4 minute read

On May 6, a woman tried to enter a McDonald’s at SW 89th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, fully intending to eat her fast food while enjoying the plastic ambiance of a modern, assembly-line burger establishment.

Opinion
George Lang is the opinion writer for Free Press. (Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press)

But when 32-year-old Gloricia Woody was told by the manager that she could not eat in the dining area due to coronavirus safety measures, she left McD’s, retrieved a pistol from her car and started shooting people.

Keep in mind that Woody could have bought anything she wanted from the golden arches by using the drive-thru window; she was not being refused service.

But she, like so many other adult-shaped children with guns in Oklahoma, did not want to follow the rules. So, she shot minimum-wage service workers over being unable to savor a paper-wrapped meal while gazing upon the PlayPlace equipment.

It was not even the workers’ call to make.

Opinion

From George Lang, our lead opinion columnist

COVID-19 and the rules that sprang up to keep people from sucking a virus into their lungs tell us a lot about what kind of people live in our vicinity, and it points to a phenomenon more insidious than the virus itself. We live in a state filled with people who do not want to be told what they can and cannot do, and their reward is the right to own and carry as many guns as they can fit on their bodies.

From the jump, Oklahoma showed what it was made of once the state allowed restaurants to open. On May 1, thugs with guns threatened Stillwater eatery workers when they tried to enforce the city’s temporary ordinance requiring patrons and employees to wear masks.

It only took three hours for Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce to capitulate to violent Second Amendment absolutists.

“I am not the kind of person who backs down from bullies,” Joyce wrote on Twitter, shortly after backing down from bullies. “But I also will not send someone else to fight the battle for me. I issued a revised order this afternoon to correct this problem, and we will continue to reevaluate our approach to face coverings.”

Joyce continued, using the kind of forceful rhetoric that might have controlled a preschool class as long as the worst-behaved child was not brandishing a Glock.

“To the people who resort to threats and intimidation when asked to take a simple step to protect your community: shame on you,” he wrote. “Our freedom as Americans comes with responsibilities, too.”

Yes, it does. Among those responsibilities is the enforcement of laws by a standing police force.

Joyce did not “correct the problem.” Stillwater citizens under his jurisdiction got threatened by a pack of Fox News cowboys, and his response was to bend over backward so criminals can go about their criminal business. No one living in Stillwater except people who wear bullet belts as fashion statements should feel as though Joyce has their backs.

I guarantee that Joyce did not earn the respect of those people who got up in service workers’ grills over their God-given right to be virus-inhaling future corpses. By caving to people so narcissistic that they would threaten minimum-wage employees over their right to be safe in their workplaces, Joyce threw open the doors for criminality in his city limits.

Stillwater has around 15 banks in town. If these same people walked into all of those banks and threatened tellers, I sincerely hope Joyce’s police force would not stand down to “correct the problem.”

This is a systemic failure at every level of government.

Mayors who are afraid of crossing maniacs with no regard for the lives of their family, their friends or the people serving them food deserve the “Mad Max visits Deadwood” hellscape they are complicit in creating.

Governors who pliantly suck up to businesses that treat their employees’ health as a discretionary concern should write large personal checks when those employees wind up spending weeks on ventilators because their bosses had cover from the Governor’s Mansion, whether they work for an energy company in Oklahoma City or a meat-processing plant in the panhandle.

If this state is bowing to laissez-faire governance at a time when the Trump Administration is willing to accept 3,000 deaths per day this summer, then I and countless others who value our safety and the safety of others over the culinary joys of grabbing a Big Mac and eating it on the premises are not coming back when this is all over.

I’ll stay home and learn more recipes rather than support those who chose commerce over care.

Even if, in 2024 I can get an over-the-counter medicine to ward off COVID-19, it will not matter if a liquigel of “Covidol” will protect me. I will always remember the leaders who let us down when we needed them.


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