WTF Friday: Actually, It’s About Freedom

A new champion appears to some Bexar County voters
Jade Stanford/Twitter
A new champion appears to some Bexar County voters

What a week. What a country! From coast to coast, Americans spoke clearly to defend the principles they hold most dear: a higher minimum wage, legal marijuana, robust, diverse voter turnout and the conservative political leaders who share those values.

I.

But make no mistake as to what this election was really about. Tuesday’s results were absolutely a referendum on one man alone, who wasn’t even running in Texas:

avid_Dewhurst.”

Avid Dewhurst. An emphatic Dewhurst, a committed Dewhurst, a champion for these uncertain times.

While most Texans were casting their votes for either Greg Abbott or Wendy Davis, a dozen lucky Bexar County voters were offered a third way.

Avid Dewhurst. A man of such substance and grace that he is well-suited to the moniker “Mountain Dew.” A Dewhurst who will not equivocate, who will not yield, who will not leave for a snack or watch the clock run out when principle—whatever principle—is on the line. A man who does not just see jars of feces and tell someone about it later, but smashes them, then and there, with the gavel the people have placed in his capable hands.

Yes, though David Dewhurst may be but a memory in Texas politics now, Avid Dewhurst was making news on Election Day. At least 12 voters in Bexar County were served an electronic ballot with, instead of Greg Abbott, someone named “avid_Dewhurst.”

Actually, the machine’s manufacturer explained, avid_Dewhurst’s unlikely candidacy was due to a “faulty memory card.” But what is more likely, after all? That the fault lies with one computer’s memory, or that the fault, in fact, is ours?

We may disagree, but isn’t it, after all, only the terms of the issue that divide us, and not the issue itself?

II.

Consider the non-discrimination ordinance in Houston.

The move by the city of Houston’s outside legal counsel to subpoena sermons from five pastors—relating to the ordinance, “Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity”—made it clear what the ordinance is really about. And last weekend’s “I Stand Sunday” mega-prayer rally in Houston offered glimpse of where we’re headed. In a word: Nazis.

Author Eric Metaxas provided a historical perspective on the need to rise up against tyranny before it’s too late:

“If we don’t wake up and fight before then, we won’t be able to fight. That’s just what happened in Germany. And that’s the urgency that we have in America now. And people may think that’s incendiary or I’m being hyperbolic. I’m sorry—I wish, I wish, I wish I were. I’m not.”

RightWingWatch collected a few of the event’s greatest hits, like First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, who explained that it was all in keeping with Satan’s longtime modus operandi that those in power today are attacking Christians by “trying to paint them as extremists.”

Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, national treasure and patron saint of truck stop novelties, offered some reassurance, and a keen understanding of what goes on in women’s bathroom stalls:

“For all you ladies in Texas, trust me when I tell you this. When you’re seated in your restroom, putting on your Maybelline, when I need to take a leak, I’m not going there.”

Robertson’s message was clear. Liberal spin aside, Houston’s non-discrimination ordinance is actually about one thing above all: letting men into the ladies’ restroom.

Sometimes a thing’s true meaning can be difficult to discern. Outsiders of questionable morals may try and twist the message to their own purposes.

III.

Consider, for instance, this T-shirt sold by the football team at Arlington’s Martin High School:

martin-football-t-shirt-2

An editorial in the school paper explained that, sure, we all get that the shirt is about turnovers and giving up the football, but hey, a reasonable person might—saving questions about the Native American mascot in a feather war bonnet for later—wonder whether the shirt’s humor here might play on something outside the game itself:

The shirt’s main message is to state the player’s idea that there is no need for the opponent to put up a fight in letting our team take the ball away from them. … But can this saying be easily misunderstood? Yes. Though it certainly was not the goal of the shirt, its slogan connoted rape culture.

Speaking with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ken White, the Martin booster club president, responded with swift sympathy and the outrage of great moral conviction:

“I have a wife, I have a daughter, I have a mother,” White said. “Our players have sisters and cousins. It’s unwarranted. Our kids deserve better, especially from our own school.”

Strong words. White was, of course, not suggesting that “our kids deserve better” than a rejected punchline from Chicken Soup for Clayton Williams’ Raunchy Cocktail Hour. He was defending the T-shirt after the school district banned it.

Yes, the outside world might see “Shhhhhhh, just let it happen” and think “rape joke” or even “insanely rapey“—but actually, White explained, it’s about team unity:

“It’s sickening to me that it was misconstrued.”

IV.

Consider another recent example of attempted nanny-state nannying in the private affairs of the market. KHOU reported this week on the persistent business of “murderabilia”—”souvenirs produced by and about notorious killers,” like James Byrd Jr. killer John King.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn has tried to shut down the business, but to little avail. Said Houston-based victim’s rights advocate Andy Kahan:

“The problem is enforcement. It’s virtually impossible to enforce a Texas law when you have a California dealer or any other dealer from another state selling items from a Texas inmate.”

KHOU spoke with murderauction.com founder G. William Harder, who’s upset because he’s been banned from visiting inmates in Texas. Crime victims may complain that the people who killed their loved ones are profiting off the crime, but Harder explained that, actually, his business is about the very bedrock of the American idea:

Harder, who proudly shows off photographs he’s taken with Charles Manson, argues he’s merely exercising his rights by serving an unusual niche of crime aficionados. Nothing, he said, separates him from an author writing a true crime book, a television network airing crime documentaries or a broadcast reporter covering a lurid murder.

“Just because a segment of society doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean you can tell me I can’t do it,” Harder said. “I understand that there’s victims attached to this. It’s a sensitive subject, but I don’t invite them. This is what this country was founded on: free enterprise and capitalism.”

Staff writer Patrick Michels covers school reform and crime for the Observer.

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Published at 2:09 pm CST
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