Texas, an American Leader
January 3, 2008 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Texas definitely a leader among the states, now leading in exonerations in wrongful conviction cases and also a leader in executions. One hopes there isn't too much overlap.
posted by Bovine Love (114 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
or any as the case may be.
posted by edgeways at 9:18 AM on January 3, 2008


Texas is also noted for being large. How do these numbers work out per capita?
posted by DU at 9:22 AM on January 3, 2008


Texas had 60% of all executions in the US. Unless they have more than 150 million citizens in the Lone Star State, I'm guessing that the per capita rate is pretty high compared to the rest of the country.
posted by octothorpe at 9:45 AM on January 3, 2008


Speaking as a Texan, I can only echo Molly Ivin's warning. Texas is the laboratory of bad government, so watch what happens here closely. We were years ahead of the curve on S&L problems, for example. Hell by the time the rest of the country got screwed by those ratbags us Texans were already cleaning up the mess they'd made of our state and preparing for our next catastrophy.

DU: per capita it still works out as being more than it should be. Texas is a big place, but it isn't as densely populated as it could be, so we've got a smaller population than you'd guess just by our size.

Note, for example, that the NYT article linked says that Texas accounted for 34% of the nation's executions. I know we don't have 37% of the nation's population. And last year we had 26 out of 47 executions, and I'll guarantee you that Texas doesn't account for 55% of the US population.

If, out of all those rushed, ill defended, and racially disturbing, executions there hasn't been at least one innocent person killed, I'll vote Republican in the next election. I know of one case, Claude Jones [1] executed in 2000, where the prosicutor attempted, after the execution, to have the evidence in the case destroyed in order to prevent a DNA test that might prove that Jones was innocent. What does that show boys and girls? It shows that the people with the best information are pretty sure that they've been killing innocent people.

And that is why I changed my position on the death sentence a few years ago. If, after you put someone in prison for years for a crime they didn't comit you can appologize and give them a big cash settlement; they may not be happy, but they aren't dead either. You kill someone for a crime he didn't comit and he's dead, no appology will make a lick of difference.

[1] Who, it must be said is not quite *innocent*, in that he was a thug and criminal, but likely didn't kill the person he was executed for killing.
posted by sotonohito at 9:48 AM on January 3, 2008 [12 favorites]


As it turns out, 2007 Texas had the *second* highest per-capita execution rate. The highest was in SD, which executed one person.

Excluding that little bit of noise, the per-capita execution rate in Texas is almost twice as high as the next highest state in 2007 (Alabama).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 AM on January 3, 2008


On the Media also touched on this last week.
posted by yerfatma at 9:52 AM on January 3, 2008


Good to see their not letting the departure of George Bush slow them down. I assume they've kept his policy of executing the mentally ill and then laughing about it?
posted by Artw at 9:53 AM on January 3, 2008


As DU points out, these statistics are woefully simplistic. Maybe Texas has more crime per capita, and so needs to kill more of its people than other states? Does Texas have 37% (or 55% or whatever) of the nations violent criminals?
posted by nowonmai at 9:54 AM on January 3, 2008


As DU points out, these statistics are woefully simplistic. Maybe Texas has more crime per capita, and so needs to kill more of its people than other states? Does Texas have 37% (or 55% or whatever) of the nations violent criminals?

Faulty premise, no state needs to kill its people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:59 AM on January 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


Quibble quibble quibble!
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on January 3, 2008


Pope Guilty: Faulty premise, no state needs to kill its people.

Hey, death row's not gonna clear itself out.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:05 AM on January 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm having trouble finding a cite at the moment, but from what I remember, Delaware had the highest overall per-capita execution rate, post-Furman (since 1976).
posted by deadmessenger at 10:05 AM on January 3, 2008


State Execution Rates, as of 3/27/07

Oklahoma has the lead. WTF Texas, you slackers!
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on January 3, 2008


A funny Jay Leno joke is in Texas, there is not an electric chair, but electric bleachers.

Funny, until Bobby flips that switch and you go for a ride.
posted by plexi at 10:10 AM on January 3, 2008


deadmessenger: I'm having trouble finding a cite at the moment, but from what I remember, Delaware had the highest overall per-capita execution rate, post-Furman (since 1976).

I think that Oklahoma and Delaware were both ahead of Texas for per-capita executions, but I'm not sure of the time frame that covers.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:10 AM on January 3, 2008


I'm having trouble finding a cite at the moment, but from what I remember, Delaware had the highest overall per-capita execution rate, post-Furman (since 1976).
posted by deadmessenger at 1:05 PM on January 3 [+] [!]

State Execution Rates, as of 3/27/07

Oklahoma has the lead. WTF Texas, you slackers!
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on January 3 [+] [!]


