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Monday, July 15, 2024

Frustrated voter: ‘I’ll bust your nose’


Meet Elmer Underwood.

He’s a farmer in Indian Valley, a rural mountain community in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia.

Speaking at a public hearing on proposed wind turbines in Floyd County, Virginia, Underwood let the board of supervisors know just how he felt about the government coming onto his land to impose its will.

It’s not the first time Underwood has told off county officials.  At a hearing on a proposed tax increase two years ago Underwood told supervisors that “I have truck outside with five rails, tar and feathers and I think I know how to put them to good use.”

When it comes to citizen frustration, is Underwood the exception or the rule?

You decide.

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27 thoughts on “Frustrated voter: ‘I’ll bust your nose’”

  1. Goodness, Jon, whether it is in a small town, large city, a state or nation-wide, the law is routinely “selectively enforced”. There is no country in the world where this is not true. Indeed, it is apparently organic to most any heirarchal group. One need only look at the various forums on the Internet to see the same routine selective enforcement of the ‘law’ (rules) based on who one is or what socio-political positions they express. That is just the way it is. Your desire to leave it up to the law does not alter its routine selectivity (indeed, it is the enforcers of the law that are the source of such selectivity}. Even the makers of the law often write it in such a manner as to make it inherently selective.

  2. This is probably completely unnecessary, but here I go again:

    I’m pretty sure that if I showed up, by myself, on Elmer’s land and made a lot of annoying noises about his wind turbine, I’d probably get punched in the nose. And it would probably lay me out flat – He looks like a guy that could swing for the cheap seats without even trying too hard.

    However, if I showed up not by myself, but with twenty of my “good friends” from Chicago in expensive tailored suits that emphasize the fact that they are wider than they are tall, yet not with an ounce of fat between them…

    And let’s say that fifteen of these nice chaps and I confront our good friend Elmer, and that while we are ‘talking’ to him the remaining five go and wreck his turbine. The other fifteen and I just smile and explain why it’s not a good idea and suggest that maybe next time it’s not just his turbine that will end up in pieces.

    See now why this sort of ‘I’m gonna punch you in the nose!’ attitude would be amusing… ?

    Except it’s not funny. People still believe in it. The only solution is the law, which has bigger guns and more people than anyone, and you’ve already pointed out that sometimes it just ‘looks the other way’.

    I’ll raise the point of ‘selective enforcement’ again, and I’ve raised it before. If there is any threat to a free country, and free countrymen, above all others, it is ‘selective enforcement of the law’.

    I like to laugh. But at this I cannot.


    PS – The pictures of what I looked like after washing it off would be quite convincing to a jury during the ‘damages’ phase of a civil trial. There’s also the idea of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ being a crime in and of itself, and I’m quite sure the Constitutio.. I’ll stop now. J.

  3. Dang, Doug, I’d hate to see what would have happened to him if he had also insulted your dawg. 🙂

    • I wouldn’t have to do anything but turn the dog loose with a one-word order: “Maim.” Works every time. 😉

  4. Doug, please note that I have been consistent in specifying “physical” resistance. It is not “paranoia” to understand the consequences of physical resistance by Elmer to government intrusion onto his property or the extent of the authority held by government to use force in place of persuasion. Personally, though I understand his sentiments, I would suggest Elmer not get physical. Course, that’s just me. 🙂

    • I’m not about to tell Elmer to do anything.

      Some years ago, I grabbed a city councilman by the throat and slammed him against a wall after he publicly insulted my wife. I told him that if he ever said anything like that again, the only sound he would be capable of making would be through a tracheal tube. He shut up and the police chief, who was standing nearby, looked the other way.

      Of course I was younger then, still drinking and hadn’t learned to control my temper. 🙂

      • Unfortunately, that does say something about the local police department, although I must admit I’d rather say so to you than to the cop.

        Would you like the cop to look away if the maimed came back the next day with a dog larger and stronger and meaner than yours?


  5. Goodness, Doug, it is neither paranoia nor extreme. It is simply a blunt way of describing the authority government authorities have when faced with physical resistance.

    As to rural life, I do know my way around an outhouse, am quite comfortable among ‘hollar’ folk, understand the thought processes and emotions of rural folk and family-farm owners and the attachment and love that they have for their land and/or homestead (often held by the same family for multiple generations).

    I also know that while folks like Elmer carry a good deal of weight within their small local pool, that local power dissipates rapidly once an issue goes beyond the town or county line. As for him being “applauded for a stance against government and regulation” it depends on exactly what stance is being taken, wouldn’t you agree? In this case, local intrusion onto private land by government would indeed get him local support but, opposition to the Floyd County Virginia Cooperative Extension — probably not so much.

    And would dressing my garden with 400 pounds of composted cow manure this past Saturday count? Not as squishy as walking bare-foot from through the pasture at dusk after catching a mess of bluegill from the pond, but still stinky. 🙂

    • I can’t subscribe to or share your paranoia. I’ve resisted local, state and federal governments in many ways over the years, am still standing and haven’t spent a minute in jail (except for 72 hours as part of a newspaper assignment).

