"Property-Rights Fanatics" Love the Old Confederacy

Reporter Adam Nossiter tarred a South Carolina town with a bit of guilt-by-association for the murders of two cops by transplants from New Hampshire in "An Outsider's Murder Trial Shakes a Southern Town."

"It was a dispute over 20 feet of mean-looking land, a deadly squeeze of the trigger three years ago backed by pure conviction and an unwavering motto.

"The Bixby family refused to budge for a highway-widening project, out of belief. 'Live free or die,' cried Steve Bixby, bespectacled and rigged out in camouflage and guns the day of the shooting, in a challenge to the authorities, witnesses said.

"Mr. Bixby, 39, and his father, Arthur, 77, are accused of murder in the fatal shootings of two law enforcement officers who were trying to seize the land on behalf of the State of South Carolina. Both men face the death penalty. Mr. Bixby's mother, Rita, 74, was indicted as an accessory.

"Now, with the opening Wednesday of Mr. Bixby's trial in the murder of Deputy Sheriff Danny Wilson, 37, and Donnie Ouzts, 63, a state constable, this Old South town with its intense Confederate heritage is reliving the winter's day in 2003 when the reclusive Bixbys held off the local police for 14 hours, after the shootings of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Ouzts.

The town is Abbeville, South Carolina.

"On the other hand, symbols of resistance to central authority, some of the South's most hallowed, abound here, lovingly tended in the quaint little town billing itself for passing tourists as the 'Birthplace and Deathbed of the Confederacy.'

"Up the street from the mellow brick courthouse is the white-columned mansion where Jefferson Davis had his last cabinet meeting; nearby, one of the first rallies demanding secession was held in 1860. The monument to the Confederate dead outside the courthouse proclaims that 'the soldiers who wore the gray and died with Lee were in the right;' the Confederate flag flies high above the highway; and a bookstore off the old brick square sells titles like 'The South Was Right' and 'Myths of Slavery.'

"The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization in Montgomery, Ala., says the Abbeville area, in the western part of the state, has attracted others like the Bixbys - fanatics about property rights and resistance to authority who find the Confederate heritage nourishing. 'We've pointed out that that area is one of the hotbeds,' said Mark Potok, a staff director at the center.

After getting the left-wingers at SPLC to slime the town, Nossiter apparently posed the classic "When did you stop beating your wife?" question to the townspeople of Abbeville: "Residents deny that there is any connection between the region's Confederate heritage and a violent property-rights ideology."

Hmm. Did the Times ever connect, say radical Kathy Boudin's left-wing neighborhood of Greenwich Village for her involvement in the Brinks armored car robbery in 1981 that led to the murder of two police officers and a security guard?