Yes, it’s sad. Pathetic, actually.
As readers may know, the Steyn worldwide corporate headquarters is located in Woodsville, which is part of the township of Haverhill, New Hampshire. Actually, the only reason readers would have any cause to know it at all is that an hilariously inept attack poodle called Bernie Quigley wrote in The Hill that I had no idea what the real, authentic America was like and to demonstrate the point plucked three real, authentic, entirely random American places off the map (well, two off the map and one off his LP collection) and said that Steyn would “would get a rash in real places like Tobaccoville, N.C., Haverhill, N.H. or Luckenbach, Texas”.
What are the odds of that? Of all the bazillions of pinpricks on the American map, Quigly takes a blind stab and hits mine.
Okay, that bit’s pretty dang funny. Here’s the sad, pathetic part:
So, on Saturday morning, I was in Haverhill, NH working on my rash. I’d had to swing by Steyn Global HQ in Woodsville for one reason or another and got there about 9.45, and already the elderly veterans and widows and spinsters were camped out in their lawn chairs holding their miniature flags in readiness for the 11 o’clock parade. Gotta get there early and grab a good spot. But I figured I could get the work wrapped up at the office and still skedaddle back to the main drag and catch the Fourth of July observances. For decades, Woodsville has joined with Wells River across the bridge in Vermont to host one of the biggest Independence Day parades around. Between them they have a population of about 1,500, but folks come from neighboring towns because they seem to like the whole twin-state vibe. So the parade always starts in Woodsville, marches down Central Street, and over the Connecticut River into Vermont where it wraps up on Main Street, Wells River.
Anyway, one thing led to another and I had my head stuck in some rather tedious materials from my upcoming trial of the century when I heard the sound of the band approaching. So I thought, whoops, the festivites are underway, I better get up to Central Street. And by the time I got to the front door and out of the building, I didn’t need to hurry along to the parade because the parade had hurried along to me. Instead of heading straight on and over the bridge to Vermont, all the beauty queens and 4-H floats and fire trucks had hung a left and come straight past my office door.
Which struck me as weird. Because they’d never done that before. And judging from the thin knot of people out on the street to watch no one else had been expecting it. So the parade went down the hill and petered out at the community field.
And afterwards I found out what had happened. Over on the Vermont side at 10.15am – 45 minutes before the parade was due to start – the one-man police department, Constable Glen Godfrey, had noticed that the “detour” signs had not been posted on the roads. I wouldn’t want to make this sound more complicated a problem than it is: By “roads”, I mean that Wells River basically has two of them – an east-west road and a north-south road. And Constable Godfrey had three-quarters of an hour to use his wit and ingenuity to find a workaround, to show a little bit of – oh, what’s the word? – “independence” of mind.
Instead, with 45 minutes to go, a part-time village constable canceled the Independence Day parade.
As he told the local reporter:
“You’re supposed to have the right signs out on the road,” Godfrey said. “They just did not have the signs up. By law, I cannot let them have the parade without the signs.”
Boy, if only George III had thought to try that line with that Boston tea-party thing, we could have skipped the whole revolutionary unpleasantness entirely.
Incidentally, who is this “they” to whom Constable Godfrey refers? It’s not the responsibility of the parade organizers to put signs up on Vermont streets. It’s the responsibility of another agency of officialdom – the same officialdom that the part-time constable represents. So it would have been more correct to say: “We just did not have the signs up.”
As I said, it would have required three signs – one to the south, one to the north, one to the west. Or, if he’d deputized two volunteers to join him, three men raising their hands to halt whatever very minimal traffic approached the village during the parade. Instead he called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department who, with the classic brain-dead cover-your-ass attitude of the bureaucracy told the local copper to make sure that Uncle Sam shall not pass and to “prohibit the parade from entering Vermont”. Constable Godfrey was the Paul Revere of the hour: Instead of yelling “The British are coming!”, he’d called the Sheriff’s office and yelled, “The loyal patriotic flag-waving Americans are coming!” After 240 years that’s what it’s come down to. Happy Independence Day! Pin the flag to your ass and Shelter in Place!
[UPDATE: I now learn that no deputizing was necessary as two Sheriff’s deputies were already present in Wells River to police the parade. But of course they decided to side with the useless jobsworth constable – because it’s easier just to pick up your salary for doing nothing than making a human decision and risking be in violation of Rule 4,731(b) iii.]
At 10.15, the Wells River side was just like the Woodsville side – the l’il ol’ ladies had carved up the prime sidewalk real estate with their folding chairs – but with the additional complication of the reviewing stand, where the parade announcer, the five float judges, and the singer of the national anthem were already in position. But, instead of doing anything to make the parade happen, Constable Godfrey instead told them that, if they wanted any red-white-and-blue and “You’re A Grand Old Flag”, they needed to scram over to the New Hampshire side of the river ’cause it ain’t happening here.
And that too is poignant and symbolic on Independence Day. Don’t you find increasingly that this is a society where no one can make anything happen? That people can give you a thousand reasons why something can’t happen but can no longer figure out a way to ensure that it can.
