The mayor of Medora, North Dakota is finally done hanging onto a bizarre application. He requested from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to erect gallows in order to create a mock execution. Mayor Doug Ellison envisioned a way to draw in tourists by staging mock executions as part of a plan for a 30 minute demonstration to educate tourists.
Ellison, of course, volunteered to be the first victim. The commission did not immediately say no to Ellison; rather, they tabled the idea and had a plan to vote on it next month. Realizing, however, that he had created something rather controversial, he withdrew his application.
Talking to the AP yesterday, he said,
"I am kind of saddened by it. I think it would have been a great opportunity to explore our Western heritage.” Trying to save face, he explained that his original intention wasn’t as wacky as people decided it would be. As he said, "It would have been a Western theatrical production. … I would have played the bad guy, the outlaw, and people would have seen I was condemned for my own actions. The moral would have been that crime does not pay. I thought it would just be entertaining like a Western movie.”
His critics, however, did not agree. Some said that he was contributing to the moral decline of our society; another said that his idea would spark a rash of juvenile suicides. Perhaps tongue in cheek (and perhaps unaware of his pun), the mayor said,
"I don't want it to reflect badly on the town, so hopefully things will die down, and we'll just have to interpret our history another way.”
Poor Ellison. He explained that he has no plan to try to draw in tourists in another way. Medora sees about 200,000 visitors each year – and they’ll just have to continue visiting without the draw of the gallows.