Well, it's good to see that no matter how progressive and forward thinking Austin becomes, there is still a home for traditional, redneck Texas biggotry just a short distance to our north...
Saradora's Coffeehouse, a decade-old establishment in Round Rock, received their first ever visit from the city's fire marshall after city officials received numerous complaints about the "immoral" nature of a drag show which the coffeehouse hosted on Friday night and the crowd of 150 or so people who attended it. The show contained no nudity or profane language, and Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell said that the complaints that he had received primarily were concerns about the fact that the show seemed to be promoting homosexuality. Although the owner of the coffee shop, Sarah Roberts, now admits that the crowd may have exceeded the shop's occupancy limit, she states that prior events at her shop, including anniversary parties and Christian CD release parties, have drawn larger crowds without attracting the attention of the fire marshall.
Having practiced law for a number of years in Williamson County, Georgetown, and Round Rock, Steanso has long been fascinated by the way in which these communities have continued growing at an exponential rate while still trying to hang on to what they perceive to be "small town values" and "conservative morals".
And some of that stuff is fine. Small town values are great if by making such a reference you're talking about getting to know your neighbors, pitching in to help one another as a community in times of hardship, and working together to insure that your community has a high standard of living in terms of education, infrastructure, police and fire protection, and overall quality of life. The dark side of "small town values", however, includes xenophobia and intolerance, a feeling that people from the outside will bring in their own cultural or moral values, and that these will somehow taint the "small town charm" of the straight, white, conservative, protestant southerners who grew up in the area.
I've seen how these "traditional" small town values play out in court. A man who drives drunk, running the risk of killing carloads of families, gets a slap on the wrist because he's perceived as a "good ol' boy" who's just engaged in the finely-honed and long-held Texan art of drinking and driving. A guy who gets caught smoking marijuana in his own home, however, is seen as either a hippie or some other form of outsider (most likely bringing drugs into their community from Austin or some other big city), and he ends up doing time in jail as well as probation, even though his actions, in reality, were far less harmful than those of the traditional Texas drunk. I've seen cases of domestic abuse get summarily dismissed in Williamson County because the wife asks for the charges to be dropped, even though studies now show that wives consistently lie to protect abusive husbands, even when future abuse is entirely likely. Once again, dismissing these cases are the way that things have traditionally been handled within their system of "small town values", and the people in these counties seem unwilling to change their ways just because some liberal social worker tells them that their dismissals are contributing to the cycle of violence.
Well, you've already grown bigger, Round Rock, so now it's time to grow up. You're the home to Dell, one of the world's biggest computer manufacturers, as well as Samsung. Thousands upon thousands of people have made their homes in your communities because you wanted thriving industry (and a strong tax base) and invited these people in. Now you have to learn how to live together with people who might seem a little different than you, but who by and large, mean you no harm (working in the tech sector, a lot of these newcomers are pretty well educated, but I'm not sure whether that's calming or increasing the fears of the locals). Like it or not, Round Rock and Georgetown aren't really small towns anymore, and they're definitely still growing. There are going to be more and more minorities, homosexuals, hippies, and every other manner of person moving into your towns, and if you want to avoid some major growing pains, you better move tolerance to the top of your list of small town values. C'mon and join the new millenium! We're celebrating diversity over here! You'll make some new friends, and it's kind of fun once you get used to it.