William Murchison Is Scared of the World

After reading Murchison’s op-ed piece this morning, I had one question: when did he start writing for the Onion? Because that’s how his article sounded to me, like a satirical send-up of something that an out-of-touch, scared old fuddy-duddy would write. Now, I don’t wish to diminish the crime that he writes about. A woman was attacked for sport on the Katy Trail. The woman is a neighbor of Murchison’s. And I’m not saying this scenario doesn’t present some good grist for an op-ed piece. But Murchison’s conclusion is absurd. A little taste:

There’s a cultural breakdown going on, my friends, and I advise we start trying to put things right again as quickly as possible. … The circle of sunlight in which we live grows smaller. The darkness of the nearby forest closes in.

You’ve really got to read the thing in its entirety. He goes on to wonder whether there are any families left to impart values to children. And:

Any churches around? Any priests, pastors, youth leaders to set a moral example? Possibly not. Modern folk don’t react well to imputations that God — the old guy in the sky — has much to do with how the iPod generation lives.

I mean, this is satire, right? He’s pretending to be this scared old man, right?

Listen, what happened to this woman is horrible, depressing. But we’ve been doing horrible, depressing things to each other since we showed up on the scene, about 6 million years ago. Murchison yearns for a time when people were more civil, which he puts at about 40 years ago. Here’s a story from the DMN that ran February 5, 1967, under the headline “Policeman Shoots Negro After Attack”:

Police routed a Negro in the act of raping an 82-year-old white woman in the 1400 block of South Fitzhugh at 10 p.m. Saturday and shot the suspect, armed with a hunting knife, as he fled from her house.

The 34-year-old suspect was sped to Parkland Hospital with three pistol shots through his hips after he was felled during the foot race with Patrolman W.T. Mikel, and his dog Rex.

Horrible, depressing stuff, a man attacking an old woman like that. But a sign of cultural collapse? Reading that article from 40 years ago, I can think of at least one way our culture has improved since then.


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15 responses to “William Murchison Is Scared of the World”

  1. dave little says:

    Murchison+Cortland=Grackles-Brett Favre’s bad elbow. I say we just call it a push and redeal.

    But let’s get serious for a moment. What kind of dog was Rex?

    And if I can get seriouser, does Murchy need lasik? Can he not see the churches? There are mucho.

    On a lighter note, how ’bout those cowboys?

  2. G.K. Chesterton, a writer whom I suspect Murchison admires, said something about 90 years ago that still rings true. When considering if the world is getting better or getting worse, he wrote, “… it is not merely getting better or merely getting worse; there is one thing that the world does; it wobbles. Left to itself, it does not get anywhere; …”

  3. Rawlins says:

    I sadly agree with your assessment of this piece. Despite my absolute anger at what this woman suffered at the hands of these lowlife scum, I was embarrassed reading Murchison’s piece because, as you suggest, he epitomized out of touch disconnect in the most uncomfortable manner imaginable and his writing ‘style’ struck me as deplorable.

    FYI: I experienced a far more violent attack than this decades ago in that very part of town at the hands of teens who did it because ‘they could’. The era he claims to have been the ‘good old days’ 40 years ago. I have written a letter to the editors making that and other points.

  4. Jack E. Jett's dumber brother says:

    Hey Murchison,
    Youth, Crime, and Politics never change: you do!

    Hang it up, oldtimer.

    Your relevance has come and gone.

    Or you can go cross the picket line and write for Colbert.

  5. Richard says:

    Topham, thanks for the Chesterton reference. And once again Chesterton is right.

  6. Bill says:

    I cannot agree with the thought that crime happens, continues to happen and will happen in the future.

    Drumming up 40 year old stories serves no purpose. The same can be said of comparing the Little Mexico/Coon Town of the 1960’s with the contemporary Uptown it replaced. That entire area was a red light district of whorehouses, seedy bars and organized street crime. The current Uptown of fresh faced Dallasites living in expensive condos and driving German sportscars is far removed from what used to be there. Trying to draw a parallel between the two is an exercise in stupidity.

    Are so many of you that jaded? Does an attack on a woman in broad daylight not even get your hackles raised?

    I’m furious that criminals can wage a war on normal people trying to live their normal lives. Even just using the little fishbowl of the Katy Trail as an example, violent crime has increased quite a bit in the last year or two. In the first 4-5 years after it was built I never heard or read of any crime there. Now there is a savage beating, stabbing or robbery there every couple months. I think that Mr. Murchison was spot on that society in general is on a downward slide.

