Verily, I declare there is a pox upon our people, O my brethren!
Throughout this land, it hath waxed and thrived, afflicting us with its pernicious evil, crushing the spirits of the ordinary men and women while emboldening the corrupt and avaricious few who would prey upon the innocent as do ravening wolves amidst a flock of sheep. It hath spread its foul tentacles among us from the most innocent child unto the offices of the most high of our republic’s guardians, causing sorrow and grievous harm wheresoever it traveleth, leaving only ruin and sorrow in its wake. Countless legions of those accounted wise weep, wail and gnash their teeth at its depredations, yet offer neither solace in this time of trouble nor wise words to guide us that we may be delivered from this scourge of Fear.
Take heart, kinsmen, for it hath been made known to this humble scribe that others in earlier times have bested this Fear that troubleth us in divers ways. Today I shall discuss one of these, found not in some cryptic tome of arcane lore, but from a source that hath lain beneath our very noses for many a year. Attend, please, while I turn to the Book of Opie:
I had to poke some fun at the issue of fear since it really has assumed such a disproportionate influence over us for many areas. To my mind the best medicine for the very real but hardly insurmountable dangers in our world is laughter. In this vein, while it may strike some as frivolous I truly believe that some important and relevant ideas for helping us understand and cope with real human issues can often be found, surprisingly enough, in popular culture, in this case The Andy Griffith Show from the early 1960s. Sure, it’s all contrived fiction, but it’s the honest expression of the writers’ world view, and in that I think it’s valid and effective as they clearly intended for communicating life lessons they cared a great deal about to future generations.
In following discussions of the rapid militarization of local police forces over the last few decades, I’ve seen many half-joking references to the contrast between Sheriff Andy and modern police, who have become increasingly indistinguishable from soldiers in recent years. Andy never carried a gun, even though though it was clearly his choice to do so; he certainly had a wide selection of firearms available to him on display in the sheriff’s office. Far from being the modern hoplophobic bureaucrat, he was shown as being unambiguously comfortable around firearms in many episodes. He was the iconic Peace Officer, eschewing the use of violence in favor of rationally approaching most situations. He preferred brain power over firepower almost exclusively, defusing rather than escalating potentially dangerous situations even when some of Mayberry’s more unruly residents had already picked up their own guns to resolve personal issues. That’s a vast disconnect from the martial mindset of many police today, who often approach almost every situation with a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later attitude, applying overwhelming force as the first option even in scenarios that pose little or no physical threat to them.
Sheriff Andy was unfailingly courteous to citizens whose paths he crossed, whether they were residents or strangers, even those whose attitude and demeanor might be rude or even hostile. This was an accurate portrayal of many police officers of that era, who tended to see themselves as equals with the populace…genuine peace officers protecting their communities, as contrasted with the disdain far too many of today’s police show toward citizens on a regular basis, frequently harassing, assaulting, beating, pepper spraying and Tasering ‘mundanes’ in the most casual of encounters, often causing severe injury or even death as a result. If you follow stories like these, you’ve seen that there is rarely any accountability for police, who seem to be given a free pass for even the most savage assaults. This has at least two strongly negative consequences: first, citizens have come to view any contact with law enforcement as potentially dangerous, and second, it diminishes respect for police in citizens’ eyes, destroying any mutual respect and regard between civilians and the police who are supposed to serve their communities, especially as law enforcement has come to be seen as more of a revenue collection arm of the government. Civilians exercising their right to photograph or film police, especially in perceived civil rights abuse incidents, are finding themselves arrested and prosecuted for doing so, an unhealthy escalation of the problem.
Let’s put those aside for a bit and turn our focus back to the main subject of this essay: young Opie Taylor.
While his father was busy with sheriff duties, Opie always seemed to have his own hands full. In the first episode of the show’s second season, Opie and the Bully, we’re presented with one of those valuable life lessons when Andy discovers the reason for Opie’s unusual repeated requests for a nickel from the family: a bully named Sheldon has been accosting Opie on his way to school each day, extorting his nickel for milk money under threat of a thrashing. Trying to help his son, the sheriff relates a story from his own youth involving a bully’s attempt to coerce his behavior by threatening violence if he didn’t surrender his favorite fishing spot. He explains he felt ashamed after capitulating to the bully at first by not protecting something that was rightfully his out of fear. However, regaining his courage after learning the phrase “millions for charity, but not one penny for tribute,” he returned to face the bully. The bully followed through on his threat, delivering a ‘knuckle sandwich’ to Andy’s nose, whereupon Andy laughed, having discovered that the bully’s swagger was all a front, and “lit into him like a windmill in a tornado,” turning the tables and giving the bully a genuine thrashing that dissuaded him from all future attempts at extortion. Later, Opie deals with Sheldon in the same way, emerging from the incident with a black eye to display in triumph, and the knowledge that he won’t be subject to further extortion attempts on his way to school.
