Tar and Feathers
by Jefferson Adams
Many years ago, in a more reasonable and less technological time, folks by and large
knew the difference between right and wrong. Not only that, they had a tendency to
live by moral standards that today are considered by many to be quaint and outdated.
It was a time when men married women, when people who stole things were tried and
hung, and, around the time of the American colonies’ War for Independence, it was
a time where people who strongly disagreed with the idea of freedom from an
oppressive government were likely to find themselves out on the edge of town being
tarred and feathered for their support of what was essentially becoming a police state.
It occurs to me that today we’re so far beyond what the founders considered
"oppressive" that it pretty much boggles the mind that we tolerate it. The American
people of 200+ years ago wouldn’t have put up with our current state of affairs--for
long--and they had some interesting ways of dealing with individuals who stepped
over the line.
As I write this, a woman named Shirley Allen is into her fifth week of being
surrounded at her farm house by armed state police officers who shot CS tear gas
into her house at one point (yes, that’s CS--the stuff that our military is forbidden
to use in war, the stuff that the FBI poured into the church at Waco by the 55-gallon
drum full and which no doubt suffocated many of the children and probably was
responsible for the fire that eventually killed most of the up-til-then-survivors).
At another point in the siege, Illinois’ finest coaxed Shirley out of her house and
then blasted her several times in the chest with a 12-guage shotgun which was loaded
with metal "beanbag" rounds designed to knock down but not seriously injure their
Shirley’s crime? Well, um, actually there isn’t one. She did run a stop
light, apparently, many years ago, but other than that her record’s clean.
No, she’s committed no crime; she simply has some relatives in another state who
contacted the authorities in Illinois and said that Shirley needed psychiatric
evaluation. It seems that Shirley’s husband passed away several years ago, and
Shirley has at times been a bit depressed. And that’s all it takes in the great
state of Illinois for a judge to issue a court order to haul someone off to a
mental institution for "evaluation," from which that someone just might not return
for a long, long time.
Shirley said "No."
Matter of fact, she met the Sheriff who went to pick her up for her "evaluation"
at her door with a shotgun in her hand and said "No." She didn’t, apparently, point
the gun at any one. She was just letting them know that she knew that legally, short
of a warrant being written for her arrest, she is not required by law to have to go
with the fine gentleman to the local mental institution.
So, they shot her house full of tear gas, at which point she fired back a couple
of warning shots from her shotgun. And now, it’s five weeks later, and this woman
who, according to the court order, needed to be evaluated because she potentially
wasn’t able to survive on her own, is surviving just fine, thank you, after having
her water and electricity cut off for five weeks and being surrounded 24 hours a
day by jackbooted thugs who, a la Waco, for several days played loud music through
bullhorns at her house all day and all night.
Barry Manilow music at that. Cruel and unusual.
Apparently, she has sufficient food and water to keep going, as she cans her own
food; remarkable forethought for a woman who is allegedly possibly not capable of
caring for herself and in need of a psychiatric evaluation.
Of course, the two producing oil wells on her 47 acres of farmland might have
something to do with her distant family members wanting to see her committed. Or
the large sum of money that’s in her bank account, left to her by her late husband,
who, allegedly, wasn’t fond of those distant relatives.
Makes a guy wonder.
Now here’s where the tar and the feathers come in: Two-hundred years ago, folks
had a way of dealing with out of control folks like the people behind this atrocity;
they might have taken the judge who wrote the court order to have Shirley Allen
committed and quite possibly the state police officers who have been harassing
Shirley Allen to the edge of town, covered their naked bodies with excruciatingly
hot liquid tar, and then dumped a pillowfull of feathers on their screaming bodies.
Maybe they’d get the point, at that point.
Maybe they’d start to understand that you just don’t treat innocent people the way
they’ve treated Shirley Allen.
Maybe it’s time we, in the interest of diversity in our American culture of course,
start bringing back some old traditions. I’m not sure there’s enough tar between
our shining seas to deal properly with all the politicians and bureaucrats that
are deserving, but it’s certainly worth a try, isn’t it?
Isn’t it about time that We the People stood up for something? Like Right and Wrong,
maybe? The reason our jackbooted, out of control government and its lackeys behave
as they do is because We the People are allowing them to; it’s really that simple.
We haven’t told them "No" strongly enough, particularly on an individual basis.
Tar and feathers; an idea whose time has come (again)?
© 1997 The Idaho Observer