Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bad Choices: Pee-wee Herman and the Oath Keepers

By Bob Ferris

Pee-wee Herman armed and dangerous.
I was recently viewing an on-line list of cult movie classics because I was trying to find a way to stream The Rocky Horror Picture Show for my wife.  It was an entertaining piece because it had clips from RHPS and others like This is Spinal Tap which brought back some fond if bizarre memories. They also featured Pee-wee’s Big Adventure  with Paul Reubens an actor who was forever marked by this character and an individual whose popularity plummeted for a while because of a personal, perhaps a little too personal, misstep.

I think about Paul’s type-casting problem and the career derailing  faux pas as I ponder the Oath Keepers and their migration to poor, little Rowan County, Kentucky to provide “protection” for Kim Davis because they feel that her Constitutional rights have been tromped all over in part because she was jailed without the benefit of a jury trial.  I connect the two because Paul’s shtick was a funny gray suit and bowtie wrapped around a goofy voice—a pretty narrow and limiting creative pallet.
Similarly with the Oath Keepers so far their most visible actions have been confined to coming to the aid of cantankerous old white men running  afoul of federal land management agencies (1,2) enabled by antiquated and zombie-like legislation such as the 1872 Mining Law or the Taylor Grazing Act or—in the case of Ferguson and Kim Davis—helping to perpetuate bigotry in one form or another.  In Cliven Bundy they seem to have hit both of their sweet spots.

Now certainly Reubens being caught in an adult theater putting the moves on his own particular “Guinea fowl” should have earned him some time in the penalty box.  But how is his embarrassing episode so much worse than saying on national TV that your enlightened strategy was to use women as shields as was done by Oath Keeper board  member Richard Mack during the Bundy standoff (see above)?

All this narrowness of focus and the false steps got me to thinking that maybe Reubens’ agent should have sought roles for his client that were a little more broadening and less bowtie-ish.  This is not to say that Reubens has not worked over the years and that his agent has not brought him some level of fame and wealth—a case in point the Spleen character in Mystery Men (below)—but he is not hanging much with the Meryl Streeps of the world in spite of having a new Pee-wee film in the can for release in 2016.  It just seemed like he had more potential.

And perhaps the Oath Keepers are really super-heroes in the making that are just misunderstood because they seem only to be helping those who are basically environmentally destructive and hateful.  But what if they started actually helping those really being trampled by the system like providing some firepower to the organic farmers under siege over Monsanto’s Round-Up ready seeds, towns in Pennsylvania denied protections from fracking, or private landowners whose property might be condemned under eminent domain so that a pipeline can be built in Oregon for a foreign company to export US natural gas to Asian?

What if the Oath Keepers took on coal exports from the Pacific Northwest as a cause and stood beside the tribes (you know the guys who were really screwed by government over-reach)? Or what about the family whose private inholdings in Nevada near Area 51 are about to be seized by the military?  These would all be socially more acceptable options and actually more consistent with the stated mission of the group which doesn’t say that Oath Keepers are only out to protect bigots and boneheads who cannot seem to file paperwork or honor legal contracts.

Unidentified Oath Keeper on roof in Ferguson with assault rifle and tactical shotgun.  
Now I understand how it starts…  You buy a Glock for home protection.  And then you see a combat holster, but your friend has one for two Glocks.  So you buy a second pistol and then one for your boot.  But you might see a home invader a few hundred yards away so you get a scoped AR-15.  But crap they may come in closer so you need a tactical shotgun with laser sights.  And then there is the knife and the black outfits.  The next thing you know you are $5,000-$10,000 lighter in the jeans and no one has mounted a full-scale assault on your house and your wife (you know the woman who keeps threatening divorce or a restraining order) is on your case because your disability, retirement or unemployment is not covering your ammunition costs.  You have become a two-legged assault vehicle with no place to go and selling it all is certainly not an option because that would mean it was a mistake to get it in the first place. So the most logical option is for you to look for or create standoffs. Whew.

So now we come back to the Kentucky standoff in the making.  This is such a great opportunity to be seen by those who cannot get the media’s attention otherwise as Mike Huckabee has so ably demonstrated.  Moreover it is “considerate” because like with Ferguson the press is already there and ready to document the Oath Keeper’s combat-readiness fashion show rather than having to travel to some rural site near a dirty old mine or overgrazed landscape.  And once again the world will see the US as primarily gun-obsessed and Christ-crazy with our own ISIS in the making.  Lovely, conservatism turned up to 11.

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