Arizona Gov Outlaws Teaching Tombstone’s OK Corral Gunfight and Cowboy Pix

my darling clementinePHOENIX, Az. — Hard on the heels of approving a sweeping anti-immigrant racial profiling law Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill on May 12 outlawing ethnic studies in the state’s public schools. Proponents of the measure contend that teaching minorities about their culture and history promotes “destructive ethnic chauvinism.” Brewer spokesman Paul Senseless said, “The governor believes … students should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.”

In a press conference the unelected Governor also announced that as part of the legislation the Arizona public school system was prohibiting teaching about the shootout at the O.K. Corral. “Educating students about this purported gunfight at Tombstone in 1881 could inflame racial animosity against Caucasians,” contended Brewer, noting that all of the participants in the brief but bloody barrage of bullets were whites. “Teaching the history of the O.K. Corral, um, civil disturbance could give the unfortunate impression that Americans of European ancestry are a bunch of lawless trigger happy gunslingers who resort to gunplay in order to settle differences. We don’t want students to get the idea that Western civilization is full of savage barbarians,” said the Republican Governor, a staunch supporter of the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The set where John Sturges shot 1957's "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" at Old Tucson Studios. (Photo: Ed Rampell)

Brewer, Arizona’s former Lt. Governor who replaced ex-Gov. Janet Napolitano when she was appointed U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, went on to say that the state of Arizona was banning the screening and airing of films about the fabled incident at Tombstone due to their “inflammatory nature, unfavorably depicting Anglo-Americans. In addition, these movies also raise questions about our homeland security and the second amendment.” The blacklisted films include John Ford’s 1946 My Darling Clementine , John Sturges’ 1957 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Kurt Russell’s 1993Tombstone, and Kevin Costner’s 1994 Wyatt Earp . The Gover-hater singled out Sturges’ 1967 Hour of the Gun, about Earp’s relentless pursuit of the O.K. Corral perps, as “despicable, for portraying Caucasoid-Americans as bloodthirsty gunmen hell-bent on violent, vengeful vendettas.”

Brewer added that classroom instruction about and movie depictions of Georgia-born Doc Holliday “are especially troubling, as they tend to cast white Southerners in a negative light as syphilitic, whore-mongering, tubercular, gunslinging gamblers prone to resolution of conflict through violence. They also malign the noble profession of dentistry.” To compensate for what Brewer called “Doc Holliday’s bum rap” she’s proposing replacing Martin Luther King Day, which Arizona was the last state to adopt, with a state holiday honoring Southern males and Confederate veterans of the War Between the States.

The set where John Sturges shot 1957's "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" at Old Tucson Studios. (Photo: Ed Rampell)

Brewer, who is currently running for Governor of the Grand Canyon State, cut the press conference short in order to testify at a legislative hearing regarding another bill that would ban teaching about the December 7, 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. An advocate of the bill, the Gov explained that since the surprise aerial raid “sank the U.S.S. Arizona teaching about this admittedly regrettable, uh, occurrence, and showing slanted movies about it like From Here to EternityTora! Tora! Tora! and Pearl Harbor could incite racial animosity between the good people of Arizona and Japan.”

In a related development, the loud cracking sound heard throughout Washington, D.C. was not an earthquake, but rather Janet Napolitanosmacking her forehead.

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based film historian, critic, author, freelance writer and wag who wrote the Oct. 26, 2001 Tucson Weekly cover story“Tinseltown’s Tombstone, A Look at the Real and Reel Wyatt Earp.”

Ed Rampell


  1. Thomas White says

    ‘ “We don’t want students to get the idea that Western civilization is full of savage barbarians,” said the Republican Governor, a staunch supporter of the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘

    Here here. Point taken and well said!
    The moment of hilarity is much appreciated.

  2. says

    This is satire, correct?

    Most people read web stories quickly and act without reflection. When you write satire like this, have a caveat at the end to warn those without a sense of humor.

