Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Small Town Values

As I continue to watch the Wide Stance party pretend to champion "small town values," I reflect back on the first eighteen years of my life, which was spent exclusively in small towns in Oklahoma, a state that was deep red before anyone ever talked about red states and blue states. I lived in Ponca City, McAlester, and Burns Flat, and spent considerable time in Idabel because my grandparents lived there, and spent a fair amount of time in Liberal, Kansas, where another set of grandparents lived when I was younger. All of these small towns are encircled by countless other small towns to which I was exposed regularly, including Tonkawa, Fairfax, Shidler, Newkirk, Blackwell, Winfield (KS), Arkansas City (KS), Elk City, Cordell, Dill City, Clinton, Krebs, Wright City, Hugo, Antlers, and oodles of others that may or may not have been mentioned in the annals of blogging before now.

I am extremely familiar with small towns, with the people who live in small towns, and with the values they follow. With my bona fides thus established, prepare to be shocked: small town people are no better and no worse than anyone else.

The first three -- and surely the first one hundred-and-three -- devoutly religious, astutely moral people I met came from small towns. So did the first three -- and the first hundred-and-three -- scheming drug addicts. Same goes for hard-working people; and for life-long shirkers; and for community leaders; and for spouse- and child-abusers. My parents divorced while they were living in a small town, but I can cite names of married couples who have been together for decades in the same small town.

It was in small towns and among small town people that I was first exposed to the realities of and the reactions to homosexuality, abortion, infidelity, bigotry, greed, cruelty, envy, abuse of power, deception -- and not, I repeat not -- as undesirable imports from big cities, but as home-grown, all-too-local manifestations of the human experience.

In case you've missed it, here's The Daily Show's coverage of "small town values." Great stuff.

Actually, I should make one correction: the people of Blackwell are complete assholes, every last one. Something is very, very wrong there.

In any case, beware the political party that claims to champion "small town values." Coming from someone who knows small towns, this is to champion everything and nothing. To speak this way is a feat of concealment, cheap branding, and empty sloganeering.

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