Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Authoritative, anti-jaywalking dweebs: the picture of politeness?

Edit: I just read this quote posted yesterday by Gunner at No Quarters. What an apt description of Seattle do-gooders, imposing legal webs on the masses for the harmony of the collective. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — C. S. LEWIS

"Liberals like to think they are on the side of liberty, but actually they are on the side of authority." Jonathan Raban, British writer, social critic and Seattle resident

My friend, R², alerted me to this January 12th Washington Post article, In Seattle, The Hostile Crowd is All Smiles. Post staff writer Blaine Harden reported how the Washington Redskins would not only face the Seahawks, but their screaming mass of overt politeness i.e. Seahawk fans. [note: The ‘Hawks triumphed over the Redskins]

Harden isn’t shy at revealing our regional dysfunction. He must have spent some significant time here in the Seattle Metro area. We are the dweebs that wait endlessly for the “walk” sign. While I’m not quite sure that jaywalking is “evidence of low moral character," every time Lew tries to pull me across an empty street when we’re not at a corner or crosswalk, I break out in a cold sweat. Originally from the east side of the mountains, he’s is an abject jaywalker.

We’re the cold fish that barely recognize our neighbors yet dole out polite hugs to an acquaintance. Wouldn’t want to offend, you know. Harden noted that horn honks are rare occurrences within Seattle city limits. Ironically, however, it's inferred that road rage incidents have grown exponentially on the freeways in recent history, the fodder for overzealous nanny-state legislation, perpetual voter initiatives and state patrol pilot programs.

Writer Jonathan Raban makes this observation about Seattle, "Strangers when they first arrive say this is quite a friendly town. They don't realize that the good manners are usually more of a protective barrier than an invitation to intimacy." As a native, you don’t necessarily absorb this, until you break out of King County. It took a move to the Midwest to highlight this Puget Sound attitude for R². I remember one of our conversations right after she relocated—besides the flat, treeless environment, she was most surprised by the open friendliness of her new neighbors. They brought over cookies and jam. Her mail carrier gave her a welcoming greeting card. We just aren’t that warm and fuzzy here. It might upset someone’s sensibilities, or bring righteous, authoritative wrath upon our heads.


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