Essays and Theories

Territorial Signposts

In the study of animal behavior, when one states: "The animal was only defending his or her turf," there is not the slightest confusion on the part of what this means. Even the most uneducated of humans knows that the bark of a dog coming from inside a house is a sure sign of territoriality. In fact, in some cases, if one listens closely, one can here a whole series of dog barks coming from various houses in the same neighborhood as dogs hear the alarm of one, and spread the "word" to others that danger may be approaching. But in the realm of the human animal, human minds are complex and, as such, create "civilized" and complex mechanisms to defend territories. That is the reason for this posting: to post news items, found in my local paper or national magazines that bring to your attention behavioral mechanisms that equate with human territoriality and the protection of those territories.

On Monday, Feb. 05 2001, I went online to my Colorado State Legislature's web site and found a goal mine. Buried beneath a link that read: What other states are doing:, I found a dropdown menu that gave me short paragraphs of headlines around the country in all fifty states. I will present them to you as briefly as I can and point out the territoriality of each news item as best as I can. It is up to you to double check and verify these news reports.

These examples are posted with the most recent news items listed first If you have a link that is "alive" and you want to click on it, you will be taken to the online newspaper article that originated the piece. How long it remains "alive" is anyone's guess.

April 28, 2001

When we think of politics and territory, the best example that one can think about is the State Legislatures and Congressional Re-districting. It will make for a most interesting coming year. enjoy.

Connecticut Sets Redistricting Hearings
Members of the committee that will carve Connecticut into new districts for the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislature set dates and places for public hearings on Monday, but left out the 6th Congressional District. The eight-member reapportionment committee, which includes the top-ranking lawmakers from both parties, must complete its work by Sept. 15. Part of its task will be to consolidate the state's six U.S. House districts into five because of population shifts shown by the U.S. Census. By Dan Haar, Hartford Courant

March 17 2001

A minor news item in the march 17, 2001 issue of The Denver Post concerning the findings of a grand jury investigation gives us a perfect example of human territoriality and some of the mechanistic behaviors that are involved in protecting or benefiting one's territory by excluding others in another territory.

This story involves the two historical cities from Colorado's Gold Rush days: Central City and Blackhawk. With the discovery of gold in the late 1800s right about where the two boundaries separated the two cities, the "conceptual view" that each city had about each other was sealed: Although both cities prospered, it was Central City who elevated themselves as "superior" to the down-the-mountain working folks in Black Hawk. Central City was where the mine bosses lived, it had a opera house that was famous around the United States; it was located high atop a mountain peak, and in its political hey-day, almost became the political capitol of Colorado (it missed selection by three votes). Black Hawk, by comparison, was mostly in the shade and was located downhill to where the gold was shipped and smelt. It was where the "workers" lived near a noisy and dirty mill. Also being located at the bottom of the mountain, Black Hawk had a periodic flooding problem; not to mention that raw sewage flowed into a nearby gulch which then went downstream into Black Hawk. Hence we discover the true reason for the citizens of Central City to feel superior to its fellow citizens in Black Hawk. We human animals may live in a modern world, but you must remember that our brains are hard-wired to live in an ancient one. Shit rolls downhill and none wants to be in its path if they can avoid it.

So, we now fast forward to the early 1990s, and find that after the 1800s Gold Rush left both cities behind, they merely drifted into being small, sleepy tourist attractions panning bits of gold nuggets from the river beds. But, another type of gold rush hit the two cities in the early 1990s: Limited stakes gambling -- slot machines. When limited stakes gambling halls opened in Oct, 1, 1991, it was expected that Central City was going to be the shinning jewel on the mountaintop in a new type of bonanza, but unfolding events created an opposite effect. Central City placed a development moratorium while it tried to figure out the expected boom in sewage capacity; but because of this hesitation, this allowed Black Hawk's gambling industry to boom and far exceed Central City's. Another reason for Black Hawk's success is that it was located closer to the big city of Denver on State Highway 119. So, with the advantage of bigger and better attractions, plus less distance from Denver, plus more parking spaces, equaled better success for the city of Black Hawk.

Well, the great and grand leading citizens of the proud city of Central City would have none of this and planned a southern access road that would lead from Interstate 70 -- making it unnecessary to use the traffic-jammed, and sometimes dangerous State Highway 119 that was now the only route from Denver. The result, as some would visualize, most likely would put Central City in a much more favorable light for potential gamblers and have the opposite effect for Black Hawk. But, in order to build this access road, it was necessary for Central City to annex the property that lead to Interstate 70. To quote The Denver Post, here is the series of events that occurred: "Central City had bought all of the necessary land for the road except for parcels south and west of town....But in November of 1998, Black Hawk spent $50,000 in taxpayer money to buy some of the land needed for the road and conveyed it to several private parties who opposed annexing the land to Central City, (which effectively  stopped the access road project). ...Under (Colorado) state law, at least 50 percent of landowners in an area proposed for annexation must give their OK...While the land exchange didn't violate any existing Colorado laws, the grand jury wrote that it considered it a violation of the spirit of a state law barring the creation of voters to change the outcomes of elections." The Denver Post: Road Report isn't News in Central City, by Jim Hughes, March 17, 2001, p. 1A.

