Chanticleer #21

I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up. 

Henry David Thoreau


October 22, 2000

Idiot, Idiot, Who’s the Idiot?

What do you make of this Letter to the Editor, printed in the Dallas Morning News (DMN) October 6, 2000?

Prank is idiocy

On the night of Sept. 27, while driving through a large apartment complex parking lot, I drove past a vehicle which appeared to have a human body stuffed into the trunk, with limbs dangling from the car. Horrified, I called 911 and informed the authorities. The police were dispatched and subsequently informed that a resident of the apartment complex had placed a lifelike human-sized doll in the trunk as a “prank” and that he did this every year.

I would really like to know what kind of sick individual would find any humor in simulating a grotesque murder. We, as citizens of Dallas, simply should not and cannot tolerate this idiocy.

This “prank” clearly represents a profound disrespect for human life, not to mention a complete disregard for effective law enforcement. Morons like this prankster waste valuable police time and energy, impairing their ability to fight crime.

I sincerely hope this prankster is discovered and punished harshly; he or she should reimburse the police force for the time wasted on investigating this case. Better yet, he or she should be compelled to spend time with a support group comprised of victims of violent crime. Perhaps then he or she may realize that an act of violent death is not something we should simulate, much less tolerate.

JF, Dallas

What’s in an un nombre, Hombre?

Mr. Thomas Edwin Wesson, 42, ran unsuccessfully for the Dallas City Council in 1997 and 1999. In 1998, he filed paperwork to run for Precinct 6 justice of the peace, but failed to pay the permit fee and his name was dropped from consideration.

Undaunted, Mr. Wesson is on the 2000 ballot for the November 7th election, running as the Republican candidate for Dallas County Constable, Precinct 6. He’s on the ballot as Tomas Eduardo Wesson. Precinct 6 is, according to the DMN, predominantly Hispanic.

The paper reports that Mr. Wes – I mean, SeƱor Wesson – has confirmed he is not of Hispanic heritage, but insists, “That is my name. That’s how I spell ‘Thomas’.”

According to a Dallas County Republican party official, “If you pay your filing fee, you can file as Abraham Lincoln, and I can’t stop it.

So I’m thinking … in Dallas County … Republican Party … heck, why not “Smith A. Wesson”?

The “A”, of course, would stand for “And.”

Cheerleader Update

In the last edition of Chanticleer Calls I related the plight of the Colleyville Heritage High School cheerleaders. This week, state district judge Dana Womack ruled that her court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the case. She instructed attorneys representing the parents of the girls and the school district to work out their differences.

The paper reported that, “Mediation was considered but ultimately rejected by a unamimous vote of the school board last month.”

The parents’ attorneys will appeal the judge’s decision, which may take up to six months.

I guess there are some rules that just aren’t negotiable, or compromise-able, or mediation-able. The only lesson for the girls to learn here is: Follow the damn rules!

More Rules, More Spirit?

The Solheim Cup represents a golf competition between American women golfers and European women golfers. If you’re familiar with the Ryder Cup, think women instead of men and you’ve more or less got the Solheim Cup.

This year, the Europeans pulled an upset and beat the Americans, but a rules dispute left a sour taste in the mouths of the participants. In one of the key matches, the Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam chipped in for a birdie on the 13th hole.

However, the Americans playing against Sorenstam, Pat Hurst and Kelly Robbins, protested that when Annika made her chip she wasn’t “away”, meaning she wasn’t the farthest from the cup. In golf etiquette, and rules, you play in order of who’s farthest from the hole. The Americans made her attempt the chip shot again, which she missed. Pat Hurst then made a short birdie putt to win the hole, and ultimately the match.

After the match, the Europeans were upset and referred to the Americans as “bad sports”. Sorenstam tearfully said, “It is sad to see that the ugly part of them came out because both Pat and Kelly are the nicest they have. It is just sad to see that – that they don’t even have sportsmanship.”

