A City Cancels Part of Its Own Culture: Bravo, Placerville!
A noose won’t be hanging around in ol’ Hangtown
By Ed Goldman
A ruling on whether this could extend to the municipality’s nickname of Hangtown is no longer dangling, however. Just yesterday, the council allowed the designation to remain. This won’t make it into the next edition of “Profiles in Courage.”
Like pretending Robert E. Lee didn’t exist, for example. Look, you know as well as I do that the Civil War was fought mostly to uphold the “right” to enslave Blacks. By extension, while nooses have been used to lynch people of “all races and religions/that’s America to me”—these are lyrics from a wonderfully optimistic song of 1943, “The House I Live In” by Lewis Allan and Earl Robinson—you can understand why nooses aren’t welcome reminders of the people we once were. Especially because there are still plenty of those people’s descendants deciding daily that God meant us all to have complexions requiring sun lotion with an SPF of 380.
As someone who loves western movies and literature, I have to admit that jokes about hangings still never worked for me. As soon as I heard a variant of “String up the varmint!”, I’d get a queasy feeling.
I’m sure it caused flashbacks to the tonsillectomy I endured when I was about three-and-a-half years old. Back then, anesthesiologists knocked you out, regardless of age, by smothering you with an ether-soaked face covering. Yes, I still remember that sensation, 66.5 years later: the fish-eye view of a masked adult looming over then zooming down to my face.
If you’re thinking my feelings about this are liberal-schmiberal claptrap, you’re partly correct—though I’m one of the few in that stereotypical cohort who favor the death penalty. To people who say it’s not an effective deterrent, I’d suggest only that it permanently deters the executed murderer from murdering again. And that’s a start.
Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).