Well, looks like ArtW did his homework...
posted by deadmessenger at 10:11 AM on January 3, 2008


OMG TEXAS LEADS THE U.S. IN EXECUTIONS??!?!?! WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?!?!?!
posted by 23skidoo at 10:14 AM on January 3, 2008


There’s a huge drop off in execution rates between Texas and Nevada, which is the next state on the list that has a significant population. The others all have tiny populations, and oddly enough are all in the south.
posted by Artw at 10:17 AM on January 3, 2008


I recall reading that the Innocence Project found itself working closely with the Dallas County DA office to go through possible cases. There's an Innocence Project of Texas group and they got a nice cash donation from the State Bar Association as well. The article also went on to say that there were similar patterns in the cases.. most were for sexual assaults, and most of them were witness misidentifications. The witnesses were *absolutely positive* that the men they identified in the photographs were their attackers. Sadly, it's taken 20+ years for some of them to finally be proven innocent.

I think that these guys are finally getting out of prison is a good thing, personally. I also think the Innocence Project is a good thing.
posted by drstein at 10:20 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and amussingly (I guess) Texas seems to be the default state when you look at the State By State information on that site.
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on January 3, 2008


Hmm. In sexual assualt cases is grabbing a bunch of random guys off the street and convicting the first one the victim points to actually a common practice? It seems kind of hazy, and likely to have a poor success rate.
posted by Artw at 10:21 AM on January 3, 2008


Unlike many jurisdictions, the lab used by police and prosecutors retains biological evidence, meaning DNA testing is a viable option for decades-old crimes.

Errr... in that case the high exoneration rate is looking like a good thing, as the other innocents may have been left to rot, with the evidence that could free them long gone.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:28 AM on January 3, 2008


Hey, death row's not gonna clear itself out.

You quit locking the doors, then watch what happens.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:41 AM on January 3, 2008


in that case the high exoneration rate is looking like a good thing, as the other innocents may have been left to rot, with the evidence that could free them long gone.

Yes, I found that interesting. It seems very upstanding of Texas. In the end, there are so many variables as to make it difficult for someone to determine if Texas is out of control on wrongful convictions, or is the most honest state out there in helping exonerate the wrongfully convicted since most states have, in essence, destroyed the evidence of any wrong-doing.

But yet, one thing is for sure: The combination of a very high exoneration rate and a very high execution rate should be cause for extreme concern until the root cause is determined. It is easy to theorize, but the ramifications of a bad theory are more then serious; they are deadly.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:42 AM on January 3, 2008


Isn't this the state where the state constitution includes a "he needed killin'" murder defense clause?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:57 AM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'll say it again: What do you expect from a state who's unofficial motto is a threat?
posted by wfrgms at 11:09 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh for heaven's sake.

I'll say it again: What do you expect from a state who's unofficial motto is a threat?

I am a transplant to TX, and even I'm getting tired of pointing this out. The "unofficial slogan" (Don't Mess With Texas) was an anti-littering campaign, chosen for both the the play on words and rhyme scheme.

Jeez.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:16 AM on January 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


... even I'm getting tired of pointing this out.

The anti-slogan campaign is working!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:18 AM on January 3, 2008


The anti-littering slogan thing gives it some plausible deniability, sure, but is an anti-littering slogan that's been hijacked by beligerant assholes still an anti-littering slogan? I think anyone who isn't a terminal quibblist would agree that it isn't.

Oh, and it sucks as an anti-littering slogan.
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Speaking of threatening slogans, let's not forget New Hampshire's official one.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:27 AM on January 3, 2008


I've always felt that one was a bit odd, since the current argument often seems to run that we must give up a little to not die. Clearly they meant it to be "Life free unless you might die".
posted by Bovine Love at 11:30 AM on January 3, 2008


Who is it who has "Don't Tread on Me" and a snake on their plates?
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on January 3, 2008


Also New Hampshire is clearly some kind of wuss state, coming #48 for murder and #49 for executions.

Texas is only #16 for murder. A #2 for executions and now this? That's really disapointing. We'll have to send over more Scottish tourists or something.
posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on January 3, 2008


Oh, and it sucks as an anti-littering slogan.

I can agree with that much.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:45 AM on January 3, 2008


Suddenly I understand why Texas executes people for littering.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:00 PM on January 3, 2008


I guess 'Come to Texas and although we're more likely to kill you, on the other hand we're also more likey to let you out after wrongly convicting you, than most other states' don't really cut it as a slogan.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:10 PM on January 3, 2008


fearfulsymmetry that’s why they shortened it to “Friendship.”
posted by Smedleyman at 12:28 PM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Frustrated with nobody paying any attention to them the Oklahomans are probably changng their slogan to "Fuck you, Texas".
posted by Artw at 12:34 PM on January 3, 2008


"I'm bitter. I'm angry," Chatman told The Associated Press during what was his last night in jail Wednesday. "But I'm not angry or bitter to the point where I want to hurt anyone or get revenge."

Chatman is a better man than I.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:35 PM on January 3, 2008


The anti-littering slogan thing gives it some plausible deniability, sure, but is an anti-littering slogan that's been hijacked by beligerant assholes still an anti-littering slogan? I think anyone who isn't a terminal quibblist would agree that it isn't.

