Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019
Illustration by Thomcat23, Copyright 2019
INSANITY REIGNS IN AMERICA TODAY
Many years ago Mark Twain said that America has no native criminal class except for Congress. Will Rogers said the difference between death and taxes was that death didn’t get worse every time Congress was in session.
What put these comments into my mind is that our government has devolved to the point that partisan bickering keeps it from accomplishing much, but what it does accomplish is usually bad. The ancient Greeks had a word for what we have today, kakistocracy. That means “government by the worst.”. And I think most of my readers will agree that we couldn’t get much worse than the current bunch of Bozos. No, wait, that’s an insult to Bozo the Clown, and these clowns aren’t the least bit funny.
But bad government is only part of the problem. We seem to be degenerating into a fractionalized society in which some fractions are always seeking to be offended by what other factions do. Nowhere in our constitution is there a right not to be offended. In fact, in earlier times Americans lived by the maxim, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Freedom of speech/expression is the most important right guaranteed by our Constitution. But many people obviously don’t believe in it. I’m sitting in this prison cell right now because twelve small town jurors were offended by my erotic photography. If they’d paid attention and done the job they pledged to do, they would have noticed that the prosecution never proved the key elements of its case against me, and none of my photography was illegal. But they ruled based on prejudice,, not fact, and were offended by the small sampling of my photos that the prosecution projected up to giant size on the courtroom wall, and those were personal photos never intended for publication.
This was brought back to my mind last week by a news story that I read in my favorite magazine, THE WEEK. To celebrate America, the Nike company planned to introduce a new shoe with the original United States flag, as designed by Betsy Ross, with a ring of thirteen stars, on the shoe back. Nike was forced to withdraw the shoe when people protested that the original United States flag was a symbol of slavery. Sounds ridiculous, iduotic, like someone’s idea of a silly fake news story. Something you’d see in THE ONION. But this really happened.
Now I could understand if Nike had used the “Stars and Bars” of the Confederacy, but the original U. S. flag? And so what? If Nike had any guts they’d have ignored protests from the ignorant and produced the shoe for those proud of our country to wear proudly. I’d have bought a pair if I was on the outside.
Certainly, there were things wrong with this country as first conceived, and slavery was one of them, but there were more good things than bad. Our history is a history of fixing what’s wrong incrementally, striving toward the impossible goal of perfection.
Women were repressed in this country far longer than any ethnic group, and in many ways still are, but we’re making progress on those issues. I didn’t hear women protesting Betsy Ross’s flag.
Communist regimes invariably try to rewrite history when they come to power, but history has a way of surviving to re-emerge when those regimes topple, as they invariably do. In the old U.S.S.R. they renamed everything, thus you ended up with cities named Leningrad, Stalingrad, etc., but when the U.S.S.R. collapsed the old names were restored because people had not forgotten them. The attempts nowadays to rewrite American history and wipe out all memory of the Confederacy are similarly due to fail. Knocking over statues revered by many is nothing more than vandalism, and is just another example of thin-skinned people looking for something to be offended by. Removing names of prominent Confederate generals from schools, highways, towns, etc. is more lunacy.
In Germany, they tried to wipe out the history of the Third Reich. They knocked down statues and monuments and renamed things named after Nazis. They went so far as to purge swastikas from the decal sets of plastic model kits of WWII airplanes, tanks, ships, etc., and banned the display of Nazi symbols. What did this accomplish? A generation ignorant of the history of European fascism, and the many skinhead neo-nazis and holocaust deniers.
Will we have deniers of slavery in our future? I’m sure we will.
In Italy, busts of Mussolini are illegal, but I could have bought an many as I wanted ranging in size from a few inches tall to larger than life size in San Marino. Who buys them? Italian tourists, of course, who take them home to display inside their houses. I could have bought Hitler busts, too, if I’d wanted such a thing. Was I offended that these things were for sale? No, I was not, because I know the history of the German Nazis and Italian Fascists, and that history must not be forgotten. The history of the American “Civil War,” similarly, must not be swept under the rug, but must be taught, and taught accurately.
Those who forget history are destined to repeat it. We must never forget the truth of that statement. If we want a future free from the evils of the past, we must remember them, and our children must be taught them honestly, even if the truth offends them. Not all history lessons are pleasant.
About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348. Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-objectifying-and-exploiting-women/
Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.