For her part, American Kelly Robbins apologized, saying, “Our goal was to make this a first-class event in the sense that we would show the men how to do it. Personally, I don’t think it turned out that way.”

U.S. captain Pat Bradley took responsibility for the protest, that it was her call to insist that Sorenstam replay the shot. She stated: “We played within the rules of the game. When the rules of the game are upheld, the spirit of the game is upheld.”

Ban ’em, Dano!

From the October 10, 2000 DMN:

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Critics of Wizard of Oz creator L. Frank Baum say a proposed Oz theme park would be inappropriate because the author was a racist who called for the “total annihilation” of native Americans.

In editorials written in the early 1890s, a decade before the first of his Oz books appeared, Mr. Baum called for the extermination of American Indians.

“Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untameable creatures from the face of the earth,” he wrote in 1891 while publisher of The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer in South Dakota. The editorial appeared shortly after the massacre at Wounded Knee.

Jimmie Oyler, the self-described chief of the United Tribe of Shawnee Indians, says it would be wrong to build the projected 6,000-acre park on land that used to belong to his tribe.

“If it has anything to do with Baum … it’s never going to be on Shawnee land,” Mr. Oyler said.

Kristin McCallum, a spokeswoman for Oz Entertainment Co., which plans to build the park near Kansas City for an estimated $860 million, called the 110-year-old editorial irrelevant. “I don’t see the relation,” she said.

From the May 22, 2000 edition of US News and World Report, with thanks to reader PC for bringing it to my attention.

An outing is no picnic

What is spring without new politically correct adventures?

The scheduling of a picnic to honor Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson led to a furor over alleged racism at the State University of New York-Albany. Some 40 students at the university insisted that the word “picnic” originally referred to the racial lynchings of blacks.

They were wrong. Picnic comes from a 17th-century French word for a social gathering in which each person brings a different food. But in reply to the 40 protesters, affirmative action director Zaheer Mustafa put out a memo asking all student leaders to refrain from any use of the word picnic. “Whether the claims are true or not, the point is the word offended,” he said.

In publicity for the event honoring Robinson, the word picnic was changed to “outing.” This offended gay students, so the event formally known as picnic was publicized without a noun describing what was going on.

“Every day we come up with a new word we can’t use,” said exasperated student editor Richard Ryback. – John Leo

The Tourist Tater

From the pages of the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune:
“The Tourist Tater, a 6-foot-high Mr. Potato Head sculpture, is seen Friday outside the Warwick (R.I.) City Hall. The sculpture, painted a dark brown to appear suntanned and wearing an ill-fitting Hawaiian shirt, is to be removed following complaints that it is racist. State officials insist no offense was meant.”

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts weighed in with an opinion piece against the potato, concluding with “You would hope that someday we might reach a point where a white person would instinctively understand beforehand why a tanned tuber might give offense – or a black person might not instinctively take offense. As it is now, you say “potato,” and I say regrettable reminder of blackface bigotry.”

WARNING: You might find the following photo offensive and appalling

Please do not look below this line unless you accept responsibility for your own blood pressure, breathing and general emotional sensitivities! STOP!

The photo I’m warning you about was banned from a t-shirt printed by the Junior Class (2002) at Saint Mary’s College (SMC), just across the road from Notre Dame (ND) in South Bend, IN.

Here is what some students said in The Observer, the jointly-published student paper of both schools.

I am appalled by the shirt and work desparately hard to maintain good relations across the street. This represents everyone on this Board and I have gotten numerous phone calls about it.

This brings us backwards from where we were going.

When you put the “ND” on the shirt, that was a direct attack.

I can see how it’s ‘cute,’ but one thing can start the whole ball rolling. I do see it snowballing.

How can we make certain judgments like that about ND women?

A really good friend of mine goes to Notre Dame and if she wore the shirt and the situation were reversed, I’d be really hurt.