Dude. It wasn't co-opted by belligerent assholes. It was co-opted by belligerent marketers of souvenirs. Blame the manufacturers of bumper stickers and shot glasses, as well as the folks who run the airport gift shops.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:39 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Belligerent souvenirs.
posted by Artw at 12:41 PM on January 3, 2008


I'll say it again: What do you expect from a state who's unofficial motto is a threat?

Could you get a new catchphrase? You use this one too much. It's like bad stand-up comedy.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:49 PM on January 3, 2008


Maybe they could have co-opted Britain's anti-littering campaign, and we could be treated to swaggering Texans ominously saying, "Keep Texas tidy".
posted by dreish at 12:58 PM on January 3, 2008


Oh come on. How about a state who's anti littering campaign slogan is a threat? And anyway, it pretty much became the slogan, so what does that tell you about the people, and the voters.

I spent plenty of time in Texas, visiting my dad over the summer in Mesquite. To social and political culture of the place sucked ass. A laboratory for bad government is spot on, although Florida under W.'s Brother John Ellis (J.E.B) gave it a good run for the money.
posted by delmoi at 1:00 PM on January 3, 2008


I'll say it again: What do you expect from a state who's unofficial motto is a threat?

So, what, in Illinois, you just lay down and take it like a bitch from other states? We don't traffic in cowardice in Texas. You may like Ohio running roughshod all over you, but keep that shit in the Midwest.

Don't mess with Texas. Don't think about it. Don't read about Texas being messed with and smile approvingly.
posted by xmutex at 1:00 PM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Don't let the sun set on you here" would be awesome for a campaign promoting solar power and other sustainable energy sources.
posted by Artw at 1:00 PM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Texas is only #16 for murder.

16th? So per capita Texas is like 25th or something?

Lame.
posted by three blind mice at 1:05 PM on January 3, 2008


Dude, I took the complaints of you quibbling fuckers into consideration: It's "Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter per capita by state"
posted by Artw at 1:10 PM on January 3, 2008


If we just look at "Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter by state then Texas claws it's way up to #2, which is admitedly more impressive.
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on January 3, 2008


Metafilter: Quibbling fuckers.
posted by Skot at 1:16 PM on January 3, 2008


Wow, if DC is gonna get the right execution/murder rate ratio (*), they are going to have to get some death squads or something to have any hope of catching up.

(*) Where right is defined as The Texas Ratio.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:16 PM on January 3, 2008


There are two crimes that infuriate me beyond all measure: rape and first degree murder. I think I'm a pretty compassionate guy, but all that goes out the window for rapists and murderers. I have no particulary ethical problem with these people being put to death, but like sontohito in the comment above, I cannot support the death penalty. It's just far too easy for someone to be falsely convicted, particularly the underprivileged and racial minorities.

Last year I sat on a jury for a murder trial. The evidence against the accused was circumstantial, but very strong and highly convincing. It took less than two days of deliberation for the jury to come to a unanimous guilty verdict of first degree murder with special circumstances. I don't know what the eventual sentence was, but I'm sure that the defendant will not see the outside world for a long time. I'm absolutely certain that we made the right decision (and frankly, I was surprised at the quality of the jury - we had a bona fide rocket scientist along with several other highly intelligent professionals).

But I have to wonder if I would have had the same confidence in casting a guilty vote if the accused were facing the death penalty. This uncertainty is not based on the evidence, but on the inherent finality of a death sentence, and I'm pretty sure that other members of the jury would not have been able sentence the defendant to death. For any reasonably compassionate person, it's hard enough to sentence a man to prison for life (I assume); it takes a fair amount of introspection and soul-searching to enable one to make that decision, and be able to sleep comfortably at night. I had to take into account all the other times in my life that I've been certain of something, to later find out that I was wrong. How could I know for certain that this wasn't one of those times? Would I be willing to stake someone else's life on it?

If our only alternatives had been death or acquittal, I think a cold-blooded murderer would have been placed back on the street, which is just as much of a travesty as an innocent man being put to death.
posted by malocchio at 1:16 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


How about a state who's anti littering campaign slogan is a threat? And anyway, it pretty much became the slogan, so what does that tell you about the people, and the voters.

Ummm, nothing?
posted by 23skidoo at 1:20 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


DCs got an awesome advantange in the Per Capita stakes due to it's small size and relatively high concentration of murderers, but you just don't have the population to take on the likes of Texas or California in terms of raw numbers. I suggest you annex other states, preferably violently as that will help a lot with the figures.
posted by Artw at 1:25 PM on January 3, 2008


I'm also very disapointed in my own state of Washington. Our supposed huge advantage in terms of being a hotspot for serial killers seems to count for fuck all.
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on January 3, 2008


I guess I'm really going to have to visit Texas at some point just so I can buy some sort of novelty souvenir with 'Texas' and 'Friendship' on it, hopefully with a picture of George W as well...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:29 PM on January 3, 2008


I liked malocchio's comment. Although I oppose the death penalty primarily on moral grounds, it's pragmatic reasoning like that which will resonate with the populis. Has anyone followed New Jersey's moratorium on the death penalty? What was their impetus?
posted by Fidei at 1:32 PM on January 3, 2008


I guess I'm really going to have to visit Texas at some point just so I can buy some sort of novelty souvenir with 'Texas' and 'Friendship' on it, hopefully with a picture of George W as well...