Now the question that intrigues us in the evolutionary community, is who were those "private parties" that the city of Black Hawk "conveyed" this property to and sold the property back to the town of Black Hawk? Were they just selected from the phone book by throwing darts at an open section? Not likely. Most likely, the "private parties" were individuals that personally knew in exact detail what was expected of them from the Black Hawk political and business leaders who cooked up the "road blocking" mechanism against Central City. Without knowing who these individuals are -- both the "private parties" and the political and business leaders of Black Hawk -- I am most confident that they are members of specific gender, race, and culture that dominate the social, political, and business scene in Black Hawk. But, even without speculating on the individuals evolved in the mechanisms, it is solid empirical evidence of human territoriality and of human bonding alliances that define, defend and promote one's territory.

A related story used in this territoriality signpost: Cities Have Long Vied to be Area's crown Jewel, by George Lane, The Denver Post, March 17, 2001, p. 4A.

Here is an example one alliance (labor unions) that helped out another (the Gov.) and is presenting openly their position on that price for the return of their assistance. The keeping of jobs to 90% of their fellow state workers within a territory of 75 miles is a perfect example of territoriality.

West Virginia Labor Leaders Say Jobs Act Their Priority
Labor leaders, who supported Gov. Bob Wise's election last year, hope to fare better on their pet legislative project now that he is in office. Former Gov. Cecil Underwood in 1998 vetoed the West Virginia Jobs Act, which would require 90 percent of the workers on any publicly funded project to either live in West Virginia or within 75 miles of the job site. By The Associated Press, Charleston Gazette FEB 5, 2001

And you thought that South Carolina was the only state that wanted to protect its Confederacy image? The statures were erected because of territoriality in the first place. Yes? No?
Texas Bill Attacks University's Rebel Statues

A controversy about Confederate symbols may rise again in Austin. State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, has filed a bill requesting that the University of Texas at Austin remove from public view statues of Confederate leaders such as President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee. By Max B. Baker, The Star-Telegram Feb 4 2001

Here's a good one. The rough-and-tumble conservative males who think not only that a man's house is his castle, but also that has the right to defend it with guns....both in the house and concealed on their bodies rise up to the occasion on this item. This is pure: THIS IS MY TERRITORY, AND I AM GOING TO DEFEND IT THE WAY I WANT, and seeks to protect it with a state amendment the the State's Constitution.
Texas Lawmaker Seeks To Protect Hunting With Constitutional Amendment
Fears of diminishing freedoms for Texans who hunt and fish are fueling a lawmaker's push for a constitutional amendment to ensure their rights. Texas law currently permits hunting and fishing. But some hunting proponents contend that because laws are subject to change, a constitutional amendment is needed to ensure hunting and fishing rights in the face of an increasingly urban population and growing pressure from animal rights groups. By Kellie B. Gormly, Associated Press, The Star-Telegram FEB 04 2001

Here one that is an obvious reference to territory.

South Dakota Schools Divided On Merger Bill

School districts are divided by size when it comes to supporting legislation that would consolidate the state's school districts from 176 to fewer than 60, a sampling of superintendents shows. Big-school officials tend to think consolidation is inevitable and would make education more efficient. Small-school administrators resent the idea that others would decide what their district does. By Brenda Wade Schmidt, Argus Leader (Sioux Falls) FEB 05, 2001

Sex offenders are a tricky subject. The grist here is that local state lawmakers want to "expose" and thus "force out" "undesirables" from territories without assigning them any "rights" to go elsewhere and live in peace. The bottom line: This is our territory and we don't want "undesirable" perverts living in it.
Oregon Lawmakers Try Again For Online Sex Offender Registry
Eighteen months after sex offenders sued to block the state from posting names, photos, addresses and other information about Oregonís 9,000 registered sex criminals on the Internet, lawmakers are planning to try again. This time, they hope to avoid any legal hassles by authorizing state police to put a scaled-down sex offender registry online. By Alan Gustafson, Salem Statesman Journal FEB 05 2001

Here is a case of law enforcement officials, who work very close to lawmakers, wanting to expand their money allocations, and hence expand their importance. Sometimes state government officals are paid by how many people they supervise.  The bigger supervision, the bigger the pie. Are these guys being watched by efficiency experts, or is there word always being taken for granted?
Oklahoma Cops To Ask Lawmakers For Fund Hike

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation will start talking with lawmakers Monday in hopes they will consider appropriating millions of additional dollars to help the agency ease an overwhelming drug-case backlog that has frustrated state agents, county sheriffs and prosecutors alike. And at least one key legislator is ready to listen. By Rod Walton, Tulsa World Feb 05 2001

Here's another example of a group "patronizing", or in evolutionary terms, "begging" for more of the financial pie. The argument here is that the educational system is failing because teachers can go elsewhere out of the territory to get better pay and benefits. They are correct.
New Mexico Educators Say Poor Pay Depletes Ranks

