"The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety."
If you choose to attend a New Albany City Council meeting, listen carefully to the voices of the assembled throng as the public reading of the Pledge of Allegiance draws to a conclusion.
Those in attendance generally attempt to finish the pledge together, and in a way that would make a high school choral director beam, with all voices concluding, “ … and justice for all.”
The lone voice that invariably pauses a full beat before concluding is that of Citizen David Huckleberry.
As written, the words “for all” reek of solemn optimism and earnest hope, but Citizen Huckleberry’s delivery yields a cautionary tone not unlike that of the Grim Reaper barking “next!” to his receptionist while sharpening his scythe.
Citizen Huckleberry’s dark incantations of gloom and doom during the “communications from the public” portion of our twice-monthly City Council meetings are an endearing, if insanely repetitious, feature of the New Albanian civic landscape.
These fear-mongering homilies would be far more entertaining if they weren’t also central motifs of the “no progress at any price” cadre, which reveres Citizen Huckleberry for his uncanny ability to rain rhetorically on the most benign of parades.
Last evening was no exception to the rule.
Citizen Huckleberry advised the council to “reach down and do what needs to be done” about the budget crisis, and reminded them that numerous symbolic gadgets of the modern world, like cell phones and gasoline (and perhaps electricity and movable type), are being chronically misused by local government employees.
Furthermore, cautioned Citizen Huckleberry, property taxes soon will be going up, and riverboat revenue might well be going down. Pollution, pestilence, corruption, malfeasance … in other words, we’re broke, we’re in trouble, we’re paralyzed, we’re afraid, we’re powerless, we’re finished, and this is no time to be looking to the future.
Circle the wagons, fortify the breastworks, hide your Hot Wheels collectibles, and above all else, remember that resistance is futile. Your forbearers tamed the wilderness … but after all, they were real men, and we’re just timid worms waiting for our turn to wiggle on life’s inexorable hook.
Granted, those strangely resourceful cavemen who invented the wheel faced the same resistance to change, and yet Citizen Huckleberry is neither a lone wolf nor a crank, and we giggle at his antics at our peril.
He has a perfect right to continue speaking, and he no doubt will do so irrespective of NA Confidential’s or anyone else’s opinion on the matter, but it is important for those of us who believe in the power of ideas and the possibilities afforded by an intelligent future to understand that not all of our brethren agree, and like Citizen Huckleberry, Tiny Tim, Councilman Cappuccino and Li’l Stevie, they are prepared to fight for the right to obstruct progress.
Self-immolation can’t be far behind, can it?
And not a moment too soon.
Citizen Huckleberry speaks for that segment of New Albany’s population that considers themselves to be besieged on all sides by strange outsiders who want to make the city a better place to live, work, and raise children … and, recoiling from the prospect of a well-adjusted and productive social order, they chant the words of the Grinch with a certain nostalgic fondness:
“I must stop this whole thing! Why, for fifty-three years I've put up with it now. I must stop (it) from coming... but how?
Citizen Huckleberry closed his commentary last evening in a typically dire and finger-wagging fashion by lobbing a disgraceful allegation in the general direction of the Southern Indiana United Soccer Club (SIU), whose members appeared en masse at the last council meeting to express support for the proposed Cannon Youth Sports Complex.
According to Citizen Huckleberry, the soccer club is 5013C and tax exempt, and this appears to be truthful.
What is not truthful is Huckleberry’s contemptible insinuation to the effect that tax-exempt status somehow precludes the organization (which was not present to defend itself) from lobbying for a specific position in which it has a vested interest – in this case, advocating the building of soccer fields for its members to use.
In reality, the tax-exempt SIU mustn’t engage in partisan politics or endorse candidates, and the club’s support for a youth sports complex obviously is not something that falls within the realm of partisan politics … ah, but there’s the rub, because Citizen Huckleberry’s choice of words – predictably offered with no opportunity for rebuttal -- were designed to imply precisely that, leaving those of a non-critical frame of mind, i.e., anyone predisposed to believe Dan Coffey’s denials of political intent, to ponder SIU’s transgression, when in fact the club has done nothing wrong at all.
To repeat, David Huckleberry has the right to speak freely on any topic he wishes, but when he is mistaken – as he is in this instance – it is neither an infringement of his free speech to point out the extent of his error, nor to note the zealous maliciousness of his intent in doing so.
Of oucrse, the same standard applies to the city’s elected officials, some of whom are presently engaged in open warfare against most prevailing standards of taste and decency, and we’ll have more to say on that topic as the week progresses.