Thursday, July 29, 2010

Apply To Be Texan

Yesterday, I received this in the mail:

Apply to be Texan. Seemingly simple, but the pamphlet, however, is weird.

The second page of this mini-packet opens, "If you stand six-foot-five, ride a big white horse, and can wrestle a tornado to the ground, congratulations! -- You've just been named a member in good standing of the hearty, resourceful, and friendly people the world refers to as Texans, and we're proud to have you among us." WTF?

The pamphlet is intended as a user guide to vehicle and license registration, but reveals more than a few things about "Texan values." It is also just plain bizarre.

For instance, this is page 4:

I've read this caption over and over but I still don't exactly understand what it means. You do not need to be able to stand in the middle of one county and see over into the next? Are they implying that this is a possibility in the rest of the country? And that means...that the counties in Texas are bigger? I have no idea what's going on here. And not to go all conspiracy theory on you or anything, but check out the knucklehead to the right. River sandals, Hawaiian print shirt, designer shades...could that touristy schmuck happen to be...Californian?

The pamphlet also mentions the importance (they joke that it's "mandatory") of owning an oil well, which is annoying but haha, I get it, Texas, oil, hilarious. It also states, "Contrary to what you may have heard, becoming a member of the greatest state in the Union is easy!" What I might have heard? Who might be spewing this propaganda? Disgruntled ex-Texans?

The best is the final page, which sums up the pamphlet:

"To be a Texan, you do not need to own a horse. You do, however, need to practice safety at all times."
Hmm. I do not understand why these points needed to made together. But what's most interesting about this is the enforcement of safety at all times. What if I don't want to wear a helmet while riding my bicycle, or I choose to drink milk after the expiration date? What if I want to wear high heels while I'm drinking or like to take long walks after dark? I understand that this pamphlet is geared toward drivers but it postulates that these Texan values are canonical, not to mention ridiculously befuddling (horses? oil wells?). Of course safety is essential to survival, but this becomes at the heart of it a civil liberties vs. security issue. Should a law force you to be cautious at all times? I tend to sway towards my right to hike a little too close to the edge.
This matter strikes me especially on the heels of learning about the TABC - the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission - and the tight ship they run. For instance, bartenders here are required to be certified by the TABC - which in turn makes them liable for anyone they serve getting too drunk and hurting themselves or others by penalty of major fines and jail time. In severe cases, bartenders can be held responsible for deaths of patrons.

I've been noticing in Texas that while the "individual is king", the law is seemingly against said individualists. If the individual is king here, where is the accountability for an individual's personal responsibility?


  1. to be a texan, you do not need to be able to write a coherent caption

  2. We're not is Kansas anymore. It is hard to believe, but some parts of this country seem impossibly disconnected from others. It has become cool to present information in an environment/context that demonstrates governmental imcompetence, and panders to the lowest common denominator with idiotic anti-intellectualism.