I first saw this episode as a child, and its message has stayed with me ever since, as I’m sure it has for many other viewers. As a parable it succeeds on many levels and still has worth today, though as a society I’m afraid its meaning seems to have been forgotten, at least by those whose business is deciding policy for our public institutions.
On the other hand, perhaps it hasn’t been forgotten at all, but simply replaced by the ‘progressive’ thought that’s dominated the American marketplace of ideas for more than a century.
Opie learns several important things here: first of all, the bully’s tough talk is mostly just that: talk. By standing his ground, then fighting back an attack by Sheldon the bully, he suffers little physical hurt; the bully’s bark is in fact much worse than his bite. Self-reliance in facing his fears not only makes him stronger, but he feels much better about himself afterwards due to his very real accomplishment. Today’s techniques rely on increasing a child’s self esteem at any cost, teaching them to feel that they are somehow special or have accomplished something extraordinary even if they’ve done nothing.
This situation is a near-perfect demonstration of the Zero Aggression Principle, likely the intention of the show’s writers. Rather than going to the extremes of either perpetually backing down from Sheldon’s threats or hiding in ambush to attack Sheldon first with the advantage of surprise, Opie only acts with defensive violence when the bully initiates force against him. This principle goes back to the founding of this country with the ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ sentiment expressed by the rattlesnake on the Gadsden Flag, reinforcing the moral position that initiation of force is never morally acceptable, but responding with whatever force is needed to stop the aggressor is perfectly justified.
Think about the concepts demonstrated Opie and the Bully , how would such a conflict have been handled today? I think you’ll agree things would have turned out very differently with today’s near-hysterical attitude our public schools have when faced with conflicts between kids.
Even when I was in grade school, there was an attitude that even if a kid was an innocent victim of an aggressive bully, both victim and attacker would be subject to punishment if they were caught. This teaches the distorted morality that administrators and officials of the school…agents of the State… have a monopoly on the use of force. This is a complete refutation of what we see in Opie and the Bully, where Sheriff Andy, not only the adult authority figure involved but an actual agent of the State, actively encourages Opie to fight back in defense to defeat the bully but stays out of the picture otherwise.
In today’s world the boys would never have been allowed to resolve their conflict on their own. One or both would have been arrested, handcuffed and confined (likely violently), Opie wouldn’t have learned the value of self reliance or seen the validation of the moral nonaggression principle, and Sheldon would not have been dissuaded from his bullying behavior; rather he would have been given the incentive simply not to get caught. This is hardly surprising, given the focus on the deification of the State promoted by our forced public education system, which teaches that individuals are insignificant and actively discourages all of the positive values of independent and critical thinking, self reliance and morality that we see demonstrated in Opie and the Bully.
I’ve written critically before about this public education system, and promoted the values of home schooling and the revisionist education theories of experts like John Taylor Gatto. I recently came across another resource that illustrates how tragically harmful this system can be, The War On Kids, a film from 2009 directed by Cevin D. Soling. It can be painful to watch this production that discusses a wide range of factors demonstrating the failure of the Prussian inspired mandatory education system that has dominated this country since the nineteenth century, a failure that has accelerated in recent years. Look at the poisonous fruit it yields: school shootings perpetrated by zombified kids forced to take drugs by the State in collusion with Big Pharma. Schools turned literally into prisons by the hysterical overreaction of officials to their own fear of violence and drugs as evidenced by the State’s unsound and harmful ‘Zero Tolerance’ policies. The crippled minds and bodies of all those children who emerge from this meat grinder utterly unprepared to deal with life as productive human beings are an indictment of this system and a shameful legacy to inflict on future generations.
Watch it here, but be warned that it’s likely to be a heartbreaking experience; I know I haven’t been able to get the dismal scene from near its end out of my mind of the little girl, barely older than a toddler, handcuffed and dragged away crying by burly uniformed minions of the State for the heinous crime of throwing a temper tantrum, just one of many horrific but very real images the film conveys.
By now you should clearly see that everything I’ve discussed here has a common element: fear…and what can happen when the State uses it for its own advantage. Fear on the State’s part that their domination of its citizens may come to and end one day if children aren’t dumbed down and indoctrinated to worship it. Fear that prompts its hysterical overreaction to citizens recording and filming its minions’ sadistic beatings and killings in order to expose them as the tyrants they are. Fear of violence and drug use by kids when the State itself daily assaults and forces drugs on those kids…which they respond to by even more violence and drugging of those very kids. It’s a vicious circle, and it’s tightening all the time as our country deteriorates.
The good news is that these people are bullies just like Sheldon, weaklings who are afraid of the rest of the world. Stand up to them and they will back down…cowards always do. There’s no need of violence, if enough of us simply refuse to keep handing over our milk money to them.
Look at how well it worked for Opie.
Copyright 2016 © by Glenn Horowitz, originally published 2012 in the American Daily Herald