    Otherwise, given the idiocy of Arizona’s right wing, some well-meaning people will pass it around as true, making progressives look like fools

  3. says

    Ed, I like your article and can affirm that many Arizonans are fine people. I grew up in Tucson and lived in Bisbee, Elfrida, and Tombstone for a while. Matter of fact my mom, pop and brother-in-law are buried in Tombstone and a brother in Safford and they would have never gotten into this bigotry. I go back to Tucson several times a year and find that my old friends from high school and college are rational, caring people and not caught up in ranting against Mexican illegals or anyone else. What has happened is that outsiders came into Phoenix and parts of southern AZ and stirred up hatred toward Mexicans whom they characterize as “illegal aliens” and “drug lords” to bring out fear and loathing. As far as white southerners Brewer may have some ground to stand on: not all are or were gamblers but I don’t know much about their other attributes. I am sure that like “illegal immigrants” most southerners are and were decent, hard working people trying to get by: have a home, feed the family, and get some education. Come to think of it Japanese and the whole world have the same attributes.

  4. MrCs1son says

    Is there anyway we can make AZ a big sinkhole and just go back to 49 states? Obviously intelligence and common sense are not requirements to be elected governor there.

    • says

      Jan Brewer was NOT elected governor, as I point out in my satirical piece. BTW, there are good and progressive people who live in Arizona such as Dave Wagner, co-author of great books on the Hollywood Blacklist. And lest we forget, GERONIMO was from Arizona. LOL!

  5. Melissa Shipps says

    Thanks for the needed article. I really feel like I’m living in a bad version of Blazing Saddles to tell you the truth.

    I guess this form of systemic ethnic cleansing is ok, as long as the white folks claim all the land is theirs and all the money that is made in Arizona happens because of them. Tombstone is only one story we were allowed to tell obviously. Arizona has showed the true colors of America and thank goodness Hollywood is allowed to make films about it. Too bad the truth hurts.

    Btw, I remember when historic events like the Great Migration was taught in regular history classes. I guess NAFTA gave us the opposite effect; we can send our businesses to Mexico for cheap labor, but can’t let the cheap laborers move to America to try and make a better life.

    Arizona is just a repeat of the original white folks who took the land from the Indians and tried to erase their history.

    This too, shall pass because there is no way white folks will make that 1/3 of the world population supersede the brown skinned folks of any variety.

  6. says

    Friend Elaine,
    History is history and the GOP and Governor of AZ acting to suppress “ethnic” studies history teaching because the right wing believes that if you tell the truth that you will cause discontent aimed at white folk is bull___. There has been and is prejudice behind the hunt for “illegal” aliens behind the cover of people “doing something wrong”. It is without doubt that there are immigrants without papers in the US and, yes, Arizona but this does not make them dangerous and/or hardened criminals. The prejudice is magnified by folks like yourself equating illegal immigrants with criminals and does nothing to resolve the problem but just arouses the worst instincts in folks. I would be surprised If you actually know any “illegal” immigrants because if you do then you will know that probably 99% or more of the immigrants are law abiding, hard working folk who are trying to make a living after NAFTA, and other trade laws before that favored US, destroyed much of the agricultural and industrial base in Mexico. They are pushed from their own country by the economics of NAFTA and pulled to the US by the hope for jobs so that they can support their families just as you hope to support yours. You and I are no better than they are — we are all just people living in this world and trying to find a way to make it through. If you are a person with any ambition and you were caught in their situation, jobless and poor with jobs and income across the border, I suspect you would try to get across that border so you could feed your family — legally if possible and without documents if that were necessary. Let us walk in the other persons shoes and then see how things look.

    • Thomas White says

      Friend Hollis,

      That is a reasonable and well thought out reply. I’ve met a score and more more probable illegal immigrants in my city. All acted more than acceptably and many demonstrated above average respect and courtesy. Some might say that’s due to fear. Maybe. I’ll certainly give them nothing to fear for their good behavior!

