Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas
Because of the heat and drouth, you won't have the freedom this Fourth of July to set off fireworks. One firecracker could very well catch this whole state on fire. And have it spread on over into Texas and Oklahoma, and up into Missouri. The world is supposed to end by fire next time — and many predictions have it happening in 2012 — and this could very well be the spark that sets it off.
Another traditional freedom that's been restricted this Fourth is your right to hood up and burn a cross in the yard of a neighbor who is said to be harboring intentions to vote in November to re-elect Barack Obama. That neighbor needs to be taught a lesson, all right, but because of the fire danger, you'll just have to improvise an alternative.
You could night-ride out to his place and tump over his Airstream. Or all of you lasso it and wompey it off the cinder blocks. Or you could tie him to the railroad track until he recanted, meaning you'd have to mouth up some persuasive train noises like Johnny Cash in "Orange Blossom Special" to cover the sad reality that there's been no real train on this track for at least 50 years. Or you could hang him with what turns out to be a paper rope. Or give him a first-degree red-belly. Whatever it takes to bring him to his senses.
We used to take a more direct, hands-on approach and you can argue with the propriety of that but you'll notice we never had no uppity presidents then.
No woman presidents neither, nor women in the legislature standing up there talking about their vaginas. We lost the old cherished Fourth of July freedom to shield the womenfolk from that kind of shame and embarrassment, so that now they talk openly about their oopsies and do things like flop out a yowser and nurse an infink in front of God and everybody and think abortion ought to be up to them rather than a sanctimonious clutch of old bald-headed cockwobblers.
But you can't just shoot the prospective Obama supporter, as you customarily would, or terrorize him back toward conformity with random up-in-the-air midnight horseback gunfire. That's because the burn ban takes precedence over Stand Your Ground. It's the only thing that does. Stand Your Ground trumps even the Ten Commandments but it durst not challenge a burn ban because you just never know when a bullet's going to glance off a rock and flint up a sliver of rich pine and next thing the entire Mississippi Valley is toast. It'll look like Chernobyl. It'll look like it's going to look anyhow before this most anti-environment Congress in history finishes its earth-raping frenzy.
Also, same reason, your freedom to have a Fourth of July cookout is in temporary abeyance. They say temporary but you know how it is with these lost freedoms, especially those voluntarily given up: once gone, kiss them eternal goodbye.
An example of this is the old Founding Freedom to cheat Indians out of their land. What I want to know, who died and made them owners of the land in the first place? They didn't even know you could own land like you do a cow or a slave or a wife or a piece of the rock. But once we gave up the right to hoodwink them into hitting the trail of tears, we'd never be able to reclaim it.
And that's why the Indians today have these casinos with the tightest slots of anybody's — well, except Tunica's or Shreveport's or those over at Hot Springs. Those at Hot Springs will hold on to a quarter tighter than Robert Burns or Johnnie Walker Red. Take a crowbar to them and they still wouldn't pay off. This is the voice of experience speaking.
This loss of good old American Fourth of July freedoms once taken for granted is a sore subject with me. The freedom to boldly go where no one has gone before. Doesn't exist anymore because no matter where you go or how boldly, somebody will have beat you there and left a scattering of plastic empties and blowing-about Cheetos bags as a kind of taunt.
Or the freedom to name your town Standard Umpstead if that's what you want to name it. You can't do that now, even if you have perfectly good cause like the town's founder was named Clyde Standard Umpstead or Beulah Standard Umpstead or the co-founders were Bill and Hillary Standard Umpstead.
The only ones who still have all their Fourth of July freedoms are the ones who also have all the dough, and all the amenities like home car-elevators. They've still got all their rights, and yours too. They bought them from lawmakers who were supposed to be looking out for our interests but you know how that goes. They bought them from our lawmakers for next to nothing, and crammed them down in their giant portfolios, which when they die they'll give to their good-for-nothing heirs, presuming they don't find a way meantime to buy their way out of death, which they probably will, but the rest of us will have to go ahead and die as we'll be unable to make the co-pay.
Old story; old story.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.