Back in the 50’s cowboys were my heroes. On Saturday mornings we’d watch several grainy cowboy-and-Indian shows, then we’d head outside with our cap guns to reenact the scenes we had seen on our 14″ black and white screens. These were rugged individualists who rode the range, ate beans by the campfire and used their six-shooter as judge and jury. They spit on the ground too. I believe at one time I told my parents that I’d like to be a cowboy when I grew up. It was kind of them not to spoil my fantasy.
Cowboys never entered a church though, as far as I recall. For one thing, they’d have to take off their hat and unstrap their six-shooter! No cowboy in their right mind would do that. Besides, their spurs would jingle walking down the aisle. Sometimes they’d meet a woman all bedecked in her church-going clothes as she walked out of church and say, tipping their hat, “Howdy Ma’am!”
Boundaries, rules, regulations and other forms of liberty-limiting actions were anathema to my heroes. That always worked for the TV guy, but seldom for a 10-year old. My parents didn’t buy that kid-freedom stuff.
Some 60 years later, it dawns on me that today’s hard right-wingers are the survivors of the gun-slingers of my Saturday morning TV days. They are the last bastions of rugged individualism, just to the left of the survivalists bedded down in the mountains of Idaho. Why, they don’t like any government telling them what to do either! Especially the Federal Marshals, er, the federal government. No sir! Remember the words uttered by Wisconsin’s right-wing senator just yesterday: “If the federal government can actually force an American to engage in a particular form of commerce – buy health care so they can regulate it, that’s the final shred of freedom,” said the Wisconsin Republican. “Our freedom is shrinking.”