Thank God For Everybody Else!


He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss…blah blah blah… some old dead German dude who ended up dying crazy of syphilis

So you're thinking, here we are at the tail-end of 2000, comin' up fast on 2001, and that stupid Confederate flag still flies on the State House grounds. The cancer factory on the Savannah River is yet another Chernobyl waiting to happen, the motto of our educational system is still "Thank God for Mississippi!"

Can there be any state in the Union more morally, socially and politically retarded than South Carolina?

Before you answer, consider the following:

Crazy in Indiana

Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. same dead German dude, same book

Riot on campus! Property damage and death threats! Angry students face off with state police at the university president's house!

Was Congress reinstating the draft? The state executing an innocent man? Tuition being raised?

No, this is what happens at Indiana University when they fire the basketball coach. Y'all know the story of Bobby Knight, how he so rudely grabbed that student's arm and verbally abused him for being rude, and how the university president said, That's it, coach. Resign or be fired.

You also know it would be cynical to say the university president wouldn't have gone through with firing Coach Knight if I.U.'s last basketball championship hadn't been won sometime during Ronald Reagan's last term. Never mind the thrown chairs, vases and other abuses on Knight's part that had been overlooked before. Cynicism is bad.

Moreover, it is beside the point: If you think Carolina Gamecock fans are a tedious bunch of yahoos with their priorities way out of whack, I give you the window-smashing, fountain-trashing, death-threat-mailing morons of Indiana University. Go, team, go!

Blasè in Texas

Wretches hang that jurymen may dine. Pope (Alexander, not John-Paul)

Most sane, civilized people — some of them even in favor of the death penalty — are repulsed by the spectacle of cheering mobs outside the prison walls whenever an execution is set to go down in South Carolina.

But, for what seemed the longest time in Texas, they were killing at least one inmate a week and most people didn't care one way or another.

To be fair, the local anti-death penalty activists did what they could in the face of such a rigorous schedule. As for everyone else, though, it's proof you could get used to anything after a while. Even the villagers outside the Auschwitz death camp reportedly got used to the smell of burning flesh.

And it's not just cynical, it's old news to point out that the rate of executions has declined since Gov. Bush took to the campaign trail. And that if anyone's taken the needle since the end of the state primary season, the corporate media hasn't seen fit to report it. Can't appear biased, you know.

Turn your clocks way back — it's Giuliani Savings Time!

It is muddleheaded to say, I am in favor of this political regime rather than that: what one really means, I prefer this kind of police. Cioran, whoever he was

Every other person you meet in the Columbia/Lexington area has a story to tell about the thuggery of the Cayce and West Columbia police departments. I myself have borne witness to behavior on the part of Richland County sheriff's deputies that would make Alexander Solzhenitsyn feel right at home (the Stalinist one he fled, that is).

It's something we take for granted. After all, we live in South Carolina. What more do you expect?

Well, I'll tell ya', Bubba, they ain't any more enlightened up there in New York City. Or have you already forgotten what happened to Amadou Diallo when he reached for his wallet? Or the cosmopolitan Big Apple-style professionalism the police treated Abner Louima to down at the station? Or how those smart Yankee juries up there ruled on those respective cases?

Everyone knows who Rodney King is. But can you remember the name of the man the Philadelphia police gang-stomped for the cameras in July?

Thomas Jones was tossed down the Orwellian memory hole in time for the Republican National Convention. In looking up Jones' name and any follow-ups to his story on the Internet (I found none, maybe you'll have better luck), I discovered the Human Rights Watch paper "Shielded From Justice," which described how the Philadelphia police department's own Internal Affairs covered up one case of brutality after another.

Should you look this page up ( you'll note this paper was presented two years to the month before Jones' beating.

I can't help but wonder if Jones' thrashing would have been so summarily swept under the national rug if it had happened in a Southern city.

God, I hope not. If we're held to a higher standard than the rest of the country, then at least we have standards.

We are not alone

To paraphrase the late Frank Zappa, things are ugly all over and not a little dumb on the side.

To paraphrase the late Frank Zappa, things are ugly all over and not a little dumb on the side. Think of this the next time you and your friends get together to complain about how backward, ignorant and flat-out mean things are here in South Carolina. And know that, should you join one of the local groups working against racism, environmental degradation, police brutality, etc. — fighting for common human decency in your own home town — you are part of a national struggle to make America live up to her promise of liberty and justice for all. Indeed, whatever struggle you take up locally will help make the whole world a better place.

If that last part seems corny, I understand. The times have made cynics of us all. But there's still no arguing with the man who said that the surest way for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

So let's quit complaining about how rotten everything is in the Palmetto State and do something already.

L. Roy Aiken makes the most of things in Beaufort.

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