This letter made me laugh at first, but now I find it sad. Let’s break it down.
Square? Another of the good old words has gone the way of love, modesty, and patriotism. Something to be snickered over, or outright laughed at. I remember it used to be that there was no higher compliment you could pay a man than to call him a “square shooter.”
We’re not laughing at “square” because we find squares laughable. Well, we do, but that’s not the main reason. We laugh at “square” because absolutely no one uses it anymore. I mean, I had a post were I was grasping for synonyms for boring old coots, and I never even thought of using “square.” If you use a word like “square” to describe yourself, you are probably beyond “square” and need either professional help or a time portal to the 1940’s.
Also, there’s two usages of “square” here. “Square” as in “square shooter” means “fair”, and is still in use. But that’s not the usage of “square” he’s writing about, he’s talking about the archaic slang for “conventional person”. Actually, that’s not true either. Judging by the next two paragraphs, Lytlle’s “square” is a teabagger under the delusion that he and his are the only moral people in the nation. They’re also really boring, which has been established as a moral value.
Best part–he criticizes government spending, and then sings praises for libraries three sentences later.
A square is a guy who lives within his means, whether the Joneses do or not, and thinks his “Uncle Sam” should do it, too. He doesn’t want to “fly now and pay later.” A square is likely to save some of his own money for a rainy day, rather than count on using yours. A square gets his books out of the library instead of the drugstore.
“So are you a completely unremarkable, unthinking person with obnoxious politics that allows more people to walk over you than the carpet at PayLess? Don’t do anything to improve your situation–you should be proud!” That’s what I find sad. This is just one beat in the constant patterning of drums in Southwest Missouri. “Join us…conform….don’t think…don’t strive…don’t complain or question…be proud…don’t rock the boat…,” etc. Luckily for us, Lyttle’s definition of “square” is strict enough that most of us don’t apply. I live within my means and love my parents, but I don’t suck up to Sky Santa. Hopefully that’s enough to bar me out of square status. What if you’re a hard-working, God-fearing family man who actually knows how a library is funded? Sorry, dude. Maybe you can achieve dead hoofer status, but that’s it.
You know what I what to see? A letter praising people’s individuality and ability to buck the status quo. Maybe I’m just the rug-cutter to do it.
EDIT: For some reason this letter has disappeared. Maybe it was supposed to run tomorrow.
EDIT AGAIN: According to Scott, it turns out the letter was remove because it was plagiarized. Squares are thieves? Who knew?