Walt Wawra is why we can’t have nice things.

Walt Wawra is a police officer from Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Walt and his wife were in Calgary, Alberta, Canada when he and his wife were spoken to by two Canadians wondering if they had been to the Stampede yet (big rodeo).  Walt’s first instinct?  To look for his gun.


I live in a city of 7.5 million.  We are currently hosting the Olympics, but we often play host to huge annual events such as Notting Hill Carnival, or more local events like World Cup parties being hosted by groups of pubs, or even micro-level groups, like the restaurants in our area who are on the pavement at sundown during Ramadan offering treats for all who pass by.  People talk to each other (I know, I know, northerners, southerners don’t talk as much as you like), so I have had to learn how to negotiate groups of people on whatever level they are at.  The group of rugby players dressed as Austin Powers at 9.30 in the morning running to the bus do not need to be handled like a guy who steps out of the shadows at 3 am asking for a smoke.  I’ve never been stabbed/murdered/beaten up/raped/mugged/stolen from or even bothered.  I find a little courtesy goes a long way.  Yet this guy’s first instinct was to find menace where there was no indication that there would be, and to use a gun over his brains.  As he says in his letter to the local paper, he played white knight and the potential offenders looked ‘bewlidered’.  Note to Walt:  Muggers and rapists don’t generally look bewildered when you talk to them – they are a bit too busy mugging and raping you.  However, normal people who asked a normal question (as the Stampede is a massive deal) *do* tend to look at you like you are cuckoo if you act that way.   I would too if I asked a simple question and some yahoo played Yosemite Sam with me.

This is why the rest of the world shakes their heads in disbelief as we shoot our own up week after week.  This is why I get tired of trying to defend my home land, and get sick of saying “But, we aren’t all like that, there’s just a lot of morons…”.  This is why a massive change needs to occur before the US sinks like Rome did oh so many years ago – when our first instinct at someone speaking to us is to draw a deadly weapon, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. 

19 thoughts on “Walt Wawra is why we can’t have nice things.

  1. Wayne

    Why Canada is such a nice place!

    • Shea

      True story, till I was about 9 years old when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said Canadian.

  2. VRP

    Those of us – non-Americans – who know something about the US know that there are at least two groups of Americans, the dumbest people in the world like Walt Rah-Rah, and the smartest people in the world like those who develop iPhones, design leading edge software, and collect Nobel Prizes with boring repetitiveness. Unfortunately, American politicians have to appeal mostly to the Rah-Rahs, and hope enough smart ones hold their nose long enough to collect a majority. I get mad as hell at the pornographic stupidity of America, but, I also realize the world is a better place because of America. Were it not there, I would probably be scribbling this reply with feather and ink, and begging some pony express guy to deliver it, sans postage stamp.

    • Shea

      Luckily, you’d still be able to type this out as the inventor of the World Wide Web was a Brit, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. 😉

      Politics wise, they don’t appeal to the brains, they appeal to base fear. And fear is bred from ignorance. Therefore, you must skew your politics to the most ignorant. It’s a sad state all over. It’s hard as an American to watch this all happen from the outside looking in. I think the next election will watch the country implode whichever candidate gets the nod.

  3. Tom Crawford

    of people from diffetent backgrounds for one another. Both are university towns, and Kalamazoo has made strides in the racial discrimination of previous decades, but the suspicion and animus are very palpable in Kalamazoo, still. This may well in some way explain the police officer’s reaction to being approached by two strangets in a strange land. Eh?

