By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Some weeks ago I wrote a column about proposed changes to the city-owned classical music station, WRR-FM, in which I made negative remarks about Wise County, a rural area north of Fort Worth. After that column appeared, I received a deluge of angry e-mail from Wise County residents who felt I had unfairly maligned their county. In fairness and good conscience, since then I have made a concerted effort to learn more about Wise.
As a result of these inquiries, I have come to a conclusion that I find both disturbing and urgent: Wise County must be eliminated.
If Texas hopes to hold its head high among the civilized states of the union, then the time has come for Wise to go. I call upon our governor, Rick Perry, to place the elimination of Wise County on the calendar for the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature. If I were to reduce this idea to a bumper sticker, which I may yet do, the bumper sticker would say: "Get Wise."
The need for the legal de-chartering, decertification, disbanding and disestablishment and abolition of Wise County is urgent and non-negotiable. It must be done. It must be done now.
As far as why, I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps I should begin as I did on my recent road tour of Wise County, by talking about the first town I encountered, the village of Rome, Texas. The thing one notices on approaching Rome, according to the sign at the city limits, is that it is spelled Rhome.
Rheally. I suspect the underlying problem here may have to do with dialect. When I asked for directions to a gas station, I was told Rome had several: "Thesco, Shayluh and He-Shawn" (I have no idea). The fact is that the people of Wise County have humiliated us by naming a Texas town after one of the great cities of the world and then misspelling it. According to the signs at the city limits, the town's motto is "Reduced Speed Ahead." And that actually may be fairly apt.
A few small points I would like to make in passing: Many of the angry e-mail writers objected to my characterization of Wise County as being full of "Gomers," and some writers even suggested my description might be somehow actionable. I made a study of Wise County obituaries, and I found a surprising number of persons in Wise County, living and deceased, whose first or last names were Gomer. So, "a word to the wise," so to speak: The last thing I want to do is intrude on anyone's grief unless I have to, but in a court of law I will be able to prove that Wise County is, in fact, home to quite a few Gomers.
But I would like not to make this personal, and instead I want to reach out to the people of Wise County in a spirit of reconciliation. There are many positive steps that can be taken to reintegrate the people of the former Wise County into the social mainstream of Texas. These involve garrisoning a large number of United Nations troops in Wise County--I will explain--and possibly creating a special interim authority administered by the Trilateral Commission. My dream for Wise County would include a major role for Hillary ("It takes a village") Clinton, but more on that later.
These ideas may sound radical, but I believe that with time and education, the people of Wise County will come to "see the wisdom," so to speak.
First of all, a brief history of Wise County: It was established by an act of the Legislature on January 23, 1856. In the mid-1980s, Ricky Green of Boyd kidnapped, molested and murdered four people, including a 16-year-old boy on Jacksboro Highway, abetted by his wife, Sharon Dollar Green.
In 1997 four Wise County residents identified as Satanists, militia leaders, anarchists and members of the "True Knights of the Ku Klux Klan" were convicted of plotting to blow up a natural gas plant next to a school.
Last year authorities began to suspect someone was operating a very large meth lab in an isolated region of Wise County where they noticed a defoliation of trees and huge numbers of birds dropping from the sky. A resulting investigation produced four arrests and a bigger chemical laboratory than anything found thus far in Iraq.
The seat of Wise County is Decatur, best known for the phrase, "Eighter from Decatur, County Seat of Wise," a gambling motto in the game of dice. The phrase, made popular in a Bob Wills song, was not a reference to the number eight, according to an article by Bud Kennedy in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but to an extremely "popular" female Decatur resident named Ada. The actual spelling, of course, may have been Hayhdhah, perhaps explaining some of the confusion.
But this brings us to an entirely valid question: Why eliminate Wise now? If Texas has managed to live with Wise County this long, why is it urgent that Wise be rubbed off the map at this juncture? The reason is as old and as valid as time itself:
There's no time like the present.
Please share with me for a moment my vision of this vast region north of Fort Worth in the years after the disestablishment of Wise County. For many years, forward-looking citizens have been searching for an area of the country where a large number of United Nations troops might be garrisoned. I don't think it's necessary or productive to go into the specific whys and wherefores on that in this article: We know what we're doing, and that's enough for us. The important thing is to get the U.N. troops onto American soil. Wise County is the perfect place. It's very flat and open, ideal for pitching tents and as a place from which to march on people.
Of course, after Wise County itself has been eliminated, the region will need some kind of interim provisional government. I have strong reason to believe that the plan to eliminate Wise County could even garner White House support if there were an agreement to put the new interim regime in the hands of the Trilateral Commission.
Unfortunately, there has been a lot of paranoia and misconception associated with the Trilateral Commission, a totally harmless organization formed in 1973 by private citizens from Europe, Japan and North America to help "think through the common challenges and leadership responsibilities" of the Western democracies. All of the things people have alleged about the Trilateral Commission trying to take over the world and establish an international government and eliminate school prayer and force men to cross-dress, that's all just crazy. It's complete rubbish. There is nothing to worry about. You have my personal assurance.
The only possible reason to force men in Wise County to dress as women would have to do with the mandatory ballet lessons--viewed by many highly trained and capable experts, including myself, as an effective way of breaking down traditional gender biases that may contribute to male learning disabilities, anger management problems, substance abuse and a host of other forms of personality normality dysfunctionality. And furthermore, the lessons we have in mind would be in regular street dress or exercise clothes, totally of the individual's choosing, at all practices. The only occasions where the men of Wise County would be required to dance in tutus would be public recitals.
I am not naïve, and I think I have a pretty good idea what kind of resistance there may be from the men of Wise County to dancing in public dressed in tutus (those are the cute little skirts worn over tights). Need I state the obvious? That's why the U.N. troops are there.
There will be resentment and even bitterness at first. A great deal of attention must be devoted to the healing process. And this is where I see Senator Hillary Clinton coming in. This is just a dream. I don't think we would ever be lucky enough to get her. But she is definitely the kind of person--just the right combination of tenderness and authority--to make all of this work.
The ideal outcome--perhaps impossible but still worth dreaming of--would be massive public ballet recitals with the men of Wise County dancing in tutus at United Nations gunpoint, if necessary, under the direction of Hillary Clinton on national television.
I expect bumps in the road. Someone will have to pry their cold dead fingers off their Smith & Wessons, that's for sure. But we always have assumed that would be the first thing to do going in. We actually have machines prepared that can automate that process.
There may be an interim period where clergy will only be allowed to deliver sermons that have been prepared by the Supreme Court.
It's possible that some of the most recalcitrant Wise County residents may have to be temporarily resettled in East Dallas for political re-education. I know of several neighborhoods in my part of town, the ultra-liberal arts-and-crafts district, where people would welcome the challenge of helping Wise County residents become more like us. There's really nothing quite like a great big old East Dallas pottery-making party where we get all sticky with wet clay and then hug. Maybe you have to be there to understand.
These issues, even the resettlement thing, really are small problems, balanced against the greater good. Mission No. 1, and the goal on which we must all keep our eyes, is "No More Wise." Under my plan, assuming the Trilateral Commission is able to force the White House to take Governor Perry by the ear on this, we would see the total elimination of Wise County as a legal, political, social entity by no later than the end of this year.
After that, anything is possible. Next on the agenda for Wise? French, as the official language.