of tale. One of the minions for the head bad guy was talking with a good guy at the bar of a saloon. He was deliberately trying to goad the man into getting upset, as he wanted a fight to ensue and, thus, have an excuse to shoot him. The good guy, easygoing and decent, he ignored most of what the minion said and just calmly cleaned his pipe.

Then he reached back to get his packet of tobacco out of his pocket.

This was the justification the minion had been waiting for. In an instant, he drew his pistol and fired, shouting something like, “No, don’t go for your gun.” Bang, the man lay dead on the floor, his tobacco packet clutched in his hand. The minion was able to get off prosecution by claiming they were arguing and he thought the man was going for his gun. The good guy, quite naturally, wasn’t around to offer any contradictory testimony. Case dismissed. Oh, and by the way, the good guys won in the end, as was the custom in films back then.

I recalled that scene, just the other day, when I heard the verdict in the Zimmerman trial. It now seems that, in Florida, you have to watch what you say and how you move around other people. If you do anything that someone might interpret as a threat, he or she can shoot you. Fellow Floridians, here’s my message to you: mind your manners.

Kids at school: don’t bully the puny kids or mouth off to your teachers, she or he could be packing. Drivers, don’t cut someone off or cut too close to a pedestrian standing at a crosswalk. For that matter, pedestrians don’t cross where there isn’t a crosswalk, a driver might feel threatened by you “lunging” at their car and they could legally lean out the window and shoot you. Shoppers and clerks had better be nice to each other; one simple inappropriate gesture and the bullets could start flying! For that matter, all police officers should have their guns at the ready. After all, everyone knows that the police are armed. Anyone approaching an officer could feel endangered and might open fire; our officers need to prepare for this.

As for myself, I never really liked skinheads, the Birthers and the Tea Baggers or the NRA. I’m thinking, maybe I’ll buy a couple of guns, make sure I have several of those huge clips that hold lots of bullets and go find me a bunch of them. All I have to do is say how much I admire the president. Inside of thirty seconds, oh boy, will I feel threatened! After that, I must defend myself and have every legal right to stand my ground. I used to be an expert shot. I wonder how good I am now. Oh well, a few stray shots won’t matter.

I find it interesting how we seem to be moving backwards in our America. Social justice is moving back to the Jim Crow days. Women’s health and liberty is moving back a good sixty years. As for guns, we’re all the way back to the Frontier Days.

Guess I need not take up smoking a pipe.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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