      Instead of fearing governments, I treat them with equal contempt and skepticism. Those who cower in fear of government are doomed to lose. Those who let paranoia rule their lives are destined to fail.

      For me, failure is never an option.

  6. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in a small town in Appalachia, then.

    I like living in a civilization. I like justice being meted out in a court of law, not dispensed by self-appointed vigilantes from the back of a truck.

    I like people who believe in the rule of law, not of force. The very title of this article is a great example: “I’ll bust your nose”. This is not someone who believes in civilization, this is someone who believes in rule by violence.

    I had thought humanity should have outgrown deciding things by beating people up at around the time of Hammurabi, but evolutionarily speaking, that wasn’t very long ago. Obviously.

    I like having things like roads and electricity and a telephone, all of which involve trespassing upon or downright seizing scraps of land. Someone owned that road’s land. Now it’s available to everyone.

    I like people who like being part of a community, and are willing to sacrifice some of themselves, give up some of that independence, sacrifice something of their own for the good of everyone else, and do so willingly and happily.


    PS – With the right solvents, they do. 🙂 The reputation might not. J.

    • Thanks for proving a point Jon. I posted the video for fun but it was amazing how few could have any fun. Some — you especially — got so wrapped up in the seriousness of the whole thing.

      Even when we continued to poke fun at your overtly serious nature you just kept digging yourself in deeper.

      P.S. In a real tar and feathers party, the tar is boiling hot and sears itself to the flesh. Ain’t any solvent in the world that can wash that off without taking huge chunks of skin and meat with it.

      Learn to laugh. You’ll live longer. But I’d stay out of Floyd County if I were you son. Anyone who takes themselves that seriously is begging for an ass-whipping. 🙂

      • Must be all that “Big City” civilization and community sacrifice gettin’ in the way. Funny though, regarding the rule of law, how the homicide rate in big cities is 5 times that in rural America. Maybe the threat of a mere busted nose is worth its weight…

  7. The latest ruling on large wind turbines is that they actually cause an increase in the surrounding air temperatures that can destroy/modify local habitats.

    Solar panels and wind turbines aren’t a mass solution. They are an individual solution. It’s time to take responsibility for your own lives. That includes electricity. Distributed power generation is the future for reliable power. Concentrated mass power generation equals concentrated wealth into fewer hands, and too many points of failure and control by others.

  8. PS – If he does, I’m going to get washed off, and he’s going to jail. I don’t deny his ability – I do deny his right to do so without suffering the consequences. J.

    • And a PS to your BS. Some folks just don’t understand how things work here in the mountains. If you came into Elmer’s neck of the woods, got in his face and ended up covered in tar and feathers, you could try and call the law but the sheriff would just laugh at you and tell his deputies to escort you to the country line.

      PS: Tar and feathers don’t wash off. 🙂

  9. Public good my ass. The public’s right to anything stops at my property line. That’s the way life is here in the mountains and anyone who comes around spouting “public good” is apt to leave with a butt full of bird shot.

    BTW, if Elmer threatens to tar and feather someone who can be damn sure he will do it.

    • No, the public good does not stop at your property line. The public good encompasses the whole country.

      Have a nice day.


      • Maybe in your totalitarian view of the world but not where I come from. This is an area where zoning is a dirty word (and one that has cost any local official who dared suggest it his or her job), land use is a personal choice and property rights an absolute.

        • “…land use is a personal choice and property rights an absolute.”

          I agree with this as long as your land use doesn’t affect my land use. I mean actual harm here, not something arbitrary like property values. If you want to have a few tons of manure on your property, for instance, I don’t care about that; I’ve gotten used to worse smells. If you pour used motor oil into a creek that’s upstream from my property, though, then I have a problem. (Real personal example, that.)

  10. There is a thing called the public good, and yes, at times, that involves sacrifice. Yes, sometimes that involves seziure of private property, too. Just because you happen to own the best land down in the valley doesn’t mean that for your own privacy you can stop the road going through.

    It’s for the good of the many, not for the good of you.


    PS – threats of tarring and feathering that you can’t back up are just silly. Stop it. J.

  11. In this case I would think it would be more a case of landowner frustration than “citizen” frustration. Hardly matters. He’s in the minority. If he physically resists intrusion onto his land by any governmental authority he will be arrested or killed. Of course, he will be painted as a kook and extremist. It is what it is.

    • Jesus Issodhos, talk about paranoid extremism.

      I’m afraid your response illustrates how little you know about rural life and the attitude in mountain communities. Elmer has often tangled with authorities and has (1) never been arrested and (2) is certainly not a target by assassination by anyone.

      He’s applauded for the stance he takes against government and regulation.

      You need to spend a little more time getting cow manure on your shoes. Then you might understand us hicks in the country.

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