Home > Uncategorized > Modern Conceptions of Land and Law in Texas

Modern Conceptions of Land and Law in Texas

As an intellectual, what really interests me is the study of ideas: where they come from, what they consist of, who believes (or believed) them, and their veracity or lack thereof. This is why I think I’ll choose the prompt for this class having to do with how we remember the past of the African-American experience, and the ideas we have about slavery today.

Today, we had an interesting discussion of ideas about what the law should protect and prioritize over other things, specifically in regard to the rights of property owners versus the rights of a burial ground. The people of Texas have valued land highly since the birth of the state, because land has traditionally symbolized wealth and freedom. Today, it still symbolizes wealth, but for a new reason: oil.

My father is an oil and gas lawyer. He sues oil companies who either don’t do what they said they’d do on people’s land, or who trespass on land that belongs to other people, stealing resources that do not rightfully belong to them. These apparently happen all the time; otherwise, my dad would be out of business. My dad has told me that oil companies cheat people out of their oil on a regular basis because they think they will get away with it. It seems poorer landowners often do not know enough or do not have enough clout to fight the legal battles necessary to keep oil companies from stealing their land and resources.

It seems that in this case, the landowners surrounding Love Cemetery are incredibly wealthy, and have adopted the same attitude that the oil companies have: “I won’t be held responsible for trespassing on this cemetery, because I am more educated, far wealthier, and can win a case in court.” This idea, that wealthy land owners can, and should, have legal precedence persists in Texas, relatively unchallenged. And it is illustrated well by the situation that Gallant portrays in Love Cemetery.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. lhennigan
    January 26, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I totally agree that the landowners attitudes seem to be very entitled. First of all, I don’t understand why they would want to own a cemetery anyway. I know I would feel a little creeped out and pretty guilty if there were people buried on my property and I had $10,000 deer prancing across their graves. On top of that, what happens when the families are able to get in the cemetery and they see headstones knocked over or even bodies unearthed? Isn’t there any kind of law that would allow for them to take legal action on the landowners for their lack of upkeep?

  2. January 26, 2011 at 3:37 am

    I think the pressures that capitalism places on businesses and the resultant emphasis and even glorifying greed propel businesses to do whatever is necessary to make profits. The possible safety issues of hunters being near visitors, the possibility of losing animals with the opening of the gates, and the chance of negative associations as a result of being near a cemetery may all be possible risks for the business and may prove to hinder profits. Similar business habits have been commonplace as questionable business practices have been shown on the media in light of the collapse of wall street. Unfortunately for the descendants of those buried in Love, they have become victims to the greed of big business.

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