The promoters of the Texas Redneck Games, held over the weekend in Henderson County, Texas, leave in their wake that which is most disturbing to local officials: Controversy. The controversy consists, basically, of people objecting to other people having impolite fun.
The games themselves sound a lot like the infield of the Kentucky Derby: Lots of drinking, lots of boob flashing, and lots of things flying through the air that normally don't fly through the air. Held relatively discreetly on a ranch 80 miles outside Dallas (as opposed to Derby, which is held on worldwide television) the Redneck Games included such sporting events as ugly butt crack and wet t-shirt contests. (When are wet t-shirt contests going to become part of the Olympics?) Estimates range as high as 6,000 people attending.
Yeah, well, 6,000 people aren't allowed to have naughty fun without self-important prigs stepping in to make sure it doesn't happen again. The busybodies have complained about traffic, noise, and everything else they can think of, and they've wrapped their disapproval in frowning concern for the safety of the participants, all of whom are grown-ups capable of making their own decisions.
One of the more popular events is the mattress toss,in which two self-declared rednecks throw a mattress out of the back of a pickup truck in emulation of the disposal technique popular in many rural areas of the country. The local sheriff's department puts the whole thing in one terrible little nut:
"I’m an old fuddy duddy and all that, but you got a vehicle, you got alcohol, and you got illegal dumping, and you’re making a contest out of that?" said Lt. Pat McWilliams, sheriff’s spokesman. "We are very fortunate that we didn’t have a fatality."
Yes, we certainly are. Lots of people die throwing mattresses out of slow moving pickup trucks. I think it's the leading cause of death in Hazard County, Kentucky, just for example. (Second leading cause of death in Hazard County: sleeping on train tracks.)
But what really rankles the prigs is the sexuality that underlies the event. These people are getting drunk and they're thinking things and even doing things that no self-respecting community can allow. Local pastor Eric Graham, who did not attend the event but is nonetheless a leading critic of it, understands what's important.
“I can keep my kids at arms length and know they are not going to drink any alcohol. But my main issue is nudity, because all they have to do is see it and it is burned in the negative of their brain,” Graham said.
The horror! Images of naked people "burned into the negative of their brain"!
As a kid, I should have been so lucky.
Anyway, in what's pretty clearly an attempt to put the Redneck Games out of business, local bureaucrats are going after the promoters for not having the right permits. It seems the event has grown too big and too popular for the level of permitting that previously sufficed, and if you can't shut 'em down because they're vulgar, maybe you can do it because the toilet-to-attendee ratio is out of whack.
So, next year, the likelihood that the Texas Redneck Games will get safely through the Henderson County permitting process is low. Maybe they can find a new home somewhere else, but maybe not. Either way, the good citizens of Henderson County -- people like Pastor Graham -- can remain safely beyond the reach of the sounds and eye-searing images of people enjoying themselves.