If you get that on something like the Death Row Marv Action Figure that would be awesome. Bush could be in his flightsuit pulling the lever.
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on January 3, 2008


fearfulsymmetry -- drive into the state. The welcome to Texas sign has all of the elements you want.

Please note that I am not one of the ones that are proud of it being home of George W Bush.
posted by birdherder at 1:36 PM on January 3, 2008


That's good birdherder, but I'm kinda disappointed, as I was expecting at least a couple of bullet holes...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:40 PM on January 3, 2008


The "unofficial slogan" (Don't Mess With Texas) was an anti-littering campaign, chosen for both the the play on words and rhyme scheme.

That play on words being what is colloquially known as a "threat."

Don't mess with Texas. It messes itself regularly and doesn't need your help with it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:59 PM on January 3, 2008


I feel it necessary at this time to state that I am a native Texan and have never voted Republican in my life. Most of my friends haven't, either.

I'm well-cultured (read: have more than one degree, have lived abroad, speak more than one language, belong to an art collective, am a Metafilter poster/reader, etc.) and am not here to defend Texas...

But please don't assume that there is some kind of Play-Doh Racist Executioner Hillbilly Right-Winger machine spewing us Texans, totally homogenized, into the world.

Delmoi, it's too bad we couldn't have hung out when you visited, as Mesquite is fairly near me... and I avoid it for all the reasons you stated.

I wish it were different; unfortunately, to the majority of the people in the world, we are the TV show Dallas, plastic surgery, bad government, corporate mismanagement, etc.

Just bear in mind that not all of us are like that. Some of us are exactly like you, and are just as disgusted as the rest of you are re: executions, etc. I just wanted to say that, since the "Texans Suck" rally appears to be in progress.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:04 PM on January 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


sotonohito: "Speaking as a Texan, I can only echo Molly Ivin's warning. Texas is the laboratory of bad government, so watch what happens here closely."

Speaking as a Texan, I need more chili.

I used to believe capital punishment was a necessary evil, until I saw it in use by GWB. Now I think capital punishment should be abolished federally. Any society that utilizes violence to resolve issues might be powerful and it might be mighty but it's far from civilized. We might as well be in caves throwing rocks at each other. We've come all this way, and we've learned jack shit.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:12 PM on January 3, 2008


Well, I feel pretty at home here in the People's Republic of Austin. Sure, it's a long ways to the next predominantly progressive city (Albuquerque? Santa Fe? -- I don't even know, really) but that "Don't mess" ad campaign was cooked up by GSD&M, for g*d's sake. They're probably all yankee transplants down there at "Idea City," anyway.

I've always felt like you could divide Texas roughly along I-35 (we'll keep San Antonio and Ft. Worth-- they can have Dallas) and make another state out of the east side piney woods and coastal plains. The Edwards plateau, the Trans-pecos and the Panhandle are just so not like the deep south attitude that seems to pervade the eastern half of the state.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:25 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to believe capital punishment was a necessary evil, until I saw it in use by GWB. Now I think capital punishment should be abolished federally.

He's united a lot of us like that. What a uniter, decider guy!
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:27 PM on January 3, 2008


say what you want about the fact that the US, as an executioner nation, is lumped together with places like Afghanistan, Belarus, Burundi, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Sierra Leone, China, Uzbekistan while other industrialised, Western countries have long ago dumped the death penalty. but you cannot argue with the fact that, as we all know, the moment someone gets killed on death row, the victim of the crime that person's been executed for magically comes back from the dead.

I mean, that's what makes the death penalty's savagery -- and the company of Yemen and Iran -- totally worth it -- resurrection.
posted by matteo at 3:02 PM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow. 3 days into the New Year and the first Texas-bashing thread appears.

I always thought that racism and bigotry were caused in the most part by people's desire to become higher in the social strata not by their own efforts at improvement but by debasing others out of ignorance. When I see people here denigrating an entire region and its populace, I get the feeling that Texas is the nigger of Metafilter. Your life sucks because you're stupid or lazy? Hey -- at least you don't live in Texas!
posted by joaquim at 3:15 PM on January 3, 2008


Well, they do, like, execute all those people.
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on January 3, 2008


Clearly Texas only executes the occasional retard because of its horrible oppression at the hands of Metafilter. Not because its public policy is dominated by knuckle-dragging neanderthals, however many non-neanderthals there might be.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:36 PM on January 3, 2008


Your life sucks because you're stupid or lazy? Hey -- at least you don't live in Texas!

