To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, December 7, 2023


Bear Wrestling Is Banned, But Not Texting While Driving?



Perryman, DavidThe first live bear I ever saw was on Main Street in Kinta, OK. The year was about 1962 and the Ursus Americanus had not wandered into town from the mountains south of town. Nor was it an escapee from the zoo in Tulsa. Technically, it was not even a part of a circus.

This black bear was chained to a tree in front of a tent and was the property of a promoter of one of those rural American holdovers of the 1800’s. The event being promoted was bear wrestling and the barker was looking for both spectators and contestants. I was not old enough to qualify as either, but tickets were selling like hotcakes.

I don’t remember if my older brothers were allowed to go, but I am pretty certain that they did not wrestle the bear. We lived seven miles from town and they would not have had transportation at the time. The tent that was set up was not large enough to keep the crowd very far from the ring, but by the looks of the tired old bear, vicious animal bites were not likely.

Apparently the sport of bear wrestling first became popular in France and came to the United States in December 1877. Rural America provided circuits of communities where there was just not a lot of constant commotion. To say that times were slow is an understatement and for decades, into the 1960’s any type of entertainment was welcomed.

However, before you get too uppity, please realize that once in a while we did get to attend some really special events. For instance, in my home town of around 350 residents in the 1960’s, we actually got to meet Meadowlark Lemon when the Harlem Globetrotters came to our old WPA gym.

My point is that until 1996 bear wrestling was legal in Oklahoma. The statute that prohibits bear wrestling also prohibits horse tripping. I don’t know how bear wrestling and horse tripping were addressed in the same statute. In fact horse tripping doesn’t sound fun at all.

Historically, Oklahoma has taken the lead and enacted statutes that are needed for the safety of Oklahomans. One of the hottest topics that I have been contacted about over the past 10 days is the proposal to ban texting while driving.

Unfortunately the majority leadership of the Oklahoma House of Representatives has its head in the proverbial sand and is playing politics with lives concerning this extremely dangerous issue.

HB 1503 by Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville, is a proposal to make texting while driving illegal. Over 80% of Oklahomans support a ban on texting while driving.

According to AT&T, a Virginia Tech study showed that persons who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than persons who are not texting while driving.

Rep. McDaniels’ bill passed out of committee, but is being blocked from being heard on the house floor.

AT&T reported that a Texas Traffic Institute study showed that when drivers read or send a text message, their reaction time is doubled and when asked to respond to a flashing light while texting behind the wheel, drivers were more than 11 times more likely to miss the light altogether.

The telephone giant has dedicated millions of dollars to its “It Can Wait” campaign and says that “No text is worth dying for. And that is why AT&T is committed to putting an end to texting and driving.”

AT&T says that, “Our goal is to save lives and to make texting and driving as unacceptable as drinking and driving.”

Under current law, an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman cannot stop a driver who is texting and driving at the very instant that the highway patrolman passes the driver. Thirty-nine other states prohibit texting while driving. Should Oklahoma?

According to the Associated Press, House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, stated last week that he is among those who have opposed a ban on texting while driving in the past because he believes that there is a slippery slope argument to be made about what people are doing inside their cars.

At this time, the bill is being blocked from being voted on by the full House of Representatives and Oklahoma law does not allow local control by municipalities across the state. The cities and towns that could otherwise adopt texting and tobacco laws are being stopped by the state Legislature.

Ninety-seven percent of teens say that texting and driving is dangerous. What is your opinion? Do you want HB 1503 to die without a vote or do you want it to be heard on the House floor?

It is your civic duty to let your voice be heard. Take action for the common good. Call or e-mail your representative, a member of the House Calendar Committee or the speaker of the House and let them know your opinion about HB 1503. Their phone numbers and e-mail addresses can be found at

If the House Calendar Committee will allow the bill to be heard, I will vote in favor of it. It is clear that the need for a ban on bear wrestling has taken a back seat to the need for a ban on texting while driving.

The author, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives



  1. When you have idiots in government (state & national), you really can’t expect to have common sense prevail. It’s unbelievable to think texting & talking on a cell phone while driving isn’t dangerous. Clearly the dunderheads in OKC who are opposed to stopping these dangerous practices have never been nearly side swiped by some nit wit on the phone or texting. If they were, or someone they cared about was injured or nearly killed, the outcry would be overwhelming. They’re like the scum bag lawyers (which many are) who whine about their (the criminals’) “rights” being dashed. But if someone they cared about was raped, murdered or otherwise brutalized, then they’d be ready to hang the criminal from the nearest tree. So guess we’ll have to wait until the jerks in the legislature who don’t want to protect the citizens they allegedly represent are affected by the idiots on the phones or texting. What a bunch of pompous fools!

    • I do not think that texting while driving should be outlawed. Why do I think this? I do not believe that banning texting while driving will solve anything. I think that the only legal way to use a cell phone while operating a moving vehicle should be by talking on a Bluetooth device. Everything else, texting, emailing, Facebook, tweeting, even hand held talking on your phone should be banned.
      This article states, “According to the Associated Press, House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, stated last week that he is among those who have opposed a ban on texting while driving in the past because he believes that there is a slippery slope argument to be made about what people are doing inside their cars.” This is exactly right there is a slippery slope. How would a cop know if you were texting or dialing a phone number? What if you were emailing? If the government just bans texting this leaves a huge gray area of other legal things you could have been doing on your phone. You could go to court and fight the ticket on the premise that you were not breaking the law. You were emailing not texting and that is not against the law.
      The only way that the courts and law enforcement can say for sure you were texting while driving at the exact moment they saw you is to make you show them your phone records. I don’t think that there are many people that are going to want to do that. Furthermore are we going to be pulling up phone logs on line on the side of the road to prove either our innocence or guilt? Also not everyone can access that. I have a family plan under Verizon, only the main policy holder can even access those records online.
      If we really want to solve this problem and leave as little wiggle room as possible we need to ban using the cell phone in our hands completely. Let the only way to use a cell phone while operating a moving vehicle be to talk on a Bluetooth device.

