Column: Whiteclay in the news just for being Whiteclay
"Early Monday I looked out my window: It was snowing again, of course. Is it simply my age or are winters growing colder, longer? The scene of black, gray and white seemed sketched with charcoal on notebook paper. I thought to pray for ranchers and their livestock. In a moment, I added anyone suffering from this bitter cold to my supplication. It's a loveless world out there.

I related the desolate picture through my window to an article in Monday's Rapid City Journal. Once again, White Clay, Nebraska is in the news just for being White Clay, Nebraska.

Nothing out of the ordinary has to happen there to warrant the occasional mention. It's just that, periodically, the moral and spiritual decay of this apparently God forsaken little burgh reaches critical mass. This sends out a psychic wave of negative energy that tweaks the consciences of legislators and journalists alike.

The self-inflicted human misery that is the poisoned bread of a majority of White Clay's inhabitants makes White Clay a kind of sociological pulsar. That an obscene amount of profit, both private and state, is made as a direct consequence of that misery should be enough to make the demons blush. So goes the Gordian knot of socially concentrated alcoholism wherever it is found. In the same way that cancer cells take over healthy cells, the imperatives of alcoholism have pirated the economic soul of White Clay.

It has a grip on the Nebraska Legislature, too. The general tone of the piece, which appeared first in the Lincoln Star Journal, is that something - anything - must be done. The article describes efforts to find funding for a clean up effort to include a recycling center to be manned, apparently, by the town's streetwalkers. I had to read that part twice. Color me cynical, but I'd have to see that. Having seen it, I'd conclude no idea is too absurd for legislative consideration."

Get the Story:
David Rooks: Whiteclay, revisted (The Rapid City Journal 2/2)

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