James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Country For Old Men

I recently saw the Coen Brothers film No Country For Old Men. The setting is West Texas, circa 1980. The "old men" in question are people like Tommy Lee Jones's character, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. Jones the actor is in his early 60's, and so presumably is the character. Bell came from a family of sheriffs, and had been a sheriff himself since the age of 25.

Bell recalls that in the older days several sheriffs in nearby counties never even carried a gun. But now (i.e., 1980), the illegal drug trade brought with it big money, gang shoot-outs, and roving hitmen. This level of evil, this disruption of a once quiet and peaceful life, is too big to overcome and too discouraging for old men.

And what, again, is the cause of this new kind of evil? The fact that drugs were illegal. That's not to say other cultural changes didn't take place that could cause disillusionment, and the villain is an unstoppable force for evil who may have arrived in many different contexts and situations. Nevertheless, illegal drugs was the occasion for this lawlessness and this evil, and simply wouldn't have taken place if drugs were legal.

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