Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Eastpointer

A Carrabelle Cowboy and Evolution

By Richard E. Noble
The Franklin Chronicle had posted a detailed report on the latest F-CAT test. Mr. Hoffer, a retired college professor, was always outraged by the low and failing scores in Franklin County. He often stopped into Hobo’s to tell me all about it. I decided to ask one of the teachers who came into my shop why the kids in Franklin County never seemed to be able to get a passing grade on these tests.
“Well,” said this teacher, “let’s be honest and fair about this. We really don’t have much to work with here in Franklin County. You’ve lived here for awhile. Do you think we have a lot of geniuses running around this area? Most of these kids have no intention of ever going to college. When the boys get out of high school they can jump onto their daddy’s boat and make a living. What do they need an education for? If it wasn’t the law most of them wouldn’t attend school in the first place. I think we do darn well under the circumstances.”
I thought about that for a moment and then replied, “Well, my neighborhood up in the intellectual capital of America in Massachusetts was not really filled with budding geniuses either. My hometown was voted recently the stolen car capital of America and it wasn’t a heck of a lot better when I was growing up. In my eighth grade class we had three or four kids who were old enough to drive to school. If it was the law, me and most of my friends would have been picking up scraps of wool down at the mill just like our daddy’s had done. But accepting that the nuns and the brothers did not have much to work with either in our under-privileged neighborhood, we still learned to read and write. I could even add and subtract and do a little algebra by the time I graduated. We had comparative tests every year and none of our schools failed to meet the national average.”
At this point a man with a cowboy hat, a string tie, and an oversized rodeo belt buckle spoke up. “Do you realize that right here in Franklin Country they are teaching our children outright lies and falsehoods and that you are paying for it with your taxes?”
My teacher friend tuned and confronted the man. “What kind of lies and falsehoods are we teaching, sir?”
“Well do you really believe that your great, great, great grandfather was a monkey?”
“Oh no, I’m not going to get into that one!” the school teacher exclaimed. He picked up his dessert and walked away.
“What about you Mr. Hobo? Do you think that your great, great, great grandfather was a monkey?”
“No, I don’t. But it doesn’t really upset me that some people think that way. But if the situation was reversed I think that I could get more upset.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, if I was a monkey and someone tried to tell me that my great, great, great grandfather was a human, I suppose that would ruffle my fur somewhat. I mean, you know, no monkey ever dropped an atomic bomb on another village of monkeys. It wasn’t a monkey who invented the Gatling gun or napalm. Monkeys don’t stock pile nuclear weapons or commit genocide on perceived lesser breeds of monkeys. I have yet to read about a monkey Bataan Death March. Monkeys don’t torture other monkeys. Now I have read that monkeys do not have much of a sexual morality but either does the Senate or the House of Representatives in D.C. from what I read and hear. Actually the general human public isn’t doing all that well on that account either. AIDS, syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases are ruining rampant. More little things, like divorce, child abandonment, abuse and sexual molestation also seem to be at no shortage.”
“Are you trying to tell me that you would rather be a monkey that a human being?”
“No. Are you offering me the choice?”
“I can’t offer you such a choice.”
“I didn’t think so. But now that you suggest it, I read about a scientific test a while back. They put two monkeys next to one another in separate cages. One of the monkeys was taught that he could get food by pressing a button. But whenever he pressed the button the monkey in the other cage got an electric shock. When the button-pressing monkey noticed that the other monkey was getting shocked each time he pressed the button, he stopped eating. It seems that a monkey would rather starve to death than torture another monkey. Similar test done with humans proved quite the contrary.”
“You think monkeys are better than people then?”
“I don’t know if I would say that monkeys are better than people but they certainly have less to be ashamed of than people do. And I would say that a monkey being accused of having human ancestry has a much greater right to take offense at the accusation.”

Richard Noble is a freelance writer who has lived in Franklin County for thirty years. If you would like to stock any of his books in your store or business contact Richard at