    • Shea

      I agree mostly. I’m originally from Ohio, and would visit relatives in MI often. Even travelling alone in the Detroit area (and no, not the pretty Royal Oak!) I’ve never had issues. I keep my eyes open, stay sharp, but don’t assume I have to blow someone’s brains out if they talk to me. Weirdly, I was in Kalamazoo for a week long intensive workshop about 7 years ago, and I the only way I could describe it was bucolic. It was downright cute! I think that’s why I was so bemused by the officer’s reaction – if he was a hardened cop in a dirty district in the 9 mile area, I’d sort of understand his paranoia. But Kalamazoo? It’s an adorable little town! 😀

  4. Tom Crawford

    I was born and raised in Kalamazoo MI, and resided until moving to Lansing MI in 1994. Big difference in the way people treat each other in the two towns that are 75 milrs apart. I didn’t realize this until having lived in Lansing for a while before visiting Kalamazoo to see relatives. I realized the most salient difference in which people with blue eyes (a euphemism) treat people with brown eyes. Much animosity, segregation and racial discrimination that everyone in Kalamazoo seems to accept by default. Lansing, by comparison, seems practically devoid of this burden. I am 61 years old now, and having lived Lansing for the past 18 years I can attest to the marked difference in acceptance

  5. Peaches

    Exactly. Haha. I have lived in four countries besides America (Including Germany and London) all for studying and just…because …and in every one I felt as though I was a cultural representative. That was not fun during the Bush years.

    And of course, every night on the TV news there is another story about how some American has done some stupid thing and I have to explain all over again that we aren’t all like that, there are crazy people here too (wherever here was), and that it is on the news *exactly* because what just happened is a rarity. If it was normal, it wouldn’t be news.

    I can still only fight images of toothless Bubba defending himself, along with his 6 shoeless children, from a foreign invasion or hoodlums from his front porch in his underwear and tatty robe for so long though.

    • Shea

      Exactly. The most disheartening was the Aurora shooting, all the expats had to explain that no, people don’t normally stock up on ammo at Wal Mart and just blow people away for no good reaso….WTF, WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT JUST HAPPENED AGAIN AT A TEMPLE?!?! And then everyone looks at you like you could snap at any moment and you just curl into a ball and try to forget that you are American. Ugh. 🙁

      • Peaches

        Pretty much.

      • joey jo-jo shabadoo

        If it helps, I wouldn’t feel offended if you tried to pass yourself off as a Canadian like a few yanks I’ve encountered abroad have done.

        Seriously though, I feel for ya. Both my brothers live in the US now (naturalized) so when I visit them I get the quirky “life in Canada” questions from their colleagues.

        • Shea

          During the war(s), when people asked what I was I replied “Southern Canadian”. I may have to start that up again.

  6. Peaches

    OMG! Yes! I am actually FROM Michigan and now living in another Prairie city in Canada near where this all happened. I still have a Michigan license plate on my vehicle. I’m getting very suspicious and snarky looks. Who can blame them.
    I just…urg…The whole thing makes me so mad. Walt is the same type of person that doesn’t want “undesireables” in American. I don’t want people like him to leave the country. I want them to stay bottled up behind national PR machines that can attempt to minimize their apparent stupidity.

    • Shea

      As an expat, do you feel as though you have to be ‘better’ than the crazy people just so folks around you don’t think you are like that? I always feel like if I do something weird, the whole of the UK will point and say “I KNEW THEY WERE ALL WEIRDOS!!!”. It’s like, we have enough traditional hurdles to deal with in emigrating, I need to explain away idiots like this like I need a hole in the head.

  7. Eric Burrows

    Happens a little bit everywhere where some law enforcers are a little overly suspicious like the 3 officers who arrested a man for not smiling whilst attending an Olympic venue. But I agree in America it is over the top. There was an instant where a householder shot a japanese tourist dead for walk ing down his path to ask for directions. Householder shouted twice *Stop*. And when he didn’t shot him dead. No charges made. The tourist spoke little English. This was in a very wealthy area.

  8. Jill

    Makes one happy to have emigrated!

    • Shea

      Yes, but so, so sad to see the country I left. 🙁

      • E.A. Blair

        Wish I could afford to leave.

        • Shea

          Don’t get me wrong, there are idiots everywhere, it’s just so sad that a country who is only 236 years old could implode so spectacularly so quickly. Not even counting we couldn’t make it 100 years without having a fecking civil war, it’s all a bit OTT.

          And I feel ya, emigrating is butt-hurtingly expensive. 🙁

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