Friday Firing Lines for week of Feb 24: Jay walking and Austin Police Department

Please let Amanda Jo Stephen know that the “real men” of the state of Texas have been acting on her behalf for much of the day, and this effort will continue until what was wrong is made right. We do not allow our citizens in Texas to be treated in this manner, and especially our women. I’m 54 years old, and I’m old school, and believe in the code of the West. Part of that code is that men respect women, and treat them right, or suffer consequences. The police chief of Austin has made comments likened to that of a Gestapo leader, and the officers behaved like we are in a communist police state. And that pitiful attempt at an apology, and the excuses, will not suffice. APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED! They have embarrassed my homeland, Texas, the state I was born in, and they have humiliated her on a world level. They’ve done a woman wrong, and it won’t stand. If all involved will look Amanda in the eye and apologize from the heart, on camera, I’ll try to call off what is being organized. No written apologies read to a camera will do. The chief and his officers will humble themselves, or face the wrath of the men of the great state of Texas. And this is MY BUSINESS because you’ve brought this shame on Texas, and I CANNOT let the world think that the men of Texas don’t have the courage and backbone to set this right. Please tell her that. The chief says the public has overreacted. He has no clue as to what that looks like. The wrath of the men of Texas is starting to build, and it’s coming his way. And we are the type of men who aren’t afraid. Every senator, representative and the governor will be in on this before it’s over. And if we have to actually come to Austin, the chief won’t have enough resources to put down the protest, and there won’t be enough jail cells, or prosecutors and courts to handle what will happen if the chief tries to stop it. Yes, Amanda, the real men are coming.

—Don Hanson, submitted via email 


Where is the common sense in the Austin, Texas, police department? Do they really think that “protect and serve” means aggressively manhandle and cuff a jaywalker or a jogger with earphones who doesn’t readily identify herself? What have they got for brains? How can we give weapons to people with such poor judgement? Imagine how easily that woman could have been seriously injured because of overzealous, unintelligent and foolish overreaction by untrained or misguided policemen? This is really scary, and the people of Austin, Texas, should not tolerate such abuse and misuse of power.

—Maureen Healy, submitted via email


The University has announced that next year it will cut the Texas Memorial Museum budget by $600,000, essentially putting it out of business. At the same time, with little publicity, the University has taken over the financially troubled Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The wildflower center started as a modest farm in East Austin designed to honor Lady Bird by providing free seeds for highway beautification, one of Lady Bird’s favorite projects. Then the center changed focus, moved to Circle C and got in trouble. Now it is an architecturally interesting suburban garden center and arboretum with a $9 entry fee, worth a visit, but it primarily serves an audience of middle-class, middle-aged people like me. The Texas Memorial Museum serves school kids who pile out of buses and seem truly impressed to meet their first dinosaur. Over the years I’ve met a number of UT students from poor backgrounds whose introduction to UT was the museum; without it they might not be here. It says something for the priorities of the administration — and those who pressure it — that the museum serving average kids is being defunded while the middle class memorial garden is being supported. So, before it goes, you should take a look at the museum. Say goodbye to the 40-foot West Texas reptile flying over the gems in the great hall. Then go down a floor and check out the slightly tatty display of Texas wildlife, especially the hungry-looking snakes. Finally in the basement say goodbye to the 30-foot–long Onion Creek monster and the huge fossil armadillo. They quietly sit there reminding us that evolution happened, that 10 million years isn’t really that long and that a C on the midterm isn’t the end of the world.

—David Miller, submitted via email