November 16, 2016

Jack Webb's Dragnet - The Big Departure Speech, 1967

Dragnet spoke truth to my generation. We didn't listen. Now it's the chance of the weaklings and the betas to hear the same truth. Alas, thanks to our ceding the education system to bad Americans for decades, they are even dumber than we were, so it will be up to the very near future to kick their ass back to sanity. And it will. Depend upon it.

Sergeant Joe Friday: Don't think you have a corner on all the virtue vision in the country or that everyone else is fat and selfish and yours is the first generation to come along that's felt dissatisfied. They all have, you know, about different things; and most of them didn't have the opportunity and freedoms that you have. Let's talk poverty. In most parts of the world, that's not a problem, it's a way of life. And rights? They're liable to give you a blank stare because they may not know what you're talking about. The fact is, more people are living better right here than anyone else ever before in history. So don't expect us to roll over and play dead when you say you're dissatisfied. It's not perfect, but it's a great deal better than when we grew up: a hundred men standing in the street hoping for one job, selling apples on the street corner. That's one of the things we were dissatisfied about, and you don't see that much anymore.

Officer Bill Gannon: You're taller, stronger, healthier, and you live longer than the last generation; and we don't think that's altogether bad. You've probably never seen a "Quarantine" sign on a neighbor's door. Diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough; probably none of your classmates are crippled with polio. You don't see many mastoid scars anymore. We've done quite a bit of fighting all around the world. Whether you think it was moral or not a lot of people are free to make their own mistakes today because of it. And that may just include you.

Sergeant Joe Friday: I don't know, maybe part of it's the fact that you're in a hurry. You've grown up on instant orange juice. Flip a dial - instant entertainment. Dial seven digits - instant communication. Turn a key - push a pedal - instant transportation. Flash a card - instant money. Shove in a problem - push a few buttons - instant answers. But some problems you can't get quick answers for, no matter how much you want them. We took a little boy into Central Receiving Hospital yesterday; he's four years old. He weighs eight-and-a-half pounds. His parents just hadn't bothered to feed him. Now give me a fast answer to that one; one that'll stop that from ever happening again. And if you can't settle that one, how about the 55,000 Americans who'll die on the highway this year? That's nearly six or seven times the number that'll get killed in Vietnam. Why aren't you up in arms about that? Or is dying in a car somehow moral? Show me how to wipe out prejudice. I'll settle for the prejudices you have inside yourselves. Show me how to get rid of the unlimited capacity for human beings to make themselves believe they're somehow right - and justified - in stealing from somebody, or hurting somebody, and you'll just about put this place here out of business!

Officer Bill Gannon: Don't think we're telling you to lose your ideals or your sense of outrage. They're the only way things ever get done. And there's a lot more that still needs doing. And we hope you'll tackle it. You don't have to do anything dramatic like coming up with a better country. You can find enough to keep you busy right here. In the meantime, don't break things up in the name of progress or crack a placard stick over someone's head to make him see the light. Be careful of his rights. Because your property and your person and your rights aren't any better than his. And the next time you may be the one to get it. We remember a man who killed six million people, and called it social improvement.

Sergeant Joe Friday: Don't try to build a new country. Make this one work. It has for over four hundred years; and by the world's standards, that's hardly more than yesterday.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at November 16, 2016 8:10 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

The better things get, the worse people act.

Posted by: ghostsniper at November 16, 2016 8:36 AM

In the book of John, when Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well and tells her he can give her living water, do you know what she immediately imagined? Something like a faucet in her house, so she'd never have to trudge out to the well again. And all the people who followed him after he fed thousands from the contents of a boy's lunch, they wanted to be fed again; if they could see a modern supermarket, they would surely believe they were in heaven already.

We know better, though. All these conveniences do make life easier and more comfortable, but they don't make us better people. In some cases, they give us the luxury to be far worse.

Posted by: Julie at November 16, 2016 11:44 AM

The only things worth anything in life are those earned by your own efforts.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at November 16, 2016 3:13 PM

Funny how the simplest things can be the most difficult. The Ten Commandments are quite simple,and formed the bedrock for Western Civilization,and the modern privileged world. The ancient Greeks warned of excess,hubris. We have more information available to more people than any other time on this planet,yet the stardust golden children came thisclose to electing a talking paper doll. And are mightily steamed at being thwarted. Interesting times we live in.

Posted by: Nori at November 16, 2016 6:02 PM

Great comments above.
I hope it is not true that increased prosperity necessarily leads to a dearth of common sense.
But, recent times would seem to indicate that prosperity is a condition that erodes character.
Don't really know what to do with that conclusion.
Keep your powder dry, everyone!

Posted by: orcadrvr at November 16, 2016 6:49 PM

"Dragnet spoke truth to my generation. We didn't listen."

The hippies and "progressive minded people" that I knew back then despised the show and everything about it.

Posted by: pst314 at November 17, 2016 4:14 AM