Mayberry, South Dakota

Today’s rant is dedicated to one of the five greatest television actors of all time, Don Knotts. Barney Fife was always one of my heroes.
It’s probably fitting that Barney’s memory is brought up today, as in the past few weeks our state has done everything they can to transform us back to the innocent days of Andy, Barney, Opie, Floyd, Goober, and Gomer (although Gomer’s questionable sexuality set a precedent 45 years before Brokeback Mountain).
Not that there’s anything wrong with Mayberry. It’s the model fantasy of small-town America. Everybody knows the other townfolk, and the sheriff doesn’t need to carry a gun (although Barney famously carried one with a single bullet in his shirt pocket). The kids fished and played baseball, and the only real problems always came from outsiders and were quickly taken care of by Andy and his crack deputies.
Guess what, folks. Not only was Mayberry a fictitious town, but the show started it’s run 45 years ago! That’s not just the last century; it’s almost the half-century before it. This old man wasn’t even born yet!
What has our elected officials done for us in the last few weeks? Plenty, and little of it is good. Gun permits are now confidential information, but anybody convicted of any sort of sexual crime can’t live in 90% of the cities and towns. (I’m sorry but there’s a huge difference between a child molester and a pissing behind a building offender.)
Those are small potatoes, however, compared to the travesty that occurred this last week when the legislature passed an anti-abortion bill so extreme that even President Bush has condemned it. He favors exceptions for rape, incest, or to save a woman’s life. Yes, the official statement includes the “save a woman’s life” portion, but if you actually read the bill a woman would have to be seconds from sure death.
Ok, the legislature shot down the silly abstinence laws. But this supposedly bastion of liberal thought city that we live in has already been forced to move in this direction. Speaking of Sioux Falls, a letter-writing campaign has made our Mr. Magoo lookalike Mayor to reconsider his withdrawal from the Mayor’s race. Not that most of the other candidates are that impressive, particularly the moron who thinks that pornography is a problem in our city. As I said last week, somebody PLEASE tell me where this porn problem exists!
Unfortunately, South Dakota is not transforming itself into a state-wide version of Mayberry. Instead, we’ve become a nationwide joke…even Arkansas is starting to look good compared to us. We’re the butts of late-night talk show wisecracks; various organizations are contemplating boycotts of our state.
People can’t just blame the Republicans for this onslaught of idiocy. There’s plenty of blame to pass around. My kudos go out to the half-dozen or so Senate Republicans who voted against the abortion bill. A similar number of Democrats voted ensured its passing by voting for the bill that polls show that the vast majority of citizens feel is too extreme.
Is it surprising that the Democrats bailed under the pressure of the extreme right? This is a party that can’t find a candidate to run for Governor; a party that just gives away a number of political seats throughout the state; a party that does nothing but run scared. They get what they deserve, but both parties have failed the people of our great state this year.


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