The protestors were out last week, although not a whole lot of them were. The great tea-letting looked less like the Million Man March than like a Thousand Crank Piss & Moan.
In my neck, as far as I could tell, the grassroots uprising consisted of four guys a whole lot like those from “King of the Hill” — Hank, Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer — slouching out by the curb drinking brewskis in the midday shade and muttering assorted disgruntlements.
Two of the four had protest signs, one of which exhorted passersby to “Honk if you're sick and tired of whatever.” This begins to make sense with about a half-dozen of the brewskis aboard.
I stopped to pass some time with these guys and record some of their objections to contemporaneity. I asked them what it was exactly that they were mad as hell about and weren't going to take anymore.
“You name it, buddy,” the one who resembled Dale said.
Hank said, “I'm out here mainly to remind my fellow Americans of what Thomas Jefferson said, that you have to water the tree of liberty occasionally with the blood of tyrants.”
Which tyrants would those be in this particular instance? I wondered.
“You know good and well who they are,” Hank said.
I pressed for a specific tyrant or tyranny and he said, “All right, then, socialists. It's socialists leading us down the path to destruction, and I for one don't plan to take one more step. Socialized economy. Socialized medicine. Social diseases.”
“I take it you don't mean the old-time socialists like Gov. Faubus' father was,” I said.
“No, the old ones just wanted somebody to beat some sense into them. The new ones are serious. They have these radical ideas like the ones that can afford to pay the most taxes ought to be the ones that pay the most taxes. That just kills your initiative, penalizing your high achievers like that.”
“Sounds mighty radical, all right,” I had to allow. “But how exactly are they tyrannizing you personally. You don't look real tyrannized.”
“Well, I am,” Hank said.
Dale was mainly concerned that the socialists, the fascists, the Magic Negro, the homos, the getters and givers of abortions, the Global Warming crowd, the Tri-Lateral Commission, and/or “this new gal at Homeland Security,” or all of them working in concert, or somebody, was or were looking to deny him his Second Amendment rights to keep the major weaponry in his home arsenal. He was particularly anxious about the ICBMs, which, he said, “do not — repeat, not — have nuclear warheads attached.”
“That's what I'm protesting,” he said.
“Pardon me for saying so, but it doesn't look like a very vigorous protest,” I told him. “Just standing here drinking beer with these other balls of fire.”
“I'm not much of an agitator,” he said. “But trust me, on the inside it's eating me alive.”
Bill said he was out to protest stem-cell research. I couldn't quite follow his reasoning, but it did interest me that he quoted an unhinged columnist in our local weekly newspaper saying stem-cell research is just a way of murdering babies so that 80-year-old people can live to be 90.
“That's cold,” I told Hank.
“That's a good word for murdering babies. Cold,” Hank said.
“No, I meant cold regarding the sick old people,” I explained.
Hank said, “Well, whatever.”
Bill said with a shrug, “That's how I look at it too. Whatever.”
“So you're protesting against tyranny, taxes, socialists, gun control, abortion, stem cells, and what else?” I asked them.
“Bailouts,” Hank said.
“The so-called stimulus,” one said.
“Entitlements,” Boomhauer murmured.
“Entitlements?” I said. “You mean like Social Security and Medicare?”
Boomhauer explained but I couldn't quite make it out, so Hank interpreted.
“He says everybody thinks they're entitled to something. Every little squirt at the school cafeteria thinks we owe him two little cartons of milk. Bill there, the reason he's fat, because he's a veteran, he gets to grocery shop at the air base. They got Jimmy Dean sausage for might near half of what Kroger gets for it. What's fair about that?”
This was a view of the entitlement question that required me to mull for a minute or two.
Then Boomhauer said, “With the entitlements, I was mostly talking about all the free stuff that Mexicans get.”
“Fluoridation,” Dale said.
“Seat belts,” Hank said.
“They're fixing to send all our children to these re-education camps,” Bill said. “Teach 'em we rose up from apes.”
Hank said. “But when you get down to it, it nearly always gets back to the higher tax burden.”
“But they want to lower your tax burden,” I reminded Hank.
Hank said that was twisting the argument to give it socialist spin. “You raise the Wal-Mart heirs' taxes, you know they'll just pass it along to me,” he said.