      Some more tolerant, less focused on the most obvious cultural differences, still have concerns about principle and laws. I ask some questions of the audience, not specifically directed at anyone:

      If a person places ‘no trespassing’ signs on their property, are we all at liberty to disobey, and trespass as we please?
      Does that include restricted government land, whether dedicated to conservation, power generation, or weapons testing?
      What if the trespasser is a young Muslim, who states that his great-grandfather owned the property?
      How about a Jew, who states his tribes lived on the property for thousands of years?
      Are all those here in favor of unchecked immigration, also supporters of Israel?
      What about Sudan?
      Do people have a right to re-draw borders & possess property?
      If not, can I move in with you next week?
      Did I even need to ask permission?
      Do you support the theory of evolution?
      What species continue to exist?
      Would it be the ones that gathered, possessed, and defended property the most efficiently & effectively, often to the detriment of the species that are now extinct?

      Those that follow Darwin unquestioningly, and strongly denounce most aspects of religion, and mock the benevolent teachings of most scriptures, but expect humans to be treated as humans, instead of being treated as wildlife, are a curious lot.

      Seek the basic contradictions in the widely held views to find some less common answers to questions, which leads to less common questions, when, if answered may reveal new knowledge and the path to the resolution of needless conflict.

  7. Marta Barbosa says

    This is satire, correct?

    Most people read web stories quickly and act without reflection. When you write satire like this, have a caveat at the end to warn those without a sense of humor.

    Otherwise, given the idiocy of Arizona’s right wing, some well-meaning people will pass it around as true, making progressives look like fools

  8. Elaine says

    I liked Tombstone with Kirk Russell & Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday myself. These movies are so loosely based on any facts & are mostly made up incidents that it is ridiculous. But until someone teaches truthful history that you can always use our history books from years ago, back when the “truthful” history was taught. All these history books today seem to leave out vital information needed to teach students so they will not make the same mistake in the future. I am not sure I am explaining myself the way I want to.I have nothing but respect for the people that come over here legally. But I do know that fictitious movies should be taught to people that is exactly what they are, fictitious movies & things are made up to make them more exciting. If they are so foolish to believe these as truthful information about that time & era then you cannot blacklist them, you have to explain that to them. If you come to this country legally you should be made to study English & that be the only language spoken. This Arizona Immigration Law is not against legal immigrants but is against illegal immigrants. It is a ten page document that tells you that people are not to just be stopped at random to check their papers but stopped only if they are doing something wrong. Obama making that comment that if you are going to get ice cream for your kid one night & you leave your papers at home you might get arrested. That is a stupid statement & he is just trying to fuel the fire. He is suppose to be a leader of the free world & help us to work together. Instead from the very beginning he has worked to Divide & Conquer. This is America & he has no right to give the wrong information to all Americans when if he had read the bill would know better. He is not suppose to incite riots & that is what he has done in some instances in my opinion. I believe I understand the reasoning for this Immigration Law & it is not to hurt anyone illegal. They are dealing with people, children included that are being kidnapped especially from the Phoenix area. They had a man killed on his farm & he had told others long before he was killed that he was afraid something might happen. The policeman shot when he found all this marijuana that was being smuggled into the state. So how can you blame the Governor for trying to protect the people, & that includes the legal residents of Arizona? It also makes me angry that instead of getting the truth about the situation Shakira & Ricky Martin who I think are great performers to make comments against the Governor which only infuriates them more so. But there are more that are coming over that border then just illegal Mexicans that we need to worry about. I do not think anyone realizes the people from other countries who are here to destroy us all & bring harm to all of us including the legal Mexicans need to be stopped. So, think & read the bill, before you start running off at the mouth about somewhere you do not live or something you do not fully understand. You could make things so much easier for the good people that live in the State.

    • says

      Dear Alan,

      Thanks a lot for reading my piece of political satire and taking the time to write re: this spoof. Your comment re: The Onion is quite a compliment. Feel free to contact The Onion and tell them about my piece and moi.

      Yours in Orwell,

      Ed Rampell

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