Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What A Mess Is Texas!

Fosco is bedeviled by Texas.

Until recently, Fosco was willing to write off the entire state as a physical manifestation of his worst Bushian nightmares. I mean, other than the theocracy of Utah, Texas seems to be the closest thing we have to the "ideal" model of a conservative state--and a particularly dim-witted one, at that.

But then Fosco started to warm up to Texas--just a bit. For one thing, the state appears to be America's kolache capital. For another thing, Fosco's absolutely favorite band hails from Texas. And then there is the fact that several of the best readers of FL! live in Texas (you know who you are!). Clearly, Texas has redeeming value. And, to judge from this recent roadtrip by Jill, Texas has some beautiful and interesting places: artist colonies, dessert cantinas, spas.

However, just when Fosco reaches the point of thinking "Hey, maybe Texas isn't too bad," he reads stuff like this (from the always trenchant Jonathan Turley):

Don McLeroy, controversial Chair of the Texas State Board of Education, has released his top choice of his recommended reading list: “Sowing Atheism” by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. — a book billed by creationists as disproving evolution and exposing the worldwide atheist conspiracy. When combined with the effort to create an advanced degree in “Creation Science” in Texas, the state will soon rival Iran and Saudi Arabia as a bastion of medieval thought.
Yes, that's right: the head of the State Board of Education wants everyone to know that there is an atheist conspiracy afoot. Remember when, just ten years ago, we were making fun of Kansas? The difference, of course, is that Kansas wised up. Good job, Texas: you just made Kansas look progressive. Sigh.

But that's not all. Here's another Texas gem from Jonathan Turley:
Houston police and prosecutors are arresting people for potty-mouths. The Texans were shocked when New Yorker Abraham Urquizo, 35, used the “F-word” twice while arguing with his girlfriend at Salsa’s Mexican and Seafood Restaurant. They are clearly unaware that the word can be used as an adjective, noun, verb, adverb, participle, and a gerund in New York.

The crackdown on bad language would seem unconstitutional on its face under the first amendment. This is the second such arrest in eight months — citing them for disorderly conduct.
All I can say is "Fuck that." But seriously, has law enforcement in Texas really been so successful at preventing other crimes that it can now turn its attention to public cursing? And what about Texas's vaunted spirit of independent libertarianism? Doesn't this type of arrest smack of the kind of "police state" that conservatives are always decrying?

Oh Texas, why must you jerk me around like this?

UPDATE: Fosco clarifies his feelings about Texas in the comment section below. My apologies to my Texas readers for how this whole discussion went down. Alas, Fosco doesn't always think deeply before he posts.

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todd said...

All I can say is:
Don't mess with Texas!

(It's not nice to pick on retards)

Anonymous said...

Oz has lived there for a short period and can say, it sucks...

Jill said...

It doesn't suck...some places and some people in Texas fucking suck...but not all of it. Just like there are places in California and I'm sure Iceland that suckingly fuckingly suck as well. This is coming from a cursing, pagan, Bush bashing, 4th Generation Texan though. On another note...have you seen Bill Mauher's (sp?) Religulous?

FOSCO said...

I didn't mean for this to turn into an anti-Texas rag-a-thon... I was just interested in the ways in which Texas has been simultaneously attracting and repulsing me lately. It's a really complex state that I have, in the past, responded to in very simplistic ways.

Like I said, there are some fabulous people in Texas (Jill, por ejemplo). And Jill is indeed right: parts of California are hell on earth (most of the Central Valley, actually). So far, California remains livable because the troglodytes are mostly outnumbered (except when it comes to Prop 8--which makes Jill's point perfectly).

There is a long and proud tradition of semi-serious state vs. state chauvinism in this country and I think Texas attracts a lot of negative attention because its residents are often so loud and proud. However, Texas isn't alone: Californians love to remind the rest of the country how nice their climate is (among other things). And when I engage in this kind of chauvinism, I try to keep in mind that most of it is based on exaggeration and stereotype.

It's actually funny how living in a geographical/social unit can produce inflated loyalty toward that unit (and I'm not just talking Texas here). I think the majority of people in this country probably consider the rest of the US population to be complete morons because they have chosen to live in other places. This goes for cosmopolitan liberals like me, as well as for anti-social racists like my dad (who can't understand why anyone would live anywhere near Jews, Blacks, or Mexicans).

My California chauvinism can get a bit silly sometimes, but I'd like to suggest that it's partly ironic. After all, Fosco has lived in some very bad places in his life (like Indiana!). Not to mention that, based on the academic job market, a future life in a red state like Texas is a very real possibility for me. I can only hope that, in whatever state I end up, I meet some people like Jill, etc.

So my apologies to Jill (and my other favorite Texas readers: JM and AEJ). Cool people can live anywhere and almost anyplace (even Texas!) has its cool spots.

Jill said...

I like you muy mucho Fosco! Your dad sounds like my she-bitch grandmother.