End of a Daredevil Nation
Will Beall, LA city cop and author of the best-selling crime novel, "L.A. Rex," recently penned a paean to the late daredevil, Evil Knievel, in a recent issue of the LA Times. It pretty much sums up how I feel about the sorry Pussyfication of America. Below is an excerpt, published entirely without permission.
"Growing up in the '70s, I had an Evel Knievel lunchbox, an Evel Knievel action figure with a working stunt cycle, Evel Knievel comic books featuring "Evel Knievel and the Perilous Traps of Mr. Danger" and "Evel Knievel versus Ghost Rider." I was even Evel Knievel myself for Halloween one year. Larger than life doesn't begin to cover it. The guy was a walking, talking, honest-to-God superhero.
"Working-class heroes were still real in the proletarian neighborhood where I grew up in the 1970s, and no one could beat Evel Knievel, a former small-time criminal from a broken home in Butte, Mont...
"My friends and I used to build these crazy bike ramps -- not half-pipes, mind you, but ramps angled to launch you and your Huffy Dill Pickle out into space. More than his spectacular successes, it was always the bone-shattering crashes Evel walked away from that inspired me. Even his Icarian Snake River jump taught me something about the nobility of failure. The outcome is irrelevant. Get back on that hoss and you've already won.
"We got stitches and wore our casts with pride. This was before helmet laws, before seat belts became the measure of parental love, before they cut down our jungle gyms and replaced them with pathetic, padded playgrounds. My mother and the nuns at St. Mary's were always telling me that I was going to crack my head open, but Evel seemed to be saying: "Hey, kid, it's your head..."
"It's fitting that 1977 was also the year the Supreme Court implicitly endorsed the lawsuit as a profit-making enterprise, when the high court declared lawyers' rights to advertise the prices of their legal services to be protected speech. This decision is seen by many as a watershed moment, ushering in today's lawsuit culture. Once ethically forbidden to foment lawsuits, entrepreneurial personal injury lawyers were now free to seek and goad their clients. Litigiousness was no longer a vice in America, and the era of the daredevil was at an end.
"Now, the city of Los Angeles pays round-the-clock security guards just to keep neighborhood kids from cooling off in the Mulholland fountain, lest one of them slip. Diving boards are being dismantled all over the country. Swing sets will probably be the next to go.
"We were once a nation of daredevils, certainly a region of them. The West was the realm of Kit Carson, Buzz Aldrin and Larry Walters.
"We've since devolved into a nation of neuters and babies. Our own safety has become our obsession. We cower in gated communities and fret about the West Nile virus. Infantilized, we have little use for the freedoms we once cherished, and we're happy to trade them for personal safety.
"Rather than risk another terrorist attack, for instance, we would render this country unrecognizable, a fascist shadow of its former self... "