I think the shirt says that Notre Dame men hold control of women to choose. To me that shirt is sexist. We need to confiscate and prevent any distribution of them.

The t-shirt not only perpetuated of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s women alike, it also trivialized the women who made the choice to come to Saint Mary’s. …

The t-shirt portrays the Saint Mary’s women not as being chosen for their mind or as a whole person, but rather as a sexual object by the Notre Dame man.

The shirt displays disrespect for ourselves as women.

Now that you’ve been properly warned, here is my attempt to re-create the offensive as best I can, within the limits of my editing skills.

St. Mary's Class of 2002 Tshirt

The background for this dispute, as I learned about it, is that Saint Mary’s (SMC) is, and always has been, a women’s school. Until a few decades ago, Notre Dame was a men’s school. Now it’s coed.

The recognized stereotype – not necessarily borne out by facts – that has developed is that women go to Notre Dame to get an education, and are not particularly attractive or interested in men.

Conversely, the women who attend SMC are generally more attractive and are there to land a Notre Dame man.

This otherwise innocently-appearing photo thus became an object of vociferous, politically-correct scorn by women from both schools.

The SMC women object because they believe it plays into their negative stereotype as being serious only about men, not about Mensa.

The ND women object because it plays into their negative stereotype as being serious about Mensa, and not about men.

Menwhile … I mean, “meanwhile” … the men of Notre Dame seem silent on the issue. On one hand this makes conventional sense, in line with the old wisdom that you don’t step into a cat fight unless one of them’s yours. On the other hand, it seems to me there’s a case to be made that this whole dispute objectifies and denigrates men.

I mean, the women of SMC seem to believe that just by purring across the road they can win the affections of the ND men. And the ND women seem to be scratching out some kind of territorial boundary that marks the ND men as ‘theirs’.


(Scroll down to a scan of the actual article.)


What an interesting, thought-provoking chanticleer! First of all, your passage about the Colleyville cheerleaders and the HPHS party. . .This has become such a convoluted issue. Does it have to be? So many different parties feel they have the responsibility to take care of these situations. In my opinion, there seems to be a confusion of societal roles at play. [How do you suppose similar incidents would have been handled 20 years ago? 50 years ago? etc.] Some folks feel that any kind of ‘punishment’ of kids is solely in the parents’ domain, none of the schools’ business. On the other hand, certain parties feel many parents are not taking an active enough role in their children’s lives, so lest such acts go ‘unpunished,’ the schools had better handle it. Some folks waffle in-between…One thing I particularly love about your newsletter is your observations of the world around you and your subsequent musings about them. While experiencing the business of my life, I, myself, like to think along such ‘lines’. For example, I quite enjoyed the examination of the meaning of ‘hug’. One tends to assume that the bundle of connotations around the word are warm and fuzzy, but context is key…… Really liked that one. … Cocorico! – in Dallas

I’m probably attributing *way* too much insight to the TXDOT, but there might have been a rationale to the one-lane striping. Seems like that’s been striped as one lane for years now, *but* here goes: by striping it as one lane, the inevitable bottleneck will tend to be pushed back onto Woodall Rogers; the backup won’t be *safe* there, but it might be *safer* than it would be on Central, particularly during construction. I’ll have to think about that some more … I’m always fascinated by traffic patterns and how they’re controlled. Traffic is an enormous organic system that has real-time controls built into it … it’s got to be one of the most fascinating things to control. – in Dallas

Your comments on hugging were thought provoking. Hugging people that are in pain, or greetings expressed this way when one has not seen another for a long time do seem appropriate. The pastor of our church stands at the back and gives hugs every Sunday after church. Although he is very sincere and caring, others find the hugs uncomfortable. One person expressed that it is done so repetitively that it has become less than geniuine. Several congregants even go another direction just to avoid it. I guess I am a cold fish, but I’d just soon have a hearty handshake or a big smile. – in Smalltown, TX

St. Mary's Class of 2002 T-Shirt