When I first heard of the plight of Mark 'Coonrippy' Brown, who used to shower with his raccoon, Rebekah, until the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency came and took her away, I admit, I laughed. And when I heard that he was running for Governor, again, I laughed.
But I was reading this article about the situation over at Huffington Post and I have some questions. Here's the meat:
Brown's latest move follows two unsuccessful attempts to get his raccoon back. His letter requesting a permit from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency went unanswered, and a petition to Haslam with more than 60,000 signatures was reportedly never opened.
"Governor Haslam ignored the cries from the entire United States," Brown told the paper.
What good is the right to petition your government for the redress of grievances if the government just doesn't bother to respond? If you want a job where you can just ignore the dude who showers with his raccoon, then don't get a government job. Otherwise, yeah, if a dude writes to request a permit, he should at least get an answer, even if that answer is "No." If he can get 60,000 signatures, then it's not unreasonable for someone in the Governor's office to open the damn petition. It doesn't take that much time to pretend every day like you're desperately trying to find a way to get Tennesseans health coverage. You have a spare moment to open your email.
Don't get me wrong. I think Brown is a kook. But he's a kook with reasonable ideas about what to expect from his state government—he shouldn't just be being ignored. Plus, why can't the dude have a pet raccoon? I mean, there's something kind of fucked up about the notion that you can kill a raccoon in this state, but you can't raise one. If he vaccinated the raccoon and kept it away from kids and isn't harming it, why can't he assume the risks of owning it?
But then, let's talk a second about his bid for Governor. It's plausible to assume that no answer from TWRA and the Governor is the same as a "No, you can't have your raccoon back." I don't think it's good enough, but an argument could be made that it is. Then what's Brown's end-goal in becoming Governor? Writing himself up some kind of executive order that would allow him to have Rebekah back?
Judging from this Tennessean story, the answer is, in part, "yes."
The Gallatin High School graduate said that by running for governor he hopes to “expose the people in office who are not for the people.”
“He can free prisoners, he can pardon people, but he refused the online petition and refused to accept the letter,” he said. “All eyes were on Tennessee and it made us look bad. It made it look like we were under Caesar’s law.”
I've read the Bible a time or two and I can't recall the part where it says that a man has a right to bathe with a raccoon of his choosing, but I admit to dozing off at some points, and may just have missed it. But there's a kind of serious problem at the heart of Brown's kookiness.
He wants the Governor to make things magically go his way because we live in a society where things do magically go right for some people and not for others. We live in a state where JLL gets paid to determine whether we need to shuffle state offices and then gets paid to shuffle those offices once they've determined it's necessary, thanks to Governor Haslam's handwaving. So, why shouldn't a guy run for office so he can wave his hands and make everything okay for himself and folks like him?
It's not like Brown is the only kook in the state. If he were a kook with power and influence, Haslam would have found some way to respond to him by now.
And that is something that is wrong with our state, even if the solution to it isn't as simple as electing a guy with a pet raccoon governor.