Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Coffee Shops and Guns in Indiana

I love the Midwest. I always have very strange experiences here. Yesterday on the way from the airport, for example, we drove next to a place called "Pistol Range" that announced "Public Shooting Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m." I'm trying not to attach any Kafkaesque interpretations to this.

Right now, five armed men entered the Starbucks where I'm writing this blog. I assume they are police officers (based on how relaxed everybody's reaction to them is) although there is nothing in or on their clothes and baseball hats that would actually identify them as such. Two of the men keep futzing with their guns, touching them in an almost caressing way. None of the other patrons in this coffee shop seem to mind or even notice. I, however, can't bring myself to relax. I don't remember ever being in a room with one gun, let alone five.

At the same time, as unsettling as this experience might be, it is not nearly as scary as my memory of being accosted by a group of street preachers here in West Lafayette last summer. I was having coffee at a streetwalk coffee shop, when this guy came up to me and staring at me in a very intent way asked: "Are you ready to die??" It took me some time to realize that he was a street preacher offering salvation and not a crazed killer.


NancyP said...

Indiana has had a history of Klan involvement, particularly in the 1920s, when the state Klan membership was the largest of any state in the country. There's also a history of "sundown towns" and counties in Indiana (see James Loewen's book and blog for details).

I am a bit shocked to hear that a Yale president is trying to "effectively destroy" humanities there. I tend to be a bit surprised that small schools give up on foreign languages departments - they can't afford to offer every possible language, but they should be able to afford faculty for a few languages. It should be self-evident, even to economists, that language and cultural fluency is an asset in business.

Clarissa said...

Thank you for the reference on the history of the Klan in Indiana! I had no idea.

As for the language depts at Yale, nobody could say that our department (Spanish and Portuguese) is not profitable. So many people today want to learn Spanish. Nevertheless, our departmental budget was so tiny it's unbelievable.