On the morning of August 26, 1879, nearly 200 men stormed the Maricopa County jail in Phoenix, took custody of two murder suspects, and strung them up in the town plaza. The Phoenix Herald endorsed the hangings, writing, “Villainy and vice are rampant these days. Murders and assassinations are to (sic) frequent to be tolerated in a well-governed community.” Lynch mobs bolstered the opinion that the “Wild West” was a violent and lawless place. That depends largely upon where and when you examine a geographic spot in the West. Only three months prior to the “necktie party” The Herald reported, “Phoenix is one of the quietest and most orderly towns in the territory.” This wasn’t a town absent laws-they just ignored it, fueled by “lawless passion” of vigilante citizens.
We boast, “We’re a nation of laws.” For a working definition of lawlessness, “No boundaries of individual or group behavior-defiance of any authority-cupidity on steroids.” Detractors protest, “We have laws against that.” The multiple “assassination style killing” of law enforcement officers occurred in locations with laws against it. Burning and pillaging of property were prohibited in Ferguson and Baltimore. While an agonizing exercise, how does one answer this poignant question, “If there were no laws against any behavior or desire, what would one do?” Most recoil, “Nothing like theft, murder or rape!” “We’re civilized people!“ What restrains us?
What restrains child predators from becoming child molesters? Is it laws and ordinances? With specific provocation, when one’s anger reached its zenith-is it the threat of life in prison, or worse, that quells one’s impulse? Do we “execute others in our heart?” The force of law restrains most of us. We’ve all violated a law or ordinance on our earthly journey. For most, it’s not a serial occurrence or lifestyle. We regret and refrain. Will that change drastically?
We submit to authority at an elementary level, cognizant that it’s the natural price that we pay for membership in society or a group. Most “rebel” at one time or another. Rebellion’s more costly with age, commensurate with the institution at which it’s leveled.
Founded on a creed, our Republic’s unique. Though we began as a “revolution,“ we didn’t devour our citizenry. The most fascinating aspect of the American Revolution, a war to be sure, was in the severe way it routinely questioned itself about the meaning of what it was doing. Even its passion was tempered with doubt and introspection. It was infused by the mind, not dogma, unlike the French and Russian Revolutions.
The gun slinging marshal, has been supplanted by a law enforcement figure that has our safety at heart, counting on our consent and deference to the law. In reality, authority resembles the law. However, authority, as distinct form law, is exercised on a basis, different from sheer enforcement or coercion. It’s essential nature is that it’s accepted voluntarily. It appeals to an explicit number of motives in us, such as, according to Thomas Molnar, “loyalty, fear, prudence, regard for others, desire to conform, and so on.” What happens when “voluntary notions” no longer prevail? There’ve been signposts.
The past four generations swallowed a bitter root-a lethal dose of godless humanism-a hollow legacy for this world. Few imagined this moral slide. Catholics, evangelicals, and co-belligerents rallied to oppose the normalization of homosexuality by the American Psychological Association in 1973, that ignored long-standing historical clinical research classifying it as deviant behavior. Sodomy laws, outlawing sexual acts deemed “unnatural” were broadly defined, and varied from state to state. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of sodomy laws in a 1986 case. However, in 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, reversed that decision, invalidating sodomy laws in the remaining fourteen states. Now, nothing’s unnatural.
Once upon a time, pornography was available for those with that thirst. They had to go in the “back alley” where it should be. That thirst can now be quenched undetected with an “unending steam of filth” on the internet. The “genie’s out of the bottle.” The Supreme Court tramples our liberties, creating laws ex-nihilo. Roe v. Wade. Same-sex marriage. They trumped the 1957 Roth case, that stated obscene material existed when “the dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest.” The publishing and cinema moguls found great solace in the, “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific values” clause. Slithering down a brass pole, while dancing nude, or women parading naked in Times square, with “painted torsos,” is no less artistic than a Norman Rockwell painting.
Liberal, secular elites high-jacked higher education, particularly in the social sciences and education, delivering four generations whose moral compass’s flawed. One can’t recall what one never knew. The FBI reports two-thirds of all sexual victims are under the age of eighteen-most alarming-that most are under twelve. One in four sexual assault victims who experienced forcible sodomy, or sexual assault, were five or younger.
Children depicted in sexual cinema acts in foreign films violate “civilized” taboos. Are we exempt? Naysayer? Watch this provocative Youtube music video, “Elastic Heart,“ depicting a 12 year-old, caged girl, Maddie Ziegler, donning a flesh-colored leotard, “wrestling” shirtless, underwear clad, 28 year old actor, Shia LaBeouf. Blurring a cinematic line: neutralizing the sexual context of an encounter, masquerading as art. The tension? Escaping the cage, she voluntarily returns, vampishly renewing contact with her aggressive, caged counterpart. A pedophile’s dream? Taboos neutralized?
Billy Ray Cyrus pleads to look beyond his “daughter’s nudity,” insisting her music video’s bona fide art. Robin Thicke’s explicit 2013 single, “Blurred Lines,” render Plato’s ancient proverb culturally relevant, “Let me write the songs a nation sings, and I care not who writes the laws.” Eradicating the final vestiges of shame.
Are pedophiles, as The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, in 2013, seriously maintained, a misunderstood minority, meaning no real harm? What events would usher in that curse? A foretaste of a bitter cup yet to come? In the midst of lawlessness, Senator Elizabeth Warren calls for “police reform. “What about “thug reform?” What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s email@example.com