  2. A research was done on people who text and drive and it showed that people are “23 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE INVOLVED IN A CRASH” than people who are not texting. How can there even be a question if should texting while driving become illegal?? When people’s lives are at risk because someone is selfish enough to focus on their more than likely petty conversations with others and ignore the dangers of using their cell phone while driving is absolutely absurd and should NOT be tolerated.

  3. I guess the lives and wellbeing of bears and horses are more important! If the ban on texting and talking while driving were passed, it would make all police officers hipocrites because everytime you pull up to a light next to one they are talking on the phone or playing with their handy computers mounted in the squad cars. The majority is all up on arms about the accidents caused by texting drivers and trying so hard to school our children on their responsibilities while driving. It must not be “that important” because we can’t or won’t pass a law banning this horrible act that bears its ugly face on us daily. If we allows the mothers that have lost children or that have had to bear the burden of knowing their child caused an accident while texting and driving, this would be a closed book case and the ban would be in full force. I agree with the previous comment we are being lead by a bunch of idiots!!

  4. It would be nice to drive on the highway and the person driving next to me not be texting while there about to drive into the side of my car, or even better when I come to a stop someone trys to hit the back of my car beacuse there texting and they aren’t paying attention to the fact that Iv’e come to an stop. Better yet when my light is green for me to turn I’m facing the on coming traffic, and the driver on the on comin side is slowly moving. But since its my turn at the light I’m driving, and the person texting doesn’t realize that there moving until I honk my horn. Yes Iv’e been envolved in to many recks that were someone elses fault, so it would be nice to ban texting and driving! For the safty of others and children.

  5. I think texting and driving should be banned because its very dangerous. It will prevent alot of people from having car incidents. when your texting and driving or doing certain things on your phone while driving clearly you dont care about anyone your putting other people lives in danger because you know the consequences behind texting and driving. to me you should wait until your where you going to text someone i think a quick phone call would be fine but other than that i think its selfish to text and drive.

  6. Forget about bear wrestling. If you choose to wrestle a bear it’s only your life in danger, but texting while driving not only endangers yourself but everyone else on the roads. Oklahoma needs to put in place a law that will be strictly enforced on texting while driving. A slap on the wrist and a low cost fine is not going to stop people from texting and driving. Oklahoma needs a law that will open people’s eyes and inconvenience their lives, for example taking away your car and impounding it at the expense of the driver.

  7. I do believe that our government is not taking the texting while driving situation seriously enough. However, I don’t think it’s fair to compare the bear wrestling law to the no texting while driving law being passed. A lot of circumstances have changed sice 1966. The world is alot different now, these days people in office probably would not put bear wrestling on the front burner. Back then people who were in office might have thought bear wrestling was one of the bigger issues, although I believe texting while driving is a huge issue, people in office might not. They might have issues they feel are bigger and don’t have time to deal with passing a no texting while driving law. I believe that we should let it be voted on. I would vote in favor of passing the no texting while driving law. I don’t think any text message can be that important to risk not only your life, but the lives of others around you. All the studies on fatalities due to texting while driving cannot be wrong. The longer this law is put off, the more fatalities will rise.

  8. To me, texting while driving should be banned also talking on the phone as well. I can not stand while I’m driving someone is so busy on there phone talking or texting and they merge in my lane. Pay attention and drive. And bear wrestling is banned honestly I could care less.

  9. I strongly believe that texting and driving should be against the law. I am always amazed the number of people that you see on a phone when driving from one place to another. I work for a cell phone company and while phones these days are capable of amazing things, they should never be used behind the wheel. In fact, when i get in the car, the phone goes into the center console until I step out of the car. It literally takes a split second for the car in front of you to come to a stop, someone to pull out in front of you, or even a child to run out in the street for a ball. In that split second, your whole life could change or END. This issue needs to be addressed. However, I can see how proving that someone was breaking this law may be difficult. In all honesty, it would be almost impossible for an officer to prove that someone was indeed on the phone. If people would actually look at what all they are risking, their lives and the lives of others, maybe they would think twice.

  10. Well, it appears from all but one of the comments, most THINKING people believe texting/talking on cell phones should be banned. So what’s the problem? Answer: A bunch of dumb ass rednecks in OKC are the problem! Some of these old fools live so far back in the past they barely know how to USE a phone. When voters get rid of these idiots (as well as some of those in Washington), then true progress and the safety of the people will be met. Career politicians aren’t interested in the PEOPLE; they’re interested in self preservation. What a sorry lot!

  11. Well I do have to say that in this day and time texting while driving is about as healthy as bear wrestling. If not more so. The bear could be old with no teeth but a car head on with another car = death or at least the possibility. For me I know that I can not drive and text without a very real possibility of running into the back of the car in front of me. So, I can not speak for others but for me I wont text and drive. I also would breath easier if others did not text and drive either.

  12. Despite the danger of wrestling a bear, there is a time and place for everything. Texting while driving I think should be banned. You are not only putting yourself in danger but everyone around you. People should be concentrating on the road not their phones its not safe! If you feel you must text while your driving then be more considerate of others at take the time to pull over and have that conversation not while driving.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.