Under Analysis: Locashame is the opposite of zip code envy

Spencer Farris, The Levison Group

Things have gone from bad to “areyoukiddingme” here at the Levi Towers. It is clear that building will not survive much longer, and the partners know it. They stopped paying to fix things a while back, and that has extended to little things like fluorescent light bulbs. The good news is that buzzing ballasts don’t bother me anymore and it is easier to nap in my office. The bad news is, well, I can’t see anything on my desk.

When I tell people where I work, I see that look in their eyes- somewhere between pity and judgment. I am suffering from locashame­ — the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when your “place” is doing something that embarrasses you.

Readers in Michigan know firsthand what I mean. Every time Flint gets mentioned on the news, I am certain that you get an uncomfortable feeling that you can’t explain. You didn’t cause the tragedy, Gentle Michigan Reader, and no one blames you for it. Still, when your state pops up on the news, you feel it. Locashame.

Folks who don’t understand locashame (good for you, by the way) need only think of how they feel when their college or favorite professional sports team pulls off a big win. It is just like that, only the exact opposite.

It isn’t that I am ashamed of where I am, or from where I come. Still, it would be great if the talk of the day was about the amazing cure for baldness that a 12-year-old prodigy discovered after she quit playing video games in favor of the new chemistry set that the local chamber of commerce gave her for selling the most peanut butter for charity. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened this month.

My problem isn’t limited to the office building where I work. I have had an abundance of locashame lately. The little town where I grew up, Okay, Oklahoma, has been in memes and stories on the interwebs again. Not because the high school basketball team was in the state championships for the first time in our history — they took the silver medal. You may recall the last time we Okayans had locashame — when the mayor was tasered after talking loudly to his horse for several hours.

If you look up our little town, you will see a story about the sign posted outside the local school advising that teachers are armed and will shoot to protect the children. Or as naysayers tell it, a notice to would be terrorists to shoot the teachers first. The worst headline I can remember proclaimed, “Oklahoma school looks to deter violence with signs, guns.”

I admit, when I was a school boy there was a gun rack in the back of my pickup and most everyone I knew kept a folding knife in a belt holster all day. I guess the sign just says out loud what everyone always knew; there are guns around. Still, once it hits the media there is locashame.

The talk of the locals is that this is in response to ISIS terrorists, but I am willing to bet that most ISIS fellers can’t find Okay on a map. Along with lots of Americans. I am certainly not taking mass shooters lightly, but a warning sign isn’t a deterrent. On the other hand, there have not been any attacks since the sign went up.

I don’t live in Oklahoma any more, I am now a proud Missourian. Proud may be a stretch these days. Just when I thought my locashame couldn’t get any worse, it did. The legislators in Missouri introduced legislation that would confer the ability to practice law and serve as an associate or circuit judge on anyone who served two years in the legislature — no law degree or legal training required. I actually admire the proponent’s restraint as he didn’t propose the right to serve on the state supreme court. Which would have been silly.

I suppose you could look at the bill as forward-thinking. There has long been a complaint that there are not enough lawyers in the legislature, and this bill would have fixed the problem. Before law schools, lawyers served an apprenticeship and read the law for several years before becoming licensed, so one could argue this law is based in history. Making bad laws and reading about them in court opinions is only one step removed, after all.

Bills to allow folks with experience shoveling manure to become licensed veterinarians and letting those who played the board game “Operation” become surgeons were expected to follow, but never surfaced. In fact, the sponsor of the osmosis lawyer bill recently withdrew it, saying he was “only trying to highlight an issue and subsequently prompt a conversation.” Exactly. I told my wife we needed to sell the house and get a Ferrari for the same reason.

 I would like to say this was the dumbest proposed legislation ever around these parts, but alas, I can’t. Lawyers often scratch our heads and wonder what the legislature was thinking. You might say this is legislashame, not locashame Gentle Reader. I won’t quibble too much about semantics I guess, but the feeling in my stomach is the same. Tums and Alka-Seltzer don’t help.


©2016 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Missouri. He got his law degree from a law school, although whether he should have is debatable. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to Under Analysis via email at farris@farrislaw.net.