The City of Chicago has become the laughingstock of the country and is beginning to look like the lawless towns of the old west in the latter part of the 19th century. In January 2013 there were 43 murders committed in the city, which is dramatically more than during gangster Al Capone’s heyday in 1929, when there were 26 murders in January of that year (the murder rate much higher still, due to the lower population in Chicago today compared to 1929, the cause of which can be explored at a later time). There are many theories and excuses to explain this phenomenon, but I think the 1974 Mel Brooks movie, Blazing Saddles, explains it best.
In the movie, the evil politician, Hedley Lamarr, has designs on the sleepy little town of Rock Ridge, which impedes a future railroad expansion. Lamarr stands to benefit greatly from the railroad, and in one scene he dreams up a plan on how to eliminate the obstacle. He figures that it would be easy to run all of the people of Rock Ridge out of town. He tells his sidekick, Taggart, “I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists.” With this assortment of criminals in his camp, what could possibly stand in the way of him taking over the town?
The next scene has the entire ensemble of bad guys standing in a line that leads to a table where every weapon known to man is being passed out. Guns, chains, nunchucks, hand grenades, hand cuffs, dynamite, you name it, they had it. As Hedley Lamarr is considering how to use this assortment of dangerous men to his best advantage, Taggart suggests, “We’ll use a number 6 on them.” Hedley, with a frown, responds, “Number 6? I’m not familiar with that one.” Taggart, with much glee answers, “Well, that’s where we go a-ridin’ into town, a-whompin’ and a-whumpin’ every livin’ thing that moves within an inch of its life.”
So, at this point you may be wondering about the parallels between Chicago and Rock Ridge. In addition to Chicago being home to many if not all on Hedley Lamarr’s wish list, many residing in city hall (nitwits and dim wits to be sure), here are a few others. Like Rock Ridge, Chicago has an inept and impotent Mayor and Sheriff (Police Commissioner). The Mayor, on one occasion, publicly pleaded with the gangs, “We’ve got two gangbangers, one standing next to a kid. Get away from that kid. Take your stuff away to the alley. Don’t touch the children of the City of Chicago. Don’t get near them.” In other words, “Please leave us alone. You can go about your business, just do it in the alley and don’t bother the children.” It seems the gangbangers aren’t listening.
Another similarity between the two; both towns have an unarmed populace. The people are unable to help themselves and beg the local officials to save them from the terrible murder and mayhem soon to come. The only people with guns, in either case, are the gangs (mugs, pugs, thugs, halfwits, dim wits, vipers, snipers…) and the police (Sheriff Bart and his deputy Jim). Oh, to be a gangbanger and never have to worry about a targeted victim who just happens to have a concealed weapon? Would things be different if that were the case?
Unlike Rock Ridge in a made up Hollywood script, the hapless citizens and law enforcement in Chicago don’t come up with a goofy plan to defeat the bad guys. In fact, the more they scheme, the worse it gets. In the lawless days of Al Capone, the killings were tempered somewhat by the average citizen’s ability to arm and protect themselves. The federal government didn’t come out with restricting gun legislation until the National Firearms Act was passed in June of 1934. Chicago’s blowhard politicians want to further restrict the citizen’s right to self-defense with more and more gun control; as if more laws will prevent the crooks from arming up.
What they don’t want to face up to is dealing with a culture that creates more and more fatherless homes that lead to more and more gangbangers on the street. Until they do, the gangs will run rampant on the streets of Chicago, “a-ridin’ into town, a-whompin’ and a-whumpin’ every livin’ thing that moves within an inch of its life.” Whereas Blazing Saddles was a laugh fest, living in Chicago isn’t all that funny.