Standing tall

What is wrong with Bubba? Nothing. Many associate the name Bubba with the South, and while it is true that only Southerners have the courage to allow themselves to be called by the name, many Yankees mimic the Bubba character—which is a compliment to his independence.

As I ride the back roads of North Carolina, I’m impressed with Bubba’s lifestyle and the way he’s accepted by those of his noticeably non-Bubba-like neighbors who have lived next door to him for many years. You see, Bubba has a very relaxed attitude. I suspect there are very few ulcers associated with it. His yard is generally cluttered with old cars, old appliances and a few old dogs lying in the dust. Bubba uses his yard, rather than trying to impress the neighbors with how much time he can spend working on it.

This could be due to the fact that Bubba doesn’t have the money to buy plants nor the time to nurture them. After all, he has a wife and kids who need nurturing, not to mention his dogs and his old car with the hood constantly up. As for the beer cans lying around the yard, they may represent both his frustration and his inability to afford prescription antidepressants.

But some newcomers to North Carolina maintain that Bubba’s lifestyle devalues their own property. There was a time in this country when the value of a man’s property was judged by how free he was to use it—and by the tolerance of his neighbors. Grand Victorian homes and shotgun-style cottages stood side by side; John the blacksmith lived next to the doctor. Rich men and poor men respected each other (and these were real rich men: rich in character and understanding). The so-called “idle rich” devoted their spare time to charitable endeavors, not to attacking their neighbor’s lifestyle.

Of course, both rich and poor had different attributes back then, and they settled their problems without calling in the government over every petty complaint. I remember my dad having two fistfights—one over me and the other with a tenant over rent. He lost one, but the police were never called. Dad was a judge and a man who could take his licks. I often wonder how he would feel about a society that allows a lawsuit because a restaurant’s coffee was too hot.

The mountains of North Carolina are alive with neighborly tolerance, but a new wave of so-called “rich” are now spending their spare time attacking the traditional way of life—and Bubba has neither the time nor the patience to fight back. He won’t attend numerous boring government meetings in defense of his lifestyle. As a matter of fact, he rarely votes, believing that the U.S. Constitution requires whoever is elected to protect his property rights.

Of course, kicking his busybody neighbor’s butt—the one he suspects is making the anonymous calls to the “code cops”—is no longer an option. So, out of frustration, he’ll just have another beer.

And when I tell him about the horrors of zoning in other states, where it’s illegal to park a car on your own front lawn—and where the code cops will enter the property without obtaining a search warrant and issue a summons—Bubba looks at me in disbelief.

“That is unconstitutional,” he exclaims. “They can’t do that!”

You see, Bubba, like many Americans, has forgotten the advice of our forefathers: “Be ever vigilant. You have just overthrown a tyrannical government, and it could happen again.” Bubba believes that even a majority can’t influence elected officials to ignore their oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution. After all, that would be treason.

[Bob Collins is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in many national publications. His pen name is Radical Bob.]

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