Before all hell breaks loose when my new book, Tail of the Dragon is released in the upcoming months, I need to make a few things very clear. When the Tennessee governor and legislature points at my book and says it is an unfair representation of the State of Tennessee and casts the highway patrol in a bad light, I will point at the below article from The Blaze to validate my intentions.
My editor and I just closed off the edit to my long awaited project and it is off to the design teams and copyeditor. The book reads faster than anything I’ve ever read and it’s packed with little details that I’m very proud of. But the plot line of a fictional governor using the Tennessee Highway Patrol as his personal army, and means for obtaining the White House by manipulating a Fraternal Order of Police endorsement is an old political trick that does go on in abundance all over the country. The reason I picked Tennessee as the primary plot center is because there is a history there of a vigilant THP (Tennessee Highway Patrol) that does get wrapped up in the personal business of politics. I’m thinking of the THP 100 Days of Heat campaign as seen in their promotion video.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is very proud of their vigilance, and they advertise themselves almost as a military force that is protecting people even from themselves, which brings up a whole bunch of constitutional questions. But as a whole, the THP functions like most Highway Patrols in other states. On the inside the officers believe they are serving the public by upholding the law, so they reside on high moral ground. But on the outside, among the rebels of society, who question the validity and qualifications of the “law makers” the thin blue line of law enforcement becomes a shield against corruption since the people must often fight the law to get to the corruption that makes the laws. In the case of my novel, a power grabbing governor can use the THP to execute their personal political initiatives and if there isn’t a law on the books to allow them to do so, they will make one. This is the problem with blind obedience to law enforcement and is the subject of my book. I think the current governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam is a pretty good guy, so my story doesn’t target his administration. But it cannot be forgotten that at one time Al Gore was governor of Tennessee and most recently Phil Bredesen who I would term a progressive and these two governors show how Tennessee politics can play out on a national stage, and when a politician gets a corn cob up their ass to make things happen, turning to the THP to implement their wishes borders on abuse of power.
It is that abuse of power that I focus on in my Tail of the Dragon, or rather the temptation to abuse power for personal means. Because Tennessee has a history of political activism, and a proud, military like Highway Patrol, this makes them the target of my subject matter. It’s also because of stories like what was shown in The Blaze article above.
Innocent enough Meredith Graves walked into the 9/11 Memorial in New York City and checked her gun at the door, thinking she was doing the right thing. However, unknown to 39 year old Graves, a registered nurse and four year medical student from Knoxville, New York doesn’t recognize the 2nd Amendment and has gun control laws that defy common sense. So she was arrested and thrown in jail and faces a 3 and ½ years of possible jail time if convicted.
Oh, by the way, it wasn’t drugs that were in her pocket, it was crushed up aspirin. But the assumption was that it was cocaine, so you can see dear reader how quickly politics can become nationalized. All Meredith wanted to do is see the 9/11 Memorial. The injustice of this case has prompted in the Tennessee State Legislature House Resolution 585 which reads “We remind the citizens of New York, especially those residing in New York City, to drive carefully through the great state of Tennessee, paying extra attention to our speed limits.” The threat is obvious; the THP has been instructed by the state legislature to pull over speeders from the state of New York in protest against the arrest of Meredith Graves, which is a noble cause by Representative Frank Niceley the Knoxville based farmer who proposed the legislation on behalf of his constituent. I actually admire the action. New York City is violating the Constitution by not recognizing Meredith Graves right to carry a firearm and they attempted to paint her as a gun nut drug dealer to justify their arrest. It happens all the time in the realm of politics. And Tennessee is fighting for one of their own. But—the speed limit is the law, and Tennessee is admitting that they can, and do target specific groups of people when they need to make a point. In reality it is the people of New York who will pay for the crime against one of Tennessee’s own. In my new novel it is the tourists of Tennessee who find themselves pulled over and getting excessive citations to fund the presidential run of the fictional Tennessee governor. In both cases, reality and fiction, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is used as a tool to carry out the whims of the political class.
When Tail of the Dragon comes out it’s not the people of Tennessee and the THP that are my intended targets, where billions of dollars of damage is caused and war breaks out because the police simply pulled over the wrong guy, a guy who refuses to acknowledge the right of the law to infringe on his liberty. My target is the political system like Mayor Bloomberg who pushes for the harshest conviction of Graves because he wishes to justify his unconstitutional state law by sacrificing an American citizen to the whims of the political class. And it’s the tendency of a well-intentioned legislator to use the Highway Patrol as a weapon of war in any capacity, whether the intention is a noble one demanding release of Meredith Graves from jail so she can return to her home in Knoxville, or to generate revenue for the state. My anger, and the point of my upcoming novel is the use of law enforcement as a political tool that constantly infringes on the Constitutional rights of American citizens. My book is about a war that breaks out when one guy says “No” to the right of the law to jeopardize his freedom and the political struggle of that action as it evolves all the way up to the President of the United States.
So no offense Tennessee and I’m sorry in advance to put you in the national spotlight when my book hits the shelf. It’s not personal. But unfortunately, because of a history of actions and a reputation like the ones discussed in this case involving Meredith Graves, it is Tennessee and the clash of cultures between big nanny state politics in places like Washington D.C. and New York that cross paths with gun carrying, law abiding citizens like Meredith Graves who wanted to do the right thing, that dictate my attention. In fact, a very close friend of mine had almost exactly the same thing happen to him at the Washington Monument a few years back, and it was quite an ordeal. Unfortunately for Tennessee, it was Al Gore who became the spokesman for the movements Mayor Bloomberg represents. So the plot of my book takes place in Tennessee because it is this state more than any other who sits on the frontier of tyranny and freedom in a war that has been ongoing for more than 100 years.
When the book hits the bookstore shelves, believe me, people like Meredith Graves are what I’m thinking about, and not the unfortunate lives lost in the THP during the events that occur in my story as the police find themselves caught between politics and the people. I write in fiction in hopes that the actual violence can be avoided in reality as these struggles over ideas play out. But sometimes, like the situation involving Graves, I have my doubts.
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