Assailing

All attempts to refer the stadium tax to voters were rebuffed by the courts and bureaucracy.

What happens when people are denied access to the ballot? It's harder to deny them access to the bullet. It's not possible to deny people a voice. When politicians attempt to do so, there will be different types of resistance by different types of people. Some will write letters to newspapers. Others will take to the streets in protest. And a few marginal, alienated individuals will express their discontent through the barrel of a gun.

It's easy to dismiss such a person as a madman. But madness doesn't exist in a vacuum. We label people like Larry Naman as crazy--but their craziness is only in the extreme nature of their actions. Our wackos, our madmen, reflect the feeling of the society they live in. A person like Larry Naman doesn't just happen. Like fungus, he's produced by a certain climate. Not many of us would take a gun to a political meeting and use it to shoot another person. But how many of us haven't felt like it? How many of us can read the papers and watch the news without having at least the occasional violent fantasy involving certain public officials? How many of us don't ever think that we're getting screwed and that there's nothing we can do about it? Nothing legal, anyway . . .

The most shocking thing about Naman is the intelligence and understanding of the issues he showed in his statement to the press after being arrested.

Another voice from the margins sounds an equally ominous note. The Libertarian party is often regarded as a social club for cranks, but, at a time like this, it's hard to refute its logic. "When you eliminate all peaceful alternatives . . . ballot box, jury box--or cartridge box," says Ernie Hancock, a party activist. "Libertarian philosophy is about exhausting every single peaceful means to regain our freedoms. But you cannot stop the people from rendering their own version of justice. Those that are frail of mind or spirit will be the first ones to go over the edge. We will not be those people, but we guarantee that they exist. When this guy shoots Mary Rose in the butt, we do not advocate it--but, at the same time, it does not surprise us. In fact, we predicted it. It is inevitable that there will be violence. It won't be us--there will be plenty of other people who're much less imaginative and much less devoted to peace. The violence will start small, and it will grow. And it's all due to the fact that you are violating the rights of individual people and eliminating peaceful alternatives."

Wilcox, and others in power, seriously underestimated the level of public outrage surrounding the ballpark. They believed their positions of privilege would forever insulate them. Larry Naman committed an outrageous crime, and pierced the insulation.

I wish Mary Rose Wilcox well, as we all should. I'm sorry for the pain she has suffered, and the pain she still faces. I did not enjoy the image of her in a hospital bed--but I could not help but take some satisfaction from it. It was her own arrogance that put her there, and what happened to her should serve as a lesson to her and everyone else. Our elected representatives should stop talking about increasing security and start thinking about eliminating the need for such security.

Contact Barry Graham at his online address: bgraham@newtimes.com

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