ColumnsWhat A World

Texas Tough

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What doesn’t kill us only makes us…well, you know the rest
by Nancy Ford

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: What a year, what a year. 2011, or Apocalypse Eve, as The History Channel called it (before The History Channel became The Hey-Look-at-All-This-Crap-I-Have-in-My-Garage Channel) is almost gone. That dampness we feel on our collars is 2012 breathing down the backs of our necks.

The Mayans, the Egyptians, Nostradamus, Leonardo da Vinci, Edward Cayce, and REM have all foretold the end of the world as we know it will come in 2012. So, was 2011 indeed Apocalypse Eve? Or, maybe all the national attention that has been focused on Texas this past year has just made us feel like dying—from embarrassment.

Let’s start with Texas’s current governor and most recent Texas presidential hopeful, Rick Perry. From his creepy embrace of a bottle of maple syrup, to his infamous “oops” moments in multiple Republican debates, to his enthusiastic defense of Texas’s Numero Uno execution status, Gov. Perry is the political train wreck America doesn’t want to look at, but just can’t take its eyes off of. It can’t be argued, though, that his policies have been a boon to job creation—especially if your job is in late-night talk show comedy. Perhaps most embarrassing of all, Rick Perry makes us miss the statesman-like, intellectual prowess of George W. Bush.

To his credit, Gov. Perry supported Texas Department of Motor Vehicles’ unanimous vote earlier this year to reject offering Texans the option of displaying a Confederate flag on our license plates, another blazing beacon of stupidity that drew the nation’s attention to Texas. The suggestion to embrace the symbol was floated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans who, apparently, have forgotten what that symbol still means in the land of cotton. Or not. The Sons say they will appeal TDMV’s initial decision; no word from the Daughters of Confederate Veterans. They’re probably busy being barefoot and pregnant.

Another torrid Texas tale drawing national scrutiny this year was the numbing story of Aransas County’s Court-at-Law Judge William Adams. He’s the one who became a YouTube sensation after being recorded beating his then-16-year-old handicapped daughter with a belt for the crime of downloading music and games. Instead of being sent directly to jail, Judge Adams, who ran unopposed for office in 2010, passed Go. He was not charged with a crime because of a pesky statute of limitations thing. He was, however, suspended from holding court—where he rules on domestic abuse cases—for a full two weeks. Two weeks.

Will one of you hot computer nerds out there in “What a World” land please rig the name “William Adams” on Google the same way Dan Savage famously rigged the name “Santorum” that forever linked the homophobic former Pennsylvania congressman to an unfortunate, slimy legacy? I suggest linking the abusive Judge William Adams’s name to that prescient, rhythmic dry heaving that precedes emptying one’s stomach during a bout of the flu (as in “First I was feeling very William Adams, then I lost my lunch all over my keyboard!”).

More appropriately, if you were asappalled as I was by Adams’s story, consider making a year-end gift to Montrose Counseling Center’s Anti-Violence Program. And encourage your friends in Aransas County to elect a better family judge next time.

Speaking of abuse (though of a different nature in a different story in a different part of Texas), Marine Lance Corporal Esther Garritie was honorably discharged after being wounded while serving her country. However, upon her return from duty, she found herself depressed and possibly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Instead of finding aid and comfort at the Dallas Veterans Administration Medical Center, Garritie says that nurse practitioner Lincy Pandithurai treated the soldier to her own personal diagnosis: that the root of the problem lies in the fact that Garritie is a lesbian. Welcome home, Corporal. True, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is now a relic—an embarrassing stain on our military’s history. But don’t think for a minute that problems for our LGBT servicemembers are over. DADT lives on as a campaign promise for conservative presidential contenders vowing to reenact it. LGBT activists are calling for Pandithurai’s dismissal; the case was still under investigation as OutSmart went to press.

Continuing the embarrassing downstream flow from Dallas, Logo’s new weekly reality show, The A-List Dallas, doesn’t merely remind us why a generations-long feud has existed between Big D and the Bayou City. It also punctuates why Houston really is so much better than Dallas. At least Houston’s “A-List”-ers have the good sense to confine themselves to the web.

Speaking of cable TV and embarrassment, Leisha Hailey, who starred as Alice Pieszecki in Showtime’s The L Word (the now-cancelled original series, not The Real L Word reality show that cringingly reduces lesbians’ lives to Jersey Shore-like fodder) had a run-in on Texas-based Southwest Airlines. Leisha says she and her girlfriend were thrown off a Southwest flight for innocently kissing each other; Southwest officials say the couple was removed for using foul language. Bottom line, it’s just one more Lone Star-linked embarrassment.

On the other hand, in 2011, Texans had the good sense to reelect Annise Parker to her second term as mayor of the City of Houston. Maybe there’s hope for our future, after all.

So, come on, 2012. Bring it. We’re ready.

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