It's true enough. I'd certainly rather be stupid or lazy elsewhere than stupid or lazy in Texas.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:38 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You'd probably be executed anyway, so you wouldn;t have to put up with living there long.
posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on January 3, 2008


I totally execute retards. If only someone would be brave enough to insult everyone who lives in the same state as me, then maybe (MAYBE) I'd stop executing retards.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:07 PM on January 3, 2008


I get the feeling that Texas is the nigger of Metafilter.

So it's racist to note that Texas executes at a rate many times that of the national average? Who knew?

Okay, Metafilter. Anything people don't want hear that's critical about the random geographical plop of dirt they happen to live on is now as socially unacceptable as cross burning and lynching. You got that!
posted by tkchrist at 4:20 PM on January 3, 2008


I totally execute retards. If only someone would be brave enough to insult everyone who lives in the same state as me, then maybe (MAYBE) I'd stop executing retards.

You'd stop? Obviously you don't live in Texas then.
posted by tkchrist at 4:22 PM on January 3, 2008


Also New Hampshire is clearly some kind of wuss state, coming #48 for murder and #49 for executions.

If New Hampshire was truly living by its motto, it would rank highest by far in executions, as it would be executing its entire prison population.

Apparently, New Hampshire does not take its state motto very seriously.
posted by Brak at 4:22 PM on January 3, 2008


That Welcome To Texas sign is eerily reminiscent of my favorite bit of New Hampshire humor, too. It's a big sign near the MA border that says, "DRIVE WITH COURTESY - IT'S THE NEW HAMPSHIRE WAY!

Cracks me up every time I see it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:24 PM on January 3, 2008


MeTa
posted by grouse at 5:09 PM on January 3, 2008


"Drive Friendly - The Texas Way" means to drive 20mph under the speed limit in the left lane, and to never use your turn signal.

There are a lot of enlighted, progressive people living in Texas (most of them in 787xx zip codes). Unfortunately the rednecks have more guns than we do so we don't make a lot of noise or draw attention to ourselves in order to survive.

I don't mind the Texas bashing threads, 97.3% of them are warranted.
posted by birdherder at 5:12 PM on January 3, 2008


If our only alternatives had been death or acquittal, I think a cold-blooded murderer would have been placed back on the street, which is just as much of a travesty as an innocent man being put to death.

Interesting dilemma. How many innocents must the state put to death before it is a larger travesty that a cold blooded killer walking free?
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:26 PM on January 3, 2008


So it's racist to note that Texas executes at a rate many times that of the national average? Who knew?
Feel something missing? It's my point. Maybe your strawman is blocking your view.

You can note facts about anyplace, anything, anyone. However, ignorant stereotyping and generalizations are not facts. As I noted above -- and your strawman failed to address -- those who cannot rise through their own actions are then content to debase others through stereotypes

Look at almost any thread on MeFi that discusses Texas and you'll find an above-average number of comments bashing the state or its citizens. Aside from the threads that expand the bashing to the entire South, what other states come under such opprobrium? What makes people want to do that, other than ignorance, fear, or a mob mentality as the bashing increases into a feeding frenzy?

Try this: instead of a sarcastic, throw-away comment next time, stop and think about how generalizations and wrong notions about groups of people (maybe like someone alluding to Seattle as being full of caffeine-fueled, rain-drenched, tree-humping, Californian-wannabes who can't even be Canadians) could be the genesis of bigotry and racism.
posted by joaquim at 6:54 PM on January 3, 2008


Maybe you should move to Los Angeles, then you'd be free from this kind of prejudice.
posted by Artw at 7:17 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


What makes people want to do that, other than ignorance, fear, or a mob mentality as the bashing increases into a feeding frenzy?

Their annoyance at the horrible public policies put into place through the democratic process by the citizens of Texas time and time again?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:18 PM on January 3, 2008


That and electing George Bush as governor TWICE, setting him up for the presidency, where they also voted him in TWICE.

All in all I'd say Texas has inflicted more on us than we ever have on them.

On the plus side I hear the food is good.
posted by Artw at 7:31 PM on January 3, 2008


I get the feeling that Texas is the nigger of Metafilter.

What in fuck is wrong with you?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 PM on January 3, 2008


It's not that we loathe Texas because we are ignorant; it is precisely because we are not ignorant of Texas that we loathe Texas.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:00 PM on January 3, 2008


Feel something missing? It's my point. Maybe your strawman is blocking your view.

You mean YOUR strawman. Did you or did you not say this: "I always thought that racism and bigotry were caused in the most part by people's desire to become higher in the social strata not by their own efforts at improvement but by debasing others out of ignorance."

And then:

"I get the feeling that Texas is the nigger of Metafilter."

You first entered the comparison to racism into this equation. Not me.

Joaqim if you want to actually make a point don't bury it in absurd and inflammatory hyperbole.

Being Texan is not genetic. Texas is a piece of geography. I lived in Texas. My sister was born there. And as many people have pointed out there are plenty of reasons why the majority of the people of Texas gets pitched some shit. It's not all ignorance. A great deal is based on fact.
posted by tkchrist at 8:36 PM on January 3, 2008


Retard? Nigger??

