Someone call John Wayne – Pronto! All the “cowboys and cowgirls” from Drugstore, Wyoming are quakin’ in their Tony Lamas. They’re cowering under their beds in the bunkhouse. They’re taking shelter behind Mom’s apron.
What’s the cause of all this sturm und drang in the Cowboy State? Is it a stampede of longhorns in a lightning storm? Is it a bloodthirsty band of desperadoes hell-bent on robbing the bank? Is it war-painted wild Indians attacking the wagon train?
Nope, it’s worse. Hordes of hippie celebrities from Hollywood, rainbow sodbusters from Sacramento and beatnik bitcoin billionaires from Burbank are pouring across our unprotected square border to steal our rodeos.
Friends and neighbors, it don’t get much worse than that.
Ergo, Rep. Rachel Rodriquez-Williams, R-Cody, has sponsored HB 95, to prevent “the deterioration of our Western heritage.” The act would, among other things, make it harder for California commies to turn Wyoming’s rodeo arenas into tent cities for Trotskyites.
You heard me. The Warriors for Cowboy Culture have turned to the same legislative body that they cuss up one side and down the other to protect their heritage. In case the irony is lost on you, by so doing, they have violated about eleven of the ten precepts in Wyoming’s official Code of the West. Look it up for yourselves.
This behavior is the antithesis of Gary Cooper, stepping out in the street at noon to single-handedly confront a bunch of outlaws. Or Shane, riding alone into that little town tucked under the Tetons to deal with trouble like a man.
This is the behavior of folks who strut around posing as cowboys, spouting all that rugged individualism, yet they spook at the first sight of someone with purple hair or tattoos. This is how timid shopkeepers and dry goods clerks act, not the men and women who settled the West.
If, as HB 95 implies, cowboy culture, western heritage or whatever you choose to call it, is so fragile, so weak that it can only be preserved through legislation, then it deserves to be relegated to the junk drawer of history.
Just like the tens of thousands of other cultures that have existed throughout human history, but are forgotten today.
For a Culture (capital C) to survive history’s notorious short-term memory, it must somehow move the needle of human existence forward, however marginally.
If it can’t do that, it remains nothing more than a hobby or advertising slogan, and it deserves to be forgotten. That applies to rainbow culture, surfer culture, hip-hop culture or any other passing fad that folks believe qualifies as some sort of culture (small c).
And a law won’t help. What’s next – passing legislation that mandates Wyoming to be immune from history?
Believe me, I love being a cowboy. I love everything about it and wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s how I was raised, and it’s how I self-identify today.
But, being brought up by Cowboys (capital C), I was never taught that I needed government’s help to preserve my identity. Quite the contrary.
I was raised to know that is my own responsibility, alone. Out in the street at noon while the townsfolk hide. Mano a mano against the blackhats. When it comes to being a Cowboy, I do that my own self. Government can kiss my ass. I do not come from Drugstore, Wyoming.