And so the citizens of Wells River meekly shuffled over the Connecticut River bridge to the designated parade-holding area in the adjoining state. By the way, consider that: if this hadn’t been a twin-state parade and the Granite State portion thereof not within Constable Godfrey’s jurisdiction, there would have been no Independence Day observances at all. He would in effect have canceled the entire national holiday over failure of signage compliance.
As effete and enfeebled as post-“Live Free Or Die” New Hampshire is, Granite Staters are not quite as thoroughly castrated as are the heirs to Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys. So, on the eastern bank of the Connecticut, the organizers decided the Woodsville-Wells River Fourth of July parade would go ahead without the Wells River part and hastily improvised a new route. Which is why they wound up detouring down my road and past my office window.
Now here’s the thing: Obviously, as it had never been intended to be part of any parade route, my road had no official signs up on it, and in fact, unlike the flat even plain on which Wells River’s Main Street is located on, the grade drops steeply and very dramatically down to the community field. And yet, clinging on for dear life as the floats plunged down the incline, all the cute little gradeschoolers and tiara-clutching beauty queens somehow managed to survive.
And there you have it. That’s who and what we are in Amerika v2.0, annum 2015: a bunch of no-ball, rule-bound feebs content to roll over for mindless–not to say stupid–authority, putting up with all manner of official infractions against common sense no matter how dreary and lifeless this complacence renders our day to day existence.
You sort of expect this sort of supine submissiveness in big cities infested by liberals; it’s what Progressivism is all about, after all. But when this mindset has seeped this far down into the national DNA in small towns generally better known for being inhabited by a sturdier, more independent sort…well, is it any wonder the entire country has had to be led gently to the Fainting Couch over the terrifying sight of the damned Rebel flag? Or that we “elected” the goddammndest socialist liar ever to shit behind a pair of shoes as “president” not once, but twice?
“Independence Day,” is it? In a pig’s eye. Steyn gets it just right:
Yet, while I salute the New Hampshire end for declining to let some jumped-up Vermont twerp rain on their parade, I don’t think that was quite the ideal solution. When someone like Constable Godfrey tells you are no longer sufficiently independent to hold an Independence Day parade, the correct response is: Sorry, pal, we’re coming through. You can stand in our path, and we’ll let the 4-H-ers plow you into the asphalt. Or you can call for back up from the Sheriff’s Department and tase us into submission. But you’re gonna have to tase us all. Because isn’t that what the Declaration of Independence was all about? George III thought this was the King’s highway and freeborn Americans told him, get lost, creep, it’s the people’s highway. And on this Independence Day the people are coming through!
It’s the damnable truth. But I’m afraid even such trivial defiance as this is well beyond most of us these days. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves. Despite my excessive excerpting, Steyn has plenty more; read it, and weep. I gotta include one more:
This is the wretched passivity of a supine people. The local government can’t do anything unless it’s got permission from the state government and the state government can’t do anything unless it complies with the national government (there’s nothing “federal” about a sign law that prevents a village holding a parade). But “we didn’t want to see anyone get hurt” – so just stay at home and shelter in place until a federally-approved sign can be installed by a state-credentialed official. For this you threw off a king?
Well, no; we didn’t throw off any kings, and it’s a lead-pipe cinch we’d never even dream of such a scary, danger-fraught thing. Our forefathers did, and right now they’re spinning in their graves in disgust at what miserable, contemptible pissants we’ve allowed Progressivism to “fundamentally transform” us into.
Want a really bitter laugh? Picture the Minutemen marching up to Lexington Green or Concord Bridge in full safety regalia, their stupid-ass little bicycle helmets perched on their heads, knee and elbow pads strapped securely in place, holding not muskets or even bayonets, but homemade signs with Twitter hashtags on them pleading with their King to enact more regulations for their own good.
Then picture ol’ George laughing, laughing, laughing when he hears about how his soldiery blew every one of the silly twits to hell and gone. Then again, though, it’s not as if modern-day Once-Great Britain has a whole lot to be laughing about these days either.
Update! More Steyn, and yeah, I’d say it’s very much related to the above.
There is a virus in the American bloodstream right now, frothing away at Miss Schumer, “Dukes of Hazzard”, and a million other things none of which is particularly consequential in itself. But the trick of civilizational self-preservation is to spot this stuff when it’s just small things and stop it at the itsy-bitsy stage. It’s never one thing that is unlike the other, two opposing corners of civilization and barbarism, an express train rocketing from one to the other. It’s always a continuum. The gleefulness of the culture warriors – the abandonment of even any pretense to the tolerance of differing views – does not speak well for where we’re headed. The left takes the view that, in Kathy Shaidle’s words, it’s different when we do it. So banning Gone With The Wind is bad when Nazis do it but good when progressive liberals do it.
For some of us, that won’t do: what matters is the abandonment of first principles – on free speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion and much else – and when that happens you stand against it, because it won’t stop there. It never does.
Nope. It has to be stopped. And it never will be by the sort of steercotted, whey-faced drones Progressivism produces. Which, y’know, is the whole point of Progressivism in the first place.