What the Hell is wrong with you people?
posted by bwg at 10:43 PM on January 3, 2008


Yes, it's "African American" and "developmentally disabled" people!

Two phrases that actually come in kind of handy when discussing the subject of executions in Texas
posted by Artw at 11:43 PM on January 3, 2008


Well for heavens sake, send Dubya back to Texas to fix all them thar problems.
posted by Rajamadan at 2:17 AM on January 4, 2008


As I said in MeTa, some of us are trying to stick it out here and change the regime from within. I'm staying here in Texas and voting Democrat until I end up running screaming out of the country altogether. I find many of these riffs on Texas personally insulting, because they do not apply to me, and I am far from a slack-jawed, gun-toting, brother-marrying inbred who drives a pickup truck across the desert to shoot illegal immigrants crossing the river.

I don't assume all guys from New Jersey are physically incapable of buttoning the top 3 buttons of a shirt, or that all women in Hollywood have fake tans and boob jobs. I don't assume all people from Louisiana live in a swamp and eat alligator meat for dinner. I don't assume all residents of Washington state live on communes and grow pot in giant forests when they're not busy shooting heroin.

Sure, they're easy jokes. Ignorance is easy; changing that ignorance is both time-consuming and expensive, if done correctly (by traveling and seeing the country first-hand and meeting the people).

If you get mad when people assume all Americans are war-loving, gas-guzzling, meat-eating obese morons wearing loud tourist clothes bent on destroying the world, then maybe you can understand my pain at these comments.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:36 AM on January 4, 2008


Actually, I don't see too many people characterizing all texans as morons. Most of the posts target Texas, as emboidied by its state government (by the people and, on good days, for th people) and the practices. How should we refer to it, if not "Texas"? If one says "Texas executes the mentally handicapped", it is absolutely correct; it is an act by the state of Texas. Is anyone here saying that every Texan agrees with that?

It is fair to characterize the state. The few that assume every (or even most) individuals match that characterization are out of line, but you can't claim the characterization is unfair.

Your case would be better served if you provided evidence of the advancement of Texas. For example, only one person pointed out that Texas kept all DNA evidence. This is, in my mind, quite progressive. If you believe in Texas, why don't you focus on the positive instead of just reacting to the negative?
posted by Bovine Love at 7:52 AM on January 4, 2008


You're right. I promised I wouldn't get my e-feelings bent out of shape over this, and I have. I just personally know there are many great things about Texas, and I feel rather protective of it. It's hard not to take these things personally sometimes.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:02 AM on January 4, 2008


Things I love about Texas:

In Dallas, the yearly average temperature is 65.4 degrees F.

We have the largest secondhand bookstore in America, located in Archer City and owned by Larry McMurtry.

We are one of seven states that does not impose state income tax.

The recently departed Ann Richards, the first person I ever voted for.

We were our own sovereign nation, briefly.

We are home to six of the top 50 companies on the Fortune 500 list and second only to California in the nation.

Houston is one of five cities in America that offers year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.

Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is the second-largest airport in the US and the third-busiest in the world.

Texas Medical Center is the largest medical district in the world with the highest density of facilities for patient care.

Rice University is quite prestigious.

The Space Center.

I'm also partial to one of my alma maters, The University of Dallas.

I'm also amused that Aaron Spelling went to SMU and left them a ton of money; I won't bother listing all the great actors, writers, musicians and pundits that hail from here, or go on about the food. Everybody knows that stuff already.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:58 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bruce Sterling is from there, he's a neat guy.

Actuall I know several neat people either from Texas or who have lived a long time in Texas. Unfortunately I suspect most of them would say the exact same things about Texas that people in this thread have.
posted by Artw at 9:01 AM on January 4, 2008


Ack, our ECONOMY is second only to California.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:02 AM on January 4, 2008


California burns down every four years or so in an amusing way - can you beat that?
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on January 4, 2008


I agree that Texas is fabulous to the sort of person that really loves Fortune 500 headquarters and large airports and that hates commie income tax.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:14 AM on January 4, 2008


I give up. You asked me to post positive things, and I did. Now you're picking apart what I posted to ridicule me personally, and putting words in my keyboard I didn't type.

Metafilter: A place to be bullied mercilessly by your fellow intellectuals.

I think I'll give this place a break for a while.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:24 PM on January 4, 2008


Unicorn, you forgot to mention that DFW is bigger than Manhattan, and according to the ads on Skytrain, that is why there are such great dining options like Chilis Too, McDonalds and Cool River.

There's a lot to like about Texas, but DFW is not one of them.
posted by birdherder at 12:27 PM on January 4, 2008


Actually, I think that DFW airport is one of the best large airports. I far prefer it to any of the other airports I have ever connected at.
posted by grouse at 12:36 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Birdherder: Okay, that totally made me laugh. I'm getting off in the weeds with this crap.

Anybody wanna sponsor a poor Texan girl to move somewhere else? I'm smart and hardworking! Will recycle, refuse to drink "lite" beer, and giggle excitedly at the mention of comic book stores, record-buying trips and horror/sci fi conventions!

