Why I Carry

Reflections on "Goodbye Earl", No. 12, 28 January, 2001

by Paul Hager © 2001

IC Title 35, Article 47, Chapter 2. Regulation of Handguns

Article I, Section 32, Indiana Constitution

My nine-year-old daughter recently developed a liking for the musical group, the Dixie Chicks. While I've no doubt that the Dixie Chicks are exemplars of the best in the Country & Western genre, I'm strictly a classical music kind of guy. Thus, it is with some consternation that I discovered I'm totally powerless to influence my daughter's taste in music against the unrelenting force of the ambient culture. Some of the blame I place on my wife -- a wonderful woman who, in this instance, functions as a fifth columnist for the Country & Western forces. She exposes both our daughters to Country music radio stations as well as the Country Music Television channel when I'm not around -- sometimes even when I am.

(In fairness, my wife also likes the duet from Bizét's opera, The Pearl Fishers, as does our oldest daughter. Thus, our Sunday Uptown ritual has evolved to include my daughter saying "Pearl Fishers please" on the return trip home. My wife then puts on a tape of the duet and I sing along. Actually, since I never learned the French lyrics, I just vocalize the tenor or baritone parts depending upon my mood. This weekend, my wife suggested getting a tape of the tenor aria Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot. Currently I only sing that in the shower, but I may be moving the performance to our Toyota in the near future.)

Suffice that with both my wife and my oldest daughter enamored of the Dixie Chicks, I've been hearing a lot of their music lately -- in particular, a song entitled "Goodbye Earl". In keeping with the traditions of the Country & Western genre, "Goodbye Earl" tells a story. I will synopsize for those unfamiliar with it.

Two girls, Mary Anne and Wanda, were high school friends. After they graduated, Mary Anne left town and sought a career but Wanda stayed behind and married an abusive Neanderthal named Earl. After enduring a number of beatings, Wanda files for divorce and,

"She let the law take it from there
But Earl walked right through that restraining order
And put her in intensive care."

At this point Mary Anne returns to help her friend and together they hatch a plan to eliminate Earl. When Earl shows up again, they feed him poisoned black-eyed peas, wrap his body in a tarp and dump it in a lake. The cops, tardy as usual, finally show up but since Earl seems to have disappeared they list him as a "missing person who nobody missed at all."

Beneath the black humor in the song there is a significant message: women don't have to be powerless in the face of domestic abuse. Moreover, the lyrics are accurate in that the violence typically escalates when the woman seeks to end the relationship. The lyrics also capture the fact that in almost all cases the police will not be there when needed. The problem I have with the song is that the solution offered by the Dixie Chicks is premeditated murder. Unless you do your Lucrezia Borgia number under Texas jurisdiction -- where you might successfully invoke the "he needed killin'" defense -- you're looking at doing hard time if the crime is discovered.

The Chicks' heroines obviously are not devoteés of the TV program, "Medical Detectives" on The Learning Channel. If some fisherman hooks the tarp and reels old Earl in, forensics experts would quickly establish that he was poisoned. That can of ancient rat poison out in the barn behind Wanda's house contains thallium, which was the toxin turned up by the gas chromatography mass spectrometry assay. Traces were also found in the kitchen, where Earl enjoyed his last meal. An open and shut case.

"The jury wanted to let them off but the law was crystal clear.
When the verdict was read they hung their heads
And the judge said 'fifteen years.'
Goodbye, girls."

I offer the following modest suggestion to the Dixie Chicks. Revise your song so that Mary Anne and Wanda buy pistols. When Earl shows up they taunt him and get him angry enough to kick in the door. The instant he steps over the threshold, Wanda double-taps him in the chest and Mary Anne shoots him in the head. The cops arrive, see Earl's body and they say, "Ladies, this was self-defense." Goodbye Earl. With this change, the only holes are in Earl, not in the song's plot. I won't even ask for a piece of the royalties.

* * * *

I'll limit my journal of the week's activities to brief recounting of my appearance at a meeting of a pro-RKBA group based in Evansville called the Second Amendment Patriots. When I was introduced I spoke for 5 or 10 minutes and then took questions. The Q & A session was wide ranging and went on for nearly 2 1/2 hours. Overall, based upon the questions and comments, the members exhibited a high degree of political sophistication and dedication to the cause.

One thing I found somewhat unusual was that there were a number of whole families present at the meeting -- parents brought their kids. Although the kids were fairly young -- around my daughters' ages -- they were all very well behaved. I know that the kids endured what must have been a boring experience for them much better than my own daughters would have.

I won't attempt to detail the Q & A session except to note that the initial discussion centered on my carry activities. It transpired that several people had done some limited open carrying on their own. One person said that he'd had the experience of having people assume that he was a police officer. I've had someone else who carried openly tell me the same thing so this may be a fairly common reaction.

I rate the meeting as being very successful, based upon the following accomplishments: