Thursday, November 25, 2010

Can only flee from evil.*

Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas is the home of the Rangerettes, the self described first women’s precision drill team in the world. The group was founded in 1939 with two goals in mind: To attract more young women to college, and to keep fans in the stands during halftime, lest they slip away for an unapproved beverage.

What this has meant in practice, lo these 70 years, is rows of young women in startlingly brief cowgirl costumes, showing off their – um – precision high-kicking skills across the playing fields and parades of Kilgore and the nation, strobing the crowd with brilliant white smiles and even more brilliant red panties. (For the record, I am by no means opposed to this behavior.)

Kilgore’s football team went 4-6 this year in the South Western junior College Football Conference, but Coach J.J. Eckert’s job is in no jeopardy. The utter superfluity of the game – or “that nonsense between Rangerette routines,” as the alumni call it – is understood.  As important as football is in Texas, it is girls drill team that find its greatest expression there, and the Rangerettes are both the source waters and the sine qua non of the drill team ethos. Rangerettes have a reverence for their traditions and prerogatives that rivals the United States Marine Corps.  Just as there are no “former Marines,” there are no former Rangerettes; they are instead called “Forevers.”  They have a museum.  All active Rangerettes – even local girls – are required to live on campus, in a dormitory named for the founding  director of the group. And, in the service of what appears to be a perfect, patriotism-catalyzed combination of the salacious and the wholesome, they are expected to maintain good grades, shapely figures, better deportment and perfect integrity.

I mention the Rangerettes not so that I can have cause to dwell on rows of young women in startlingly brief cowgirl costumes (well, not merely that), but so that I might also introduce you, in context, to Dr. Bill Holda, president of Kilgore College.

Dr. Holda, as it happens, opposes the notion that his adult students who already have a license to carry a firearm ought to be permitted to carry that weapon when they walk on campus. The movement to allow campus carry, on simmer over the past 15 years as more and more states allowed lawful carry in general, came to a boil and stayed there after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It seems mass murderers like Seung-Hui Cho fare better where disarmed citizens – or “victims,” as rational folk call them — are deprived of the tools to defend themselves by adherence to the gun-free policies which, quelle surprise, those intent on mass murder are themselves disinclined to heed. Thanks to the efforts of groups like Students for Concealed Carry, Cho’s would be imitators will find rougher going on 70 campuses, with more to come.

Dr. Holda is not swayed, however. No weight of common sense arguments will convince him to revise the present Kilgore College choice between getting an education and forfeiting a natural right. Still, Dr. Holda wouldn’t be worth mentioning if all he did was recite the usual litany of emotional arguments opponents favor. But Dr. Holda is a doctor – of something or another – and a university president, too, and he’s made himself worth mentioning because he has employed a far more scholarly rhetorical device than mere emotion: He favors pure fabrication.

Dr. Holda cited to the second largest mass shooting in U.S. history, the Luby’s Restaurant shooting in 1991 in Killeen, Texas, a couple of hundred miles away – or “down the road a piece,” as Texans call it. What lesson did Dr. Holda find for us in that tragedy? Well you see, Dr. Holda pointed out, the trouble at Luby’s was “that you had multiple shooters, and innocent people were killed by other people who had concealed, licensed handguns, because they weren’t sure who was the shooter and who was a defender.” [Listen to the video at about 1:20.]

That’s not just a lie. That is a damned lie. There’s no dispute: no one else in Luby’s fired a shot that day, and everyone killed or wounded was shot by George Hennard. In fact, the Luby’s massacre led directly to the Texas Legislature making Texas a “shall issue” state for concealed carry. One survivor that day was Suzanna Hupp, whose parents died unprotected because then current laws, which she obeyed, required her to leave her pistol in her car. She went on to become a legislator after that and is a leading proponent of lawful carry.

Sadly for Hupp and the other Luby's survivors, they have no defense against Dr. Holda’s vile slander of their loved ones.

I don’t know how Dr. Holda would look in a startlingly brief cowgirl costume, but he could learn a thing or two from the Rangerettes when it comes to deportment and integrity. And I don’t know if he can get his leg straight up in the air, but he can clearly get his head all the way up his ass.

* “An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it.” Col. Jeff Cooper


  1. Kilgore College President Bill Holda continues flying the flag of ignorance:

  2. I read the article because I immediately recognized the Rangerettes and wondered why in the world you'd be writing about them. Though I'm not convinced that "lawful carry" solves the problem as neatly as you suggest, I would have to agree that a) there are not a lot of incidents like the one Dr. Holda made up to argue against "lawful carry" and b) someone who is going to base his policy on his imagined interpretation of history tends to be a problematic leader.

  3. Rob,

    First: thanks for reading.

    Second: I'd say there are essentially NO incidents of that type.

    Gun crime among license holders is statistically negligible. And friendly fire incidents like the one this scoundrel invented for Luby's are so far unknown.

    Being armed doesn't solve every problem, of course. It WOULD have solved -- or, with a bad guy who considered the odds in advance, prevented -- Luby's and Virginia Tech.

    Third, and most important: What exactly is your interest in the Rangerettes, sir?