(bats eyes at sponsor-worthy Yankees)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:45 PM on January 4, 2008


Ah, don't be disheartened, it's a tough crowd. I swear to god though, half the big airports in the world claim some top-5 busiest type thing though.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:57 PM on January 4, 2008


I give up. You asked me to post positive things, and I did. Now you're picking apart what I posted to ridicule me personally, and putting words in my keyboard I didn't type.

You're right, and I apologize. That was nasty of me.

DFW really is a very good big airport; the vast multitude of entrances and clearance points help a *lot*.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:57 PM on January 4, 2008


And I'm even willing to admit that my sense of Texas would be a lot more positive if I'd lived in Austin or San Antonio instead of Denton / DFW.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:59 PM on January 4, 2008


Interesting dilemma. How many innocents must the state put to death before it is a larger travesty that a cold blooded killer walking free?

I dunno - two? I probably shouldn't have tried to equate the two scenarios. I would prefer to err on the side of mercy myself, but then I start to question my very understanding of mercy and justice.

It's hard to look a widow with five young kids in the eye, and not feel that letting the killer back on the street is not only a fundamental miscarriage of justice, but an unnecessary risk to other innocent lives. Certainly every witness with the courage to testify was taking a great personal risk; the fear of retaliation was evident in their eyes.

Before my time on the jury, I never had to consider this issue on such a deep, personal level. In the end, I walked away thinking that the death penalty can actually be a deterrent to justice, in a way I had never before imagined.
posted by malocchio at 1:40 PM on January 4, 2008


I believe in some states it is the jury who decides whether the death penalty is warranted. This can mitigate your concern.

Still, with "true" life sentences we can assure the safety of the public just as much as with the death penalty without any chance of executing an innocent man. That alone seems like sufficient cause to eliminate it, even outside of any moral issues of the state killing a person purposefully (guilty or otherwise).
posted by Bovine Love at 2:04 PM on January 4, 2008


Bruce Sterling is from there, he's a neat guy.

Yeah. Bruce is awesome. But he moved to Italy. Not sure if that was permanent or not. But he doesn't have much good to say about Texas lately.

A bunch of the native musicians, artists and celebs brought out in "defense" of the state (or maybe just defense of the culture) have been pretty down on it lately, actually.

Maybe there used to be reasons to feel so tied to a geographic plop of land. To feel that emotional bond. But now?

I suppose I too have grown to feel the way Bill Hicks does about this knee-jerk defensive "provincialism." When Hicks was asked if he thought America was the greatest place on earth or if he felt a need to defend it from critics, he replied something like:

"Why? Because my parents fucked there?"

He was right. Ultimately you don't owe anyplace shit. Not if that place clearly shits on you.

I used to care. But now I just don't. It's too exhausting. I move somewhere better whenever I can afford to go to someplace better. In Bush's America the grass literally IS always greener. I'm no longer sentimental about it. Life is just too short.
posted by tkchrist at 4:56 PM on January 4, 2008


OK, let me try again. I apologize for not explaining more in depth, but you guys are generally so intelligent and open-minded that I assume you already know what I'm talking about.

These aren't facts, so don't read this as a news report -- read it as an opinion column:

In any homogeneous group of people (i.e, people of the same race, religion, creed, etc.), social stratification may occur per abilities -- the stronger and smarter tend to rise. Those at the bottom of the group must then find some other ways to elevate themselves. Add a few other people to the group who differ from the majority in some way that has no relevance to ability (like color of their skin or their religion). The people at the bottom of the original group will find themselves pushed further down the social strata unless they can manufacture some means of debasing the new people. What's the easiest thing to pick on? The differences, of course. Are those differences really relevant to the value of these people? No, they're just differences, but it doesn't matter. They can be exploited to debase the ENTIRE minority. What's easier to do -- compete against a large group of people whose range of abilities is similar to another group you've already lost to or simply dismiss those people because they're Irish or Muslim or homosexual?

So now this entire group of new people has been deemed inferior simply because they're different. When some of them begin to outperform some people in the original group in any area that the group considers notable (physical prowess, intelligence, financial success, etc.), where does that leave the people who have lost to both the old and new groups and who have already dismissed the new people as inferior? ("You got beat by a girl?") Is this where bigotry is born?

Does that sound reasonable (providing you accept the premise that much of human behavior is formed by competition)? A society sets rules for competition and the measurements of success. Part of that society loses the competition. That part still has a drive to succeed even if it means cheating by making different rules for different people. When they still lose, hatred for those who succeed is born, especially for those who succeed in spite of the disadvantages caused by the cheating.

