A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

A nation trembling in fear

Nov 25, 2012 - By Randy Tucker

That seems to be the way regulatory America wants it.

His demeanor suggested a rogue bull elephant. When he walked down the hall, most people quickly darted into their rooms to avoid a potential confrontation.

One day as I walked up the same hall he dropped his shoulder as we passed and knocked me into the wall. Having had enough of the situation, I spun around and hit him hard on the shoulder. Heads popped out of the rooms down the hall as everyone wanted to get a glimpse of me getting pounded into dust.

"Hey, why did you hit me?" he asked.

"You're acting like a baboon," I said.

There was a brief, awkward silence and Gino extended his hand to me and introduced himself. We've been friends for the 35 years since the incident.

Gino was a very tough customer, but I just wasn't going to go through a semester walking on eggshells to avoid a confrontation. If you refuse to be intimidated, there isn't much someone can do to you. The fact that Gino and I became such great friends is a testament to communication.

We live in a country where fear now rules nearly every aspect of our lives. Children are no longer allowed to play outside for fear of being kidnapped or molested by roving bands of predators. (That's if you believe the talking heads constantly trotted out on talk shows and on TV newsmagazines.)

The lines at airports, the incessant demand for identification, documentation and certification are all just indicators of a nation trembling in fear.

When did the "Land of the free and the home of the brave" become such a quivering mass of frightened sheep? And, do most of us even realize that the lines we find ourselves standing in, the quest for misplaced birth certificates, duplicate IDs and proof of residency are all just indicators of societal fear? Most of us don't. We just get annoyed, go through the current process, and then forget the entire situation ever occurred until the next time.

Yes, the presence of Internet-based predators is real. But how many times do you have to have your fingerprints sent to the FBI before you can get clearance?

In Wyoming all new school employees have their fingerprints sent in for a background check. Some districts also run Internet-based background checks that include financial, marriage, employment and, yes, criminal history. It's a step in protecting children from the few real and the multitudes of imagined threats "out there."

So, the quest begins. Finger-prints are taken, cards are signed, and the results are mailed to California. Expand classes to Utah, an you'll do the same procedure again. Idaho? Ditto. After a while you question why agencies don't just check with each other.

A trip to the Wyoming DMV to renew my driver's license was just another study in over regulation. In fairness to the people at the DMV, they are helpful, cordial and great with the public.

With birth certificate, Social Security card, gas bill and other assorted documents in tow I handed them in and each was dutifully checked before I took the cursory eye exam and my license was renewed. Not a huge inconvenience, but why all the hype?

The ridiculous containers now surrounding the county office in Riverton are just another example of a nation in fear. Someone discovered a bullet hole in the building that could have been created during construction or any time during the last 30 years. The fortification of the perimeter, installation of keyed internal entry doors, and a metal detector manned by sheriff's deputies is laughable if you don't think about the deputies forced to sit there all day when they could be patrolling the county. If armed law enforcement isn't safe and requires a fortress, what does that say about the safety of the citizens?

Sometimes it is just easier to refuse to be intimidated.

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