The Old West Lives?
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 by Frank Shortt
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Where is this young manís family? Where are his parents?
He lies cold and stiff in a dirty gutter, his eyes punched out, his lips swollen, with no words ever to come forth again! His body shows three bullet holes! His gang deemed it necessary to do him in as they saw no usefulness for him to remain alive.
Is the Old West still alive?

A small girl walks unexpectedly into her fatherís workshop to bring him some lemonade. He had just finished loading his .357 Magnum. He has been afraid for his life in a rough Chicago neighborhood. The local hoodlums got wind that he had once been one of them and began harassing him to once again join their ranks to prey upon society. The little girl breathed her last as the father suddenly realized his horrible deed. Her blood will haunt him as he serves his time in some rotten, stinking prison even though he had reformed from his gang days. His other four children will have to live with their fatherís actions! Is the Old West still alive?

Old Cowboy movies from the 1930ís and 1940ís showed minimal violence compared to what is seen today in modern depictions of past history up to the present time. The old movies showed very little bloodletting and agony at death. Modern movies show graphic scenes of victims screaming as their guts and/or brains are scattered on the nearest wall. Believe me, I have seen first-hand the results of a large hunting rifle being placed in a manís mouth containing a hollow point bullet as he pulled the trigger himself. The mess was very difficult to clean up! Why do movies show such explicit events of violence? Has America, and the world, gotten immune to death? Is the Old West still alive?

When I was a child in the mountains of Appalachia modern technology was something in the future. The only glimpse we ever got of something modern was in old magazines of science, or if we were fortunate enough to attend a science fiction movie in the town ten miles away. If word got out that someone had been murdered, or even killed in an accident, we had a funeral pall come over our home that lasted for days. We would ask each other, ďWhat do you think happened? Do you think the killer will come through our neighborhood and try to kill us?Ē We agonized for the victimís family. If a convict escaped in a remote place, we just knew he would be making his way to our environs and take us hostage! Times have surely changed as news is on televisions, the internet, even our phones! This brings the Old West alive again!
Fiction writers have glamorized killing to such a point that they have invented countless and sordid ways to rid the earth of the heroís enemies. On the other hand, the villains of novels, sometimes shown as the good guy, would as soon shoot another person as to eat his lunch. Children, when they hear of such violence, go on playing as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Violence immunity! My wife and I worked at a school district on the East of San Jose for many years. When scraps were witnessed on the playground, instead of the old way of simply Ďduking it outí we saw children kicking each other in the shins, and if the opponent happened to fall on the ground, the other child would kick him in the head, stomach, or wherever he found a target. Were they seeing this type behavior at home, or did they learn it from the violence on television?

I just read of a man killing four others in Texas at a one-year-old childís birthday party. A fight broke out between two families resulting in the four breathing their last with another man landing in the hospital in critical condition!

I heard about a well-known American evangelist predicting a few years ago that if America continued in the path of violence at the rate it was going then, we would all have to be carrying guns to protest our interests. Are those days here? Is the Old West still alive?