Now look at Metafilter. A thread about Texas begins and it's not long before negative, off-topic comments appear. These comments aren't just throwaway snarks, either -- they accuse every citizen of Texas of being ethically, morally, mentally, socially, culturally, whatever inferior. Why does this seem to happen more often with Texas than other states? Why has Texas been singled out as the MeFi whipping boy (that is, when no conservatives are readily at hand to pillory)? Is it because Texas and Texans are really that bad or is it because we have to have someone to feel superior to without actually being superior to them on our own merits? Are we picking on Texas because we're not allowed by community rules to pick on people of different color, religion, gender, etc.? (BTW, I dislike Idaho for reasons unknown to me. I don't know anyone from Idaho, it's beautiful country, but my gut feeling for Idaho is disdain. If I accuse someone of being unreasonably anti-Texas, I'm just as guilty of being unreasonably anti-Idaho. I'm not holier than thou, I'm just holier in a different direction.)

NB: the "Texas is the nigger of Metafilter" is a reference to "Woman is the nigger of the world". (You already know what I'm talking about, right?)
posted by joaquim at 7:34 PM on January 4, 2008


Well, in the case of this thread, I'd say it's probably down to all those executions.
posted by Artw at 7:59 PM on January 4, 2008


These comments aren't just throwaway snarks, either -- they accuse every citizen of Texas of being ethically, morally, mentally, socially, culturally, whatever inferior.

I challenge you to find at least 5 comments in the history of Metafilter that actually make any such accusation, and put it to you that you are reading such accusations where they do not exist.

Why has Texas been singled out as the MeFi whipping boy

It hasn't. Lots of places (states, cities, and otherwise) get abused a fairly high proportion of the times that they come up. LA and NYC get beat up a lot. California too. Florida. Ohio. Michigan. Boston. Buffalo. Albany. Williamsburg (NY not VA). DC. New Orleans and Louisiana more generally.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:45 PM on January 4, 2008


I challenge you to find at least 5 comments in the history of Metafilter that actually make any such accusation
Come on, ROU -- at least make it challenging.

Now THAT is so big and so dumb, it's perfect for Texas.
Texans are dumb.

Anyone seen "The Thin Blue Line?" Texas justice, my ass.
Texans are lacking in morals/ethics/justice.

Only in Texas...Texans (and only Texans) blindly apply rules. This was in the FPP.

Someone needs to teach these Texans how to finish a goddamn sentence.
Texans are sub-literate.

Ah, yes...Texas....the entire state is certifiably insane
Texans are mental defectives.

There are more, but you only asked for five.

How about a good old Fuck Texas theme? 1 2 3 4 5

How about ROU_Xenophobe bashes Texas -- in this thread alone? 1 2 3 4 5

I think Joaquim may be suffering from a little bit of confirmation bias re: Texas, but I also think his ideas about how bigotry starts are interesting. Is there some reason we can't discuss those?
posted by forrest at 12:33 AM on January 5, 2008


Weeellll, speaking as a Texan, there's a lot to bash about Texas.

Don't get me wrong, I like Texas - if I didn't I wouldn't live here. But even as a person who likes the place I'll be the first to admit that there's also a lot to not like.

On the other hand, isn't that pretty much the way every other place is? Like that joke about Pennsylvania: Its Pittsburgh on one end, Philly on the other, and Alabama in between.

But that's hardly limited to Pennsylvania, as nearly as I can tell the entire world consists of two things: big cities, which are livable, and Alabama in between. I've lived in Tokyo and it was great, and I've looked at rural Japan and it was Alabama. California has some nice cities and outside the cities its Alabama...

The only problem with Texas is that the Alabama to civilization ratio is skewed in favor of Alabama, so we get a lot of shitty laws. Well, ok, that and the fact that us Texans really do tend to be cantankerous, but I regard that as a benefit, not a problem. Ok, and the fact that the state constitution and state government in general, like those of most former Confederate states, is a massive clusterfuck. [1]

And, I should add, the unofficial motto of Texas isn't "Don't mess with Texas", its "Thank God for Mississippi", because for the most part its only Mississippi that keeps Texas from being the worst in the nation for just about everything.

OTOH, I do think Joaquim has a possibly interesting point. It seems that most humans like to have a group to look down on. Mine is fundamentalist religionists, and (after looking at the first part of this comment) apparently Alabama. Sorry Alabamans. The urge to say "well, I may have problems, but at least I'm not one of those losers" is apparently quite strong in many humans.

[1] For those of you actually interested its because post-Civil War the states of the former CSA instituted constitutions deigned specifically to make the governor and state ledge nearly powerless. The Texas constitution is a horriflyingly massive document, and contains over 400 (yup, you read that right four hundred) amendments. Why? Because the ledge can't actually *DO* anything, so any really significant bit of law has to be put in as a constitutional amendment. Only Alabama has a worse constitution.
posted by sotonohito at 5:10 AM on January 5, 2008


Don't mess with texas... because the whining never ends.
posted by Artw at 8:17 AM on January 5, 2008


I was born in Texas.

I love my home state.

With that said, I completely understand why people who live here and people who don't live here wanna bash Texas. There's a veritable cornucopia of reasons. Chiefly among them, for the same reason I love bashing Idaho: cuz it's THERE.

...or Cleveland for that matter. Although the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame is.. come to think of it that's as good a reason as any to bash it!
posted by ZachsMind at 12:55 PM on January 5, 2008


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