Why cowards form lynch mobs - R.H. Joseph

Land of the free and home of the brave, you say?

I was shopping for a new light fixture for the outside of my garage, a simple one or two-bulb device so I can barbecue at night. I've been planning to replace the current one ever since it began listing heavily to starboard about 12 years ago. (Fools rush in?)

The hardware store must have had a dozen different types for sale ranging from the cheapoid plastic model guaranteed to last 20 minutes longer than it takes to install, to the super-atomic, all-metal, all-the-time sort that will illuminate several parsecs of the time/space continuum simultaneously.

Being a middle-of-the-road kinda guy, I sought something constructed of metal and capable of sufficient candle power to shower a large rack of ribs with the warm glow of Mr. Edison's magic lamp. My quest seemed elementary.

"This one's got a motion sensor," the affable store representative explained. "That one's got a sensor that turns it on as soon as it gets dark."

"Don't you have any that I can just turn on and off with a light switch like my current fixture?" I queried. "We may have one, but they're not much in demand."

"What's up with my fellow human beings?" I mused silently.

Anyone who has ever owned a feline knows full well whence expressions like scaredy cat and pussy cat derive. Until they get used to it, cats cower when the phone rings, when the coffee grinder prepares beans, and when the electrician, gardener, and meter reader stop by to take care of business.

When the plumber, accompanied by his cacophonous, fume-spewing trench digger raised havoc in the backyard the other day Baby finally found the useless, furry lumps smashed into the darkest, most remote corner of the closet in her office. Pussy cats!

Judging from the fixtures available at the hardware store we have become a nation of pussy cats.

I had heard about the whole duct tape debacle as well as the run on plastic sheeting. It is said the frightened even felt compelled to purchase gas masks though the devices are known to be useless when called upon to protect the criminally fainthearted from today's diabolical, noxious implements of war (which may or may not exist).

A misanthrope, I expect as much from the herd.

By the same token, I anticipated the timorous blaming their buying frenzy upon the media. They may not appreciate the self-disparagement, but they are admitting they behave without thought; they react rather than research.

Nevertheless, the light fixture absurdity caught me by surprise. These people don't live in their houses, they hide in them n presumably smashed into the darkest, most remote corner of their closets. Land of the free and home of the brave indeed!

As is typical of this sort, numerous polls indicate that prior to our invasion of Iraq the brave were hesitant to engage in battle.

Only those who observe these sheep through rose colored glasses presumed they based their reluctance on salient issues regarding national sovereignty and a complete lack of proof that Saddam Hussein offered a clear and present danger to the United States.

Not hardly! Even though they would get no closer to the carnage than their 36-inch (measured diagonally) televisions, that was enough to leave them cowering.

Once victory seemed assured (as anyone who compared our $400 billion dollar military budget with the Iraqi military's $4 billion dollar budget knew it would be n this knowledge, of course was readily available to anyone willing to research the situation) the polls indicated a change of heart among the general populace.

Now that we were winning, they were all for it. Heroes, every one!

Still irrelevant were issues of justification and national sovereignty. Victory is its own justification.

No doubt those who run the government informed Bush (he's not the most perceptive of men) of the tendency toward such self-justification among those devoid of character.

It is nowhere more evident than at a traffic intersection. When there was a common respect for the rule of law drivers slowed down at a yellow light.

Today the needs of the individual supercede those of the community and the driver barrels through, red light be damned. A year ago it was an isolated event. Today it's the norm.

The pack does not consider the repercussions, only the self-serving result. In the same way Bush has chosen to ignore the laws of the international community with regard to national sovereignty, knowing full well his constituency will support him once he's made it through the intersection victoriously.

R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at rjoseph@news-daily.com.