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This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: This ain’t no TV Western here, pardner

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Here’s something nobody ever asks:

What are the essential differences between old-time TV Westerns and Spokane in 2018?

Yes, I have answers.

In 2018 Spokane, there is hardly any demand for some desperate soul to drive a horse-drawn wagon full of nitro over rocky terrain.

In 2018 Spokane, a far smaller percentage of the citizenry would find abusing the town drunk on the main street to be a laugh riot.

In 2018 Spokane, women are the backbone of our community and they don’t always respond to a crisis by twisting an ankle.

In 2018 Spokane, there are significantly fewer cases of amnesia, rabies and sudden blindness.

In 2018 Spokane, there is not quicksand everywhere you go.

In 2018 Spokane, people bathe more often. Well, some people.

In 2018 Spokane, marijuana is sold in stores.

In 2018 Spokane, Dr. Whoozit’s Miracle Elixir (snake oil) has been replaced by a wide array of suspect products/services.

In 2018 Spokane, you’re more apt to be put on probation than be tarred and feathered.

In 2018 Spokane, there might be about as many prostitutes with a heart of gold as there were on those old shows, but they aren’t called saloon girls and don’t wear frilly dresses.

In 2018 Spokane, there are more media outlets.

In 2018 Spokane, fewer residents get shot for hogging the canteen.

In 2018 Spokane, fewer children call their parents “Ma” and “Pa.”

In 2018 Spokane, having a beard doesn’t mean you are a blacksmith.

In 2018 Spokane, public education is a somewhat more complicated affair.

In 2018 Spokane, sometimes vegetarian options are on the menu.

In 2018 Spokane, more people wear sunglasses.

In 2018 Spokane, fistfights cause actual injuries.

In 2018 Spokane, most IT specialists don’t live in a bunkhouse.

In 2018 Spokane, there are a lot more medical/lab tests.

Blame game

Sooner or later, all of us here have to grapple with this question.

When is it appropriate to blame Spokane for disappointments in life?

You know, when is some disenchantment or ennui Spokane’s fault and not, well, your own?

I guess it depends on how you frame the issue. If no-excuses personal responsibility is your thing, you might find few occasions where it is reasonable to engage in Spokane scapegoating. But if you believe this city’s real or imagined shortcomings somehow limit your opportunities or stifle your creativity, you might be more inclined to assign blame externally.

It all gets pretty subjective. If you drop a drinking glass on the kitchen floor and it shatters, it would be pretty silly to sarcastically snarl, “Thanks, Spokane.”

But if your car or home keeps getting broken into, chances are you will arrive at a rather cynical vision of the Lilac City and its denizens. Who would fault you?

Some of us have encountered people who seemingly twist themselves into a knot about Spokane’s existential hopelessness because of barking dogs, too many yard sales next door and voters who elect people they don’t respect.

Blame Spokane First almost becomes their mantra.

Still, you might be on shaky ground if you think a romantic relationship’s failure is Spokane’s fault. And if you are a boss who keeps losing excellent employees to better paying positions on the West Side, blaming Spokane might be a tad shortsighted.

Your restaurant meal isn’t perfect? Your business is struggling? Haven’t won the lottery? You liked the weather last week, but then it changed?

When does it make sense to hold the Lilac City accountable? When are things not really Spokane’s fault?

You make the call. Sometimes the choices come down to shut up, work with others to improve the situation or move.

While we’re on the subject, when is it appropriate to give Spokane a bit of the credit when something good happens to you here? You know, like awarding an assist on a goal in hockey.

Asked and answered

Terrie Roberts noted the question about how old your kids were when they started rolling their eyes about things you did or said.

“My son, Jim, was complaining that his 2-year-old daughter had started rolling her eyes at him when he would scold her. I reminded him that she had two teenage sisters that most likely provided role models for her.”

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