Lenin Square, MSU Rutgers Style, and Shanghai Hall

Title catch your eye? Maybe so… At least I hope so.

The Springfield area and Southwest Missouri is often considered a “conservative area.”  After all, when the Springfield was debating whether or not we should make a protected class of the LGBT community, it was quoted by a proponent that if something that left-of-center could be passed here it could be passed anywhere.

The reality, however, is that if we look underneath the surface of Blunt-Mania and Billy Long campaign signs, we have a very different picture – a juxtaposition if you will. You see, if we consider some very important events that have taken place in both the recent and not-so recent past, we see there is an underlying portion of our society that is far from the typical “Springfield Conservative”.

While the purpose of this post is to consider a particularly new occurrence, a review of some of the more liberal highlights of Springfield would be necessary to give context to what would otherwise seem out of the ordinary given our reputation.

A review:

  • Over the course of the debate on the all-inclusive smoking ban in 2009, a local college employee who is well respected said that she would be in favor of limiting the amount of fast-food restaurants that are in Springfield because of the health hazard.
  • To continue on the issue of the smoking ban and add a bit of spice, the city has decided to enhance-target the smokers in the downtown area. You see, the smoking ban left smokers to smoke outside of any “public place”. So they move to the sidewalk. Well the same non-pragmatic liberals that thought this thing up didn’t like the idea of having to walk through groups of smokers on the sidewalk – so they pressed forward with creating a ban on smoking outdoors in the downtown area in general.
  • Leading with the smoking ban, going to the square, we find when local radio show host Nick Reed calls the downtown area “Lenin Square”, he has merit. The same night the local government banned smoking downtown, they also banned skateboarding, “passive” panhandling, and tried to force permits on groups trying to feed the homeless. This, along with the EU style surveillance cameras, gives Reed’s naming of the downtown square a good ring.
  • Again the square: if you are a music group, you’re encouraged to play on the square amplified and all; if you are a sidewalk preacher spreading the Good News, you and your miniature amplifier are not welcome and you will be arrested.
  • In the early 2000’s, Missouri State University’s Social Science Department was the root of a lawsuit. In Brooker vs. Franks, Emily Brooker explained that her religious views were not only the cause of ridicule by a single professor, but the cause of her being ganged up on by numerous staff in official hearings and interrogations. It makes us need to pause and reflect on the fact that this type of suppression is not limited to Rutgers and the like.

These instances should bring us up to date in the reasoning that while we may have Republican based elected officials, we need not fool ourselves into thinking we are a conservative community. After all, it may be the university and elected officials that commit these acts, but do we not have culpability in the fact that this is our community and we are responsible for who we allow to lead us?

Onward with the most recent example of leadership acting like we live in China when it comes to what we can and can’t talk about. City Councilman Jeff Seifried has made an earnest effort for some time to put more police officers on the street in our community. While I disagree with much the guy does, I do agree with him on this issue and the fact that community safety must be the priority at all times. The fact of the matter is that if we don’t feel safe… if we don’t feel protected by those men and women who put their life on the line every time they clock in, we have no reason to worry about anything else… at least that is what Maslow told me in Psych 101.

Apparently Mayor Bob Stephens became weary and tired of hearing Jeff’s rants on that silly safety issue. So, in true Obama Fashion of telling his opposition to “sit down and shut up”, he literally created a resolution that would have oppressed the council’s speech and disallowed any further discussion of public safety issues such as Jeff’s until somebody else somewhere else figured some other stuff out about something or another. A bit tongue and cheek with the “else” rant, but the point is that it is beyond comprehension that we have a mayor that would actually try and pass something that takes away anybody’s right, especially our leadership’s right, to discuss public policy and community safety.

While we luckily had council members stand against the resolution and have it tabled (not voted on and not put in to practice), we need to keep this instance in our memory bank every time the conservative hears he is in a conservative community and feels like he can put his guard down.

It’s when that guard is down that our community comes one step further to being “Shanghai’d”.