Educators from across the state warned lawmakers Saturday that low salaries are causing a teacher shortage and leading to an educational crisis in New Mexico. One by one, almost all of the nearly 50 educators who testified before the House Education Committee pleaded for more education funding and better pay. By Chaka Ferguson, The Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal FEB 04, 2001

Here is a case of a minority sector understanding the importance that the dominant culture has had of destroying their past cultural heritage.  The dominants have given retribution in the past, and now are in the position of either denying or approving more funds. The submissives here are playing on the guilt expressed by the dominates of their past wrongs within this particular territory..
New Mexico Navajo Sites Deemed Endangered
Two Navajo pueblito structures located on the tribe's ancestral homeland in northwest New Mexico have been added to the list of Most Endangered Historic Places in the state. Truby's Tower and Three Corn Ruins were among 10 places nominated for consideration by the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance. By The Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal Fegb 04 2001


No author listed;
Virginia Senate says: Sleep Only in Bedroom,
Associated Press, January 28, 2001, from the Denver Post.

A bill has been passed in the state Senate of Virginia that would allow Fairfax County prohibit its residents from sleeping in rooms other than a bedroom. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Leslie l. Byrne, a Democrat who represents parts of Fairfax was quoting as saying: "Jamming 15 to 20 people into a tiny two-bedroom house diminishes property values, takes up parking spaces and robs neighbors of peace and quiet."

Critics of the bill, such as civic leaders, criticized the bill as hostile response to those struggling to pay for shelter. Quoting J. Walther Tejada, Virginia director for the League of United Latin American Citizens, "The last thing we want on the books are laws that seem to be aimed at some of the less-advantaged members of our community."

Here are the facts: rents for a three bedroom apartment in Fairfax County average $1,181 per month, making it impossible for poorly skilled workers to afford housing. However, those that have the resources still want unskilled labor to mow their lawns, wash their dishes, change their linens, clean their homes, and clean their business offices at night when they are not there.. The good news: low-skilled workers evolved and invented creative ways to solve the cost problem by cramming themselves into the same living quarters as did immigrants in New York City at the turn of the Century. The bad news: those who were in the territory first and are firmly established, (usually those who control the resources), find that "undesirables" are invading their territory. Since outlawing the actual exclusion of the "undesirables" would be unthinkable in our "civilized, modern world," then the evolution of exclusionary laws in subtle and quite forms is the most logical result:; i.e., a law that would exclude the sleeping in any room other than a bedroom, hence disallowing the overpopulated apartments, and then returning to the "peace and quiet" of the neighborhood, freeing parking spaces, and "protecting" property values. (It's ultimately about the resources, people).

The legislation passed Friday, January 26, 2001, by a vote of 20 to 19.

Author: Gregory Palast.
Is a reporter and columnist for Britainís Observer newspaper, and he is currently investigating the Florida vote for BBC television.

Floridaís 'Disappeared Voters': Disfranchised by the GOP.
The Nation, February 5, 2001, p.20.
January 23, 2001

We all know what happened in the American Presidential Election: George W. Bush was selected as America's 43rd President by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that prevented the recounting of Florida's extremely close election. But beneath the surface of that election there lay a process of territoriality behavior that purged the names of up to 90,000 voters from the voter registries lists and prevented them from voting. No crime here. It's the law in Florida. (It is part of a reform voting law that the legislature passed after the fraud-tainted Miami mayoral race of 1997 to eliminate the registration of ineligible voters: those who have moved, those who had died, and in this column, many of whom are considered to be "undesirables").

To quote Gregory Palast for the article: The group prevented from voting has few defenders in either party: felons. It has been well reported that Florida denies its nearly half a million former convicts the right to vote. However, the media have completely missed the fact that Florida's own courts have repeatedly told the Governor he may not take away the civil rights of Florida citizens who committed crimes in other states, served their time and had their rights restored by those states. But, evidence is emerging from Florida's election that many who should have had voting rights were denied their right to vote.

According to criminal demographics expert Jeffrey Manza of Northwestern University that perhaps 50,000, and likely over 100,000 former felons have relocated in Flordia. Manza estimates that 80 percent of these felons arrived with their voting rights intact. This 'minor' infraction of the bending of the law may have gone completely unnoticed had it not been for the close count in Florida. The results of this vote blocking mechanisms will have to wait to see if any legal motions will be filed to correct the situations.

This use of a 'scrub' hit list is perfectly legal (as passed by a overwhelmingly Republican legislature majority) and gives us a perfect example of territoriality protective measures not only at a local level, but also at a higher state level. But the results are the same. It keeps "undesirables" away from influencing any election decisions, and hence, preventing legislation that may be in their favor. Former felons who have been denied their voting rights are mostly poor, black, brown, and all of course, lack any clout; a perfect combination for abuse by those in power. Ooops. I'm sorry -- in the path of laws that favor a majority of law-abiding citizens at local environments.

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