    Even just yesterday, Saturday afternoon, on the way down to White Rock Lake with my wife and dog, we witnessed a man attack a DPD officer on Fisher Road, a block from the lake. During the street fight she was shoved off down a steep creek embankment into a culvert near the Mockingbird Bridge and was injured.

    After seeing something like that, you wonder what is wrong with people, how you could be next, how maybe Dallas really is not the safe place people make believe it to be.

    Maybe some of you armchair internet commandos need to have your own reality check and have your own intimate encounter with some thug before you understand how bad things really are.

  7. Bob Stoller says:

    Have some pity on Murchison–“retired” from his old media job, all he has left are his memories and his white robe and pointed hat, which he almost never gets to wear anymore. If Strom Thurmond had been elected President in ’48, none of this would have happened.

  8. Rawlins says:

    Bill, in respect to your thoughtful post, I cannot speak for the others, but no, I am not that ‘jaded’ regarding this latest horror of random violence, although I certainly should be considering the amount of violence I have seen and experienced first hand. Am I then an ‘abnormal’ person leading an ‘abnormal’ life that my experience is by default, according to Murchison’s repeated mantra that you echo here, judged an anomaly?

    Far from not being outraged at the incident Murchison wrote about, I am outraged that HE is just NOW outraged and realizing what is going on, because only now is it close to home and thus real to him. In a ‘good’ vs. a ‘bad’ neighborhood where one gets ‘what they pay for’ and are thus ‘asking for it’? Because this attack is on a lovely white professional woman rather than a brown brick layer or a black fry cook?

    How fortunate Murchison is to just now be appalled. Far more fortunate, for starters, than the gay men who in that Oak Lawn/Uptown area have been routinely attacked and beaten…even killed… for years and years because someone wanted to and simply ‘could’. And, I might add, get away with it for decades because they had no advocates, no publicity, no sense that they too were ‘normal’ people doing ‘normal’ things in their ‘normal’ lives.

    I had one friend attacked behind the Stoneleigh (near this very incident 20 years later) where he lived in the 80s, who was never the same. Loss of hearing, long rehab, slurred speech, compromised corporate career; scars both real and imagined. His attack never made the paper. If it had, I am sure Murchison would have written his disillusioned outrage about it, yes?

    So as for me, both on a personal level and a professional one as an also Op-Ed ViewPoints contributor to the DMN, I was asking William Murchison, among other things; where the hell have you been?

  9. Jack Jett says:

    My brother doesn’t give himself the credit he deserves. I wish her weren’t so self depreciating because he is right on as hell with this issue.

    Jack Jett

  10. dave little says:

    Bill is right. I need to get stabbed. That will learn me. I hope to one day be an internet commando. Right now I am simply a green belt.

  11. Buck says:

    Did anybody else take Murchison’s “darkness of the nearby forest” line as a race reference?

  12. Harvey Lacey says:

    Here it is Sunday evening and over cracking and shelling this years pecans I told my wife I needed to write Tim an attaboy for his post on the end of the world here in Dallas.

    Tim’s right of course. Our world, Dallas, Texas USA, wasn’t a better place forty years ago than it is today. Well, if you were a white male I guess in a perverted kind of way you could look at it and feel, er, ah, well, better. After all, you didn’t have to compete with minorities or women for the good jobs.

    The one thing I’ve noticed about the good old days is it’s rare you hear about them from those who were adults during that period. No. It’s usually the kids and the good old days is more of a statement against forced adulthood than it is better times.

    Crime will always be with us. Heck, forty years ago this minute I was in the military serving in a combat zone in a War that’s since been shown to have been for all the wrong reasons. That’s criminal, for fifty eight thousand of our finest back then, criminally fatal.

  13. Ground the Jett says:

    Hey Jackie Jett,

    No need to sign your name at the end of posts since there is a field that requires a name when you post. BTW, it’s a visible field. Thanks

  14. Jack Jett says:

    Dear Ground;

    I don’t sign at the end of my post. That is the sole duty of one Marty Cortland.

    I will forward your comment to him, once he clears it with the CIA, the FBI and “the old guy in the sky”, your request is certain to be taken care of.

    In the interim…

    Jack E. Jett
    Scientologist, providing beards for homosexual men since 1974

  15. Daniel says:

    Crime is always more tragic when it happens to a rich white person. Cuz, you know, they’re like, all innocent. They discuss what colleges their progeny shall attend. Compare that to being black and therefore high. You can’t.

    Nobody feels this more keenly than William Murchison.