Now in tombstone territory
“What a terrible era in which idiots govern the blind.”—Shakespeare
Upon my desk sits a most distinctive coffee cup, brought to me as a gift by a dear friend now over a decade ago, after a driving tour out west. On it is depicted the story of The Tombstone Epitaph, the Old West’s most famous newspaper.
With its first edition having been printed in a tent in the then Arizona Territory in 1880, The Epitaph was the newspaper of record for the infamous “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” the highly romanticized conflict between the likes of Wyatt Earp, his brothers and “Doc” Holliday on one side, and the evil Clanton gang on the other.
The newspaper also sported one of the greatest banner slogans of all time: “No Tombstone is complete without its Epitaph.”
And paying attention to that cup for the first time in a while this weekend as I cleaned off my desk (the age of miracles is not yet over), it set me to thinking about tombstones and epitaphs and such.
As some may recall from earlier musings, the Montroy/Mosby clan maintains a family cemetery in northern Coahoma County, and has since 1837. We’ve buried a lot of kin folks there, some who represented absolute splendid examples of humanity and some whose contributions to society are far greater now than they ever were during their more active periods.
In other words, ours is just like anybody’s else’s family cemetery, just older than most.
I figure to end up there, too, one day when my last “-30-” line gets drawn, and while I’m in no hurry, I have given some thought to what I might like to have etched on my tombstone.There has to be something or it would be like a blank page, and if there is one thing any newspaperman hates, it’s a blank page. It would be hell — pun recognized — to go through eternity like that.
Besides, any man who’s gone through life throwing words around as I have, certainly deserves to end up with a few choice ones. (I am quite sure there are some others who would be eager to provide them in the absence of my own.)
I’ve thought up a few funny ones over the years from “It’s better than a board meeting” to “Glad I missed the funeral” to “No, I won’t bring you a paper,” as well as a few other creative ones, which while appropriate, might not be appreciated by surviving family members before finally coming up with one that both suited and satisfied me: “He loved the Constitution and hated any SOB who diddled with it.”
And even before it is time for me to employ it, I believe that sentiment might also serve today as the best answer to some of my diehard Republican friends who increasingly ask, “What happened to you? I thought you were one of us.”
I used to be, boys. I used to be.
But that was when the Republican Party was still the real Republican Party — the party of Eisenhower and Buckley and Reagan and Dirksen and even Howard Baker. That’s before it got hijacked by a increasingly thuggish pack of curs that insist on diddling with my Constitution.
Within a six-month eternity, the administration of Donald Trump has been most like some hideous real life manifestation of a a political author’s imaginings — a “what if” novel about the end of the American Republic as we know it.
An almost unbelievable group of characters are addicted to seizing and wielding power absolute, while the Congress, like the pitiful enablers that all addicts require, continues to give only lip service checks to their excursions farther and farther into constitutional no-man’s-land, rendering themselves, at the same time, impotent.
We ignored the warning signs and did not significantly safeguard against it and so in 2017 America, we find ourselves captive to the mentality of a glorified mob family and their cronies who would, without the first regret, write their names and etch their wills into all the sacred slabs of granite where “We the People” used to be, as if it were no more or less than their rightful entitlement.
And I hate it.
With all my being, I hate it.
But most of all, I hate that not enough others see it for what it is, recognize it for what it means, remember that in democratic societies, that which is lost is almost never regained, while too many have confused a court jester for a would-be savior and now must suffer from his fancies and fall victim to his whims.
Because it is one thing to talk of tombstones and epitaphs in terms of one man, but it’s quite another to do so in terms of the “last best hope of man on Earth.”
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.